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Then grace the bony phantom in their stead A subject's faults a subject may proclaim,
And praised for virtues that they scorn to wear,
B. Seldom, alas ! the power of logic reigns I pity kings whom worship waits upon With much sufficiency in royal brains :
Obsequious, from the cradle to the throne, Such reasoning falls like an inverted cone, Before whose infant eyes the flatterer bows, Wanting its proper base to stand upon.
And binds a wreath about their baby brows; Man made for kings ! those optics are but dim Whom education stiffens into state, That tell you so ;-say, rather, they for him. And death awakens from that dream too late. That were indeed a king-ennobling thought, Oh! if servility, with supple knees, Could they, or would they, reason as they ought. Whose trade it is to smile, to crouch, to please ; The diadem with mighty projects lined,
If smooth dissimulation, skill'd to grace To catch renown by ruining mankind,
A devil's purpose with an angel's face ; Is worth, with all its gold and glittering store, If smiling peeresses and simpering peers, Just what the toy will sell for, and no more. Encompassing his throne a few short years;
Oh! bright occasions of dispensing good, If the gilt carriage and the pamper'd steed, How seldom used, how little understood !
That wants no driving and disdains the lead ; To pour in virtue's lap her just reward,
If guards, mechanically form'd in ranks, keep vice restrain'd behind a double guard, Playing, at beat of drum, their martial pranks ; To quell the faction that affronts the throne, Shouldering and standing, as if struck to stone, By silent magnanimity alone ;
While condescending majesty looks on ; To nurse with tender care the thriving arts, If monarchy consist in such base things, Watch every beam philosophy imparts ;
Sighing, I say again, I pity kings ! To give religion her unbridled scope,
To be suspected, thwarted, and withstood, Nor judge by statute a believer's hope ;
Even when he labours for his country's good ; With close fidelity and love unfeign’d,
To see a band call’d patriot for no cause, To keep the matrimonial bond unstain'd;
But that they catch at popular applause, Covetous only of a virtuous praise,
Careless of all the anxiety he feels, His life a lesson to the land he sways ;
Hook disappointment on the public wheels, To touch the sword with conscientious awe, With all their flippant fluency of tongue, Nor draw it but when duty bids him draw; Most confident, when palpably most wrong,To sheath it in the peace-restoring close,
If this be kingly, then farewell for me With joy, beyond what victory bestows,
All kingship, and may I be poor and free ! Blest country! where these kingly glories shine, To be the Table Talk of clubs up stairs, Blest England ! if this happiness be thine. To which the unwash'd artificer repairs,
A. Guard what you say ; the patriotic tribe To indulge his genius after long fatigue, Will sneer, and charge you with a bribe.-B. A By diving into cabinet intrigue, The worth of his three kingdoms I defy, [bribe ? (For what kings deem a toil, as well they may, To lure me to the baseness of a lie.
To him is relaxation and mere play ;)— And of all lies (be that one poet's boast)
To win no praise when well-wrought plans prevail, The lie that flatters I abhor the most.
But to be rudely censured when they fail ; Those arts be theirs that hate his gentle reign ; To doubt the love his favourites may pretend, But he that loves him has no need to feign. And in reality to find no friend ; A. Your smooth eulogium, to
If he indulge a cultivated taste, Seems to imply a censure on the rest. [address'd, His galleries with the works of art well graced, B. Quevedo, as he tells his sober tale,
To hear it callid extravagance and waste ; Ask'd, when in hell, to see the royal jail,
If these attendants, and if such as these, Approved their method in all other things, Must follow royalty, then welcome ease ! “ But where, good sir, do you confine your kings ?” However humble and confined the sphere, “ There,” said his guide, “the group is full in view.” Happy the state that has not these to fear. “ Indeed!” replied the Don-“ there are but few.” A. Thus men, whose thoughts contemplative His black interpreter the charge disdain'd ;
have dwelt “ Few, fellow? There are all that ever reign'd.” On situations that they never felt, Wit undistinguishing is apt to strike
Start up sagacious, cover'd with the dust The guilty and not guilty, both alike.
Of dreaming study and pedantic rust, I grant the sarcasm is too severe,
And prate and preach about what others prove, And we can readily refute it here,
As if the world and they were hand and glove. While Alfred's name, the father of his age, Leave kingly backs to cope with kingly cares, And the Sixth Edward's, grace the historic page. They have their weight to carry, subjects theirs ;
A. Kings then at last have but the lot of all ; Poets, of all men, ever least regret
B. True. While they live, the courtly laureate Could you contrive the payment, and rehearse
Should claim my fix'd attention more than you.
