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Epistles to Several Persons: Epistle IV, To Richard Boyle,

Alexander Pope 1688 (London) – 1744 (Twickenham)

Est brevitate opus, ut currat sententia, neu se
Impediat verbis lassas onerantibus aures:
Et sermone opus est modo tristi, saepe jocoso,
Defendente vicem modo Rhetoris atque Poetae,
Interdum urbani, parcentis viribus, atque
Extenuantis eas consulto.
  (Horace, Satires, I, x, 17-22)
  'Tis strange, the miser should his cares employ
  To gain those riches he can ne'er enjoy:
  Is it less strange, the prodigal should waste
  His wealth to purchase what he ne'er can taste?
  Not for himself he sees, or hears, or eats;
  Artists must choose his pictures, music, meats:
  He buys for Topham, drawings and designs,
  For Pembroke, statues, dirty gods, and coins;
  Rare monkish manuscripts for Hearne alone,
  And books for Mead, and butterflies for Sloane.
  Think we all these are for himself? no more
  Than his fine wife, alas! or finer whore.

  For what his Virro painted, built, and planted?
  Only to show, how many tastes he wanted.
  What brought Sir Visto's ill got wealth to waste?
  Some daemon whisper'd, "Visto! have a taste."
  Heav'n visits with a taste the wealthy fool,
  And needs no rod but Ripley with a rule.
  See! sportive fate, to punish awkward pride,
  Bids Bubo build, and sends him such a guide:
  A standing sermon, at each year's expense,
  That never coxcomb reach'd magnificence!
  You show us, Rome was glorious, not profuse,
  And pompous buildings once were things of use.
  Yet shall (my Lord) your just, your noble rules
  Fill half the land with imitating fools;
  Who random drawings from your sheets shall take,
  And of one beauty many blunders make;
  Load some vain church with old theatric state,
  Turn arcs of triumph to a garden gate;
  Reverse your ornaments, and hang them all
  On some patch'd dog-hole ek'd with ends of wall;
  Then clap four slices of pilaster on't,
  That lac'd with bits of rustic, makes a front.
  Or call the winds through long arcades to roar,
  Proud to catch cold at a Venetian door;
  Conscious they act a true Palladian part,
  And, if they starve, they starve by rules of art.

  Oft have you hinted to your brother peer,
  A certain truth, which many buy too dear:
  Something there is more needful than expense,
  And something previous ev'n to taste--'tis sense:
  Good sense, which only is the gift of Heav'n,
  And though no science, fairly worth the sev'n:
  A light, which in yourself you must perceive;
  Jones and Le Notre have it not to give.

  To build, to plant, whatever you intend,
  To rear the column, or the arch to bend,
  To swell the terrace, or to sink the grot;
  In all, let Nature never be forgot.
  But treat the goddess like a modest fair,
  Nor overdress, nor leave her wholly bare;
  Let not each beauty ev'rywhere be spied,
  Where half the skill is decently to hide.
  He gains all points, who pleasingly confounds,
  Surprises, varies, and conceals the bounds.

  Consult the genius of the place in all;
  That tells the waters or to rise, or fall;
  Or helps th' ambitious hill the heav'ns to scale,
  Or scoops in circling theatres the vale;
  Calls in the country, catches opening glades,
  Joins willing woods, and varies shades from shades,
  Now breaks, or now directs, th' intending lines;
  Paints as you plant, and, as you work, designs.

  Still follow sense, of ev'ry art the soul,
  Parts answ'ring parts shall slide into a whole,
  Spontaneous beauties all around advance,
  Start ev'n from difficulty, strike from chance;
  Nature shall join you; time shall make it grow
  A work to wonder at--perhaps a Stowe.

  Without it, proud Versailles! thy glory falls;
  And Nero's terraces desert their walls:
  The vast parterres a thousand hands shall make,
  Lo! Cobham comes, and floats them with a lake:
  Or cut wide views through mountains to the plain,
  You'll wish your hill or shelter'd seat again.
  Ev'n in an ornament its place remark,
  Nor in an hermitage set Dr. Clarke.

  Behold Villario's ten years' toil complete;
  His quincunx darkens, his espaliers meet;
  The wood supports the plain, the parts unite,
  And strength of shade contends with strength of light;
  A waving glow his bloomy beds display,
  Blushing in bright diversities of day,
  With silver-quiv'ring rills meander'd o'er--
  Enjoy them, you! Villario can no more;
  Tir'd of the scene parterres and fountains yield,
  He finds at last he bet
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:44 min read

Alexander Pope

Alexander Pope (1688-1744) is regarded as one of the greatest English poets, and the foremost poet of the early eighteenth century. He is best known for his satirical and discursive poetry, including The Rape of the Lock, The Dunciad, and An Essay on Criticism, as well as for his translation of Homer. more…

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