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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, Ver. 13. That the first Principle and foundation in this, as in every thing else, is Good Sense, Ver. 40. 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, 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 perverted 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 Taste 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 squandred in this manner, 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 Expensé 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? Not for himself he sees, or hears, or eats ;
5 Artists must choose his Pictures, Music, Meats : He buys for Topham, Drawings and Designs, For Pembroke, Statues, dirty Gods, and Coins ; 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.
NOTES. Ver. 1. 'Tis strange,] This Epistle was written and published before the preceding one ; and the placing it after the third, has occasioned some awkward anachronisms and inconsistencies.
Ver. 7. Topham,] A gentleman famous for a judicious collection of Drawings. P.
Ver. 8. For Pembroke, Statues,] “The soul of Inigo Jones," says Mr. Walpole, “which had been patronised 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.
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. · P.
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.
For what has Virro painted, built, and planted ? Only to shew, how many Tastes he wanted. What brought Sir Visto's ill-got wealth to waste ? 15 Some Demon whisper'd, “ Visto! have a Taste.” Heav’n visits with a Taste the wealthy fool, And needs no Rod but Ripley with a Rule. See! sportive fate, to punish awkward pride, Bids Bubo build, and sends him such a Guide: 20 A standing sermon, at each year's expense, That never Coxcomb reach'd Magnificence!
After Ver. 22 in the MS.
Must Bishops, Lawyers, Statesmen, have the skill
Ver. 17. Hear'n visits with a Taste the wealthy fool,] The present rage of Taste, in this overflow of general Luxury, may be very properly represented by a desolating pestilence, alluded to in the word visit. W.
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. P.But Mr. Walpole speaks more favourably of this architect.
Ver. 19. See! sportive fate, to punish awkward pride,] Pride is one of the greatest mischiefs, as well as highest absurdities, of our nature ; and therefore, as appears both from profane and sacred History, has ever been the more peculiar object of divine vengeance. But awkward Pride intimates such abilities in its owner, as eases us of the apprehension of much mischief from it; so that the Poet supposes such a one secure from the serious resentment of Heaven, though it may permit fate or fortune to bring him into that public contempt and ridicule which his natural badness of heart so well deserves. W.
You shew us, Rome was glorious, not profuse, And pompous buildings once were things of Use.
Ver. 23. The Earl of Burlington was then publishing the Designs of Inigo Jones, and the Antiquities of Rome by Palladio, P.
Ver. 23. You shew us, Rome] Thus our Author addresses the Earl of Burlington, who was then publishing the Designs of Inigo Jones, and the Antiquities of Rome by Palladio. “Never was protection and great wealth*,” says an able judge of the subject, “more generously and judiciously diffused than by this great person, who had every quality of a genius and artist, except envy. Though his own designs were more chaste and classic than Kent's, he entertained him in his house till his death, and was more studious to extend his friend's fame than his own. As we have few samples of architecture more antique and imposing than the colonnade within the court of his house in Piccadilly, I cannot help mentioning the effect it had on myself, I had not only never seen it, but had ever heard of it, at least with any attention, when, soon after my return from Italy, I was invited to a ball at Burlington-house. As I passed under the gate by night, it could not strike me.
At day-break, looking out of the window to see the sun rise, I was surprised with the vision of the colonnade that fronted me. It seemed one of those edifices in Fairy tales, that are raised by genii in a night's time.” Pope having appeared an excellent moralist in the foregoing Epistles, in this appears to be as excellent a connoisseur, and has given not only some of our first, but our best rules and observations on architecture and gardening, but particularly on the latter of these useful and entertaining arts, on which he has dwelt more largely, and with rather more knowledge of the subject. The following is copied verbatim from a little paper which he gave to Mr. Spence: “Arts are taken from nature; and, after a thousand vain efforts for improvements, are best when they return to their first simplicity. A sketch or analysis of the first principles of each art, with their first consequences, might be a thing of most excellent service. Thus, for instance, all the rules of Architecture might be reducible to three or four heads; the justness of the openings; bearings upon bearings; the regularity of the pillars, &c. That which
• Mr. Walpole, p. 108. Anecdotes of Painting, vol. iv.