Imágenes de página



Thanks to our fortune, we pay none at all.
Let muckworms, who in dirty acres deal,
Lament those hardships which we cannot feel.
His grace, who smarts, may bellow if he please,
But must I bellow too, who sit at ease ?
By custom safe, the poet's numbers flow
Free as the light and air some years ago.
No statesman e'er will find it worth his pains
To tax our labours, and excise our brains.
Burthens like these, vile earthly buildings bear;
No tributes laid on castles in the air.

Let then the flames of war destructive reign,
And England's terrors awe imperious Spain ; 276
Let every venal clan and neutral tribe
Learn to receive conditions, not prescribe;
Let each new year call loud for new supplies,
And tax on tax with double burthen rise;
Exempt we sit, by no rude cares oppressid,
And, having little, are with little bless’d.
All real ills in dark oblivion lie,
And joys, by fancy form’d, their place supply ;
Night's laughing hours unheeded slip away,
Nor one dull thought foretells approach of day.



270 An additional tax on windows had been just then im posed by parliament to commence from the 5th of April, 1762: on which occasion many housekeepers put up their dead lights or outside shutters, and one citizen more poetic if not more patriotic than his neighbours, expressed his displeasure by inscribing in chalk, on his shutter, the following couplet, of which it may be truly said, facit indignatio versus:


Thus have we lived, and whilst the fates afford Plain plenty to supply the frugal board, Whilst Mirth with Decency, his lovely bride, 289 And wine's gay god, with Temperance by his side, Their welcome visit pay; whilst Health attends The narrow circle of our chosen friends; Whilst frank Good-humour consecrates the treat, And woman makes society complete, Thus will we live, though in our teeth are hurld Those hackney strumpets, Prudence and the World.

Prudence, of old a sacred term, implied Virtue, with godlike wisdom for her guide, But now in general use is known to mean The stalking-horse of vice, and folly's screen. The sense perverted we retain the name ; Hypocrisy and Prudence are the same.

A tutor once more read in men than books, A kind of crafty knowledge in his looks, Demurely sly, with high preferment bless'd, His favourite pupil in these words address’d: “Wouldst thou, my son, be wise and virtuous

deem'd, By all mankind a prodigy esteem’d?



“ These are those dismal taxing days of yore,

Which our forefathers never saw before." 277 Alluding to the severe precautions adopted by go vernment after the rebellion of 1745, and to some difficulties which occurred in carrying into effect Mr. Pitt's measure, proposed in 1757, for raising 2000 men in the Highlands of Scotland for the British service in America.



Be this thy rule; be what men Prudent call ;
Prudence, almighty Prudence, gives thee all. 310
Keep up appearances; there lies the test;
The world will give thee credit for the rest.
Outward be fair, however foul within ;
Sin if thou wilt, but then in secret sin.
This maxim's into common favour grown,
Vice is no longer vice, unless ’lis known.
Virtue indeed may barefaced take the field ;
But vice is virtue when 'tis well conceal'd.
Should raging passion drive thee to a whore,
Let Prudence lead thee to a postern door;
Stay out all night, but take especial care
That Prudence bring thee back to early prayer.
As one with watching and with study faint,
Reel in a drunkard, and reel out a saint.”

With joy the youth this useful lesson heard,
And in his memory stored each precious word,
Successfully pursued the plan, and now,
“ Room for my Lord— Virtue, stand by and bow.”

And is this all-is this the worldliny's art, To mask, but not amend a vicious heart? Shall lukewarm caution and demeanour grave For wise and good stamp every supple knave? Shall wretches, whom no real virtue warms,



310 Nullum numen abest si sit prudentia. This is the uni. form text of Lord Chesterfield's Letters to his Son, published in 1774. His lordship's precepts appear to have been anticipated by our author in this poem, and their material purport compressed in very few lines.



Gild fair their namies and states with empty forms,
While Virtue seeks in vain the wish'd for prize,
Because, disdaining ill, she hates disguise ;
Because she frankly pours forth all her store,
Seems what she is, and scorns to pass for more?
Well—be it so- let vile dissemblers hold
Unenvied power, and boast their dear-bought gold;
Me neither power shall tempt, nor thirst of pelf,
To flatter others or deny myself ;
Might the whole world be placed within my span,
I would not be that thing, that prudent man.

“ What!” cries Sir Pliant, “ would you then
Yourself, alone, against a host of foes ? [oppose
Let not conceit, and peevish lust to rail,
Above all sense of interest prevail.
Throw off, for shame! this petulance of wit;
Be wise, be modest, and for once submit:
Too hard the task ’gainst multitudes to fight;
You must be wrong; the World is in the right.”
What is this World ?-a term which men have got
To signify, not one in ten knows what;
A term, which with no more precision passes
To point out herds of men than herds of asses;
In common use no more it means, we find,
Than many fools in same opinions join'd.

Can numbers then change nature's stated laws? Can numbers make the worse the better cause? Vice must be vice, virtue be virtue still, Though thousands rail at good and practise ill. Wouldst thou defend the Gaul's destructive rage, Because vast nations on his part engage?





Though to support the rebel Cæsar's cause
Tumultuous legions arm against the laws :
Though scandal would our patriot's name impeach,
And rails at virtues which she cannot reach,

370 Mr. Pitt in September, 1761, indignant at the repeated insults offered to his country by Spain, proposed to the cabinet an immediate rupture with that court; in this proposition he was supported by Lord Temple, but was opposed by Lord Bute, and all the other members of the cabinet: upon which Mr. Pitt and Lord Temple took their leaves, and their written advice on the subject being rejected by his majesty, they resigned their seals of office into his hands on the 5th of October following. In addition to which, Lord Temple was dismissed from the Lord Lieutenancy of Bucks on the 7th of May, and Lord Le Despencer succeeded him on the 9th. Upon this event an article appeared in the London Gazette, stating their resignation, the appointment of the Earl of Egremont, as Mr. Pitt's successor in the situation of one of the principal Secretaries of State, and that, in consideration of the great and important services of Mr. Pitt, his majesty was pleased to grant to the Lady Hester Pitt the Barony of Chatham; and also to confer upon William Pitt, Esq. an annuity of £3000 during his own life, and that of his wife and their eldest son.

The moment the preceding intelligence was published, Mr. Pitt's character was assailed with the most ardent malignity and savage frenzy by all the hired servants of administration, and by some mistaken zealots of the opposite faction. They branded him in various newspapers and pamphlets with the names of pensioner, apostate, deserter, and with every term of reproach that malice could apply or depravity suggest. They succeeded so far as to occasion a temporary diminution of his character in the public esteem. In a few weeks, however, the public prejudice began to subside, and the torrent ran a contrary course. W he went into the city, on the ensuing Lord Mayor's Day, he was honoured in all the streets through which he passed with unbounded marks of applause

« AnteriorContinuar »