Specimens with Memoirs of the Less-known British Poets, Complete
Part 15 out of 20
verses, mentioned by Burns, to the old tune of 'Cowdenknowes.'
THE BUSH ABOON TRAQUAIR.
1 Hear me, ye nymphs, and every swain,
I'll tell how Peggy grieves me;
Though thus I languish and complain,
Alas! she ne'er believes me.
My vows and sighs, like silent air,
Unheeded, never move her;
At the bonnie Bush aboon Traquair,
'Twas there I first did love her.
2 That day she smiled and made me glad,
No maid seemed ever kinder;
I thought myself the luckiest lad,
So sweetly there to find her;
I tried to soothe my amorous flame,
In words that I thought tender;
If more there passed, I'm not to blame--
I meant not to offend her.
3 Yet now she scornful flies the plain,
The fields we then frequented;
If e'er we meet she shows disdain,
She looks as ne'er acquainted.
The bonnie bush bloomed fair in May,
Its sweets I'll aye remember;
But now her frowns make it decay--
It fades as in December.
4 Ye rural powers, who hear my strains,
Why thus should Peggy grieve me?
Oh, make her partner in my pains,
Then let her smiles relieve me!
If not, my love will turn despair,
My passion no more tender;
I'll leave the Bush aboon Traquair--
To lonely wilds I'll wander.
Tickell is now chiefly remembered from his connexion with Addison. He
was born in 1686, at Bridekirk, near Carlisle. In April 1701, he became
a member of Queen's College in Oxford. In 1708, he was made M.A., and
two years after was chosen Fellow. He held his Fellowship till 1726,
when, marrying in Dublin, he necessarily vacated it. He attracted
Addison's attention first by some elegant lines in praise of Rosamond,
and then by the 'Prospect of Peace,' a poem in which Tickell, although
called by Swift Whiggissimus, for once took the Tory side. This poem
Addison, in spite of its politics, praised highly in the _Spectator_,
which led to a lifelong friendship between them. Tickell commenced
contributing to the _Spectator_, among other things publishing there a
poem entitled the 'Royal Progress.' Some time after, he produced a
translation of the first book of the Iliad, which Addison declared to be
superior to Pope's. This led the latter to imagine that it was Addison's
own, although it is now, we believe, certain, from the MS., which still
exists, that it was a veritable production of Tickell's. When Addison
went to Ireland, as secretary to Lord Sunderland, Tickell accompanied
him, and was employed in public business. When Addison became Secretary
of State, he made Tickell Under-Secretary; and when he died, he left him
the charge of publishing his works, with an earnest recommendation to
the care of Craggs. Tickell faithfully performed the task, prefixing to
them an elegy on his departed friend, which is now his own chief title
to fame. In 1725, he was made secretary to the Lords-Justices of
Ireland, a place of great trust and honour, and which he retained till
his death. This event happened at Bath, in the year 1740.
His genius was not strong, but elegant and refined, and appears, as we
have just stated, to best advantage in his lines on Addison's death,
which are warm with genuine love, tremulous with sincere sorrow, and
shine with a sober splendour, such as Addison's own exquisite taste
would have approved.
TO THE EARL OF WARWICK, ON THE DEATH OF MR ADDISON.
If, dumb too long, the drooping muse hath stayed,
And left her debt to Addison unpaid,
Blame not her silence, Warwick, but bemoan,
And judge, oh judge, my bosom by your own.
What mourner ever felt poetic fires!
Slow comes the verse that real woe inspires:
Grief unaffected suits but ill with art,
Or flowing numbers with a bleeding heart.
Can I forget the dismal night that gave
My soul's best part for ever to the grave?
How silent did his old companions tread,
By midnight lamps, the mansions of the dead,
Through breathing statues, then unheeded things,
Through rows of warriors, and through walks of kings!
What awe did the slow solemn knell inspire;
The pealing organ, and the pausing choir;
The duties by the lawn-robed prelate paid:
And the last words that dust to dust conveyed!
While speechless o'er thy closing grave we bend,
Accept these tears, thou dear departed friend.
Oh, gone for ever! take this long adieu;
And sleep in peace, next thy loved Montague.
To strew fresh laurels, let the task be mine,
A frequent pilgrim at thy sacred shrine;
Mine with true sighs thy absence to bemoan,
And grave with faithful epitaphs thy stone.
If e'er from me thy loved memorial part,
May shame afflict this alienated heart;
Of thee forgetful if I form a song,
My lyre be broken, and untuned my tongue,
My grief be doubled from thy image free,
And mirth a torment, unchastised by thee!
