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and pined away for want of the title of an emperor or a god. The reason of this is, that greatness has no reality in nature, being a creature of the fancy, a notion that consists only in relation and comparison: it is indeed an idol; but St. Paul teaches us, “ that an idol is nothing in the world.” There is in truth no rising or meridian of the sun, but only in respect to several places : there is no right or left, no upper-hand in nature; every thing is little, and every thing is great, according as it is diversely compared. There may be perhaps some village in Scotland or Ireland, where I might be a great man: and in that case I should be like Cæsar (you would wonder how Cæsar and I should be like one another in any thing); and choose rather to be the first man of the village, than second at Rome. Our country is called Great Britany, in regard only of a lesser of the same name; it would be but a ridiculous epithet for it, when we consider it together with the kingdom of China. That, too, is but a pitiful rood of ground, in comparison of the whole earth besides: and this whole globe of earth, which we account so immense a body, is but one point or atom in relation to those numberless worlds that are scattered up and down in the infinite space of the sky which we behold.
The other many inconveniencies of grandeur have spoken of dispersedly in several chapters; and shall end this with an ode of Horace, not exactly copied, but rudely imitated.
HORACE, B. III. ODE I.
“ Odi profanum vulgus, &c."
HENCE, ye profane! I hate you all ;
Both the great vulgar, and the small. To virgin minds, which yet their native whiteness
hold, Not yet discolour'd with the love of gold
(That jaundice of the soul, Which makes it look so gilded and so faul), To you, ye very few, these truths I tell ; The Muse inspires my song ; hark, and observe it
We look on men, and wonder at such odds
'Twixt things that were the same by birth; We look on kings as giants of the earth, These giants are but pigmies to the gods.
The humblest bush and proudest oak
And love to see themselves, and smile,
Ev'n so in the same land, Poor weeds, rich corn, gay flowers, together stand; Alas! death mows down all with an impartial hand. And all ye men, whom greatness does so please,
Ye feast, I fear, like Damocles :
If ye your eyes could upwards move (But ye, I fear, think nothing is above), Ye would perceive by what a little thread The sword still hangs over your
head : No tide of wine would drown your cares ; No mirth or musick over-noise your fears: The fear of death would you so watchful keep, As not t admit the image of it, sleep.
Sleep is a god too proud to wait in palaces,
The meanest country cottages :
“ His poppy grows among the corn." The halcyon Sleep will never build his nest
In any stormy breast.
Darkness but half his work will do:
The man, who, in all wishes he does make,
Does only nature's counsel take, That wise and happy man will never fear
The evil aspects of the year ;
Whether he fortunate shall be ;
And what they please against the world design,
So Jupiter within him shine.
If of your pleasures and desires no end be found, God to your cares and fears will set no bound.
What would content you ? who can tell ? Ye fear so much to lose what
ye As if
lik'd it well: Ye strive for more, as if ye lik'd it not.
Go, level hills, and fill up seas, Spare nought that may your wanton fancy please ; :
But, trust me, when you have done all this, Much will be missing still, and much will be amiss.
THERE are two sorts of avarice: the one is but of a bastard kind, and that is, the rapacious appetite of gain; not for its own sake, but for the pleasure of refunding it immediately through all the channels of pride and luxury: the other is the true kind, and properly so called; which is a restless and insatiable desire of riches, not for any farther end or use, but only to hoard, and preserve, and perpetually increase them. The covetous man, of the first kind, is like a greedy ostrich, which devours any metal; but it is with an intent to feed upon it, and, in effect, it makes a shift to digest and excern it. The second is like the foolish chough, which loves to steal money only to hide it. The first does much harm to mankind; and a little good too, to some few : the second does good to none; no, not to himself. The first can make no excuse to God, or angels, or rational men, for his actions: the second can give no reason or colour, not to the devil himself, for what he does ; he is a slave to Mammon without wages.
The first makes a shift to be beloved ; ay, and envied too by some people: the second is the universal object of hatred and contempt. There is no vice has been so pelted with good sentences, and especially by the poets, who have pursued it with stories, and fables, and allegories, and allusions ; and moved, às we say, every stone to fling at it: among all which, I do not remember a more fine and gentleman-like correction, than that which was given it by one line of Ovid :
« Desunt luxuriæ multa, avaritiæ omnia."
Much is wanting to luxury, all to avarice,
To which saying, I have a mind to add one member, and tender it thus,
Poverty wants some, luxury many, avarice all things.