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SIR SAMUEL GARTH (1661–1719)
Speak, Goddess! since 'tis thou that best canst tell
How ancient leagues to modern discord fell;
And why physicians were so cautious grown
Of others' lives, and lavish of their own;
How by a journey to the Elysian plain,
Peace triumphed, and old time returned again.
Not far from that most celebrated place
Where angry Justice shews her awful face;
Where little villains must submit to fate,
That great ones may enjoy the world in state;
There stands a dome, majestic to the sight,
And sumptuous arches bear its oval height;
A golden globe, placed high with artful skill,
Seems to the distant sight a gilded pill;
This pile was, by the pious patron's aim,
Raised for a use as noble as its frame;
Nor did the learn’d Society decline
The propagation of that great design;
In all her mazes, Nature's face they viewed,
And, as she disappeared, their search pursued. 20
Wrapt in the shade of night the goddess lies,
Yet to the learn'd unveils her dark disguise,
But shuns the gross access of vulgar eyes.
Now she unfolds the faint and dawning strife
Of infant atoms kindling into life;
How ductile matter new meanders takes,
And slender trains of twisting fibres makes;
And how the viscous seeks a closer tone,
By just degrees to harden into bone;
While the more loose flow from the vital urn, 30
And in full tides of purple streams return;
How lambent flames from life's bright lamps arise,
And dart in emanations through the eyes;
How from each sluice a gentle torrent pours,
To slake a feverish heat with ambient showers;
Whence their mechanic powers the spirits claim;
How great their force, how delicate their frame;
How the same nerves are fashioned to sustain
The greatest pleasure and the greatest pain;
Why bilious juice a golden light puts on,
And floods of chyle in silver currents run;
Courteous Fate! afford me there A table spread without my care With what the neighb'ring fields impart, Whose cleanliness be all its art. When of old the calf was drest — Tho' to make an angel's feast— In the plain, unstudied sauce Nor truffle, nor morillia was; Nor could the mighty patriarch's board 30 One far-fetch'd ortolane afford. Courteous Fate, then give me there Only plain and wholesome fare. Fruits indeed, would Heaven bestow, All, that did in Eden grow, All, but the forbidden tree, Would be coveted by me: Grapes, with juice so crowded up As breaking thro' the native cup; Figs, yet growing, candied o'er 4o By the sun's attracting power; Cherries, with the downy peach, All within my easy reach; Whilst, creeping near the humble ground, Should the strawberry be found, Springing wheresoe'er I strayed, Thro' those windings and that shade.
For my garments, let them be What may with the time agree; Warm, when Phoebus does retire, 5o And is ill-supplied by fire; But when he renews the year And verdant all the fields appear, Beauty every thing resumes, Birds have dropt their winter-plumes; When the lily full displayed Stands in purer white arrayed Than that vest which heretofore The luxurious monarch wore When from Salem's gates he drove 6o To the soft retreat of love, Lebanon's all burnish’d house, And the dear Egyptian spouse, – Clothe me, Fate, tho' not so gay, Clothe me light, and fresh as May. In the fountains let me view All my habit cheap and new, Such as, when sweet zephyrs fly, With their motions may comply, Gently waving, to express 7o Unaffected carelessness. No perfumes have there a part, Borrow'd from the chymist's art; But such as rise from flow'ry beds, Or the falling jasmin sheds! 'Twas the odour of the field
Esau's rural coat did yield
That inspir'd his Father's prayer
For blessings of the earth and air.
Of gums or powders had it smelt, 80
The supplanter, then unfelt,
Easily had been descry'd
For one that did in tents abide,
For some beauteous handmaid's joy
And his mother's darling boy.
Let me then no fragrance wear
But what the winds from gardens bear
In such kind, surprising gales
As gather'd from Fidentia's vales
All the flowers that in them grew; 90
Which intermixing, as they flew,
In wreathen garlands dropt again
On Lucullus, and his men,
Who, cheer'd by the victorious sight
Trebled numbers put to flight.
Let me, when I must be fine,
In such natural colours shine;
Wove, and painted by the sun,
Whose resplendent rays to shun,
When they do too fiercely beat, iod
Let me find some close retreat
Where they have no passage made
Thro' those windings, and that shade.
Exert thy voice, sweet harbinger of Spring!
This moment is thy time to sing,
This moment I attend to praise,
And set my numbers to thy lays.
Free as thine shall be my song;
As thy music, short, or long.
Poets, wild as thee, were born,
Pleasing best when unconfin'd,
When to please is least design'd,
Soothing but their cares to rest; ic
Cares do still their thoughts molest,
And still th’ unhappy poet's breast,
Like thine, when best he sings, is plac'd against a
She begins, let all be still!
Muse, thy promise now fulfill
Sweet, oh! sweet, still sweeter yet!
Can thy words such accents fit?
Canst thou syllables refine, -
Melt a sense that shall retain
Still some spirit of the brain, 2d
Till with sounds like these it join?
'Twill not bel then change thy note;
Let division shake thy throat.
Hark! division now she tries;
Yet as far the muse outflies.
Cease then, prithee, cease thy tune;
Trifler, wilt thou sing till June?