Oft let me range the gloomy aisles alone,
Sad luxury! to vulgar minds unknown,
Along the walls where speaking marbles show
What worthies form the hallowed mould belew;
Proud names, who once the reins of empire held;
In arms who triumphed, or in arts excelled;
Chiefs, graced with scars, and prodigal of blood;
Stern patriots, who for sacred freedom stood;
Just men, by whom impartial laws were given;
And saints, who taught and led the way to heaven;
Ne'er to these chambers, where the mighty rest,
Since their foundation came a nobler guest;
Nor e'er was to the bowers of bliss conveyed
A fairer spirit or more welcome shade.
In what new region, to the just assigned,
What new employments please the embodied mind?
A winged Virtue, through the ethereal sky,
From world to world unwearied does he fly?
Or curious trace the long laborious maze
Of Heaven's decrees, where wondering angels gaze?
Does he delight to hear bold seraphs tell
How Michael battled, and the dragon fell;
Or, mixed with milder cherubim, to glow
In hymns of love, not ill essayed below?
Or dost thou warn poor mortals left behind,
A task well suited to thy gentle mind?
Oh! if sometimes thy spotless form descend,
To me thy aid, thou guardian genius, lend!
When rage misguides me, or when fear alarms,
When pain distresses, or when pleasure charms,
In silent whisperings purer thoughts impart,
And turn from ill a frail and feeble heart;
Lead through the paths thy virtue trod before,
Till bliss shall join, nor death can part us more.
That awful form, which, so the heavens decree,
Must still be loved and still deplored by me,
In nightly visions seldom fails to rise,
Or, roused by fancy, meets my waking eyes.
If business calls, or crowded courts invite,
The unblemished statesman seems to strike my sight;
If in the stage I seek to soothe my care,
I meet his soul which breathes in Cato there;
If pensive to the rural shades I rove,
His shape o'ertakes me in the lonely grove;
'Twas there of just and good he reasoned strong,
Cleared some great truth, or raised some serious song:
There patient showed us the wise course to steer,
A candid censor, and a friend severe;
There taught us how to live; and (oh! too high
The price for knowledge,) taught us how to die.
Thou hill, whose brow the antique structures grace,
Reared by bold chiefs of Warwick's noble race,
Why, once so loved, whene'er thy bower appears,
O'er my dim eyeballs glance the sudden tears?
How sweet were once thy prospects fresh and fair,
Thy sloping walks, and unpolluted air!
How sweet the glooms beneath thy aged trees,
Thy noontide shadow, and thy evening breeze!
His image thy forsaken bowers restore;
Thy walks and airy prospects charm no more;
No more the summer in thy glooms allayed,
Thy evening breezes, and thy noon-day shade.
From other ills, however fortune frowned,
Some refuge in the Muse's art I found;
Reluctant now I touch the trembling string,
Bereft of him who taught me how to sing;
And these sad accents, murmured o'er his urn,
Betray that absence they attempt to mourn.
Oh! must I then (now fresh my bosom bleeds,
And Craggs in death to Addison succeeds,)
The verse, begun to one lost friend, prolong,
And weep a second in the unfinished song!
These works divine, which, on his death-bed laid,
To thee, O Craggs! the expiring sage conveyed,
Great, but ill-omened, monument of fame,
Nor he survived to give, nor thou to claim.
Swift after him thy social spirit flies,
And close to his, how soon! thy coffin lies.
Blest pair! whose union future bards shall tell
In future tongues: each other's boast! farewell!
Farewell! whom, joined in fame, in friendship tried,
No chance could sever, nor the grave divide.
This elegiast was the second son of Anthony Hammond, a brother-in-law of
Sir Robert Walpole, and a man of some note in his day. He was born in
1710; educated at Westminster school; became equerry to the Prince of
Wales; fell in love with a lady named Dashwood, who rejected him, and
drove him to temporary derangement, and then to elegy-writing; entered
parliament for Truro, in Cornwall, in 1741; and died the next year. His
elegies were published after his death, and, although abounding in
pedantic allusions and frigid conceits, became very popular.
He imagines himself married to Delia, and that, content with each other,
they are retired into the country.
1 Let others boast their heaps of shining gold,
And view their fields, with waving plenty crowned,
Whom neighbouring foes in constant terror hold,
And trumpets break their slumbers, never sound:
2 While calmly poor I trifle life away,
Enjoy sweet leisure by my cheerful fire,
No wanton hope my quiet shall betray,
But, cheaply blessed, I'll scorn each vain desire.
3 With timely care I'll sow my little field,
And plant my orchard with its master's hand,
Nor blush to spread the hay, the hook to wield,
Or range my sheaves along the sunny land.
