Inscribed to the Right Hon. the Lord Visc. LONSDALE.
Hic Manus ob Patriam pugnando vulnera passi;
Quique Sacerdotes casti dum vita manebat;
Quique pii Vates, & Phoebo digna locuti,
Inventas aut qui Vitam excoluere per Artes,
Quique sui memores alios fecere merendo;
Omnibus his nivea cinguntur Tempora vitta.
VIR. Aen. 6.
— Who shall go about
To couzen Fortune, and be honourable
Without the Stamp of Merit?
1 YES: all, my Lord, usurp fair HONOUR'S fame:
2 Tho' false as various be the boasted claim:
3 Th' ambitious miser swells his boundless store,
4 And dreads that highest scandal, to be poor;[*][Page 286] [*]
Verse 1, &c. The various and ridiculous pretensions of mankind to Honour and Fame enumerated.
Ver. 1, &c. Oui, l'honneur, Valincour, est cheri dans le monde —
L' Ambitieux le met souvent a tout bruler,
L' Avare à voir chez lui le Pactole rouler,
Une faux brave à vanter sa proüesse frivole.
5 His wiser heir derides the dotard's aim,
6 And bids profusion bribe him into fame.
7 Oft' Honour, perching on the ribbon'd breast,
8 Sneers at weak justice, and defies th' arrest;
9 She dwells exulting on the tongues of kings;
10 She wakes the Muse to flight, and plumes her wings;
11 The soldier views her in the shining blade;
12 The pedant 'midst the lumber in his head.
13 She to fell Treason the disguise can lend,
14 And sheath her sword remorseless in a friend:
15 Her throne's fantastick pride, we often see
16 Rear'd on the tombs of Truth and Honesty;
17 Fops, templars, — courtiers, slaves, — cheats, patriots, — all
18 Pretend to hear, and to obey the call.
19 Where fix we then? — Each boasting thus his own,
20 Say, does true Honour dwell with all, or none?
21 The truth, my Lord, is clear: — tho' impious pride
22 Is ever self-ador'd, self-deify'd;
23 Though fools by passion or self-love betray'd,
24 Fall down and worship what themselves have made;[*][Page 287] [*]
Ver. 21. Tho' they are thus inconstant and contradictory, yet true Honour is a thing fixed and determinate.
Un vrai fourbe, à jamais ne garder sa parole,
Ce Poete à noircir d' insipides Papiers,
Ce Marquis à savoir frauder ces creanciers. —
Interrogeons marchands, financiers, gens du guerre,
Courtisans, magistrats, chez eux, si je les croi,
L' Interêt ne peut rien, l' honneur seul fait la loi. BOILEAU, Sat. 11.
25 Still does the Goddess, in her form divine,
26 O'er each grim idol eminently shine;
27 Array'd in lasting majesty, is known
28 Thro' every clime and age, unchang'd, and One.
29 But how explor'd? — Take reason for your guide,
30 Discard self-love; set passion's glass aside;
31 Nor view her with the jaundic'd eye of pride.
32 Yet judge not rashly from a partial view
33 Of what is wrong or right, or false or true;
34 Objects too near deceive th' observer's eye;
35 Examine those which at a distance lie.
36 Scarce is the structure's harmony descry'd
37 'Midst the tall column's, and gay order's pride;
38 But tow'rds the destin'd point your sight remove,
39 And this shall lessen still, and that improve,
40 New beauties gain upon your wond'ring eyes,
41 And the fair Whole in just proportions rise.
42 Thus Honour's true proportions best are seen,
43 Where the due length of ages lies between:
44 This separates pride from greatness, show from worth,
45 Detects false beauty, real grace calls forth;[*][Page 288] [*]
Verse 29. If we would form an impartial judgment of what is truly honourable, we must abstract all considerations which regard ourselves.
Verse 32. Not only so, but we must remove ourselves to a proper distance from the object we examine, lest some part should predominate in our eye, and occasion a false judgment of the whole.
46 Points out what merits praise, what merits blame,
47 Sinks in disgrace, or rises into fame.
48 Come then, from past examples let us prove
49 What raises hate, contempt, esteem, or love.
50 Can greatness give true Honour? can expence?
51 Can luxury? or can magnificence?
52 Wild is the purpose, and the fruitless aim,
53 Like a vile prostitute to bribe fair Fame;
54 Persuasive splendor vainly tempts her ear,
55 And e'en all-potent gold is baffled here.
56 Ye pyramids, that once could threat the skies,
57 Aspiring tow'rs, and cloud-wrapt wonders, rise!
58 To latest age your founder's pride proclaim;
59 Record the tyrant's greatness; tell his name;
60 No more: — The treacherous brick and mould'ring stone
61 Are sunk in dust: the boasting title gone:
62 Pride's trophies swept by Time's devouring flood,
63 Th' inscription want, to tell where once they stood.
64 But could they rival Nature, Time defy,
65 Yet what record but Vice or Vanity?
66 His the true glory, tho' his name unknown,
67 Who taught the arch to swell; to rise, the stone;[*][Page 289] [*]
Verse 48. Therefore the surest method is, to prove by past examples what commands our love and esteem.
