Love of Fame
by EDWARD YOUNG (1681-1765)
Excerpts from Satire VI. On Women
Aspasia’s highly born, and nicely bred,
Of taste refined, in life and manners read;
Yet reaps no fruit from her superior sense,
But to be teased by her own excellence.
‘Folks are so awkward! things so unpolite!’
She’s elegantly pain’d from morn till night.
Her delicacy’s shock’d where’er she goes:
Each creature’s imperfections are her woes.
Heaven by its favour has the fair distress’d,
And pour’d such blessings—that she can’t be bless’d.
Ah! why so vain, though blooming in thy spring,
Thou shining, frail, adored, and wretched thing?
. . .
Fair Isabella is so fond of fame,
That her dear self is her eternal theme:
Through hopes of contradiction oft she’ll say,
‘Methinks I look so wretchedly to-day!’
When most the world applauds you, most beware;
‘Tis often a less blessing than a snare.
Distrust mankind; with your own heart confer,
And dread e’en there to find a flatterer.
The breath of others raises our renown;
Our own as surely blows the pageant down.
Take up no more than you by worth can claim,
Lest soon you prove a bankrupt in your fame.
But own I must, in this perverted age,
Who most deserve can’t always most engage.
So far is worth from making glory sure,
It often hinders what it should procure.
Whom praise we most? the virtuous, brave, and wise?
No; wretches whom, in secret, we despise.
from Poems of Edward Young (1822)