The Poetical Works Of Alexander Pope, Vol. 1
Alexander Pope et al

Part 5 out of 7

After VER. 18, in the MS.--

For more perfection than this state can bear,
In vain we sigh, 'Heaven made us as we are.'
As wisely, sure, a modest ape might aim
To be like Man, whose faculties and frame
He sees, he feels, as you or I to be
An angel thing we neither know nor see.
Observe how near he edges on our race;
What human tricks! how risible of face!
'It must be so--why else have I the sense
Of more than monkey charms and excellence?
Why else to walk on two so oft essay'd?
And why this ardent longing for a maid?'
So pug might plead, and call his gods unkind,
Till set on end and married to his mind.
Go, reasoning thing! assume the doctor's chair,
As Plato deep, as Seneca severe:
Fix moral fitness, and to God give rule,
Then drop into thyself, &c.

VER. 21, edition fourth and fifth--

Show by what rules the wandering planets stray,
Correct old Time, and teach the sun his way.

VER. 35, first edition--

Could He, who taught each planet where to roll,
Describe or fix one movement of the soul?
Who mark'd their points to rise or to descend,
Explain his own beginning or his end?

After VER. 86, in the MS.--

Of good and evil gods what frighted fools,
Of good and evil reason puzzled schools,
Deceived, deceiving, taught, &c.

After VER. 108, in the MS.--

A tedious voyage! where how useless lies
The compass, if no powerful gusts arise?

After VER. 112, in the MS.--

The soft reward the virtuous, or invite;
The fierce, the vicious punish or affright.

After VER. 194, in the MS.--

How oft, with passion, Virtue points her charms!
Then shines the hero, then the patriot warms.
Peleus' great son, or Brutus, who had known,
Had Lucrece been a whore, or Helen none!
But virtues opposite to make agree,
That, Reason! is thy task; and worthy thee.
Hard task, cries Bibulus, and reason weak:
Make it a point, dear Marquess! or a pique.
Once, for a whim, persuade yourself to pay
A debt to reason, like a debt at play.
For right or wrong have mortals suffer'd more?
B---- for his prince, or ---- for his whore?
Whose self-denials nature most control?
His, who would save a sixpence, or his soul?
Web for his health, a Chartreux for his sin,
Contend they not which soonest shall grow thin?
What we resolve, we can: but here's the fault,
We ne'er resolve to do the thing we ought.

After VER. 220, in the first edition, followed these--

A cheat! a whore! who starts not at the name,
In all the Inns of Court or Drury Lane?

After VER. 226, in the MS.--

The colonel swears the agent is a dog,
The scrivener vows th' attorney is a rogue.
Against the thief th' attorney loud inveighs,
For whose ten pound the county twenty pays.
The thief damns judges, and the knaves of state;
And dying, mourns small villains hang'd by great.




I. The whole universe one system of society, ver. 7, &c. Nothing made
wholly for itself, nor yet wholly for another, ver. 27. The happiness of
animals mutual, ver. 49. II. Reason or instinct operate alike to the
good of each individual, ver. 79. Reason or instinct operate also to
society, in all animals, ver. 109. III. How far society carried by
instinct, ver. 115. How much farther by reason, ver. 128. IV. Of that
which is called the state of nature, 144. Reason instructed by instinct
in the invention of arts, ver. 166, and in the forms of society, ver.
176. V. Origin of political societies, ver. 196. Origin of monarchy,
ver. 207. Patriarchal government, ver. 212. VI. Origin of true religion
and government, from the same principle--of love, ver. 231, &c. Origin
of superstition and tyranny, from the same principle--of fear, ver. 237,
&c. The influence of self-love operating to the social and public good,
ver. 266. Restoration of true religion and government on their first
principle, ver. 285. Mixed government, ver. 288. Various forms of each,
and the true end of all, ver. 300, &c.

Here then we rest: 'The Universal Cause
Acts to one end, but acts by various laws.'
In all the madness of superfluous health,
The trim of pride, the impudence of wealth,
Let this great truth be present night and day;
But most be present, if we preach or pray.

I. Look round our world; behold the chain of love
Combining all below and all above.
See plastic Nature working to this end,
The single atoms each to other tend, 10
Attract, attracted to, the next in place
Form'd and impell'd its neighbour to embrace.
See matter next, with various life endued,
Press to one centre still, the general Good.
See dying vegetables life sustain,
See life dissolving vegetate again:
All forms that perish other forms supply,
(By turns we catch the vital breath, and die)
Like bubbles on the sea of Matter born,
They rise, they break, and to that sea return. 20
Nothing is foreign: parts relate to whole;
One all-extending, all-preserving Soul
Connects each being, greatest with the least;
Made beast in aid of man, and man of beast;
All served, all serving: nothing stands alone;
The chain holds on, and where it ends, unknown.

Has God, thou fool! work'd solely for thy good,
Thy joy, thy pastime, thy attire, thy food?
Who for thy table feeds the wanton fawn,
For him as kindly spread the flowery lawn: 30
Is it for thee the lark ascends and sings?
Joy tunes his voice, joy elevates his wings.
Is it for thee the linnet pours his throat?
Loves of his own, and raptures swell the note.
The bounding steed you pompously bestride,
Shares with his lord the pleasure and the pride.
Is thine alone the seed that strews the plain?
The birds of heaven shall vindicate their grain.
Thine the full harvest of the golden year?
Part pays, and justly, the deserving steer: 40
The hog, that ploughs not, nor obeys thy call,
Lives on the labours of this lord of all.

Know, Nature's children all divide her care;
The fur that warms a monarch, warm'd a bear.
While Man exclaims, 'See all things for my use!'
'See man for mine!' replies a pamper'd goose:
And just as short of reason he must fall,
Who thinks all made for one, not one for all.

Grant that the powerful still the weak control;
Be Man the wit and tyrant of the whole: 50
Nature that tyrant checks; he only knows,
And helps, another creature's wants and woes.
Say, will the falcon, stooping from above,
Smit with her varying plumage, spare the dove?
Admires the jay the insect's gilded wings?
Or hears the hawk when Philomela sings?
Man cares for all: to birds he gives his woods,
To beasts his pastures, and to fish his floods;
For some his interest prompts him to provide,
For more his pleasure, yet for more his pride: 60
All feed on one vain patron, and enjoy
Th' extensive blessing of his luxury.
That very life his learned hunger craves,
He saves from famine, from the savage saves;
Nay, feasts the animal he dooms his feast.
And, till he ends the being, makes it blest;
Which sees no more the stroke, or feels the pain,
Than favour'd Man by touch ethereal slain.
The creature had his feast of life before;
Thou too must perish, when thy feast is o'er! 70

To each unthinking being, Heaven, a friend,
Gives not the useless knowledge of its end:
To Man imparts it; but with such a view
As, while he dreads it, makes him hope it too:
The hour conceal'd, and so remote the fear,
Death still draws nearer, never seeming near.
Great standing miracle! that Heaven assign'd
Its only thinking thing this turn of mind.

II. Whether with reason or with instinct blest,
Know, all enjoy that power which suits them best; 80
To bliss alike by that direction tend,
And find the means proportion'd to their end.
Say, where full instinct is th' unerring guide,
What pope or council can they need beside?
Reason, however able, cool at best,
Cares not for service, or but serves when press'd,
Stays till we call, and then not often near;
But honest instinct comes a volunteer,
Sure never to o'ershoot, but just to hit;
While still too wide or short is human wit; 90
Sure by quick nature happiness to gain,
Which heavier reason labours at in vain.
This, too serves always, reason never long;
One must go right, the other may go wrong.
See then the acting and comparing powers
One in their nature, which are two in ours;
And reason raise o'er instinct as you can,
In this 'tis God directs, in that 'tis Man.

Who taught the nations of the field and wood
To shun their poison, and to choose their food? 100
Prescient, the tides or tempests to withstand,
Build on the wave, or arch beneath the sand?
Who made the spider parallels design,
Sure as De Moivre, without rule or line?
Who bid the stork, Columbus-like, explore
Heavens not his own, and worlds unknown before?
Who calls the council, states the certain day,
Who forms the phalanx, and who points the way?

III. God, in the nature of each being, founds
Its proper bliss, and sets its proper bounds: 110
But as he framed a whole, the whole to bless,
On mutual wants built mutual happiness:
So from the first, eternal Order ran,
And creature link'd to creature, man to man.
Whate'er of life all-quickening ether keeps,
Or breathes through air, or shoots beneath the deeps,
Or pours profuse on earth, one nature feeds
The vital flame, and swells the genial seeds.
Not Man alone, but all that roam the wood,
Or wing the sky, or roll along the flood, 120
Each loves itself, but not itself alone,
Each sex desires alike, till two are one.
Nor ends the pleasure with the fierce embrace;
They love themselves, a third time, in their race.
Thus beast and bird their common charge attend,
The mothers nurse it, and the sires defend;
The young dismiss'd to wander earth or air,
There stops the instinct, and there ends the care;
The link dissolves, each seeks a fresh embrace,
Another love succeeds, another race. 130
A longer care Man's helpless kind demands;
That longer care contracts more lasting bands:
Reflection, reason, still the ties improve,
At once extend the interest, and the love;
With choice we fix, with sympathy we burn;
Each virtue in each passion takes its turn;
And still new needs, new helps, new habits rise,
That graft benevolence on charities.
Still as one brood, and as another rose,
These natural love maintain'd, habitual those: 140
The last, scarce ripen'd into perfect man,
Saw helpless him from whom their life began:
Memory and forecast just returns engage,
That pointed back to youth, this on to age;
While pleasure, gratitude, and hope, combined,
Still spread the interest, and preserved the kind.

