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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 solemnized 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,
Roused 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 smoked upon the board.
Asleep and naked as an Indian lay,
An honest factor stole a gem away:
He pledged it to the knight; the knight had wit,
So kept the diamond, and the rogue was bit.
Some scruple rose, but thus he eased his thought,
I'll now give sixpence where I gave a groat;
Where once I went to church, I'll now go twice+
And 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 called 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;
She bears a coronet and p-x for life.
In Britain's senate he a seat obtains,
And one more pensioner St. Stephen gains.
My lady falls to play: so bad her chance,
He must repair it; takes a bribe from France;
The house impeach him, Coningsby harangues;
The court forsake him, and Sir Balaam hangs:
Wife, son, and daughter, Satan! are thy own;
His wealth, yet dearer, forfeit to the crown:
The devil and the king divide the prize,
And sad Sir Balaam curses God, and dies.
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, ver. 13. That the first principle and foundation in this, as in every thing else, is good sense, ver. 40. 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, ver. 50. 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 be but perverted into something burthensome and ridiculous, ver. 65 to 92. 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, ver 97, and the second either in joining together parts incoherent, or too minutely resembling, or in the repetition of the same too frequently, ver. 105, &c. A word or two of false taste in books, in music, in painting, even in preaching and prayer, and lastly in entertainments, ver. 133, &c. 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, ver. 169. [recurring to what is laid down in the first book, Ep. ii. and in the Epistle preceding this, ver. 159, &c.] What are the proper objects of magnificence, and a proper field for the expense of great men, ver. 177, &c. And, finally, the great and public works which become a prince, ver. 191, to the end.
The extremes of avarice and profusion being treated of in the foregoing Epistle; this takes up one particular branch of the latter, the vanity of expense in people of wealth and quality; and is therefore a corollary to the preceding, just as the Epistle on the Characters of Women is to that of the Knowledge and Characters of Men. It is equally remarkable for exactness of method with the rest. But the nature of the subject, which is less philosophical, makes it capable of being analyzed in a much narrower compass.
'Tis strange, the miser should his cares employ
To gain those riches he can ne'er enjoy :
Is it less strange, the prodigal should waste
His wealth, to purchase what he ne'er can taste?
Not for himself he sees, or hears, or eats;
Artists must choose his pictures, music, meats:
He buys for Topham drawings and designs;
For Pembroke statues, dirty gods, and coins;
Rare monkish manuscripts for Hearne alone,
And books for Mead, and butterflies for Sloane.
Think we all these are for himself? no more
Than his fine wife, alas! or finer whore.
For what has Virro painted, built, and planted?
Only to shew how many tastes he wanted.
What brought Sir Visto's ill-got wealth to waste?
Some demon whisper'd, Visto! have a taste.'
Heaven visits with a taste the wealthy fool,
And needs no rod but Ripley with a rule.
See! sportive fate, to punish awkward pride,
Bids Bubo build, and sends him such a guide :
A standing sermon, at each year's expense,
That never coxcomb reach'd magnificence!
You shew us, Rome was glorious, not profuse,
And pompous buildings once were things of use.
Yet shall, my lord, your just, your noble rules
Fill half the land with imitating fools;
Who random drawings from your sheets shall take, And of one beauty many blunders make;
Load some vain church with old theatric state,
Turns arcs of Triumph to a garden-gate;
Reverse your ornaments, and hang them all
On some patch'd dog-hole eked with ends of wall;
Then clap four slices of pilaster on 't,
That, laced with bits of rustic, makes a front;
Shall call the winds through long arcades to roar,
Proud to catch cold at a Venetian door:
Conscious they act a true Palladian part,
And if they starve, they starve by rules of art.
Oft have you hinted to your brother peer
A certain truth, which many buy too dear:
Something there is more needful than expense,
And something previous e'en to taste-'tis sense;
Good sense, which only is the gift of Heaven,
And, though no science, fairly worth the seven :
A light which in yourself you must perceive;
Jones and Le Nôtre have it not to give.
To build, to plant, whatever you intend,
To rear the column, or the arch to bend,
To swell the terrace, or to sink the grot;
In all let Nature never be forgot:
But treat the goddess like a modest fair,
Nor over-dress, nor leave her wholly bare;
Let not each beauty every where be spied,
Where half the skill is decently to hide.
He gains all points, who pleasingly confounds,
Surprises, varies, and conceals the bounds.
Consult the genius of the place in all;
That tells the waters or to rise or fall;
Or helps th' ambitious hill the heavens to scale,
Or scoops in circling theatres the vale;
Calls in the country, catches opening glades,
Joins willing woods, and varies shades from shades;
Now breaks, or now directs, th' intending lines,
Paints as you plant, and as you work designs.
Still follow sense, of every art the soul,
Parts answering parts shall slide into a whole;
Spontaneous beauties all around advance,
Start e'en from difficulty, strike from chance :
Nature shall join you; time shall make it grow
A work to wonder at-perhaps a Stow.
Without it, proud Versailles! thy glory falls;
And Nero's terraces desert their walls:
The vast parterres a thousand hands shall make,
Lo! Cobham comes, and floats them with a lake:
Or cut wide views through mountains to the plain,
You'll wish your hill or shelter'd seat again.
E'en in an ornament its place remark,
Nor in a hermitage set Dr. Clarke.
Behold Villario's ten years' toil complete,
His quincunx darkens, his espaliers meet;
The wood supports the plain, the parts unite,
And strength of shade contends with strength of light;
A waving glow the bloomy beds display,
Blushing in bright diversities of day,
With silver-quivering rills meander'd o'er-
Enjoy them, you! Villario can no more:
Tired of the scene parterres and fountains yield,
He finds at last he better likes a field,
[stray'd, Through his young woods how pleased Sabinus
Or sat delighted in the thickening shade,