Verse 50, &c. Expence and grandeur cannot give true Honour: Their most splendid monuments vanish; and even should they last for ever, could not bestow real glory, if only the records of Pride, Tyranny, and Vice.
68 Not his, whose wild command fair art obey'd,
69 Whilst folly dictated, or passion sway'd.
70 No: spite of greatness, pride and vice are seen,
71 Shameful in pomp, conspicuously mean.
72 In vain, O St—d—y, thy proud forests spread;
73 In vain each gilded turret rears its head;
74 In vain thy Lord commands the streams to fall,
75 Extends the view, and spreads the smooth canal,
76 While guilt's black train each conscious walk invade,
77 And cries of orphans haunt him in the shade.
78 Mistaken man! by crimes to hope for fame?
79 Thy imag'd glory leads to real shame:
80 Is villainy self-hated? thus to raise
81 Upbraiding monuments of soul disgrace?
82 Succeeding times, and ages yet unborn,
83 Shall view the guilty scenes with honest scorn;
84 Disdain each beauty thy proud folly plann'd,
85 And curse the labours of oppression's hand.
86 Next, view the Heroe in th' embattled field:
87 True Honour's fruit can conquest's laurel yield?
88 Him only honour'd, only lov'd we find,
89 Who fights not to destroy, but save mankind:
90 PELIDES' fury may our wonder move,
91 But god-like HECTOR is the man we love. [*][Page 290] [*]
Verse 72, &c. Much less if purchas'd by Oppression and Guilt.
Verse 86, &c. True Honour is not to be reaped from unjust Conquest: It is not Victory, but a just Cause that can engage our esteem.
92 See WILLIAM'S sword a tyrant's pride disarm:
93 See LEWIS trembling under MARLB'RO'S arm:
94 Say, which to human kind are friends or foes;
95 And who detests not These, and loves not Those?
96 Conquest unjust can ne'er command applause;
97 'Tis not the vict'ry charms you, but the cause:
98 Not Caesar's self can feign the patriot's part,
99 Nor his false virtues hide his poison'd heart:
100 But round thy brows the willing laurels twine,
101 Whose voiceb
b GUSTAVUS VASA. wak'd freedom in the savage mine!
102 Yes: truly glorious, only great is he,
103 Who conquers, or who bleeds for liberty.
104 "Heroes are much the same, the point's agreed,
105 "From Macedonia's mad-man to the Swede.
106 Like baleful comets flaming in the skies,
107 At destin'd times th' appointed scourges rise;
108 A while in streaming lustre sweep along,
109 And fix in wonder's gaze th' admiring throng;
110 But reason's eye detects the spurious ray,
111 And the false blaze of glory dies away.
112 Now all th' aërial cells of wit explore;
113 The mazy rounds of science travel o'er;
114 Search all the deep recesses of the mind,
115 And see, if there true Honour sits enshrin'd. [*][Page 291] [*] IMITATIONS.
Verse 98. Du premier des Caesares on vante les exploits;
Mais dans quel tribunal, juge suivant les loix,
Eut il pû disculper son injuste manie? BOILEAU, Sat. 11.
116 Alas, nor wit nor science this can boast,
117 Of't dash'd with error, oft' in caprice lost!
118 Transient as bright the short-liv'd bubbles fly!
119 And modes of wit, and modes of science die.
120 See Rab'lais once the idol of the age;
121 Yet now neglected lies the smutted page!
122 Of once renown'd Des Cartes how low the fall, —
123 His glory with his whirlpools vanish all!
124 See folly, wit — and weakness, wisdom stain, —
125 And Villars witty — Bacon wise in vain!
126 Oft' vice corrupts what sense and parts refine,
127 And clouds the splendor of the brightest line,
128 Sullies what Congreve, and what Dryden writ, —
129 This, fashion's slave; as that, the slave of wit.
130 In vain fair Genius bids the laurel shoot,
131 The deadly worm thus eating at the root:
132 Corroded thus, the greenest wreaths decay,
133 And all the poet's honours fall away;
134 Quick as autumnal leaves, the laurels fade,
135 And drop on Rochester's and Otway's head.
[*] Verse 116. Neither is true glory to be obtain'd by wit or science: They are chimerical: Sometimes attended with folly, and weakness; often stain'd with vice, and so render their possessors mischievous and infamous. [Page 292] IMITATIONS.