IV. Nor think, in Nature's state they blindly trod;
The state of Nature was the reign of God:
Self-love and social at her birth began,
Union the bond of all things, and of Man. 150
Pride then was not; nor arts, that pride to aid;
Man walk'd with beast, joint tenant of the shade;
The same his table, and the same his bed;
No murder clothed him, and no murder fed.
In the same temple, the resounding wood,
All vocal beings hymn'd their equal God:
The shrine with gore unstain'd, with gold undress'd,
Unbribed, unbloody, stood the blameless priest:
Heaven's attribute was universal care,
And Man's prerogative to rule, but spare. 160
Ah! how unlike the Man of times to come!
Of half that live the butcher and the tomb;
Who, foe to Nature, hears the general groan,
Murders their species, and betrays his own.
But just disease to luxury succeeds,
And every death its own avenger breeds;
The fury-passions from that blood began,
And turn'd on Man, a fiercer savage, Man.

See him from Nature rising slow to Art!
To copy instinct then was reason's part; 170
Thus then to Man the voice of Nature spake--
'Go, from the creatures thy instructions take:
Learn from the birds what food the thickets yield;
Learn from the beasts the physic of the field;
Thy arts of building from the bee receive;
Learn of the mole to plough, the worm to weave;
Learn of the little nautilus to sail,
Spread the thin oar, and catch the driving gale.
Here, too, all forms of social union find,
And hence let reason, late, instruct mankind: 180
Here subterranean works and cities see;
There towns aerial on the waving tree.
Learn each small people's genius, policies,
The ants' republic, and the realm of bees;
How those in common all their wealth bestow,
And anarchy without confusion know;
And these for ever, though a monarch reign,
Their separate cells and properties maintain.
Mark what unvaried laws preserve each state,
Laws wise as Nature, and as fix'd as Fate. 190
In vain thy reason finer webs shall draw,
Entangle Justice in her net of lay,
And right, too rigid, harden into wrong;
Still for the strong too weak, the weak too strong.
Yet go! and thus o'er all the creatures sway,
Thus let the wiser make the rest obey;
And for those arts mere instinct could afford,
Be crown'd as monarchs, or as gods adored.'

V. Great Nature spoke; observant men obey'd;
Cities were built, societies were made: 200
Here rose one little state; another near
Grew by like means, and join'd, through love or fear.
Did here the trees with ruddier burdens bend,
And there the streams in purer rills descend?
What war could ravish, commerce could bestow;
And he return'd a friend, who came a foe.
Converse and love mankind might strongly draw,
When love was liberty, and Nature law.
Thus states were form'd, the name of king unknown,
Till common interest placed the sway in one. 210
'Twas virtue only (or in arts or arms,
Diffusing blessings or averting harms),
The same which in a sire the sons obey'd,
A prince the father of a people made.

VI. Till then, by Nature crown'd, each patriarch sat,
King, priest, and parent of his growing state;
On him, their second Providence, they hung,
Their law his eye, their oracle his tongue.
He from the wondering furrow call'd the food,
Taught to command the fire, control the flood, 220
Draw forth the monsters of the abyss profound,
Or fetch the aerial eagle to the ground.
Till drooping, sickening, dying they began
Whom they revered as god to mourn as man:
Then, looking up from sire to sire, explored
One great first Father, and that first adored.
Or plain tradition that this All begun,
Convey'd unbroken faith from sire to son;
The worker from the work distinct was known,
And simple reason never sought but one: 230
Ere wit oblique had broke that steady light,
Man, like his Maker, saw that all was right;
To virtue, in the paths of pleasure, trod,
And own'd a Father when he own'd a God.
Love all the faith, and all the allegiance then;
For nature knew no right divine in men,
No ill could fear in God; and understood
A sovereign Being, but a sovereign good.
True faith, true policy, united ran,
That was but love of God, and this of Man. 240

Who first taught souls enslaved, and realms undone,
The enormous faith of many made for one;
That proud exception to all Nature's laws,
To invert the world, and counterwork its cause?
Force first made conquest, and that conquest, law;
'Till Superstition taught the tyrant awe,
Then shared the tyranny, then lent it aid,
And gods of conquerors, slaves of subjects made:
She, midst the lightning's blaze, and thunder's sound,
When rock'd the mountains, and when groan'd the ground, 250
She taught the weak to bend, the proud to pray,
To Power unseen, and mightier far than they:
She, from the rending earth and bursting skies,
Saw gods descend, and fiends infernal rise:
Here fix'd the dreadful, there the blest abodes;
Fear made her devils, and weak hope her gods;
Gods partial, changeful, passionate, unjust,
Whose attributes were rage, revenge, or lust;
Such as the souls of cowards might conceive,
And, form'd like tyrants, tyrants would believe. 260
Zeal then, not charity, became the guide;
And hell was built on spite, and heaven on pride.
Then sacred seem'd the ethereal vault no more;
Altars grew marble then, and reek'd with gore:
Then first the Flamen tasted living food;
Next his grim idol smear'd with human blood;
With Heaven's own thunders shook the world below,
And play'd the god an engine on his foe.

So drives self-love, through just and through unjust,
To one man's power, ambition, lucre, lust: 270
The same self-love, in all, becomes the cause
Of what restrains him, government and laws.
For, what one likes, if others like as well,
What serves one will, when many wills rebel?
How shall he keep what, sleeping or awake,
A weaker may surprise, a stronger take?
His safety must his liberty restrain:
All join to guard what each desires to gain.
Forced into virtue thus by self-defence,
Even kings learn'd justice and benevolence; 280
Self-love forsook the path it first pursued,
And found the private in the public good.

'Twas then the studious head or generous mind,
Follower of God, or friend of human kind,
Poet or patriot, rose but to restore
The faith and moral Nature gave before;
Relumed her ancient light, not kindled new;
If not God's image, yet his shadow drew;
Taught power's due use to people and to kings,
Taught not to slack, nor strain its tender strings, 290
The less, or greater, set so justly true,
That touching one must strike the other too;
Till jarring interests of themselves create
The according music of a well-mix'd state.
Such is the world's great harmony, that springs
From order, union, full consent of things:
Where small and great, where weak and mighty, made
To serve, not suffer; strengthen, not invade;
More powerful each as needful to the rest,
And in proportion as it blesses, bless'd; 300
Draw to one point, and to one centre bring
Beast, man, or angel, servant, lord, or king.

For forms of government let fools contest;
Whate'er is best administer'd is best:
For modes of faith let graceless zealots fight;
His can't be wrong whose life is in the right:
In faith and hope the world will disagree,
But all mankind's concern is charity:
All must be false that thwart this one great end;
And all of God that bless mankind, or mend. 310

Man, like the generous vine, supported lives;
The strength he gains is from the embrace he gives.
On their own axis as the planets run,
Yet make at once their circle round the sun;
So two consistent motions act the soul,
And one regards itself, and one the whole.

Thus God and Nature link'd the general frame,
And bade self-love and social be the same.


VER. 1, in several quarto editions--

Learn, Dulness, learn! 'the Universal Cause,' &c.

After VER. 46, in the former editions--

What care to tend, to lodge, to cram, to treat him!
All this he knew; but not that 'twas to eat him.
As far as goose could judge, he reason'd right;
But as to Man, mistook the matter quite.

After VER. 84, in the MS.--

While Man, with opening views of various ways
Confounded, by the aid of knowledge strays:
Too weak to choose, yet choosing still in haste,
One moment gives the pleasure and distaste.

VER. 197, in the first edition--

Who for those arts they learn'd of brutes before,
As kings shall crown them, or as gods adore.

VER. 201, in the MSS. thus--

The neighbours leagued to guard their common spot:
And love was Nature's dictate, murder, not.
For want alone each animal contends,
Tigers with tigers, that removed, are friends.
Plain Nature's wants the common mother crown'd,
She pour'd her acorns, herbs, and streams around.
No treasure then for rapine to invade,
What need to fight for sunshine or for shade!
And half the cause of content was removed,
When beauty could be kind to all who loved.