4 If late at dusk, while carelessly I roam,
I meet a strolling kid, or bleating lamb,
Under my arm I'll bring the wanderer home,
And not a little chide its thoughtless dam.
5 What joy to hear the tempest howl in vain,
And clasp a fearful mistress to my breast!
Or, lulled to slumber by the beating rain,
Secure and happy, sink at last to rest!
6 Or, if the sun in flaming Leo ride,
By shady rivers indolently stray,
And with my Delia, walking side by side,
Hear how they murmur as they glide away!
7 What joy to wind along the cool retreat,
To stop and gaze on Delia as I go!
To mingle sweet discourse with kisses sweet,
And teach my lovely scholar all I know!
8 Thus pleased at heart, and not with fancy's dream,
In silent happiness I rest unknown;
Content with what I am, not what I seem,
I live for Delia and myself alone.
* * * * *
9 Hers be the care of all my little train,
While I with tender indolence am blest,
The favourite subject of her gentle reign,
By love alone distinguished from the rest.
10 For her I'll yoke my oxen to the plough,
In gloomy forests tend my lonely flock;
For her, a goat-herd, climb the mountain's brow,
And sleep extended on the naked rock:
11 Ah, what avails to press the stately bed,
And far from her 'midst tasteless grandeur weep,
By marble fountains lay the pensive head,
And, while they murmur, strive in vain to sleep!
12 Delia alone can please, and never tire,
Exceed the paint of thought in true delight;
With her, enjoyment wakens new desire,
And equal rapture glows through every night:
13 Beauty and worth in her alike contend,
To charm the fancy, and to fix the mind;
In her, my wife, my mistress, and my friend,
I taste the joys of sense and reason joined.
14 On her I'll gaze, when others' loves are o'er,
And dying press her with my clay-cold hand--
Thou weep'st already, as I were no more,
Nor can that gentle breast the thought withstand.
15 Oh, when I die, my latest moments spare,
Nor let thy grief with sharper torments kill,
Wound not thy cheeks, nor hurt that flowing hair,
Though I am dead, my soul shall love thee still:
16 Oh, quit the room, oh, quit the deathful bed,
Or thou wilt die, so tender is thy heart;
Oh, leave me, Delia, ere thou see me dead,
These weeping friends will do thy mournful part:
17 Let them, extended on the decent bier,
Convey the corse in melancholy state,
Through all the village spread the tender tear,
While pitying maids our wondrous loves relate.
We may here mention Dr George Sewell, author of a Life of Sir Walter
Haleigh, a few papers in the _Spectator_, and some rather affecting
verses written on consumption, where he says, in reference to his
'Thy narrow pride, thy fancied green,
(For vanity's in little seen,)
All must be left when death appears,
In spite of wishes, groans, and tears;
Not one of all thy plants that grow,
But rosemary, will with thee go;'--
Sir John Vanbrugh, best known as an architect, but who also wrote
poetry;--Edward Ward (more commonly called Ned Ward), a poetical
publican, who wrote ten thick volumes, chiefly in Hudibrastic verse,
displaying a good deal of coarse cleverness;--Barton Booth, the famous
actor, author of a song which closes thus--
'Love, and his sister fair, the Soul,
Twin-born, from heaven together came;
Love will the universe control,
When dying seasons lose their name.
Divine abodes shall own his power,
When time and death shall be no more;'--
Oldmixon, one of the heroes of the 'Dunciad,' famous in his day as a
party historian;--Richard West, a youth of high promise, the friend of
Gray, and who died in his twenty-sixth year;--James Eyre Weekes, an
Irishman, author of a clever copy of love verses, called 'The Five
Traitors;'--Bramston, an Oxford man, who wrote a poem called 'The Man of
Taste;'--and William Meston, an Aberdonian, author of a set of burlesque
poems entitled 'Mother Grim's Tales.'
The extreme excellence, fulness, and popularity of Johnson's Life of
Savage must excuse our doing more than mentioning the leading dates of
his history. He was the son of the Earl of Rivers and the Countess of
Macclesfield, and was born in London, 1698. His mother, who had begot
him in adultery after having openly avowed her criminality, in order to
obtain a divorce from her husband, placed the boy under the care of a
poor woman, who brought him up as her son. His maternal grandmother,
Lady Mason, however, took an interest him and placed him at a grammar
school at St Alban's. He was afterwards apprenticed to a shoemaker. On
the death of his nurse, he found some letters which led to the discovery
of his real parent. He applied to her, accordingly, to be acknowledged
as her son; but she repulsed his every advance, and persecuted him with
unrelenting barbarity. He found, however, some influential friends, such
as Steele, Fielding, Aaron Hill, Pope, and Lord Tyrconnell. He was,
however, his own worst enemy, and contracted habits of the most
irregular description. In a tavern brawl he killed one James Sinclair,
and was condemned to die; but, notwithstanding his mother's interference
to prevent the exercise of the royal clemency, he was pardoned by the
queen, who afterwards gave him a pension of £50 a-year. He supported
himself in a precarious way by writing poetical pieces. Lord Tyrconnell
took him for a while into his house, and allowed him £200 a-year, but he
soon quarrelled with him, and left. When the queen died he lost his
pension, but his friends made it up by an annuity to the same amount. He
went away to reside at Swansea, but on occasion of a visit he made to
Bristol he was arrested for a small debt, and in the prison he sickened,
and died on the 1st of August 1743. He was only forty-five years of age.
