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For gain, not glory, wing'd his roving flight,
“ Yet surely, surely these were famous men! “What boy but hears the sayings of old Ben: ?
80 “ In all debates where critics bear a part, “ Not one but nods, and talks of Jonson's art, “ Of Shakespeare's nature and of Cowley's wit ; “ How Beaumont's judgment check'd what Fletcher “ How Shadwell hasty, Wycherly was slow; [writ; “ But for the passion, Southern, sure, and Rowe! 86
These, only these, support the crowded stage, « From eldest Heywood down to Cibber's age.”
All this may be ; the people's voice is odd ; It is, and it is not, the voice of God. To Gammer Gurton if it gives the bays, And yet deny the Careless Husband praise, Or say our fathers never broke a rule, Why then, I say the public is a fool. But let them wn that greater faults than we 95 They had, and greater virtues I'll agree.
Spenser himself affects the obsolete,
But for the wits of either Charles's days, The mob of gentlemen who wrote with ease; Sprat, Carew, Sedley, and a hundred more, (Like twinkling stars the miscellanies o'er ;) 110 One simile that solitary shines In the dry desert of a thousand lines, Or lengthen'd thought, that gleams thro' many a page, Has sanctify'd whole poems for an age. I lose my patience, and I own it too,
115 When works are censur'd not as bad, but new; While if our elders break all Reason's laws, These fools demand not pardon but applause.
On Avon's bank, where flow'rs eternal blow, If I but ask if any weed can grow;
120 One tragic sentence if I dare deride, Which Betterton's grave
Or well-mouth'd Booth with emphasis proclaims,
135 What then was new, what had been ancient now? Or what remain’d so worthy to be read By learned critics of the mighty dead?
In days of ease, when now the weary sword Was sheath’d, and Luxury with Charles restor'd, 140 In ev'ry taste of foreign courts improv’d, “ All by the king's example liv’d and lov’d.” Then peers grew proud in horsemanship t’excel, Newmarket's glory rose as Britons' fell ; The soldier breath'd the gallantries of France, 145 And ev'ry flow'ry courtier writ romance. Then marble soften'd into life, grew warm, And yielding metal flow'd to human form;
Lely on animated canvas stole
But Britain, changeful as a child at play, 155 Now calls in princes, and now turns away. Now Whig, now Tory, what we lov'd we hate ; Now all for pleasure, now for church and state; Now for prerogatives, and now for laws: Effects unhappy! from a noble cause.
160 Time was a sober Englishman would knock His servants up, and rise by five o'clock; Instruct his family in ev'ry rule, And send his wife to church, his son to school. To worship like his fathers was his care; To teach their frugal virtues to his heir; To prove that luxury could never hold, And place on good security his gold. Now times are chang'd, and one poetic itch Has seiz'd the Court and City, poor and rich : 170 Sons, sires, and grandsires, all will wear the bays; Our wives read Milton, and our daughters Ipays; To theatres and to rehearsals throng, And all our grace at table is a song.
I, who so oft' renounce the Muses lie,
175 Not-'self e'er tells more fibs than I, When sick of Muse our follies we deplore, And promise our best friends to rhyme no more; We wake next morning in a raging fit, And call for pen and ink to show our wit. 180
He serv'd a 'prenticeship who sets up shop; Ward try'd on puppies and the poor his drop; Ev’n Radcliff's doctors travel first to France, Nor dare to practice till they've learn'd to dance. Who builds a bridge that never drove a pile? 185 [Should Ripley venture, all the world should smile:] But those who cannot write, and those who can, All rhyme, and scrawl, and scribble, to a man.
Yet, Sir, reflect; the mischief is not great : These madmen never hurt the church or state : 190 Sometimes the folly benefits mankind, And rarely av’rice taints the tuneful mind. Allow him but his plaything of a pen, He ne'er rebels, or plots, like other men: Flight of cashiers, or mobs, he'll never mind, 195 And knows no losses while the Muse is kind. To cheat a friend or ward he leaves to Peter; The good man heaps up nothing but mere metre, Enjoys his garden and his book in quiet; And then a perfect hermit in his diet,