Till thy bus'ness all lies waste,
And the time of building's past!
Thus we poets that have speech, 3o
Unlike what thy forests teach,
If a fluent vein be shown
That's transcendent to our own,
Criticise, reform, or preach,
Or censure what we cannot reach.
In such a night, when every louder wind
Is to its distant cavern safe confin'd,
And only gentle zephyr fans his wings,
And lonely Philomel, still waking, sings;
Or from some tree, fam'd for the owl's delight,
She, hollowing clear, directs the wand’rer right;
In such a night, when passing clouds give place,
Or thinly vail the Heav'ns mysterious face;
When in some river, overhung with green, 9
The waving moon and trembling leaves are seen;
When freshen’d grass now bears itself upright,
And makes cool banks to pleasing rest invite,
Whence springs the woodbind and the bramble-
And where the sleepy cowslip shelter'd grows;
Whilst now a paler hue the foxglove takes,
Yet chequers still with red the dusky brakes;
When scatter'd glow-worms, but in twilight fine,
Show trivial beauties watch their hour to shine,
Whilst Salisb'ry stands the test of every light
In perfect charms and perfect virtue bright; 20
When odours which declin'd repelling day
Thro' temp'rate air uninterrupted stray;
When darken'd groves their softest shadows wear,
And falling waters we distinctly hear;
When thro' the gloom more venerable shows
Some ancient fabric, awful in repose,
While sunburnt hills their swarthy looks conceal
And swelling haycocks thicken up the vale;
When the loos'd horse now, as his pasture leads,
Comes slowly grazing thro' th' adjoining meads,
Whose stealing pace, and lengthen’d shade we fear,
Till torn up forage in his teeth we hear; 32
When nibbling sheep at large pursue their food,
And unmolested kine re-chew the cud;
When curlews cry beneath the village-walls,
And to her straggling brood the partridge calls;
Their shortliv'd jubilee the creatures keep,
Which but endures whilst tyrant-man does sleep;
When a sedate content the spirit feels,
And no fierce light disturb, whilst it reveals; 4o
But silent musings urge the mind to seek
Something too high for syllables to speak;
Till the free soul to a compos'dness charm’d,
Finding the elements of rage disarm'd,
O'er all below a solemn quiet grown,
Joys in th' inferior world and thinks it like her own:
In such a night let me abroad remain
Till morning breaks and all's confus'd again;
Our cares, our toils, our clamours are renew’d,
Or pleasures, seldom reach'd, again pursu'd.
WILLIAM WALSH (1663–1708)
What has this bugbear Death that's worth our
After a life in pain and sorrow past,
After deluding hope and dire despair,
Death only gives us quiet at the last. 4
How strangely are our love and hate misplaced
Freedom we seek, and yet from freedom flee;
Courting those tyrant sins that chain us fast,
And shunning Death, that only sets us free. 8
'Tis not a foolish fear of future pains,
(Why should they fear who keep their souls from
stains?) That makes me dread thy terrors, Death, to see: 'Tis not the loss of riches, or of fame, I2
Or the vain toys the vulgar pleasures name; 'Tis nothing, Caelia, but the losing thee.
MATTHEW PRIOR (1664–1721)
In vain you tell your parting lover, You wish fair winds may waft him over. Alas! what winds can happy prove, That bear me far from what I love? Alas! what dangers on the main Can equal those that I sustain, From slighted vows, and cold disdain? 7
Be gentle, and in pity choose To wish the wildest tempests loose: That thrown again upon the coast, Where first my shipwrecked heart was lost, I may once more repeat my pain; Once more in dying notes complain Of slighted vows, and cold disdain. I4
TO A CHILD OF QUALITY FIVE YEARS OLD
Lords, knights, and 'squires, the numerous band,
That wear the fair Miss Mary's fetters,
Were summoned by her high command,
To show their passions by their letters. 4
My pen among the rest I took,
Lest those bright eyes that cannot read
Should dart their kindling fires, and look
The power they have to be obeyed. 8
Nor quality, nor reputation,
Forbid me yet my flame to tell,
Dear Five-years-old befriends my passion,
And I may write till she can spell. 12
For, while she makes her silk-worms beds
With all the tender things I swear;
Whilst all the house my passion reads,
In papers round her baby's hair; I6
She may receive and own my flame,
For, though the strictest prudes should know it,
She'll pass for a most virtuous dame,
And I for an unhappy poet. 2O
Then too, alas! when she shall tear
The lines some younger rival sends;
She'll give me leave to write, I fear,
And we shall still continue friends. 24
For, as our different ages move,
'Tis so ordained, (would Fate but mend it!)
That I shall be past making love,
When she begins to comprehend it. 28
Dear Thomas, did'st thou never pop
Thy head into a tin-man's shop?
There, Thomas, did'st thou never see
('Tis but by way of simile !)
A squirrel spend his little rage
In jumping round a rolling cage? 6
The cage, as either side turned up,
Striking a ring of bells a-top?—
Moved in the orb, pleased with the chimes,
The foolish creature thinks he climbs:
But here or there, turn wood or wire,
He never gets two inches higher. 12
So fares it with those merry blades, That frisk it under Pindus's shades. In noble songs, and lofty odes, They tread on stars, and talk with gods;
Still dancing in an airy round,
Still pleased with their own verses' sound; 18
Brought back, how fast soe'er they go,
Always aspiring, always low.
