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Attentive truth and nature to descry,
And pierce each scene with philosophick eye;
To thee were solemn toys, or empty show,
The robes of pleasure, and the veils of woe:
All aid the farce, and all thy mirth maintain,
Whose joys are causeless, or whose griefs are vain.
Such was the scorn that fill'd the sage's mind,
Renew'd at ev'ry glance on human kind;
How just that scorn, ere yet thy voice declare,
Search ev'ry state, and canvass ev'ry pray’r.
Unnumber'd suppliants crowd preferment's gate,
Athirst for wealth, and burning to be great;
Delusive fortune hears th' incessant call,
They mount, they shine, evaporate, and fall.
On ev'ry stage the foes of peace attend,
Hate dogs their flight, and insult mocks their end.
Love ends with hope, the sinking statesman's door
Pours in the morning worshipper no more ;
For growing names the weekly scribbler lies,
To growing wealth the dedicator flies;
From ev'ry room descends the painted face,
That hung the bright palladium of the place;
And, smok'd in kitchens, or in auctions sold,
To better features yields the frame of gold;
For now no more we trace in ev'ry line
Heroick worth, benevolence divine :
The form, distorted, justifies the fall,
And detestation rids th' indignant wall.
But will not Britain hear the last appeal, Sign her foes' doom, or guard her fav’rites' zeal ? Through freedom's sons no more remonstrance rings, Degrading nobles and controling kings ; Our supple tribes repress their patriot throats, And ask no questions but the price of votes ; With weekly libels and septennial ale, Their wish is full to riot and to rail.
In full-blown dignity, see Wolsey stand, Law in his voice, and fortune in his hand;
I Ver. 56-107.
To him the church, the realm their pow'rs consign,
Through him the rays of regal bounty shine ;
Turn’d by his nod the stream of honour flows,
His smile alone security bestows.
Still to new heights his restless wishes tow'r,
Claim leads to claim, and pow'r advances pow'r ;)
Till conquest, unresisted, ceas'd to please,
And rights, submitted, left him none to seize.
At length his sov'reign frowns—the train of state
Mark the keen glance, and watch the sign to hate.
Where'er he turns, he meets a stranger's eye,
His suppliants scorn him, and his followers fly;
Now drops, at once, the pride of awful state,
The golden canopy, the glitt'ring plate,
The regal palace, the luxurious board,
The liv'ried army, and the menial lord.
With age, with cares, with maladies oppress’d,
He seeks the refuge of monastick rest:
Grief aids disease, remember'd folly stings,
And his last sighs reproach the faith of kings.
Speak thou, whose thoughts at humble peace repine,
Shall Wolsey's wealth, with Wolsey's end, be thine ?
Or liv’st thou now, with safer pride content,
* The wisest justice on the banks of Trent?
For, why did Wolsey, near the steeps of fate,
On weak foundations raise th' enormous weight?
Why but to sink beneath misfortune's blow,
With louder ruin to the gulfs below?
What gave great Villiers to th' assassin's knife,
And fix'd disease on Harley's closing life?
What murder'd Wentworth, and what exil'd Hyde,
By kings protected, and to kings allied ?
What but their wish indulg'd in courts to shine,
And pow'r too great to keep, or to resign?
m When first the college rolls receive his name,
The young enthusiast quits his ease for fame;
k The richest landlord.
I Ver. 108–113. m Ver. 114—132.
n Through all his veins the fever of renown
Spreads from the strong contagion of the
O'er Bodley's dome his future labours spread,
And Bacon's mansion trembles o'er his head.
Are these thy views ? Proceed, illustrious youth,
And virtue guard thee to the throne of truth!
Yet, should thy soul indulge the gen'rous heat
Till captive science yields her last retreat;
Should reason guide thee with her brightest ray,
And pour on misty doubt resistless day;
Should no false kindness lure to loose delight,
Nor praise relax, nor difficulty fright;
Should tempting novelty thy cell refrain,
PAnd sloth effuse her opiate fumes in vain ;
Should beauty blunt on fops her fatal dart,
Nor claim the triumph of a letter'd heart;
Should no disease thy torpid veins invade,
Nor melancholy's phantoms haunt thy shade ;
Yet hope not life, from grief or danger free,
Nor think the doom of man revers'd for thee :
Deign on the passing world to turn thine
And pause awhile from letters, to be wise ;
There mark what ills the scholar's life assail,
Toil, envy, want, the patron, and the gaol.