B. Not Brindley nor Bridgewater would essay He can encourage slavery to a smile, To turn the course of Helicon that way ;
And fill with discontent a British isle. Nor would the nine consent, the sacred tide
A. Freeman and slave then, if the case be such,
If all men indiscriminately share
A. Vouchsafe, at least, to pitch the key of rhyme As well be yoked by despotism's hand,
As dwell at large in Britain's charter'd land. When ministers and ministerial arts,
B. No. Freedom has a thousand charms to show, Patriots who love good places at their hearts, That slaves, howe'er contented, never know. When admirals extolld for standing still,
The mind attains beneath her happy reign Or doing nothing with a deal of skill ;
The growth that nature meant she should attain. Generals who will not conquer when they may,
The varied fields of science, ever new, Firm friends to peace, to pleasure, and good pay, Opening and wider opening on her view, When freedom wounded almost to despair, She ventures onward with a prosperous force, Though discontent alone can find out where, While no base fear impedes her in her course. When themes like these employ the poet's tongue, Religion, richest favour of the skies, I hear,-as mute as if a siren sung.
Stands most reveal'd before the freeman's eyes ; Or tell me, if you can, what power maintains No shades of superstition blot the day, A Briton's scorn of arbitrary chains ?
Liberty chases all that gloom away ; That were a theme might animate the dead, The soul, emancipated, unoppress'd, And move the lips of poets cast in lead.
Free to prove all things, and hold fast the best, B. The cause, though worth the search, may yet Learns much, and to a thousand listening minds Conjecture and remark, however shrewd. [elude Communicates with joy the good she finds. They take, perhaps, a well-directed aim,
Courage in arins, and ever prompt to show Who seek it in his climate and his frame.
His manly forehead to the fiercest foe; Liberal in all things else, yet nature here
Glorious in war, but for the sake of peace, With stern severity deals out the year.
His spirits rising as his toils increase, Winter invades the spring, and often pours
Guards well what arts and industry have won, A chilling flood on summer's drooping towers ; And Freedom claims him for her first-born son. Unwelcome vapours quench autumnal beams, Slaves fight for what were better cast away, Ungenial blasts attending, curl the streams ; The chain that binds them, and a tyrant's sway ; The peasants urge their harvest, ply the fork But they that fight for freedom, undertake With double toil, and shiver at their work. The noblest cause mankind can have at stake, Thus with a rigour, for his good design’d,
Religion, virtue, truth, whate'er we call She rears her favourite man of all mankind. A blessing, freedom is the pledge of all. His form robust and of elastic tone,
Oh liberty ! the prisoner's pleasing dream, Proportion'd well, half muscle and half bone, The poet's muse, his passion and bis theme, Supplies with warm activity and force
Genius is thine, and thou art fancy's nurse, A mind well lodged, and masculine of course.
Lost without thee the ennobling powers of verse ; Hence liberty, sweet liberty inspires,
Heroic song from thy free touch acquires And keeps alive his fierce but noble fires.
Its clearest tone, the rapture it inspires. Patient of constitutional control,
Place me where winter breathes his keenest air, He bears it with meek manliness of soul;
And I will sing if liberty be there ; But if authority grow wanton, woe
And I will sing at liberty's dear feet, To him that treads upon his free-born toe ! In Afric's torrid clime or India's fiercest heat. One step beyond the boundary of the laws
A. Sing where you please; in such a cause I Fires him at once in freedom's glorious cause. An English poet's privilege to rant. [grant Thus proud prerogative, not much revered, But is not freedom, at least is not ours, Is seldom felt, though sometimes seen and heard ; Too apt to play the wanton with her powers, And in his cage, like parrot fine and gay,
Grow freakish, and o’erleaping every mound, Is kept to strut, look big, and talk away.
Spread anarchy and terror all around ? Born in a climate softer far than ours,
B. Agreed. But would you sell or slay your Not form'd like us, with such Herculean powers, For bounding and curvetting in his course; [horse The Frenchman, easy, debonair, and brisk, Or if, when ridden with a careless rein, Give him his lass, his fiddle, and his frisk,
He break away, and seek the distant plain ? Is always happy, reign whoever may,
No. His high mettle, under good control, And laughs the sense of misery far away.
Gives him Olympic speed, and shoots him to the He drinks his simple beverage with a gust;
Let discipline employ her wholesome arts; [goal. And feasting on an onion and a crust,
Let magistrates alert perform their parts,
Not skulk, or put on a prudential mask,
Thus happiness depends, as nature shows, And liberty, preserved from wild excess,
Shall raise no feuds for armies to suppress.