I. False notions of happiness, philosophical and popular, answered from
ver. 19 to ver. 27. II. It is the end of all men, and attainable by all,
ver. 29. God intends happiness to be equal; and to be so, it must be
social, since all particular happiness depends on general, and since he
governs by general, not particular laws, ver. 35. As it is necessary for
order, and the peace and welfare of society, that external goods should
be unequal, happiness is not made to consist in these, ver. 51. But,
notwithstanding that inequality, the balance of happiness among mankind
is kept even by Providence, by the two passions of hope and fear, ver.
70. III. What the happiness of individuals is, as far as is consistent
with the constitution of this world; and that the good man has here the
advantage, ver. 77. The error of imputing to virtue what are only the
calamities of nature, or of fortune, ver. 94. IV. The folly of expecting
that God should alter his general laws in favour of particulars, ver.
121. V. That we are not judges who are good; but that, whoever they are,
they must be happiest, ver. 131, &c. VI. That external goods are not the
proper rewards, but often inconsistent with, or destructive of virtue,
ver. 167. That even these can make no man happy without virtue:
instanced in riches ver. 185; honours, ver. 193; nobility, ver. 205;
greatness, ver. 217; fame, ver. 237; superior talents, ver. 259, &c.
With pictures of human infelicity in men possessed of them all, ver.
269, &c. VII. That virtue only constitutes a happiness, whose object is
universal, and whose prospect eternal, ver. 309, &c. That the perfection
of virtue and happiness consists in a conformity to the order of
Providence here, and a resignation to it here and hereafter, ver. 326,

O Happiness! our being's end and aim!
Good, Pleasure, Ease, Content! whate'er thy name:
That something still which prompts th' eternal sigh,
For which we bear to live, or dare to die,
Which still so near us, yet beyond us lies,
O'erlook'd, seen double, by the fool, and wise.
Plant of celestial seed! if dropp'd below,
Say, in what mortal soil thou deign'st to grow?
Fair opening to some court's propitious shine,
Or deep with diamonds in the flaming mine? 10
Twined with the wreaths Parnassian laurels yield,
Or reap'd in iron harvests of the field?
Where grows?--where grows it not? If vain our toil,
We ought to blame the culture, not the soil:
Fix'd to no spot is happiness sincere,
Tis nowhere to be found, or everywhere;
'Tis never to be bought, but always free,
And, fled from monarchs, St John! dwells with thee.

I. Ask of the learn'd the way? the learn'd are blind;
This bids to serve, and that to shun mankind; 20
Some place the bliss in action, some in ease,
Those call it Pleasure, and Contentment these;
Some, sunk to beasts, find pleasure end in pain;
Some, swell'd to gods, confess even virtue vain;
Or, indolent, to each extreme they fall,
To trust in every thing, or doubt of all.

Who thus define it, say they more or less
Than this, that happiness is happiness?

II. Take Nature's path, and mad Opinion's leave;
All states can reach it, and all heads conceive; 30
Obvious her goods, in no extreme they dwell;
There needs but thinking right, and meaning well;
And, mourn our various portions as we please,
Equal is common sense, and common ease.

Remember, Man, 'The Universal Cause
Acts not by partial, but by general laws;'
And makes what happiness we justly call
Subsist, not in the good of one, but all.
There's not a blessing individuals find,
But some way leans and hearkens to the kind: 40
No bandit fierce, no tyrant mad with pride,
No cavern'd hermit, rests self-satisfied:
Who most to shun or hate mankind pretend,
Seek an admirer, or would fix a friend:
Abstract what others feel, what others think,
All pleasures sicken, and all glories sink:
Each has his share; and who would more obtain,
Shall find, the pleasure pays not half the pain.

Order is Heaven's first law; and, this confess'd,
Some are, and must be, greater than the rest, 50
More rich, more wise; but who infers from hence
That such are happier, shocks all common sense.
Heaven to mankind impartial we confess,
If all are equal in their happiness:
But mutual wants this happiness increase;
All Nature's difference keeps all Nature's peace.
Condition, circumstance, is not the thing;
Bliss is the same in subject or in king,
In who obtain defence, or who defend,
In him who is, or him who finds a friend: 60
Heaven breathes through every member of the whole
One common blessing, as one common soul.
But Fortune's gifts if each alike possess'd,
And each were equal, must not all contest?
If then to all Men happiness was meant,
God in externals could not place content.

Fortune her gifts may variously dispose,
And these be happy call'd, unhappy those;
But Heaven's just balance equal will appear,
While those are placed in hope, and these in fear: 70
Not present good or ill, the joy or curse,
But future views of better, or of worse.

O sons of earth! attempt ye still to rise,
By mountains piled on mountains, to the skies?
Heaven still with laughter the vain toil surveys,
And buries madmen in the heaps they raise.

III. Know, all the good that individuals find,
Or God and Nature meant to mere mankind,
Reason's whole pleasure, all the joys of sense,
Lie in three words--Health, Peace, and Competence, 80
But health consists with temperance alone;
And peace, O Virtue! peace is all thy own.
The good or bad the gifts of Fortune gain;
But these less taste them, as they worse obtain.
Say, in pursuit of profit or delight,
Who risk the most, that take wrong means, or right?
Of vice or virtue, whether bless'd or cursed,
Which meets contempt, or which compassion first?
Count all th' advantage prosperous vice attains,
'Tis but what virtue flies from and disdains: 90
And grant the bad what happiness they would,
One they must want, which is, to pass for good.

Oh, blind to truth, and God's whole scheme below,
Who fancy bliss to vice, to virtue woe!
Who sees and follows that great scheme the best,
Best knows the blessing, and will most be bless'd.
But fools, the good alone unhappy call,
For ills or accidents that chance to all.
See Falkland dies, the virtuous and the just!
See godlike Turenne prostrate on the dust! 100
See Sidney bleeds amid the martial strife!
Was this their virtue, or contempt of life?
Say, was it virtue, more though Heaven ne'er gave,
Lamented Digby! sunk thee to the grave?
Tell me, if virtue made the son expire,
Why, full of days and honour, lives the sire?
Why drew Marseilles' good bishop[90] purer breath,
When Nature sicken'd, and each gale was death?
Or why so long (in life if long can be)
Lent Heaven a parent to the poor and me? 110

What makes all physical or moral ill?
There deviates Nature, and here wanders Will.
God sends not ill, if rightly understood;
Or partial ill is universal good,
Or change admits, or Nature lets it fall;
Short, and but rare, till Man improved it all.
We just as wisely might of Heaven complain
That righteous Abel was destroy'd by Cain,
As that the virtuous son is ill at ease
When his lewd father gave the dire disease. 120

IV. Think we, like some weak prince, th' Eternal Cause,
Prone for his favourites to reverse his laws?
Shall burning AEtna, if a sage requires,
Forget to thunder, and recall her fires?
On air or sea new motions be impress'd,
O blameless Bethel![91] to relieve thy breast?
When the loose mountain trembles from on high,
Shall gravitation cease, if you go by?
Or some old temple, nodding to its fall,
For Chartres'[92] head reserve the hanging wall? 130

V. But still this world (so fitted for the knave)
Contents us not. A better shall we have?
A kingdom of the just then let it be:
But first consider how those just agree.
The good must merit God's peculiar care;
But who but God can tell us who they are?
One thinks on Calvin Heaven's own spirit fell;
Another deems him instrument of hell;
If Calvin feel Heaven's blessing, or its rod,
This cries there is, and that, there is no God. 140
What shocks one part will edify the rest,
Nor with one system can they all be bless'd.
The very best will variously incline,
And what rewards your virtue, punish mine.
Whatever is, is right.--This world, 'tis true,
Was made for Caesar--but for Titus too:
And which more bless'd? who chain'd his country, say,
Or he whose virtue sigh'd to lose a day?

'But sometimes virtue starves, while vice is fed.'
What then? Is the reward of virtue bread? 150
That, vice may merit, 'tis the price of toil;
The knave deserves it, when he tills the soil,
The knave deserves it, when he tempts the main,
Where Folly fights for kings, or dives for gain.
The good man may be weak, be indolent;
Nor is his claim to plenty, but content.
But grant him riches, your demand is o'er?
'No--shall the good want health, the good want power?'
Add health, and power, and every earthly thing,
'Why bounded power? why private? why no king?' 160
Nay, why external for internal given?
Why is not man a god, and earth a heaven?
Who ask and reason thus, will scarce conceive
God gives enough, while he has more to give:
Immense the power, immense were the demand;
Say, at what part of nature will they stand?

VI. What nothing earthly gives, or can destroy,
The soul's calm sunshine, and the heartfelt joy,
Is virtue's prize: a better would you fix?
Then give humility a coach and six, 170
Justice a conqueror's sword, or truth a gown,
Or public spirit its great cure, a crown.
Weak, foolish man! will Heaven reward us there
With the same trash mad mortals wish for here?
The boy and man an individual makes,
Yet sigh'st thou now for apples and for cakes?
Go, like the Indian, in another life
Expect thy dog, thy bottle, and thy wife;
As well as dream such trifles are assign'd,
As toys and empires, for a godlike mind. 180
Rewards, that either would to virtue bring
No joy, or be destructive of the thing;
How oft by these at sixty are undone
The virtues of a saint at twenty-one!
To whom can riches give repute, or trust,
Content, or pleasure, but the good and just?
Judges and senates have been bought for gold,
Esteem and love were never to be sold.
O fool! to think God hates the worthy mind,
The lover and the love of human kind, 190
Whose life is healthful, and whose conscience clear,
Because he wants a thousand pounds a year.

Honour and shame from no condition rise;
Act well your part; there all the honour lies.
Fortune in men has some small difference made--
One flaunts in rags, one flutters in brocade;
The cobbler apron'd, and the parson gown'd,
The friar hooded, and the monarch crown'd.
'What differ more' (you cry) 'than crown and cowl?'
I'll tell you, friend!--a wise man and a fool. 200
You'll find, if once the monarch acts the monk,
Or, cobbler-like, the parson will be drunk,
Worth makes the man, and want of it the fellow;
The rest is all but leather or prunella.

