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Is not, at length, more certain to be made.
Ridiculous, and wretched by the trade,
Than he who sells a solid good to buy
The painted goods of pride and vanity.
If thou be wise, no glorious fortune choose,
Which 't is but pain to keep, yet grief to lose ;
For, when we place ev'n trifles in the heart,
With trifles, too, unwillingly we part.
An humble roof, plain bed, and homely board,
More clear, untainted pleasures do afford,
Than all the tumult of vain greatness brings
To kings, or to the favourites of kings.
The horned deer, by nature arm’d so well,
Did with the horse in common pasture dwell;
And, when they fought, the field it always wan,
Till the ambitious horse begg'd help of man,
And took the bridle, and thenceforth did reign
Bravely alone, as lord of all the plain :
But never after could the rider get
From off his back, or from his mouth the bit.
So they, who poverty too much do fear,
T'avoid that weight, a greater burthen bear ;
That they might power above their equals have,
To cruel masters they themselves enslave.
For gold, their liberty exchang'd we see,
That fairest flower which crowns humanity *.
* The poet, as usual, expresses his own feeling : but he does more, he expresses it very classically. The allusion is to the ancient custom of wearing wreaths or garlands of Aowers on any occasion of joy and festivity. HURD.
And all this mischief does upon them light,
Only, because they know not how, aright,
That great, but secret, happiness to prize,
That's laid up in a little, for the wise :
That is the best and easiest estate,
Which to a man sits close, but not too straight;
'T is like a shoe; it pinches and it burns,
Too narrow; and too large, it overturns.
My dearest friend ! stop thy desires at last,
And cheerfully enjoy the wealth thou hast :
And, if me still seeking for more you see,
Chide and reproach, despise and laugh at me.
Money was made, not to command our will,
But all our lawful pleasures to fulfil:
Shame and woe to us, if we our wealth obey ;
The horse doth with the horseman run away.
BLESS'D be the man (and bless'd he is) whom e'er
(Plac'd far out of the roads of hope or fear)
A little field, and little garden, feeds :
The field gives all that frugal nature needs ;
The wealthy garden liberally bestows
All she can ask, when she luxurious grows.
The specious inconveniencies, that wait
Upon a life of business, and of state,
He sees (nor does the sight disturb his rest)
By fools desir’d, by wicked men possess'd.
Thus, thus (and this deserv'd great Virgil's praise)
The old Corycian yeoman pass'd his days;
Thus his wise life Abdolonymus spent :
Th' ambassadors which the great emperor sent
To offer him a crown, with wonder found
The reverend gardener hoeing of his ground;
Unwillingly, and slow, and discontent,
From his lov'd cottage to a throne he went;
And oft he stopp'd, in his triumphant way,
And oft look'd back, and oft was heard to say,
Not without sighs, Alas ! I there forsake
A happier kingdom than I go to take !
Thus Aglaüs (a man unknown to men,
But the gods knew, and therefore lov’d him then)
Thus liv'd obscurely then without a name,
Aglais, now consign'd t'eternal fame.
For Gyges, the rich king, wicked and great,
Presum'd, at wise Apollo's Delphick seat
Presum'd, to ask, Oh thou, the whole world's eye,
See'st thou a man that happier is than I?
The god, who scorn'd to flatter man, reply'd,
Aglaüs happier is. But Gyges cry'd,
In a proud rage, Who can that Aglaüs be!
We have heard, as yet, of no such king as he.
And true it was, through the whole earth around
No king of such a name was to be found.
Is some old hero of that name alive,
Who his high race does from the gods derive ?
Is it some mighty general, that has done
Wonders in fight, and god-like honours won ?
Is it some man of endless wealth ? said he.
None, none of these. Who can this Aglaüs be?
After long search, and vain inquiries past,
In an obscure Arcadian vale at last
(Th’ Arcadian life has always shady been)
Near Sopho's town (which he but once had seen)
This Aglais, who monarchs' envy drew,
Whose happiness the gods stood witness to,
This mighty Aglais, was labouring found,
With his own hands, in his own little ground.
So, gracious God! (if it may lawful be,
Among those foolish gods to mention thee)
So let me act, on such a private stage,
The last dull scenes of my declining age;
After long toils and voyages in vain,
This quiet port let my toss'd vessel gain ;
Of heavenly rest, this earnest to me lend,
life sleep, and learn to love her end.
I NEVER had any other desire so strong and so like to covetousness, as that one which I have had always, that I might be master at last of a small house and large garden, with very
moderate conveniencies joined to them, and there dedicate the remainder of my life only to the culture of them, and study of nature;
And there (with no design beyond my wall) whole
and intire to lie, In no unactive ease, and no unglorious poverty.
Or, as Virgil has said, shorter and better for me, that I might there
“ Studiis florere ignobilis oti * :"
(though I could wish that he had rather said, bilis oti," when he spoke of his own). But several accidents of my ill-fortune have disappointed me