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OF THE USE OF RICHES.
The Vanity of Expense in People of Wealth and Quality. The abuse of
the word Taste, Ver. 13. That the first principle and foundation in this, as in every thing else, is Good Sense, Ver. 40. The chief proof of it is to follow Nature, even in works of Luxury and Elegance. Instanced in Architecture and Gardening, where all must be adapted to the Genius and Use of the Place, and the Beauties not forced into it, but resulting from it, Ver. 50. How men are disappointed in their most expensive undertakings, for want of this true Foundation, without which nothing can please long, if at all : and the best Examples and Rules will be but perverted into something burdensome and ridiculous, Ver. 65, &c. to 92. A description of the false Taste of Magnificence; the first grand Error of which is to imagine that Greatness consists in the Size and Dimension, instead of the Proportion and Harmony of the whole, Ver. 97, and the second, either in joining together Parts incoherent, or too minutely resembling, or in the Repetition of the same too frequently, Ver. 105, &c. A word or two of false Taste in Books, in Music, in Painting, even in Preaching and Prayer, and lastly in Entertainments, Ver. 133, &c. Yet PROVIDENCE is justified in giving Wealth to be squandered in this manner, since it is dispersed to the Poor and laborious part of mankind, Ver. 169, [recurring to what is laid down in the first book, Ep. ii. and in the Epistle preceding this, Ver. 159, &c.] What are the proper Objects of Magnificence, and a proper field for the Expense of Great Men, Ver. 177, &c. And finally the great and public Works which become a Prince, Ver. 191, to the end.
OF THE USE OF RICHES.
WITH THE COMMENTARY OF WILLIAM WARBURTON, D.D.
'Tis strange, the Miser should his cares employ To gain those Riches he can ne'er enjoy:
EPISTLE IV.) The extremes of Avarice and Profusion being treated of in the foregoing Epistle ; this takes up one branch of the latter, the Vanity of expensive Taste, in people of wealth and condition ; and is therefore a corollary to the preceding, just as the Epistle on the Characters of Women is to that of the Knowledge and Characters of Men. It is equally estimable with the rest, as on other accounts, so likewise for exactness of method. But the nature of the subject, which is less philosophical, makes it capable of being analysed in a less compass.
Ver. 1. 'Tis strange, fc.] The Poet's introduction (from ver. 1 to 39) consists of a very curious remark, arising from his intimate knowledge of nature ; together with an illustration of that remark, taken from his observations on life. It is this, that the Prodigal no more enjoys his profusion, than the Miser his rapacity. It was generally thought that Avarice only kept, without enjoyment; but the Poet here first acquaints us with a circumstance in human life, much more to be lamented, viz. that Profusion too can communicate, without it ; whereas Enjoyment was thought to be as peculiarly the reward of the beneficent passions (of which this has the appearance), as want of enjoyment was the punishment of the selfish. The phenomenon observed is odd enough. But if we look more narrowly into this matter, we shall find, that Prodigality, when in pursuit of Taste, is only a mode of vanity, and consequently as selfish a passion as even Avarice itself; and it is of the ordonnance and constitution of all selfish passions, when growing to an excess, to defeat their own end, which is Self-enjoyment. But besides the accurate philosophy of this observation, there is a fine morality contained in it; namely, that ill-got wealth is not only as unreasonably, but as uncomfortably, squandered, as it was raked together; which the Poet himself further insinuates in ver. 15 :
What brought Sir Visto's ill-got wealth to waste ?" He then illustrates the above observation by divers examples in every branch of wrong Taste ; and to set their absurdities in the strongest light, he, in conclusion, contrasts them with several instances of the true, in the Nobleman to whom the Epistle is addressed. This disposition is productive of various beauties ; for, hy this means, the introduction becomes an
Ver. 1. 'Tis strange,] This Epistle was written and published before the preceding one ; and the placing it after the third, has occasioned some awkward anachronisms and inconsistencies.—Warton.
Is it less strange, the Prodigal should waste
For what has Virro painted, built, and planted ? Only to show, how many tastes he wanted. What brought Sir Visto’s ill-got wealth to waste? 15 Some Demon whisper'd, “ Visto! have a taste.” Heaven visits with a taste the wealthy fool, And needs no rod but Ripley with a rule,
epitome of the body of the Epistle ; which, as we shall see, consists of general reflections on Taste, and particular examples of bad and good. And his friend's example concluding the introduction, leads the Poet gracefully into the subject itself; for the Lord, here celebrated for his good taste, was now at hand to deliver the first and fundamental precept of it himself, which gives authority and dignity to all that follow.
Ver. 7. Topham,] A Gentleman famous for a judicious collection of drawings.-Pope.
Ver. 8. For Pembroke, statues, dirty Gods, and coins ;] The author speaks here not as a philosopher, or divine, but as a connoisseur and antiquary only, Consequently, the dirty attribute here assigned these Gods of old renown, is not in disparagement of their worth, but in defence of their genuine pretensions. Scribl.-Warburton.
Ver. 8. For Pembroke, statues,] “ The soul of Inigo Jones,” says Mr. Walpole, “ which had been patronized by the ancestors of Henry, Earl of Pembroke, seemed still to hover over its favourite Wilton, and to have assisted the Muses of Arts in the education of this noble person. The towers, the chambers, the scenes which Holbein, Jones, and Vandyck had decorated, and which Earl Thomas had enriched with the spoils of the best ages, received the last touches of beauty from Earl Henry's hand.”—Warton.
