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Gallant and gay, in Cliveden's proud alcove,
His Grace's fate sage Cutler8 could foresee,
7 The infamous Countess of Shrewsbury, whose lord the Duke of Buckingham killed in a duel on her account, and who is reported to have held the Duke's horses, disguised as a page, during the combat.
8 Sir John Cutler, notorious for his miserly habits. VOL. II.
Cutler and Brutus dying both exclaim, “ Virtue ! and wealth! what are ye but a name!”
Say, for such worth are other worlds prepar'd ? Or are they both in this their own reward ? A knotty point! to which we now proceed. But you are tir'd—I'll tell a tale-B. Agreed. P. Where London's column, pointing at the
skies, Like a tall bully, lifts the head and lies, There dwelt a citizen of sober fame, A plain good man, and Balaam was his name. Religious, punctual, frugal, and so forth, His word would pass for more than he was worth; One solid dish his week-day meal affords, An added pudding solemniz'd the Lord's; Constant at church and 'Change; his gains were
sure, His givings rare, save farthings to the poor.
The devil was piqued such saintship to behold, And long'd to tempt him like good Job of old ; But Satan now is wiser than of yore, And tempts by making rich, not making poor.
Rous'd by the prince of air, the whirlwinds sweep The surge, and plunge his father in the deep; Then full against his Cornish lands they roar, And two rich shipwrecks bless the lucky shore.
Sir Balaam now, he lives like other folks, He takes his chirping pint, and cracks his jokes. " Live like yourself,” was soon my lady's word; And lo! two puddings smok'd upon the board.
Asleep and naked as an Indian lay, An honest factor stole a gem away: He pledg'd it to the knight; the knight had wit, So kept the diamond, and the rogue was bit. Some scruple rose, but thus he easd his thought: * I'll now give sixpence where I gave a groat; Where once I went to church I'll now go twiceAnd am so clear too of all other vice.”
The tempter saw his time; the work he plied ; Stocks and subscriptions pour on every side, Till all the demon makes his full descent In one abundant shower of cent per cent, Sinks deep within him, and possesses whole, Then dubs director, and secures his soul.
Behold Sir Balaam, now a man of spirit, Ascribes his gettings to his parts and merit; What late he call’d a blessing now was wit, And God's good providence a lucky hit. Things change their titles as our manners turn, His counting-house employ'd the Sunday morn: Seldom at church ('twas such a busy life), But duly sent his family and wife. There (so the devil ordain’d) one Christmas-tide My good old lady catch'd a cold and died.
A nymph of quality admires our knight ; He marries, bows at court, and grows polite; Leaves the dull cits, and joins (to please the fair) The well-bred cuckolds in St. James's air: First for his son a gay commission buys, Who drinks, whores, fights, and in a duel dies :
His daughter flaunts a viscount's tawdry wife:
TO RICHARD BOYLE, EARL OF BURLINGTON.
OF THE USE OF RICHES.
The vanity of expense in people of wealth and quality. The
abuse of the word taste. That the first principle and foundation in this, as in every thing else, is good sense. The chief proof of it is to follow nature, even in works of mere luxury and elegance. Instanced in architecture and gardening, where all must be adapted to the genius and use of the place, and the beauties not forced into it, but resulting from it. How men are disappointed in their most expensive undertakings for want of this true foundation, without which nothing can please long, if at all; and the best examples and rules will but be perverted into something burdensome and ridiculous. A description of the false taste of magnificence; the first grand error of which is to imagine that greatness consists in the size and dimension, instead of the proportion and harmony, of the whole ; and the second, either in joining together parts incoherent, or minutely resembling, or, in the repetition of the same too frequently. A word or two of false taste in books, in music, in painting, even in preaching and prayer, and lastly in entertainments. Yet Providence is justified in giving wealth to be squandered in this manner, since it is dispersed to the poor and laborious part of mankind. [Recurring to what is laid down in the first book, ep. ii. and in the epistle preceding this.] What are the proper objects of magnificence, and a proper field for the expense of great men. And, finally, the great and public works which become a prince.