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MATTHEW GREEN, a truly original poet, was born, is further attested, that he was a man of great probably at London, in 1696. His parents were re- probity and sweetness of disposition, and that his spectable Dissenters, who brought him up within conversation abounded with wit
, but of the most inthe limits of the sect. His learning was confined to offensive kind. He seems to have been subject to a little Latin; but, from the frequency of his clas- low-spirits, as a relief from which he composed his sical allusions, it may be concluded that what he principal poem, "The Spleen.” He passed his read when young, he did not forget. The austerity life in celibacy, and died in 1737, at the early age in which he was educated had the effect of inspiring of forty-one, in lodgings in Gracechurch-street. him with settled disgust; and he fled from the The poems of Green, which were not made pub. gloom of dissenting worship when he was no longer lic till after his death, consist of “The Spleen;" compelled to attend it. Thus set loose from the “ The Grotto;" "Verses on Barclay's Apology;" opinions of his youth, he speculated very freely " The Seeker," and some smaller pieces, all comon religious topics, and at length adopted the sys- prised in a small volume. In manner and subject tem of outward compliance with established forms, they are some of the most original in our language. and inward laxity of belief. He seems at one They rank among the easy and familiar, but are time to have been much inclined to the principles replete with uncommon thoughts, new and striking of Quakerism; but he found that its practice would images, and those associations of remote ideas by not agree with one who lived " by pulling off the some unexpected similitudes, in which wit prinhat.” We find that he had obtained a place in the cipally consists. Few poems will bear more reCustom-house, the duties of which he is said to have peated perusals; and, with those who can fully enter discharged with great diligence and fidelity. It into them, they do not fail to become favorites.
School-helps I want, to climb on high,
Where all the ancient treasures lie,
And there unseen commit a theft AN EPISTLE TO MR. CUTHBERT JACKSON.
On wealth in Greek exchequers left.
Then where? from whom? what can I steai, This motley piece to you I send,
Who only with the moderns deal ? Who always were a faithful friend ;
This were attempting to put on Who, if disputes should happen hence,
Raiment from naked bodies won it Can best explain the author's sense ;
They safely sing before a thief, And, anxious for the public weal,
They cannot give who want relief; Do, what I sing, so often feel.
Some few excepted, names well known, The want of method pray excuse,
And justly laurel'd with renown, Allowing for a vapor’d Muse :
Whose stamps of genius mark their ware, Nor to a narrow path confin'd,
And theft detects: of theft beware; Hedge in by rules a roving mind.
From More 5 so lash'd, example fit, The child is genuine, you may trace
Shun petty larceny in wit.
Throughout the sire's transmitted face.
First know, my friend, I do not mean
Nothing is stol'n: my Muse, though mean, To write a treatise on the spleen;
Draws from the spring she finds within ;
Nor vainly buys what Gildont sells,
Poetic buckets for dry wells.
† A painted vest Prince Vortiger had on,
Which from a naked Pict his grandsire won. "In this poern,” Mr. Melmoth says, “there are more
HOWARD's British Princes. original thoughts thrown together than he had ever read in the same compass of lines."
§ James More Smith, Esq. See Dunciad, B. ii. 1. 50. and FITZOSBORNE's Letters, p. 114. the notes, where the circumstances of the transaction * Gildon's Art of Poetry,
here alluded to are very fully explained.
Nor to prescribe when nerves convulse ;
A strict dissenter saying grace, Nor mend th' alarum-watch, your pulse.
A lect'rer preaching for a place, If I am right, your question lay,
Folks, things prophetic to dispense, What course I take to drive away
Making the past the future tense, The day-mare, Spleen, by whose false pleas The popish dubbing of a priest, Men prove mere suicides in ease;
Fine epitaphs on knaves deceasd, And how I do myself demean
Green-apron'd Pythonissa's rage, In stormy world to live serene.
Great Æsculapius on his stage,
When by its magic-lantern Spleen
A miser starving to be rich,
With frightful figures spreads life's scene, The prior of Newgate's dying speech,
And threat'ning prospects urg'd my fears, A jointur'd widow's ritual state,
A stranger to the luck of heirs;
Two Jews disputing tête-à-tête,
Reason, some quiet to restore,
New almanacs compos'd by seers,
Show'd part was substance, shadow more; Experiments on felons' ears,
With Spleen's dead weight though heavy grown, Disdainful prudes, who ceaseless ply
In life's rough tide I sunk not down,
The superb muscle of the eye,
But swam, till Fortune threw a rope,
A coquet's A pril-weather face, Buoyant on bladders fill'd with hope.
