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Edward Farr, ed.  Select Poetry of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth.  1845.
 
The Vanity of Riches
LXXV. Samuel Daniel
 
WEL 1 were it with mankinde, if what the most
Did like were best; but ignorance will liue
By others’ square, as by example lost:
And man to man must th’ hand of feruour giue,
That none can fall alone at their owne cost;        5
And al because men iudge not, but beleeue.
 
For what poore bounds haue they whom but the earth?
What is their end whereto their care attaines,
When the thing got reliues not, but confounds,
Hauing but trauell to succeed their paines?        10
What ioy hath he of liuing, that propounds
Affliction but his end, and griefe his gaines?
 
Gath’ring, incroching, wresting, ioyning to,
Destroying, building, decking, furnishing,
Repayring, altring, and so much adoe,        15
To his soule’s toile and bodie’s trauelling:
And all this dooth he, little knowing who
Fortune ordaines to haue th’ inheriting.
 
And his faire house, rais’d hie in enuie’s eie,
Whose pillars rear’d, perhaps, on bloud and wrong,        20
The spoyles and pillage of iniquitie,
Who can assure it to continue long?
If rage spar’d not the walles of pietie,
Shall the profanest piles of sinne keepe strong?
 
How many prowd aspiring pallaces        25
Haue we knowne made the prey of wrath and pride,
Leuell’d with the earth, left to forgetfulnes,
Whilst titlers their pretended rights deride,
Or ciuil tumults, or an orderlesse
Order, pretending change of some strong side!        30
 
Then where is that prowde title of thy name,
Written in yce of melting vanitie?
Where is thine heire left to possesse the same?
Perhaps not so well as in beggarie:
Something may rise to be beyond the shame        35
Of vile and vnreguarded pouerty.
 
Note 1. LXXV. Samuel Daniel.—He was born in 1562, and was educated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford. He became tutor to Lady Anne Clifford, subsequently Countess of Pembroke, to whom several of his works are dedicated. The poetical productions of Daniel are numerous, and the tenor of his writings is generally moral and instructive; but only one, his “Musophilos,” which contains a general defence of learning, affords extracts suitable to this selection. [back]
 
 
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