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What Nature wants (a phrase I much distrust)
This Gentleman, it was said, was worth seven thousand pounds a year estate in land, and about one hundred thousand in money.-Pope.
Mr. Waters, the third of these worthies, was a man no way resembling the former in his military, but extremely so in his civil capacity; his great fortune having been raised by the like diligent attendance on the necessities of others. But this gentleman's history must be deferred till his death, when his worth may be known more certainly.—Pope.
Ver. 21. What Nature wants, commodious gold bestows ;] The epithet commodious gives us the very proper idea of a bawd or pander ; and this thought produced the two following lines, which were in all the former editions, but, for their bad reasoning, omitted :
“ And if we count amongst the needs of life
Another's toil, why not another's wife ?"-Warburton. Ver. 33. and patriots rave ;] The character of modern patriots was, in the opinion of our Poet, very equivocal ; as the name was undistinguishably bestowed on every one who was in opposition to the court; of this he gives a hint in ver. 139 of this Epistle. And agreeable to these sentiments is the equivocal turn of his expression here,
“ In vain-may patriots rave;" which they may do either in earnest or in jest ; and, in the opinion of Sempronius in the Play, it is best done in jest.-Warburton.
Ver. 34. If secret gold sap on from knave to knave.] The expression is fine, and gives us the image of a place invested ; where the approaches are made by communications, which support one another : just as the connexions amongst knaves, after they have been taken in by a state-engineer, serve to screen and encourage each other's private corruptions.—Warburton.
Ver. 35. beneath the patriot's cloak,] This is a true story, which happened in the reign of William III. to an unsuspected old patriot, who coming out at the back-door from having been closeted by the King, where he had received a large bag of Guineas, the bursting of the bag discovered his business there.- Pope.
"Sir Christopher Musgrave, the wisest man of the party (the Tories), died before the last Session; and, by their conduct after his death, it appeared that they wanted his direction. He had been at the head of the opposition that was made in the last reign, from the beginning to the end ;
And gingling down the back-stairs, told the crew,
45 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.
Oh! that such bulky bribes as all might see, Still, as of old, encumber'd villany!
50 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 con
found, Or water all the Quorum ten miles round ?
but he gave up many points of great importance in the critical minute ; for which I have good reason to believe that he had twelve thousand pounds from the late King, at different times.” Burnet, under the year 1705.- Warburton.
Ver. 42. fetch or carry Kings ;] In our author's time, many Princes had been sent about the world, and great changes of Kings projected in Europe. The partition treaty had disposed of Spain ; France had set up a King for England, who was sent to Scotland, and back again ; King Stanislaus was sent to Poland, and back again ; the Duke of Anjou was sent to Spain, and Don Carlos to Italy.--Pope.
Ver. 44. Or ship off senates to a distant shore ;) Alludes to several Ministers, Counsellors, and Patriots banished in our times to Siberia, and to that MORE GLORIOUS FATE of the PARLIAMENT of Paris, banished to Pontoise in the year 1720.—Pope.
Ver. 47. Pregnant with thousands! The imagery is very sublime, and alludes to the course of a destroying pestilence. The Psalmist, in his expression of “the pestilence that walketh in darkness,” supplied him with the grandeur of his idea.-Warburton.
After ver. 50 in the MS.
To break a trust were Peter brib'd with wine,
A statesman's slumbers how this speech would spoil ! Sir, Spain has sent a thousand jars of oil ;
56 Huge bales of British cloth blockade the door; A hundred oxen at your levee roar.”
Poor Avarice one torment more would find; Nor could Profusion squander all in kind.
60 Astride his cheese Sir Morgan might we meet; And Worldly crying coals from street to street, Whom with a wig so wild, and mien so maz’d, Pity mistakes for some poor tradesman craz’d. Had Colepepper's whole wealth been hops and hogs,
65 Could he himself have sent it to the dogs ? His Grace will game: to White's a bull be led, With spurning heels and with a butting head; To White's be carried, as to ancient games, Fair coursers, vases, and alluring dames.
70 Shall then Uxorio, if the stakes he sweep, Bear home six whores, and make his Lady weep? Or soft Adonis, so perfum’d and fine, Drive to St. James's a whole herd of swine? Oh filthy check on all industrious skill,
75 To spoil the nation's last great trade, Quadrille!
Ver. 62.) Some Misers of great wealth, proprietors of the coal-mines, had entered at this time into an association to keep up coals to an extravagant price, whereby the poor were reduced almost to starve ; till one of them, taking the advantage of underselling the rest, defeated the design. One of these Misers was worth ten thousand, another seven thousand a year. - Pope.
