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Milton's strong pinion now not Heav'n can Or what remain'd, so worthy to be read bound,
By learned critics of the mighty dead ? Now, serpent-like, in prose he sweeps the In days of ease, when now the weary ground.
sword In quibbles Angel and Archangel join, Was sheath’d, and luxury with Charles reAnd God the Father turns a School-divine.
stor'd, Not that I'd lop the beauties from his book, In every taste of foreign courts improv'd, Like slashing Bentley with his desp’rate * All by the King's example liv'd and lov'd,' hook;
Then peers grew proud in horsemanship Or damn all Shakespeare, like th' affected t' excel; fool
Newmarket's glory rose, as Britain's fell; At Court, who hates whate'er he read at The soldier breathed the gallantries of School.
France, But for the Wits of either Charles's days, And ev'ry flowery Courtier writ Romance. The mob of gentlemen who wrote with Then marble, soften'd into life, grew warm, ease;
And yielding metal flow'd to human form; Sprat, Carew, Sedley, and a hundred more Lely on animated canvas stole (Like twinkling stars the Miscellanies The sleepy eye, that spoke the melting o'er),
soul. One siinile that solitary shines
No wonder then, when all was love and In the dry Desert of a thousand lines,
sport, Or lengthen'd thought, that gleams thro' The willing Muses were debauch'd at many a page,
court; Has sanctified whole poems for an age. On each enervate string they taught the I lose my patience, and I own it too,
note When works are censured not as bad, but To pant, or tremble thro’a Eunuch’s throat. new;
But Britain, changeful as a child at play, While, if our elders break all Reason's laws, Now calls in princes, and now turns away. These fools demand not pardon, but ap- Now Whig, now Tory, what we loved we plause.
hate; On Avon's bank, where flowers eternal Now all for Pleasure, now for Church and blow,
State; If I but ask if any weed can grow,
Now for Prerogatives, and now for laws; One tragic sentence if I dare deride, Effects unhappy, from a noble cause. Which Betterton's grave action dignified, Time was, a sober Englishman would Or well - mouth'd Booth with emphasis
His servants up, and rise by five o'clock; (Tho' but perhaps a muster-roll of names), Ivstruct his family in ev'ry rule, How will onr fathers rise up in a rage, And send his wife to church, his son to And swear all shame is lost in GEORGE'S
To worship like his fathers was his care; You'd think no fools disgraced the former To teach their frugal virtues to his heir; reign,
To prove that Luxury could never hold, Did not some grave examples yet remain, And place on good security his gold. Who scorn a lad should teach his father Now times are changed, and one poetic itch skill,
Has seized the Court and City, Poor and And having once been wrong, will be so Rich; still.
Sons, sires, and grandsires, all will wear He who, to seem more deep than you or I, the bays; Extols old bards, or Merlin's prophecy, Our wives read Milton, and our daughters Mistake him not; he envies, not admires,
plays; And to debase the sons exalts the sires. To theatres and to rehearsals throng, Had ancient times conspired to disallow And all our grace at table is a song: What then was new, what had been ancient I, who so oft renounce the Muses, lie: now?
Not **'s 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. He served a 'prenticeship who sets up
shop; Ward tried on puppies and the poor his
drop; Ev'n Radcliff's doctors travel first to
France, Nor dare to practise till they've learn’d to
dance. Who builds a bridge that never drove a
pile ? (Should Ripley venture, all the world would
smile), But those who cannot write, and those who
can, All rhyme, and scrawl, and scribble, to a 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, 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.
Of little use the man you may suppose. Who says in verse what others say in
prose; Yet let me show a Poet 's of some weight, And (tho' no soldier) useful to the State. What will a child learn sooner than a song ? What better teach a foreigner the tongneWhat's long or short, each accent where
to place, And speak in public with some sort of I scarce can think him such a worthless
thing, Unless he praise some monster of a King; Or virtue or religion turn to sport, To please a lewd or unbelieving Court.
