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There are, my friend! whose philosophic eyes
Look through, and trust the ruler with his skies,
To him commit the hour, the day, the year,
And view this dreadful all-without a fear.
Admire we then what earth's low entrails hold,
Arabian shores, or Indian seas infold;
All the mad trade of fools and slaves for gold :
Or popularity? or stars and strings ?
The mob's applauses, or the gifts of kings ?
Say with what eyes we ought at courts to gaze,
And pay the great our homage of amaze ?
If weak the pleasure that from these can spring,
The fear to want them is as weak a thing:
Whether we dread, or whether we desire,
In either case, believe me, we admire;
Whether we joy or grieve, the same the curse,
Surprised at better, or surprised at worse.
Thus good or bad, to one extreme betray
The unbalanced mind, and snatch the man away;
For virtue's self may too much zeal be had;
The worst of madmen is a saint run mad.
Go then, and if you can, admire the state Of beaming diamonds, and reflected plate; Procure a TASTE to double the surprise, And gaze on Parian charms with learned eyes: Be struck with bright brocade, or Tyrian dye, Our birth-day nobles' splendid livery. If not so pleased, at council-board rejoice, To see their judgments hang upon thy voice; From morn to night, at senate, rolls, and hall, Plead much, read more, dine late, or not at all. But wherefore all this labour, all this strife? For fame, for riches, for a noble wife? Shall one whom nature, learning, birth, conspired To form, not to admire, but be admired, Sigh, while his Chloe, blind to wit and worth, Weds the rich dulness of some son of earth ? Yet time ennobles, or degrades each line; It brighten'd CRAGGS's, and may darken thine: And what is fame? the meanest have their day, The greatest can but blaze, and pass away. Graced as thou art, with all the power of words, So known, so honour'd, at the house of lords: Conspicuous scene ! another yet is nigh, (More silent far) where kings and poets lie;
Where MURRAY (long enough his country's pride)
Shall be no more than TULLY, or than HYDE !
Rack'd with sciatics, martyr'd with the stone,
Will any mortal let himself alone ?
See Ward by batter'd beaus invited
And desperate misery lays hold on Dover.
The case is easier in the mind's disease;
There all men may be cured, whene'er they please.
Would ye be blest ? despise low joys, low gains;
Disdain whatever CORNBURY disdains;
Be virtuous, and be happy for your pains.
But art thou one, whom new opinions sway,
One who believes as Tindal leads the way,
Who virtue and a church alike disowns,
Thinks that but words, and this but brick and stones?
Fly then, on all the wings of wild desire,
Admire whate'er the maddest can admire,
Is wealth thy passion ? hence! from pole to pole,
Where winds can carry, or where waves can roll,
For Indian spices, for Peruvian gold,
Prevent the greedy, and outbid the bold:
Advance thy golden mountain to the skies;
On the broad base of fifty thousand rise,
Add one round hundred, and (if that's not fair)
Add fifty more, and bring it to a square.
For, mark the advantage; just so many score
Will gain a wife with half as many more,
Procure her beauty, make that beauty chaste,
And then such friends-as cannot fail to last.
A man of wealth is dubb'd a man of worth,
Venus shall give him form, and Anstis birth.
(Believe me, many a German prince is worse,
Who proud of pedigree, is poor of purse.)
His wealth brave Timon gloriously confounds;
Ask'd for a groat, he gives a hundred pounds;
Or if three ladies like a luckless play,
Takes the whole house upon the poet's day.
Now, in such exigencies not to need,
Upon my word you must be rich indeed;
A noble superfluity it craves,
Not for yourself, but for your fools and knäves;
Something, which for your honour they may cheat,
And which it much becomes you to forget.
If wealth alone then make and keep us blest,
Still, still be getting; never, never rest.
But if to power and place your passion lie,
If in the pomp of life consist the joy;
Then hire a slave, or (if you will) a lord,
To do the honours, and to give the word;
Tell at your levee, as the crowds approach,
To whom to nod, whom take into your coach,
Whom honour with your hand: to make remarks,
Who rules in Cornwall, or who rules in Berks:
“This may be troublesome, is near the chair;
That makes three members, this can choose a mayor."
Instructed thus, you bow, embrace, protest,
Adopt him son, or cousin at the least,
Then turn about, and laugh at your own jest.