A Queenb'rough mayor behind his mace, I always choose the plainest food
And fops in military show, To mend viscidity of blood.
Are sov'reign for the case in view. Hail! water-gruel, healing power,
If spleen-fogs rise at close of day, of easy access to the poor;
I clear my ev'ning with a play, Thy help love's confessors implore,
Or to some concert take my way, And doctors secretly adore ;
The company, the shine of lights,
To thee I fly, by thee dilute-
The scenes of humor, music's flights,
Through veins my blood doth quicker shoot, Adjust and set the soul to rights.
And by swift current throws off clean
Life's moving pictures, well-wrought plays, Prolific particles of Spleen.
To others' grief attention raise : I never sick by drinking grow,
Here, while the tragic fictions glow, Nor keep myself a cup too low,
We borrow joy by pitying woe; And seldom Chloe's lodgings haunt,
There gaily comic scenes delight, Thrifty of spirits, which I want.
And hold true mirrors to our sight. Hunting I reckon very good,
Virtue, in charming dress array'd, To brace the nerves, and stir the blood :
Calling the passions to her aid, But after no field-honors itch,
When moral scenes just actions join, Achiev'd by leaping hedge and ditch.
Takes shape, and shows her face divine. While Spleen lies soft relax'd in bed,
Music has charms, we all may find, Or o'er coal fires inclines the head,
Ingratiate deeply with the mind. Hygeia's sons with hound and horn,
When art does sound's high pow'r advance, And jovial cry, awake the Morn.
To music's pipe the passions dance ; These see her from the dusky plight,
Motions unwill'd its pow'rs have shown, Smear'd by th' embraces of the Night,
Tarantulated by a tune. With roral wash redeem her face,
Many have held the soul to be And prove herself of Titan's race,
Nearly allied to harmony. And, mounting in loose robes the skies,
Her have I known indulging grief, Shed light and fragrance as she flies.
And shunning company's relief, Then horse and hound fierce joy display,
Unveil her face, and, looking round, Exulting at the hark-away,
Own, by neglecting sorrow's wound, And in pursuit o'er tainted ground,
The consanguinity of sound. From lungs robust field-notes resound.
In rainy days keep double guard, Then, as St. George the dragon slew,
Or Spleen will surely be too hard ; Spleen pierc'd, trod down, and dying view; Which, like those fish by sailors met, While all their spirits are on wing,
Fly highest, while their wings are wet. And woods, and hills, and valleys ring.
In such dull weather, so unfit To cure the mind's wrong bias, Spleen, To enterprise a work of wit, Some recommend the bowling-green;
When clouds one yard of azure sky, Some, hilly walks ; all, exercise ;
That's fit for simile, deny, Fling but a stone, the giant dies ;
I dress my face with studious looks, Laugh and be well. Monkeys have been And shorten tedious hours with books. Extreme good doctors for the Spleen,
But if dull fogs invade the head, And kitten, if the humor hit,
That mem'ry minds not what is read, Has harlequin'd away the fit.
I sit in window dry as ark, Since mirth is good in this behalf,
And on the drowning world remark: At some partic'lars let us laugh.
Or to some coffee-house I stray Witlings, brisk fools, curst with half sense, For news, the manna of a day, That stimulates their impotence ;
And from the hipp'd discourses gather, Who buzz in rhyme, and, like blind flies,
That politics go by the weather : Err with their wings for want of eyes
Then seek good-humor'd tavern chums, Poor authors worshipping a calf,
And play at cards, but for small sums, Deep tragedies that make us laugh,
Or with the merry fellows quaff,
And laugh aloud with them that laugh;
Or drink a joco-serious cup
With souls who've took their freedom up,
And let my mind, beguild by talk,
In Epicurus' garden walk,
Who thought it Heav'n to be serene;
Pain, Hell, and Purgatory, Spleen.
. Sometimes I dress, with women sit,
And chat away the gloomy fit;
Quit the stiff garb of serious sense,
And wear a gay impertinence,
Nor think nor speak with any pains,
But lay on Fancy's neck the reins;
Talk of unusual swell of waist
In maid of honor loosely lacid,
And beauty borr'wing Spanish red,
And loving pair with sep’rate bed,
And jewels pawn'd for loss of game,
And then redeem'd by loss of fame;
Of Kitty (aunt left in the lurch
By grave pretence to go to church)
Perceiv'd in hack with lover fine,
Like Will and Mary on the coin :
And thus in modish manner we,
In aid of sugar, sweeten tea.
