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TO

THE RIGHT HONOURABLE

PHILIP,

EARL OF CHESTERFIELD, &c.*

MY LORD,

have too much injured my great author, to exCANNOT begin my address to your lordship pect he should intercede for me. I would have better than in the words of Virgil:

translated him; but, according to the literal

French and Italian phrases, I sear I have tra-
Quod optanti divârn promittere nemo
Auderel, volvenda dies, en, attulit ultro.

duced him. It is the fault of many a well-mean

ing man, to be officious in a wrong place, and Seven years together I have concealed the do a prejudice where he had endeavoured to do a longing which I had to appear before you: a service. Virgil wrote his Georgics in the full time as tedious as Eneas passed in his wan- strength and vigour of his age, when his judge dering voyage, before he reached the promised ment was at the height, and before his fancy Italy. But I considered, that nothing which my was declining. He had (according to our meanness could produce was worthy of your homely saying) his full swing at this poem, bepalronage. At last this happy occasion offered, ginning it about the age of thirty-five, and of presenting to you the best poem of the best scarce concluding it before he arrived at forty. poel

. If I balked this opportunity, I was in It is observed, both of him and Horace, (and I despair of finding such another; and, if I took believe it will hold in all great poets,) that, it, I was still uncertain whether you would though they wrote before with a certain heat of vouchsafe to accept it from my hands. It was genius which inspired them, yet that heat was a bold venture which I made, in desiring your not perfectly digested. There is required a permission to lay my unworthy labours at your continuance of warmth, to ripen the best and feet. But my rashness has succeeded beyond noblest fruits. Thus Horace, in his First and my hopes; and you have been pleased not to Second Book of Odos, was still rising, but came suffer an old man to go discontented out of the not to his meridian till the Third ; after which, world, for want of that protection, of which he his judgment was an overpoise to bis imaginahad been so long ambitious. I have known a tion: he grew too cautious to be bold enough; gentleman in disgrace, and not daring to appear for he descended in his Fourth by slow degrees, before King Charles the Second, though he and, in his Salires and Epistles, was more a much desired it: at length he took the confi- philosopher and a critic than a poet. In the dence to allend a fair lady to the court, and told beginning of summer, the days are almost at a his majesty, that, under her protection, he had stand, with little variation of length or shorts presumed to wait on him. With the same ness, because at that time the diurnal motion of humble confidence, I present myself before your the sun partakes more of a right line than of a lordship, and, attending on Virgil, hope a gra- spiral. "The same is the method of nature in cious reception. The gentleman succeeded, be the frame of man. He seems al forty to be fully cause the powerful lady was his friend; but I in his summer trepic; somewhat before, and

Philip Stanhope, second Earl of Chesterfield, born in 1634. He was a man of considerable talent and political activity ; was active in forwarding the Restoration; and enjoyed at the court of Charles II. several offices, but was now retired. He died in 1718.

VOL. 11.-1

somewhat after, he finds in his soul but small the clearer in declining. The blaze is not so increases or decays. From fifty to three-score, fierce as at the first; but the smoke is wholly the balance generally holds even, in our colder vanished; and your friends, who stand about climates: for he loses not much in fancy; and you, are not only sensible of a cheerful warmth, judgment, which is the effect of observation, but are kept at an awful distance by its force. still increases. His succeeding years afford In my small observations of mankind, I have him lintle more than the stubble of his own har ever found, that such as are not rather too full vest : yet, if his constitution be healthful, his of spirit when they are young, degenerate to mind may still retain a decent vigour; and the dulness in their age. Sobriety in our riper gleanings of that Ephraim, in comparison with years is the effect of a well-concocted warmth: others, will surpass ihe vintage of Abiezer. I but, where the principles are only phlegm, what have called this somewhere, by a bold metaphor, can be expected from the waterish mattor, but a green old age; but Virgil has given me his an insipid manhood, and a stupid old infancyauthority for the figure

discretion in leading-strings, and a confirmed Jam senior; sed cruda Deo, viridisque senectus.

