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Is this a dinner? this a genial room?
Yet hence the poor are clothed, the hungry fed ;
shall see the golden ear
Who then shall grace, or who improve the soil?
His father's acres who enjoys in peace,
But future buildings, future Davies, grow :
You, too, proceed ! make falling arts your care,
TO MR. ADDISON,
OCCASIONED BY HIS DIALOGUES ON MEDALS.
This was originally written in the year 1715, when Mr. Addison intended to publish his book of medals; it was some time before he was secretary of state; but not published till Mr. Tickell's edition of his works; at which time his verses on Mr. Cragas, which conclude the poem, were added, viz. in 1720.
As the third Epistie treated of the extremes of avarice and profusion; and the fourth took up one particular branch of the latter, namely, the vanity of expense in people of wealth and quality, and was therefore a corollary to the third; so this treats of one circumstance of that vanity, as it appears in the common collectors of old coin; and is, therefore, a corollary to the fourth.
SEE the wild waste of all-devouring years! How Rome her own sad sepulchre appears
! With nodding arches, broken temples spread ! The
very tombs now vanish'd like their dead! Imperial wonders raised on nations spoild, Where mix'd with slaves the groaning martyr toild: Huge theatres, that now unpeopled woods, Now drain'd a distant country of her floods : Panes, which admiring gods with pride survey ; Statues of men, scarce less alive than they! Some felt the silent stroke of mouldering age, Some hostile fury, some religious rage : Barbarian blindness, Christian zeal conspire, And papal piety, and Gothic tire; Perhaps by its own ruins saved from flame, Some buried marble half preserves a name ; That name the learn'd with fierce disputes pursue, And give to Titus old Vespasian's due.
Ambition sigh'd: she found in vain to trust
30 The medal, faithful to its charge of fame, Through climes and ages bears each form and name :
In one short view subjected to our eye,
Theirs is the vanity, the learning thine :
Oh, when shail Britain, conscious of her claim,
And round the orb in lasting notes be read,
is a sort of bill of complaint, begun many years since and drawn up by snatches, as the several occasions offered. I had no thoughts of publishing it, till it pleased some persons of rank and fortune (the authors of Verses to the imitator of Horace, and of an Epistle to a doctor of Divinity from a Nobleman at Hampton Court] to attack, in a very extraordinary manner, not only my writings (of which, being public, the public is judge) but my person, morals, and family ; whereof, to those who know me not, a truer information may be requisite. Being divided between the necessity to say something of myself, and my own laziness to undertake so awkward a task, I thought it the shortest way to put the last hand to this Epistle. If it have any thing pleasing, it will be that by which I am most desirous to please, the truth and the sentiment: and if any thing offen. sive, it will be only to those I am least sorry to offend, the vi.
cious or the ungenerous. Many willöknow their own pictures in it, there being not a eir
cumstance but what is true ; but I have, for the most part, spared their names : and they may escape being laughed at, if they please.