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ARGUMENT OF EPISTLE III.
That the use of riches is known to few, most falling into one of
the extremes, avarice or profusion, ver. 1, &c. The point discussed, whether the invention of money has been more commodious or pernicious to mankind, v. 21 to 77. That riches, either to the avaricious or the prodigal, cannot afford happiness, scarcely necessaries, v. 89 to 160. That avarice is an absolute frenzy, without an end or purpose, v. 113, &c. 152. Conjectures about the motives of avaricious men, v. 121 to 153. That the conduct of men, with respect to riches, can only be accounted for by the order of Provi. dence, which works the general good out of extremes, and brings all to its great end by perpetual revolutions, v. 161 to 178. How a miser acts on principles which appear to him reasonable, v. 179. How a prodigal does the same, v. 199. The due medium, and true use of riches, v. 219. The man of Ross, v. 250. The fate of the profuse and the covetous, in two examples; both miserable in life and in death, v. 300, &c. The story of sir Balaam, v. 339. to the end.
OF THE USE OF RICHES.
P. Who shall decide, when doctors disagree,
This Epistle was written after a violent outcry against our author, on suspicion that he had ridiculed a worthy nobleman merely for his wrong taste. He justified himself on that article in a letter to the earl of Burlington; at the end of which are these words :- I have learned that there are some who would rather be wicked than ridiculous; and therefore it may be safer to attack vices than follies; I will therefore leave my betters in the quiet possession of their idols, their groves, and their high places, and change my subject from their pride to their meanness, from their vanities to their miseries; and as the only certain way to avoid misconstructions, to lessen offence, and not to multiply ill-natured applications, I may probably, in my next, make use of real names instead of fictitious ones.'-Pope,
1 Who shall decide. The speakers are Pope and the old and witty lord Bathurst. Bathurst was not much pleased with his office in this Epistle : he afterwards told Warton, that he was much surprised to see, what he had with repeated pleasure so often read as an epistle addressed to himself, in this edition converted into a dialogue, 'in which I perceive,' said he, “I make but a shabby figure, and contribute very little to the spirit of the dialogue, if it must be a dialogue : and I hope I had generally more to say for myself in the many charming conversations I used to hold with Pope and Swift, and my old poetical friends.'
And gold but sent to keep the fools in play,
But I, who think more highly of our kind,
Like doctors thus, when much dispute has pass’d, We find our tenets just the same at last : Both fairly owning, riches, in effect, No
grace of Heaven, or token of the elect; Given to the fool, the mad, the vain, the evil, To Ward, to Waters, Chartres, and the devil. 20
20 John Ward of Hackney, Esq. member of parliament, being prosecuted by the duchess of Buckingham, and convicted of forgery, was first expelled the house, and then stood on the pillory on the 17th of March, 1727. He was suspected of joining in a conveyance with sir John Blunt, to secrete £50,000 of that director's estate, forfeited to the South-sea company by act of parliament. The company recovered the £50,000 against Ward; but he set up prior conveyances of his real estate to his brother and son, and concealed all his personal, which was computed to be £150,000. These conveyances being also set aside by a bill in chancery, Ward was imprisoned, and hazarded the forfeiture of his life by not giving in his effects till the last day, which was that of his examination. During his confinement, his amusement was to give poison to dogs and cats, and see them expire by slower or quicker torments. To sum up the worth of this gentleman, at the several eras of his life :-at his standing in the pillory, he was worth above £200,000; at his commitment to prison, he was worth £150,000; but has been since so far diminished in his reputation, as to be thought a worse man hy £50,000 or £60,000.-Pope.
B. What Nature wants, commodious gold be
stows; 'Tis thus we eat the bread another sows.
P. But how unequal it bestows, observe!
B. Trade it may help, society extend.
The Waters here mentioned is the same person who is introduced under the character of "Wise Peter,' whose name was Walter, though sometimes called Waters.
Fr. Chartres, a man infamous for all manner of vices. When he was an ensign in the army, he was drummed out of the regiment for a cheat: he was next banished Brussels, and drummed out of Ghent, on the same account. After a hundred tricks at the gaming-tables, he took to lending of money at exorbitant interest and on great penalties, accumulating premium, interest, and capital into a new capital, and seizing to a minute when the payments became due: in a word, by a constant attention to the vices, wants, and follies of mankind, he acquired an immense fortune. He was twice condemned, and pardoned; but the last time not without imprisonment in Newgate, and large confiscations. He died in Scotland in 1731, aged sixty-two. The populace at his funeral raised a great riot, almost tore the body out of the coffin, and cast dead dogs, &c. into the grave along with it.-Pope.
32 But bribes a senate, &c. Evidently levelled at sir Robert Walpole's administration, and the supposed corrupt mode by which he maintained his influence in parliament.
Once, we confess, beneath the patriot's cloak, 35
45 Our fates and fortunes, as the winds shall blow : Pregnant with thousands flits the scrap unseen, And silent sells a king, or buys a queen.
0! that such bulky bribes as all might see, Still, as of old, encumber'd villany!
50 Could France or Rome divert our brave designs, With all their brandies or with all their wines? What could they more than knights and squires
confound, Or water all the quorum ten miles round? A statesman's slumbers how this speech would spoil !
55 "Sir, Spain has sent a thousand jars of oil;
35 Beneath the patriot's cloak. This is a true story, which happened in the reign of William III. to an unsuspected old patriot, who coming out at the back-door from having been closeted by the king, where he had received a large bag of guineas, the bursting of the bag discovered his business there.-Pope.
44 Or ship off senates to a distant shore. Alludes to several ministers, counsellors, and patriots banished in our times to Siberia, and to that more glorious fate of the parliament of Paris, banished to Pontoise in the year 1720.-Pope.