After all, Savage, in Johnson's Life, is just a dung-fly preserved in
amber. His 'Bastard,' indeed, displays considerable powers, stung by a
consciousness of wrong into convulsive action; but his other works are
nearly worthless, and his life was that of a proud, passionate, selfish,
and infatuated fool, unredeemed by scarcely one trait of genuine
excellence in character. We love and admire, even while we deeply blame,
such men as Burns; but for Savage our feeling is a curious compost of
sympathy with his misfortunes, contempt for his folly, and abhorrence
for the ingratitude, licentiousness, and other coarse and savage sins
which characterised and prematurely destroyed him.
INSCRIBED, WITH ALL DUE REVERENCE, TO MRS BRETT,
ONCE COUNTESS OF MACCLESFIELD.
In gayer hours, when high my fancy ran,
The Muse exulting, thus her lay began:
'Blest be the Bastard's birth! through wondrous ways,
He shines eccentric like a comet's blaze!
No sickly fruit of faint compliance he!
He! stamped in nature's mint of ecstasy!
He lives to build, not boast a generous race:
No tenth transmitter of a foolish face:
His daring hope no sire's example bounds;
His first-born lights no prejudice confounds.
He, kindling from within, requires no flame;
He glories in a Bastard's glowing name.
'Born to himself, by no possession led,
In freedom fostered, and by fortune fed;
Nor guides, nor rules his sovereign choice control,
His body independent as his soul;
Loosed to the world's wide range, enjoined no aim,
Prescribed no duty, and assigned no name:
Nature's unbounded son, he stands alone,
His heart unbiased, and his mind his own.
'O mother, yet no mother! 'tis to you
My thanks for such distinguished claims are due;
You, unenslaved to Nature's narrow laws,
Warm championess for freedom's sacred cause,
From all the dry devoirs of blood and line,
From ties maternal, moral, and divine,
Discharged my grasping soul; pushed me from shore,
And launched me into life without an oar.
'What had I lost, if, conjugally kind,
By nature hating, yet by vows confined,
Untaught the matrimonial bonds to slight,
And coldly conscious of a husband's right,
You had faint-drawn me with a form alone,
A lawful lump of life by force your own!
Then, while your backward will retrenched desire,
And unconcurring spirits lent no fire,
I had been born your dull, domestic heir,
Load of your life, and motive of your care;
Perhaps been poorly rich, and meanly great,
The slave of pomp, a cipher in the state;
Lordly neglectful of a worth unknown,
And slumbering in a seat by chance my own.
'Far nobler blessings wait the bastard's lot;
Conceived in rapture, and with fire begot!
Strong as necessity, he starts away,
Climbs against wrongs, and brightens into day.'
Thus unprophetic, lately misinspired,
I sung: gay fluttering hope my fancy fired:
Inly secure, through conscious scorn of ill,
Nor taught by wisdom how to balance will,
Rashly deceived, I saw no pits to shun,
But thought to purpose and to act were one;
Heedless what pointed cares pervert his way,
Whom caution arms not, and whom woes betray;
But now exposed, and shrinking from distress,
I fly to shelter while the tempests press;
My Muse to grief resigns the varying tone,
The raptures languish, and the numbers groan.
O Memory! thou soul of joy and pain!
Thou actor of our passions o'er again!
Why didst thou aggravate the wretch's woe?
Why add continuous smart to every blow?
Few are my joys; alas! how soon forgot!
On that kind quarter thou invad'st me not;
While sharp and numberless my sorrows fall,
Yet thou repeat'st and multipli'st them all.
Is chance a guilt? that my disastrous heart,
For mischief never meant; must ever smart?
Can self-defence be sin?--Ah, plead no more!
What though no purposed malice stained thee o'er?
Had Heaven befriended thy unhappy side,
Thou hadst not been provoked--or thou hadst died.
Far be the guilt of homeshed blood from all
On whom, unsought, embroiling dangers fall!
