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To Allen Lord Bathurst
That it is known to few, most falling into one of the ex
tremes, avarice or profusion. The point discussed, whether the invention of money has been more commodious or pernicious to mankind. That riches, either to the avaricious or the prodigal, cannot afford happiness, scarcely necessaries. That avarice is an absolute frenzy, without an end or purpose. Conjec tures about the motives of avaricious men. That the conduct of men, with respect to riches, can only be accounted for by the order of Providence, which works the general good out of extremes, and brings all to its great end by perpetual revolutions. How a miser acts apon principles which appear to him reasonable. How a prodigal does the same. The due medium and true use of riches. The Man of Ross. The fate of the profuse and the covetous, in two examples; both miserable in life and in death. The story of Sir Balaam.
And soundest casuists doubt, like you and me?
But I, who think more highly of our kind, (And surely Heav'u and I are of a mind) Opine that Nature, as in duty bound, Deep hid the shining mischief under ground: But when by man's audacious labour won Flam'd forth this rival to its sire the sun; Then careful Heav'n supply'd two sorts of men, To squander these, and those to hide again. Like doctors thus, when much dispute has past, We find our tenets just the same at last;
Both fairly owning riches, in effect,
B. What nature wants commodious gold bestows; "Tis thus we eat the bread another sows.
P. But how unequal it bestows, observe;
B. Trade it may help, society extend :
P. But bribes a senate, and the land's betray'd.
ship off senates to some distant shore; A leaf, like Sibyl's, scatter to and fro Our fates and fortunes as the winds shall blow; Pregnant with thousands flits the scrap unseen, And silent sells 'a king, or buys a queen.
O! that such bulky bribes as all might see Still, as of old, incumber'd villany! Could France or Rome divert our brave designs With all their brandies or with all their wines; What could they more than knights and squires
confound, Or water all the quorum ten miles round?
Astatesman's slumbers how this speech would spoil!
Poor avarice one torment more would find,
P. What riches give us, let us then enquire : Meat, fire, and clothes ? B. What more ? P. Meat,
clothes, and fire, Is this too little ? would you more than live? Alas! 'tis more than Turner finds they give. Alas! 'tis more than (all his visions past) Unhappy Wharton, waking, found at last! What can they give? To dying Hopkins heirs ? To Chartres vigour? Japhet, nose and ears? Can they in gems bid pallid Hippia glow? In Fulvia's buckle ease the throbs below? Or heal, old Narses, thy obscener ail, With all the embroidery plaster'd at thy tail? They might (were Harpax not too wise to spend) Give Harpax' self the blessing of a friend,
Or find some doctor that would save the life
Perhaps you think the poor might have their part?
Yet to be just to these poor men of pelf,
B. Who suffer thus mere Charity should own, Must act on motives powerful, though unknown.
P. Some war, some plague or famine, they foresee,
Wise Peter sees the world's respect for gold,
The crown of Poland, venal twice an age,
Much injur'd Blunt! why bears he Britain's hate? A wizard told him in these words our fate: “ At length corruption, like a general flood, (So long by watchful ministers withstood) Shall deluge all ; and avarice creeping on, Spread, like a low-born mist, and blot the sun; Statesman and patriot ply alike the stocks, Peeress and butler share alike the box ; And judges job, and bishops bite the town, And mighty dukes pack cards for half a crown: See Britain sunk in lucre's sordid charms, And France reveng'd of Anne's and Edward's arms!" 'Twas no court-badge,great Scrivener! fir'd thy brain, Nor lordly luxury, nor city gain : No, 'twas thy righteous end, asham'd to see Senates degenerate, patriots disagree, And nobly wishing party-rage to cease, To buy both sides, and give thy country peace. “ All this is madness," cries a sober sage : But who, my friend ! has reason in his rage? “ The ruling passion, be it what it will, The ruling passion, conquers reason still." Less mad the wildest whimsey we can frame, Than ev'n that passion if it has no aim ; For though such motives folly you may call, The folly's greater to have none at all.
Hearthen the truth :"Tis Heav'neach passionsends, And different men directs to different ends. Extremes in nature equal good produce ; Extremes in man concur to general use." Ask we what makes one keep and one bestow ? That power who bids the ocean ebb and flow, Bids seed-time, harvest, equal course maintain, Thro' reconcil'd extremes of drought and rain : Builds life on death, on change duration founds, And gives the eternal wheels to know their rounds.
Riches, like insects, when conceal'd they lie, Wait but for wings, and in their season fly. Who sees pale Mammon pine amidst his store, Sees but a backward steward for the poor ;