The Sixth Epistle Of The First Book Of Horace.

A poem by Alexander Pope


'Not to admire, is all the art I know,
To make men happy, and to keep them so.'
(Plain truth, dear Murray, needs no flowers of speech,
So take it in the very words of Creech.)[136]

This vault of air, this congregated ball,
Self-centred sun, and stars that rise and fall,
There are, my friend! whose philosophic eyes
Look through and trust the Ruler with his skies,
To Him commit the hour, the day, the year,
And view this dreadful All without a fear.

Admire we then what earth's low entrails hold,
Arabian shores, or Indian seas infold;
All the mad trade of fools and slaves for gold?
Or popularity? or stars and strings?
The mob's applauses, or the gifts of kings?
Say with what eyes we ought at courts to gaze,
And pay the great our homage of amaze?

If weak the pleasure that from these can spring,
The fear to want them is as weak a thing:
Whether we dread, or whether we desire,
In either case, believe me, we admire;
Whether we joy or grieve, the same the curse,
Surprised at better, or surprised at worse.
Thus good or bad, to one extreme betray
The unbalanced mind, and snatch the man away:
For virtue's self may too much zeal be had;
The worst of madmen is a saint run mad.

Go then, and, if you can, admire the state
Of beaming diamonds, and reflected plate;
Procure a taste to double the surprise,
And gaze on Parian charms with learned eyes:
Be struck with bright brocade, or Tyrian dye,
Our birthday nobles' splendid livery.
If not so pleased, at council-board rejoice,
To see their judgments hang upon thy voice;
From morn to night, at Senate, Rolls, and Hall,
Plead much, read more, dine late, or not at all.
But wherefore all this labour, all this strife?
For fame, for riches, for a noble wife?
Shall one whom nature, learning, birth, conspired
To form, not to admire, but be admired,
Sigh, while his Chloe, blind to wit and worth,
Weds the rich dulness of some son of earth?
Yet time ennobles, or degrades each line;
It brighten'd Craggs's,[137] and may darken thine:
And what is fame? the meanest have their day,
The greatest can but blaze, and pass away.
Graced as thou art, with all the power of words,
So known, so honour'd, at the House of Lords:
Conspicuous scene! another yet is nigh
(More silent far) where kings and poets lie;
Where Murray (long enough his country's pride)
Shall be no more than Tully, or than Hyde!

Rack'd with sciatics, martyr'd with the stone,
Will any mortal let himself alone?
See Ward by batter'd beaux invited over,
And desperate misery lays hold on Dover.
The case is easier in the mind's disease;
There all men may be cured, whene'er they please.
Would ye be blest? despise low joys, low gains;
Disdain whatever Cornbury[138] disdains;
Be virtuous, and be happy for your pains.

But art thou one, whom new opinions sway,
One who believes as Tindal[139] leads the way,
Who virtue and a church alike disowns,
Thinks that but words, and this but brick and stones?
Fly then, on all the wings of wild desire,
Admire whate'er the maddest can admire:
Is wealth thy passion? Hence! from pole to pole,
Where winds can carry, or where waves can roll,
For Indian spices, for Peruvian gold,
Prevent the greedy, and outbid the bold:
Advance thy golden mountain to the skies;
On the broad base of fifty thousand rise,
Add one round hundred, and (if that's not fair)
Add fifty more, and bring it to a square.
For, mark the advantage; just so many score
Will gain a wife with half as many more,
Procure her beauty, make that beauty chaste,
And then such friends--as cannot fail to last.
A man of wealth is dubb'd a man of worth,
Venus shall give him form, and Anstis[140] birth.
(Believe me, many a German prince is worse,
Who, proud of pedigree, is poor of purse).
His wealth brave Timon gloriously confounds;
Ask'd for a groat, he gives a hundred pounds;
Or if three ladies like a luckless play,[141]
Takes the whole house upon the poet's day.
Now, in such exigencies not to need,
Upon my word, you must be rich indeed;
A noble superfluity it craves,
Not for yourself, but for your fools and knaves;
Something, which for your honour they may cheat,
And which it much becomes you to forget.
If wealth alone then make and keep us bless'd,
Still, still be getting, never, never rest.

But if to power and place your passion lie,
If in the pomp of life consist the joy;
Then hire a slave, or (if you will) a lord
To do the honours, and to give the word;
Tell at your levee, as the crowds approach,
To whom to nod, whom take into your coach,
Whom honour with your hand: to make remarks,
Who rules in Cornwall, or who rules in Berks:
'This may be troublesome, is near the chair:
That makes three members, this can choose a mayor.'
Instructed thus, you bow, embrace, protest,
Adopt him son, or cousin at the least,
Then turn about, and laugh at your own jest.

Or if your life be one continued treat,
If to live well means nothing but to eat;
Up, up! cries Gluttony, 'tis break of day,
Go drive the deer, and drag the finny prey;
With hounds and horns go hunt an appetite--
So Russel did, but could not eat at night,
Call'd, happy dog! the beggar at his door,
And envied thirst and hunger to the poor.

Or shall we every decency confound,
Through taverns, stews, and bagnios take our round,
Go dine with Chartres, in each vice outdo
K--l's lewd cargo, or Ty--y's crew;
From Latian syrens, French Circaean feasts,
Return well travell'd, and transform'd to beasts,
Or for a titled punk, or foreign flame,
Renounce our country, and degrade our name?

If, after all, we must with Wilmot own,
The cordial drop of life is love alone,
And Swift cry wisely, 'Vive la bagatelle!'
The man that loves and laughs, must sure do well.

Adieu--if this advice appear the worst,
E'en take the counsel which I gave you first:
Or better precepts if you can impart,
Why do, I'll follow them with all my heart.

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