Still the pale dead revives, and lives to me,
To me! through Pity's eye condemned to see.
Remembrance veils his rage, but swells his fate;
Grieved I forgive, and am grown cool too late.
Young, and unthoughtful then; who knows, one day,
What ripening virtues might have made their way?
He might have lived till folly died in shame,
Till kindling wisdom felt a thirst for fame.
He might perhaps his country's friend have proved;
Both happy, generous, candid, and beloved,
He might have saved some worth, now doomed to fall;
And I, perchance, in him, have murdered all.
O fate of late repentance! always vain:
Thy remedies but lull undying pain.
Where shall my hope find rest?--No mother's care
Shielded my infant innocence with prayer:
No father's guardian hand my youth maintained,
Called forth my virtues, or from vice restrained.
Is it not thine to snatch some powerful arm,
First to advance, then screen from future harm?
Am I returned from death to live in pain?
Or would imperial Pity save in vain?
Distrust it not--What blame can mercy find,
Which gives at once a life, and rears a mind?
Mother, miscalled, farewell--of soul severe,
This sad reflection yet may force one tear:
All I was wretched by to you I owed,
Alone from strangers every comfort flowed!
Lost to the life you gave, your son no more,
And now adopted, who was doomed before;
New-born, I may a nobler mother claim,
But dare not whisper her immortal name;
Supremely lovely, and serenely great!
Majestic mother of a kneeling state!
Queen of a people's heart, who ne'er before
Agreed--yet now with one consent adore!
One contest yet remains in this desire,
Who most shall give applause, where all admire.
THOMAS WARTON THE ELDER.
The Wartons were a poetical race. The father of Thomas and Joseph, names
so intimately associated with English poetry, was himself a poet. He was
of Magdalene College in Oxford, vicar of Basingstoke and Cobham, and
twice chosen poetry professor. He was born in 1687, and died in 1745.
Besides the little American ode quoted below, we are tempted to give the
VERSES WRITTEN AFTER SEEING WINDSOR CASTLE.
From beauteous Windsor's high and storied halls,
Where Edward's chiefs start from the glowing walls,
To my low cot, from ivory beds of state,
Pleased I return, unenvious of the great.
So the bee ranges o'er the varied scenes
Of corn, of heaths, of fallows, and of greens;
Pervades the thicket, soars above the hill,
Or murmurs to the meadow's murmuring rill;
Now haunts old hollowed oaks, deserted cells,
Now seeks the low vale-lily's silver bells;
Sips the warm fragrance of the greenhouse bowers,
And tastes the myrtle and the citron flowers;--
At length returning to the wonted comb,
Prefers to all his little straw-built home.
This seems sweet and simple poetry.
AN AMERICAN LOVE ODE.
FROM THE SECOND VOLUME OF MONTAIGNE'S ESSAYS.
Stay, stay, thou lovely, fearful snake,
Nor hide thee in yon darksome brake:
But let me oft thy charms review,
Thy glittering scales, and golden hue;
From these a chaplet shall be wove,
To grace the youth I dearest love.
Then ages hence, when thou no more
Shalt creep along the sunny shore,
Thy copied beauties shall be seen;
Thy red and azure mixed with green,
In mimic folds thou shalt display;--
Stay, lovely, fearful adder, stay.
In contemplating the lives and works of the preceding poets in this
third volume of 'Specimens,' we have been impressed with a sense, if not
of their absolute, yet of their comparative mediocrity. Beside such
neglected giants as Henry More, Joseph Beaumont, and Andrew Marvell, the
Pomfrets, Sedleys, Blackmores, and Savages sink into insignificance. But
when we come to the name of Swift, we feel ourselves again approaching
an Alpine region. The air of a stern mountain-summit breathes chill
around our temples, and we feel that if we have no amiability to melt,
we have altitude at least to measure, and strange profound secrets of
nature, like the ravines of lofty hills, to explore. The men of the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries may be compared to Lebanon, or
Snowdown, or Benlomond towering grandly over fertile valleys, on which
they smile--Swift to the tremendous Romsdale Horn in Norway, shedding
abroad, from a brow of four thousand feet high, what seems a scowl of
settled indignation, as if resolved not to rejoice even over the wide-
stretching deserts which, and nothing but which, it everlastingly
beholds. Mountains all of them, but what a difference between such a
mountain as Shakspeare, and such a mountain as Swift!