Verse 126. Je ne puis estimer ces dangereux auteurs,
Qui de l'honneur en vers insames deserteurs,
Trabissant la vertu sur un papier coupable,
Aux yeux de leur lecteurs rendent le vice amiable. —
En vain l' esprit est plein d'un noble vigueur;
Le vers se sent toujours des bassesses du coeur. BOILEAU, l' Art. Poet. Ch. 4.
136 Where then is found TRUE HONOUR, heavenly fair?
137 Ask, LONSDALE, ask your heart — she dictates there.
138 Yes: 'tis in VIRTUE: — That alone can give
139 The lasting honour, and bid glory live:
140 On virtue's basis only fame can rise,
141 To stand the storms of age, and reach the skies:
142 Arts, conquest, greatness, feel the stroke of fate,
143 Shrink sudden, and betray th' incumbent weight;
144 Time with contempt the faithless props surveys,
145 "And buries madmen in the heaps they raise."
146 'Tis Virtue only can the bard inspire,
147 And sill his raptur'd breast with lasting fire:
148 Touch'd by th' etherial ray each kindled line
149 Beams strong: still Virtue feeds the flame divine;
150 Where'er she treads she leaves her footsteps bright,
151 In radiant tracts of never-dying light;
152 These shed the lustre o'er each sacred name,
153 Give SPENSER'S clear, and SHAKESPEAR'S noble flame;
154 Blaze to the skies in MILTON'S ardent song,
155 And kindle the brisk-sallying fire of YOUNG;
156 These gild each humble verse in modest GAY;
157 These give to SWIFT the keen, soul-piercing ray;
158 Mildly thro' ADDISON'S chaste page they shine,
159 And glow and warm in POPE'S immortal line.
160 Nor less the sage must live by Virtue's aid;
161 Truth must support him, or his glories fade;[*][Page 293] [*]
Verse 138. The foundation of true Honour is Virtue only.
Verse 153. It is Virtue only that gives the poet lasting glory this proved by instances.
162 And truth and virtue differ but in name:
163 Like light and heat — distinguish'd, yet the same.
164 To truth and virtue the ascent is sure;
165 The wholesome stream implies the fountain pure;
166 To taste the spring we oft' essay in vain:
167 Deep lies the source, too short is reason's chain;
168 But those the issues of pure truth we know,
169 Which in clear strength thro' virtue's channel flow:
170 Error in vain attempts the foul disguise,
171 Still tasted in the bitter wave of vice;
172 Drawn from the springs of Falsehood all confess
173 Each baleful drop that poisons happiness;
174 G—rd—n's thin shallows, Tindal's muddy page,
175 And Morgan's gall, and Woolston's furious rage;[*][Page 294] [*]
Verse 164. The philosopher can only hope for true glory from the same source; because Truth is his object, and nothing can be Truth that tends to destroy Virtue and Happiness.
Verse 174. Hence appears the madness, infamy, and falsehood if those destructive schemes set on foot by the sect called Free-Thinkers.
G—rd—n's thin Shallows.] The Work here characterized is intitled,The Independent Whig, or a Defence of our ecclesiastical Establishment:Yet it may be truly affirmed, that there is not one institution of the Church of England, but what is there misrepresented, and ridiculed with the lowest and most despicable scurrility.
Tindal's muddy page.] Alluding to the confusion of Ideas, which that dull writer labours under.
Morgan.] His character is thus drawn by an excellent writer —Who by the peculiar felicity of a good choice, having learned his Morality of our Tindal, and his Philosophy of your [the Jews] Spinoza, calls himself, by the courtesy of England, a Moral Philosopher.WARB. Div. Leg. of Moses dem. Vol. II. Ded. p. 20.
Toland.] A noted advocate for that species of Atheism commonly called Pantheism.
Hobbes.] It is confessed he was a man of Genius and Learn ¦ ing: Yet thro' a ridiculous affectation of being regarded as the founder of new Systems, he has advanced many things even below confutation.
Mandeville.] The Author of that monstrous heap of contradiction and absurdity,The Fable of the Bees, or private Vices publick Benefits.The reader who is acquainted with the writings of those Gentlemen, will probably observe a kind of climax in this place; ascending from those who have attempted to destroy the several fences of virtue, to the wild boars of the wood that root it up.
Verse 180. Falsehood short-lived: Truth eternal.
