Page images
PDF
EPUB

Cutler faw tenants break, and houses fall,
For very want; he could not build a wall.
His only daughter in a stranger's pow'r, 325
For very want; he could not pay a dow'r.
A few
grey

heirs his rev'rend temples crown’d, 'Twas very want that sold them for two pound. What ev’n deny'd a cordial at his end, Banish'd the doctor, and expell’d the friend? 330 What but a want,

which

you perhaps think mad, Yet numbers feel, the want of what he had! Cutler and Brutus, dying both exclaim, « Virtue! and Wealth! what are ye but a name !"

Say, for such worth are other worlds prepar'd? Or are they both, in this their own reward? 336

NOTES. detested, as the most potent of all charms. Hence this Sage is conjured by the powerful mention of a full, and of an empty purse. SCRIBL.

VER. 333. Cutler and Brutus, dying both exclaim, Vir. tue ! and wealth! what are ye but a name !] There is a greater beauty in this comparison than the common reader is aware of. Brutus was, in morals at least, a Stoic, like his uncle. And how much addicted to that sect in general, appears from his professing himself of the old academy, and being a most passionate admirer of Antiochus Ascalonites, an essential Stoic, if ever there was any. Now Stoical virtue was, as our author truly tells us, not exercise, but apathy-Contracted all, retiring to the breast. In a word, like Sir 7. Cutler's purse, nothing for use, but kept close shut, and center'd all within himself. -Now virtue and wealth, thus circumstanced, are indeed no other than mere names.

I

A knotty point ! to which we now proceed.
But
you

are tir'd—I'll tell a tale-B. Agreed.
P. Where London's column, pointing at the skies
Like a tall bully, lifts the head, and lyes; 340

VARIATION S.

VER. 337. in the former Editions,

That knotty point, my Lord, shall I discuss,
Or tell a tale ?-A Tale.--It follows thus.

COMMENTARY. Ver. 339. Where London's column, &c.] For, the foregoing examples of profufion and avarice having been given to thew, that misapplied wealth was not enjoyed; it only remained to prove that in such circumstances wealth became the heaviest punishment; and this was the very point to be concluded with, as the great MORAL of this instructive poem ; which is to teach us, bow miserable men make themselves by not endeavouring to restrain the ruling Paffion, tho' it be indeed implanted in the conftitution of things; while, at the same time, it is an answer to the latter part of the question,

Say, for such worth are other worlds prepard?

Or are they both, in this their own reward ? For the solution of which only, this example was jocularly pretended to have been given.

[merged small][ocr errors]

NOTES.

[ocr errors]

VER 339. Where London's column,] The Monument, built in the memory of the fire of London, with an inscription, importing that city to have been burnt by the Papists. P.

VER. 340. Like a tall bully, lifts the bead, and lies,] It were to be wilhed, the City-monument had been compared to fomething of more dignity : As, to the Court-champion; when, like him, it only spoke the sense of the Government. Scribl.

[ocr errors]

There dwelt a Citizen of sober fame,
A plain good man, and Balaam was his name;
Religious, punctual, frugal, and so forth;
His word would pass for more than he was worth.
One solid dish his week-day meal affords, 345
An added pudding solemniz'd the Lord's:
ConstantatChurch and Change; his gains were sure,
His givings rare, fave farthings to the poor.

The Dev'l was piqu’d such saintship to behold, And long’d to tempt him like good Job of old: 350

COMMENTARY.

All this the poet has admirably fupported, in the artful conftruction of his fable of Sir Balaam; whofe character is fo drawn, as to let the reader fee he had it in his power to regulate the ruling Paffion by reason, as having in himself the feeds of Integrity, Religion, and Sobriety. These are gradually worked out by an insatiable thirst for Wealth; and this again (thro' a falfe fense of his own abilities in acquiring it) succeeded by as immoderate a Vanity : Which will lead us to another beauty in the management of the Story. For, in order to see, in one conclud. ing example, the miseries of exorbitant wealth ill employ'd; it was necessary to set before the Reader, at once, all the misuse, that flowed both from avarice and profufion. The vices of the Citizen and the Noble, therefore, which were separated and contrafted in the foregoing instances, are here Thewn incorporated in a Courtly Cit. Perhaps it will be said, that the character has, by this means, the appearance of two ruling pasions : but thofe studied in human nature know the contrary: and that alieni appetens, fui-profusus, 'is frequently as much-one as either the profuse or avaricious àpart. Indeed, this is so far from an inaccuracy, that it produces a new beauty. The Ruling Palfron is of two kinds, the simple and the complex. The first fort the poet had..given examples of before. Nothing then re

But Satan now is wiser than of yore,
And tempts by making rich, not making poor.

Rouz’d by the Prince of Air,the whirlwinds sweep The surge, and plunge his Father in the deep; Then full against his Cornish landşthey roar,355 And two rich ship-wręcks bless the ļucky shore.

Sir Balaam now, he lives like other folks, He takes his chirping pint, and cracks his jokes : “Live like yourself,” was soon my Lady's word; And lo!, two puddings smoak’d upon the board. 360

COMMENTARY. mained to complete his philosophic plan, but concluding with the latter. Let me only observe further, that the author, in this Tale, has artfully summed up and recapitulated those three principal mischiefs in the abuse of money, which the satirical part of this poem throughout was employed to expose, namely AVARICE, PROFUSION, and PUBLIC CORRUPTION.

Constant at Church and 'Change ; his gains were fure,
His givings rare, fave farthings to the poor.-
Leaves the dull Cits, and joins (to please the fair)
The well-bred Cuckolds in St. James's air-
In Britain's Senate he a feat obtains,
And one more Pensioner St. Stephen gains.-

NOTE s. VER. 355. Corni/b] The author has placed the scene of thefe shipwrecks in Cornwall, not only from their frequency on that coast, but from the inhumanity of the inhabitants to those to whom that misfortune arrives : When a thip happens to be Itranded there, they have been known to bore holes in it, to prevent its getting off; to plunder, and sometimes even to massacre the people : Nor has the Parliament of England bcen yet able wholly to suppress these barbarities. P.

Ver. 360. And lo!.&c.] The poet had obferved above, VOL. II.

T

[ocr errors]

Asleep and naked as an Indian lay, An honest factor stole a Gem away: He pledg’d it to the knight; the knight had wit, So kept the Di'mond, and the rogue was bit. Some scruple rose, but thus he eas'd his thought, “ I'll now give fix-pence where I gave a groat; 366

Where once I went to church, I'll now go twice-" And am so clear too of all other vice.”

The Tempter saw his time; the work he ply'd; Stocks and Subscriptions pour on ev'ry side, 370 'Till all the Dæmon makes his full descent In one abundant show'r of Cent per Cent, Sinks deep within him, and possesses whole, Then dubs Director, and secures his soul.

Behold Sir Balaam, now a man of spirit, 375 Ascribes his gettings to his parts and merit;

NOTES.

that when the luxuriously-felfish had got more than they knew how to use, they would try to do more than live; instead of imparting the least pittance of it to those whom fortune had re duced to do less : The VANITY of which chimerical project he well exposed in these lines: What Riches give us let us then enquire. Meat, Fire, and Cloaths. What more? Meat, Cloaths and Fire. But here, in one who had not yet learnt the art of disguising the Poverty of Wealth by the Refinements of Luxury, he 1hews, with admirable humour, the ridicule of that project :

And lo! twe Puddings (inoak’d upon the board.

« PreviousContinue »