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Love Of Fame, The Universal Passion. Satire IV.



To the Right Honourable Sir Spencer Compton.


Round some fair tree th' ambitious woodbine grows,
And breathes her sweets on the supporting boughs;
So sweet the verse, th' ambitious verse, should be,
(O! pardon mine) that hopes support from thee;
Thee, Compton, born o'er senates to preside,
Their dignity to raise, their councils guide;
Deep to discern, and widely to survey,
And kingdoms' fates, without ambition, weigh;
Of distant virtues nice extremes to blend,
The crown's asserter, and the people's friend:
Nor dost thou scorn, amid sublimer views,
To listen to the labours of the muse;
Thy smiles protect her, while thy talents fire,
And 'tis but half thy glory to inspire.
Vex'd at a public fame, so justly won,
The jealous Chremes is with spleen undone;
Chremes, for airy pensions of renown,
Devotes his service to the state and crown;
All schemes he knows, and, knowing, all improves,
Tho' Britain's thankless, still this patriot loves:
But patriots differ; some may shed their blood,
He drinks his coffee, for the public good;
Consults the sacred steam, and there foresees
What storms, or sunshine, Providence decrees;
Knows, for each day, the weather of our fate;
A quid nunc is an almanack of state.
You smile, and think this statesman void of use:
Why may not time his secret worth produce?
Since apes can roast the choice Castanian nut,
Since steeds of genius are expert at put;
Since half the senate not content can say,
Geese nations save, and puppies plots betray.
What makes him model realms, and counsel kings?
An incapacity for smaller things:
Poor Chremes can't conduct his own estate,
And thence has undertaken Europe's fate.
Gehenno leaves the realm to Chremes' skill,
And boldly claims a province higher still:
To raise a name, th' ambitious boy has got,
At once, a Bible, and a shoulder-knot;
Deep in the secret, he looks thro' the whole,
And pities the dull rogue that saves his soul;
To talk with rev'rence you must take good heed,
Nor shock his tender reason with the creed:
Howe'er well bred, in public he complies,
Obliging friends alone with blasphemies.
Peerage is poison, good estates are bad
For this disease; poor rogues run seldom mad.
Have not attainders brought unhop'd relief,
And falling stocks quite cur'd an unbelief?
While the sun shines, Blunt talks with wondrous force;
But thunder mars small beer, and weak discourse.
Such useful instruments the weather show,
Just as their mercury is high or low:
Health chiefly keeps an atheist in the dark;
A fever argues better than a Clarke:
Let but the logic in his pulse decay,
The Grecian he'll renounce, and learn to pray,
While C---- mourns, with an unfeign'd zeal,
Th' apostate youth, who reason'd once so well.
C----, who makes so merry with the creed;
He almost thinks he disbelieves indeed;
But only thinks so; to give both their due,
Satan, and he, believe, and tremble too.
Of some for glory such the boundless rage,
That they're the blackest scandal of their age.
Narcissus the Tartarian club disclaims;
Nay, a free-mason, with some terror, names;
Omits no duty; nor can envy say,
He miss'd, these many years, the church, or play:
He makes no noise in parliament, 'tis true;
But pays his debts, and visit, when 'tis due;
His character and gloves are ever clean,
And then, he can out-bow the bowing dean;
A smile eternal on his lip he wears,
Which equally the wise and worthless shares.
In gay fatigues, this most undaunted chief,
Patient of idleness beyond belief,
Most charitably lends the town his face,
For ornament, in ev'ry public place;
As sure as cards, he to th' assembly comes,
And is the furniture of drawing-rooms:
When ombre calls, his hand and heart are free,
And, join'd to two, he fails not--to make three:
Narcissus is the glory of his race;
For who does nothing with a better grace?
To deck my list, by nature were design'd
Such shining expletives of human kind,
Who want, while thro' blank life they dream along,
Sense to be right, and passion to be wrong.
To counterpoise this hero of the mode,
Some for renown are singular and odd;
What other men dislike, is sure to please,
Of all mankind, these dear antipodes;
Thro' pride, not malice, they run counter still,
And birthdays are their days of dressing ill,
Arbuthnot is a fool, and F---- a sage,
S--ly will fright you, E---- engage;
By nature streams run backward, flame descends,
Stones mount, and Sussex is the worst of friends;
They take their rest by day, and wake by night,
And blush, if you surprise them in the right;
If they by chance blurt out, ere well aware,
A swan is white, or Queensberry is fair.
Nothing exceeds in ridicule, no doubt,
A fool in fashion, but a fool that's out,
His passion for absurdity's so strong,
He cannot bear a rival in the wrong;
Tho' wrong the mode, comply; more sense is shown
In wearing others' follies, than your own.
If what is out of fashion most you prize,
Methinks you should endeavour to be wise.
But what in oddness can be more sublime
Than Sloane, the foremost toyman of his time?
His nice ambition lies in curious fancies,
His daughter's portion a rich shell inhances,
And Ashmole's baby-house is, in his view,
Britannia's golden mine, a rich Peru!
How his eyes languish! how his thoughts adore
That painted coat, which Joseph never wore!
He shows, on holidays, a sacred pin,
That touch'd the ruff, that touch'd Queen Bess's chin.
"Since that great dearth our chronicles deplore,
Since that great plague that swept as many more,
Was ever year unblest as this?" he'll cry,
"It has not brought us one new butterfly!"
In times that suffer such learn'd men as these,
Unhappy I----y! how came you to please?
Not gaudy butterflies are Lico's game;
But, in effect, his chase is much the same;
Warm in pursuit, he levees all the great,
Stanch to the foot of title and estate:
Where'er their lordships go, they never find
