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Or when from court a birth-day suit bestow'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 people
stare ?'• Cato's long wig, flower'd gown, and lacker'd
chair.' Yet, lest you think I rally more than teach, Or praise malignly arts I cannot reach; Let me for once presume to instruct the times 340 To know the poet from the man of rhymes : 'Tis he, who gives my breast a thousand pains ; Can make me feel each passion that he feigns ;
337 Cato's long wig. Few things in even the capricious history of taste are more extraordinary than the absolute barbarism of our ancestors in stage costume. Imogen in a hoop-petticoat, with a fly-cap, and a tower of powdered curls on her innocent head! Macbeth, in the full dress of an English general officer of the days of George Il. with a laced uniform, bag wig, and court sword, invoking the demons ! and old Lear raving to the vexed winds in a judge's wig and robes! It is scarcely possible to imagine the existence of theatric illusion under such absurdities.
343 Can make me feel each passion that he feigns. Hurd falls into the curious error of conceiving that tragedy is an inferior effort of genius to comedy; for the reason, that tragedy produces its end, the pathetic, by action ; while comedy produces its end, the humorous, by character ; it being more difficult to paint manners than to plan action. To this short-sighted dogma, the obvious answer has been given ;- - that tragedy does much more than plan action; that it paints passion : that, unlike and superior to comedy, which adopts only the language and describes only the manners of the hour, it adopts the language of nature, and is mistress of the manners of all ages. But, if a mediocre tragedy is the easiest work of man, as is evident from the multitude that have crowded the stage and perished; that a great tragedy is the most difficult achieve.
Enrage, compose, with more than magic art;
But not this part of the poetic state
spring? How shall we fill a library with wit, When Merlin's cave is half unfinish'd yet?
My liege! why writers little claim your thought, I guess ; and, with their leave, will tell the fault:
ment of genius, is not less evident from the infrequency of its appearance. . Of Greece, but three tragic writers survive ; of France, but Corneille and Racine ; of Germany, but Schiller ; of England, Shakspeare alone keeps unquestioned possession of the stage-Shakspeare, superior to all the past of mankind, from his incontestable superiority of passion, vividness, and insight into the soul.
349 Deserves the favor of the great. The authors of George II's day frequently advert to the royal neglect of patronage ; but the king, a German born, busied with foreign wars, and still more busied by the perpetual turbulence of faction at home, could have found but little leisure for the calmer appeals of letters. Yet the anecdote recorded of him by Warton is unlucky: some one in the royal presence happening to mention Milton, with the due panegyric; the monarch asked, “Who he was ?' On being answered ;– Pho! pho !' said the king : 'why did he not write bis · Paradise Lost' in prose? It is only justice to say, that the taste and education of his successors have been more suitable to their high dignity.
355 Merlin's cave. A building in the royal gardens of Richmond, where is a small, but choice collection of books. Pope.
We poets are, (upon a poet's word)
Yet think, great sir, (so many virtues shown) Ah, think, what poet best may make them known; Or choose at least some minister of
grace, Fit to bestow the laureat's weighty place.
Charles, to late times to be transmitted fair, 380 Assign'd his figure to Bernini's care;
381 To Bernini's care. A striking anecdote of the physiognomical skill of this famous sculptor is given by Warburton, from a Ms. of Panzani, the pope's agent. Henrietta Maria wrote to cardinal Barberini to procure two busts, one of Charles, and one of herself, from the sculptor; mentioning the king's exquisite taste in the arts. Bernini, on seeing the picture which was sent to him for his model, instantly observed such melancholic lines, that they in a manner spoke some dismal fate that would befall the person so represented.' Yet why a melancholy countenance should predict a melancholy fate, is not easily comprehended. It is much more probable, that the artist, accustomed to the study of the human features, saw in the countenance of the future victim of faction that feebleness of temperament, and indecision of purpose, which were the true causes of his ruin.
And great Nassau to Kneller's hand decreed
Quarles; Which made old Ben and surly Dennis swear, • No Lord's anointed, but a Russiaŋ bear.'
Not with such majesty, such bold relief, The forms august of king or conquering chief E’er swellid on marble, as in verse have shined (In polish'd verse) the manners and the mind. 0, could I mount on the Mæonian wing, Your arms, your
your repose to sing ! 395 What seas you traversed, and what fields you
fought! Your country's peace, how oft, how dearly bought!
300 Not with such majesty. The close of this poem is a tissue of angry reflections on royal patronage. Pope should have disdained such querulousness, and enjoyed himself in the knowlege that his genius placed him above the necessity of protection by any rank. Pensions for literature may be important to the character of kings, as a proof that they have the taste or the wisdom to honor the great source of national civilisation ; but the writer who feels no dignity in independence can derive no fame from a pension. The craving for ribands and orders belongs to the Continent: no decoration on the coat can add true honor to the man of learning, genius, or virtue. Yet those who are fond of factitious honor will crave alike in every land.
How barbarous rage subsided at your word,
sword ! How, when you nodded, o'er the land and deep, Peace stole her wing, and wrapp'd the world in sleep;
401 Till earth's extremes your mediation own, And Asia's tyrants tremble at your throne ! But verse, alas ! your majesty disdains, And I'm not used to panegyric strains : 405 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, That when I aim at praise, they say I bite. A vile encomium doubly ridicules:
410 There's nothing blackens like the ink of fools. If true, a woful likeness; and if lies, Praise undeserved is scandal in disguise :' Well may he blush, who gives it or receives; And when I flatter, let my dirty leaves 415 (Like Journals, Odes, and such forgotten things As Eusden, Philips, Settle writ of kings) Clothe spice, line trunks, or, fluttering in a row, Befringe the rails of Bedlam and Soho.