When tumult lately burst his prison door,
When he usurp'd authority's just place,
And dared to look his master in the face,
When the rude rabble's watch word was, Destroy! B. And yet his judgment was not framed amiss,
And that a nation shamefully debased
Unless sweet penitence her powers renew, Cheap, though blood-bought, and thrown away Is truth, if history itself be true. when sold;
There is a time, and justice marks the date, May no foes ravish thee, and no false friend For long-forbearing clemency to wait; Betray thee, while professing to defend ;
That hour elapsed, the incurable revolt Prize it ye ministers, ye monarchs spare,
Is punish’d, and down comes the thunder-bolt. Ye patriots guard it with a miser's care!
If Mercy then put by the threatening blow, A. Patriots, alas ! the few that have been found Must she perform the same kind office now? Where most they flourish, upon English ground, May she ! and if offended Heaven be still The country's need have scantily supplied ; Accessible, and prayer prevail, she will. And the last left the scene when Chatham died. 'Tis not however insolence and noise,
B. Not so--the virtue still adorns our age, The tempest of tumultuary joys, Though the chief actor died upon the stage. Nor is it yet despondence and dismay, In him, Demosthenes was heard again,
Will win her visits, or engage her stay ; Liberty taught him her Athenian strain ;
Prayer only, and the penitential tear, She clothed him with authority and awe,
Can call her smiling down, and fix her here. Spoke from his lips, and in his looks gave law. But when a country (one that I could name) His speech, his form, his action, full of grace, In prostitution sinks the sense of shame, And all his country beaming in his face,
When infamous venality, grown bold, He stood, as some inimitable hand
Writes on his bosom to be let or sold; Would strive to make Paul or Tully stand. When perjury, that heaven-defying vice, No sycophant or slave that dared oppose
Sells oaths by tale, and at the lowest price, Her sacred cause, but trembled when he rose, Stamps God's own name upon a lie just made, And every venal stickler for the yoke,
To turn a penny in the way of trade ; Felt himself crush'd at the first word he spoke. When avarice starves, and never hides his face,
Such men are raised to station and command, Two or three millions of the human race, When Providence means mercy to a land.
And not a tongue enquires how, where, or when, He speaks, and they appear; to him they owe Though conscience will have twinges now and then; Skill to direct, and strength to strike the blow, When profanation of the sacred cause To manage with address, to seize with power In all its parts, times, ministry, and laws, The crisis of a dark decisive hour.
Bespeaks a land, once christian, fallen and lost So Gideon earn'd a victory not his own,
In all that wars against that title most; Subserviency his praise, and that alone.
What follows next, let cities of great name, Poor England ! thou art a devoted deer, And regions long since desolate, proclaim : Beset with every ill but that of fear.
Nineveh, Babylon, and ancient Rome, The nations hunt; all mark thee for a prey, Speak to the present times and times to come, They swarm around thee, and thou stand’st at bay, They cry aloud in every careless ear, Undaunted still, though wearied and perplex'); “Stop, while ye may, suspend your mad career ! Once Chatham saved thee, but who saves thee O learn from our example and our fate, next?
Learn wisdom and repentance ere too late!” Alas! the tide of pleasure sweeps along
Not only vice disposes and prepares All that should be the boast of British song. The mind that slumbers sweetly in her snares, 'Tis not the wreath that once adorn'd thy brow, To stoop to tyranny's usurp'd command, The prize of happier times, will serve thee now. And bend her polish'd neck beneath his hand, Our ancestry, a gallant Christian race,
(A dire effect, by one of nature's laws Patterns of every virtue, every grace,
Unchangeably connected with its cause ;) Confess'd a God; they kneeld before they fought, But Providence himself will intervene And praised him in the victories he wrought. To throw his dark displeasure o'er the scene. Now from the dust of ancient days bring forth All are his instruments ; each form of war, Their sober zeal, integrity, and worth ;
What burns at home, or threatens from afar, Courage, ungraced by these, affronts the skies, Nature in arms, her elements at strife, Is but the fire without the sacrifice.
The storms that overset the joys of life, The stream that feeds the well-spring of the heart Are but his rods to scourge a guilty land, Not more invigorates life's noblest part,
And waste it at the bidding of his hand. Than virtue quickens with a warmth divine He gives the word, and mutiny soon roars The powers that sin has brought to a decline. In all her gates, and shakes her distant shores; A. The inestimable estimate of Brown,
The standards of all nations are unfurld, Rose like a paper-kite, and charm’d the town; She has one foe, and that one foe, the world. But measures, plann'd and executed well,
And if he doom that people with a frown, Shifted the wind that raised it, and it fell.