Ignorance on crutches? Virgil, in his Third

Georgic, when he describes a colt, who promiAmong those few who enjoy the advantage of ses a courser for the race, or for the field of bata latter spring, your lordship is a rare example; tle, shows him the first to pass the bridge, which who, being now arrived at your great climacte- trembles under him, and io stem the torrent of ric, yet give no proof of the least decay of your the flood. His beginnings must be in rashness excellent judgment and comprehension of all -a noble fault; but time and experience will things which are within the compass of human correct that error, and tame it into a deliberate understanding. Your conversation is as easy and well-weighed courage, which knows both to as it is instructive; and I could never observe be cautious and to dare, as occasion offers. the least vanity, or the least assuming, in any Your lordship is a man of bonour, not only so thing you said, but a natural unaffected modesty, unstained, but so unquestioned, that you are the full of good sense, and well digested; a clear- living standard of that heroic virtuo ; so truly ness of notion, expressed in ready and unstudied such, that if I would flatter you, I could not words. No man has complained, or even can, It takes not from you, that you were born with that you have discoursed too long on any subo principles of generosity and probity; but it adds ject; for you leave us in an eagerness of learn to you, that you have cultivated nature, and ing more; pleased with what we hear, but not made those principles the rule and measure of satisfied, because you will not speak so much all your actions. The world knows this, withas we could wish. I dare not excuse your out my telling; yet poets have a right of ra Jordship from this fault; for, though it is none cording it to all posterity: in you, it is one to all who have the happiness

Dignum laude virum Musa velat mori. of being known to you. I must confess, the critics make it one of Virgil's beauties, that, Epaminondas, Lucullus, and the two first Cæ. having said what he thought convenient, he al. sars, were not esteemed the worse commanders, ways left somewhat for the imagination of his for having made philosophy and the liberal arts readers to supply ; that they might gratify their their study. Cicero might have been their fancies, by finding more in what he had written, equal, but that he wanted courage. To have than at first they could; and think they had add both these virtues, and to have improved them ded 10 his thought, when it was all there before- both with a softness of manners and a sweethand, and he only saved bimself the expense of Dess of conversation—few of our nobility can words. However it was, I never went from fill that character. One there is, and so conyour lordship, but with a longing to return, or spicuous by his own light, that he needs not without a hearty curse to him who invented

Digito monstrari, et dicier, “Hic est !" ceremonies in the world, and put me on the necessity of withdrawing, when it was my inte. To be nobly born, and of an ancient family, is rest, as well as my desire, to have given you a in the extrenies of fortune, either good or bad; much longer trouble. I cannot imagine, (if for virtue and descent aro no inheritance. A your lordship will give me leave to speak my long series of ancestors shows the native with thoughts,) but you have had a more than ordi- great advantage at the first; but, if he any way nary vigoar in your youth ; for too much of heat degenerate from his line, the least spot is visiis required ai first, that there may not too little ble on ermine. But, to preserve this whiteness be leti al last. A prodigal fire is only capable in its original purity, you, my lord, have, liks of large remains; and yours, my lord, still burns that ermine, forsaken the common track of busi

ness, which is not always clean: you have you were called.* For the rest, the respect chosen for yourself a private greatness, and will and love which was paid you, not only in the not be polluted with ambition. It has been ob- province where you live, but generally by all served in former times, that none have been so who had the happiness to know you, was a wise greedy of employments, and of managing the exchange for the honours of the court-a place public, as they who have least deserved their of forgetfulness, at the best, for well-deservers. stations. But such only merit to be called It is necessary, for the polishing of manners, to patriots, under whom we see their country have breathed that air; but it is infectious, flourish. I have laughed sometimes, (for who even to the best morals, to live always in it. It would always be a Heraclitus ?) when I have is a dangerous commerce, where an honest man reflected on those men, who from time to time is sure at the first of being cheated, and he rehave shot themselves into the world. I have covers not his losses, but by learning to cheat seen many successions of them; some bolting others. The undermining smile becomes at out upon the stage with vast applause, and length habitual; and the drift of his plausible others hissed off, and quitting it with disgrace. conversation is only to flatter one, that he may But, while they were in action, I have con- betray another. Yet it is good to have been a stantly observed, that they seemed desirous to looker on, without venturing to play; that a man retreat from business : greatness, they said, was may know false dice another time, though he nauscous, and a crowd was troublesome : a Rever means to use them. I commend not him quiet privacy was their ambition. Some few of who never knew a court, but himn who forsakes it them, I believe, said this in earnest, and were because he knows it. A young man deserves making a provision against future want, that no praise, who, out of melancholy zeal, leaves they might enjoy their age with ease. They the world before he has well tried it, and runs saw the happiness of a private life, and promised headlong into religion. He who carries a maidto themselves a blessing, which every day it enhead into a cloister, is sometimes apt to lose was in their power to possess. But they defere it there, and 10 repeni of his repentance. He red it, and lingered still al court, because they only is like to endure austerities, who has already thought they had not yet enough to make them found the inconvenience of pleasures : for almost happy: they would have more, and laid in, to every man will be making experiments in one make their solitude luxurious : - a wretched part or another of his life ; and the danger is the philosophy, which Epicurus never taught them less when we are young; for, having tried it in his garden. They loved the prospect of this early, we shall not be apt to repeat it afterquiet in reversion, but were not willing to have wards. Your lordship Therefore may properly it in possession : they would first be old, and be said to have chosen a retreat, and not to have make as sure of health and life, as if both of them chosen it till you had maturely weighed the adwere at their dispose. But put them to the ne- vantages of rising higher, with thu hazards of cessity of a present choice, and they preferred

