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E P I S T L E IV.
Richard Boyle, Earl of Burlington,
ARGU M E
Μ Ε Ν Τ. Of the Use of RICHES. The Vanity of Expence in People of Wealth and Quality.
T'he abuse of the word Taste, ý 13. That the first principle and foundation, in this as in every thing else, is Good Sense, ♡ 40. The chief proof of it is to follow Nature, even in works of mere 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, x 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 but be perverted into something burdensome or ridiculous, x 65, &c. to 92. A description of the false Tafte of Magnificence ; the first grand Error of which is to imagine that Greatness consists in the Size and Dimenlion, instead of the Proportion and Harmony of the whole, x 97. and the second, either in joining together
Parts incoherent, or too minutely resembling, or-in the Repetition of the same too frequently, x 105, &c. A word or two of false Taste in Books, in Music, in Painting, even in Preaching and Prayer, and lastly in Entertainments, x 133, &c. Yet PROVIDENCE is justified in giving Wealth to be squandered in this manner, fince it is dispersed to the Poor and Laborious part of mankind, x 169 [recurring to what is laid down in the first book, Ep. ii. and in the Epistle preceding this, x 159, &c.] What are the proper Objects of Magnificence, and a proper field for the Expence of Great Men, * 177, &c. and finally, the Great and Public Works which become a Prince, 191, to the end.
EPIS T L E IV.
I s strange, the Mifer should his Cares employ
To gain those Riches he can ne'er enjoy : Is it less strange, the Prodigal ņould wast His wealth, to purchase what he ne'er can taste ?
COMMENTAR Y. EPISTLE IV.) The extremes of Avarice and Profufion being treated of in the foregoing Epistle; this takes up one particular branch of the latter, the Vanity of Expence in people of wealth and quality ; and is therefore a corollary to the preceding, juft. as the Epistle on the Characters of Women is to that of the Knowledge and Chara&ters of Men. It is equally remarkable for exactness of method with the rest. But the nature of the fubject, which is less philosophical, makes it capable of being analised in a much narrower compass.
VER. I. 'Tis firanje, &c.] The poet's introduction (from i to 39) confifts of a very curious remark, arising from his intimate knowledge of nature; together with an illustration of ir, taken from his observations on life. It is this, That the Prodigal no more enjoys his Profusion, than the Mifer, 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 Profufion too can communicate without it ; whereas Enjoyment was thought to be as peculiarly the reward of the beneficent pasfions (of which this has the appearance) as want of enjoyment was the punishment of the felin. The phænomenon observed is odd enough. But if we look more narrowly into this matter, we Thall find, that Prodigality, when in purfuit of Taste, is only a Mode of Vanity, and consequently as selfish a passion as even avarice itself; and it is of the ordonance and constitution of all selfish passions, when growing to excess, to defeat their own end, which is Self-enjoyment. But besides the accurate
N. Blakey inv.et del.
What brought Š."listos ill got Mealth to waste? Some. Demon whisperdetésto! have a Taste.