Verse 184, &c. Examples of the two most illustrious philosophers that ever adorned the world; the one excellent in moral the other in natural knowledge.
176 Th' envenom'd stream that flows from Toland's quill,
177 And the rank dregs of Hobbes and Mandeville.
178 Detested names! yet sentenc'd ne'er to die;
179 Snatch'd from oblivion's grave by infamy!
180 Insect-opinions, hatch'd by folly's ray,
181 Bask in the beam that wing'd them, for a day:
182 Truth, phoenix-like immortal, tho' she dies,
183 With strength renew'd shall from her ashes rise.
184 See, how the lustre of th' ATHENIAN†
† SOCRATES. sage
185 Shines thro' the lengthen'd gloom of many an age!
186 Virtue alone so wide the beam cou'd spread,
187 And throw the lasting glory round his head.
188 See NEWTON chase conjecture's twilight ray,
189 And light up nature into certain day![Page 295]
190 He wide creation's trackless mazes trod;
191 And in each atom found the ruling God.
192 Unrival'd pair! with truth and virtue fraught!
193 Whose lives confirm'd whate'er their reason taught!
194 Whose far-stretch'd views, and bright examples join'd
195 At once t' enlighten and persuade mankind!
196 Hail names rever'd! which time and truth proclaim
197 The first and fairest in the list of fame.
198 Kings, statesmen, patriots, thus to glory rise;
199 On virtue grows their fame, or soon it dies;
200 But grafted on the vigorous stock, 'tis seen
201 Brighten'd by age, and springs in endless green:
202 Pride, folly, vice may blossom for an hour,
203 Fed by court-sun-shine, and poetick show'r;
204 But the pale tendrils, nurs'd by flattery's hand,
205 Unwearied tendance, fresh supplies demand;
206 By heats unnatural push'd to sudden growth,
207 They sicken at th' inclement blasts of truth;
208 Shook by the weakest breath that passes by,
209 Their colours fade, they wither, droop, and die.
210 'Tis Virtue only that shall grow with time,
211 Live thro' each age, and spread thro' every clime.
212 See god-like patriots, gen'rous, wise, and good,
213 Stand in the breach, and stem corruption's flood! [*][Page 296] [*]
Verse 198, &c. Kings, statesmen, and patriots, must build their same on Virtue.
Verse 204. Flattery cannot raise folly or vice into true glory.
214 See martyr-bishops at the stake expire,
215 Smile on the faggot, and defy its fire!
216 How great in exile HYDE and TULLY shone!
217 How ALFRED'S virtues brighten'd all his throne!
218 From worth like this unbidden glories stream;
219 Nor borrow'd blaze it asks, nor fortune's beam;
220 Affliction's gloom but makes it still more bright,
221 As the clear lamp shines clearest in the night.
222 Thus various honours various states adorn,
223 As different stars with different glories burn;
224 Their orbs too wider, as their sphere is higher;
225 Yet all partake the some celestial fire.
226 See then heav'n's endless bounty, and confess,
227 Which gives in Virtue fame and happiness!
228 See mankind's folly, who the boon despise,
229 And grasp at pain and infamy in Vice!
230 Not so the man who mov'd by Virtue's laws,
231 Reveres himself — and gains, not seeks applause;
232 Whose views concenter'd all to Virtue tend;
233 Who makes true glory but his second end:[*][Page 297] [*]
See martyr-bishops, &c.] The catalogue of these heroes, through the several ages of Christianity, is too large to be inserted in a work of this nature: Those of our own Country were RIDLEY, LATIMER, and the good (tho' less fortunate) CRANMER.
Verse 222. Thus it appears that every one has the power of obtaining true honour, by promoting the happiness of mankind in his proper station.
Verse 226. And thus the love of fame, tho' often perverted to bad ends, is naturally conducive to virtue and happiness.
Verse 230, &c. True honour characteriz'd and exemplify'd.
234 Still sway'd by what is fit, and just, and true,
235 Who gives to all whate'er to all is due;
236 When parties mad sedition's garb put on,
237 Snatches the highest praise, — and is of none:
238 Whilst round and round the veering patriots roll,
239 Unshaken points to Truth, as to his pole;
240 Contemns alike what factions praise or blame;
241 O'er rumour's narrow orbit soars to fame:
242 Unmov'd whilst malice barks, or envy howls,
243 Walks firm to virtue through the scoffs of fools;
244 No minion flatters; gains no selfish end;
245 His own — his king's — his country's — mankind's friend; —
246 Him Virtue crowns with wreaths that ne'er decay;
247 And glory circles him with endless day.
248 Such he who deep in VIRTUE roots his fame;
249 And such thro' ages shall be LONSDALE'S name.