THE REMEDY WORSE THAN THE DISEASE
I sent for Ratcliffe; was so ill,
That other doctors gave me over:
He felt my pulse, prescribed his pill,
And I was likely to recover. 4
But when the wit began to wheeze,
And wine had warm'd the politician,
Cured yesterday of my disease,
I died last night of my physician. 8
TRANSLATED FROM THE LATIN OF HADRIAN
Poor little, pretty, fluttering thing,
Must we no longer live together?
And dost thou prune thy trembling wing, 3
To take thy flight thou know'st not whither?
Thy humorous vein, thy pleasing folly
Lie all neglected, all forgot:
And pensive, wavering, melancholy,
Thou dread'st and hop'st thou know'st not
JONATHAN SWIFT (1667–1745)
FROM VERSES ON THE DEATH OF DR. SWIFT
Vain human kindl fantastic racel
Thy various follies who can trace? 4o
Self-love, ambition, envy, pride,
Their empire in our hearts divide.
Give others riches, power, and station,
'Tis all on me a usurpation.
I have no title to aspire;
Yet, when you sink, I seem the higher.
In Pope I cannot read a line
But with a sigh I wish it mine;
When he can in one couplet fix
More sense than I can do in six, 5o
It gives me such a jealous fit
I cry, “Pox take him and his with"
I grieve to be outdone by Gay
In my own humorous biting way.
Arbuthnot is no more my friend,
Who dares to irony pretend,
Which I was born to introduce,
Refined it first, and show'd its use.
St. John, as well as Pultney, knows
That I had some repute for prose; 6o
And, till they drove me out of date,
Could maul a minister of state.
If they have mortified my pride,
And made me throw my pen aside:
If with such talents Heaven has bless'd 'em,
Have I not reason to detest 'em P
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From Dublin soon to London spread, 'Tis told at court, “the Dean is dead.” And Lady Suffolk, in the spleen, Runs laughing up to tell the queen. 18o The queen, so gracious, mild, and good, Cries, “Is he gone: 'tis time he should. He's dead, you say; then let him rot: I'm glad the medals were forgot. I promised him, I own; but when? I only was the princess then; But now, as consort of the king, You know, 'tis quite another thing.” Now Chartres, at Sir Robert's levee, Tells with a sneer the tidings heavy: 190 “Why, if he died without his shoes,” Cries Bob, “I’m sorry for the news: O, were the wretch but living still, And in his place my good friend Will! Or had a mitre on his head, Provided Bolingbroke were dead!” Now Curll his shop from rubbish drains: Three genuine tomes of Swift's remains ! And then, to make them pass the glibber, Revised by Tibbalds, Moore, and Cibber. 200 He'll treat me as he does my betters, Publish my will, my life, my letters: Revive the libels born to die; Which Pope must bear, as well as I.
Here shift the scene, to represent How those I love my death lament. Poor Pope would grieve a month, and Gay A week, and Arbuthnot a day. St. John himself will scarce forbear To bite his pen, and drop a tear. 2Io The rest will give a shrug, and cry, “I’m sorry — but we all must die!”
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Suppose me dead; and then suppose A club assembled at the Rose; 3oo Where, from discourse of this and that, I grow the subject of their chat. And while they toss my name about,
With favour some, and some without, One, quite indifferent in the cause, My character impartial draws: “The Dean, if we believe report, Was never ill-received at court. As for his works in verse and prose, I own myself no judge of those; 3Io Nor can I tell what critics thought 'em, But this I know, all people bought 'em. As with a moral view design'd To cure the vices of mankind, His vein, ironically grave, Exposed the fool, and lash'd the knave. To steal a hint was never known, But what he writ was all his own. “He never thought an honour done him, Because a duke was proud to own him; 320 Would rather slip aside and choose To talk with wits in dirty shoes; Despised the fools with stars and garters, _So often seen caressing Chartres. He never courted men in station, Nor persons held in admiration; Of no man's greatness was afraid, Because he sought for no man's aid. Though trusted long in great affairs He gave himself no haughty airs. 33o Without regarding private ends, Spent all his credit for his friends; And only chose the wise and good; No flatterers; no allies in blood: But succour’d virtue in distress, And seldom fail'd of good success; As numbers in their hearts must own, Who, but for him, had been unknown.
“Perhaps I may allow the Dean Had too much satire in his vein; And seem'd determined not to starve it, Because no age could more deserve it. Yet malice never was his aim; He lash'd the vice, but spared the name; 460 No individual could resent, Where thousands equally were meant; His satire points at no defect, JBut what all mortals may correct; L/ For he abhorr'd that senseless tribe Who call it humour when they gibe: He spared a hump, or crooked nose, Whose owners set not up for beaux...” True genuine dullness moved his pity, Unless it offer'd to be witty. 47o Those who their ignorance confest, He ne'er offended with a jest; But laugh'd to hear an idiot quote