Ver. 65. Colepepper's] Sir William COLEPEPPER, Bart., a person of an ancient family and ample fortune, without one other quality of a Gentleman, who, after ruining himself at the Gaming-table, passed the rest of his days in sitting there to see the ruin of others ; preferring to subsist upon borrowing and begging, rather than to enter into any reputable method of life, and refusing a post in the army, which was offered him.- Pope.
Ver. 65. Had Colepepper's] Thus in former editions ;
Had Hawley's fortune lain in hops and hogs,
Since, then, my Lord, on such a world we fall,
Ver. 77. Since, then, my Lord, on such a world, &c.] Having thus ironically described the incumbrance which the want of money would occasion to all criminal excesses by the abuse of Riches, particularly to Gaming, which being now become of public concern, he affects much regard to :
“Oh filthy check on all industrious skill,
To spoil the nation's last great trade, Quadrille !" he dismisses the previous question without deciding on it, in the same ironical
Since, then, my Lord, on such a world we fall,
What say you ? Say? Why, take it, gold and all.” That is, since for these great purposes we must have money, let us now seriously inquire into its true use.
Ver. 79. What Riches give us, &c.] He examines therefore in the first place (from ver. 78 to 97), I. Of what use Riches are to ourselves :
“ What Riches give us let us then inquire :
fire.” The mere turn of the expression, without further reasoning, shows that all the infinite ways of spending on ourselves, contrived in the insolence of wealth, by those who would more than live, are only these three things diversified throughout every wearied mode of luxury and wantonness.
Yet as little as this is (adds the Poet from ver. 81 to 85) it is only to be had by the moderate use of riches ; Avarice and Profusion not allowing the possessors of the most exorbitant wealth even this little :
“ Alas! 'tis more than Turner finds they give.
Alas! 'tis more than (all his visions past)
Unhappy Wharton, waking, found at last!” But what is it you would expect them to give ? continues the Poet (from ver. 84 to 91). Would you have them capable of restoring those real blessings, which men have lost by their vices or their villanies ; or of satisfying those imaginary ones, which they have gotten by their irregular passions ? Though they were, with what face could Japhet demand his forfeit nose and ears ? or in what language could Narses ask for the gratification of appetites which Nature never gave ?
But now admit, pursues our author (from ver. 90 to 97,) that wealth might, in some cases, alleviate the unmerited miseries of life, by procuring medicines both for the mind and body; it is not to be thought that it should operate like a charm, while only worn about one. Yet this, these poor men of pelf expect from it; while Avarice on the one hand, withholds them from giving at all, even to the Doctor in extremity; or Vanity diverts the donation from a friend in life, to the endowment of a cat or college at their death. It is true, Riches might bestow the greatest of all
Well, then, since with the world we stand or fall,
Is this too little ? would you more than live?
blessings, a virtuous consciousness of our having employed them as becomes the substitutes of Providence,
“ To ease or emulate the care of Heaven,” ver. 230. in acts of BENEFICENCE and CHARITY ; and this use is next to be considered.
Ver. 82. Turner) One who, being possessed of three hundred thousand pounds, laid down his coach, because interest was reduced from five to four per cent. and then put seventy thousand into the Charitable Corporation for better interest; which sum having lost, he took it so much to heart, that he kept his chamber ever after. It is thought he would not have outlived it, but that he was heir to another considerable estate, which he daily expected, and that by this course of life he saved both clothes and all other expenses.-Pope.
Ver. 84. Unhappy Wharton,] A Nobleman of great qualities, but as unfortunate in the application of them, as if they had been vices and follies. See his character in the first Epistle.—Pope. Ver. 85. Hopkins,] A citizen, whose rapacity ob
him the name of Vulture Hopkins. He lived worthless, but died worth three hundred thousand pounds, which he would give to no person living, but left so as not to be inherited till after the second generation. His counsel representing to him how many years it must be before this could take effect, and that his money could only lie at interest all that time, he expressed great joy thereat, and said, “ They would then be as long in spending, as he had been in getting it.” But the Chancery afterwards set aside the will, and gave it to the heir at law.- Pope.
Ver. 86. Japhet, nose and ears?] JAPHET Crook, alias Sir Peter Stranger, was punished with the loss of those parts, for having forged a conveyance of an estate to himself
, upon which he took up several thousand pounds. He was at the same time sued in Chancery for having fraudulently obtained a will, by which he possessed another considerable estate, in wrong of the brother of the deceased. By these means he was worth a great sum, which (iu reward for the small loss of his ears) he enjoyed in prison till his death, and quietly left to his executor.-- Pope.