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Say, for such worth are other worlds prepar'd? ; Or are they both, in this their own reward ? 336 A knotty point! to which we now proceed. : But you are tir'd-I'll tell a tale-B. Agreed.
P. Where London's column, pointing at the skies Like a tall bully, lifts the head, and lies ; 340 There dwelt a Citizen of sober fame, A plain good man, and Balaam was his name; Religious, punctual, frugal, and so forth; His word would pass for more than he was worth. One solid dish his week-day meal affords, 345 And adding pudding solemniz'd the Lord's :
That knotty point, my Lord, shall I discuss,
NOTES. most passionate admirer of Antiochus Ascalonites, an essential Stoic, if ever there was any. Now Stoical virtue was, as our author truly tells us, not exercise, but apathy, Contracted all, retiring to the breast. In a word, like Sir J. Cutler's purse, nothing for use, but kept close shut, and centred all within himself.–Now virtue and wealth, thus circumstanced, are, indeed, no other than mere names. W.--A most tortured meaning!
Ver. 339. Where London's column] The Monument built in memory of the fire of London, with an inscription importing that city to have been burnt by the Papists. P.
Ver. 340. Like a tall bully, lifts the head, and lies ;] It were to be wished, the City monument had been compared to something of more dignity: as, to the Court-champion, for instance, since, like him, it only spoke the sense of the Government. Scribl.
Ver. 341. There dwelt a Citizen] This tale of Sir Balaam, his progress and change of manners, from being a plodding, sober, plain, and punctual citizen, to his becoming a debauched and dissolute courtier and senator, abounds in much knowledge of life, and many strokes of true humour, and will bear to be compared to the exquisite history of Eugenio and Corusodes in one of Swift's Intelligencers,
Constant at Church, and 'Change; his gains were
sure, His givings rare, save farthings to the poor
The Dev'l was piqu'd such saintship to behold, And long'd to tempt him like good Job of old: 350 But Satan now is wiser than of yore, And tempts by making rich, not making poor.
Rous'd by the Prince of Air, the whirlwinds sweep The surge, and plunge his Father in the deep; Then full against his Cornish lands they roar, 355 And two rich shipwrecks bless the lucky shore..
Sir Balaam now, he lives like other folks, He takes his chirping pint, and cracks his Jokes : “ Live like yourself,” was soon my Lady's word: And lo! two puddings smok'd upon the board. 360
Asleep and naked as an Indian lay, An honest factor stole a Gem away: He pledg’d it to the Knight, the Knight had wit, So kept the Di’mond, and the rogue was bit. 364
NOTES. Ver. 351. But Satan] Sherlock is of opinion, that Moses would not mention Satan as an agent, in his History of the Temptation, lest it should communicate or countenance the notion of two independent principles of good and evil. And yet afterward, he asserts, that the Book of Job, in which Satan is. openly named and introduced, is of an age prior to the writings of Moses. Disc. on Prophecy.
Ver. 355. Cornish] The Author has placed the scene of these shipwrecks in Cornwall, not only from their frequency on that coast, but from the inhumanity of the inhabitants to those to whom that misfortune arrives: When a ship happens to be stranded there, they have been known to bore holes in it, to prévent its getting off: to plunder, and sometimes even to massacre, the people: nor has the Parliament of England been yet able wholly to suppress these barbarities, P.
Some scruple rose, but thus he eas'd his thought, “ I'll now give sixpence where I gave a groat; Where once I went to church, I'll now go twiceAnd am so clear too of all other vice.”
· The Tempter saw his time; the work he ply'd ; Stocks and Subscriptions pour on ev'ry side, 370 Till all the Demon makes his full descent In one abundant show'r of Cent per Cent, Sinks deep within him, and possesses whole, Then dubs Director, and secures his soul.
Behold Sir Balaam, now a man of spirit, 375 Ascribes his gettings to his parts and merit; What late he call'd a Blessing, now was Wit, And God's good Providence, a lucky Hit.
NOTES. Ver. 377. What late he call'd a Blessing, now was Wit, &c.] This is an admirable picture of human nature: In the entrance into life, all, but coxcombs-born, are modest; and esteem the favours of their superiors as marks of their benevolence: but if these favours happen to increase; then, instead of advancing in gratitude to our benefactors, we only improve in the good opinion of ourselves; and the constant returns of such favours make us consider them no longer as accommodations to our wants, or the hire of our service, but debts due to our merit: yet, at the same time, to do justice to our common nature, we should observe, that this does not proceed so often from downright vice as is imagined, but frequently from mere infirmity; of which the rea. son is evident; for, having small knowledge, and yet an excessive opinion of ourselves, we estimate our merit by the passions and caprice of others; and this perhaps would not be so much amiss, were we not apt to take their favours for a declaration of their sense of our merits. How often, for instance, has it been seen, in the three learned professions, that a Man, who, had he continued in his primeval meanness, would have circumscribed his knowledge within the modest limits of Socrates; yet, being pushed up, as the plırase is, has felt himself growing into a Hooker, a Hales, or a Sydenham ; while, in the rapidity of his course, he
Things change their titles, as our manners turn :::
A Nymph of Quality admires our Knight; 385
imagined he saw, at every new station, a new door of science opening to him, without so much as staying for a Flatterer to let him in!
“__Beatus enim jam Cum pulcris tunicis sumet nova consilia." w.
Ver. 394. And one more Pensioner St. Stephen gains.]
“ ---atque unum civem donare Sibyllæ."
The Devil and the King divide the Prize,
Ver. 401. The Devil and the King divide the Prize,] This is to be understood in a very sober and decent sense; as a Satire only on such Ministers of State (which history informs us have been found) who aided the Devil in his temptations, in order to foment, if not to make, Plots for the sake of confiscations. So sure always, and just, is our Author's satire, even in those places where he seems most to have indulged himself only in an elegant badinage. But this Satire on the abuse of the general laws of forfeiture for hightreason, which laws all well-policied communities have found necessary, is by no means to be understood as a reflection on the Laws themselves; whose necessity, equity, and even lenity, have been excellently well vindicated in that very learned and elegant Discourse, entitled, Some Considerations on the Law of Forfeiture for High-Treason. Third Edition, London, 1748. W. Methinks it was better in the former Editions, because shorter:
Wife, son, and daughter, Satan! are thy prize,
And sad Sir Balaam curses God and dies. Ver. 402. curses God] Alluding to the second chapter of the Book of Job; on which passage Warburton made (Divine Legation, Book vi.) the following remarkable observation: “ The wife of Job acts a small part in this drama, but a very spirited
Then said his wife unto him, “Dost thou still retain thy integrity ? Curse God and die.' Tender and pious! He might see by this prelude of his spouse, what he was to expect from his friends. The Devil, indeed, assaulted Job, but he seems to have got possession of his wife.” p. 261.