Ver. 10. And books for Mead, and butterflies for Sloane.] Two eininent Physicians : the one had an excellent library, the other the finest collection in Europe of natural curiosities ; both men of great learning and humanity.-Pope.
Ver. 11. Think we all these] The ostentation of this man of false taste is only here ridiculed; he has no enjoyment of either of the two objects of false magnificence here mentioned.—Warton.
Ver. 18. Ripley) This man was a carpenter, employed by a first Minis
See! sportive fate, to punish awkward pride,
You show us, Rome was glorious, not profuse,
ter, who raised him to an architect, without any genius in the art ; and after some wretched proofs of his insufficiency in public buildings, made him Comptroller of the Board of Works.- Pope.
Mr. Walpole speaks more favourably of this architect.-Warton.
Ver. 19. See ! sportive fate, to punish awkward pride,] Pride is one of the greatest mischiefs, as well as highest absurdities of our nature ; and therefore, as appears both from profane and sacred history, has ever been the more peculiar object of divine vengeance. But awkward pride intimates such abilities in its owner, as eases us of the apprehension of much mischief from it : so that the Poet supposes such a one secure from the serious resentment of Heaven, though it may permit fate or fortune to bring him into that public contempt and ridicule, which his natural badness of heart so well deserves.-Warburton.
Ver. 20. Bids Bubo build,] He means Bub Dodington's magnificent palace at Eastbury near Blandford, which he had just finished.Bowles.
Ver. 23.] The Earl of Burlington was then publishing the Designs of Inigo Jones, and the Antiquities of Rome by Palladio.— Pope.
Ver. 29. Load some vain Church with old theatric state,] In which there is a complication of absurdities, arising both from their different natures and forms. For the one being for religious service, and the other only for civil amusement, it is impossible that the profuse and lascivious ornaments of the latter should become the modesty and sanctity of the other. Nor will any examples of this vanity of dress in the sacred buildings of antiquity justify this imitation ; for those ornaments might be very suitable to a Temple of Bacchus or Venus, which would ill become the sobriety and purity of the Christian Religion.
Besides, it should be considered, that the form of a Theatre would not permit the architectonic ornaments to be placed but on the outward face ;
After ver. 22 in the MS.
Must bishops, lawyers, statesmen have the skill
Bridgman explain the gospel, Gibbs the law ?-Warburton.
Reverse your ornaments, and hang them all
whereas those of a Church may be as commodiously, and are more properly, put within; particularly in great and close pent-up cities, where the incessant driving of the smoke, in a little time, corrodes and destroys all outward ornaments of this kind ; especially if the members, as in the common taste, be small and little.
Our Gothic ancestors had juster and manlier notions of magnificence, on Greek and Roman ideas, than these mimics of Taste, who profess to study only classic elegance. And because the thing does honour to the genius of those barbarians, I shall endeavour to explain it. All our ancient Churches are called without distinction, Gothic ; but erroneously. They are of two sorts ; the one built in the Saxon times ; the other in the Norman. Several Cathedral and Collegiate Churches of the first sort are yet remaining, either in the whole or in part : of which, this was the original. When the Saxon kings became Christian, their piety, (which was the piety of the times,) consisted in building Churches at home, and performing pilgrimages abroad, especially to the Holy Land : and these spiritual exercises assisted and supported one another. For the most venerable as well as most elegant models of religious edifices were then in Palestine. From these our Saxon builders took the whole of their ideas, as may be seen by comparing the drawings which travellers have given us of the Churches yet standing in that country, with the Saxon remains of what we find at home; and particularly in that sameness of style in the later religious edifices of the Knights Templars (professedly built upon the model of the church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem) with the earlier remains of our Saxon edifices. Now the architecture of the Holy Land was Grecian, but greatly fallen from its ancient elegance. Our Saxon performance was indeed a bad copy of it; and as much inferior to the works of St. Helene and Justinian, as theirs were to the Grecian models they had followed. Yet still the footsteps of ancient art appeared in the circular arches, the entire columns, the division of the entablature into a sort of Architrave, Frize, and Corniche, and a solidity equally diffused over the whole mass. This, by way of distinction, I would call the Saxon architecture.
But our Norman works had a very different original. When the Goths had conquered Spain, and the genial warmth of the climate, and the religion of the old inhabitants, had ripened their wits, and inflamed their mistaken piety, (both kept in exercise by the neighbourhood of the Saracens, through emulation of their science and aversion to their super. stition,) they struck out a new species of architecture unknown to Greece and Rome ; upon original principles and ideas much nobler than what had given birth even to classical magnificence. For this northern people having been accustomed, during the gloom of Paganism, to worship the Deity in Groves (a practice common to all nations), when their new religion required covered edifices, they ingeniously projected to make them resemble Groves, as nearly as the distance of architecture would permit ; at once indulging their old prejudices, and providing for their present conveniences, by a cool receptacle in a sultry climate. And with what skill and success they executed the project by the assistance of Saracen Architects, whose exotic style of building very luckily suited their purpose, appears from hence, That no attentive observer ever viewed a regular avenue of well-grown trees, internixing their branches over head, but it presently put him in mind of the long visto through a Gothic