Or if your life be one continued treat,
If to live well means nothing but to eat;
Up, up! cries Gluttony, 'tis break of day,
Go drive the deer, and drag the finny prey;
With hounds and horns go hunt an appetite
So Russel did, but could not eat at night,
Callid happy dog! the beggar at his door,
And envied thirst and hunger to the poor.
Or shall we every decency confound,
Through taverns, stews, and bagnios take our round?
Go dine with Chartres, in each vice outdo
K-l's lewd cargo, or Ty—y's
From Latian syrens, French Circæan feasts,
Return well travell’d, and transform'd to beasts,
Or for a titled punk, or foreign flame,
Renounce our country, and degrade our name?
If, after all, we must with Wilmot own,
The cordial drop of life is love alone;
And SWIFT cry wisely,“ Vive la bagatelle !"
The man that loves and laughs, must sure do well,
Adieu—if this advice appear the worst,
Even take the counsel which I gave you first:
Or better precepts if you can impart,
Why do; I'll follow them with all my heart
THE reflections of Horace, and the judgments passed in his epistle to Augustus, seemed so seasonable to the present time, that I could not help applying them to the use of my own country. The author thought them considerable enough to address them to his prince, whom he paints with all the great and good qualities of a monarch upon whom the Romans depended for the increase of an absolute empire. But to make the poem entirely English, I was willing to add one or tiro of those which contribute to the happiness of a free people, and are more consistent with the welfare of our neighbours.
This epistle will show the learned world to have fallen into two mistakes: one, that Augustus was a patron of poets in general: whereas he not only prohibited all but the best writers to name him, but recommended that care even to the civil magistrate: Admonebat prætores, ne paterentur nomen suum obsolefieri, &c. The other, that this piece was only a general discourse of poetry: whereas it was an apology for the poets, in order to render Augustus more their patron. Horace here pleads the cause of his contemporaries, first, against the taste of the town, whose bumour it was to magnify the authors of the preceding age; secondly, against the court and nobility, who encouraged only the writers for the theatre; and, lastly, against the emperor himself, who had conceived them of little use to the government. He shows (by a view of the progress of learning, and the change of taste among the Romans) that the introduction of the polite arts of Greece had given the writers of his time great advantages over their predecessors; that their morals were much improved, and the licence of those ancient poets restrained; that satire and comedy were become more just and useful; that whatever extravagancies were left on the stage were owing to the ill taste of the nobility: that poets, under due regulations, were in many respects useful to the state: and concludes that it was upon them the emperor himself must depend for his fame with posterity.
We may further learn from this epistle, that Horace made his court to this great prince by writing with a decent freedom toward him, with a just contempt of his low flatterers, and with a manly regard to his own character.
WHILE you, great patron of mankind ! sustain
The balanced world, and open all the main;
Your country, chief, in arms abroad defend,
At home, with morals, arts, and laws amend;
How shall the muse, from such a monarch, steal
An hour, and not defraud the public weal?
Edward and Henry, now the boast of Fame,
And virtuous Alfred, a more sacred name,
After a life of generous toils endured,
The Gaul subdued, or property secured,
Ambition humbled, mighty cities storm'd,
Or laws establish'd, and the world reform'd;
Closed their long glories, with a sigh, to find
The unwilling gratitude of base mankind !
All human virtue, to its latest breath,
Finds Envy never conquer'd, but by Death.
The great Alcides, every labour past,
Had still this monster to subdue at last.
Sure fate of all, beneath whose rising ray
Each star of meaner merit fades away!
Oppress'd we feel the beam directly beat,
Those suns of glory please not till they set.
To thee, the world its present homage pays,
The harvest early, but mature the praise:
Great friend of LIBERTY! in kings a name
Above all Greek, above all Roman fame:
Whose word is truth, as sacred and revered,
As Heaven's own oracles from altars heard.
Wonder of kings ! like whom, to mortal eyes
None e'er has risen, and none e'er shall rise.
Just in one instance, be it yet confess'd Your people, Sir, are partial in the rest: Foes to all living worth except your own, And advocates for folly dead and gone. Authors, like coins, grow dear as they grow old; It is the rust we value, not the gold. Chaucer's worst ribaldry is learned by rote, And beastly Skelton' heads of houses quote: 1 Skelton, poet laureat to Henry VIII., a volume of whose verses had been reprinted, consisting almost wholly of ribaldry, and obscenity.