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At Timon's Villa let us pass a day,
Where all cry out, "What sums are thrown away!
So proud, so grand; of that stupendous air,
Soft and Agreeable come never there.
Greatness, with Timon, dwells in such a draught
As brings all Brobdignag before your thought.
To compass this, his building is a Town,
His pond an Ocean, his parterre a Down:
Who but must laugh, the Master when he sees,
A puny insect, shiv`ring at a breeze!
Lo, what huge heaps of littleness around!
The whole, a labour'd Quarry above ground;
Two Cupids squirt before; a Lake behind
Improves the keenness of the Northern wind.
His Gardens next your admiration call,
On ev'ry side you look, behold the Wall!
No pleasing intricacies intervene,
No artful wildness to perplex the scene;
Grove nods at grove, each Alley has a brother,
And half the platform just reflects the other.
The suff'ring eye inverted Nature sees,
Trees cut to Statues, Statues thick as trees;
With here a Fountain, never to be play'd;
And there a Summer-house, that knows no shade;
Here Amphitrite sails thro' myrtle bow'rs;
There Gladiators fight, or die in flow'rs;
Un-watered see the drooping sea-horse mourn,
And swallows roost in Nilus' dusty Urn.
My Lord advances with Majestic mien,
Smit with the mighty pleasure, to be seen:
But soft, by regular approach, not yet,
First thro' the length of yon hot Terrace sweat;
And when up ten steep slopes you've dragg'd your thighs,
Just at his Study-door he'll bless your eyes.
His Study! with what Authors is it stor'd?
In Books, not Authors, curious is my Lord;
To all their dated Backs he turns you round:
These Aldus printed, these Du Sueil has bound.
Lo some are Vellum, and the rest as good
For all his Lordship knows, but they are Wood.
For Locke or Milton 'tis in vain to look,
These shelves admit not any modern book.
And now the Chapel's silver bell you hear,
That summons you to all the Pride of Pray'r :
Light quirks of Music, broken and uneven,
Make the soul dance upon a Jig to Heav'n.
On painted Ceilings you devoutly stare,
Where sprawl the Saints of Verrio or Laguerre,
On gilded clouds in fair expansion lie,
And bring all Paradise before your eye.
To rest, the Cushion and soft Dean invite,
Who never mentions Hell to ears polite.
But hark! the chiming Clocks to dinner call;
A hundred footsteps scrape the marble Hall:
The rich Buffet well-colour'd Serpents grace,
And gaping Tritons spew to wash your face.
Is this a dinner? this a Genial room?
No, 'tis a Temple, and a Hecatomb.
A solemn Sacrifice, perform'd in state,
You drink by measure, and to minutes eat.
So quick retires each flying course, you'd swear
Sancho's dread Doctor and his Wand were there.
Between each Act the trembling salvers ring,
From soup to sweet-wine, and God bless the King.
In plenty starving, tantaliz'd in state,
And complaisantly help'd to all I hate,
Treated, caress'd, and tir'd, I take my leave,
Sick of his civil Pride from Morn to Eve;
I curse such lavish cost and little skill,
And swear no Day was ever past so ill.
Yet hence the Poor are cloth'd, the Hungry fed;
Health to Himself, and to his Infants bread
The Lab'rer bears: What his hard Heart denies,
His charitable Vanity supplies.
Another age shall see the golden Ear
Embrown the Slope, and nod on the Parterre,
Deep Harvests bury all his pride has plann'd,
And laughing Ceres re-assume the land.
Who then shall grace, or who improve the Soil?
Who plants like BATHURST, or who builds like BOYLE.
'Tis Use alone that sanctifies Expense,
And Splendour borrows all her rays from Sense.
His Father's Acres who enjoys in peace,
Or makes his Neighbours glad, if he increase:
Whose cheerful Tenants bless their yearly toil,
Yet to their Lord owe more than to the soil;
Whose ample Lawns are not asham'd to feed
The milky heifer and deserving steed;
Whose rising Forests, not for pride or show,
But future Buildings, future Navies grow:
Let his plantations stretch from down to down,
First shade a Country, and then raise a Town.
