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But here more slow, where all are slaves to gold,
Where looks are merchandise, and smiles are sold;
Where, won by bribes, by flatteries implored,
The groom retails the favours of his lord.
But hark! the affrighted crowd's tumultuous cries
Roll through the streets, and thunder to the skies :
Raised from some pleasing dream of wealth and power,
Some pompous palace, or some blissful bower,
Aghast you start, and scarce with aching sight
Sustain the approaching fire's tremendous light ;
Swift from pursuing horrors take your way,
And leave your little all to flames a prey ;
Then through the world a wretched vagrant roam,
For where can starving merit find a home?
In vain your mournful narrative disclose,
While all neglect, and most insult your woes.
Should Heaven's just bolts Orgilio's wealth confound,
And spread his flaming palace on the ground,
Swift o'er the land the dismal rumour flies,
And public mournings pacify the skies ;
The laureate tribe in venal verse relate,
How Virtue wars with persecuting Fate;
With well-feign'd gratitude the pension'd band
Refund the plunder of the beggar'd land.
See! while he builds, the gaudy vassals come,
And crowd with sudden wealth the rising dome;
The price of boroughs and of souls restore,
And raise his treasures higher than before :
Now bless'd with all the baubles of the great,
The polish'd marble, and the shining plate,
Orgilio sees the golden pile aspire,
And hopes from angry Heaven another fire.
Could'st thou resign the park and play, content, For the fair banks of Severn or of Trent,
There might'st thou find some elegant retreat,
Some hireling senator's deserted seat;
And stretch thy prospects o'er the smiling land,
For less than rent the dungeons of the Strand ;
There prune thy walks, support thy drooping flowers,
Direct thy rivulets, and twine thy bowers ;
And, while thy grounds a cheap repast afford,
Despise the dainties of a venal lord :
There every bush with Nature's music rings,
There every breeze bears health upon its wings ;
On all thy hours Security shall smile,
And bless thine evening walk and morning toil.
Prepare for death, if here at night you roam,
And sign your will before you sup from home.
Some fiery fop, with new commission vain,
Who sleeps on brambles till he kills his man;
Some frolic drunkard, reeling from a feast,
Provokes a broil, and stabs you for a jest.
Yet e'en these heroes, mischievously gay,
Lords of the street, and terrors of the way;
Flush'd as they are with folly, youth, and wine,
Their prudent insults to the poor confine;
Afar they mark the flambeaux’s bright approach,
And shun the shining train, and golden coach.
In vain, these dangers past, your doors you close,
And hope the balmy blessings of repose :
Cruel with guilt, and daring with despair,
The midnight murderer bursts the faithless bar;
Invades the sacred hour of silent rest,
And leaves, unseen, a dagger in your breast.
Scarce can our fields, such crowds at Tyburn die,
With hemp the gallows and the fleet supply.
Propose your schemes, ye senatorian band !
Whose ways and means support the sinking land,
Lest ropes be wanting in the tempting spring
To rig another convoy for the king.1
A single jail, in Alfred's golden reign,
Could half the nation's criminals contain ;
Fair Justice then, without constraint adored,
Held high the steady scale, but sheathed the sword;
No spies were paid, no special juries known,
Blest age! but, ah! how different from our own!
Much could I add—but see the boat at hand,
The tide retiring, calls me from the land :
Farewell !— When, youth, and health, and fortune spent
Thou fliest for refuge to the wilds of Kent;
And, tired like me with follies and with crimes,
In angry numbers warn’st succeeding times,
Then shall thy friend, nor thou refuse his aid,
Still foe to vice, forsake his Cambrian shade;
In Virtue's cause once more exert his
rage, Thy satire point, and animate thy page.
THE VANITY OF HUMAN WISHES.
IN IMITATION OF THE TENTH SATIRE OF JUVENAL.
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 wavering man, betray'd by venturous pride,
To tread the dreary paths without a guide,
As treacherous phantoms in the mist delude,
Shuns 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 every wish the 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 death!
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 history 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
And leaves the wealthy traitor in the Tower;
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 the upbraiding joy,
Increase his riches, and his peace destroy-
Now fears in dire vicissitude invade,
The rustling brake alarms, and quivering shade ;
Nor light nor darkness brings his pain relief,
One shows the plunder, and one hides the thief.
Yet still one general cry the sky assails,
And gain and grandeur load the tainted gales ;
Few know the toiling statesman's fear or care,
The 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 the eternal jest :
Thou who could'st laugh where want enchain'd caprice,
Toil crush'd conceit, and man was of a piece :
Where wealth, unloved, 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 favourites made no change of laws,
And senates heard before they judged a cause ;
How wouldst 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, e'er 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 ;