By Mr. Doddington, Afterwards Lord Melcombe.

--Quë censet amiculus, ut si
Cëcus iter monstrare velit


Though strength of genius, by experience taught,
Gives thee to sound the depths of human thought,
To trace the various workings of the mind,
And rule the secret springs, that rule mankind;
(Rare gift!) yet, Walpole, wilt thou condescend
To listen, if thy unexperienc'd friend
Can aught of use impart, though void of skill,
And win attention by sincere good-will;
For friendship, sometimes, want of parts supplies,
The heart may furnish what the head denies.
As when the rapid Rhone, o'er swelling tides,
To grace old ocean's court, in triumph rides,
Tho' rich his source, he drains a thousand springs,
Nor scorns the tribute each small rivulet brings.
So thou shalt, hence, absorb each feeble ray,
Each dawn of meaning, in thy brighter day;
Shalt like, or, where thou canst not like, excuse,
Since no mean interest shall profane the muse,
No malice, wrapt in truth's disguise, offend,
Nor flattery taint the freedom of the friend.
When first a generous mind surveys the great,
And views the crowds that on their fortune wait;
Pleas'd with the show (though little understood)
He only seeks the power, to do the good;
Thinks, till he tries, 'tis godlike to dispose,
And gratitude still springs, where bounty sows;
That every grant sincere affection wins,
And where our wants have end, our love begins:
But those who long the paths of state have trod,
Learn from the clamours of the murmuring crowd,
Which cramm'd, yet craving still, their gates besiege,
'Tis easier far to give, than to oblige.
This of thy conduct seems the nicest part,
The chief perfection of the statesman's art,
To give to fair assent a fairer face,
Or soften a refusal into grace:
But few there are that can be truly kind,
Or know to fix their favours on the mind;
Hence, some, whene'er they would oblige, offend,
And, while they make the fortune, lose the friend;
Still give, unthank'd; still squander, not bestow;
For great men want not, what to give, but how.
The race of men that follow courts, 'tis true,
Think all they get, and more than all, their due;
Still ask, but ne'er consult their own deserts,
And measure by their interest, not their parts:
From this mistake so many men we see
But ill become the thing they wish'd to be;
Hence discontent, and fresh demands arise,
More power, more favour in the great man's eyes;
All feel a want, though none the cause suspects,
But hate their patron, for their own defects;
Such none can please, but who reforms their hearts,
And, when he gives them places, gives them parts.
As these o'erprize their worth, so sure the great
May sell their favour at too dear a rate;
When merit pines, while clamour is preferr'd,
And long attachment waits among the herd;
When no distinction, where distinction 's due,
Marks from the many the superior few;
When strong cabal constrains them to be just,
And makes them give at last--because they must;
What hopes that men of real worth should prize,
What neither friendship gives, nor merit buys?
The man who justly o'er the whole presides,
His well-weigh'd choice with wise affection guides;
Knows when to stop with grace, and when advance,
Nor gives through importunity or chance;
But thinks how little gratitude is ow'd,
When favours are extorted, not bestow'd.
When, safe on shore ourselves, we see the crowd
Surround the great, importunate, and loud;
Through such a tumult, 'tis no easy task
To drive the man of real worth to ask:
Surrounded thus, and giddy with the show,
'Tis hard for great men rightly to bestow;
From hence so few are skill'd, in either case,
To ask with dignity, or give with grace.
Sometimes the great, seduc'd by love of parts,
Consult our genius, and neglect our hearts;
Pleas'd with the glittering sparks that genius flings,
They lift us, towering on their eagle's wings,
Mark out the flights by which themselves begun,
And teach our dazzled eyes to bear the sun;
Till we forget the hand that made us great,
And grow to envy, not to emulate:
To emulate, a generous warmth implies,
To reach the virtues, that make great men rise;
But envy wears a mean malignant face,
And aims not at their virtues--but their place.
Such to oblige, how vain is the pretence!
When every favour is a fresh offence,
By which superior power is still implied,
And, while it helps their fortune, hurts their pride.
Slight is the hate, neglect or hardships breed;
But those who hate from envy, hate indeed.
"Since so perplex'd the choice, whom shall we trust?"
Methinks I hear thee cry--The brave and just;
The man by no mean fears or hopes controll'd,
Who serves thee from affection, not for gold.
We love the honest, and esteem the brave,
Despise the coxcomb, but detest the knave;
No show of parts the truly wise seduce,
To think that knaves can be of real use.
The man, who contradicts the public voice,
And strives to dignify a worthless choice,
Attempts a task that on that choice reflects,
And lends us light to point out new defects.
One worthless man, that gains what he pretends,
Disgusts a thousand unpretending friends:
And since no art can make a counterpass,
Or add the weight of gold to mimic brass,
When princes to bad ore their image join,
They more debase the stamp, than raise the coin.
Be thine the care, true merit to reward
And gain the good--nor will that task be hard;
Souls form'd alike so quick by nature blend,
An honest man is more than half thy friend.
Him, no mean views, or haste to rise, shall sway,
Thy choice to sully, or thy trust betray:
Ambition, here, shall at due distance stand
Nor is wit dangerous in an honest hand:
Besides, if failings at the bottom lie,
We view those failings with a lover's eye;
Though small his genius, let him do his best,
Our wishes and belief supply the rest.
Let others barter servile faith for gold,
His friendship is not to be bought or sold:
Fierce opposition he, unmov'd, shall face,
Modest in favour, daring in disgrace,
To share thy adverse fate alone, pretend;
In power, a servant; out of power, a friend.
Here pour thy favours in an ample flood,
Indulge thy boundless thirst of doing good:
Nor think that good to him alone confin'd;
Such to oblige, is to oblige mankind.
If thus thy mighty master's steps thou trace,
The brave to cherish, and the good to grace;
Long shalt thou stand from rage and faction free,
And teach us long to love the king, through thee:
Or fall a victim dangerous to the foe,
And make him tremble when he strikes the blow;
While honour, gratitude, affection join
To deck thy close, and brighten thy decline;
(Illustrious doom!) the great, when this displac'd,
With friendship guarded, and with virtue grac'd,
In awful ruin, like Rome's senate, fall,
The prey and worship of the wondering Gaul.
No doubt, to genius some reward is due,
(Excluding that, were satirizing you;)
But yet, believe thy undesigning friend,
When truth and genius for thy choice contend,
Tho' both have weight when in the balance cast,
Let probity be first, and parts the last.
On these foundations if thou dar'st be great,
And check the growth of folly and deceit;
When party rage shall droop thro' length of days,
And calumny be ripen'd into praise,
Then future times shall to thy worth allow
That fame, which envy would call flattery now.
Thus far my zeal, though for the task unfit,
Has pointed out the rocks where others split;
By that inspir'd, though stranger to the Nine,
And negligent of any fame--but thine,
I take the friendly, but superfluous part;
You act from nature what I teach from art.