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See motley life in modern trappings dress’d,
And feed with varied fools th' eternal jest:
Thou who couldīt laugh where want enchain'd
Toil cruth'd conceit, and man was of a piece ;
Where wealth unlov’d without a mourner dy'd ;
And scarce a fycophant was fed by pride ;
Where ne'er was known the form of mock debate,
Or feen a new-nr.ade mayor's unwieldy state;
Where change of fav’rites made no change of laws,
And fenates heard before they judg’d a cause ;
How wouldst thou shake at Britain's modifh tribe,
Dart the quick taunt, and edge the piercing gibe?
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 every state, and canvass ev'ry pray'r.
* Unnumber'd suppliants crowd Preferment's gate,
A thirst 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 Aies ;
From ev'ry room descends the painted face,
That hung the bright palladium of the place,
And smoak'd in kitchens, or in auctions fold,
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 ?
Thro’ Freedom's sons no iñore remonftrance rings,
Degrading nobles and controuling kings ;
Our supple tribes repress their patriot throats,
And ask no questions but the price of votes ;
With weekly libels and feptennial ale,
Their wish is full to riot and to rail.
In full-blown dignity, fee Wolsey stand, Law in his voice, and fortune in his hand : To him the church, the realm, their pow'rs consign, Thro' him the rays of regal bounty fhine, 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-e'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 fare,
On weak foundations raise th' enormous weight?
Why but to sink beneath misfortune's blow,
With louder ruin to the gulphs below ?
What * gave great Villiers to th' assasin'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 ally'd ? 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, The young
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 I Bacon's mansion trembles o'er his head.
Are these thy views ? proceed, illustrious youth,
And Virtue guard thee to the throne of Truth !
* Ver. 108-113, + Ver. 114-132.
I 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.
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,
And 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 eyes,
And pause awhile from learning, to be wise ;
There mark what ills the scholar's life assail,
Toil, envy, want, the patron, and the jail.
See nations Nowly 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.
Nor deem, when Learning her last prize bestows,
The glitt'ring emninenee exempt from foes;
See when the vulgar 'scapes, despis'd or aw'd,
Rebellion's vengeful talons seize on Laud.
From meaner minds, tho' 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 foc, The senate's thanks, the gazette's pompous tale, With force refiftless 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 grandfires 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 warrior's pride, How just his hopes let Swedish Charles decide ; 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; No joys to him pacifick scepters 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 Ay, “ And all be mine beneath the polar sky.”