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Another fable, or rather episode, he has inserted, in -which, with great humour he employs the heathen Gods and Goddesses in making materials to set up a black-shoe bey, who was son to the Goddess Cloacina, whence the poet derives the origin of that trade; ar.d what makes it yet more droll and diverting, he has gravely introduced .it with a ridicule on one of the rules laid down to rend:r these sort of poems the more agreeable.
What though the gath'ring mire thy feet besmear,
The voice of industry is always near.
Hark, the boy calls thee to his destin'd stand,
And the shoe shines beneath his oily hand.
Here let the muse, fatigu'd amid the throng,
Adorn her precepts with digressive song;
Of shirtless youths the secret rise to trace,
And show the parent of the fable race.
Like mortal man, great Jove (grown sond of change)
Of old was wont this nether world to range
To seek amours; the vice the monarch lov'd
Soon through the wide ethereal court improv'd,
And e'en the proudest Goddess now and then
Would lodge a night among the sons of men;
To vulgar deities descends the fashion,
Each, like her better;, had her earthly passion.
Then Cloacina (Goddess of the tide
Whose fable streams beneath the city glide)
Indulg'd the modish flame; the town she rov'd;
A mortal scavenger she faw, (he lov'd;
The muddy spots that dry'd upon his face,
Like semale patches, heighten'd ev'ry grace:
She gaz'd, she sigh'd. For love can beauties spy
In what seems faults to every common eye.
Now had the watchman walk'd his second round;
When Cloacina hears the rumbling sound
Of her brown lover's cart, for well she knows
That pleasing thunder: swift the Goddess rose,
And through the streets pursu'd the distant noise,
Her bosom panting with expected joys.
With the night-wandring harlot's airs she past,
Brush'd near his side, and wanton glances cast;
In the black form of cinder-wench she came,
When love, the hour, the place, had banish'd shame;
To the dark alley arm in arm they move:
O may no link-boy interrupt their love.
When the pale moon had nine times sill'd her space,
The pregnant Goddess (cautious of disgrace)
Descends to earth; but sought no midwise's aid,
Nor midst her anguish to Lucinda pray'd;
No cheersul gossip wifh'd the mother joy,
Alone, beneath a bulk she dropt the boy.
The child through various risques in years improv'd.
At sirst a beggar's brat, compassion mov'd;
His infant tongue soon learnt the canting art,
Knew all the pray'rs and whines to touch the heart.
Oh happy unown'd youths, your limbs can bear
The scorching dog-star, and the winter's air,
While the rich infant, nurs'd with care and pain,
Thirsts with each heat, and coughs with ev'ry rain f
The Goddess long had mark'd the child's distress,
And long had sought his suff'rings to redress;
She prays the Gods to take the fondling's part,
To teach his hands some benesicial art
Practis'd in streets: the Gods her suit allow'd,
And made him usesul to the walking croud,
To cleanse the miry seet, and o'er the shoe
With nimble skill the glossy black renew,
Each power contributes to relieve the poor:
With the strong bristles of the mighty boar
Diana forms his brush; the God of day
A tripod gives, amid the crouded way
To raise the dirty foot, and ease his toil;
Kind Neptune sills his vase with setid oil
Prest from th' enormous whale : the God of sire,
From whose dominions smoky clouds aspire,
Among these gen'rous presents joins his part,
And aids with foot the new japanning art;
Pleas'd she-receives the gifts; (he downward glides,
Lights in Fleet-ditch, and shoots beneath the tides.
Now dawns the morn, the sturdy lad awakes,
Leaps from his stall, his tangled hair he shakes,
Then leaning o'er the rails, he mu.sing stood,
And view'd below the black canal of mud,
Where common shores a lulling murmur keep,
Whose torrents rush from Holbourn'i fatal steep:
Pensive through idleness, tears flow'd apace,
Which eas'd his loaded heart, and wafiVd his face;
At length he sighing cry'd ; That boy was blest,
Whose infant lips have drain'd a mother's breast;
But happier far are those, (if such be known)
Whom both a father and a mother own:
But I, alas! hard fortune's utmost scorn,
Who ne'er knew parent, was an orphan horn'!
Some boys are rich by birth beyond all wants,
Belov'd by uncles, and kind good old aunts;
When times comes round, a Chrisunas box they bear,
And one day makes them rich for all the year.
Had I the precepts of a father learn'd,
Perhaps I then the coachman's fare had earn'd,
For lesser boys can drive; I thirsty stand
And see the double flaggon charge their hand,
See them puff off the froth, and gulp amain,
While with" dry tongue Hick my lips in vain.
