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Love Of Fame, The Universal Passion. Satire VII.

Edward Young 1681 (Upham) – 1765 (Welwyn)

To the Right Honourable Sir Robert Walpole.
 

 
Carmina tum melius, cum venerit ipse, canemus.
 
VIRG.
 

 
On this last labour, this my closing strain,
Smile, Walpole! or the Nine inspire in vain:
To thee, 'tis due; that verse how justly thine,
Where Brunswick's glory crowns the whole design!
That glory, which thy counsels make so bright;
That glory, which on thee reflects a light.
Illustrious commerce, and but rarely known!
To give, and take, a lustre from the throne.
Nor think that thou art foreign to my theme;
The fountain is not foreign to the stream.
How all mankind will be surprised, to see
This flood of British folly charg'd on thee!
Say, Britain! whence this caprice of thy sons,
Which thro' their various ranks with fury runs?
The cause is plain, a cause which we must bless;
For caprice is the daughter of success,
(A bad effect, but from a pleasing cause!)
And gives our rulers undesign'd applause;
Tells how their conduct bids our wealth increase,
And lulls us in the downy lap of peace.
While I survey the blessings of our isle,
Her arts triumphant in the royal smile,
Her public wounds bound up, her credit high,
Her commerce spreading sails in every sky,
The pleasing scene recalls my theme again,
And shows the madness of ambitious men,
Who, fond of bloodshed, draw the murd'ring sword,
And burn to give mankind a single lord.
The follies past are of a private kind;
Their sphere is small; their mischief is confin'd:
But daring men there are (Awake, my muse,
And raise thy verse!) who bolder frenzy choose;
Who stung by glory, rave, and bound away;
The world their field, and humankind their prey.
The Grecian chief, th' enthusiast of his pride,
With rage and terror stalking by his side,
Raves round the globe; he soars into a god!
Stand fast, Olympus! and sustain his nod.
The pest divine in horrid grandeur reigns,
And thrives on mankind's miseries and pains,
What slaughter'd hosts! what cities in a blaze!
What wasted countries! and what crimson seas!
With orphans' tears his impious bowl o'erflows,
And cries of kingdoms lull him to repose.
And cannot thrice ten hundred years unpraise
The boist'rous boy, and blast his guilty bays?
Why want we then encomiums on the storm,
Or famine, or volcano? They perform
Their mighty deeds: they, hero-like, can slay,
And spread their ample desarts in a day.
O great alliance! O divine renown!
With dearth, and pestilence, to share the crown.
When men extol a wild destroyer's name,
Earth's builder and preserver they blaspheme.
One to destroy, is murder by the law;
And gibbets keep the lifted hand in awe;
To murder thousands, takes a specious name,
War's glorious art, and gives immortal fame.
When, after battle, I the field have seen
Spread o'er with ghastly shapes, which once were men;
A nation crush'd, a nation of the brave!
A realm of death! and on this side the grave!
Are there, said I, who from this sad survey,
This human chaos, carry smiles away?
How did my heart with indignation rise!
How honest nature swell'd into my eyes!
How was I shock'd to think the hero's trade
Of such materials, fame and triumph made!
How guilty these! Yet not less guilty they,
Who reach false glory by a smoother way:
Who wrap destruction up in gentle words,
And bows, and smiles, more fatal than their swords;
Who stifle nature, and subsist on art;
Who coin the face, and petrify the heart;
All real kindness for the show discard,
As marble polish'd, and as marble hard;
Who do for gold what Christians do thro' grace,
"With open arms their enemies embrace:"
Who give a nod when broken hearts repine;
"The thinnest food on which a wretch can dine:"
Or, if they serve you, serve you disinclin'd,
And, in their height of kindness, are unkind.
Such courtiers were, and such again may be,
Walpole! when men forget to copy thee.
Here cease, my muse! the catalogue is writ;
Nor one more candidate for fame admit,
Tho' disappointed thousands justly blame
Thy partial pen, and boast an equal claim:
Be this their comfort, fools, omitted here,
May furnish laughter for another year.
Then let Crispino, who was ne'er refused
The justice yet of being well abus'd,
With patience wait; and be content to reign
The pink of puppies in some future strain.
Some future strain, in which the muse shall tell
How science dwindles, and how volumes swell.
How commentators each dark passage shun,
And hold their farthing candle to the sun.
How tortur'd texts to speak our sense are made,
And every vice is to the scripture laid.
How misers squeeze a young voluptuous peer;
His sins to Lucifer not half so dear.
How Verres is less qualified to steal
With sword and pistol, than with wax and seal.
How lawyers' fees to such excess are run,
That clients are redress'd till they're undone.
How one man's anguish is another's sport;
And ev'n denials cost us dear at court.
How man eternally false judgments makes,
And all his joys and sorrows are mistakes.
This swarm of themes that settles on my pen,
Which I, like summer flies, shake off again,
Let others sing; to whom my weak essay
But sounds a prelude, and points out their prey:
That duty done, I hasten to complete
My own design; for Tonson's at the gate.
The love of fame in its effect survey'd,
