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in Cliveden's proud alcove, The bow'r of wanton Shrewsbury and love;
should have been devoid of every virtue. But when Alcibiades turns chemist; when he is a real bubble, and a visionary miser when ambition is but a frolic; when the worst designs are for the foolishest ends; contempt extinguishes all reflections on his character. The portrait of this duke has been drawn by four masterly hands: Burnet has hewn it with a rough chisel: Count Hamilton touched it with that slight delicacy that finishes while it seems to sketch: Dryden catched the living likeness: Pope completed the historical resemblance. Yet the abilities of this Lord appear in no instance more amazing, than that being exposed by two of the greatest Poets, he has exposed one of them ten times more severely. Zimry is an admirable portrait; but Bayes an original creation. Dryden satirized Buckingham; but Villers made Dryden satirize himself."-Catalogue of Noble Authors, vol. ii. p. 77. Ver. 307. Cliveden] A delightful palace, on the banks of the Thames, built by the D. of Buckingham.
Ver. 308. Shrewsbury] The Countess of Shrewsbury, a woman abandoned to gallantries. The Earl her husband was killed by the Duke of Buckingham in a duel; and it has been said, that during the combat she held the Duke's horses in the habit of a page. P.
Ver. 308. The bow'r] This very infamous Countess of Shrewsbury was eldest daughter of Robert Brudenel Earl of Cardigan. Her husband was killed March 16, 1667. She afterward married George Rodney Bridges, Esq. second son of Sir Thomas Bridges of Keynsham in Somersetshire, Knt. and died April 20, 1702. The noble house of Cliveden, so delightfully and superbly situated on the banks of the Thames, which had been the residence of Frederick Prince of Wales, who lived in it for many years with a proper dignity and magnificence, attended by many of the first geniuses of the age, was unfortunatuly burnt to the ground in May 1725, and nothing of its elegant furniture pre. served from the flames but the fine tapestry that represented the Duke of Marlborough's victories. The beautiful Mask of Alfred was written and acted at Cliveden in 1744. In the duel mentioned above, the Duke of Buckingham had for his two seconds, captain Holmes and Mr. Jenkins. The Earl of Shrewsbury's seconds were, Sir John Talbot of Laycock, and Mr. Bernard Howard. The Duke of Buckingham mortally wounded the Earl.
Or just as gay, at Council, in a ring
Cutler and Brutus, dying, both exclaim,
"Virtue! and Wealth! what are ye but a name !"
Ver. 333. Cutler and Brutus, dying, both exclaim,
"Virtue! 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 VOL. III.
Say, for such worth are other worlds prepar'd? Or are they both, in this their own reward?
A knotty point! to which we now proceed.
There dwelt a Citizen of sober fame,
A plain good man, and Balaam was his name;
His word would pass for more than he was worth. One solid dish his week-day meal affords,
And adding pudding solemniz'd the Lord's:
Ver. 337. In the former Editions,
That knotty point, my Lord, shall I discuss,
most passionate admirer of Antiochus Ascalonites, an essential Stoic, if ever there was any.
Now Stoical virtue was, as our au
thor truly tells us, not exercise, but apathy, Contracted all, retiring to the breast. In a word, like Sir J. Cutler's purse, nothing for use, but kept close shut, and centred all within himself.-Now virtue and wealth, thus circumstanced, are, indeed, no other than mere names. W.- -A most tortured meaning!
Ver. 339. Where London's column,] The Monument built in memory of the fire of London, with an inscription importing that city to have been burnt by the Papists. P.
Ver. 340. Like a tail bully, lifts the head, and lies ;] It were to be wished, the City monument had been compared to something of more dignity: as, to the Court-champion, for instance, since, like him, it only spoke the sense of the Government. Scribl.
Ver. 341. There dwelt a Citizen] This tale of Sir Balaam, his progress and change of manners, from being a plodding, sober, plain, and punctual citizen, to his becoming a debauched and dissolute courtier and senator, abounds in much knowledge of life, and many strokes of true humour, and will bear to be compared to the exquisite history of Eugenio and Corusodes in one of Swift's Intelligencers.
Constant at Church, and 'Change; his gains were
His givings rare, save 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 But Satan now is wiser than of yore,
And tempts by making rich, not making poor.
Rous'd by the Prince of Air, the whirlwinds sweep The surge, and plunge his Father in the deep; Then full against his Cornish lands they roar, 355 And two rich shipwrecks bless the lucky 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 smok'd upon the board. 360 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,
Ver. 351. But Satan] Sherlock is of opinion, that Moses would not mention Satan as an agent, in his History of the Temptation, lest it should communicate or countenance the notion of two independent principles of good and evil. And yet afterward, he asserts, that the Book of Job, in which Satan is openly named and introduced, is of an age prior to the writings of Moses. Disc. on Prophecy.
Ver. 355. Cornish] The Author has placed the scene of these 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 ship happens to be stranded 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 been yet able wholly to suppress these barbarities. P.
Some scruple rose, but thus he eas'd his thought,
The Tempter saw his time; the work he ply'd; Stocks and Subscriptions pour on ev'ry side, Till all the Demon 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, Ascribes his gettings to his parts and merit; What late he call'd a Blessing, now was Wit, And God's good Providence, a lucky Hit.
Ver. 377. What late he call'd a Blessing, now was Wit, &c.] This is an admirable picture of human nature: In the entrance into life, all, but coxcombs-born, are modest; and esteem the favours of their superiors as marks of their benevolence: but if these favours happen to increase; then, instead of advancing in gratitude to our benefactors, we only improve in the good opinion of ourselves; and the constant returns of such favours make us consider them no longer as accommodations to our wants, or the bire of our service, but debts due to our merit: yet, at the same time, to do justice to our common nature, we should observe, that this does not proceed so often from downright vice as is imagined, but frequently from mere infirmity; of which the rea. son is evident; for, having small knowledge, and yet an excessive opinion of ourselves, we estimate our merit by the passions and caprice of others; and this perhaps would not be so much amiss, were we not apt to take their favours for a declaration of their sense of our merits. How often, for instance, has it been seen, in the three learned professions, that a Man, who, had he continued in his primeval meanness, would have circumscribed his knowledge within the modest limits of Socrates; yet, being pushed up, as the phrase is, has felt himself growing into a Hooker, a Hales, or a Sydenham; while, in the rapidity of his course, het