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Honour and shame from no condition rise; Act well your part, there all the honour lies. Fortune in men has some small difference made, One flaunts in rags, one flutters in brocade ; The cobbler apron'd, and the parson gown'd, The friar hooded, and the monarch crown'd. “What differ more (you cry) than crown and cowl?” I'll tell you, friend, a wise man and a fool. You'll find, if once the monarch acts the monk, Or, cobbler-like, the parson will be drunk, Worth makes the man, and want of it the fellow : The rest is all but leather or prunello. Stuck o'er with titles, and hung round with
strings, That thou mayst be by kings, or whores of kings; Boast the
blood of an illustrious race, In quiet flow from Lucrece to Lucrece: But by your fathers' worth if yours you rate, Count me those only who were good and great. Go! if your ancient but ignoble blood Has crept through scoundrels ever since the flood, Go! and pretend your family is young, Nor own your fathers have been fools so long. What can ennoble sots, or slaves, or cowards ? Alas! not all the blood of all the Howards. Look next on greatness ; say where greatness
lies ? “ Where but among the heroes and the wise ?" Heroes are much the same, the point's agreed, From Macedonia's madman to the Swede ;
The whole strange purpose of their lives to find
What's fame? a fancied life in others' breath;
and what's unknown
When what ť oblivion better were resign'd
In parts superior what advantage lies?
Bring then these blessings to a strict account ; Make fair deductions; see to what they ’mount; How much of other each is sure to cost ; How each for other oft is wholly lost ; How inconsistent greater goods with these; How sometimes life is risk'd, and always ease: Think, and if still the things thy envy call, Say, wouldst thou be the man to whom they fall? To sigh for ribands if thou art so silly, Mark how they grace Lord Umbra or Sir Billy. Is yellow dirt the passion of thy life? Look but on Gripus or on Gripus' wife.
If parts allure thee, think how Bacon shin’d,
greater bliss attends their close of life?
1 An allusion to the great Duke of Marlborough. VOL. II.
Know then this truth (enough for man to know), “ Virtue alone is happiness below;" The only point where human bliss stands still, And tastes the good without the fall to ill ; Where only merit constant pay receives, Is bless'd in what it takes and what it gives ; The joy unequallid if its end it gain, And, if it lose, attended with no pain ; Without satiety, though e'er so bless’d, And but more relish'd as the more distress'd : The broadest mirth unfeeling folly wears, Less pleasing far than virtue's very tears : Good from each object, from each place acquir’d, For ever exercis'd, yet never tir’d; Never elated while one man's oppress’d; Never dejected while another's bless'd: And where no wants, no wishes can remain, Since but to wish more virtue is to gain.
See the sole bliss heaven could on all bestow! Which who but feels can taste, but thinks can know: Yet poor with fortune, and with learning blind, The bad must miss, the good untaught will find : Slave to no sect, who takes no private road, But looks through nature up to nature's God; Pursues that chain which links th’ immense design, Joins heaven and earth, and mortal and divine ; Sees that no being any bliss can know, But touches some above and some below; Learns from this union of the rising whole The first, last purpose of the human soul;