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Somebody * says of a virtuous and wise man, " that having nothing, he has all :" this is just his antipode, who, having all things, yet has nothing. He is a guardian eunuch to his beloved gold : “ audivi eos amatores esse maximos, sed nil potesse.” They are the fondest lovers, but impotent to enjoy.
And, oh, what man's condition can be worse
Than his, whom plenty starves, and blessings curse!
The beggars but a common fate deplore,
The rich poor man's emphatically poor.
I wonder how it comes to pass, that there has never been any law made against him ; against him do I say? I mean, for him : as there are publick provisions made for all other madmen; it is very reasonable that the king should appoint some persons (and I think the courtiers would not be against this proposition) to manage his estate during his life (for his heirs commonly need not that care): and out of it to make it their business to see, that he should not want alimony befitting his condition, which he could never get out of his own cruel
fingers. We relieve idle vagrants, and counterfeit beggars; but have no care at all of these really poor men, who are, methinks, to be respectfully treated, in regard of their quality. I might be endless against them, but I am almost choked with the super-abundance of the matter; too much plenty impoverishes me, as it does them. I will conclude this odious subject with part of Horace's first satire, which take in his own familiar style:
I admire, Mæcenas, how it comes to pass,
That no man ever yet contented was,
Nor is, nor perhaps will be, with that state
In which his own choice plants him, or his fate.
Happy the merchant, the old soldier cries :
The merchant, beaten with tempestuous skies,
Happy the soldier! one half-hour to thee
Gives speedy death, or glorious victory:
The lawyer, knock'd up early from his rest
By restless clients, calls the peasant blest:
The peasant, when his labours ill succeed,
Envies the mouth, which only talk does feed.
’T is not (I think you 'll say) that I want store
Of instances, if here I add no more ;
They are enough to reach, at least a mile,
Beyond long orator Fabius's style.
But hold, ye, whom no fortune e'er endears,
Gentlemen, malecontents, and mutineers,
Who bounteous Jove so often cruel call,
Behold, Jove's now resolved to please you all.
Thou soldier, be a merchant: merchant, thou
A soldier be: and, lawyer, to the plough.
Change all your stations straight: why do they stay?
The devil a man will change, now, when he may.
Were I in general Jove's abused case,
By Jove I'd cudgel this rebellious race:
But he's too good; be all, then, as ye were ;
However, make the best of what ye are,
And in that state be cheerful and rejoice,
Which either was your fate, or was your choice.
No, they must labour yet, and sweat, and toil,
And very miserable be a while;
But 't is with a design only to gain
age with plenteous ease maintain,
The prudent pismire does this lesson teach,
And industry to lazy mankind preach :
The little drudge does trot about and sweat,
Nor does he straight devour all he can get;
But in his temperate mouth carries it home
A stock for winter, which he knows must come.
And, when the rolling world to creatures here
Turns up the deform'd wrong-side of the year,
And shuts him in, with storms, and cold, and wet,
He cheerfully does his past labours eat:
O, does he so ? your wise example, th' ant,
Does not, at all times, rest and plenty want;
But, weighing justly a mortal ant's condition,
Divides his life 'twixt labour and fruition.
Thee, neither heat, nor storms, nor wet, nor cold,
From thy unnatural diligence can withhold:
To th' Indies thou wouldst run, rather than see
Another, though a friend, richer than thee.
Fond man ! what good or beauty can be found
In heaps of treasure buried under ground?
Which rather than diminish'd e'er to see,
Thou wouldst thyself, too, buried with them be':
And what's the difference? is 't not quite as bad
Never to use, as never to have had ?
In thy vast barns millions of quarters store;
Thy belly, for all that, will hold no more
Than mine does. Every baker makes much bread:
What then? He's with no more, than others, fed.
within the bounds of nature live,
And to augment your own you need not strive;
One hundred acres will no less for you
Your life's whole business, than ten thousand, do.
But pleasant 't is to take from a great store.'
What, man! though you 're resolv'd to take no more
Than I do from a small one? If y
will Be but a pitcher or a pot to fill, To some great river for it must you go, When a clear spring just at your feet does flow? Give me the spring, which does to human use Safe, easy, and untroubled stores produce: He who scorns these, and needs will drink at Nile,' Must run the danger of the crocodile, And of the rapid stream itsel At unawares, bear him perhaps away. In a full flood Tantalus stands, his skin Wash'd o'er in vain, for ever dry within:
He catches at the stream with greedy lips,
From his touch'd mouth the wanton torrent slips:
You laugh now, and expand your careful brow;
'T is finely said, but what's all this to you?
Change but the name, this fable is thy story,
Thou in a flood of useless wealth dost glory,
Which thou canst only touch, but never taste;
Th' abundance still, and still the want does last.
The treasures of the gods thou wouldst not spare:
But when they 're made thine own, they sacred are,
And must be kept with reverence; as if thou
No other use of precious gold didst know,
But that of curious pictures, to delight,
With the fair stamp, thy virtuoso sight.
The only true and genuine use is this,
To buy the things, which nature cannot miss
Without discomfort; oil and vital bread,
And wine, by which the life of life is fed,
And all those few things else by which we live :
All that remains, is giv'n for thee to give.
If cares and troubles, envy, grief and fear,
The bitter fruits be, which fair riches bear;
If a new poverty grow out of store;
The old plain way, ye gods ! let me be poor.
PARAPHRASE ON HORACE, B.III. ODE XVI.
A TOWER of brass, one would have said,
And locks, and bolts, and iron bars,