You too proceed! make falling Arts your care,
Erect new wonders, and the old repair;
Jones and Palladio to themselves restore,
And be whate'er Vitruvius was before:
'Till Kings call forth th' Ideas of your mind,
(Proud to accomplish what such hands designed),
Bid Harbours open, Public Ways extend,
Bid Temples, worthier of the God, ascend;
Bid the broad Arch the dang'rous Flood contain,
The Mole projected break the roaring Main;
Back to his bounds their subject Sea command,
And roll obedient Rivers thro' the Land:
These Honours Peace to happy Britain brings,
These are Imperial Works, and worthy Kings.
EPISTLE TO AUGUSTUS. [GEORGE II.]
WHILE you, great Patron of Mankind! sustain
The balanc'd World, and open all the Main;
Your Country, chief in Arms, abroad defend,
At home, with Morals, Arts, and Laws amend;
How shall the Muse, from such a Monarch, steal
An hour, and not defraud the Public Weal?
Edward and Henry, now the Boast of Fame,
And virtuous Alfred, a more sacred Name,
After a life of gen'rous Toils endur'd,
The Gaul subdu'd, or Property secur'd,
Ambition humbled, mighty Cities storm'd,
Or Laws establish'd, and the world reform'd;
Clos'd their long Glories with a sigh, to find
Th' unwilling Gratitude of base mankind!
All human Virtue, to its latest breath,
Finds Envy never conquer'd but by Death.
The great Alcides, ev'ry Labour past,
Had still this Monster to subdue at last.
Sure fate of all, beneath whose rising ray
Each star of meaner merit fades away!
Oppress'd we feel the beam directly beat,
Those Suns of Glory please not till they set.
To thee, the World its present homage pays,
The Harvest early, but mature the praise:
Great Friend of LIBERTY! in Kings a Name
Above all Greek, above all Roman Fame:
Whose Word is Truth, as sacred and rever'd,
As Heav'n's own Oracles from Altars heard.
Wonder of Kings! like whom, to mortal eyes
None e'er has risen, and none e'er shall rise.
Just in one instance, be it yet confest,
Your People, Sir, are partial in the rest:
Foes to all living worth except your own,
And Advocates for folly dead and gone.
Authors, like coins, grow dear as they grow old;
It is the rust we value, not the gold.
Chaucer's worst ribaldry is learn'd by rote,
And beastly Skelton Heads of Houses quote:
One likes no language but the Faery Queen;
A Scot will fight for Christ's Kirk o' the Green;
And each true Briton is to Ben so civil,
He swears the Muses met him at the Devil.
Tho' justly Greece her eldest sons admires, Why should not We be wiser than our sires?
In ev'ry Public virtue we excel;
We build, we paint, we sing, we dance as well,
And learned Athens to our art must stoop,
Could she behold us tumbling thro' a hoop.
If Time improve our Wit as well as Wine
Say at what age a Poet grows divine?
Shall we, or shall we not, account him so,
Who died, perhaps, an hundred years ago?
End all disputes; and fix the year precise
When British bards begin t'immortalize?
Who lasts a century can have no flaw,
"I hold that Wit a Classic, good in law."
Suppose he wants a year, will you compound? And shall we deem him Ancient, right and sound, Or damn to all eternity at once,
At ninety-nine, a Modern and a Dunce?
"We shall not quarrel for a year or two;
By courtesy of England, he may do.”
Then by the rule that made the Horse-tail bare,
I pluck out year by year, as hair by hair,
And melt down Ancients like a heap of snow.
While you to measure merits, look in Stowe,
And estimating authors by the year,
Bestow a Garland only on a Bier.
Shakespear (whom you and ev'ry Play-house bill
Style the divine, the matchless, what you will)
For gain, not glory, wing'd his roving flight,
And grew Immortal in his own despite.
Ben, old and poor, as little seem'd to heed
The Life to come, in ev'ry Poet's Creed.
Who now reads Cowley? if he pleases yet,
His Moral pleases, not his pointed wit;
Forgot his Epic, nay Pindaric Art;
But still I love the language of his heart.
Yet surely, surely, these were famous men! "What boy but hears the sayings of old Ben? "In all debates where Critics bear a part,
Not one but nods, and talks of Jonson's Art, "Of Shakespear's Nature, and of Cowley's Wit;