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Urge, urge thy pow'r, the black attempt confound,
And dash the smoking censer to the ground.

Thus aw'd to fear, instructed Bards may see,

That guilt is doom'd to sink in infamy.

*

EPISTLE II.

THE

VANITY OF HUMAN WISHES.

BY

SAMUEL JOHNSON, L. D. D.

LET observation with extensive view,
Survey mankind, from China to Peru;
Remark each anxious toil, each eager strife,
And watch the busy scenes of crowded life;
Then say how hope and fear, desire and hate,
O'erspread with snares the clouded maze of fate,
Where wav'ring man, betray'd by vent'rous pride
To tread the dreary paths without a guide;
"As treach'rous phantoms in the mist delude,
Shuns fancied ills, or chases airy good;

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How rarely reason guides the stubborn choice,

Rules the bold hand, or prompts the suppliant voice;
How nations sink, by darling schemes oppress'd,
When vengeance listens to the fool's request.
Fate wings with every wish th' afflictive dart,
Each gift of nature, and each grace of art;

With fatal heat impetuous courage glows,
With fatal sweetness elocution flows;

Impeachment stops the speaker's pow'rful breath,
And restless fire precipitates on death.

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But, scarce observ'd, the knowing and the bold, Fall in the gen'ral massacre of gold;

Wide-wasting pest! that rages unconfin'd,

And crowds with crimes the records of mankind;
For gold his sword the hireling ruffian draws,
For gold the hireling judge distorts the laws;
Wealth heap'd on wealth nor truth nor safety buys;
The dangers gather as the treasures rise.

Let hist'ry tell, where rival kings command, And dubious title shakes the madded land, When statutes glean the refuse of the sword, How much more safe the vassal than the lord, Low sculks the hind beneath the rage of pow'r, And leaves the wealthy traitor in the Tow'r, Untouch'd his cottage, and his slumbers sound, Though confiscation's vultures hover round.

The needy traveller, serene and gay,
Walks the wild heath, and sings his toil away.
Does envy seize thee? crush th' upbraiding joy,
Increase his riches, and his peace destroy,
New fears in dire vicissitude invade,

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The rustling brake alarms, and quiv'ring shade,

Nor light nor darkness bring his pain relief,
One shews the plunder, and one hides the thief.

Yet still one general cry the skies assails, And gain and grandeur load the tainted gales; Few know the toiling statesman's fear or care, Th' insidious rival and the gaping heir.

Once more, Democritus, arise on earth, With chearful wisdom and instructive mirth, See motley life in modern trappings dress'd, And feed with varied fools th' eternal jest:

Thou who could'st laugh where want enchain'd caprice,

Toil crush'd conceit, and man was of a piece;
Where wealth unlov'd without a mourner dy'd;
And scarce a sycophant was fed by pride;
Where ne'er was known the form of mock debate,
Or seen a new-made mayor's unwieldy state;
Where change of fav'rites made no change of laws,
And senates heard before they judg'd a cause ;bo
How wouldst thou shake at Britain's modish tribe,
Dart the quick taunt, and edge the piercing gibe?
Attentive truth, and nature to decry,

And pierce each scene with philosophic eye.
To thee were solemn toys or empty shew,
The robes of pleasure and the veils of woe:

All aid the farce, and all thy mirth maintain,
Whose joys are causeless, and whose griefs are vain.

Such was the scorn that fill'd the sage's mind,
Renew'd at every glance on humankind;
How just that scorn ere yet thy voice declare,
Search every state, and canvass every prayer.

Unnumber'd suppliants crowd Preferment's gate, Athirst for wealth, and burning to be great; Delusive Fortune hears th' incessant call, They mount, they shine, evaporate, and fall. On every stage the foes of peace attend,

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Hate dogs their flight, and insult mocks their end.
Love ends with hope, the sinking statesman's door
Pours in the morning worshipper no more ;
For growing names the weakly scribbler lies,
To growing wealth the dedicator flies;
From every room descends the painted face,
That hung the bright Palladium of the place,
And smoak'd in kitchens, or in auctions sold,
To better features yields the frame of gold;
For now no more we trace in every line
Heroic worth, benevolence divine:
The form distorted justifies the fall,
And detestation rids th' indignant wall.

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But will not Britain hear the last appeal,
Sign her foe's doom, or guard her fav'rite's zeal;
Through Freedom's sons no more remonstrance rings,
Degrading nobles, and controling kings ;

Our supple tribes repress their patriot throats,
And ask no questions but the price of votes;

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