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If wealth increase our pleasures, does it not Increase our wishes also, and our cares? And surely that must be the happiest lot, Which has the fewest wants. The hardiest tares Grow in the richest soil, and pleasure bears Honey and wormwood on the self-same stem. Go, man of wealth and power, and see how fares Guilt's soul-stung victim! To dispel thy phlegm, Hie where woe's sufferers writhe, and learn for once from them.
Go where the madman woos thee to perpend The deep intensity of mortal careWhere not one ray of happiness can blend With the benighting horrors of despairGo, and receive an awful lesson there! There what a check to tame the swell of pride; Man's form is here, but Heaven's bright image where? No gleam of sunshine flashes through the void Of banish'd intellect-now maddened and destroyed.
Eternal God! thy lesson here is writ
In characters we never can mistake:
All would grow wiser, better, learning it,
And all should learn it for their interest's sake.
The judgments of Omnipotence o'ertake
The best, for purposes unknown, yet wise.
How few their thirst at joy's pure fountain slake!
Poor child of dust! earth no true bliss supplies:
Its roots are only here-it blossoms in the skies,
VANITY OF HUMAN WISHES.
LET observation with extensive view,
Survey mankind, from China to Peru;
Remark each anxious toil, each eager strife,
And watch the busy scenes of crowded life;
Then say how hope and fear, desire and hate,
O'erspread with snares the clouded maze of fate.
Where wav'ring man, betray'd by vent❜rous pride,
To tread the dreary paths without a guide;
As treach'rous phantoms in the mist delude,
Shun fancied ills, or chases airy good.
How rarely reason guides the stubborn choice,
Rules the bold hand, or prompts the suppliant voice.
How nations sink, by darling schemes oppress'd,
When vengeance listens to the fool's request.
Fate wings with ev'ry wish th' afflictive dart,
Each gift of nature, and each grace of art,
With fatal heat impetuous courage glows,
With fatal sweetness elocution flows,
Impeachment stops the speaker's powerful breath,
And restless fire precipitates on earth.
But scarce observed, the knowing and the bold,
Fall in the general massacre of gold;
Wide-wasting pest! that rages unconfined,
And crowds with crimes the records of mankind;
For gold his sword the hireling ruffian draws,
For gold the hireling judge distorts the laws;
Wealth heap'd on wealth, nor truth nor safety buys,
The dangers gather as the treasures rise.
Let hist❜ry tell where rival kings command,
And dubious title shakes the madded land,
When statutes glean the refuse of the sword,
How much more safe the vassal than the lord:
Low skulks the hind beneath the reach of pow'r,
And leaves the wealthy traitor in the Tow'r,
Untouch'd his cottage, and his slumbers sound,
Though confiscation's vultures hover round.
The needy traveller, serene and gay,
Walks the wild heath, and sings his toil away.
Does envy seize thee? crush th' upbraiding joy,
Increase his riches, and his peace destroy.
New fears in dire vicissitude invade,
The rustling brake alarms, and quiv'ring shade,
Nor light nor darkness brings his pain relief,
One shews the plunder, and one hides the thief.
Yet still one gen'ral cry the skies assails,
And gain and grandeur load the tainted gales;
Few know the toiling statesman's fear or care,
Th' insidious rival and the gaping heir.
Once more, Democritus, arise on earth, With cheerful wisdom and instructive mirth, See motley life in modern trappings dress'd, And feed with varied fools th' eternal jest: Thou who could'st laugh where want enchain'd caprice, Toil crush'd conceit, and man was of a piece; Where wealth unlov'd without a mourner died; And scarce a sycophant was fed by pride; Where ne'er was known the form of mock debate, Or seen a new-made mayor's unwieldy state; Where change of fav'rites made no change of laws, And senates heard before they judg❜d a cause; How would'st thou shake at Britain's modish tribe, Dart the quick taunt, and edge the piercing gibe? Attentive truth and nature to descry, And pierce each scene with philosophic 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 every glance on human kind;
How just that scorn ere yet thy voice declare,
Search every state, and canvass every prayer.
Unnumber'd suppliants crowd preferment's gate,
Athirst for wealth, and burning to be great;
Delusive fortune hears the 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
Heroic 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 controlling kings; Our supple tribes repress their patriotic 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;
To him the church, the realm, their powers 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 sovereign 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 glit'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 monastic 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 the enormous weight?
Why, but to sink beneath misfortune's blow,
With louder ruin to the gulphs below?
What gave great Villiers to the 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.
When first the college rolls receive his name,
enthusiast quits his ease for fame;
Resistless burns the fever of renown,
Caught from the strong contagion of the gown:
O'er Bodley's dome his future labours spread,
And Bacon's mansion trembles o'er his head.