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To Richard Boyle, Earl of Burlington.
OF THE USE OF RICHES.
The vanity of expense in people of wealth and quality. The abuse of the word taste.-That the first principle and foundation in this, as in every thing else, is good sense.The chief proof of it is to follow nature, even in works of mere luxury and elegance. Instanced in architecture and gardening, where all must be adapted to the genius and use of the place, and the beauties not forced into it, but resulting from it. How men are disappointed in their most expensive undertakings for want of this true foundation, without which nothing can please long, if at all; and the best examples and rules will but be perverted into something burdensome and ridiculous.-A description of the false taste of magnificence; the first grand error of which is to imagine that greatness consists in the size and dimension, instead of the proportion and harmony, of the whole. And the second, either in joining together parts incoherent, or too minutely resembling, or in the repetition of the same too frequently.-A word or two of false taste in books, in music, in painting, even in preaching and prayer, and lastly in entertainments.-Yet Providence is justified in giving wealth to be squandered in this manner, since it is dispersed to the poor and laborious part of mankind. [Recurring to what is laid down in the first book, ep. ii. and in the epistle preceding this.]-What are the proper objects of magnificence, and a proper field for the expense of great men.-And, finally, the great and public works which become a prince.
'Tis strange the miser should his cares employ
Not for himself he sees, or hears, or eats;
For what has Virro painted, built, and planted?
You show us Rome was glorious, not profuse,
That, laced with bits of rustic, makes a front;
Oft have you hinted to your brother peer A certain truth, which many buy too dear; Something there is more needful than expense, And something previous e'en to taste-'tis sense; Good sense, which only is the gift of Heaven, And though no science, fairly worth the seven; A light which in yourself you must perceive; Jones and Le Nôtre have it not to give.
To build, to plant, whatever you intend, To rear the column, or the arch to bend, To swell the terrace, or to sink the grot, In all, let Nature never be forgot;
But treat the goddess like a modest fair,
Consult the genius of the place in all;
Still follow sense, of every art the soul; Parts answering parts shall slide into a whole, Spontaneous beauties all around advance, Start e'en from difficulty, strike from chance : Nature shall join you: Time shall make it grow A work to wonder at-perhaps a Stow.
Without it, proud Versailles! thy glory falls, And Nero's terraces desert their walls:
The vast parterres a thousand hands shall make,
Behold Villario's ten years' toil complete,
Through his young woods how pleased Sabinus Or sat delighted in the thickening shade, [stray'd, With annual joy the reddening shoots to greet, Or see the stretching branches long to meet! His son's fine taste an opener vista loves, Foe to the dryads of his father's groves; One boundless green or flourish'd carpet views, With all the mournful family of yews; The thriving plants, ignoble broomsticks made, Now sweep those alleys they were born to shade. At Timon's villa let us pass a day;
Where all cry out, What sums are thrown away!'
Who but must laugh, the master when he sees,
My lord advances with majestic mien, Smit with the mighty pleasure to be seen: But soft-by regular approach-not yetFirst through the length of yon hot terrace sweat; And when up ten steep slopes you've dragg'd your
Just at his study-door he'll bless your eyes.
His study with what authors is it stored? In books, not authors, curious is my lord; To all their dated backs he turns you round; These Aldus printed, those Du Suëil has bound! Lo, some are vellum, and the rest as good, For all his lordship knows, but they are wood! For Locke or Milton 'tis in vain to look; These shelves admit not any modern book.