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EPIS T L E IV.
T is strange, the Miser should hisCares employ
To gain those riches he can ne'er enjoy : Is it less strange, the Prodigal should walte His wealth, to purchase what he ne'er can taste?
COMMENTARY. EPISTLĘ IV.] The extremes of starice and Profufion being treated in the foregoing Epistle; this takes up one particular branch of the latter, the Vanity of Extence in people of wealth and quality; and is therefore a corclary to the preceding, just as the i partie on the Charaliers of Tom n is to that of the Knori ledge and Charaćiers of Men. It is equally remarkable for exaćtrof, of method with the rest. But the nature of the subjer, which is less pr. csophical, makes it capable of being anaJyled in a much narrower compass.
Vek. I. "I 15 firance, &c.] The poet's introduction (from
I to 39] conduits of a very curious remark, arising from his intimate knowledge of nature; together with an illustration of that rernark, taken from his observations on life. It is this, That the Prodigal no more enjoys his Profusion, than the Miser, his Rapacity. It was generally thought that Avarice only kept without enjoyment; but the poet here first acquaints us with a circumstance in human life much more to be lamented, viz. that Profusion too can communicate without it; whereas Enjoyment was thought to be as peculiarly the reward of the beneficent par. fions (of which this has the appearance) as want of enjoyment was the punishment of the selfish. The phænomenon observed is odd enough. But if we look more narrowly into this matter, we shall find, that Prodigality, when in pursuit of Taste, is only a Mode of Vanity, and consequently as selfish a passion as even avarice itself; and it is of the ordonance and constitution
TiBlakey inv.at del
What brought .S."Dios ill got dewitth to waste Some Gamon whisperidinsial have a chante
Not for himself he sees, or hears, or eats ; ' 5
of all selfish passions, when growing to excess, to defeat their own end, which is Self-enjoyment. But besides the accurate philosophy of this observation, there is a fine Morality contained in it; namely, that ill-got Wealth is not only as unreafonably, but as uncomfortably squandered as it was raked together; which the poet himself further insinuates in x 15.
What brought Sir Visto's ill-got wealth to waste? He then illustrates the above observation by divers examples in every branch of wrong Taste; and to set their absurdities in the strongest light, he, in conclusion, contrasts them with several instances of the true, in the Nobleman to whom the EpiAtle is addressed. This disposition is productive of various beauties; for, by this means, the Introduction becomes an epitome of the body of the Epistle; which, as we shall fee, consists of general reflections on Taste, and particular examples of bad and good. And his friend's Example concluding the Introduction, leads the poet gracefully into the subject itself; for the Lord, here celebrated for his good Taste, 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
Think we all these are for himself? no more
For what has Virro painted, built, and planted ?
Notes. noisseur and Antiquary; consequently the dirty attribute here assigned these Gods of old renown, is not in disparagement of their worth, but in high commendation of their genuine pretensions. SCRIBL.
Ver. 10. And Books for Mead, and Butterflies for Sloane.] Two eminent Physicians; the one had an excellent Library, the other the finest collection in Europe of natural curiosities; 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 Utenfils of false Magnificence, it appears, that, properly speaking, neither the Wife nor the Where 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 best, as appears from her having most of it, and so indeed becomes, by accident, the more fashionable Thing of the two. SCRIBL.
Ver. 17. Heav'n visits with a Taste the wealthy fool,] The present rage of Taste, in this overflow of general Luxury, may be very properly represented by a defolating pestilence, alluded to in the word vifit.
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 some wretched proofs of his insufficiency in public Buildings,mnade him Comptroller of the Board of works. P.