Unhappy Dryden! - In all Charles's days Roscommon only boasts unspotted bays; And in our own (excuse some courtly
stains) No whiter page than Addison remains. He from the taste obscene reclaims our
youth, And sets the passions on the side of Truth, Forms the soft bosom with the gentlest
Art, And pours each human virtue in the heart. Let Ireland tell how wit upheld her cause, Her trade supported, and supplied her laws; And leave on Swift this grateful verse eu
graved, •The rights a Court attack'd, a Poet saved.' Behold the hand that wrought a Nation's
cure, Stretch'd to relieve the idiot and the poor; Proud vice to brand, or injured worth adorn, And stretch the ray to ages yet unborn. Not but there are, who merit other palms; Hopkins and Sternhold glad the heart with
psalms; The boys and girls whom charity main
tains Implore your help in these pathetic strains: How could Devotion touch the country
pews Unless the Gods bestow'd a proper Muse ? Verse cheers their leisure, verse assists
their work, Verse prays for peace, or sings down pope
and Turk. The silenced preacher yields to potent
strain, And feels that Grace his prayer besought
in vain; The blessing thrills thro' all the lab'ring
throng, And Heav'n is won by violence of song. 240
Our rural ancestors, with little blest, Patient of labour when the end was rest, Indulged the day that housed their annual
grain With feasts, and off'rings, and a thankful
strain. The joy their wives, their sons, and ser
vants share, Ease of their toil, and partners of their
The Laugh, the Jest, attendants on the
bowl, Smooth'd ev'ry brow, and open'd ev'ry
With growing years the pleasing license
grew, And taunts alternate innocently flew. But Times corrupt, and Nature, ill inclin'd, Produced the poiut that left a sting be
hind; Till friend with friend, and families at
strife, Triumphant malice raged thro' private life. Who felt the wrong, or fear'd it, took th'
alarm, Appeal'd to law, and Justice lent her arm. At length by wholesome dread of statutes
bound, The poets learn'd to please, and not to
wound : Most warp'd to Flatt'ry's side; but some,
more nice, Preserv'd the freedom, and forbore the
vice. Hence Satire rose, that just the medium hit, And heals with morals what it hurts with
wit. We conquer'd France, but felt our captive's
charms, Her arts victorious triumph'd o'er our
arms; Britain to soft refinements less a foe, Wit grew polite, and numbers learn'd to
flow. Waller was smooth; but Dryden taught
to join The varying verse, the full resounding
line, The long majestic march, and energy di
But in known images of life I guess
deed ? What pert low dialogue has Farquhar writ! How Van wants grace, who never wanted
wit: The stage how loosely does Astrea tread, Who fairly puts all characters to bed! And idle Cibber, how he breaks the laws, To make poor Pinkey eat with vast ap
plause ! But fill their purse, our poet's work is
done, Alike to them by pathos or by pun. O you! whom Vanity's light bark con
veys On Fame's mad voyage by the wind of
praise, With what a shifting gale your course you
ply, For ever sunk too low, or borne too high. Who pants for,glory finds but short repose; A breath revives him, or a breath o'er
throws. Farewell the Stage! if just as thrives the
play The silly bard grows fat or falls away.
There still remains, to mortify a Wit, The many-headed monster of the pit; A senseless, worthless, and unhonour'd
crowd, Who, to disturb their betters, mighty
proud, Clatt'ring their sticks before ten lines are
spoke, Call for the Farce, the Bear, or the Black
joke. What dear delight to Britons farce affords! Ever the taste of Mobs, but now of Lords: (Taste ! that eternal wanderer, which flies From heads to ears, and now from ears to
eyes.) The play stands still; damn action and dis
course! Back fly the scenes, and enter foot and
horse; Pageants on pageants, in long order drawn, Peers, heralds, bishops, ermine, gold, and
lawn; The Champion too! and, to complete the
jest, Old Edward's armour beams on Cibber's
Tho' still some traces of our rustic vein
270 And splay-foot verse remain'd, and will re
main. Late, very late, correctness grew our care, When the tired nation breathed from civil
war. Exact Racine and Corneille's noble fire Show'd us that France had something to
admire. Not but the tragic spirit was our own, And full in Shakespeare, fair in Otway,
shone; But Otway fail'd to polish or refine, And fluent Shakespeare scarce effaced a
line. Ev'n copious Duyden wanted, or forgot, 280 The last and greatest art — the art to blot.