the fall. continuance in power; like the wretch who

Res, non parta labore, sed relicta, called Death to his assistance, but refused him when he came.

The great Scipio was not of was thought by a poet to be one of the requisites their opinion, who indeed sought honours in his to a happy life. Why should a reasonable man youth, and endured the fatigues with which he put it into the power of Fortuno to make him purchased them. He served his country when

miserable, when his ancestors have taken care it was in need of his courage and conduct, till

to release him from her ? Let him venture, says he thought it was time to serve himself; but Horace, qui zonam perdidit. He, who has now dismounted froin the saddle when he found the thing, plays securely; for he may win, and canbeast wbich bore him began to grow restiff and

not be
poorer

if he loses : but he who is born to ungovernable. But your lordship has given us

a plentiful estate, and is ambitious of offices at a better example of moderation. You saw be

court, sets a stake to Fortune, which she can times, that ingratitude is not confined to com

seldom answer. If he gains nothing, he loses monwealths; and therefore, though you were

all, or part of what was once his own, and, if formed alike for the greatest of civil employ- he gets, he cannot be certain but he may refund. ments and military coinmands, yet you pushed

• Dryden's praise, though often hyperbolical, is not your fortune to rise in either, but contented

always founded on some circumstances appropriate yourself with being capable, as much as any to its object. Lord Chesterfield, who had enjoyed whosoever, of defending your country with your

offices of honour at the court of Charles II., now

lived in retirement at an elegant vilia. according to sword, or assisting it with your counsel, when Mr. Malone, near Twickenham.

In short, however he succeeds, it is covetous- It is but half possession, not to understand that ness that induced him first to play; and covet- happiness which we possess. A foundation of ousness is the undoubted sign of ill sense at bot- good sense, and a cul:ivation of learning, are tom. The odds are against him, that he loses ; required to give a seasoning to retirement, and and one loss may be of more consequence to make us taste the blessing. God has bestowed him than all his former winnings. It is like the on your lordship the first of these ; and you have present war of the Christians against the Turks; bestowed on yourself the second. Eden was every year they gain a victory, and by that a not inaile for beasts, though they were suffered town; but, if they are once defeated, they lose to live in il, but for their master, who studied a province at a blow, and endanger the safety of God in the works of his creation. Neither the whole empire. You, my lord, enjoy your could the devil have been happy there with all quiet in a garden, where you have not only the his knowledge ; for he wanted innocence to make leisure of thinking, but the pleasure to think of him so. He brought envy, malice, and ambinothing which can discompose your mind. A tion, into Paradise, which soured to him the good conscience is a port which is land-locked sweetness of the place. Wherever inordinate on every side, and where no winds can possibly affections are, 'tis hell. Such only can enjoy invade, no tempests can arise. There a man the country, who are capable of thinking when may stand upon the shore, and not only see his they are there, and have left the passions behind own image, but that of his Maker, clearly re

them in the town. Then they are prepared for flected from the undisturbed and silent waters. solitude; and, in that solitude, is prepared for Reason was intended for a blessing; and such it them, is to men of honour and integrity, who desire Et secura quies, et nescia fallere vita. no more than what they are able to give them

As I began this Dedication with a verse of selves ; like the happy old Corycian, whom my Virgil, so I conclude it with another. author describes in his Fourth Georgic, whose fruits and sallads, on which he lived contented, happiness which you so well deserve, and which

The continuance of your health, to enjoy that were all of his own growth, and his own planta- you have provided for yourself, is the sincere and tion. Virgil seems to think, that the blessings of a country life are not complete without an

earnest wish of

Your lordship's improvement of knowledge by contemplation and

Most devoted reading

And most obedient servant. O fortunatos nimium, sua si bona norint,

John DRYDEI, Agricolas!

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