Instead of going minutely over a path so long since trodden to mire as
the life of Swift, let us expend a page or two in seeking to form some
estimate of his character and genius. It is refreshing to come upon a
new thing in the world, even though it be a strange or even a bad thing;
and certainly, in any age and country, such a being as Swift must have
appeared an anomaly, not for his transcendent goodness, not for his
utter badness, but because the elements of good and evil were mixed in
him into a medley so astounding, and in proportions respectively so
large, yet unequal, that the analysis of the two seemed to many
competent only to the Great Chymist, Death, and that a sense of the
disproportion seems to have moved the man himself to inextinguishable
laughter,--a laughter which, radiating out of his own singular heart as
a centre, swept over the circumference of all beings within his reach,
and returned crying, 'Give, give,' as if he were demanding a universal
sphere for the exercise of the savage scorn which dwelt within him, and
as if he laughed not more 'consumedly' at others than he did at himself.
Ere speaking of Swift as a man, let us say something about his genius.
That, like his character, was intensely peculiar. It was a compound of
infinite ingenuity, with very little poetical imagination--of gigantic
strength, with a propensity to incessant trifling--of passionate
purpose, with the clearest and coldest expression, as though a furnace
were fuelled with snow. A Brobdignagian by size, he was for ever toying
with Lilliputian slings and small craft. One of the most violent of
party men, and often fierce as a demoniac in temper, his favourite motto
was _Vive la bagatelle_. The creator of entire new worlds, we doubt if
his works contain more than two or three lines of genuine poetry. He may
be compared to one of the locusts of the Apocalypse, in that he had a
tail like unto a scorpion, and a sting in his tail; but his 'face is not
as the face of man, his hair is not as the hair of women, and on his
head there is no crown like gold.' All Swift's creations are more or
less disgusting. Not one of them is beautiful. His Lilliputians are
amazingly life-like, but compare them to Shakspeare's fairies, such
as Peaseblossom, Cobweb, and Mustardseed; his Brobdignagians are
excrescences like enormous warts; and his Yahoos might have been spawned
in the nightmare of a drunken butcher. The same coarseness characterises
his poems and his 'Tale of a Tub.' He might well, however, in his old
age, exclaim, in reference to the latter, 'Good God! what a genius I
had when I wrote that book!' It is the wildest, wittiest, wickedest,
wealthiest book of its size in the English language. Thoughts and
figures swarm in every corner of its pages, till you think of a
disturbed nest of angry ants, for all the figures and thoughts are black
and bitter. One would imagine the book to have issued from a mind that
had been gathering gall as well as sense in an antenatal state of being.
Swift, in all his writings--sermons, political tracts, poems, and
fictions--is essentially a satirist. He consisted originally of three
principal parts,--sense, an intense feeling of the ludicrous, and
selfish passion; and these were sure, in certain circumstances, to
ferment into a spirit of satire, 'strong as death, and cruel as the
grave.' Born with not very much natural benevolence, with little purely
poetic feeling, with furious passions and unbounded ambition, he was
entirely dependent for his peace of mind upon success. Had he become, as
by his talents he was entitled to be, the prime minister of his day, he
would have figured as a greater tyrant in the cabinet than even Chatham.
But as he was prevented from being the first statesman, he became the
first satirist of his time. From vain efforts to grasp supremacy for
himself and his party, he retired growling to his Dublin den; and there,
as Haman thought scorn to lay his hand on Mordecai, but extended his
murderous purpose to all the people of the Jews,--and as Nero wished
that Rome had one neck, that he might destroy it at a blow,--so Swift
was stung by his personal disappointment to hurl out scorn at man and
suspicion at his Maker. It was not, it must be noticed, the evil which
was in man which excited his hatred and contempt; it was man himself. He
was not merely, as many are, disgusted with the selfish and malignant
elements which are mingled in man's nature and character, and disposed
to trace them to any cause save a Divine will, but he believed man to
be, as a whole, the work and child of the devil; and he told the
imaginary creator and creature to their face, what he thought the
truth,--'The devil is an ass.' His was the very madness of Manichaeism.
That heresy held that the devil was one of two aboriginal creative
powers, but Swift seemed to believe at times that he was the only God.
From a Yahoo man, it was difficult to avoid the inference of a demon
deity. It is very laughable to find writers in _Blackwood_ and elsewhere
striving to prove Swift a Christian, as if, whatever were his
professions, and however sincere he might be often in these, the whole
tendency of his writings, his perpetual and unlimited abuse of man's
body and soul, his denial of every human virtue, the filth he pours upon
every phase of human nature, and the doctrine he insinuates--that man
has fallen indeed, but fallen, not from the angel, but from the animal,
or, rather, is just a bungled brute,--were not enough to shew that
either his notions were grossly erroneous and perverted, or that he
himself deserved, like another Nebuchadnezzar, to be driven from men,
and to have a beast's heart given unto him. Sometimes he reminds us of
an impure angel, who has surprised man naked and asleep, looked at him
with microscopic eyes, ignored all his peculiar marks of fallen dignity
and incipient godhood, and in heartless rhymes reported accordingly.