And mark them with the seal of wrath,press'd down, He trod the very self-same ground you tread, Obduracy takes place; callous and tough, And victory refuted all he said.
The reprobated race grows judgment-proof;
Earth shakes beneath them, and heaven roars above, Exact and regular the sounds will be,
From him who rears a poem lank and long,
Perhaps some bonny Caledonian air, Down to the gulf from which is no return.
All birks and braes, though he was never there; They trust in navies, and their navies fail,
Or having whelp'd a prologue with great pains,
So that the jest is clearly to be seen,
The substitute for genius, sense, and wit.
To dally much with subjects mean and low, The noble sweep of all their privilege,
Proves that the mind is weak, or makes it so. Gives liberty the last, the mortal shock,
Neglected talents rust into decay,
A. Such lofty strains embellish what you teach, | The man that means success, should soar above
A soldier's feather, or a lady's glove,
As if an eagle flew aloft, and then--
As if the poet purposing to wed, A tender sympathy pervades the frame,
Should carve himself a wife in gingerbread. She pours a sensibility divine
Ages elapsed ere Homer's lamp appear'd, Along the nerve of every feeling line.
And ages ere the Mantuan swan was heard ; But if a deed not tamely to be borne,
To carry nature lengths unknown before, Fire indignation and a sense of scorn,
To give a Milton birth, ask'd ages more. The strings are swept with such a power, so loud, Thus genius rose and set at order'd times, The storm of music shakes the astonish'd crowd. And shot a day-spring into distant climes, So when remote futurity is brought
Ennobling every region that he chose, Before the keen enquiry of her thought,
He sunk in Greece, in Italy he rose, A terrible sagacity informs
And, tedious years of Gothic darkness past, The poet's heart, he looks to distant storms, Emerged all splendour in our isle at last. He hears the thunder ere the tempest lowers, Thus lovely halcyons dive into the main, And arm’d with strength surpassing human powers, Then show far off their shining plumes again. Seizes events as yet unknown to man,
A. Is genius only found in epic lays ? And darts his soul into the dawning plan.
Prove this, and forfeit all pretence to praise. Hence, in a Roman mouth, the graceful name Make their heroic powers your own at once, Of prophet and of poet was the same;
Or candidly confess yourself a dunce. Hence British poets too the priesthood shared, B. These were the chief ; each interval of night And every hallow'd druid was a bard.
Was graced with many an undulating light; But no prophetic fires to me belong,
In less illustrious bards his beauty shone I play with syllables, and sport in song.
A meteor or a star; in these, the sun. A. At Westminster, where little poets strive The nightingale may claim the topmost bough, To set a distich upon six and five,
While the poor grasshopper must chirp below. Where discipline helps opening buds of sense, Like him unnoticed, I, and such as I, And makes his pupils proud with silver pence, Spread little wings, and rather skip than fly; I was a poet too ;-but modern taste
Perch'd on the meagre produce of the land, Is so refined and delicate and chaste,
An ell or two of prospect we command,
In Eden, ere yet innocence of heart
Language above all teaching, or if taught,
As ecstacy, unmanacled by form,
Not prompted, as in our degenerate days, And some wits flag through fear of losing it. By low ambition and the thirst of praise, Give me the line that ploughs its stately course Was natural as is the flowing stream, Like a proud swan, conquering the stream by force; And yet magnificent, a God the theme. That like some cottage beauty strikes the heart, That theme on earth exhausted, though above Quite unindebted to the tricks of art.
"Tis found as everlasting as his love, When labour and when dulness, club in hand, Man lavish'd all his thoughts on human things, Like the two figures at St. Dunstan's stand, The feats of heroes and the wrath of kings, Beating alternately, in measured time,
But still while virtue kindled his delight, The clock-work tintinnabulum of rhyme,
The song was moral, and so far was right.
'Twas thus till luxury seduced the mind
Perhaps some courser who disdains the road, To joys less innocent, as less refined,
Snuffs up the wind and flings himself abroad. Then genius danced a bacchanal, he crown'd
Contemporaries all surpass’d, see one, The brimming goblet, seized the thyrsus, bound Short his career, indeed, but ably run. His brows with ivy, rush'd into the field
Churchill, himself unconscious of his powers, Of wild imagination, and there reeld
In penury consumed his idle hours, The victim of his own lascivious fires,
And like a scatter'd seed at random sown, And dizzy with delight, profaned the sacred wires. Was left to spring by vigour of his own.