Stuck o'er with titles, and hung round with strings,
That thou may'st be by kings, or whores of kings,
Boast the pure blood of an illustrious race,
In quiet flow from Lucrece to Lucrece:
But by your fathers' worth if yours you rate,
Count me those only who were good and great. 210
Go! if your ancient but ignoble blood
Has crept through scoundrels ever since the flood,
Go! and pretend your family is young;
Nor own, your fathers have been fools so long.
What can ennoble sots, or slaves, or cowards?
Alas! not all the blood of all the Howards.

Look next on greatness; say where greatness lies?
'Where, but among the heroes and the wise?'
Heroes are much the same, the point's agreed,
From Macedonia's madman to the Swede; 220
The whole strange purpose of their lives, to find
Or make an enemy of all mankind!
Not one looks backward, onward still he goes,
Yet ne'er looks forward further than his nose.
No less alike the politic and wise;
All sly slow things, with circumspective eyes:
Men in their loose unguarded hours they take,
Not that themselves are wise, but others weak.
But grant that those can conquer, these can cheat;
'Tis phrase absurd to call a villain great: 230
Who wickedly is wise, or madly brave,
Is but the more a fool, the more a knave.
Who noble ends by noble means obtains,
Or failing, smiles in exile or in chains,
Like good Aurelius let him reign, or bleed
Like Socrates, that man is great indeed.

What's fame? A fancied life in others' breath,
A thing beyond us, even before our death.
Just what you hear, you have; and what's unknown
The same (my Lord) if Tully's, or your own. 240
All that we feel of it begins and ends
In the small circle of our foes or friends;
To all beside as much an empty shade
An Eugene living, as a Caesar dead;
Alike or when, or where, they shone, or shine,
Or on the Rubicon, or on the Rhine.
A wit's a feather, and a chief a rod;
An honest man's the noblest work of God.
Fame but from death a villain's name can save,
As justice tears his body from the grave, 250
When what t' oblivion better were resign'd,
Is hung on high, to poison half mankind.
All fame is foreign, but of true desert;
Plays round the head, but comes not to the heart:
One self-approving hour whole years out-weighs
Of stupid starers, and of loud huzzas;
And more true joy Marcellus exiled feels,
Than Caesar with a senate at his heels.

In parts superior what advantage lies?
Tell (for you can) what is it to be wise? 260
'Tis but to know how little can be known;
To see all others' faults, and feel our own:
Condemn'd in business or in arts to drudge,
Without a second, or without a judge.
Truths would you teach, or save a sinking land?
All fear, none aid you, and few understand.
Painful pre-eminence! yourself to view
Above life's weakness, and its comforts too.

Bring then these blessings to a strict account;
Make fair deductions; see to what they mount: 270
How much of other each is sure to cost;
How each for other oft is wholly lost;
How inconsistent greater goods with these;
How sometimes life is risk'd, and always ease:
Think, and if still the things thy envy call,
Say, wouldst thou be the man to whom they fall?
To sigh for ribands if thou art so silly,
Mark how they grace Lord Umbra, or Sir Billy:
Is yellow dirt the passion of thy life?
Look but on Gripus, or on Gripus' wife: 280
If parts allure thee, think how Bacon shined,
The wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind:
Or, ravish'd with the whistling of a name,
See Cromwell,[93] damn'd to everlasting fame!
If all, united, thy ambition call,
From ancient story learn to scorn them all.
There, in the rich, the honour'd, famed, and great,
See the false scale of happiness complete!
In hearts of kings, or arms of queens who lay,
How happy! those to ruin, these betray. 290
Mark by what wretched steps their glory grows,
From dirt and sea-weed as proud Venice rose;
In each how guilt and greatness equal ran,
And all that raised the hero, sunk the man:
Now Europe's laurels on their brows behold,
But stain'd with blood, or ill exchanged for gold:
Then see them broke with toils, or sunk in ease,
Or infamous for plunder'd provinces.
Oh wealth ill-fated! which no act of fame
E'er taught to shine, or sanctified from shame! 300
What greater bliss attends their close of life?
Some greedy minion, or imperious wife.
The trophied arches, storied halls invade,
And haunt their slumbers in the pompous shade.
Alas! not dazzled with their noontide ray,
Compute the morn and evening to the day;
The whole amount of that enormous fame,
A tale that blends their glory with their shame!

VII. Know then this truth (enough for man to know)
'Virtue alone is happiness below.' 310
The only point where human bliss stands still,
And tastes the good without the fall to ill;
Where only merit constant pay receives,
Is bless'd in what it takes, and what it gives;
The joy unequall'd, if its end it gain,
And if it lose, attended with no pain:
Without satiety, though e'er so bless'd,
And but more relish'd as the more distress'd:
The broadest mirth unfeeling Folly wears,
Less pleasing far than Virtue's very tears: 320
Good, from each object, from each place acquired,
For ever exercised, yet never tired;
Never elated, while one man's oppress'd;
Never dejected, while another's bless'd;
And where no wants, no wishes can remain,
Since but to wish more virtue, is to gain.

See the sole bliss Heaven could on all bestow!
Which who but feels can taste, but thinks can know:
Yet poor with fortune, and with learning blind,
The bad must miss; the good, untaught, will find; 330
Slave to no sect, who takes no private road,
But looks through Nature up to Nature's God;
Pursues that chain which links th' immense design,
Joins Heaven and Earth, and mortal and divine;
Sees, that no being any bliss can know,
But touches some above, and some below;
Learns, from this union of the rising whole,
The first, last purpose of the human soul;
And knows where faith, law, morals, all began,
All end, in love of God, and love of Man. 340

For him alone Hope leads from goal to goal,
And opens still, and opens on his soul;
Till lengthen'd on to Faith, and unconfined,
It pours the bliss that fills up all the mind.
He sees why Nature plants in Man alone
Hope of known bliss, and faith in bliss unknown:
(Nature, whose dictates to no other kind
Are given in vain, but what they seek they find)
Wise is her present; she connects in this
His greatest virtue with his greatest bliss; 350
At once his own bright prospect to be bless'd,
And strongest motive to assist the rest.

Self-love thus push'd to social, to divine,
Gives thee to make thy neighbour's blessing thine.
Is this too little for the boundless heart?
Extend it, let thy enemies have part;
Grasp the whole worlds of Reason, Life, and Sense,
In one close system of Benevolence:
Happier as kinder, in whate'er degree,
And height of bliss but height of charity. 360

God loves from whole to parts: but human soul
Must rise from individual to the whole.
Self-love but serves the virtuous mind to wake,
As the small pebble stirs the peaceful lake;
The centre moved, a circle straight succeeds,
Another still, and still another spreads;
Friend, parent, neighbour, first it will embrace;
His country next; and next all human race;
Wide and more wide, th' o'erflowings of the mind
Take every creature in, of every kind; 370
Earth smiles around, with boundless bounty bless'd,
And Heaven beholds its image in his breast.

Come then, my friend, my genius! come along;
O master of the poet, and the song!
And while the Muse now stoops, or now ascends,
To Man's low passions, or their glorious ends,
Teach me, like thee, in various Nature wise,
To fall with dignity, with temper rise;
Form'd by thy converse, happily to steer
From grave to gay, from lively to severe; 380
Correct with spirit, eloquent with ease,
Intent to reason, or polite to please.
Oh! while along the stream of Time thy name
Expanded flies, and gathers all its fame,
Say, shall my little bark attendant sail,
Pursue the triumph, and partake the gale?
When statesmen, heroes, kings, in dust repose,
Whose sons shall blush their fathers were thy foes,
Shall then this verse to future age pretend
Thou wert my guide, philosopher, and friend? 390
That, urged by thee, I turn'd the tuneful art.
From sounds to things, from fancy to the heart;
For Wit's false mirror held up Nature's light;
Show'd erring pride, Whatever is, is right;
That Reason, Passion, answer one great aim;
That true Self-love and Social are the same;
That Virtue only makes our bliss below;
And all our knowledge is, Ourselves to know.

* * * * *


VER. 1, in the MS. thus--

O Happiness! to which we all aspire,
Wing'd with strong hope, and borne by full desire;
That ease, for which in want, in wealth we sigh;
That ease, for which we labour and we die

After VER. 52, in the MS.--

Say not, 'Heaven's here profuse, there poorly saves,
And for one monarch makes a thousand slaves,'
You'll find, when causes and their ends are known,
'Twas for the thousand Heaven has made that one.

After VER. 66. in the MS.--

'Tis peace of mind alone is at a stay;
The rest mad Fortune gives or takes away.
All other bliss by accident's debarr'd;
But virtue's in the instant a reward:
In hardest trials operates the best,
And more is relish'd as the more distress'd.

After VER. 92, in the MS.--

Let sober moralists correct their speech,
No bad man's happy: he is great or rich.

After VER. 116, in the MS.--

Of every evil, since the world began,
The real source is not in God, but man.

After VER. 142, in some editions--

Give each a system, all must be at strife;
What different systems for a man and wife?

After VER. 172, in the MS.--

Say, what rewards this idle world imparts,
Or fit for searching heads or honest hearts.

VER. 207, in the MS. thus--

The richest blood, right-honourably old,
Down from Lucretia to Lucretia roll'd,
May swell thy heart, and gallop in thy breast,
Without one dash of usher or of priest:
Thy pride as much despise all other pride
As Christ-church once all colleges beside.

