Imágenes de página


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.


140 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),


150 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, 120 Now for Prerogatives, and now for laws; One tragic sentence if I dare deride,

Effects unhappy, from a noble cause. 160 Which Betterton's grave action dignified, Time was, a sober Englishman would Or well - mouth'd Booth with emphasis

knock proclaims,

| 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

school. age!

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.

130 Sons, sires, and grandsires, all will wear He who, to seem more deep than you or 1, 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.

170 219 bite.

. When sick of Muse, our follies we deplore, Unhappy Dryden! - In all Charles's days And promise our best friends to rhyme no Roscommon only boasts unspotted bays; more,

And in our own (excuse some courtly We wake next morning in a raging fit,

stains) And call for pen and ink to show our wit. No whiter page than Addison remains. He served a 'prenticeship who sets up He from the taste obscene reclaims our shop;


youth, Ward tried on puppies and the poor his And sets the passions on the side of Truth, drop;

Forms the soft bosom with the gentlest Ev'n Radcliff's doctors travel first to Art, France,

And pours each human virtue in the heart. Nor dare to practise till they've learn'd to Let Ireland tell how wit upheld her cause, dance.

Her trade supported, and supplied her laws; Who builds a bridge that never drove a And leave on Swift this grateful verse enpile ?

graved, (Should Ripley venture, all the world would | The rights a Court attack'd, a Poet saved.' smile),

Behold the hand that wrought a Nation's But those who cannot write, and those who

cure, can,

Stretch'd to relieve the idiot and the poor; All rhyme, and scrawl, and scribble, to a Proud vice to brand, or injured worth adorn, man.

And stretch the ray to ages yet unborn. Yet, Sir, reflect; the mischief is not Not but there are, who merit other palms; great;

Hopkins and Sternhold glad the heart with These madmen never hurt the Church or


230 State:

190 The boys and girls whom charity mainSometimes the folly benefits mankind,

tains And rarely av'rice taints the tuneful mind. Implore your help in these pathetic strains: Allow him but his plaything of a Pen, How could Devotion touch the country He ne'er rebels, or plots, like other men:

pews Flight of cashiers, or mobs, he 'll never Unless the Gods bestow'd a proper Muse ?

Verse cheers their leisure, verse assists And knows no losses while the Muse is their work, kind.

Verse prays for peace, or sings down pope To cheat a friend or ward, he leaves to

and Turk. Peter;

The silenced preacher yields to potent The good man heaps up nothing but mere

strain, metre,

And feels that Grace his prayer besought Enjoys his Garden and his Book in quiet;

in vain; And then - a perfect hermit in his diet. 200 The blessing thrills thro' all the lab'ring

Of little use the man you may suppose Who says in verse what others say in And Heav'n is won by violence of song. 240 prose;

Our rural ancestors, with little blest, Yet let me show a Poet's of some weight, Patient of labour when the end was rest, And (tho' no soldier) useful to the State. | Indulged the day that housed their annual What will a child learn sooner than a song ?

grain What better teach a foreigner the tongnie — With feasts, and off'rings, and a thankful What's long or short, each accent where

strain. to place,

The joy their wives, their sons, and serAnd speak in public with some sort of

vants share, grace ?

Ease of their toil, and partners of their I scarce can think him such a worthless

care: thing,

The Laugh, the Jest, attendants on the Unless he praise some monster of a King; I bowl, Or virtue or religion turn to sport,

Smooth'd ev'ry brow, and open'd ev'ry To please a lewd or unbelieving Court.


her men:

48, or mobs

And ,mind,




Witb growing years the pleasing license But in known images of life I guess grew,

The labour greater, as th' indulgence less. And taunts alternate innocently flew. 250 Observe how seldom ev'n the best succeed: But Times corrupt, and Nature, ill inclin'd, Tell me if Congreve's fools are fools inProduced the poiut that left a sting be

deed ? hind;

What pert low dialogue has Farquhar writ! Till friend with friend, and families at How Van wants grace, who never wanted strife,

wit: Triumphant malice raged thro' private life. The stage how loosely does Astrea tread, Who felt the wrong, or fear'd it, took th' Who fairly puts all characters to bed! 291 alarm,

And idle Cibber, how he breaks the laws, Appeal'd to law, and Justice lent her arm. To make poor Pinkey eat with vast apAt length by wholesome dread of statutes

plause ! bound,

But fill their purse, our poet's work is The poets learn'd to please, and not to

done, wound :

Alike to them by pathos or by pun. Most warp'd to Flatt’ry's side; but some, O you! whom Vanity's light bark conmore nice,

veys Preserv'd the freedom, and forbore the On Fame's mad voyage by the wind of


praise, Hence Satire rose, that just the medium hit, With what a shifting gale your course you And heals with morals what it hurts with

ply, wit.

For ever sunk too low, or borne too high. We conquer'd France, but felt our captive's Who pants for,glory finds but short repose; charms,

A breath revives him, or a breath o'erHer arts victorious triumph'd o'er our


301 arms;

Farewell the Stage! if just as thrives tie Britain to soft refinements less a foe, Wit grew polite, and numbers learn'd to The silly bard grows fat or falls away. flow.