The muse has sung; be now the cause display'd:
Since so diffusive, and so wide its sway,
What is this power, whom all mankind obey?
Shot from above, by heaven's indulgence, came
This generous ardour, this unconquer'd flame,
To warm, to raise, to deify, mankind,
Still burning brightest in the noblest mind.
By large-soul'd men, for thirst of fame renown'd,
Wise laws were fram'd, and sacred arts were found;
Desire of praise first broke the patriot's rest,
And made a bulwark of the warrior's breast;
It bids Argyll in fields and senate shine.
What more can prove its origin divine?
But, oh! this passion planted in the soul,
On eagle's wings to mount her to the pole,
The flaming minister of virtue meant,
Set up false gods, and wrong'd her high descent.
Ambition, hence, exerts a doubtful force,
Of blots, and beauties, an alternate source;
Hence Gildon rails, that raven of the pit,
Who thrives upon the carcasses of wit;
And in art-loving Scarborough is seen
How kind a pattern Pollio might have been.
Pursuit of fame with pedants fills our schools,
And into coxcombs burnishes our fools;
Pursuit of fame makes solid learning bright,
And Newton lifts above a mortal height;
That key of nature, by whose wit she clears
Her long, long secrets of five thousand years.
Would you then fully comprehend the whole,
Why, and in what degrees, pride sways the soul?
(For though in all, not equally, she reigns,)
Awake to knowledge, and attend my strains.
Ye doctors! hear the doctrine I disclose,
As true, as if't were writ in dullest prose;
As if a letter'd dunce had said, "'Tis right,"
And imprimatur usher'd it to light.
Ambition, in the truly noble mind,
With sister virtue is for ever join'd;
As in fam'd Lucrece, who, with equal dread,
From guilt, and shame, by her last conduct, fled:
Her virtue long rebell'd in firm disdain,
And the sword pointed at her heart in vain;
But, when the slave was threaten'd to be laid
Dead by her side, her love of fame obey'd.
In meaner minds ambition works alone;
But with such art puts virtue's aspect on,
That not more like in feature and in mien,
(19)The god and mortal in the comic scene.
False Julius, ambush'd in this fair disguise,
Soon made the Roman liberties his prize.
No mask in basest minds ambition wears,
But in full light pricks up her ass's ears:
All I have sung are instances of this,
And prove my theme unfolded not amiss.
Ye vain! desist from your erroneous strife;
Be wise, and quit the false sublime of life,
The true ambition there alone resides,
Where justice vindicates, and wisdom guides;
Where inward dignity joins outward state;
Our purpose good, as our achievement great;
Where public blessings public praise attend;
Where glory is our motive, not our end.
Wouldst thou be fam'd? Have those high deeds in view
Brave men would act, though scandal should ensue.
Behold a prince! whom no swoln thoughts inflame;
No pride of thrones, no fever after fame!
But when the welfare of mankind inspires,
And death in view to dear-bought glory fires,
Proud conquests then, then regal pomps delight;
Then crowns, then triumphs, sparkle in his sight;
Tumult and noise are dear, which with them bring
His people's blessings to their ardent king:
But, when those great heroic motives cease,
His swelling soul subsides to native peace;
From tedious grandeur's faded charms withdraws,
A sudden foe to splendour and applause;
Greatly deferring his arrears of fame,
Till men and angels jointly shout his name.
O pride celestial! which can pride disdain;
O blest ambition! which can ne'er be vain.
From one fam'd Alpine hill, which props the sky,
In whose deep womb unfathom'd waters lie,
Here burst the Rhone, and sounding Po; there shine,
In infant rills, the Danube and the Rhine;
From the rich store one fruitful urn supplies,
Whole kingdoms smile, a thousand harvests rise.
In Brunswick such a source the muse adores,
Which public blessings thro' half Europe pours.
When his heart burns with such a godlike aim,
Angels and George are rivals for the fame;
George! who in foes can soft affections raise,
And charm envenom'd satire into praise.
(20)Nor human rage alone his power perceives,
But the mad winds, and the tumultuous waves.
Ev'n storms (death's fiercest ministers!) forbear,
And, in their own wild empire, learn to spare.
Thus, nature's self, supporting man's decree,
Styles Britain's sovereign, sovereign of the sea.
While sea and air, great Brunswick! shook our state,
And sported with a king's and kingdom's fate,
Depriv'd of what she lov'd, and press'd by fear
Of ever losing what she held most dear,
How did Britannia, like (21)Achilles, weep,
And tell her sorrows to the kindred deep!
Hang o'er the floods, and, in devotion warm,
Strive, for thee, with the surge, and fight the storm
What felt thy Walpole, pilot of the realm!
Our Palinurus(22) slept not at the helm;
His eye ne'er clos'd; long since inur'd to wake,
And out-watch every star for Brunswick's sake:
By thwarting passions tost, by cares opprest,
He found the tempest pictur'd in his breast:
But, now, what joys that gloom of heart dispel,
No powers of language--but his own, can tell:
His own, which nature and the graces form,
At will, to raise, or hush, the civil storm.
 
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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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