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Repeat unasked; lament, the wit's too fine
For vulgar eyes, and point out ev'ry line.
But most, when straining with too weak a wing,
We needs will write epistles to the king; .
And from that moment we oblige the town,
Expect a place, or pension from the crown;
Or dubbed historians, by express command,
To enroll your triumphs o’er the seas and land,
Be called 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 known?
Or choose at least some minister of grace,
Fit to bestow the laureate's weighty place.'
Charles, to late times to be transmitted fair Assigned 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 judged of merit: But kings in wit may want discerning spirit. The hero William, and the martyr Charles, One knighted Blackmore, and one pensioned Quarles; 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 swelled on marble, as in verse have shined (In polished verse) the manners and the mind. Oh! could I mount on the Mæonian wing, Your arms, your actions, your repose to sing! What seas you traversed, and what fields you fought! Your country's peace, how oft, how dearly bought! How barb'rous rage subsided at your word,
And nations wondered while they dropped the sword I
How, when you nodded, 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 throne-
But verse, alas! your majesty disdains;
And I'm not used to panegyric strains:
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 ecomium doubly ridicules:
There's nothing blackens like the ink of fools.
If true, a woeful 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
(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.
THE SECOND EPISTLE OF THE
SECOND BOOK OF HORACE.
Ludentis speciem dabit, et torquebitur.- Hor., ver. 124.
DEAR colonel, Cobham's and you 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: 9
Observe his shape how clean! his locks how curled!
My only son, I'd have him see the world:
His French is pure; his voice too—you shall hear.
Sir, he's your slave for twenty pounds a year.
Mere wax as yet, you fashion him with ease,
Your barber, cook, upholst'rer, what you please:
A perfect genius at an op'ra-song-
To say too much, might do my honour wrong.
Take him with all his virtues, 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 caught him in a lie,
And then, unwhipped, he had the grace to cry:
The fault he has I fairly shall reveal,
(Could you o'erlook but that) it is to steal.”
If, after this, you took the graceless lad,
Could you complain, my friend, he proved so bad ?
Faith, in such case, if you should persecute,
I think Sir Godfrey should decide the suit;
Who sent the thief that stole the cash away, .
And punished 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;
You 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 earned a little purse of gold;
Tired with a tedious march, one luckless night,
He slept, poor dog! and lost it, to a doit.
This put the man in such a desp’rate mind,
Between revenge, and grief, and hunger joined
Against the foe, himself, and all mankind,
He leaped the trenches, scaled 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 pleased 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 !
More honours, more rewards, attend the brave,”
1 An eminent justice of peace who decided much in the mūnnei of Sancho Pancha.-Pop
Sir Godfrey Kneller.- Warburton.
Don't you remember what reply he gave?
“D'ye think me, noble gen’ral, such a sot?
Let him take castles who has ne'er a groat.”
Bred up at home, full early I began
To read in Greek the wrath of Peleus' son.'
Besides, my father taught me from a lad,
The better art to know 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.
Deprived 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 pious papists failed,
While mighty William's thund'ring arm prevailed,
For right hereditary taxed and fined,
He stuck to poverty with peace of mind;.
And me, the muses helped to undergo it;
Convict a papist he, and I a poet.
But (thanks to Homer) since I live and thrive,
Indebted to no 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 ev'ry wheel of that unwearied mill,
That turned ten thousand verses, now stands still?
But after all, what would you have me do?
When out of twenty I can please not two;
When this heroics only deigns to praise,
Sharp satire that, and that Pindaric lays ?
One likes the pheasant's wing, and one the leg;
1 Homer. Achilles was Peleus' son.
2 He had a partiality for Magılalen College where he used to stay with his friend Mr. Digby:- Warton..
3 Pope alludes to the unjust laws against Papists; especially to the orders issued by government for the removal of Roman Catholics to a certain distance from London.
4 Pope's father.
6 Pope made a competence by his translation of Homer.
Dr. Monroe, physician to Bedlam Hospital.- Warburton.
The vulgar boil, the learned roast an egg;
Hard task! to hit the palate of such guests,
When Oldfield loves what Dartineufdetests.
But grant I may relapse, for want of grace,
Again to rhyme, can London be the place?
Who there his muse, or self, or soul attends,
In crowds, and courts, law, business, feasts, and
My counsel sends to execute a deed; [friends?
A poet begs me, I will hear him read;
“In palace-yard at nine you'll find me there-
At ten for certain, sir, in Bloomsbury Square-
Before the lords at twelve my cause comes on-
There's a rehearsal, sir, exact at one.”—
“Oh, but a wit can study in the streets,
And raise his mind above the mob he meets."
Not quite so well however as one ought;
A hackney coach may chance to spoil a thought;
And then a nodding beam, or pig of lead,
God knows, may hurt the very ablest head.
Have you not seen, at Guildhall's narrow pass,
Two aldermen dispute it with an ass ?
And peers give way, exalted as they are,
Even to their own S-r-v—nce in a car?
· Go lofty poet! and in such a crowd,
Sing thy sonorous verse—but not aloud.
Alas! to grottos and to groves we run,
To ease and silence, every muse's son:
Blackmore himself, for any grand effort,
Would drink and dose at Tooting or Earl's Court,
How shall I rhyme in this eternal roar? [before ?
How match the bards whom none e'er matched
The man, who, stretched in Isis' calm retreat,
To books and study gives seven years complete,
See! strewed with learned dust, his night-cap on,
He walks, an object new beneath the sun!
The boys flock round him, and the people stare:
So stiff, so mute! some statue you would swear,
Stepped from his pedestal to take the air!
And here, while town, and court, and city roars,
With mobs, and duns, and soldiers, at their doors;
Shall I, in London, act this idle part?
Composing songs, for fools to get by heart?