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But still this world (so fitted for the knave) Contents us not.-A better shall we have? A kingdom of the just then let it be; But first consider how those just agree. The good must merit God's peculiar care; But who but God can tell us who they are? One thinks on Calvin Heav'n's own spirit fell; Another deems him instrument of hell: If Calvin feel Heav'n's blessing or its rod, This cries there is, and that there is no God. What shocks one part will edify the rest; Nor with one system can they all be blest. The very best will variously incline, And what rewards your virtue punish mine. Whatever is is right.-This world, 'tis true, Was made for Cæsar-but for Titus too: And which more bless'd? who chain'd his country, say, Or he whose virtue sigh'd to lose a day?"But sometimes virtue starves while vice is fed." What then? is the reward of virtue bread? That vice may merit; 'tis the price of toil; The knave deserves it when he tills the soil, The knave deserves it when he tempts the main, Where folly fights for kings or dives for gain. The good man may be weak, be indolent; Nor is his claim to plenty but content. But grant him riches, your demand is o'er? "No-shall the good want health, the good want pow'r ?"
Add health and pow'r, and every earthly thing. "Why bounded pow'r? why private? why no king? Nay, why external for internal giv'n?
Why is not man a god, and earth a heav'n ?"Who ask and reason thus will scarce conceive God gives enough while he has more to give : Immense the pow'r, immense were the demand; Say at what part of nature will they stand?— What nothing earthly gives or can destroy, The soul's calm sunshine and the heart-felt joy,
Is virtue's prize.
Then give humility a coach and six,
A better would you fix?
Justice a conqueror's sword, or truth a gown,
Or public spirit its great cure, a crown.
Weak, foolish man! will Heav'n reward us there
With the same trash mad mortals wish for here?
The boy and man an individual makes,
Yet sigh'st thou now for apples and for cakes?
Go, like the Indian, in another life
Expect thy dog, thy bottle, and thy wife;
As well as dream such trifles are assign'd,
As toys and empires, for a godlike mind:
Rewards, that either would to virtue bring
No joy, or be destructive of the thing.
How oft by these at sixty are undone
The virtues of a saint at twenty-one!
To whom can riches give repute or trust,
Content or pleasure, but the good and just?
Judges and senates have been bought for gold;
Esteem and love were never to be sold.
O fool to think God hates the worthy mind,
The lover and the love of human kind,
Whose life is healthful, and whose conscience clear,
Because he wants a thousand pounds a year.
Honour and shame from no condition rise;
Act well your part, there all the honour lies.
Fortune in men has some small difference made,
One flaunts in rags, one flutters in brocade;
The cobler apron'd, and the parson gown'd,
The friar hooded, and the monarch crown'd.
"What differ more (you cry) than crown and cowl?"
I'll tell you, friend, a wise man and a fool.
You'll find, if once the monarch acts the monk,
Or, cobler-like, the parson will be drunk,
Worth makes the man, and want of it the fellow;
The rest is all but leather or prunello.
Stuck o'er with titles, and hung round with strings;
That thou mayst be by kings, or whores of kings.
Boast the pure blood of an illustrious race,
In quiet flow from Lucrece to Lucrece:
But by your fathers' worth if your's you rate, Count me those only who were good and great. Go! if your ancient but ignoble blood
Has crept through scoundrels ever since the flood; Go! and pretend your family is young,
Nor own your fathers have been fools so long. What can ennoble sots, or slaves, or cowards?Alas! not all the blood of all the Howards.
Look next on greatness; say where greatness lies?
"Where but among the heroes and the wise?"
Heroes are much the same, the point's agreed,
From Macedonia's madman to the Swede;
The whole strange purpose of their lives to find
Or make an enemy of all mankind!
Not one looks backward, onward still he goes,
Yet ne'er looks forward further than his nose.
No less alike the politic and wise;
All sly slow things with circumspective eyes :
Men in their loose unguarded hours they take,
Not that themselves are wise, but others weak.