While thus he servent prays, the heaving tide
In widen'd circles beats on either side;
The Goddess rose amid the inmost round,
With wither'd turnip-tops her temples crown'd;
Low reach'd her dripping tresses, lank, and black
As the smooth jet, or glossy raven's back.;
Around her waist a circling eel was twin'd,
Which bound her robe that hung in rags behind.
Now beck'ning to the boy; she thus begun;
Thy prayers are granted; weep no more, my son:
Go thrive. At some frequented corner stand,
This brush I give thee, grasp it in thy hand.
Temper the soot within this vase of oil,
And let the little tripod aid thy toil;
On this methinks I fee the walking crew,
At thy. request support the miry shoe,
The foot grows black that was with dirt embrown'd,
And in thy pocket gingling halspence found.
The Goddess plunges swift beneath the flood,
And dashes all around her show'rs of mud;
The youth straight chose his post; the labour ply'd,
Where branching streets sioiq Charing-cross divide;
His treble voice resounds, along the Meufi,
And Whitehall echoes Clean your honour's Jhoes.
Episodes, and poetical sictions, properly introduc'd, have a most admirable effect in preceptive poetry ; sor they take off the attention of the mind, when fatigued with dry precepts, and lead it to subjects that are entertaining. They may, in this respect, be compared to inns placed at proper distances on the road, where, when a man is tired, he may stop toTefreih himself.
But the humour and art of this author is so powersul, that he can make us laugh even at circumstances that should excite a different senfation; as will appear by the following description.
O roving muse, recal that wondrous year.
When winter reign'd in bleak Britannia's air;
When hoary Thames, with frosted osiers crown'd,
Was three long moons in icy setters bound.
The waterman, forlorn along the shore,
Pensive reclines upon his useless oar,
See harness'd steeds desert the stony town;
And wander roads unstable, not their own:
Wheels o'er the harden'd waters smoothly glide,
And raise with whiten'd tracks the flipp'ry tide.
Here the fat cook piles high the blazing sire,
And scarce the spit can turn the steer entire.
Booths sudden hide the Thames, long streets appear,
And num'rous games proclaim the crouded fair,
So when a gen'ral bids the martial train
Spread their incampment o'er the spacious plain;
Thick rising tents a canvas city build,
And the loud dice resound thro' all the sield.
'Twas here the matron found a dolesul fate:
Let elegiac lay the woe relate,
Soft as the breath of distant flutes, at hours
When silent ev'ning closes up the flow'rs;
Lolling as falling water's hollow noise;
Indulging grief, like Philomelas voice.
Doll ev'ry day had walk'd these trcach'rous roads;
Her neck grew wrapt beneath autumnal loads
Of varioui fruits; she now a basket bore,
That head alas! shall basket bear no more.
Each booth she frequent past, in quest of gain,
And boys with pleasure heard her shrilling strain.
Ah Doll! all mortals must resign their breath,
And industry itself submit to death!
The cracking crystal yields, she sinks, she dies,
Her head choptoff, from her lost shoulders slies;
Pippins she cry'd, but death her voice confounds,
And Pip pip-pip along the ice resounds.
We should here treat of those preceptive poems that teach the art of poetry itself, of which there are many that deserve particular attention; but we have anticipated our design, and render'd any farther notice of them in a manner useless, by the observations we have made in the course of this work. We ought however to remark, that Horace was the only poet among the ancients, who wrote precepts for poetry in verse, at least his epistle to the Pijo's is the only piece of the kind that has been handed down to us; and that is so persect it seems almost to have precluded the necessity of any other. Among the moderns we have several that are justly admired, which the reader will sind, occasionally mentioned in disserent parts of this volume.
We are now to speak of those precepts that respect criticism; and here we shall be obliged to draw all our examples from Mr. Pope, who is, perhaps., the only author that has laid down rules in this manner for the direction of the judgment. His essay is of a mix'd nature, aud may not improperly be called the Art os Poetry as well as Criticism. This, however, is not to be considered as a blemish, but a beauty in his production.
Mr. Pope introduces his poem with this very just observation, that it is as great a fault to judge ill, as to write ill, and more dangeious to the publick. He then proceeds to shew, that a true taste is as difficult to be found as a true genius; and observes, that tho' most men are born with some taste, yet it is generally spoiled by a false education. He takes notice of the multitude of critics, and tells us in the-following lines that we ought to study our