« PreviousContinue »
Poor England! thou art a devoted deer,
A. Th’ inestimable Estimate of Brown
B. And yet his judgment was not fram'd amiss ; Its
error, if it err'd, was merely this He thought the dying hour already come, And a complete recov'ry struck him dumb.
But that effeminacy, folly, lust, Enervate and enfeeble, and needs must; And that a nation shamefully debas'd, Will be despis’d and tramp'd on at last, Unless sweet Penitence her pow'rs renew, Is truth, if history itself be true.
There is a time, and Justice marks the date,
But when a country (one that I could name)
Not only Vice disposes and prepares The Mind that slumbers sweetly in her snares, To stoop to Tyranny's usurp'd command, And bend her polish'd neck beneath his hand, (A dire effect, by one of Nature's laws, Unchangeably connected with its cause ;) But Providence himself will intervene, To throw his dark displeasure o'er the scene. All are his instruments; each form of war, What burns at home, or threatens from afar, Nature in arms, her elements at strife, The storms that overset the joys of life, Are but his rods to scourge a guilty land, And waste it at the bidding of his hand. He gives the word, and Mutiny soon roars In all her gates, and shakes her distant shores ; The standards of all nations are unfurl'd; She has one foe, and that one foe the world : And, if he doom that people with a frown, And mark them with a seal of wrath press'd down, Obduracy takes place; callous and tough, The reprobated race grows judgment-proof: Earth shakes beneath them, and Heav'n roars above; But nothing scares them from the course they love. To the lascivious pipe and wanton song, That charm down fear, they frolic it along, With mad rapidity and unconcern, Down to the gulf, from which is no return. They trust in navies, and their navies fail-God's curse, can cast away ten thousand sail ! They trust in armies, and their courage dies ; In wisdom, wealth, in fortune, and in lies; But all they trust in withers, as it must, When He commands, in whom they place no trust. Vengeance at last pours down
their coast A long despis’d, but now victorious, host; Tyranny sends the chain, that must abridge The noble sweep of all their privilege;
Gives liberty the last, the mortal shock;
A. Such lofty strains embellish what you teach. Mean you to prophesy, or but to preach ?
B. I know the mind, that feels indeed the fire The muse imparts, and can command the lyre, Acts with a force, and kindles with a real, Whate'er the theme, that others never feel. If human woes her soft attention claim, A tender sympathy pervades the frame; She pours a sensibility divine Along the nerve of ev'ry feeling line. But if a deed, not tamely to be borne, Fire indignation and a sense of scorn, The strings are swept with such a pow'r, so loud, The storm of music shakes th' astonished crowd. So, when remote futurity is brought Before the keen inquiry of her thought, A terrible sagacity informs The poet's heart; he looks to distant storms; He hears the thunder ere the tempest low'rs; And, arm'd with strength surpassing human pow'rs; Seizes events as yet unknown to man, And darts his soul into the dawning plan. Hence, in a Roman mouth, the graceful name Of prophet and of poet was the same; Hence British poets too the priesthood shared, And every
hallow'd druid was a bard, But no prophetic fires to me belong; I play with syllables, and sport in song.
A. At Westminster, where little poets strive To set a distich upon six and five, Where Discipline helps th' op'ning buds of sense, And makes his pupils proud with silver pence, I was a poet too; but modern taste Is so refind, and delicate, and chaste, That verse, whatever fire the fancy warms, Without a creamy smoothness has no charms.
Thus, all success depending on an ear, And thinking I might purchase it too dear, If sentiment
were sacrific'd to sound, And truth cut short to make a period round, I judg'd a man of sense could scarce do worse, Then caper
in the morris-dance of verse. B. Thus reputation is a spur to wit, And some wits flag through fear of losing it. Give me the line, that ploughs its stately course Like a proud swan, conqu’ring the stream by force ; That, like some cottage beauty, strikes the heart, Quite unindebted to the tricks of art. When Labour and when Dulness, club in hand, Like the two figures at St. Dunstan's, stand, Beating alternately, in measur'd time, The clock-work tintinnabulum of rhyme, Exact and regular the sounds will be ; But such mere quarter-strokes are pot for me.
From him who rears a poem lank and long, To him who strains his all into a song; Perhaps some bonny Caledonian air, All birks and braes, though he was never there; Or, having whelped a prologue with great pains, Feels himself spent, and fumbles for his brains; A prologue interdash'd with many a strokeAn art contrived to advertise a joke, So that the jest is clearly to be seen, Not in the words--but in the
To dally much with subjects mean and low,