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The Vanity of Expense in People of Wealth and quality. The abuse

of the word Taste, Ver. 13. That the first principle and foundation in this, as in coery thing else, is Good Sense, Ver. 40. The chief proof of it is to follow Nature, even in works of 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, Ver. 50. 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 be but perderted into something burdensome and ridiculous, Ver. 65, &c. to 92. 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, Ver. 97. and the second, either in joining together Parts incoherent, or too minutely resembling, or in the Repetition of the same too frequently, Ver. 105, &c. A word or two of false Tuste in Books, in Music, in Painting, even in Preaching and Prayer, and lastly in Entertainments, Ver. 133, &c. Yet ProVIDENCE is justified in giving Wealth to be squandered in this munner, since it is dispersed to the Poor and laborious part of mankind, Ver. 169, [recurring to what is laid down in the first book, Ep. ii. and in the Epistle preceding this, Ver. 159, &c.] What are the proper Objects of Magnificence, and a proper field for the Expense of Great Men, Ver. 177, &c. And finally the great and public Works which become a Prince, Ver. 191, to the end.




'Tis strange, the Miser should his cares employ
To gain those Riches he can ne'er enjoy:
Is it less strange, the Prodigal should waste
His wealth, to purchase what he ne'er can taste ?

COMMENTARY. EPISTLE IV.] The extremes of Avarice and Profusion being treated of in the foregoing Epistle; this takes up one branch of the latter, the Vanity of expensive Taste, in people of wealth and condition ; and is therefore a corollary to the preceding, just as the Epistle on the Characters of Women is to that of the Knowledge and Characters of Men. It is equally estimable with the rest, as on other accounts, so likewise for exactness of method. But the nature of the subject, which is less philosophical, makes it capable of being analysed in a less compass.

Ver. 1. 'Tis strange, &c.] The Poet's introduction (from ver. 1 to 39.) consists of a very curious remark, arising from his intimate knowledge of nature; together with an illustration of that remark, taken from his observations on life. It is this, that the Prodigal no more enjoys his profusion, than the Miser his rapacity. It was generally thought that Avarice only kept, without enjoyment; but the Poet here first acquaints us with a circumstance in human life, much more to be lamented, viz. that Profusion too can communicate, without it; whereas Enjoyment was thought to be as peculiarly the reward of the beneficent passions (of which this has the appearance), as want of enjoyment was the punishment of the selfish. The



Ver. 1. 'Tis strange,] This Epistle was written and published before the preceding one; and the placing it after the third, has occasioned some aukward anachronisms and inconsistencies.



Not for himself he sees, or hears, or eats ;
Artists must chuse his pictures, music, meats:
He buys for Topham, drawings and designs,
For Pembroke, statues, dirty Gods, and coins ;


phenomenon observed is odd enough. But if we look more narrowly into this matter, we shall find, that Prodigality, when in pursuit of Taste, is only a mode of vanity, and consequently as selfisk a passion as even Avarice itself; and it is of the ordonnance and constitution of all selfish passions, when growing to an excess, to defeat their own end, which is Self-enjoyment. But besides the accurate philosophy of this observation, there is a fine morality contained in it; namely, that ill-got wealth is not only as unreasonably, but as uncomfortably, squandered, as it was raked together; which the Poet himself further insinuates in ver. 15 :

“ What brought Sir Visto's ill-got wealth to waste ?" He then illustrates the above observation by divers examples in every branch of wrong Taste; and to set their absurdities in the strongest light, he, in conclusion, contrasts them with several instances of the true, in the Nobleman to whom the Epistle is addressed. This disposition is productive of various beauties; for, by this means, the introduction becomes an epitome of the body




Ver. 7. Topham,] A Gentleman famous for a judicious collection of drawings.

Pope. Ver. 8. For Pembroke, statues, dirty Gods, and coins ;] The author speaks here not as a philosopher, or divine, but as a connoisseur and antiquary only. Consequently, the dirty attribute here assigned these Gods of old renown, is not in disparagement of their worth, but in defence of their genuine pretensions.

Warburton. Ver. 8. For Pembroke, statues,] “ The soul of Inigo Jones,” says Mr. Walpole," which had been patronized by the ancestors of Henry, Earl of Pembroke, seemed still to hover over its favourite Wilton, and to have assisted the Muses of Arts in the education of this noble person. The towers, the chambers, the scenes which Holbein, Jones, and Vandyck had decorated, and which Earl Thomas had enriched with the spoils of the best ages, received the last touches of beauty from Earl Henry's hand.” Warton.

Rare monkish manuscripts for Hearne alone,
And books for Mead, and butterflies for Sloane. 10
Think we all these are for himself? no more
Than his fine wife, alas ! or finer whore.

For what has Virro painted, built, and planted ?
Only to show, how many tastes he wanted.
What brought Sir Visto’s ill-got wealth to waste? 15
Some Demon whisper'd,“ Visto ! have a taste.”
Heaven visits with a taste the wealthy fool,
And needs no rod but Ripley with a rule.
See! sportive fate, to punish aukward pride,
Bids Bubo build, and sends him such a guide: 20


of the Epistle; which, as we shall see, consists of general reflections on Taste, and particular examples of bad and good. And his friend's example concluding the introduction, leads the Poet gracefully into the subject itself; for the Lord, here celebrated for his good taste, was now at hand to deliver the first and fundamental precept of it himself, which gives authority and dignity to all that follow.


Ver. 10. And books for Mead, and butterflies for Sloane.] Two eminent Physicians: the one had an excellent library, the other the finest collection in Europe of natural curiosities; both men of great learning and humanity.

Pope. Ver. 11. Think we all these] The ostentation of this man of false taste is only here ridiculed; he has no enjoyment of either of the two objects of false magnificence here mentioned. Warton.

Ver. 18. Ripley] This man was a carpenter, employed by a first Minister, who raised him to an architect, without any genius in the art; and after some wretched proofs of his insufficiency in public buildings, made him Comptroller of the Board of Works.

Pope. Mr. Walpole speaks more favourably of this architect. Warton.

Ver. 19. See ! sportive fate, to punish aukward pride,] Pride is one of the greatest mischiefs, as well as highest absurdities of our


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