Page images
PDF
EPUB

Religious, punctual, frugal, and so forth;
His word would pass for more than he was worth.
One folid dish his week-day meal affords, 345
An added pudding solemniz'd the Lord's:
Constant at Church, and 'Change; his gains were

sure,
His givings rare, fave farthings to the poor.

The Dev'l was piqu'd such saintship to behold, And long’d to tempt him like good Jobofold: 350 But Satan now is wiser than of

yore, And tempts by making rich, not making poor, Rouz’d 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, 355 And two rich ship-wrecks bless thelucky shore.

COMMENTARY: ing with the other. Let me only observe further, that the Author, in this Tale, has artfully summed up and recapitulated those three principal mischiefs in the abuse of money, which the satyrical part of this Poem throughout was employ

NOTE s. Ver. 355. Cornish] The Author has placed the scene of these shipwrecks in Cornwall, not only from their frequency on that coast, but from the inhumanity of the inhabitants to those to whom that misfortune arrives : When a ship happens to be stranded there, they have been known to bore holes in it, to prevent its getting off; to plunder, and sometimes

Sir Balaam now, he lives like other folks, He takes his chirping pint, andcracks his jokes : “ Live like yourself,” was soon my Lady's word; And lo! two puddings smoak’d upon the board. 360

Asleep and naked as an Indian lay, An honest factor stole a Gem away : He pledg’d it to the Knight, the Knight had wit, So kept the Di’mond, and the rogue was bit. 364 Some scruple rose, but thus he eas'd his thought, “ I'll now give six-pence where I gave a groat;

COMMENTARY.

ed to expose, namely, AVARICE, PROFUSION, and PUBLIC CORRUPTION.

“ Constant at Church, and 'Change; his gains were sure, “ His givings rare, fave farthings to the poor. " Leaves the dull Cits, and joins (to please the fair) " The well-bred Cuckolds in St. James's air.“ In Britain's Senate he a seat obtains, “ And one more Pensioner St. Stephen gains."

P.

NOT E s. even to massacre the people : Nor has the Parliament of Eng. land been yet able wholly to suppress these barbarities.

Ver. 360. And lo! &c.] The Poet had observed above, that when the luxuriously felfish had got more than they knew how to use, they would try to do more than live; instead of imparting the least pittance of it to those whom fortune had reduced to do less: The Vanity of which chimerical project he hath well exposed in these lines;

- 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 ply'd; Stocks and Subscriptions pour on ev'ry side, 370 "Till all the Dæmon makes his full descent In one abundant show'r 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, 375 Ascribes his gettings to his parts and merit; What late he call'd a Blessing, now was Wit, And God's good Providence, a lucky Hit.

NOT E s. • What Riches give us let us then enquire : “ Meat, Fire, and Cloaths. What more? Meat, Cloaths,

" and Fire.” But here, in one who had not yet learnt the art of difguising the Poverty of Wealth by the Refinements of Luxury, he shews, with admirable humour, the ridicule of that project :

" And lo! two Puddings smoak'd upon the board.” VER. 377. What late he callid à Blessing, now was Wit, &c.] This is an admirable picture of human nature: In the entrance into life, all, but coxcombs-born, are modest; and esteem the favours of their superiors as marks of their benevolence: But if these favours happen to increase; then, instead of advancing in gratitude to our benefactors, we only improve in the good opinion of ourselves; and the constant returns of such favours make us consider them no longer as accommodations to our wants, or the hire of our service,

Things change their titles, as our manners turn:
His Compting-house employ'd the Sunday-morn;
Seldom at Church ('twas such a busy life) 381
But duly sent his family and wife.
There (so the Dev'l ordain’d) one Christmas-tide
My good old Lady catch'd a cold, and dy'd.

A Nymph of Quality admires our Knight; 385
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,
Whodrinks, whores, fights, and in aduel dies: 390
His Daughter flaunts a Viscount's tawdry wife;
She bears a Coronet and P--x for life.

[blocks in formation]

but debts due to our merit: Yet, at the same time, to do justice to our common nature, we should observe, that this does not proceed fo often from downright vice as is imagined, but frequently from mere infirmity; of which the reason is evident; for, having small knowledge, and yet an excessive opinion of ourselves, we estimate our merit by the passions and caprice of others; and this perhaps would not be so much amils, were we not apt to take their favours for a declaration of their sense of our merits. How often, for instance, has it been seen, in the three learned Professions, that a Man, who, had he continued in his primeval meanness, would have cir. cumscribed his knowledge within the modest limits of Socrates; yet, being pushid up, as the phrase is, has felt himself growing into a Hooker, a Hales, or a Sydenham; while, in the rapidity of his course, he imagined he saw, at every new

[ocr errors]

In Britain's Senate he a seat obtains,
And one more Pensioner St. Stephen gains.
My Lady falls to play; so bad her chance, 395
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: 400
The Devil and the King divide the Prize,
And sad Sir Balaam curses God and dies.

[ocr errors]

NOT E s.

[ocr errors]

station, a new door of science, opening to him, without so
much as staying for a Flatterer to let him in ?

-Beatus enim jam
Cum pulchris tunicis sumet nova consilia.
VER. 401. The Devil and the King divide the Prize,] This
is to be understood in a very sober and decent sense; as a Sa-
tire only on such Ministers of State whích History informs us
have been found, who aided the Devil in his temptations, in
order to foment, if not to make, Plots for the sake of confif-
cations. So sure always, and just, is our Author's satire,
even in those places where he seems most to have indulged
himself only in an elegant badinage. But this Satire on the
abuse of the general laws of forfeiture for high treason, which
laws all well-policied communities have found necessary, is

I MITATIONS,
VER. 394. And one more Pensioner St. Stephen gains.]

atque unum civem donare Sibylle.

Juv.

« PreviousContinue »