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Oh fool! to think God hates the worthy mind,
The lover and the love of human-kind,
Whose life is healthful, and whose conscience clear,
Because he wants a thousand pounds a-year.
Honour and shame from no condition rise;
Act well your part, there all the honour lies.
Fortune in men has some small difference made,
One flaunts in rags, one flutters in brocade;
The cubbler 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. 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, 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 father's worth if yours you rate, 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 ? Alas! not all the blood of all the Howards. [lies :
Look next on greatness ; say, where greatness “ Where but among the heroes and the wise ?"
Heroes are much the same, the point's agreed,
From Macedonia's madman to the Swede ;
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 further than his nose.
No less alike the politic and wise :
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;
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
Like Socrates, that man is great indeed.
What’s fame? a fancy'd life in others breath,
A thing beyond us, ev'n before our death.
Just what you hear, you have; and what's unknown,
The same, my lord, if Tully's, or your own.
All that we feel of it begins and ends
In the small circle of our foes or friends;
To all beside as much an empty shade
An Eugene living, as a Cæsar dead;
Alike or when, or where they shone, or shine,
Or on the Rubicon, or on the Rhine.
A wit's a feather, and a chief a rod :
An honest man's the noblest work of God.
Fame but from death a villain's name can save,
As Justice tears his body from the grave;
When what t'oblivion better were resign'd,
Is hung on high to poison half mankind.
All fame is foreign, but of true desert;
Plays round the head, but comes not to the heart:
One self-approving hour whole years outweighs
Of stupid starers, and of loud huzzas;
And more true joy Marcellus exil'd feels,
Than Cæsar with a senate at his heels.
In parts superior what advantage lies?
Tell (for you can) what is it to be wise ?
'Tis but to know how little can be known;
To see all others faults, and feel our own :
Condemn'd in business or in arts to drudge,
Without a second, or without a judge :
Truths would you teach, or save a sinking land?
All fear, none aid you, and few understand.
Painful pre-eminence! yourself to view
Above life's weakness, and its comforts too.
Bring then these blessings to a strict account; Make fair deductions; see to what they mount: How much of other each is sure to cost; How much for other oft is wholly lost; How inconsistent greater goods with these; How sometimes life is risk'd, and always ease : Think, and if still the things thy envy call, Say, wouldst thou be the man to whom they fall ? To sigh for ribbands, if thou art so silly, Mark how they grace Lord Umbra, or Sir Billy. Is yellow dirt the passion of thy life? Look but on Gripus, or on Gripus' wife. If parts allure thee, think how Bacon shin'd, The wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind:
Or ravish'd with the whistling of a name,
See Cromwell, damn'd to everlasting fame!
If all, united, thy ambition call,
From ancient story, learn to scorn them all.
There, in the rich, the honour'd, fam'd, and great,
See the false scale of happiness complete !
In hearts of kings, or arms of queens who lay,
How happy! those to ruin, these betray.
Mark by what wretched steps their glory grows,
From dirt and sea-weed, as proud Venice rose ;
In each, how guilt and greatness equal ran,
And all that rais'd the hero, sunk the man:
Now Europe's laurels on their brows behold,
But stain'd with blood, or ill exchang'd for gold:
Then see them broke with toils, or sunk in ease,
Or infamous for plunder'd provinces.
O! wealth ill-fated; which no act of fame
E’er taught to shine, or sanctify'd from shame!
What greater bliss attends their close of life?
Some greedy minion, or imperious wife,
The trophy'd arches, story'd halls invade,
And haunt their slumbers in the pompous
Alas! not dazzled with their noon-tide ray,
Compute the morn and evening to the day ;
The whole amount of that enormous fame,
A tale, that blends their glory with their shame!
Know then this truth (enough for man to know),
« Virtue alone is happiness below."
The only point where human bliss stands still,
And tastes the good without the fall to ill ;
Where only merit constant pay receives,
Is blest in what it takes, and what it gives;
The joy unequall'd, if its end it gain,
And if it lose, attended with no pain:
Without satiety, though e'er so bless'd,
And but more relish'd as the more distress'd :
The broadest mirth unfeeling Folly wears,
Less pleasing far than Virtue's very tears:
Good, from each object, from each place acquir’d,
For ever exercis'd, yet never tir'd ;
Never elated, while one man's oppress'd;
Never dejected, while another's blest ;
And where no wants, no wishes can remain,
Since but to wish more virtue, is to gain.
See the sole bliss Heaven could on all bestow !
Which who but feels can taste, but thinks can know:
Yet poor with fortune, and with learning blind,
The bad must miss; the good, untaught, will find;
Slave to no sect, who takes no private road,
But looks through Nature, up to Nature's God';
Pursues that chain which links th' immense design,
Joins Heaven and Earth, and mortal and divine;
Sees, that no being any bliss can know, ..
But touches some above, and some below;
Learns from this union of the rising whole
The first, last purpose of the human soul ;
And knows where faith, law, morals, all began,
All end in love of God, and love of man.
For him alone, Hope leads from goal to goal,
And opens still, and opens on his soul:
Till lengthen’d on to Faith, and unconfin'd,
It pours the bliss that fills up all the mind..
He sees, why Nature plants in man alone
Hope of known bliss, and faith in bliss unknown :