See nations, slowly wise and meanly just,
To buried merit raise the tardy bust.
If dreams yet flatter, once again attend,
Hear Lydiat’s life, and Galileo's end".
n Resistless burns the fever of renown,
Caught from the strong contagion of the gown. Mr. Boswell tells us, that when he remarked to Dr. Johnson, that there was an awkward repetition of the word spreads in this passage, he altered it to “ Burns from the strong contagion of the gown;" but this expression, it appears, was only resumed from the reading in the first edition.
• There is a tradition, that the study of friar Bacon, built on an arch over the bridge, will fall, when a man greater than Bacon shall pass under it. To prevent so shocking an accident, it was pulled down many years since.
Nor deem, when learning her last prize bestows,
The glittring eminence exempt from woes;
See, when the vulgar scape', despis’d or aw'd,
Rebellion's vengeful talons seize on Laud.
From meaner minds though smaller fines content,
The plunder'd palace, or sequester'd rent;
Mark'd out by dang'rous parts, he meets the shock,
And fatal learning leads him to the block:
Around his tomb let art and genius weep,
But hear his death, ye blockheads, hear and sleep.
The festal blazes, the triumphal show,
The ravish'd standard, and the captive foe,
The senate's thanks, the gazette's pompous tale,
With force resistless o'er the brave prevail.
Such bribes the rapid Greek o'er Asia whirld;
For such the steady Romans shook-the world;
For such, in distant lands, the Britons shine,
And stain with blood the Danube or the Rhine ;
This pow'r has praise, that virtue scarce can warm,
Till fame supplies the universal charm.
Yet reason frowns on war's unequal game,
Where wasted nations raise a single name;
And mortgag'd states, their grandsires' wreaths regret,
From age to age in everlasting debt; ;
Wreaths which, at last, the dear-bought right convey
To rust on medals, or on stones decay.
"On what foundation stands the warriour's pride, How just his hopes, let Swedish Charles decide; 1 A frame of adamant, a soul of fire, No dangers fright him, and no labours tire ; * O'er love, o'er fear, extends his wide domain, Unconquer'd lord of pleasure and of pain ;
* This was first written, “See, when the vulgar scaped ;” but, as the rest of the paragraph was in the present tense, he altered it to scapes; but again recollecting that the word vulgar is never used as a singular substantive, he adopted the reading of the text. Ver. 133–146.
u Ver. 147-167. * O'er love or force.
No joys to him pacifick sceptres yield,
War sounds the trump, he rushes to the field;
Behold surrounding kings their pow’rs combine,
And one capitulate, and one resign;
Peace courts his hand, but spreads her charms in vain ;
“Think nothing gain’d,” he cries, “ till nought remain,
On Moscow's walls till Gothick standards fly,
And all be mine beneath the polar sky.”
The march begins in military state,
And nations on his eye suspended wait;
Stern famine guards the solitary coast,
And winter barricades the realm of frost;
He comes, nor want nor cold his course delay ;-
Hide, blushing glory, hide Pultowa's day
The vanquish'd hero leaves his broken bands,
And shows his miseries in distant lands;
Condemn'd a needy supplicant to wait,
While ladies interpose, and slaves debate.
But did not chance, at length, her errour mend ?
Did no subverted empire mark his end?
Did rival monarchs give the fatal wound?
Or hostile millions press him to the ground?
His fall was destin'd to a barren strand,
A petty fortress, and a dubious hand;
He left the name, at which the world grew pale,
To point a moral, or adorn a tale.
TAIT times their scenes of pompous woes afford,
From Persia's tyrant to Bavaria's lord.
In gay hostility and barb'rous pride,
With half mankind embattl'd at his side,
Great Xerxes comes to seize the certain prey,
And starves exhausted regions in his way;
Attendant flatt'ry counts his myriads o'er,
Till counted myriads sooth his pride no more ;
Fresh praise is try'd till madness fires his mind,
The waves he lashes, and enchains the wind,