Permit, ye fair, your idol form,
Which e'en the coldest heart can warm,
May with its beauties grace my line,
While I bow down before its shrine,
And your throng'd altars with my lays
Perfume, and get by giving praise.
With speech so sweet, so sweet a mien
You excommunicate the Spleen,
Which, fiend-like, flies the magic ring
You form with sound, when pleas'd to sing ;
Whate'er you say, howe'er you move,
We look, we listen, and approve.
Your touch, which gives to feeling bliss,
Our nerves officious throng to kiss ;
By Celia's pat, on their report,
The grave-air'd soul, inclin'd to sport,
Renounces wisdom's sullen pomp,
And loves the floral game, to romp.
But who can view the pointed rays,
That from black eyes scintillant blaze?
Love on his throne of glory seems
Encompass'd with satellite beams.
But when blue eyes, more softly bright,
Diffuse benignly humid light,
We gaze, and see the smiling loves,
And Cytherea's gentle doves,
And raptur'd fix in such a face
Love's mercy-seat, and throne of grace.
Shine but on age, you melt its snow;
Again fires long-extinguish'd glow,
And, charm'd by witchery of eyes,
Blood long congealed liquefies !
True miracle, and fairly done
By heads which are ador'd while on,
But oh, what pity 'tis to find
Such beauties both of form and mind,
By modern breeding much debas'd,
In half the female world at least !
Hence I with care such lott'ries shun,
Where, a prize miss'd, I'm quite undone ;
And han't, by vent'ring on a wife,
Yet run the greatest risk in life.
Mothers, and guardian aunts, forbear
Your impious pains to form the fair,
Nor lay out so much cost and art,
But to deflow'r the virgin heart;
Of every folly-fost'ring bed
By quick’ning heat of custom bred.
Rather than by your culture spoil'd,
Desist, and give us nature wild,
Delighted with a hoyden soul,
Which truth and innocence control.
Coquets, leave off affected arts,
Gay fowlers at a flock of hearts;
Woodcocks to shun your snares have skill,
You show so plain, you strive to kill.
In love the artless catch the game,
And they scarce miss who never aim.
The world's great Author did create
The sex to fit the nuptial state,
And meant a blessing in a wife
To solace the fatigues of life;
And old inspired times display,
How wives could love, and yet obey.
Then truth, and patience of control,
And housewife arts, adorn'd the soul ;
And charms, the gift of Nature, shone;
And jealousy, a thing unknown:
Veils were the only masks they wore;
Novels (receipts to make a whore)
Nor ombre, nor quadrille, they knew,
Nor Pam's puissance felt at loo.
Wise men did not, to be thought gay,
Then compliment their pow'r away:
But lest, by frail desires misled,
The girls forbidden paths should tread,
Of ign'rance rais'd the safe high wall;
We sink haw-haws, that show them all.
Thus we at once solicit sense,
And charge them not to break the fence.
Now, if untir'd, consider, friend,
What I avoid to gain my end.
I never am at meeting seen,
Meeting, that region of the Spleen;
The broken heart, the busy fiend,
The inward call, on Spleen depend.
Law, licens'd breaking of the peace,
To which vocation is disease :
A gipsy diction scarce known well
By th' magi, who law-fortunes tell,
I shun; nor let it breed within
Anxiety, and that the Spleen;
Law, grown a forest, where perplex
The mazes, and the brambles vex;
Where its twelve verd'rers every day
Are changing still the public way:
Yet, if we miss our path and err,
We grievous penalties incur;
And wand'rers tire, and tear their skin,
And then get out where they went in.
I never game, and rarely bet,
Am loth to lend, or run in debt
No compter-writs me agitate ;
Who moralizing pass the gate,
And there mine eyes on spendthrifts turn,
Who vainly o'er their bondage mourn.
Wisdom, before beneath their care,
Pays her upbraiding visits there,
And forces folly through the grate,
Her panegyric to repeat.
This view, profusely when inclind,
Enters a caveat in the mind:
Experience join'd with common sense,
To mortals is a providence.
Passion, as frequently is seen,
Subsiding settles into Spleen.
Hence, as the plague of happy life,
I run away from party-strife.
A prince's cause, a church's claim,
I've known to raise a mighty flame,
And priest, as stoker, very free
To throw in peace and charity.