After VER. 316, in the MS.--

Even while it seems unequal to dispose,
And chequers all the good man's joys with woes,
'Tis but to teach him to support each state,
With patience this, with moderation that;
And raise his base on that one solid joy,
Which conscience gives, and nothing can destroy.

VER. 373, in the MS. thus--

And now transported o'er so vast a plain,
While the wing'd courser flies with all her rein,
While heavenward now her mounting wing she feels,
Now scatter'd fools fly trembling from her heels,
Wilt thou, my St John! keep her course in sight,
Confine her fury, and assist her flight?

VER. 397, in the MS. thus--

That just to find a God is all we can,
And all the study of mankind is Man.




This paper is a sort of bill of complaint, begun many years since, and
drawn up by snatches, as the several occasions offered. I had no
thoughts of publishing it, till it pleased some persons of rank and
fortune (the authors of 'Verses to the Imitator of Horace,' and of an
'Epistle to a Doctor of Divinity from a Nobleman at Hampton Court') to
attack, in a very extraordinary manner, not only my writings (of which,
being public, the public is judge) but my person, morals, and family,
whereof, to those who know me not, a truer information may be requisite.
Being divided between the necessity to say something of myself, and my
own laziness to undertake so awkward a task, I thought it the shortest
way to put the last hand to this epistle. If it have anything pleasing,
it will be that by which I am most desirous to please, the truth and the
sentiment; and if anything offensive, it will be only to those I am
least sorry to offend, the vicious or the ungenerous.

Many will know their own pictures in it, there being not a circumstance
but what is true; but I have, for the most part, spared their names, and
they may escape being laughed at, if they please.

I would have some of them know, it was owing to the request of the
learned and candid friend to whom it is inscribed, that I make not as
free use of theirs as they have done of mine. However, I shall have this
advantage and honour on my side, that whereas, by their proceeding, any
abuse may be directed at any man, no injury can possibly be done by
mine, since a nameless character can never be found out, but by its
truth and likeness.

_P_. Shut, shut the door, good John![94] fatigued, I said,
Tie up the knocker, say I'm sick, I'm dead.
The Dog-star rages! nay, 'tis past a doubt,
All Bedlam, or Parnassus, is let out:
Fire in each eye, and papers in each hand,
They rave, recite, and madden round the land.

What walls can guard me, or what shades can hide?
They pierce my thickets, through my grot they glide,
By land, by water, they renew the charge,
They stop the chariot, and they board the barge. 10
No place is sacred, not the church is free,
Even Sunday shines no Sabbath-day to me:
Then from the Mint[95] walks forth the man of rhyme,
Happy! to catch me, just at dinner-time.

Is there a parson, much bemused in beer,
A maudlin poetess, a rhyming peer,
A clerk, foredoom'd his father's soul to cross,
Who pens a stanza, when he should engross?
Is there, who, lock'd from ink and paper, scrawls
With desperate charcoal round his darken'd walls? 20
All fly to Twit'nam, and in humble strain
Apply to me, to keep them mad or vain.
Arthur, whose giddy son neglects the laws,
Imputes to me and my damn'd works the cause:
Poor Cornus sees his frantic wife elope,
And curses wit, and poetry, and Pope.

Friend to my life! (which did not you prolong,
The world had wanted many an idle song)
What drop or nostrum can this plague remove?
Or which must end me, a fool's wrath or love? 30
A dire dilemma! either way I'm sped,
If foes, they write, if friends, they read me dead.
Seized and tied down to judge, how wretched I!
Who can't be silent, and who will not lie:
To laugh, were want of goodness and of grace,
And to be grave, exceeds all power of face.
I sit with sad civility, I read
With honest anguish, and an aching head;
And drop at last, but in unwilling ears,
This saving counsel, 'Keep your piece nine years.' 40

'Nine years!' cries he, who high in Drury-lane,
Lull'd by soft zephyrs through the broken pane,
Rhymes ere he wakes, and prints before Term ends,
Obliged by hunger, and request of friends:
'The piece, you think, is incorrect? why take it,
I'm all submission, what you'd have it, make it.'

Three things another's modest wishes bound,
My friendship, and a prologue, and ten pound.

Pitholeon[96] sends to me: 'You know his Grace,
I want a patron; ask him for a place.' 50
Pitholeon libell'd me--'But here's a letter
Informs you, sir, 'twas when he knew no better.
Dare you refuse him? Curll invites to dine,
He'll write a journal, or he'll turn divine.'

Bless me! a packet.--''Tis a stranger sues,
A virgin tragedy, an orphan Muse.'
If I dislike it, 'Furies, death, and rage!'
If I approve, 'Commend it to the stage.'
There (thank my stars) my whole commission ends,
The players and I are, luckily, no friends. 60
Fired that the house reject him, ''Sdeath! I'll print it,
And shame the fools--Your interest, sir, with Lintot.'
Lintot, dull rogue! will think your price too much:
'Not, sir, if you revise it, and retouch.'
All my demurs but double his attacks;
At last he whispers, 'Do; and we go snacks.'
Glad of a quarrel, straight I clap the door:
Sir, let me see your works and you no more.

'Tis sung, when Midas' ears began to spring
(Midas, a sacred person and a king), 70
His very minister who spied them first,
(Some say his queen) was forced to speak, or burst.
And is not mine, my friend, a sorer case,
When every coxcomb perks them in my face?

_A_. Good friend, forbear! you deal in dangerous things.
I'd never name queens, ministers, or kings;
Keep close to ears, and those let asses prick,
'Tis nothing----

_P_. Nothing? if they bite and kick?
Out with it, Dunciad! let the secret pass,
That secret to each fool, that he's an ass: 80
The truth once told (and wherefore should we lie?)
The queen of Midas slept, and so may I.

You think this cruel? Take it for a rule,
No creature smarts so little as a fool.
Let peals of laughter, Codrus! round thee break,
Thou unconcern'd canst hear the mighty crack:
Pit, box, and gallery in convulsions hurl'd,
Thou stand'st unshook amidst a bursting world.
Who shames a scribbler? break one cobweb through,
He spins the slight, self-pleasing thread anew: 90
Destroy his fib or sophistry, in vain,
The creature's at his dirty work again,
Throned in the centre of his thin designs,
Proud of a vast extent of flimsy lines!
Whom have I hurt? has poet yet, or peer,
Lost the arch'd eyebrow, or Parnassian sneer?
And has not Colly still his lord, and whore?
His butchers, Henley,[97] his freemasons, Moore?[98]
Does not one table Bavius still admit?
Still to one bishop,[99] Philips seem a wit 100
Still Sappho----

_A_. Hold! for God-sake--you'll offend,
No names--be calm--learn prudence of a friend:
I too could write, and I am twice as tall;
But foes like these----

_P_. One flatterer's worse than all.
Of all mad creatures, if the learn'd are right,
It is the slaver kills, and not the bite.
A fool quite angry is quite innocent:
Alas! 'tis ten times worse when they repent.

One dedicates in high heroic prose,
And ridicules beyond a hundred foes: 110
One from all Grub-street will my fame defend,
And, more abusive, calls himself my friend.
This prints my letters, that expects a bribe,
And others roar aloud, 'Subscribe, subscribe!'

There are, who to my person pay their court:
I cough like Horace, and, though lean, am short,
Ammon's great son one shoulder had too high,
Such Ovid's nose, and, 'Sir! you have an eye'--
Go on, obliging creatures! make me see
All that disgraced my betters, met in me. 120
Say for my comfort, languishing in bed,
'Just so immortal Maro held his head:'
And, when I die, be sure you let me know
Great Homer died three thousand years ago.

Why did I write? what sin to me unknown
Dipp'd me in ink, my parents', or my own?
As yet a child, nor yet a fool to fame,
I lisp'd in numbers, for the numbers came.
I left no calling for this idle trade,
No duty broke, no father disobey'd. 130
The Muse but served to ease some friend, not wife,
To help me through this long disease, my life,
To second, Arbuthnot! thy art and care,
And teach the being you preserved to bear.

But why then publish? Granville the polite,
And knowing Walsh, would tell me I could write;
Well-natured Garth inflamed with early praise,
And Congreve loved, and Swift endured my lays;
The courtly Talbot, Somers, Sheffield read,
Even mitred Rochester would nod the head, 140
And St John's self (great Dryden's friends before)
With open arms received one poet more.
Happy my studies, when by these approved!
Happier their author, when by these beloved!
From these the world will judge of men and books,
Not from the Burnets,[100] Oldmixons, and Cookes.

Soft were my numbers; who could take offence
While pure description held the place of sense?
Like gentle Fanny's was my flowery theme,
'A painted mistress, or a purling stream.' 150
Yet then did Gildon[101] draw his venal quill;
I wish'd the man a dinner, and sat still.
Yet then did Dennis rave in furious fret;
I never answer'd--I was not in debt.
If want provoked, or madness made them print,
I waged no war with Bedlam or the Mint.

Did some more sober critic come abroad--
If wrong, I smiled; if right, I kiss'd the rod.
Pains, reading, study, are their just pretence,
And all they want is spirit, taste, and sense. 160
Commas and points they set exactly right,
And 'twere a sin to rob them of their mite.
Yet ne'er one sprig of laurel graced these ribalds,
From slashing Bentley down to piddling Tibbalds:
Each wight, who reads not, and but scans and spells,
Each word-catcher, that lives on syllables,
Even such small critics some regard may claim,
Preserved in Milton's or in Shakspeare's name.
Pretty! in amber to observe the forms
Of hairs, or straws, or dirt, or grubs, or worms! 170
The things, we know, are neither rich nor rare,
But wonder how the devil they got there.

