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Virtue, I grant you, is an empty boast ;
Ye Gods! fhall Cibber's Son, without rebuke, 115 Swear like a Lord, or Rich out-whore a Duke?
A Fav'rite's Porter with his Master vie,
Be brib'd as often, and as often lie?
Shall Ward draw Contracts with a Statesman's skill?
Or Japhet pocket, like his Grace, a Will?
Is it for Bond, or Peter, (paltry things)
To pay their Debts, or keep their Faith, like Kings? If Blount dispatch'd himself, he play'd the man, And fo may'st thou, illuftrious Pafferan!
But fhall a Printer, weary of his life,
Learn, from their Books, to hang himself and Wife?
VER. 113. Virtue, I grant you, is an empty boaft ;] A satirical ambiguity--either that those starve who have it, or that those who boaft of it, have it not : and both together (he infinuates) make up the present state of modern virtue.
VER. 115. Cibber's Son,-Rich] Two players: look for them in the Dunciad.
VER. 123. If Blount.] Author of an impious and foolish book called the Oracles of Reafon, who being in love with a near kinfwoman of his, and rejected, gave himself a stab in the arm, as pretending to kill himself, of the consequence of which he really died.
VER. 124. Pajeran!] Author of another book of the fame stamp, called, A philosophical discourse on death, being a defence of fuicide. He was a nobleman of Piedmont, banished from his country for his impieties, and lived in the utmost misery, yet feared to practise his own precepts.---This unhappy man at last died a penitent.
VER. 125. But fhall a Printer, etc.] A Fact that happened in London a few years past. The unhappy man left behind him
This, this, my friend, I cannot, muit not bear ;
Let modeft FOSTER, if he will, excell
a paper justifying his action by the reasonings of some of thefe authors.
VER. 129. This calls the Church to deprecate our Sin,] Alluding to the forms of prayer, composed in the times of public calamity where the fault is generally laid upon the People.
VER. 130. Gin.] A fpirituous liquor, the exorbitant use of which had almost destroyed the lowest rank of the People till it was reftrained by an act of Parliament in 1736.
VER. 134. Landaffe.] A poor Bishoprick in Wales, as poorly supplied.
VER. 135. Let bumble ALLEN with an aukward Shame,--Do good by fealth, and blush to find it Fame.] We are fo abfolutely governed by cuftom, that to act contrary to it, creates even in virtuous men, who are ever modeft, a kind of diffidence, which is the parent of Shame. But when, to this, there is joined a consciousness that, in forfaking custom, you follow truth and reason, the indignation arifing from such a conscious virtue, mixing with Shame, produces that amiable aukwardness, in going out of the fashion, which the Poet, here, celebrates: and blush to find it Fame,
i. e. He blushed at the degeneracy of his times, which, at best, gave his goodness its due commendation (the thing he never aimed at) instead of following and imitating his example,
Virtue may choose the high or low Degree,
Our Youth, all liv'ry'd o'er with foreign Gold, 155 Before her dance: behind her, crawl the Old !
which was the reason why some acts of it were not done by ftealth, but more openly.
VER. 138. 'Tis juft alike to Virtue, and to me ;] He gives the reason for it, in the line that presently follows,
She's ftill the fame, belov'd, contented thing.
So that the fenfe of the text is this, "It is all one to Virtue on "whom her influence falls, whether on high or low, because "it ftill produces the same effect, their content; and it is all one to me, because it still produces the same effect, my love.”.
See thronging Millions to the Pagod ran,
See, all our Nobles begging to be Slaves!
The Wit of Cheats, the Courage of a Whore, 165
At Crimes that 'fcape, or triumph o'er the Law: While Truth, Worth, Wifdom, daily they decry"Nothing is Sacred now but Villainy."
Yet may this Verse (if such a Verfe remain) Show, there was one who held it in difdain.
VER. 165. The Wit of Cheats, the Courage of a Whore,--Are what ten thousand envy and adore :] And no wonder, for the wit of Cheats being the evafion of Justice, and the Courage of a Whore the contempt for reputation; these emancipate men from the two tyrannical restraints upon free fpirits, fear of punishment, and dread of shame.
Written in MDCCXXXVIII.
IS all a Libel-Paxton (Sir) will fay
P. Not yet, my Friend! to morrow 'faith
And for that very cause I print to day.
VER. 1. Paxton.] Late follicitor to the Treasury.