There still remains, to mortify a Wit, Waller was smooth; but Dryden taught The many-headed monster of the pit; to join

A senseless, worthless, and unhonour'd The varying verse, the full resounding

crowd, line,

Who, to disturb their betters, mighty The long majestic march, and energy divine:

Clatt'ring their sticks before ten lines are Tho' still some traces of our rustic vein 270

spoke, And splay-foot verse remain'd, and will re Call for the Farce, the Bear, or the Blackmain.

309 Late, very late, correctness grew our care, What dear delight to Britons farce affords! When the tired nation breathed from civil Ever the taste of Mobs, but now of Lords: war.

(Taste! that eternal wanderer, which flies Exact Racine and Corneille's noble fire From heads to ears, and now from ears to Show'd us that France had something to

eyes.) admire.

The play stands still; damn action and disNot but the tragic spirit was our own,

course! And full in Shakespeare, fair in Otway, Back fly the scenes, and enter foot and shone;

horse; But Otway fail'd to polish or refine,

Pageants on pageants, in long order drawn, And fluent Shakespeare scarce effaced a Peers, heralds, bishops, ermine, gold, and line.

lawn; Ev'n copious Dıyden wanted, or forgot, 280 | The Champion too! and, to complete the The last and greatest art — the art to blot.

jest, Some doubt if equal pains or equal fire Old Edward's armour beams on Cibber's The humbler Muse of Comedy require.







With laughter sure Democritus had died,
Had he be held an audience gape so wide.
Let bear or elephant be e'er so white,
The people sure, the people are the sight!
Ah, luckless Poet! stretch thy lungs and

That bear or elephant shall heed thee more;
While all its throats the gallery extends,
And all the thunder of the pit ascends!
Loud as the wolves on Orcas' stormy steep
Howl to the roarings of the northern deep,
Such is the shout, the long applauding

- 330 At Quin's high plume, or Oldfield's petti

coat; Or when from court a birthday suit be

stow'd, Sinks the lost actor in the tawdry load. Booth enters — hark! the universal peal! • But has he spoken ?' – Not a syllable. •What shook the stage, and made the peo

ple stare ?' Cato's long wig, flower'd gown, and lack

er'd chair. Yes, lest you think I rally more than

teach, Or praise malignly arts I cannot reach, Let me for once presume t' instruct the

times, To know the Poet from the man of rhymes: 'T is he who gives my breast a thousand

Can make me feel each passion that he

Enrage, compose, with more than magic art,
With pity and with terror tear my heart,
And snatch me o'er the earth, or thro' the

To Thebes, to Athens, when he will, and

where, But not this part of the poetic state Alone deserves the favour of the great. Think of those authors, Sir, who would rely

350 More on a reader's sense than gazer's eye. Or who shall wander where the Muses sing ? Who climb their mountain, or who taste

their spring ? How shall we fill a library with Wit, When Merlin's Cave is half unfurnish'd

yet? My liege! why writers little claim your

thought I guess, and, with their leave, will tell the

We Poets are (upon a poet's word)
Of all mankind the creatures most absurd:
The season when to come, and when to go,
To sing, or cease to sing, we never know;
And if we will recite nine hours in ten, 362
You lose your patience just like other
Then, too, we hurt ourselves when, to de-

A single verse, we quarrel with a friend;
Repeat, unask'd ; lament, the wit's too fine
For vulgar eyes, and point out every line:
But most when straining with too weak a

We needs will write epistles to the King ;
And from the moment we oblige the town,
Expect a Place or Pension from the Crown;
Or dubb’d historians by express command,
T enrol your triumphs o'er the seas and

Be call’d to Court to plan some work di-

As once for Louis, Boileau and Racine.

Yet think, great Sir! (so many virtues
L shown)
Ah! think what poet best may make them

Or choose at least some minister of grace,
Fit to bestow the Laureate's weighty place.
Charles, to late times to be transmitted

Assign'd his figure to Bernini's care;
And great Nassau to Kneller's hand de-

creed To fix him graceful on the bounding steed: So well in paint and stone they judg’d of

merit; But Kings in Wit may want discerning

The hero William, and the martyr Charles,
One knighted Blackmore, and one pension'd

Which made old Ben and surly Dennis

•No Lord's anointed, but a Russian bear.'

Not with such majesty, such bold relief,
The forms august of King, or conquering

E'er swelld on marble, as in verse have

(In polish'd verse) the manners and the

mind. O! could I mount on the Mæonian wing, Your arms, your actions, your repose, to





[ocr errors]

What seas you travers’d, and what fields Besides, a Fate attends on all I write, you fought!

That when I aim at praise they say I Your country's peace how oft, how dearly bought !

A vile encomium doubly ridicules : How barb'rous rage subsided at your word, There's nothing blackens like the ink of And nations wonder'd wbile they dropp'd

fools. the sword !

If true, a woful likeness; and, if lies, How, when you nodded, o'er the land and • Praise undeserv'd is scandal in disguise.' deep,

| Well may he blush who gives it, or rePeace stole her wing, and wrapt the world

ceives; in sleep,

And when I fatter, let my dirty leaves Till earth's extremes your mediation owu, (Like Journals, Odes, and such forgotten And Asia's tyrants tremble at your throne !

things, But verse, alas ! your Majesty disdains; As Eusden, Philips, Settle, writ of Kings) And I'm not used to panegyric strains. Clothe spice, line trunk, or, flutt'ring in a The zeal of fools offends at any time,

row, But most of all the zeal of fools in rhyme. | Befringe the rails of Bedlam and Soho.


« AnteriorContinuar »