Were others angry--I excused them too;
Well might they rage, I gave them but their due.
A man's true merit 'tis not hard to find;
But each man's secret standard in his mind,
That casting-weight pride adds to emptiness,
This, who can gratify for who can guess?
The bard whom pilfer'd Pastorals renown,
Who turns a Persian tale[102] for half-a-crown, 180
Just writes to make his barrenness appear,
And strains from hard-bound brains eight lines a year;
He who, still wanting, though he lives on theft,
Steals much, spends little, yet has nothing left:
And he who, now to sense, now nonsense leaning,
Means not, but blunders round about a meaning:
And he, whose fustian's so sublimely bad,
It is not poetry, but prose run mad:
All these, my modest satire bade translate,
And own'd that nine such poets made a Tate. 190
How did they fume, and stamp, and roar, and chafe!
And swear, not Addison himself was safe.

Peace to all such! but were there one whose fires
True genius kindles, and fair fame inspires;
Blest with each talent and each art to please,
And born to write, converse, and live with ease:
Should such a man, too fond to rule alone,
Bear, like the Turk, no brother near the throne,
View him with scornful, yet with jealous eyes,
And hate for arts that caused himself to rise; 200
Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
And, without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;
Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike;
Alike reserved to blame, or to commend,
A timorous foe, and a suspicious friend;
Dreading e'en fools, by flatterers besieged,
And so obliging, that he ne'er obliged;
Like Cato, give his little senate laws,
And sit attentive to his own applause; 210
While wits and Templars every sentence raise,
And wonder with a foolish face of praise--
Who but must laugh, if such a man there be?
Who would not weep, if Atticus were he?

What though my name stood rubric on the walls,
Or plaster'd posts, with claps, in capitals?
Or smoking forth, a hundred hawkers' load,
On wings of winds came flying all abroad?
I sought no homage from the race that write;
I kept, like Asian monarchs, from their sight: 220
Poems I heeded (now be-rhymed so long)
No more than thou, great George! a birthday song.
I ne'er with wits or witlings pass'd my days,
To spread about the itch of verse and praise;
Nor like a puppy, daggled through the town,
To fetch and carry sing-song up and down;
Nor at rehearsals sweat, and mouth'd, and cried,
With handkerchief and orange at my side;
But sick of fops, and poetry, and prate,
To Bufo left the whole Castalian state. 230

Proud as Apollo on his forked hill,
Sat full-blown Bufo,[103] puff'd by every quill;
Fed with soft dedication all day long,
Horace and he went hand in hand in song.
His library (where busts of poets dead
And a true Pindar stood without a head)
Received of wits an undistinguish'd race,
Who first his judgment ask'd, and then a place:
Much they extoll'd his pictures, much his seat,
And flatter'd every day, and some days eat: 240
Till, grown more frugal in his riper days,
He paid some bards with port, and some with praise,
To some a dry rehearsal was assign'd,
And others (harder still) he paid in kind.
Dryden alone (what wonder?) came not nigh,
Dryden alone escaped this judging eye:
But still the great have kindness in reserve,
He help'd to bury whom he help'd to starve.

May some choice patron bless each gray-goose quill!
May every Bavius have his Bufo still! 250
So when a statesman wants a day's defence,
Or envy holds a whole week's war with sense,
Or simple pride for flattery makes demands,
May dunce by dunce be whistled off my hands!
Bless'd be the great! for those they take away,
And those they left me; for they left me Gay;
Left me to see neglected genius bloom,
Neglected die, and tell it on his tomb:
Of all thy blameless life, the sole return
My verse, and Queensberry weeping o'er thy urn! 260

Oh let me live my own, and die so too!
(To live and die is all I have to do:)
Maintain a poet's dignity and ease,
And see what friends, and read what books I please:
Above a patron, though I condescend
Sometimes to call a minister my friend.
I was not born for courts or great affairs;
I pay my debts, believe, and say my prayers;
Can sleep without a poem in my head,
Nor know if Dennis be alive or dead. 270

Why am I ask'd what next shall see the light?
Heavens! was I born for nothing but to write?
Has life no joys for me? or (to be grave)
Have I no friend to serve, no soul to save?
'I found him close with Swift--Indeed? no doubt
(Cries prating Balbus) something will come out.'
'Tis all in vain, deny it as I will.
'No, such a genius never can lie still;'
And then for mine obligingly mistakes
The first lampoon Sir Will[104] or Bubo[105] makes. 280
Poor guiltless I! and can I choose but smile,
When every coxcomb knows me by my style?

Cursed be the verse, how well soe'er it flow,
That tends to make one worthy man my foe,
Give virtue scandal, innocence a fear,
Or from the soft-eyed virgin steal a tear!
But he who hurts a harmless neighbour's peace,
Insults fallen worth, or beauty in distress,
Who loves a lie, lame slander helps about,
Who writes a libel, or who copies out: 290
That fop, whose pride affects a patron's name,
Yet, absent, wounds an author's honest fame:
Who can your merit selfishly approve,
And show the sense of it without the love;
Who has the vanity to call you friend,
Yet wants the honour, injured, to defend;
Who tells whate'er you think, whate'er you say,
And, if he lie not, must at least betray:
Who to the dean, and silver bell[106] can swear,
And sees at Canons what was never there; 300
Who reads, but--with a lust to misapply,
Make satire a lampoon, and fiction, lie;
A lash like mine no honest man shall dread,
But all such babbling blockheads in his stead.
Let Sporus[107] tremble--

_A_. What? that thing of silk,
Sporus, that mere white curd of ass's milk?
Satire or sense, alas! can Sporus feel?
Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?

_P_. Yet let me flap this bug with gilded wings,
This painted child of dirt, that stinks and stings; 310
Whose buzz the witty and the fair annoys,
Yet wit ne'er tastes, and beauty ne'er enjoys;
So well-bred spaniels civilly delight
In mumbling of the game they dare not bite.
Eternal smiles his emptiness betray,
As shallow streams run dimpling all the way.
Whether in florid impotence he speaks,
And, as the prompter breathes, the puppet squeaks;
Or at the ear of Eve, familiar toad!
Half-froth, half-venom, spits himself abroad, 320
In puns or politics, or tales, or lies,
Or spite, or smut, or rhymes, or blasphemies.
His wit all see-saw, between that and this,
Now high, now low, now master up, now miss,
And he himself one vile antithesis.
Amphibious thing! that, acting either part,
The trifling head, or the corrupted heart,
Fop at the toilet, flatterer at the board,
Now trips a lady, and now struts a lord.
Eve's tempter thus the Rabbins have express'd, 330
A cherub's face, a reptile all the rest,
Beauty that shocks you, parts that none will trust,
Wit that can creep, and pride that licks the dust.

Not Fortune's worshipper, nor Fashion's fool,
Not Lucre's madman, nor Ambition's tool,
Not proud, nor servile; be one poet's praise,
That, if he pleased, he pleased by manly ways:
That flattery, even to kings, he held a shame,
And thought a lie in verse or prose the same.
That not in Fancy's maze he wander'd long, 340
But stoop'd to Truth, and moralised his song:
That not for Fame, but Virtue's better end,
He stood the furious foe, the timid friend,
The damning critic, half-approving wit,
The coxcomb hit, or fearing to be hit;
Laugh'd at the loss of friends he never had,
The dull, the proud, the wicked, and the mad;
The distant threats of vengeance on his head,
The blow unfelt, the tear he never shed;
The tale revived, the lie so oft o'erthrown,[108] 350
Th' imputed trash,[109] and dulness not his own;
The morals blacken'd when the writings 'scape,
The libell'd person, and the pictured shape;
Abuse,[110] on all he loved, or loved him, spread,
A friend in exile, or a father dead;
The whisper that, to greatness still too near,
Perhaps yet vibrates on his sovereign's ear--
Welcome for thee, fair Virtue! all the past:
For thee, fair Virtue! welcome even the last!

_A_. But why insult the poor, affront the great? 360

_P_. A knave's a knave, to me, in every state:
Alike my scorn, if he succeed or fail,
Sporus at court, or Japhet in a jail,
A hireling scribbler, or a hireling peer,
Knight of the post corrupt, or of the shire;
If on a pillory, or near a throne,
He gain his prince's ear, or lose his own.

Yet soft by nature, more a dupe than wit,
Sappho[111] can tell you how this man was bit:
This dreaded satirist Dennis will confess 370
Foe to his pride, but friend to his distress:
So humble, he has knock'd at Tibbald's door,
Has drunk with Cibber, nay, has rhymed for Moore.
Full ten years slander'd, did he once reply?
Three thousand suns went down on Welsted's[112] lie.
To please a mistress one aspersed his life;
He lash'd him not, but let her be his wife:
Let Budgell[113] charge low Grub-street on his quill,
And write whate'er he pleased, except his will;[114]
Let the two Curlls of town and court[115] abuse 380
His father, mother, body, soul, and Muse.
Yet why that father held it for a rule,
It was a sin to call our neighbour fool:
That harmless mother thought no wife a whore:
Hear this, and spare his family, James Moore!
Unspotted names, and memorable long!
If there be force in virtue, or in song.

