The VANITY of HUMAN WISHES.
THE Tenth Satire of JUVENAL. IMITATED
a Ver. 1 — 12.observation with extensive view,
2 Survey mankind, from China to Peru;
3 Remark each anxious toil, each eager strife,
4 And watch the busy scenes of crowded life;
5 Then say how hope and fear, desire and hate,
6 O'erspread with snares the clouded maze of fate,
7 Where wav'ring man, betray'd by vent'rous pride,
8 To tread the dreary paths without a guide;[Page 153]
9 As treach'rous phantoms in the mist delude,
10 Shuns fancied ills, or chases airy good.
11 How rarely reason guides the stubborn choice,
12 Rules the bold hand, or prompts the suppliant voice,
13 How nations sink, by darling schemes oppress'd,
14 When vengeance listens to the fool's request.
15 Fate wings with ev'ry wish th' afflictive dart,
16 Each gift of nature, and each grace of art,
17 With fatal heat impetuous courage glows,
18 With fatal sweetness elocution flows,
19 Impeachment stops the speaker's pow'rful breath,
20 And restless fire precipitates on death.
b Ver. 13 — 22.But scarce observ'd the knowing and the bold,
22 Fall in the gen'ral massacre of gold;
23 Wide-wasting pest! that rages unconfin'd,
24 And crowds with crimes the records of mankind;
25 For gold his sword the hireling ruffian draws,
26 For gold the hireling judge distorts the laws;
27 Wealth heap'd on wealth, nor truth nor safety buys,
28 The dangers gather as the treasures rise.
29 Let hist'ry tell where rival kings command,
30 And dubious title shakes the madded land,
31 When statues glean the refuse of the sword,
32 How much more safe the vassal than the lord,
33 Low sculks the hind beneath the rage of pow'r,
34 And leaves the wealthy traytor in the Tow'r,[Page 154]
35 Untouch'd his cottage, and his slumbers sound,
36 Tho' confiscation's vulturs hover round.
37 The needy traveller, serene and gay,
38 Walks the wild heath, and sings his toil away.
39 Does envy seize thee? crush th' upbraiding joy,
40 Increase his riches and his peace destroy,
41 New fears in dire vicissitude invade,
42 The rustling brake alarms, and quiv'ring shade,
43 Nor light nor darkness bring his pain relief,
44 One shews the plunder, and one hides the thief.
c Ver. 23 — 27.still one gen'ral cry the skies assails,
46 And gain and grandeur load the tainted gales;
47 Few know the toiling statesman's fear or care,
48 Th' insidious rival and the gaping heir.
d Ver. 28 — 55.more, Democritus, arise on earth,
50 With chearful wisdom and instructive mirth,
51 See motly life in modern trappings dress'd,
52 And feed with varied fools th' eternal jest:
53 Thou who couldst laugh where want enchain'd caprice,
54 Toil crush'd conceit, and man was of a piece;
55 Where wealth unlov'd without a mourner dy'd;
56 And scarce a sycophant was fed by pride;
57 Where ne'er was known the form of mock debate,
58 Or seen a new-made mayor's unwieldy state;
59 Where change of fav'rites made no change of laws,
60 And senates heard before they judg'd a cause;[Page 155]
61 How wouldst thou shake at Britain's modish tribe,
62 Dart the quick taunt, and edge the piercing gibe?
63 Attentive truth and nature to decry,
64 And pierce each scene with philosophic eye.
65 To thee were solemn toys or empty shew,
66 The robes of pleasure and the veils of woe:
67 All aid the farce, and all thy mirth maintain,
68 Whose joys are causeless, or whose griefs are vain.
69 Such was the scorn that fill'd the sage's mind,
70 Renew'd at ev'ry glance on humankind;
71 How just that scorn ere yet thy voice declare,
72 Search every state, and canvass ev'ry prayer.
e Ver. 56 — 107.Unnumber'd suppliants crowd Preferment's gate;
