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EPISTLE

IV.

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Is ftrange, the Mifer fhould hisCares employ To gain those riches he can ne'er enjoy : Is it lefs ftrange, the Prodigal fhould wafte His wealth, to purchafe what he ne'er can taste?

COMMENTARY.

EPISTLE IV.] The extremes of varice and Profufion being treated of in the foregoing Epiftle; this takes up one particular branch of the latter, the Vanity of Expence in people of wealth and quality; and is therefore a corollary to the preceding, juft as the patie on the Characters of Women is to that of the Knowledge and Charatters of Men. It is equally remarkable for exactnefs of method with the reft. But the nature of the fubjee, which is lefs philofophical, makes it capable of being analyfed in a much narrower compafs.

VER. 1. 11s ftrange, &c.] The poet's introduction (from 1 to 9] confits of a very curious remark, arifing from his intimate knowledge of nature; together with an illustration of that remark, taken from his obfervations on life. It is this, That the Prodigal no more enjoys his Profufion, than the Mifer, his Rapacity. It was generally thought that Avarice only kept without enjoyment; but the poçt here firft acquaints us with a circumftance in human life much more to be lamented, viz. that Profufion too can communicate without it; whereas Enjoyment was thought to be as peculiarly the reward of the beneficent pas• fions (of which this has the appearance) as want of enjoyment was the punishment of the feififh. The phænomenon obferved is odd enough. But if we look more narrowly into this matter, we fhall find, that Prodigality, when in purfuit of Tafte, is only a Made of Vanity, and confequently as felfifh a paflion as even avarice itfelf; and it is of the ordonance and conftitution

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What brought S. " Visto's ill got Wealth to waste? Some Dæmon whisperd, Nisto! have a Taste.

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Not for himself hefees, or hears, or eats;
Artists must chufe his Pictures, Mufic, Meats:
He buys for Topham, Drawings and Defigns,
For Pembroke Statues, dirty Gods, and Coins;
Rare monkish Manuscripts for Hearne alone,
And Books for Mead, and Butterflies for Sloane. 10

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COMMENTARY.

of all selfish paffions, when growing to excefs, to defeat their own end, which is Self-enjoyment. But befides the accurate philofophy of this obfervation, there is a fine Morality contained in it; namely, that ill-got Wealth is not only as unreasonably, but as uncomfortably squandered as it was raked together; which the poet himself further infinuates in 15.

What brought Sir Visto's ill-got wealth to waste ?

He then illuftrates the above obfervation by divers examples in every branch of wrong Tafte; and to fet their abfurdities in the ftrongest light, he, in conclufion, contrafts them with several inftances of the true, in the Nobleman to whom the Epiftle is addreffed. This difpofition is productive of various beauties; for, by this means, the Introduction becomes an epitome of the body of the Epiftle; which, as we shall fee, confifts of general reflections on Tafte, and particular examples of bad and good. And his friend's Example concluding the Introduction, leads the poet gracefully into the fubject itself; for the Lord, here celebrated for his good Tafte, was now at hand to deliver the first and fundamental precept of it himself, which gives authority and dignity to all that follow.

NOTES.

VER. 7. Topham]. A Gentleman famous for a judicious collection of Drawings. P.

VER. 8. For Pembroke Statues, dirty Gods, and Coins.] The author speaks here not as a Philofopher or Divine, but as a Con

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Think we all these are for himself? no more
Than his fine Wife, alas! or finer Whore.

For what has Virro painted, built, and planted?
Only to shew, how many Tastes he wanted. 14
What brought Sir Visto's ill got wealth to waste?
Some Dæmon whisper'd, "Vifto! have a Tafte."
Heav'n vifits with a Taste the wealthy fool,
And needs no Rod but Ripley with a Rule.

NOTES.

noisseur and Antiquary; confequently the dirty attribute here affigned these Gods of old renown, is not in disparagement of their worth, but in high commendation of their genuine pretenfions. SCRIBL.

VER. 10. And Books for Mead, and Butterflies for Sloane.] Two eminent Phyficians; the one had an excellent Library, the other the finest collection in Europe of natural curiofities; both men of great learning and humanity. -P.

VER. 12. Than his fine Wife, alas! or finer Whore.] By the Author's manner of putting together these two different Útenfils of falfe Magnificence, it appears, that, properly speaking, neither the Wife nor the Whore is the real object of modern taste, but the Finery only: And whoever wears it, whether the Wife or the Whore, it matters not; any further than that the latter is thought to deserve it beft, as appears from her having most of it; and fo indeed becomes, by accident, the more fashionable Thing of the two. SCRIBL.

VER. 17. Heav'n vifits with a Taste the wealthy fool,] The prefent rage of Taste, in this overflow of general Luxury, may very properly represented by a defolating pestilence, alluded to in the word vifit.

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VER. 18. Ripley] This man was a carpenter, employed by a first Minister, who raised him to an Architect, without any genius in the art; and after fome wretched proofs of his infufficiency in public Buildings,made him Comptroller of the Board of works.

P.

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