Anacreon, Horace, play'd in Greece and Rome Lifted at length, by dignity of thought This Bedlam part; and, others nearer home. And dint of genius, to an affluent lot, When Cromwell fought for power, and while he He laid his head in luxury's soft lap, reign'a
And took too often there his easy nap. The proud protector of the power he gain’d, If brighter beams than all he threw not forth, Religion harsh, intolerant, austere,
'Twas negligence in him, not want of worth. Parent of manners like herself severe,
Surly and slovenly and bold and coarse, Drew a rough copy of the Christian face
Too proud for art, and trusting in mere force, Without the smile, the sweetness, or the grace; Spendthrift alike of money and of wit, The dark and sullen humour of the time
Always at speed, and never drawing bit, Judged every effort of the Muse a crime ;
He struck the lyre in such a careless mood, Verse in the finest mould of fancy cast,
And so disdain'the rules he understood, Was lumber in an age so void of taste :
The laurel seem’d to wait on his command, But when the second Charles assumed the sway, He snatch'd it rudely from the Muse's hand. And arts revived beneath a softer day,
Nature, exerting an unwearied power, Then like a bow long forced into a curve,
Forms, opens, and gives scent to every flower, The mind, released from too constrain’d a nerve, Spreads the fresh verdure of the field, and leads Flew to its first position with a spring
The dancing Naiads through the dewy meads, That made the vaulted roofs of pleasure ring. She fills profuse ten thousand little throats His court, the dissolute and hateful school With music, modulating all their notes, Of wantonness, where vice was taught by rule, And charms the woodland scenes and wilds unknown, Swarm'd with a scribbling herd as deep inlaid With artless airs and concerts of her own; With brutal lust as ever Circe made.
But seldom (as if fearful of expense) From these a long succession, in the rage
Vouchsafes to man a poet's just pretence. Of rank obscenity debauch'd their age,
Fervency, freedom, fluency of thought, Nor ceased, till ever anxious to redress
Harmony, strength, words exquisitely sought, The abuses of her sacred charge, the press, Fancy that from the bow that spans the sky, The Muse instructed a well nurtured train
Brings colours dipt in heaven that never die, Of abler votaries to cleanse the stain,
A soul exalted above earth, a mind And claim the palm for purity of song,
Skill'd in the characters that form mankind,That lewdness had usurp'd and worn so long. And as the sun, in rising beauty dress’d, Then decent pleasantry and sterling sense
Looks to the westward from the dappled east, That neither gave nor would endure offence, And marks, whatever clouds may interpose, Whipp'd out of sight, with satire just and keen, Ere yet his race begins, its glorious close, The puppy pack that had defiled the scene. An eye like his to catch the distant goal,
In front of these came Addison. In him Or ere the wheels of verse begin to roll, Humour in holiday and sightly trim,
Like his to shed illuminating rays Sublimity and Attic taste combined,
On every scene and subject it surveys,To polish, furnish, and delight the mind.
Thus graced the man asserts a poet's name, Then Pope, as harmony itself exact,
And the world cheerfully admits the claim. In verse well disciplined, complete, compact,
Pity! Religion has so seldom found Gave virtue and morality a grace
A skilful guide into poetic ground ! That, quite eclipsing pleasure's painted face, The flowers would spring where'er she deign’d to Levied a tax of wonder and applause,
And every muse attend her in her way. [stray, Even on the fools that trampled on their laws. Virtue indeed meets many a rhyming friend, But he (his musical finesse was such,
And many a compliment politely penn’d, So nice his ear, so delicate his touch)
But unattired in that becoming vest Made poetry a mere mechanic art,
Religion weaves for her, and half undress’d, And every warbler has his tune by heart.
Stands in the desert shivering and forlorn, Nature imparting her satiric gift,
A wintry figure, like a wither'd thorn, Her serious mirth, to Arbuthnot and Swift, The shelves are full, all other themes are sped ; With droll sobriety they raised a smile
Hackney'd and worn to the last Aimsy thread, At folly's cost, themselves unmoved the while. Satire has long since done his best, and curst That constellation set, the world in vain
And loathsome ribaldry has done his worst ; Must hope to look upon their like again.
Fancy has sported all her powers away A. Are we then left-B. Not wholly in the In tales, in trifles, and in children's play, dark:
And 'tis the sad complaint, and almost true, Wit now and then, struck smartly, shows a spark, Whate'er we write, we bring forth nothing new. Sufficient to redeem the modern race
'Twere new indeed, to see a bard all fire, From total night and absolute disgrace.
Touch'd with a coal from heaven, assume the lyre, While servile trick and imitative knack
And tell the world, still kindling as he sung, Confine the million in the beaten track,
With more than mortal music on his tongue,