Imágenes de página
PDF

Yet, lest you think I rally more than teach, Or praise malignly arts I cannot reach, Let me for once presunie to’instruct the times, 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 feigus; Enrage, compose, with more than magic art, With pity and with terror tear my heart, And snatch me o'er the earth, or through the air, To Thebes, to Athens, when be 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 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 thonght I guess, and, with their leave, will tell the fault. 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, You lose your patience just like other men. Then, too, we hurt ourselves when, to defend 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 wing We needs will write epistles to the king; And from the moment we oblige the town, Expect a place or pension from the crowd ;

Or dub'd historians, by express command,
To' enroll your triumphs o'er the seas and land,
Be call'd to court to plan some work divine,
As once for Louis, Boileau and Racine.

Yet think, great sir! (so many virtues shown)
Ah! think what poet best may make them knowo:
Or choose at least some minister of grace,
Fit to bestow the laureat's weightý place.

Charles, to late times to be transmitted fair, Assign'd his figure to Bernini's care; And great Nassau to Kneller's hand decreed 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 spirit. The hero William, and the martyr Charles, One knighted Blackmore,and one pension'dQuarles, Which made old Ben and surly Dennis swear • No Lord's anointed, but a Russian bear.'

Not with such majesty, such bold relief, The forms august of king, or conquering chief, E'er swelld on marble, as in verse have shin'd (In polish'd verse) the manners and the mind. O! could I mount on the Mæonian wing, Your arms, your actions, your repose, to sing ! What seas you travers’d, and what fields you fought! Your country's peace how oft, how dearly bought! How barbarous rage subsided at your word, And nations wonderd while they dropt the sword ! How, when you podded, o'er the land and deep Peace stole her wing, and wrapt the world in sleep, Till earth's extremes your mediation own, And Asia's tyrants tremble at your throneBut verse, alas ! your majesty disdains : And I'm not us'd to panegyric-strains.

estrains.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

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;
There's nothing blackens like the ink of fools.
If true, a woefal likeness; and, if lies,
• Praise undeserv'd is scandal in disguise.'
Well may be blush who gives it, or receives ;
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 trunks, or, fluttering in a row,
Befringe the rails of Bedlam and Soho.

BOOK II. EPISTLE II.

Ludentis speciem dabit, et torquebitur.

HOR.

Dear col’nel, Cobham's and your country's friend!
You love a verse; take such as I can send.
· A Frenchman comes, presents you with his boy,
Bows and begins This lad, sir, is of Blois :
Observe his shape how clean! his locks how curld!
My only son, I'd have him see the world :
His French is pure; his voice touyou shall bear.
Sir, he's your slave for twenty pound a-year.
Mere wax as yet, you fashion him with ease,
Your barber, cook, upholsterer ; what you please :
A perfect genius at an opera song-
To say too inuch, miglit do my honour wrong..

Take him with all his virtnes, on my word ;
His whole ambition was to serve a lord.
But, sir, to you with what would I not part?
Though, faith, I fear 'twill break his mother's heart.
Once (and but once) I canght him in a lie,
And then, unwhip’d, he had the grace to cry:
The fanlt he bas 1 fairly shall reveal,
(Conld you o'erlook but that) it is to steal.?

If, after this, you took the graceless lad,
Could you complain, my friend, he prov'd so bad
Faith, in such case, if you should prosecute,
I think Sir Godfrey should decide the suit ;
Who sent the thief, that stole the cash, away,
And punish'd him that put it in his way.

Consider then, and judge me in this light;
I told you when I went I could not write ;
Yon said the same ; and are you discontent
With laws to which you gave your own assent?
Nay, worse, to ask for verse at such a time!
D'ye think me good for nothing but to rhyme?

In Anna's wars a soldier, poor and old,
Had dearly earn'd a little purse of gold:
Tir'd in a tedious march, one luckless night
He slept, (poor dog !) and lost it, to a doit.
This put the man in such a desperate mind,
Between revenge, and grief, and hunger join'd,
Against the foe, himself, and all mankind,
He leap'd the trenches, scald a castle wall,
Tore down a standard, took the fort and all.
• Prodigious well!' his great commander cried,
Gave him much praise, and some reward beside.
Next pleas'd his excellence a town to batter;
(Its name I know not, and 'tis no great matter,)
• Go on, my friend, (he cried) see yonder walls!
Advance and conquer: go where glory calls !

VOL. III.

More bonours, more rewards, attend the brave.'
Don't you remeniber what reply be gave?-
• D’ye think me, noble general! such a sot?
Let him take castles who has ne'er a groat.'

Bred up at home, full early I begun
To read in Greek the wrath of Peleus' son :
Besides, my father taught me from a lad
The better art, to kpow the good from bad;
(And little sure imported to remove,
To hunt for truth in Maudlin's learned grove)
But knottier points, we knew not half so well,
Depriy'd us soon of our paternal cell;
And certain laws, by sufferers thought unjust,
Denied all posts of profit or of trust;
Hopes after hopes of pions papists fail'd,
While mighty William's thundering arm prevail'd.
For right hereditary tạx'd and find,
He stuck to poverty with peace of mind;
And me, the Muses help'd to undergo it;
Convict a papist he, and I a poet.
But (thanks to Homer) since I live and thrive,
Indebted to po prince or peer alive :
Sure I should want the care of ten Monroes,
If I would scribble rather than repose.

Years following years steal something every day, At last they steal us from ourselves away; In one our frolics, one amusements end, In one a mistress drops, in one a friend. This subtle thief of life, this paltry time, What will it leave me if it snatch my rhyme? If every wheel of that unwearied mill, That turn'd ten thousand verses, now stands still?

But, after all, what would you have me do, When out of twenty I can please not two ?

« AnteriorContinuar »