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Who noble ends by noble means obtains,
Or failing, smiles in exile or in chains;
Like good Aurelius let him reign, or bleed
Like Socrates, that man is great indeed.
What's fame? a fancy'd life in other's breath,
A thing beyond us, ev'n before our death.
Just what you hear you have, and what's unknown
The same (my lord) if Tully's or your own.
All that we feel of it begins and ends
In the small circle of our foes or friends;
To all beside as much an empty shade,
An Eugene living, as a Cæsar dead;
Alike or when, or where, they shone, or shine,
Or on the Rubicon, or on the Rhine.
A wit's a feather, and a chief's a rod;
An honest man's the noblest work of GOD.
Fame but from death a villain's name can save,
As justice tears his body from the grave;
When what t' oblivion better were resign'd,
Is hung on high to poison half mankind.
All fame is foreign, but of true desert;
Plays round the head, but comes not to the heart:
One self-approving hour whole years outweighs
Of stupid starers, and of loud huzzas;
And more true joy Marcellus exil'd feels,
Than Cæsar with a senate at his heels.
In parts superior what advantage lies? Tell (for you can) what is it to be wise? 'Tis but to know how little can be known; To see all others faults, and feel our own. Condemn'd in business or in arts to drudge, Without a second, or without a judge: Truths would you teach, or save a sinking land? All fear, none aid you, and few understand. Painful pre-eminence! yourself to view Above life's weakness, and its comforts too.
Bring then these blessings to a strict account; Make fair deductions, see to what they 'mount: How much of other each is sure to cost; How each for other oft is wholly lost; How inconsistent greater goods with these; How sometimes life is risq'd, and always ease: Think, and if still these things thy envy call, Say, wouldst thou be the man to whom they fall? To sigh for ribbands if thou art so silly,. Mark how they grace Lord Umbra, or Sir Billy. Is yellow dirt the passion of thy life? Look but on Gripus, or on Gripus' wife. If parts allure thee, think how Bacon shin'd, The wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind; Or ravish'd with the whistling of a name, See Cromwell, damn'd to everlasting fame?
If all, united, thy ambition call,
From ancient story, learn to scorn them all.
There in the rich, the honour'd, fam'd, and great,
See the false scale of happiness complete!
In hearts of kings, or arms of queens who lay,
How happy those to ruin, these betray!
Mark by what wretched steps their glory grows,
From dirt and sea-weed as proud Venice rose!
In each how guilt and greatness equal ran,
And all that rais'd the hero, sunk the man:
Now Europe's laurels on their brows behold,
But stain'd with blood, or ill exchang'd for gold,
Then see them broke with toils, or sunk in ease,
Or infamous for plunder'd provinces.
O wealth ill-fated! which no act of fame
E'er taught to shine, or sanctified from shame;
What greater bliss attends the close of life?
Some greedy minion, or imperious wife,
The trophy'd arches, story'd halls invade,
And haunt their slumbers in the pompous shade.
Alas! not dazzled in their noon-tide ray,
Compute the morn and ev'ning to the day;
The whole amount of that enormous fame,
A tale, that blends their glory with their shame!
Know then this truth (enough for man to know)
"Virtue alone is happiness below."
The only point where human bliss stands still,
And tastes the good without the fall to ill!
Where only merit constant pay receives,
Is blest in what it takes and what it gives:
The joy unequall'd, if its end is gain,
And if it lose, attended with no pain:
Without satiety, though e'er so blest,
And but more relish'd as the more distrest;
The broadest mirth unfeeling folly wears,
Less pleasing far than virtue's very tears.
Good, from each object, from each place acquir'd,
For ever exercis'd, yet never tir'd;
Never elated, while one man's oppress'd;
Never dejected, while another's bless'd;
And where no wants no wishes can remain,
Since but to wish more virtue is to gain.
See the sole bliss Heav'n could on all bestow!
Which who but feels can taste, but thinks can know;
Yet poor with fortune, and with learning blind,
The bad must miss, the good, untaught, will find;
Slave to no sect, who takes no private road,
But looks through nature up to nature's GOD:
Pursues that chain which links th' immense design,
Joins heav'n and earth, and mortal and divine;
Sees, that no being any bliss can know,
But touches some above and some below;
Save me alike from foolish pride,
Or impious discontent,
At aught thy wisdom has deny'd,
Or aught thy goodness lent.
Teach me to feel another's woe,
To hide the faults I see;
That mercy I to others show,
That mercy show to me.
Mean though I am, not wholly so,
Since quicken'd by thy breath;
O lead me wheresoe'er I go,
Through this day's life or death.
This day, be bread and peace my lot:
All else beneath the sun,
Thou know'st if best bestow'd or not,
And let thy will be done.
To thee, whose temple is all space,
Whose altar, earth, sea, skies!
One chorus let all being raise!
All nature's incense rise!