« ZurückWeiter »
BOOK II. EPISTLE II.
Ludentis speciem dabit, et torquebitur. HOR.
DEAR col’nel, Cobham's and your country's
U friend !
A Frenchman comes, presents you with his boy,
If, after this, you took the graceful lad, Could you complain, my friend, he prov'd so bad? Faith, in such case, if you should prosecute, I think sir Godfrey should decide the suit; Who sent the thief that stole the cash, away, And punish'd him that put it in his way.
Consider them, and judge me in this light; I told you when I went, I could not write;
You said the same; and are you discontent
In Anna's wars, a soldier poor and old
D'ye think me, noble general, such a sot? Let him take castles who has ne'er a groat.'
Bred up at home, full early I begun 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 koottier points, we knew not half so well, Depriv'd 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 fail'd, While mighty William's thundering arm prevail'd. For right hereditary tax'd and fin'd, He stuck to poverty with peace of mind; And me, the muses help'd to undergo it; Convict a papist he, and I a poet,
But (thanks to Homer) since I live and thrive,
Years following years steal something every day,
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; The vulgar boil, the learned roast an egg : Hard task ! to hit the palate of such guests, When Oldfield loves what Dartineuf detests.
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 pine you'll find me thereAt ten, for certain, sir, in Bloomsbury-squareBefore the lords at twelve my cause comes on.There's a rehearsal, sir, exact at one... "O! 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 theu a nodding beam, or pig of lead, God knows, may hurt the very ablest head. Have you pot seen, at Guildhall's narrow pass, Two aldermen dispute it with an ass ? And peers give way, exalted as they are, Ev'n 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 grottoes and to groves we run, To ease and silence, every muse's son: . Blackmore himself, for any grand effort, Would drink and doze at Tooting or Earl's-Court. How shall I rhyme in this eternal roar ? [fore? How match the bards whom none e'er match'd be
The man, who, stretch'd in Isis' calm retreat, To books and study gives seven years complete, See! strow'd with learned dust, his nightcap 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, Stepp'd from its 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?
The Temple late two brother sergeants saw, Who deem'd each other oracles of law; With equal talents, these congenial souls, One luli'd th'Exchequer, and one stunn'd the Rolls; Each had a gravity would make you split, And shook his head at Murray as a wit. 'Twas, sir, your law'---and sir, your eloquence.' • Yours, Cowper's manner'--' and yours, Talbot's
Thus we dispose of all poetic merit, (sense.' Yours Milton's genius, and mine Homer's spirit. Call Tibbald Shakespeare, and he'll swear the Nine, Dear Cibber! never match'd one ode of thine. Lord! how we strut through Merlin's Cave, to see No poets there, but Stephen, you, and me. Walk with respect behind, while we at ease Weave laurel crowns, and take what names we
please. • My dear Tibullus !' If that will not do, Let me be Horace, and be Ovid you; Or, I'm content, allow me Dryden's strains, And you shall rise up Otway for your pains.'
Much do I suffer, much, to keep in peace
In vain, bad rhymers all mankind reject,
If such the plague and pains to write by rule,