74 Athirst for wealth, and burning to be great;
75 Delusive Fortune hears th' incessant call,
76 They mount, they shine, evaporate, and fall.
77 On ev'ry stage the foes of peace attend,
78 Hate dogs their flight, and insult mocks their end.
79 Love ends with hope, the sinking statesman's door
80 Pours in the morning worshipper no more;
81 For growing names the weekly scribbler lies,
82 To growing wealth the dedicator flies,
83 From every room descends the painted face,
84 That hung the bright Palladium of the place,
85 And smoak'd in kitchens, or in auctions sold,
86 To better features yields the frame of gold;[Page 156]
87 For now no more we trace in ev'ry line
88 Heroic worth, benevolence divine:
89 The form distorted justifies the fall,
90 And detestation rids th' indignant wall.
91 But will not Britain hear the last appeal,
92 Sign her foes doom, or guard her fav'rites zeal;
93 Tho' Freedom's sons no more remonstrance rings,
94 Degrading nobles and controuling kings;
95 Our supple tribes repress their patriot throats,
96 And ask no questions but the price of votes;
97 With weekly libels and septennial ale,
98 Their wish is full to riot and to rail.
99 In full-blown dignity, see Wolsey stand,
100 Law in his voice, and fortune in his hand:
101 To him the church, the realm, their pow'rs consign,
102 Thro' him the rays of regal bounty shine,
103 Still to new heights his restless wishes tow'r,
104 Claim leads to claim, and pow'r advances pow'r;
105 'Till conquest unresisted ceas'd to please,
106 And rights submitted, left him none to seize.
107 At length his sov'reign frowns — the train of state
108 Mark the keen glance, and watch the sign to hate.
109 Where-e'er he turns he meets a stranger's eye,
110 His suppliants scorn him, and his followers fly;
111 At once is lost the pride of aweful state,
112 The golden canopy, the glitt'ring plate,
113 The regal palace, the luxurious board,
114 The liv'ried army, and the menial lord.[Page 157]
115 With age, with cares, with maladies oppress'd,
116 He seeks the refuge of monastic rest.
117 Grief aids disease, remember'd folly stings,
118 And his last sighs reproach the faith of kings.
119 Speak thou, whose thoughts at humble peace repine,
120 Shall Wolsey's wealth, with Wolsey's end be thine?
121 Or liv'st thou now, with safer pride content,
122 The wisest justice on the banks of Trent?
123 For why did Wolsey near the steeps of fate,
124 On weak foundations raise th' enormous weight?
125 Why but to sink beneath Misfortune's blow,
126 With louder ruin to the gulphs below?
f Ver. 108 — 113.gave great Villiers to th' assassin's knife,
128 And fix'd disease on Harley's closing life?
129 What murder'd Wentworth, and what exil'd Hyde,
130 By kings protected, and to kings ally'd?
131 What but their wish indulg'd in courts to shine,
132 And pow'r too great to keep, or to resign?
g Ver. 114 — 132.first the college rolls receive his name,
134 The young enthusiast quits his ease for fame;
135 Thro' all his veins the fever of renown
136 Spreads from the strong contagion of the gown;
137 O'er Bodley's dome his future labours spread,
138 Andh[Page 158]
h There is a tradition, that the study of friar Bacon, built on an arch over the bridge, will fall, when a man greater than Bacon shall pass under it.Bacon's mansion trembles o'er his head.
139 Are these thy views? proceed illustrious youth,
140 And virtue guard thee to the throne of Truth!
141 Yet should thy soul indulge the gen'rous heat,
142 'Till captive Science yields her last retreat;
143 Should Reason guide thee with her brightest ray,
144 And pour on misty Doubt resistless day;
145 Should no false Kindness lure to loose delight,
146 Nor Praise relax, nor Difficulty fright;
147 Should tempting Novelty thy cell refrain,
148 And Sloth effuse her opiate fumes in vain;
149 Should Beauty blunt on fops her fatal dart,
150 Nor claim the triumph of a letter'd heart;
151 Should no Disease thy torpid veins invade,
152 Nor Melancholy's phantoms haunt thy shade;
153 Yet hope not life from grief or danger free,
154 Nor think the doom of man revers'd for thee:
155 Deign on the passing world to turn thine eyes,
156 And pause awhile from letters, to be wise;
157 There mark what ills the scholar's life assail,
158 Toil, envy, want, the patron, and the jail.
159 See nations slowly wise, and meanly just,
160 To buried merit raise the tardy bust.
161 If dreams yet flatter, once again attend,
162 Here Lydiat's life, and Galileo's end.
163 Nor deem, when Learning her last prize bestows,
164 The glitt'ring eminence exempt from woes;
165 See when the vulgar 'scape, despis'd or aw'd,
166 Rebellion's vengeful talons seize on Laud.[Page 159]
167 From meaner minds, tho' smaller fines content
168 The plunder'd palace or sequester'd rent;
169 Mark'd out by dangerous parts he meets the shock,
170 And fatal Learning leads him to the block:
171 Around his tomb let Art and Genius weep,
172 But hear his death, ye blockheads, hear and sleep.
i Ver. 133 — 146.festal blazes, the triumphal show,
174 The ravish'd standard, and the captive foe,
175 The senate's thanks, the gazette's pompous tale,
176 With force resistless o'er the brave prevail.
177 Such bribes the rapid Greek o'er Asia whirl'd,
178 For such the steady Romans shook the world;
179 For such in distant lands the Britons shine,
180 And stain with blood the Danube or the Rhine;
181 This pow'r has praise, that virtue scarce can warm,
182 'Till fame supplies the universal charm.
