From Epistle to Richard Boyle Earl of Burlington

At Timon's Villa

At Timon's villa let us pass a day, Where all cry out, 'What sums are thrown away!' So proud, so grand, of that stupendous air, Soft and Agreeable come never there. Greatness, with Timon, dwells in such a draught As brings all Brobdignag before your thought. To compass this, his building is a town, His pond an ocean, his parterre a down: Who must but laugh, the Master when he sees, A puny insect, shiv'ring at a breeze! Lo, what huge heaps of littleness around! The whole, a laboured quarry above ground. Two Cupids squirt before, a lake behind Improves the keenness of the northern wind. His gardens next your admiration call, On ev'ry side you look, behold the wall! No pleasing intricacies intervene, No artful wildness to perplex the scene; Grove nods at grove, each alley has a brother, And half the platform just reflects the other. The suff'ring eye inverted nature sees, Trees cut to statues, statues thick as trees, With here a fountain, never to be played, And there a summer-house, that knows no shade; Here Amphitrite sails through myrtle bow'rs; There gladiators fight, or die, in flow'rs; Unwatered see the drooping sea-horse mourn, And swallows roost in Nilus' dusty urn.

My Lord advances with majestic mien, Smit with the mighty pleasure, to be seen: But soft—by regular approach—not yet— First through the length of yon hot terrace sweat, And when up ten steep slopes you've dragged your thighs, Just at his study door he'll bless your eyes.

His study! with what authors is it stored? In books, not authors, curious is my Lord; To all their dated backs he turns you round, These Aldus printed, those Du Sueil has bound. Lo some are vellum, and the rest as good For all his Lordship knows, but they are wood. For Locke or Milton 'tis in vain to look, These shelves admit not any modern book.

And now the chapel's silver bell you hear, That summons you to all the pride of pray'r: Light quirks of music, broken and uneven, Make the soul dance upon a jig to Heaven. On painted ceiling you devoutly stare, Where sprawl the saints of Verrio or Laguerre, On gilded clouds in fair expansion lie, And bring all Paradise before your eye. To rest, the cushion and soft Dean invite, Who never mentions Hell to ears polite.

But hark! the chiming clocks to dinner call; A hundred footsteps scrape the marble hall: The rich buffet well-coloured serpents grace, And gaping Tritons spew to wash your face. Is this a dinner? this a genial room? No, 'tis a temple, and a hecatomb. A solemn sacrifice, performed in state, You drink by measure, and to minutes eat. So quick retires each flying course, you'd swear Sancho's dread Doctor and his wand were there. Between each act the trembling salvers ring, From soup to sweet-wine, and God bless the King. In plenty starving, tantalized in state, And complaisantly helped to all I hate,

Treated, caressed, and tired, I take my leave, Sick of his civil pride from morn to eve; I curse such lavish cost, and little skill, And swear no day was ever passed so ill.

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