Of gentle blood (part shed in honour's cause,
While yet in Britain honour had applause)
Each parent sprung----

_A._ What fortune, pray?----

_P._ Their own, 390
And better got, than Bestia's from the throne.
Born to no pride, inheriting no strife,
Nor marrying discord in a noble wife,[116]
Stranger to civil and religious rage,
The good man walk'd innoxious through his age.
No courts he saw, no suits would ever try,
Nor dared an oath,[117] nor hazarded a lie.
Unlearn'd, he knew no schoolman's subtle art,
No language but the language of the heart.
By nature honest, by experience wise, 400
Healthy by temperance, and by exercise;
His life, though long, to sickness pass'd unknown,
His death was instant, and without a groan.
O grant me thus to live, and thus to die!
Who sprung from kings shall know less joy than I.

O friend! may each domestic bliss be thine!
Be no unpleasing melancholy mine:
Me, let the tender office long engage,
To rock the cradle of reposing age,
With lenient arts extend a mother's breath, 410
Make languor smile, and smooth the bed of death,
Explore the thought, explain the asking eye,
And keep a while one parent from the sky!
On cares like these if length of days attend,
May Heaven, to bless those days, preserve my friend,
Preserve him social, cheerful, and serene,
And just as rich as when he served a Queen.

_A_. Whether that blessing be denied or given,
Thus far was right, the rest belongs to Heaven.

* * * * *


After VER. 20 in the MS.--

Is there a bard in durance? turn them free,
With all their brandish'd reams they run to me:
Is there a 'prentice, having seen two plays,
Who would do something in his semptress' praise?

VER. 29 in the first edition--

Dear Doctor, tell me, is not this a curse?
Say, is their anger or their friendship worse?

VER. 53 in the MS.--

If you refuse, he goes, as fates incline,
To plague Sir Robert, or to turn divine.

VER. 60 in the former edition--

Cibber and I are luckily no friends.

VER. 111 in the MS.--

For song, for silence, some expect a bribe;
And others roar aloud, 'Subscribe, subscribe!'
Time, praise, or money, is the least they crave;
Yet each declares the other fool or knave.

After VER. 124 in the MS.--

But, friend, this shape, which you and Curll[118] admire
Came not from Ammon's son, but from my sire:[119]
And for my head, if you'll the truth excuse,
I had it from my mother,[120] not the Muse.
Happy, if he, in whom these frailties join'd,
Had heir'd as well the virtues of the mind.

After VER. 208 in the MS.--

Who, if two wits on rival themes contest,
Approves of each, but likes the worst the best.

After VER. 234 in the MS.--

To bards reciting he vouchsafed a nod,
And snuff'd their incense like a gracious god.
Our ministers like gladiators live,
'Tis half their bus'ness blows to ward, or give;
The good their virtue would effect, or sense,
Dies between exigents and self-defence.

After VER. 270 in the MS.--

Friendships from youth I sought, and seek them still;
Fame, like the wind, may breathe where'er it will.
The world I knew, but made it not my school,
And in a course of flattery lived no fool.

After VER. 282 in the MS.--

_P_. What if I sing Augustus, great and good?
_A_. You did so lately, was it understood?
_P_. Be nice no more, but, with a mouth profound,
As rumbling D----s or a Norfolk hound;
With George and Fred'ric roughen every verse,
Then smooth up all and Caroline rehearse.
_A_. No--the high task to lift up kings to god
Leave to court-sermons, and to birthday odes.
On themes like these, superior far to thine,
Let laurell'd Cibber and great Arnal shine.
_P_. Why write at all?
_A_. Yes, silence if you keep,
The town, the court, the wits, the dunces weep.

VER. 368 in the MS.--

Once, and but once, his heedless youth was bit,
And liked that dangerous thing, a female wit:
Safe as he thought, though all the prudent chid.
He writ no libels, but my lady did:
Great odds in amorous or poetic game,
Where woman's is the sin, and man's the shame.

After VER. 405 in the MS.--

And of myself, too, something must I say?
Take then this verse, the trifle of a day.
And if it live, it lives but to commend
The man whose heart has ne'er forgot a friend,
Or head, an author: critic, yet polite,
And friend to learning, yet too wise to write.

* * * * *



The occasion of publishing these 'Imitations' was the clamour raised on
some of my 'Epistles.' An answer from Horace was both more full, and of
more dignity, than any I could have made in my own person; and the
example of much greater freedom in so eminent a divine as Dr Donne,
seemed a proof with what indignation and contempt a Christian may treat
vice or folly, in ever so low or ever so high a station. Both these
authors were acceptable to the princes and ministers under whom they
lived. The satires of Dr Donne I versified, at the desire of the Earl of
Oxford while he was Lord Treasurer, and of the Duke of Shrewsbury who
had been Secretary of State; neither of whom looked upon a satire on
vicious courts as any reflection on those they served in. And, indeed,
there is not in the world a greater error than that which fools are so
apt to fall into, and knaves with good reason to encourage, the
mistaking a satirist for a libeller; whereas to a true satirist nothing
is so odious as a libeller, for the same reason as to a man truly
virtuous nothing is so hateful as a hypocrite.

'Uni aequus virtati atque ejus amicis.'


_P_. There are (I scarce can think it, but am told)
There are, to whom my satire seems too bold:
Scarce to wise Peter complaisant enough,
And something said of Chartres much too rough.
The lines are weak, another's pleased to say,
Lord Fanny[122] spins a thousand such a day.
Timorous by nature, of the rich in awe,
I come to counsel learned in the law:
'You'll give me, like a friend both sage and free,
Advice; and (as you use) without a fee.' 10

_F_. I'd write no more.

_P_. Not write? but then I think,
And for my soul I cannot sleep a wink.
I nod in company, I wake at night,
Fools rush into my head, and so I write.

_F_. You could not do a worse thing for your life.
Why, if the nights seem tedious--take a wife:
Or rather truly, if your point be rest,
Lettuce and cowslip-wine; _probatum est_.
But talk with Celsus, Celsus will advise
Hartshorn, or something that shall close your eyes. 20
Or, if you needs must write, write Caesar's praise,
You'll gain at least a knighthood, or the bays.

_P_. What! like Sir Richard, rumbling, rough, and fierce,
With arms, and George, and Brunswick crowd the verse,
Rend with tremendous sound your ears asunder,
With gun, drum, trumpet, blunderbuss, and thunder?
Or, nobly wild, with Budgell's fire and force,
Paint angels trembling round his falling horse?[123]

_F_. Then all your Muse's softer art display,
Let Carolina smooth the tuneful lay, 30
Lull with Amelia's liquid name the Nine,
And sweetly flow through all the royal line.

_P_. Alas! few verses touch their nicer ear;
They scarce can bear their Laureate twice a-year;
And justly Caesar scorns the poet's lays,
It is to history he trusts for praise.

_F_. Better be Cibber, I'll maintain it still,
Than ridicule all taste, blaspheme quadrille,
Abuse the city's best good men in metre,
And laugh at peers that put their trust in Peter. 40
Even those you touch not, hate you.

_P_. What should ail them?

_F_. A hundred smart in Timon and in Balaam:
The fewer still you name, you wound the more;
Bond is but one, but Harpax is a score.

_P_. Each mortal has his pleasure: none deny
Scarsdale his bottle, Darty his ham-pie;
Ridotta sips and dances, till she see
The doubling lustres dance as fast as she;
F---- loves the Senate, Hockley-hole his brother,
Like in all else, as one egg to another. 50
I love to pour out all myself, as plain
As downright Shippen,[124] or as old Montaigne:
In them, as certain to be loved as seen,
The soul stood forth, nor kept a thought within;
In me what spots (for spots I have) appear,
Will prove at least the medium must be clear.
In this impartial glass, my Muse intends
Fair to expose myself, my foes, my friends;
Publish the present age; but, where my text
Is vice too high, reserve it for the next: 60
My foes shall wish my life a longer date,
And every friend the less lament my fate,
My head and heart thus flowing through my quill,
Verse-man or prose-man, term me which you will,
Papist or Protestant, or both between,
Like good Erasmus, in an honest mean,
In moderation placing all my glory,
While Tories call me Whig, and Whigs a Tory.

Satire's my weapon, but I'm too discreet
To run a-muck, and tilt at all I meet; 70
I only wear it in a land of hectors,
Thieves, supercargoes, sharpers, and directors.
Save but our army! and let Jove incrust
Swords, pikes, and guns, with everlasting rust!
Peace is my dear delight--not Fleury's more:
But touch me, and no minister so sore.
Whoe'er offends, at some unlucky time
Slides into verse, and hitches in a rhyme,
Sacred to ridicule his whole life long,
And the sad burthen of some merry song. 80

Slander or poison dread from Delia's rage,
Hard words or hanging, if your judge be Page.
From furious Sappho scarce a milder fate,
Pox'd by her love, or libell'd by her hate.
Its proper power to hurt, each creature feels;
Bulls aim their horns, and asses lift their heels;
'Tis a bear's talent not to kick, but hug;
And no man wonders he's not stung by pug.
So drink with Walters, or with Chartres eat,
They'll never poison you, they'll only cheat. 90

Then, learned sir! (to cut the matter short)
Whate'er my fate, or well or ill at court,
Whether old age, with faint but cheerful ray,
Attends to gild the evening of my day,
Or death's black wing already be display'd,
To wrap me in the universal shade;
Whether the darken'd room to muse invite,
Or whiten'd wall provoke the skewer to write:
In durance, exile, Bedlam, or the Mint,
Like Lee[125] or Budgell,[126] I will rhyme and print. 100

_F_. Alas, young man! your days can ne'er be long,
In flower of age you perish for a song!
Plums and directors, Shylock and his wife,
Will club their testers, now, to take your life!

