The Poetical Works of the Right Hon. George Granville, Lord Lansdowne/103
Of the ſecond Chorus
IN THE SECOND ACT OF SENECA’S THYESTES.
When will the gods, propitious to our prayers,
Compoſe our factions and conclude our wars?
Ye ſons of Inachus! repent the guilt
Of crowns uſurp’d, and blood of parents ſpilt:
For impious greatneſs vengeance is in ſtore;5
Short is the date of all ill-gotten pow’r.
Give ear, ambitious Princes! and be wiſe;
Liſten, and learn wherein true greatneſs lies:
Place not your pride in roofs that ſhine with gems,
In purple robes, nor ſparkling diadems,10
Nor in dominion nor extent of land;
He ’s only great who can himſelf command;
Whoſe guard is peaceful Innocence, whoſe guide
Is faithful Reaſon; who is void of pride,
Checking ambition, nor is idly vain15
Of the falſe incenſe of a popular train;
Who without ſtrife or envy can behold
His neighbour’s plenty and his heaps of gold,
Nor covets other wealth but what we find
In the poſſeſſions of a virtuous mind.20
Fearleſs he ſees, who is with virtue crown’d,
The tempeſt rage, and hears the thunder ſound;
Ever the ſame, let Fortune ſmile or frown,
On the red ſcaffold or the blazing throne;
Serenely as he liv’d reſigns his breath,25
Meets Deſtiny halfway, nor ſhrinks at death.
Ye ſov’reign Lords! who ſit like gods in ſtate,
Awing the world, and buſtling to be great;
Lords but in title, vaſſals in effect,
Whom luſt controls, and wild deſires direct,30
The reins of empire but ſuch hands diſgrace,
Where Paſſion, a blind driver, guides the race.
What is this fame, thus crowded round with ſlaves?
The breath of fools, the bait of flatt’ring knaves.
An honeſt heart, a conſcience free from blame,35
Not of great acts, but good, give me the name.
In vain we plant, we build, our ſtores increaſe,
Is conſcience roots up all our inward peace.
What need of arms, or inſtruments of war,
Or batt’ring engines that deſtroy from far?40
The greateſt king and conqueror is he
Who lord of his own appetites can be;
Bleſs’d with a pow’r that nothing can deſtroy,
And all have equal freedom to enjoy.
Whom worldly luxury and pomps allure,45
They tread on ice, and find no footing ſure.
Place me, ye Pow’rs! in ſome obſcure retreat;
O keep me innocent, make others great!
In quiet ſhades, content with rural ſports,
Give me a life remote from guilty courts,50
Where, free from hopes or fears, in humble eaſe,
Unheard of, I may live and die in peace.
Happy the man who thus, retir’d from ſight,
Studies himſelf, and ſeeks no other light;
But moſt unhappy he who ſits on high,55
Expos’d to ev’ry tongue and ev’ry eye,
Whose follies, blaz’d about, to all are known,
But are a ſecret to himſelf alone:
Worſe is an evil fame, much worſe, than none.59