Or Lico, or their shadows, lag behind!
He sets them sure, where'er their lordships run,
Close at their elbows, as a morning dun;
As if their grandeur, by contagion, wrought,
And fame was, like a fever, to be caught:
But after seven years' dance, from place to place,
The(13) Dane is more familiar with his grace.
Who'd be a crutch to prop a rotten peer;
Or living pendant dangling at his ear,
For ever whisp'ring secrets, which were blown
For months before, by trumpets, thro' the town?
Who'd be a glass, with flattering grimace,
Still to reflect the temper of his face;
Or happy pin to stick upon his sleeve,
When my lord's gracious, and vouchsafes it leave;
Or cushion, when his heaviness shall please
To loll, or thump it, for his better ease;
Or a vile butt, for noon, or night, bespoke,
When the peer rashly swears he'll club his joke?
Who'd shake with laughter, tho' he could not find
His lordship's jest; or, if his nose broke wind,
For blessings to the gods profoundly bow,
That can cry, chimney sweep, or drive a plough?
With terms like these, how mean the tribe that close!
Scarce meaner they, who terms like these, impose.
But what's the tribe most likely to comply?
The men of ink, or ancient authors lie;
The writing tribe, who shameless auctions hold
Of praise, by inch of candle to be sold:
All men they flatter, but themselves the most,
With deathless fame, their everlasting boast:
For fame no cully makes so much her jest,
As her old constant spark, the bard profest.
"Boyle shines in council, Mordaunt in the fight,
Pelham's magnificent; but I can write,
And what to my great soul like glory dear?"
Till some god whispers in his tingling ear,
That fame's unwholesome taken without meat.
And life is best sustain'd by what is eat:
Grown lean, and wise, he curses what he writ,
And wishes all his wants were in his wit.
Ay! what avails it, when his dinner's lost,
That his triumphant name adorns a post?
Or that his shining page (provoking fate!)
Defends sirloins, which sons of dulness eat?
What foe to verse without compassion hears,
What cruel prose-man can refrain from tears,
When the poor muse, for less than half a crown,
A prostitute on every bulk in town,
With other whores undone, tho' not in print,
Clubs credit for Geneva in the mint?
Ye bards! why will you sing, tho' uninspir'd?
Ye bards! why will you starve, to be admir'd?
Defunct by Phoebus' laws, beyond redress,
Why will your spectres haunt the frighted press?
Bad metre, that excrescence of the head,
Like hair, will sprout, altho' the poet's dead.
All other trades demand, verse makers beg;
A dedication is a wooden leg;
A barren Labeo, the true mumper's fashion,
Exposes borrow'd brats to move compassion.
Tho' such myself, vile bards I discommend;
Nay more, tho' gentle Damon is my friend.
"Is 't then a crime to write?"--If talent rare
Proclaim the god, the crime is to forbear:
For some, tho' few, there are large-minded men,
Who watch unseen the labours of the pen;
Who know the muse's worth, and therefore court,
Their deeds her theme, their beauty her support;
Who serve, unask'd, the least pretence to wit;
My sole excuse, alas! for having writ.
Argyll true wit is studious to restore;
And Dorset smiles, if Phoebus smil'd before;
Pembroke in years the long-lov'd arts admires,
And Henrietta like a muse inspires.
But, ah! not inspiration can obtain
That fame, which poets languish for in vain.
How mad their aim, who thirst for glory, strive
To grasp, what no man can possess alive!
Fame's a reversion in which men take place
(O late reversion!) at their own decease.
This truth sagacious Lintot knows so well,
He starves his authors, that their works may sell.
That fame is wealth, fantastic poets cry;
That wealth is fame, another clan reply;
Who know no guilt, no scandal, but in rags;
And swell in just proportion to their bags.
Nor only the low-born, deform'd and old,
Think glory nothing but the beams of gold;
The first young lord, which in the mall you meet,
Shall match the veriest huncks in Lombard-street,
From rescu'd candles' ends, who rais'd a sum,
And starves to join a penny to a plumb.
A beardless miser! 'tis a guilt unknown
To former times, a scandal all our own.
Of ardent lovers, the true modern band
Will mortgage Celia to redeem their land.
For love, young, noble, rich, Castalio dies:
Name but the fair, love swells into his eyes.
Divine Monimia, thy fond fears lay down;
No rival can prevail,--but half a crown.
He glories to late times to be convey'd,
Not for the poor he has reliev'd, but made:
Not such ambition his great fathers fir'd,
When Harry conquer'd, and half France expir'd:
He'd be a slave, a pimp, a dog, for gain:
Nay, a dull sheriff, for his golden chain.
"Who'd be a slave?" the gallant colonel cries,
While love of glory sparkles from his eyes:
To deathless fame he loudly pleads his right,--
Just is his title,--for he will not fight:
All soldiers valour, all divines have grace,
As maids of honour beauty,--by their place:
But, when indulging on the last campaign,
His lofty terms climb o'er the hills of slain;
He gives the foes he slew, at each vain word,
A sweet revenge, and half absolves his sword.
Of boasting more than of a bomb afraid,
A soldier should be modest as a maid:
Fame is a bubble the reserv'd enjoy;
Who strive to grasp it, as they touch, destroy:
'Tis the world's debt to deeds of high degree;
But if you pay yourself, the world is free.
Were there no tongue to speak them but his own,
Augustus' deeds in arms had ne'er been known.
Augustus' deeds! if that ambiguous name
Confounds my reader, and misguides his aim,
Such is the prince's worth, of whom I speak,
The Roman would not blush at the mistake.
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Submitted on August 03, 2020

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Edward Young

Edward Young, LVO is the current Deputy Private Secretary to Queen Elizabeth II. more…

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