That tribe, whose practicals decree
Small-beer the deadliest heresy ;
Who, fond of pedigree, derive
From the most noted whore alive;
Who own wine's old prophetic aid,
And love the mitre Bacchus made,
Forbid the faithful to depend
On half-pint drinkers for a friend,
And in whose gay red-letter'd face
We read good-living more than grace:
Nor they so pure, and so precise,
Immac'late as their white of eyes,
Who for the spirit hug the Spleen,
Phylacter'd throughout all their mien,
Who their ill-tasted home-brew'd pray'r
To the state's mellow forms prefer;
Who doctrines, as infectious, fear,
Which are not steep'd in vinegar,
And samples of heart-chested grace
Expose in show-glass of the face,
Did never me as yet provoke
Either to honor band and cloak,
Or deck my hat with leaves of oak.
I rail not with mock-patriot grace
At folks, because they are in place ;
Nor, hir'd to praise with stallion pen,
Serve the ear-lechery of men;
But to avoid religious jars,
The laws are my expositors,
Which in my doubting mind create
Conformity to church and state.
I go, pursuant to my plan,
To Mecca with the caravan.
And think it right in common sense
Both for diversion and defence.
Reforming schemes are none of mine ;
To mend the world's a vast design:
Like theirs, who tug in little boat,
To pull to them the ship afloat,
While to defeat their labor'd end,
At once both wind and stream contend :
Success herein is seldom seen,
And zeal, when baffled, turns to Spleen
Happy the man, who innocent, Grieves not at ills he can't prevent; His skiff does with the current glide, Not puffing pullid against the tide. He, paddling by the scuffling crowd, Sees unconcern'd life's wager row'd, And when he can't prevent foul play, Enjoys the folly of the fray.
By these reflections I repeal Each hasty promise made in zeal. When Gospel propagators say, We're bound our great light to display, And Indian darkness drive away, Yet none but drunken watchmen send, And scoundrel link-boys for that end ; When they cry up this holy war, Which every Christian should be for ; Yet such as owe the law their ears, We find employ'd as engineers :
This view my forward zeal so shocks,
In vain they hold the money-box.
At such a conduct, which intends
By vicious means such virtuous ends,
I laugh off Spleen, and keep my pence
From spoiling Indian innocence.
Yet philosophic love of ease
I suffer not to prove disease;
But rise up in the virtuous cause
Of a free press and equal laws.
The press restrain'd! nefandous thought!
In vain our sires bave nobly fought:
While free from force the press remains,
Virtue and Freedom cheer our plains,
And Learning largesses bestows,
And keeps uncensur'd open house.
We to the nation's public mart
Our works of wit, and schemes of art,
And philosophic goods this way,
Like water-carriage, cheap convey
This tree, which knowledge so affords,
Inquisitors with flaming swords
From lay approach with zeal defend,
Lest their own paradise should end.
The Press from her fecundous womb
Brought forth the arts of Greece and Rome;
Her offspring, skill'd in logic war,
Truth's banner wav'd in open air ;
The monster Superstition fled,
And hid in shades its Gorgon head ;
And lawless pow'r, the long-kept field,
By reason quell'd, was forc'd to yield.
This nurse of arts, and freedom's fence,
To chain, is treason against sense ;
And, Liberty, thy thousand tongues
None silence, who design no wrongs;
For those, who use the gag's restraint,
First rob, before they stop complaint.
Since disappointment galls within,
And subjugates the soul to Spleen,
Most schemes, as money-snares, I hate,
And bite not at projectors' bait,
Sufficient wrecks appear each day,
And yet fresh fools are cast away.
Ere well the bubbled can turn round,
Their painted vessel runs aground;
Or in deep seas it oversets
By a fierce hurricane of debts;
Or helm directors in one trip,
Freight first embezzled, sink the ship.
Such was of late a corporation,*
The brazen serpent of the nation,
Which, when hard accidents distress'd,
The poor must look at to be blest,
And thence expect, with paper seal'd
By fraud and us’ry, to be heal'd.
I in no soul-consumption wait
Whole years at levees of the great,
* The Charitable Corporation, instituted for the relief of the industrious poor, by assisting them with small sums upon pledges at legal interest. By the villany of those who had the management of this scheme, the pro. prietors were defrauded of very considerable sums of money. In 1732 the conduct of the directors of this body became the subject of a parliamentary inquiry, and some of them, who were members of the house of commons. were expelled for their concern in this iniquitous transaction.
And hungry hopes regale the while
On the spare diet of a smile.
There you may see the idol stand
With mirror in his wanton hand;
Above, below, now here, now there,
He throws about the sunny glare.
Crowds pant, and press to seize the prize,
The gay delusion of their eyes.
