Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors]

Farewell the stage ! if just as thrives the play,
The silly bard grows fa:, or falls away.

There still remains, to mortify a wit,
The many-headed monster of the pit:
A senseless , worthless, and unhonour'd croud ;
Who, to disturb their betters mighty proud,
Clate'ring their sticks before ten lines are spoke,
Call for the farce, the bear, or the blick joke.
What dear delight to Britons farce affords!
Ever the taste of mobs, but now of lords ;
(Taste, that eternal wanderer, which fies
From heads to ears, and now from ears to eyes. )
The play stands still ; damn action and discourse,
Back fly the scenes, and enter foot and hore;
Pageants on pageants, in long order drawn,
Peers, heralds, bishops , ermin, gold and lawn:
The champion too! and, to complete the jest,
Old Edward's armour beams on Cibber's breaft.
With laughter sure Democritus had dy'd,
Had he beheld an audience gape so wide.
Let bear or elephant be e'er so white,
The people , sure, the people are the light!
Ah luckless poet! stretch thy lungs and roar,
That bear or elephant shall heed thee more;
While all its throats the gallery extends,
And all the thunder of the pit ascends!
Loud as the wolves, on Orcas' stormy steep,
Howl to the roarings of the northern deep.
Such is the shout, the long-applauding note,
Ar Quin's high plume, or Oldfield's petticoat;
Or when from court a birth-day suit bestow'd,

Sinks the loft actor in the tawdry load. Booth eniers -hark! the universal peal! » But has he spoken«? Not a fyllable, » What shook the stage, and made the people stare! Cato's long wig , flow'r'd


and lacquer'd chair. Yet, left you think I rally more than teach , Or praise malignly arts I cannot reach, Let me for once presume t'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 paffion that he feigns ; Inrage, compose , with more than magic art, With pity, and with terror, tear my heart, And snatch ine, o'er the earth, or thro' the air, To Thebes, to Athens, when he 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 thought, 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, Tu 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 ev'ry line.
But most, when straining with too weak a wingi
We needs will write epistles to the King;
And from the moment we oblige the town,
Expe&t a place, or pension from the crown;
Or dubb'd historians by express command,
T'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 known?
Or chuse at least some minister of grace,
Fit to bestow the Laureat's weighty 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 s
But kings in wit may want discerning spirit.
The hero William, and the martyr Charles,
One knighted Blackmore, and one pension'd Quarless
Which made old Ben, and surly Dennis swear,
» No lord's anointed, but a russian bear cc.

Not with such majesty, such bold relief,
The forms august, of King, or conqu’ring chief,
E'er swellid on marble ; as in verse have shin'd
( In polish'd verse ) the manners and the mind.
Oh! could I mount on the Mæonian wing,



Your arms , your a&ions, your repose to sing !
What seas you travers’d, and what fields

you fought! Your country's peace, how oft , how dearly bought! How barb’rous rage subsided at your word, And nations wonder'd while they dropp'd the sword! How, w when


nodded, o'er the land and deep, Peace stole her wing , and wrapt the world in Neep; 'Till earth's extremes your meditation own, And Asia's tyrants tremble at your throne But verfe , álas! your Majesty disdains ; And I'm not us'd 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 encomium doubly ridicules : There's nothing blackens like the ink of fools. If true, a woful likeness; and if lyes, » Praise undeservd is scandal in disguise ce. Well may he blush, who gives it, or receives; And when I fatter, let my dirty leaves (Like journals, odes, and such forgotten things As Eusden , Philips , Settle, writ of kings) Cloath spice , line tranks, or flutt'ring in a row, Befringe the rails of Bedlam and Soho,

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
« ZurückWeiter »