183 Yet Reason frowns on War's unequal game,
184 Where wasted nations raise a single name,
185 And mortgag'd states their grandsires wreaths regret,
186 From age to age in everlasting debt;
187 Wreaths which at last the dear-bought right convey
188 To rust on medals, or on stones decay.
k Ver. 147 — 167.what foundation stands the warrior's pride,
190 How just his hopes let Swedish Charles decide;
191 A frame of adamant, a soul of fire,
192 No dangers fright him, and no labours tire;[Page 160]
193 O'er love, o'er fear extends his wide domain,
194 Unconquer'd lord of pleasure and of pain;
195 No joys to him pacific scepters yield,
196 War sounds the trump, he rushes to the field;
197 Behold surrounding kings their pow'r combine,
198 And one capitulate, and one resign;
199 Peace courts his hand, but spreads her charms in vain;
200 "Think nothing gain'd, he cries, till nought remain,
201 "On Moscow's walls till Gothic standards fly,
202 "And all be mine beneath the polar sky."
203 The march begins in military state,
204 And nations on his eye suspended wait;
205 Stern Famine guards the solitary coast,
206 And Winter barricades the realm of Frost;
207 He comes, not want and cold his course delay; —
208 Hide, blushing Glory, hide Pultowa's day:
209 The vanquish'd hero leaves his broken bands,
210 And shews his miseries in distant lands;
211 Condemn'd a needy supplicant to wait,
212 While ladies interpose, and slaves debate.
213 But did not Chance at length her error mend?
214 Did no subverted empire mark his end?
215 Did rival monarchs give the fatal wound?
216 Or hostile millions press him to the ground?
217 His fall was destin'd to a barren strand,
218 A petty fortress, and a dubious hand;
219 He left the name, at which the world grew pale,
220 To point a moral, or adorn a tale.
l Ver. 168 — 187.times their scenes of pompous woes afford,
222 From Persia's tyrant to Bavaria's lord.
223 In gay hostility, and barb'rous pride,
224 With half mankind embattled at his side,
225 Great Xerxes comes to seize the certain prey,
226 And starves exhausted regions in his way;
227 Attendant Flatt'ry counts his myriads o'er,
228 'Till counted myriads sooth his pride no more;
229 Fresh praise is try'd 'till madness fires his mind,
230 The waves he lashes, and enchains the wind;
231 New pow'rs are claim'd, new pow'rs are still bestow'd,
232 'Till rude resistance lops the spreading god;
