Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

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; 135 But who but God can tell us who they are? One thinks on Calvin Heaven's own spirit fell; Another deems him instrument of hell : If Calvin feel Heaven's blessing or its rod, This cries there is, and that there is no God: 140 What shocks one part will edify the rest, Nor with one system can they all be bless'd. The very best will variously incline," And what rewards your virtue punish mine. • Whatever is, is right.'—This world, 'tis true, 145 Was made for Cæsar, but for Titus too : And which more bless’d? who chain'd his coun

try? say, Or he whose virtue sigh'd to lose a day?

which Cerinthus the heretic was bathing, providentially fell down, and crusbed him to death. But he should have first disproved the fact. The early church boasted of no two purer authorities than Irenæus and Polycarp, the immediate successors of the apostles.

145 Whatever is, is right. This maxim, in the sense of the optimists, is untrue; for no dexterity can pronounce the common events of society, wars, factions, public treacheries, or personal profligacies, to be natural parts of a system of perfection. But, in the sense of the Christian, it is true; for bis religion shows him a perpetual Providence controlling the evil of man into good ; and for all the difficulties which still elude his solution, he alone is intitled to refer to a world to come. No true philosophy can allow that crime is a good ; as no intelligible logic can prove that the imperfections of all the parts can make up the perfection of the whole. But the passage exhibits a noble flow of poetry. .

• But sometimes virtue starves, while vice is

fed.' What then? Is the reward of virtue bread ? 150 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; 155 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

power ? Add health, and power, and every earthly thing. • Why bounded power? why private ? why no king ? :

160 Nay, why external for internal given? Why is not man a god, and earth a heaven? Who ask and reason thus, will scarce conceive God gives enough, while he has more to give : Immense the power, immense were the demand : Say, at what part of nature will they stand ? 166

What nothing earthly gives or can destroy, The soul's calm sunshine, and the heart-felt joy, Is virtue's prize: a better would you fix, Then give humility a coach and six, Justice a conqueror's sword, or truth a gown, Or public spirit its great cure, a crown. Weak, foolish man! will Heaven reward us there With the same trash mad mortals wish for here? The boy and man an individual makes, 175 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 ;

170

udges and love God hates thean-kind,

As well as dream such trifles are assign'd,
As toys and empires, for a godlike mind : 180
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, 185
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, 190
Whose life is healthful, and whose conscience

clear, Because he wants a thousand pounds a year.

Honor and shame from no condition rise ; Act well your part; there all the honor lies. 194 Fortune in men has some small difference made; One flaunts in rags, one flutters in brocade ; The cobbler 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. 200 You 'll find, if once the monarch acts the monk, Or, cobbler-like, the parson will be drunk, Worth makes the man, and want of it the fellow; The rest is all but leather or prunella. Stuck o'er with titles, and hung round with strings,

205 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 yours you rate, 209
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 ? 215
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; 220

220 From Macedonia's madman. Warton bere charges Pope with having fallen into the common cant about Alexander the Great,' and says, ' think of the scene in Darius's tent; think of the foundation of the city of Alexandria,' &c.-The commentator evidently falls into the ridiculous error of supposing that the poet pronounced Alexander lunatic. His military skill and bis vigorous government, must have amply vindicated his personal faculties to the poet and the world : but, in the larger sense, of plunging into a desperate enterprise without an adequate cause, pursuing it with totally disproportioned means, and closing it without a productive or permanent result, Alexander was a madman. His invasion of Asia was merely a wild adventure for individual fame : bis Scythian and Indian campaigns were a prodigal lavishing of treasure, troops, and time, for a conquest incapable of being retained, and not worth retaining ; personal glory was the purpose of his being; and in the spirit of this gallant selfishness, he left his empire to be torn in pieces by his captains. It is impossible to doubt that he must have known the importance of a settled succession to the tranquillity of empire ; but his purpose was fulfilled with himself: he had gained the highest renown among men, and he was indifferent to the future. Gifted with the most brilliant genius, Alexander was the palpable slave of vanity: of all the great captains of the ancient world, be trusted the most to fortune; and owed the

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 farther than his nose.
No less alike the politic and wise ;

225
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: 230
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 235
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.

most to fortune : he reared a shadowy throne, and it vanished as he sank into the grave. History gives no example of a mind of such magnificent powers, of so bold a heart, of such comprehensive ambition, and of such resistless triumphs, all rendered so totally useless for any great continuing object of government or man.

237 What 's fame? a fancied life in others' breath. Wollaston says, in contempt of this universal desire,- The man is not known ever the more to posterity because his name is transmitted to them; since Pompey is as little known as Cæsar, all that is said of their conquests amounts to this,--somebody conquered somebody.' But the universality of any impulse is a proof that it is an impulse originally implanted in our nature : and that, again, is a proof that it exists for an important purpose. The desire to be spoken well of while we live is of obvious importance as a summons to buman exertion : and the desire of posthumous fame is but adding the future as a stimulant to the present, and a stimulant perhaps of a still

« ZurückWeiter »