When Fancy tries her limning skill
To draw and color at her will,
And raise and round the figure well,
And show her talent to excel,
I guard my heart, lest it should woo
Unreal beauties Fancy drew,
And, disappointed, feel despair
At loss of things that never were.
When I lean politicians mark
Grazing on ether in the Park;
Who e'er on wing with open throats
Fly at debates, expresses, votes,
Just in the manner swallows use,
Catching their airy food of news;
Whose latrant stomachs oft molest
The deep-laid plans their dreams suggest;
Or see some poet pensive sit,
Fondly mistaking Spleen for Wit:
Who, though short-winded, still will aim
To sound the epic trump of Fame;
Who still on Phæbus' smiles will dote,
Nor learn conviction from his coat;
I bless'd my stars, I never knew
Whimsies, which close pursu'd, undo,
And have from old experience been
Both parent and the child of Spleen.
These subjects of Apollo's state,
Who frorn false fire derive their fate,
With airy purchases undone
Of lands, which none lend money on,
Born dull, had follow'd thriving ways,
Nor lost one hour to gather bays.
Their fancies first delirious grew,
And scenes ideal took for true.
Fine to the sight Parnassus lies,
And with false prospects cheats their eyes;
The fabled gods the poets sing,
A season of perpetual spring,
Brooks, flow'ry fields, and groves of trees,
Affording sweets and similes,
Gay dreams inspir'd in myrtle bow'rs,
And wreaths of undecaying flow'rs,
Apollo's harp with airs divine,
The sacred music of the Nine,
Views of the temple rais'd to Fame,
And for a vacant niche proud aim,
Ravish their souls, and plainly show
What Fancy's sketching power can do.
They will attempt the mountain steep,
Where on the top, like dreams in sleep,
The Muse's revelations show,
That find men crack'd, or make them so.
You, friend, like me, the trade of rhyme Avoid, elab'rate waste of time, Nor are content to be undone, To pass for Phæbus' crazy son. Poems, the hop-grounds of the brain, Afford the most uncertain gain; And lott'ries never tempt the wise With blanks so many to a prize. I only transient visits pay, Meeting the Muses in my way,
Scarce known to the fastidious dames,
Nor skill'd to call them by their names.
Nor can their passports in these days,
Your profit warrant, or your praise.
On poems by their dictates writ,
Critics, as sworn appraisers, sit,
And mere upholst'rers in a trice
On gems and paintings set a price.
These tayl'ring artists for our lays
Invent cramp'd rules, and with straight stays
Striving free Nature's shape to hit,
Emaciate sense, before they fit.
A commonplace and many friends,
Can serve the plagiary's ends,
Whose easy vamping talent lies,
First wit to pilfer, then disguise.
Thus some, devoid of art and skill
To search the mine on Pindus' hill,
Proud to aspire and workmen grow,
By genius doom'd to stay below,
For their own digging show the town
Wit's treasure brought by others down.
Some wanting, if they find a mine,
An artist's judgment to refine,
On fame precipitately fix'd,
The ore with baser metals mix'd
Melt down, impatient of delay,
And call the vicious mass a play.
All these engage to serve their ends,
A band select of trusty friends,
Who, lesson'd right, extol the thing,
As Psapho* taught his birds to sing ;
Then to the ladies they submit,
Returning officers on wit :
A crowded house their presence draws,
And on the beaux imposes laws,
A judgment in its favor ends,
When all the panel are its friends :
Their natures merciful and mild
Have from mere pity sav'd the child ;
In bulrush ark the bantling found
Helpless, and ready to be drown'd,
They have preserv'd by kind support,
And brought the baby-muse to court.
But there's a youth † that you can name,
Who needs no leading-strings to fame,
Whose quick maturity of brain
The birth of Pallas may explain :
Dreaming of whose depending fate,
I heard Melpomene debate,
“This, this is he, that was foretold
Should emulate our Greeks of old.
Inspir'd by me with sacred art,
He sings, and rules the varied heart;
If Jove's dread anger he rehearse,
We hear the thunder in his verse;
If he describes love turn'd to rage,
The furies riot in his page.
* Psapho was a Lybian, who, desiring to be accounted a god, effected it by this means : he took young birds and taught them to sing, Psapho is a great god. When they were perfect in their lesson, he let them fly; and other birds learning the same ditty, repeated it in the woods ; on which his countrymen offered sacrifice to him, and considered him as a deity.
† Mr. Glover, the excellent author of Leonidas, Boadicea, Medea, &c.