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Or memoirs, written by some scribbling thing,
That bites a bard, as gnats a lion sting-
I've dared to write: no moralist will curse,
Though few, perchance, will praise this sober verse.
While well-fed Codrus dedicates his rhymes
To his kind patron, shall we blame the times?
How generous that Mæcenas is who gives
His gold, and lauded in a preface lives!
Some with subscriptions love to make a show;
'Tis right the world their charities should know;
Their spring of action's selfishness; what then?
Their names, perchance, may influence other men.
Better write songs, or simper at a ball,
Than like a youthful Timon lose your all.
Some care not how they trifle life away;
A hero wept if he but lost a day!
The ruin'd master of a vast estate
Finds he had time for hazard when too late.
What then is wealth, if boundless be our wants?
How few can well employ what fortune grants!
One buys a borough, and corrupts the poor;
Another opes to every knave his door.
If there be virtues in this world, they thrive
Far from those open halls where lordlings live.
Enslaved to thousands, while he seems their god,
The generous fool for self prepares the rod.
All lash him-why? because he fondly deem'd
That they, vain boasters! were the men they seem'd.
Cethegus shines alike with talents rare,
Or in St. Giles's or in Grosvenor-square:
So versatile in all things, he must please
Who thus to pleasure sacrifices ease.
Lucullus to a boor, within the week,
Sells gems and goblets of the true antique:
Who then would be Lucullus, thus to lose
All that a polish'd taste had learn'd to choose?
Is Gracchus happy, as around him throng
The rabble, who applaud him right or wrong?
No: when the conquest is so mean indeed,
He feels no triumph where he must succeed.
Great wits and statesmen grace Moreri's page;
Who else.records these wonders of their age!
Since fame is so uncertain, shall we say
That splendid follies live beyond their day?
Each has the beau idéal in his mind
Of pleasure; that is coarse, this more refined:
Talk not to me, says Florio, of delights
The country has; give me the view from White's.
What is more lovely on a summer's day
Than charms which beauteous women then display?
Dearer to him the sensual warm saloon
At Covent Garden, than the full-orb'd moon.
He, as he views the immortal lights on high,
For Vauxhall's artificial splendours sigh.
So strange is taste, that some do not disdain
To breathe the wholesome air of Maiden-lane,
Where, by the smoking conclave, they are prized,
And sometimes pass for characters disguised.
At clubs and auctions Florio may contrive
Through a wet day, by rising late, to live;
Give him at night his turtle and champagne,
He might exist through the same day again.
Life must indeed to such strange beings seem,
Or a fool's Paradise, or drunkard's dream:
But spirits o'er excited, soon will fail;
Then all is dull, unprofitable, stale;
Nor Ude's best fare, nor wines though very choice
Nor social songs can make the heart rejoice.
Poor Foppington! but yesterday the pride
Of ball-rooms, is by fashion thrown aside;
Another is adored, why, none can tell :
Yet must another be forgot as well!
This is indeed the common lot of all
Whom vain ambition prompts to rule the ball.
Wharton, a great Corinthian in his day,
(Pope paints his character) was somewhat gay,
Loved to 66 see life," ambitious of a name :
Compared with his, e'en Egan's sports are tame.
What pity that such revellers should die,
They are so useful to society.
Most glorious is the spring-time of the year,
How freshly green the woods, the vales appear!
"Flowers of all hue" the splendid meads adorn;
With blossoms white how fragrant is the thorn !
And Heaven gives glimpses of itself by land,
By sea, fine fragments show the master-hand.
When Nature's clothed in such a varied dress,
Shall man presume to scorn her loveliness-
Slight the rich banquet that she bids him taste,
And fortune's gifts in chase of follies waste?
The circle of enjoyment comprehends
Wife, children, books, a few warm-hearted friends:
Man may with these contented be, and spurn
Those nothings after which his neighbours yearn.
I account a person who has a moderate mind and fortune, and lives in the conversation of two or three agreeable friends, with little commerce in the world besides; who is esteemed well enough by his few neighbours that know him, and is truly irreproachable by anybody; and so, after a healthful quiet life, before the great inconveniences of old age, goes silently out of it; this innocent deceiver of the world, as Horace calls him, this "muta persona," I take to have been more happy in his part, than the greatest actors that fill the stage with show and noise; nay, even than Augustus himself, who asked, with his last breath, whether he had not played his farce very well.-COWLEY.
SHALL I, while serious duties must engage
My mind, write on in this most rhyming age?
Wilt thou, with clients crowding at thy door,
Consent to be poetical, and poor?
Yet let me snatch, my friend, one hour away
From fashion's vain impertinence to-day,
From the dull forms of business, and its cares,
That close around me like the fowler's snares—
Read but these plain lines from an honest pen,
And I'll ne'er trifle with the Muse again.