Swift belonged to the same school as Pope, although the feminine element
which was in the latter modified and mellowed his feelings. Pope was a
more successful and a happier man than Swift. He was much smaller, too,
in soul as well as in body, and his gall-organ was proportionably less.
Pope's feeling to humanity was a tiny malice; Swift's became, at length,
a black malignity. Pope always reminds us of an injured and pouting hero
of Lilliput, 'doing well to be angry' under the gourd of a pocket-flap,
or squealing out his griefs from the centre of an empty snuff-box; Swift
is a man, nay, monster of misanthropy. In minute and microscopic vision
of human infirmities, Pope excels even Swift; but then you always
conceive Swift leaning down a giant, though gnarled, stature to behold
them, while Pope is on their level, and has only to look straight before
him. Pope's wrath is always measured; Swift's, as in the 'Legion-Club'
is a whirlwind of 'black fire and horror,' in the breath of which no
flesh can live, and against which genius and virtue themselves furnish
After all, Swift might, perhaps, have put in the plea of Byron--
'All my faults perchance thou knowest,
All my madness none can know.'
There was a black spot of madness in his brain, and another black spot
in his heart; and the two at last met, and closed up his destiny in
night. Let human nature forgive its most determined and systematic
reviler, for the sake of the wretchedness in which he was involved all
his life long. He was born (in 1667) a posthumous child; he was brought
up an object of charity; he spent much of his youth in dependence; he
had to leave his Irish college without a degree; he was flattered with
hopes from King William and the Whigs, which were not fulfilled; he was
condemned to spend a great part of his life in Ireland, a country he
detested; he was involved--partly, no doubt, through his own blame--in
a succession of fruitless and miserable intrigues, alike of love and
politics; he was soured by want of success in England, and spoiled by
enormous popularity in Ireland; he was tried by a kind of religious
doubts, which would not go out to prayer or fasting; he was haunted by
the fear of the dreadful calamity which at last befell him; his senses
and his soul left him one by one; he became first giddy, then deaf, and
then mad; his madness was of the most terrible sort--it was a 'silent
rage;' for a year or two he lay dumb; and at last, on the 19th of
'Swift expired, a driveller and a show,'
leaving his money to found a lunatic asylum, and his works as a many-
volumed legacy of curse to mankind.
[Note: It has been asserted that there were circumstances in extenuation
of Swift's conduct, particularly in reference to the ladies whose names
were connected with his, which _cannot be publicly brought forward_.]
BAUCIS AND PHILEMON.
In ancient times, as story tells,
The saints would often leave their cells,
And stroll about, but hide their quality,
To try good people's hospitality.
It happened on a winter night,
As authors of the legend write,
Two brother-hermits, saints by trade,
Taking their tour in masquerade,
Disguised in tattered habits went
To a small village down in Kent,
Where, in the strollers' canting strain,
They begged from door to door in vain,
Tried every tone might pity win;
But not a soul would let them in.
Our wandering saints, in woful state,
Treated at this ungodly rate,
Having through all the village passed,
To a small cottage came at last,
Where dwelt a good old honest yeoman,
Called in the neighbourhood Philemon;
Who kindly did these saints invite
In his poor hut to pass the night;
And then the hospitable sire
Bid Goody Baucis mend the fire;
While he from out the chimney took
A flitch of bacon off the hook,
And freely from the fattest side
Cut out large slices to be fried;
Then stepped aside to fetch them drink,
Filled a large jug up to the brink,
And saw it fairly twice go round;
Yet (what is wonderful!) they found
'Twas still replenished to the top,
As if they ne'er had touched a drop.
The good old couple were amazed,
And often on each other gazed;
For both were frightened to the heart,
And just began to cry,--'What art!'
Then softly turned aside to view
Whether the lights were burning blue.
The gentle pilgrims, soon aware on 't,
Told them their calling, and their errand:
'Good folks, you need not be afraid,
We are but saints,' the hermits said;
'No hurt shall come to you or yours:
But for that pack of churlish boors,
Not fit to live on Christian ground,
They and their houses shall be drowned;
Whilst you shall see your cottage rise,
And grow a church before your eyes.'
They scarce had spoke, when fair and soft
The roof began to mount aloft;
Aloft rose every beam and rafter;
The heavy wall climbed slowly after.
The chimney widened, and grew higher,
Became a steeple with a spire.
The kettle to the top was hoist,
And there stood fastened to a joist;
But with the upside down, to show
Its inclination for below;
In vain; for a superior force,
Applied at bottom, stops its course:
Doomed ever in suspense to dwell,
'Tis now no kettle, but a bell.