Some doubt if equal pains or equal fire The humbler Muse of Comedy require.
With laughter sure Democritus had died, We Poets are (upon a poet's word)
You lose your patience just like other
fend Loud as the wolves on Orcas' stormy steep A single verse, we quarrel with a friend; Howl to the roarings of the northern deep, Repeat, unask'd; lament, the wit's too fine Such is the shout, the long applauding For vulgar eyes, and point out every line: note,
But most when straining with too weak a At Quin's high plume, or Oldfield's petti- wing coat;
We needs will write epistles to the King ; Or when from court a birthday suit be- And from the moment we oblige the town, stow'd,
Expect a Place or Pension from the Crown; Sinks the lost actor in the tawdry load. Or dubb’d historians by express command, Booth enters - hark! the universal peal ! T'enrol your triumphs o'er the seas and • But bas he spoken ?' – Not a syllable.
land, • What shook the stage, and made the peo- Be call’d to Court to plan some work diple stare ?'
vine, Cato's long wig, flower'd gown, and lack- As once for Louis, Boileau and Racine. er'd chair.
Yet think, great Sir! (so many virtues Yes, lest you think I rally more than shown) teach,
Ah! think what poet best may make them Or praise malignly arts I cannot reach,
known; Let me for once presume ť instruct the Or choose at least some minister of grace, times,
Fit to bestow the Laureate's weighty place. To know the Poet from the man of rhymes: Charles, to late times to be transmitted 'Tis he who gives my breast a thousand fair,
Assign’d his figure to Bernini's care; Can make me feel each passion that he And great Nassau to Kneller's hand defeigns,
creed Enrage, compose, with more than magic art, To fix him graceful on the bounding steed: With
pity and with terror tear my heart, So well in paint and stone they judg'd of And snatch me o'er the earth, or thro' the merit; air,
But Kings in Wit may want discerning To Thebes, to Athens, when he will, and spirit. where.
The hero William, and the martyr Charles, But not this part of the poetic state One knighted Blackmore, and one pension'd Alone deserves the favour of the great.
Quarles, Think of those authors, Sir, who would Which made old Ben and surly Dennis
rely More on a reader's sense than gazer's eye. •No Lord's anointed, but a Russian bear.' Or who shall wander where the Muses sing? Not with such majesty, such bold relief, Who climb their mountain, or who taste The forms august of King, or conquering their spring ?
Chief, How shall we fill a library with Wit, E’er swellid on marble, as in verse have When Merlin's Cave is half unfurnish'd
(In polish'd verse) the manners and the My liege! why writers little claim your
O! could I mount on the Mæonian wing, I guess, and, with their leave, will tell the Your arms, your actions, your repose, to fault.
What seas you travers’d, and what fields
you fought! Your country's peace how oft, how dearly
bought ! How barb'rous rage subsided at your word, And nations wonder'd while they dropp'd
the sword ! How, when you nodded, o'er the land and
deep, Peace stole her wing, and wrapt the world
in sleep, Till earth's extremes your mediation owu, And Asia's tyrants tremble at your throne ! But verse, alas ! your Majesty disdains; And I'm not used to panegyric strains. The zeal of fools offends at any time, But most of all the zeal of fools in rhyme.
Besides, a Fate attends on all I write,
bite. A vile encomium doubly ridicules : There's nothing blackens like the ink of
fools. If true, a woful likeness; and, if lies, • Praise undeserv'd is scandal in disguise.' Well may he blush who gives it, or re
ceives; And when I flatter, let my dirty leaves (Like Journals, Odes, and such forgotten
things, As Eusden, Philips, Settle, writ of Kings) Clothe spice, line trunk, or, flutt'ring in a
row, Befringe the rails of Bedlam and Soho.