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Know, God and Nature only are the same : In man, the judgment shoots at flying game ; A bird of passage! gone as soon as found ; Now in the moon perhaps, now under ground.
In vain the sage, with retrospective eye, Would from th' apparent What conclude the Why, Infer the motive from the deed, and show, That what we chanc'd was what we meant to do. Behold ! if fortune or a mistress frowns, Some plunge in bus'ness, others shave their crowns . To ease the soul of one oppressive weight, This quits an empire, that embroils a state : The same adust complexion has impellid Charles to the convent, Philip to the field.
Not always actions show the man :
Who does a kindness, is not therefore kind ;
Perhaps prosperity becalm'd his breast;
Perhaps the wind, just shifted from the east :
Not therefore humble he who seeks retreat,
Pride guides his steps, and bids him shun the great :
Who combats bravely, is not therefore brave,
He dreads a death-bed like the meanest slave;
Who reasons wisely is not therefore wise,
His pride in reas'ning, not in acting lies.
But grant that actions best discover man;
Take the most strong, and sort them as you can.
The few that glare each character must mark,
You balance not the many in the dark.
What will you do with such as disagree?
Suppress them, or miscall them policy?
Must then at once (the character to save)
The plain rough hero turn a crafty knave ?
Alas ! in truth the man but chang'd his mind,
Perhaps was sick, in love, or had not din'd.
Ask why from Britain Cæsar would retreat ?
Cæsar himself might whisper he was beat.
Why risk the world's great empire for a punk?
Cæsar perhaps might answer he was drunk.
But, sage historians ! 'tis your task to prove
One action conduct ; one, heroic love.
'Tis from high life, high characters are drawn;
A saint in crape is twice a saint in lawn;
A judge is just, a chanc'lor juster still ;
A gownman, learn'd; a bishop, what you will ;
Wise, if a minister ; but, if a king,
More wise, more learn’d, more just, more ev'ry thing
Court-virtues bear, like gems, the highest rate,
Born where heaven's influence scarce can penetrate :
In life's low vale, the soil the virtues like,
They please as beauties, here as wonders strike.
Though the same sun with all-diffusive rays
Blush in the rose, and in the diamond blaze,
We prize the stronger effort of his pow'r,
And justly set the gem above the flower.
'Tis education forms the common mind,
Just as the twig is bent, the tree 's inclin'd.
Boastful and rough, your first son is a squire ;
The next a tradesman, meek, and much a liar;
Tom struts a soldier, open, bold, and brave;
Will sneaks a scriv'ner, an exceeding knave :
Is he a churchman ? then he's fond of power :
A quaker? sly: a presbyterian? sour :
A smart free-thinker? all things in an hour.
Ask men's opinions : Scoto now shall tell
How trade increases, and the world goes well ;
Strike off his pension, by the setting sun,
And Britain, if not Europe, is undone.
That gay free-thinker, a fine talker once,
What turns him now a stupid silent dunce?
Some god, or spirit he has lately found;
Or chanc'd to meet a minister that frown'd.
Judge we by nature ? habit can efface,
Interest o'ercome, or policy take place :
By actions ? those uncertainty divides :
By passions ? these dissimulation hides :
Opinions ? they still take a wider range :
Find, if you can, in what you cannot change.
Manners with fortunes, humours turn with climes, Tenets with books, and principles with times.
Search then the ruling passion : there, alone, The wild are constant, and the cunning known ; The fool consistent, and the false sincere ; Priests, princes, women, no dissemblers here. This clue once found, unravels all the rest, The prospect clears, and Wharton stands confest. Wharton, the scorn and wonder of our days, Whose ruling passion was the lust of praise : Born with whate'er could win it from the wise, Women and fools must like him, or he dies ; Tho' wond'ring senates hung on all he spoke, The Club must hail him master of the joke. Shall parts so various aim at nothing new? He'll shine a Tully and a Wilmot too; Then turns repentant, and his God adores With the same spirit that he drinks and whores' Enough, if all around him but admire, And now the punk applaud, and now the friar Thus with each gift of nature and of art, And wanting nothing but an honest heart ; Grown all to all, from no one vice exempt ; And most contemptible to shun contempt ; His passion still to covet general praise, His life to forfeit it a thousand ways; A constant bounty which no friend has made ; An angel tongue, which no man can persuade! A fool, with more of wit than half mankind, Too rash for thought, for action too refin'd : A tyrant to the wife his heart approves ; A rebel to the very king he loves ; He dies, sad outcast of each church and state, And, harder still ! flagitious, yet not great. Ask you why Wharton broke thro' ev'ry rule ? 'Twas all for fear the knaves should call him fool.