But grant that those can conquer, these can cheat,
'Tis phrase absurd to call a villain great:
Who wickedly is wise, or madly brave,
Is but the more a fool, the more a knave.
Who noble ends by noble means obtains,
Or failing, smiles in exile or in chains,
Like good Aurelius let him reign, or bleed
Like Socrates ;-that man is great indeed.
What's fame? a fancied life in others' breath;
A thing beyond us, ev'n before our death:
Just what you hear you have; and what's unknown
The same (my lord) if Tully's or your own.
All that we feel of it begins and ends
In the small circle of our foes or friends;
To all beside as much an empty shade,
An Eugene living as a Cæsar dead;
Alike or when or where, they shone or shine,
Or on the Rubicon or on the Rhine.
A wit's a feather, and a chief a rod;
An honest man's the noble work of God.
Fame but from death a villain's name can save,
As justice tears his body from the grave;
When what to' oblivion better were resign'd
Is hung on bigh, to poison half mankind.
All fame is foreign but of true desert,
Plays round the head, but comes not to the heart:
One self-approving hour whole years outweighs
Of stupid starers and of loud huzzas;
And more true joy Marcellus exil'd feels
Than Cæsar with a senate at his heels.
In parts superior what advantage lies?
Tell (for you can) what is it to be wise?
'Tis but to know how little can be known,
To see all others' faults, and feel our own;
Condemn'd in business or in arts to drudge,
Without a second, or without a judge:
Truths would you teach, or save a sinking land?
All fear, none aid you, and few understand.
Painful pre-eminence! yourself to view
Above life's weakness, and its comforts too.
Bring then these blessings to a strict account;
Make fair deductions; see to what they 'mount;
How much of other each is sure to cost;
How each for other oft is wholly lost;
How inconsistent greater goods with these;
How sometimes life is risk'd, and always ease:
Think, and if still the things thy envy call,
Say, wouldst thou be the man to whom they fall?
To sigh for ribands if thou art so silly,
Mark how they grace Lord Umbra or Sir Billy.
Is yellow dirt the passion of thy life?
Look but on Gripus or on Gripus' wife.
If parts allure thee, think how Bacon shin'd,
The wisest, brightest, meanest, of mankind!
Or ravish'd with the whistling of a name,
See Cromwell danın'd to everlasting fame !
If all united thy ambition call,
From ancient story learn to scorn them all:
There in the rich, the honour'd, fam'd, and great,
See the false scale of happiness complete!
la hearts of kings or arms of queens who lay,
How happy! those to ruin, these betray.
Mark by what wretched steps their glory grows,
From dirt and sea-weed, as proud Venice rose;
In each how guilt and greatness equal ran,
And all that rais'd the hero sunk the man;
Now Europe's laurels on their brows behold,
But stain'd with blood, or ill exchang'd for gold;
Then see them broke with toils, or sunk in ease,
Or infamous for plunder'd provinces.
O wealth ill-fated! which no act of fame
E'er taught to shine, or sanctified from shame!
What greater bliss attends their close of life?
Some greedy minion, or imperious wife,
The trophied arches, storied halls invade,
And haunt their slumbers in the pompous shade.
Alas! not dazzled with their noon-tide ray,
Compute the morn and evening to the day;
The whole amount of that enormous fame,
A tale that blends their glory with their shame! Know then this truth (enough for man to know), "Virtue alone is happiness below :"
The only point where human bliss stands still,
And tastes the good without the fall to ill;
Where only merit constant pay receives,
Is bless'd in what it takes and what it gives;
The joy unequall'd if its end it gain,
And, if it lose, attended with no pain:
Without satiety, though e'er so bless'd,
And but more relish'd as the more distress'd:
The broadest mirth unfeeling folly wears,
Less pleasing far than virtue's very tears:
Good from each object, from each place, acquir'd,
For ever exercis'd, yet never tir'd;
Never elated while one man's oppress'd;
Never dejected while another's bless'd;
And where no wants no wishes can remain,
Since but to wish more virtue is to gain.
See the sole bliss Heav'n could on all bestow !
Which who but feels can taste, but thinks can know!