233 The daring Greeks deride the martial show,
234 And heap their vallies with the gaudy foe;
235 Th' insulted sea with humbler thoughts he gains,
236 A single skiff to speed his flight remains;
237 Th' incumber'd oar scarce leaves the dreaded coast
238 Thro' purple billows and a floating host.
239 The bold Bavarian, in a luckless hour,
240 Tries the dread summits of Cesarean pow'r,
241 With unexpected legions bursts away,
242 And sees defenceless realms receive his sway;
243 Short sway! fair Austria spreads her mournful charms,
244 The queen, the beauty, sets the world in arms;
245 From hill to hill the beacons rousing blaze
246 Spreads wide the hope of plunder and of praise;[Page 162]
247 The fierce Croatian, and the wild Hussar,
248 And all the sons of ravage crowd the war;
249 The baffled prince in honour's flatt'ring bloom
250 Of hasty greatness finds the fatal doom,
251 His foes derision, and his subjects blame,
252 And steals to death from anguish and from shame.
m Ver. 188 — 288.my life with multitude of days,
254 In health, in sickness, thus the suppliant prays;
255 Hides from himself his state, and shuns to know,
256 That life protracted is protracted woe.
257 Time hovers o'er, impatient to destroy,
258 And shuts up all the passages of joy:
259 In vain their gifts the bounteous seasons pour,
260 The fruit autumnal, and the vernal flow'r,
261 With listless eyes the dotard views the store,
262 He views, and wonders that they please no more;
263 Now pall the tasteless meats, and joyless wines,
264 And Luxury with sighs her slave resigns.
265 Approach, ye minstrels, try the soothing strain,
266 And yield the tuneful lenitives of pain:
267 No sounds alas would touch th' impervious ear,
268 Tho' dancing mountains witness Orpheus near,
269 Nor lute nor lyre his feeble pow'rs attend,
270 Nor sweeter musick of a virtuous friend,
271 But everlasting dictates crowd his tongue,
272 Perversely grave or positively wrong.[Page 163]
273 The still returning tale, and ling'ring jest,
274 Perplex the fawning niece and pamper'd guest,
275 While growing hopes scarce awe the gath'ring sneer,
276 And scarce a legacy can bribe to hear;
277 The watchful guests still hint the last offence,
278 The daughter's petulance, the son's expence,
279 Improve his heady rage with treach'rous skill,
280 And mould his passions 'till they make his will.
281 Unnumber'd maladies his joints invade,
282 Lay siege to life and press the dire blockade,
283 But unextinguish'd Av'rice still remains,
284 And dreaded losses aggravate his pains;
285 He turns, with anxious heart and cripled hands,
286 His bonds of debt, and mortgages of lands;
287 Or views his coffers with suspicious eyes,
288 Unlocks his gold, and counts it 'till he dies.
289 But grant, the virtues of a temp'rate prime
290 Bless with an age exempt from scorn or crime;
291 An age that melts in unperceiv'd decay,
292 And glides in modest innocence away;
293 Whose peaceful day Benevolence endears,
294 Whose night congratulating Conscience chears;
295 The gen'ral fav'rite, as the gen'ral friend;
296 Such age there is, and who could wish its end?
297 Yet ev'n on this her load Misfortune flings,
298 To press the weary minutes flagging wings:
299 New sorrow rises as the day returns,
300 A sister sickens, or a daughter mourns.[Page 164]
301 Now kindred Merit fills the sable bier,
302 Now lacerated friendship claims a tear.
303 Year chases year, decay pursues decay,
304 Still drops some joy from with'ring life away;
305 New forms arise, and diff'rent views engage,
306 Superfluous lags the vet'ran on the stage,
307 'Till pitying Nature signs the last release,
308 And bids afflicted worth retire to peace.
309 But few there are whom hours like these await,
310 Who set unclouded in the gulphs of Fate.
311 From Lydia's monarch should the search descend,
312 By Solon caution'd to regard his end,
313 In life's last scene what prodigies surprise,
314 Fears of the brave, and follies of the wise?
315 From Marlb'rough's eyes the streams of dotage flow,
316 And Swift expires a driv'ler and a show.
n Ver. 289 — 345.teeming mother, anxious for her race,
318 Begs for each birth the fortune of a face:
319 Yet Vane could tell what ills from beauty spring;
320 And Sedley curs'd the form that pleas'd a king.
321 Ye nymphs of rosy lips and radiant eyes,
322 Whom Pleasure keeps too busy to be wise,
323 Whom Joys with soft varieties invite,
324 By day the frolick, and the dance by night,
325 Who frown with vanity, who smile with art,
326 And ask the latest fashion of the heart,[Page 165]
327 What care, what rules your heedless charms shall save,
328 Each nymph your rival, and each youth your slave?
329 Against your fame with fondness hate combines,
330 The rival batters, and the lover mines.
331 With distant voice neglected Virtue calls,
332 Less heard and less, the faint remonstrance falls;
333 Tir'd with contempt, she quits the slipp'ry reign,
334 And Pride and Prudence take her seat in vain.
335 In crowd at once, where none the pass defend,
336 The harmless Freedom, and the private Friend.
337 The guardians yield, by force superior ply'd;
338 By Int'rest, Prudence; and by Flatt'ry, Pride.
339 Now beauty falls betray'd, despis'd, distress'd,
340 And hissing Infamy proclaims the rest.
o Ver. 346 — 366.then shall Hope and Fear their objects find?
342 Must dull Suspence corrupt the stagnant mind?
343 Must helpless man, in ignorance sedate,
344 Roll darkling down the torrent of his fate?
345 Must no dislike alarm, no wishes rise,
346 No cries attempt the mercies of the skies?
347 Enquirer, cease, petitions yet remain,
348 Which heav'n may hear, nor deem religion vain.
349 Still raise for good the supplicating voice,
350 But leave to heav'n the measure and the choice.
351 Safe in his pow'r, whose eyes discern afar
352 The secret ambush of a specious pray'r.[Page 166]
353 Implore his aid, in his decisions rest,
354 Secure whate'er he gives, he gives the best.
355 Yet when the sense of sacred presence fires,
356 And strong devotion to the skies aspires,
357 Pour forth thy fervours for a healthful mind,
358 Obedient passions, and a will resign'd;
359 For love, which scarce collective man can fill;
360 For patience sov'reign o'er transmuted ill;
361 For faith that panting for a happier seat,
362 Counts death kind Nature's signal of retreat:
363 These goods for man the laws of heav'n ordain,
364 These goods he grants, who grants the pow'r to gain;
365 With these celestial Wisdom calms the mind,
366 And makes the happiness she does not find.
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About this text
Title (in Source Edition): The VANITY of HUMAN WISHES. THE Tenth Satire of JUVENAL. IMITATED
Author: Samuel Johnson
Themes: hopelessness; vanity of life
Genres: heroic couplet; imitation; translation; paraphrase
References: DMI 25726
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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.
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