« ZurückWeiter »
Let nie for once presume t'instruct the times, 340
But not this part of the poetic state
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, 360 To 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; 365 Repeat unask'd; lament the wit's too fine For vulgar eyes, and point out every line: But most when straining with too weak a wing, We needs will write epistles to the king; And from the moment we oblige the town,
370 Expect a place or pension from the crown; Or, dubb'd historians, by express command, T'enrol our tri;imphs o'er the seas and land, Be call'd to court to plan some work divine, As once for Louis, Boileau and Racine,
376 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 laureat's weighty place,
Charles, to late times to be transmitted fair, 380 Assign'd his figure to Bernini's care; And great Nassau to Kneller's hand decreed To fix bim graceful on the bounding steed: So well in paint and stone they judg’d of merit : But kings in wit may want discerning spirit. 386 The hero William, and the martyr Charles, One knighted Blackinore, and one pension'd Quarles, Which made old Ben and surly Dennis swear, • No Lord's anointed, but a Russian bear.'
Not with such majesty, such bold relief, 390 The form august of kings, or conquering chief, E'er swellid on marble, as in verse have shin'd (In polislı'd verse) the manners and the mind. Oh! could I mount on the Mæonian wing, Your arms, your actions, your repose, to sing! 395 What seas you travers'd, and what fields you fought! Your country's peace how oft, how dearly bought! How barbarous rage subsided at your word, And natious wonder'd while they dropp'd the sword ! How when you nodded, o'er the land and deep 400 Peace stole her wings, and wrapp'd 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 us’d to panegyric strains.
405 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;
410 There's nothing blackens like the ink of fools. If true, a woeful likeness ; and if lies, · Praise undeserv'd is scandal in disguise.' Well may he blush who gives it, or receives; And when I Hatter, let my dirty leaves
415 (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.
BOOK II. EPISTLE II.
DEAR colnel, Cobham's and your 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 : Observe his shape how clean! his locks how curl'd! My only sun, I'd have him see the world : His French is pure; his voice too--you shall hear. Sir, he's your slave for twenty pound a-year. Mere wax as yet, you fashion him with ease, Your barber, cook, upholsterer; what you please: A perfect genius at an opera song
11 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? 15 Though, faith, I fear 'twill break his mother's
heart. Once (and but once) I caught him in a lie, And then unwhipp'd, he had the grace to cry: The fault he has I fairly shall reveal, (Could you o'erlook but that) it is to steal.” 20
If, after this, you took the graceless lad, Could you complain,
my friend, be 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, 25 And punish'd 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? 30 Nay, worse, to ask for verse at such a time! D'ye think me good for nothing but to rhyme?
İn Anna's wars a soldier, poor and old, Had dearly earn’d a little purse of gold: Tir'd in a tedious march, one luckless night 35 He slept, (poor dog !) and lost it, to a doit.
This put the man in such a desperate mind,
D'ye think me, noble general! such a sot?
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; 55 (And little sure imported to remove, To hunt for truth in Maudlin's learned grove) But knottier points, we knew not half so well, Depriv'd us soon of our paternal cell; And certain laws, by sufferers thought unjust, 60 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;
65 And me the Muses help 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, 70 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 thiet of life, this paltry time,
But, after all, what would you have me do, 80
85 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, 90 In crowds, and courts, law, business, feasts, and
friends? My counsel sends to execute a deed; A poet begs me I will hear him read. In Palace-yard at nine you'll find me thcreAt ten, for certain, sir, in Bloomsbury square- 95 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: 100 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 ?
105 And peers give way, exalted as they are, Ev'n to their own S-r-v-rence 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
110 To ease and silence every Muse's son: Blackmore himself, for any grand effort, Would drink and dose at Touting or Earl's-court.