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Then marble , foften'd into life, grew warm ,
And yielding metal flowd to human form:
Lely on animated canvas stole
The sleepy eye, that spoke the melting soul.
No wonder then, when all was love and sport,
The willing Muses were debauch'd at court :
On cach enervate ftring they caught the note
To pant, or tremble thro' an eunuch's throat,
Bur Britain, changeful as a child at play,
Now calls in princes, and now turns away.
Now Whig, now Tory, what we lov'd we hate ;
Now.all for pleasure, now for church and Itare ;
Now for prerogative , and now for laws
Effects unhappy ! from a noble cause.
Time was, a sober Englishman would knock His servants up, and rise by five o'clock, Instruct his family in ev'ry rule, And send his wife to church, his son to school. To worship like his fathers, was his care ; To teach their frugal virtues to his heir ; To prove , that luxury could never hold; And place, on good security, his guld. Now times are chang'd, and one poetic itch Has seiz'd the court and city , poor and rich : Sons, fires, and grandfires, all will wear the bays, Our wives read Milton, and our daughters plays, To theatres, and to Rehearsals throng, And all our grace at table is a song. I, who so oft renounce the Muses, lye , Not's self e'er tells more fibs thạn l; When fick of Muse, our follies we deplore,
And promise our best friends to rhyme no more ;
We wake next morning in a raging fit,
And call for pen and ink to show our wit.
He serv'd a 'prenticeship, who sets up shop;
Ward try'd on puppies, and the poor , his drop;
Ev'n Radcliff's doctors travel first to France,
Nor dare to practise till they've learn'd to dance.
Who builds a bridge that never drove a pile ?
( Should Ripley venture, all the world would smile )
But those who cannot write, and those who can,
All rhyme, and scrawl, and scribble, to a man.
Yet, Sir, reflect, the mischief is not great; These madmen never hurt the church or state : Sometimes the folly benefits mankind; And rarely av'rice taints the tuneful mind. Allow him but his plaything of a pen, He ne'er rebels, or plots , like other men : Flight of cashiers, or mobs, he'll never mind; And knows no losses while the Mufe is kind. To cheat a friend, or ward , he leaves to Peter ; The good man heaps up nothing but mere metre, Enjoys his garden and his book in qniet ; And then a perfect hermit in his diet.
Of little use the man you may suppose, Who says in verse what others say in prose; Yet let me show, a poet's of some weight, And (tho' no soldier ) useful to the state. What will a child learn sooner than a song! What better teach a foreigner the tongue ? What's long or short , each accent where to place, And Speak in public with some sort of grace.
I scarce can think him such a worthiess thing,
Unless he prai'e some monter of a king i
Or virtue , or religion turn to sport,
To please a lewd, or unbelieving court.
Unhappy Dryden! Iu all Charles's days,
Roscominon only boaits unfported ways ;
And in our own (excuse some courtly itains)
No whiter page than Addison remains.
He, from the taste obscene reclaims our youth,
And lets the pallions on the side of truth,
Forins the foti botom with the gentlest art,
And pours each human virtu: in the heart.
Lei Ireland tell, how wit upheld her cause,
Her trade supported, and supplied her lawsa
And leave on Swift this grateful verse in gravid,
» The rights a court attack'd, for'a ..
Behold the hand that wrought a nation's cure,
Stretch'd to relieve the idiot and the
Proud vice to brand, or injur'd worth adorn,
And itretch the ray to ages yet unborn.
Not but there who merit other palms ;
Hopkins and Sternhold glad the heart with psalms :
The boys and girls whom charity maintains,
Implore your help in these pathetic strains :
How couid devotion touch the country pews,
Unless the Gods bestow'd
Muse? Verse chears their leisure, verse aflifts their work, Verse prays for peace, or sings down pope and Turk, The silenc'd preacher yields to potent itrain, And feels that grace his pray’r berought in vain The blessing thrills thro’all the lab’ring throng,
And heav'n is won by violence of song.
Our rural ancestors, with little bleft,
Patient of labour when the end was rest,
Indulg'd the day that hous’d their annual grain,
With feasts, and off'rings, and a thankful strain:
The joy their wives, their sons, and servants share,
Ease of their toil , and partners of their care:
The laugh, the jest , attendants on the bowl,
Smooth'd ev'ry brow, and open'd ev'ry soul:
With growing years the pleasing licence grew,
And taunts alternate innocently flew.
But times corrupt, and nature iil-inclin'd,
Produc'd the point that left a fting behind;
Till friend with friend, and families at strife,
Triumphant malice rag'd thro' private life.
Who felt the wrong, or fer'd it, took th'alarm,
Appeal'd to law, and justice lent her arm.
At length, by wholsome dread of starutes bound,
The poets learn’d to please, and not to wound;
Most warp'd to flate'ry's side ; but some, more nice,
Preserv'd the freedom, and furbore the vice.
Hence satire rore, that just the medium hit,
And heals with morals what it hurts with wit.
We conquer'd France, but felt our captive's charms;
Her arts victorious triumph'd o'er our arms;
Britain to soft refinements less a foe,
Vit grew polite , and rumbers learn'd to flow.
Waller was smooth; but Dryden caught to join
The varying verse, the fill-resounding line,
The long majestic march, and energy divine.
Tho'still some traces of our rustic vein,
And splay-foot verse remainid, and will remain.
Late , very late, correctness grew our care,
When the tir'd nation breath'd from civil war.
Exact Racine , and Corneille's noble fire,
Show'd us that France had something to admire.
Not but the tragic spirit was our own,
And full in Shakespear, fair in Otway shone :
But Otway fail'd to polish or refine,
And fluent Shakespear scarce effac'd a line.
Ev'n copious Dryden wanted, or forgot ,
The last and greatest art, the art to blot.
Some doubt, if equal pains, or equal fire
The humbler Muse of comedy require.
But in known images of life, I guess
The labour greater, as th' indulgence less.
Observe how seldom ev'n the best succeed :
Tell me if Congreve's fools are fools indeed!
What pert , low dialogue has Farqu’ar writ!
How Van wants grace , who never wanted wit!
The ftage how loosely does Afiræa tread,
Who fairly puts all characters to bed!
And idle Cibber, how he breaks the laws,
To make poor Pinky eat with vast applause!
But fill their purse, our poet's work is done,
Alike to them, by pathos or by pun.
O you! whom vanity's light bark conveys
On fame's mad voyage by the wind of praise ,
With what a shifting gale your course you ply
For ever sunk too low, or born too high!
Who pants for glory finds but short repose ,
A breath revives him, or a breath o'erthrows.