_P_. What? arm'd for Virtue, when I point the pen,
Brand the bold front of shameless guilty men;
Dash the proud gamester in his gilded car;
Bare the mean heart that lurks beneath a star;
Can there be wanting to defend her cause,
Lights of the Church, or guardians of the laws? 110
Could pension'd Boileau lash, in honest strain,
Flatterers and bigots even in Louis' reign?
Could Laureate Dryden pimp and friar engage,
Yet neither Charles nor James be in a rage?
And I not strip the gilding off a knave,
Unplaced, unpension'd, no man's heir, or slave?
I will, or perish in the generous cause:
Hear this, and tremble! you who 'scape the laws.
Yes, while I live, no rich or noble knave
Shall walk the world, in credit, to his grave. 120
The world beside may murmur, or commend.
Know, all the distant din that world can keep,
Rolls o'er my grotto, and but soothes my sleep.
There, my retreat the best companions grace,
Chiefs out of war, and statesmen out of place.
There St John mingles with my friendly bowl
The feast of reason and the flow of soul:
And he, whose lightning[127] pierced th' Iberian lines,
Now forms my quincunx, and now ranks my vines, 130
Or tames the genius of the stubborn plain,
Almost as quickly as he conquer'd Spain.

Envy must own, I live among the great,
No pimp of pleasure, and no spy of state,
With eyes that pry not, tongue that ne'er repeats,
Fond to spread friendships, but to cover heats;
To help who want, to forward who excel;--
This, all who know me, know; who love me, tell;
And who unknown defame me, let them be
Scribblers or peers, alike are mob to me. 140
This is my plea, on this I rest my cause--
What saith my counsel, learned in the laws?

_F_. Your plea is good; but still, I say, beware!
Laws are explain'd by men--so have a care!
It stands on record, that in Richard's times
A man was hang'd for very honest rhymes.
Consult the statute: _quart_. I think, it is,
_Edwardi Sext_. or _prim, et quint. Eliz_.
See 'Libels, Satires'--here you have it--read.

_P_. Libels and satires! lawless things indeed! 150
But grave epistles, bringing vice to light,
Such as a king might read, a bishop write,
Such as Sir Robert would approve--

_F_. Indeed?
The case is alter'd--you may then proceed;
In such a cause the plaintiff will be hiss'd,
My lords the judges laugh, and you're dismiss'd.

* * * * *


What, and how great, the virtue and the art
To live on little with a cheerful heart;
(A doctrine sage, but truly none of mine)
Let's talk, my friends, but talk before we dine;
Not when a gilt buffet's reflected pride
Turns you from sound philosophy aside;
Not when from plate to plate your eyeballs roll,
And the brain dances to the mantling bowl.

Hear Bethel's sermon, one not versed in schools,
But strong in sense, and wise without the rules. 10

Go, work, hunt, exercise! (he thus began)
Then scorn a homely dinner, if you can.
Your wine lock'd up, your butler stroll'd abroad,
Or fish denied (the river yet unthaw'd),
If then plain bread and milk will do the feat,
The pleasure lies in you, and not the meat.

Preach as I please, I doubt our curious men
Will choose a pheasant still before a hen;
Yet hens of Guinea full as good I hold,
Except you eat the feathers green and gold. 20
Of carps and mullets why prefer the great,
(Though cut in pieces ere my lord can eat)
Yet for small turbots such esteem profess?
Because God made these large, the other less.

Oldfield,[128] with more than harpy throat endued,
Cries, 'Send me, gods! a whole hog barbecued!'
Oh, blast it, south-winds! till a stench exhale
Rank as the ripeness of a rabbit's tail.
By what criterion do ye eat, d' ye think,
If this is prized for sweetness, that for stink? 30
When the tired glutton labours through a treat,
He finds no relish in the sweetest meat,
He calls for something bitter, something sour,
And the rich feast concludes extremely poor:
Cheap eggs, and herbs, and olives still we see;
Thus much is left of old simplicity!

The robin redbreast till of late had rest,
And children sacred held a martin's nest,
Till beccaficos sold so devilish dear
To one that was, or would have been, a peer. 40
Let me extol a cat, on oysters fed,
I'll have a party at the Bedford-head;[129]
Or even to crack live crawfish recommend;
I'd never doubt at court to make a friend.

'Tis yet in vain, I own, to keep a pother
About one vice, and fall into the other:
Between excess and famine lies a mean;
Plain, but not sordid; though not splendid, clean.

Avidien, or his wife (no matter which,
For him you'll call a dog, and her a bitch) 50
Sell their presented partridges, and fruits,
And humbly live on rabbits and on roots:
One half-pint bottle serves them both to dine,
And is at once their vinegar and wine.
But on some lucky day (as when they found
A lost bank-bill, or heard their son was drown'd)
At such a feast, old vinegar to spare,
Is what two souls so generous cannot bear:
Oil, though it stink, they drop by drop impart, 60
But souse the cabbage with a bounteous heart.

He knows to live, who keeps the middle state,
And neither leans on this side, nor on that;
Nor stops, for one bad cork, his butler's pay;
Swears, like Albutius, a good cook away;
Nor lets, like Naevius, every error pass,
The musty wine, foul cloth, or greasy glass.
Now hear what blessings temperance can bring:
(Thus said our friend, and what he said I sing)
First health: the stomach (cramm'd from every dish, 70
A tomb of boil'd and roast, and flesh and fish,
Where bile, and wind, and phlegm, and acid jar,
And all the man is one intestine war)
Remembers oft the school-boy's simple fare,
The temperate sleeps, and spirits light as air.

How pale each worshipful and reverend guest
Rise from a clergy or a city feast!
What life in all that ample body, say?
What heavenly particle inspires the clay?
The soul subsides, and wickedly inclines 80
To seem but mortal, even in sound divines.

On morning wings how active springs the mind
That leaves the load of yesterday behind!
How easy every labour it pursues!
How coming to the poet every Muse!
Not but we may exceed some holy time,
Or tired in search of truth, or search of rhyme;
Ill health some just indulgence may engage,
And more the sickness of long life, old age;
For fainting age what cordial drop remains, 90
If our intemperate youth the vessel drains?

Our fathers praised rank ven'son. You suppose,
Perhaps, young men! our fathers had no nose.
Not so: a buck was then a week's repast,
And 'twas their point, I ween, to make it last;
More pleased to keep it till their friends could come,
Than eat the sweetest by themselves at home.
Why had not I in those good times my birth,
Ere coxcomb-pies or coxcombs were on earth?

Unworthy he, the voice of fame to hear-- 100
That sweetest music to an honest ear--
(For, faith! Lord Fanny, you are in the wrong,
The world's good word is better than a song,)
Who has not learn'd, fresh sturgeon and ham-pie
Are no rewards for want, and infamy!
When luxury has lick'd up all thy pelf,
Cursed by thy neighbours, thy trustees, thyself,
To friends, to fortune, to mankind a shame,
Think how posterity will treat thy name;
And buy a rope, that future times may tell 110
Thou hast at least bestow'd one penny well.

'Right,' cries his lordship, 'for a rogue in need
To have a taste is insolence indeed:
In me 'tis noble, suits my birth and state,
My wealth unwieldy, and my heap too great.'
Then, like the sun, let bounty spread her ray,
And shine that superfluity away.
Oh, impudence of wealth! with all thy store,
How dar'st thou let one worthy man be poor?
Shall half the new-built churches round thee fall? 120
Make quays, build bridges, or repair Whitehall:
Or to thy country let that heap be lent,
As Marlbro's was, but not at five per cent.

Who thinks that Fortune cannot change her mind,
Prepares a dreadful jest for all mankind.
And who stands safest? tell me, is it he
That spreads and swells in puff'd prosperity,
Or, blest with little, whose preventing care
In peace provides fit arms against a war?

Thus Bethel spoke, who always speaks his thought, 130
And always thinks the very thing he ought:
His equal mind I copy what I can,
And as I love, would imitate the man.
In South-sea days not happier, when surmised
The lord of thousands, than if now excised;
In forest planted by a father's hand,
Than in five acres now of rented land.
Content with little, I can piddle here
On broccoli and mutton, round the year;
But ancient friends (though poor, or out of play) 140
That touch my bell, I cannot turn away.
'Tis true, no turbots dignify my boards,
But gudgeons, flounders, what my Thames affords:
To Hounslow Heath I point, and Bansted Down,
Thence comes your mutton, and these chicks my own:
From yon old walnut-tree a shower shall fall;
And grapes, long lingering on my only wall,
And figs from standard and espalier join;
The devil is in you if you cannot dine:
Then cheerful healths (your mistress shall have place) 150
And, what's more rare, a poet shall say grace.

Fortune not much of humbling me can boast;
Though double tax'd, how little have I lost?


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