Nature well known, no prodigies remain, Comets are regular, and Wharton plain.
EPISTLE TO DR. ARBUTHNOT.
P. Shut, shut the door, good John! fatigued I said,
Tie up the knocker, say I'm sick, I'm dead.
The dog-star rages ! nay, 'tis . past a doubt,
All Bedlam, or Parnassus, is let out :
Fire in each eye, and papers in each hand,
They rave, recite, and madden round the land.
What walks can guard me, or what shades can hide?
They pierce my thickets, through my grot they glide,
By land, by water, they renew the charge,
They stop the chariot, and they board the barge.
No place is sacred, not the church is free,
Ev'n Sunday shines no Sabbath-day to me:
Then from the Mint walks forth the man of rhyme,
Happy! to catch me, just at dinner-time.
Is there a parson much be-mus'd in beer,
A maudlin poetess, a rhyming peer,
A clerk foredoom'd his father's soul to cross,
Who pens a stanza, when he should engross?
Is there, who, lock'd from ink and paper, scrawls
With desp'rate charcoal round his darken'd walls ?
.All fly to Twitnam, and in humble strain
Apply to me, to keep them mad or vain.
Arthur, whose giddy son neglects the laws,
Imputes to me and my damn'd works the cause.
Poor Cornus sees his frantic wife elope,
And curses wit, and poetry, and Pope.
Friend to my life ; (which did not you prolong,
The world had wanted many an idle song)
What drop or nostrum can this plague remove ?
Or which must end me, a fool's wrath or love?
A dire dilemma! either way I'm sped,
If foes, they write, if friends, they read me dead.
Seiz'd and tied down to judge, how wretched I !
Who can't be silent, and who will not lie :
To laugh, were want of goodness and of grace,
And to be grave, exceeds all pow'r of face.
I sit with sad civility, I read
With honest anguish, and an aching head ;
And drop at last, but in unwilling ears,
This saving counsel, 'Keep your piece nine years.'
Nine years : cries he, who high in Drury-lane,
Lulld by soft Zephyrs through the broken pane,
Rhymes ere he wakes, and prints before Term ends,
Oblig'd by hunger, and request of friends :
'The piece, you think is incorrect? why take it,
I'm all submission, what you'd have it, make it.'
Three things another's modest wishes bound,
My friendship, and a prologue, and ten pound.
Pitholeon sends to me: 'you know his grace,
I want a patron ; ask him for a place.'
Pitholeon libell'd me-'but here's a letter
Informs you, sir, 'twas when he knew no better.
Dare you refuse him ? Curll invites to dine,
He'll write a journal, or he 'll turn divine.'
Bless me! a packet—''tis a stranger sues,
A virgin tragedy, an orphan muse.'
If I dislike it, “furies, death, and rage !'
If I approve, 'commend it to the stage.'
There (thank my stars) my whole commission ends,
The play’rs and I are, luckily, no friends.
Fir'd that the house reject him, ''sdeath, I'll print it,
And shame the fools-your intrest, sir, with Lintot.'
Lintot, dull rogue! will think your price too much :
Not, sir, if you revise it, and retouch.'
All my demurs but double his attacks :
At last he whispers, 'Do, and we go snacks.'
Glad of a quarrel, straight I clap the door,
Sir, let me see your works and you no more.
'Tis sung, when Midas' ears began to spring, (Midas, a sacred person and a king,) His very minister who spied them first, (Some say his queen) was forc'd to speak, or burst.