A wooden jack, which had almost
Lost by disuse the art to roast,
A sudden alteration feels,
Increased by new intestine wheels;
And, what exalts the wonder more
The number made the motion slower;
The flier, though't had leaden feet,
Turned round so quick, you scarce could see 't;
But, slackened by some secret power,
Now hardly moves an inch an hour.
The jack and chimney, near allied,
Had never left each other's side:
The chimney to a steeple grown,
The jack would not be left alone;
But up against the steeple reared,
Became a clock, and still adhered;
And still its love to household cares,
By a shrill voice at noon declares,
Warning the cook-maid not to burn
That roast meat which it cannot turn.
The groaning-chair began to crawl,
Like a huge snail, along the wall;
There stuck aloft in public view,
And with small change a pulpit grew.
The porringers, that in a row
Hung high, and made a glittering show,
To a less noble substance changed,
Were now but leathern buckets ranged.
The ballads, pasted on the wall,
Of Joan of France, and English Moll,
Fair Rosamond, and Robin Hood,
The little Children in the Wood,
Now seemed to look abundance better,
Improved in picture, size, and letter;
And, high in order placed, describe
The heraldry of every tribe.
A bedstead, of the antique mode,
Compact of timber many a load,
Such as our ancestors did use,
Was metamorphosed into pews;
Which still their ancient nature keep,
By lodging folks disposed to sleep.
The cottage, by such feats as these,
Grown to a church by just degrees;
The hermits then desired their host
To ask for what he fancied most.
Philemon, having paused a while,
Returned them thanks in homely style;
Then said, 'My house is grown so fine,
Methinks I still would call it mine;
I'm old, and fain would live at ease;
Make me the parson, if you please.'
He spoke, and presently he feels
His grazier's coat fall down his heels:
He sees, yet hardly can believe,
About each arm a pudding-sleeve;
His waistcoat to a cassock grew,
And both assumed a sable hue;
But, being old, continued just
As threadbare, and as full of dust.
His talk was now of tithes and dues;
He smoked his pipe, and read the news;
Knew how to preach old sermons next,
Vamped in the preface and the text;
At christenings well could act his part,
And had the service all by heart;
Wished women might have children fast,
And thought whose sow had farrowed last;
Against Dissenters would repine,
And stood up firm for right divine;
Found his head filled with many a system;
But classic authors,--he ne'er missed 'em.
Thus, having furbished up a parson,
Dame Baucis next they played their farce on;
Instead of home-spun coifs, were seen
Good pinners edged with colberteen;
Her petticoat, transformed apace,
Became black satin flounced with lace.
Plain 'Goody' would no longer down;
'Twas 'Madam' in her grogram gown.
Philemon was in great surprise,
And hardly could believe his eyes,
Amazed to see her look so prim;
And she admired as much at him.
Thus happy in their change of life
Were several years this man and wife:
When on a day, which proved their last,
Discoursing on old stories past,
They went by chance, amidst their talk,
To the churchyard to take a walk;
When Baucis hastily cried out,
'My dear, I see your forehead sprout!'
'Sprout!' quoth the man; 'what's this you tell
I hope you don't believe me jealous!
But yet, methinks, I feel it true;
And, really, yours is budding too;
Nay, now I cannot stir my foot--
It feels as if 'twere taking root.'
Description would but tire my Muse;
In short, they both were turned to yews.
Old Goodman Dobson of the green
Remembers he the trees has seen;
He'll talk of them from noon till night,
And goes with folks to show the sight;
On Sundays, after evening-prayer,
He gathers all the parish there,
Points out the place of either yew:
'Here Baucis, there Philemon grew;
Till once a parson of our town,
To mend his barn cut Baucis down.
At which 'tis hard to be believed
How much the other tree was grieved,
Grew scrubby, died atop, was stunted;
So the next parson stubbed and burnt it.'
All human race would fain be wits,
And millions miss for one that hits.
Young's Universal Passion, pride,
Was never known to spread so wide.
Say, Britain, could you ever boast
Three poets in an age at most?
Our chilling climate hardly bears
A sprig of bays in fifty years;
While every fool his claim alleges,
As if it grew in common hedges.
What reason can there be assigned
For this perverseness in the mind?
Brutes find out where their talents lie:
A bear will not attempt to fly;
A foundered horse will oft debate
Before he tries a five-barred gate;
A dog by instinct turns aside,
Who sees the ditch too deep and wide;--
But man we find the only creature,
Who, led by folly, combats nature;
Who, when she loudly cries, Forbear,
With obstinacy fixes there;
And, where his genius least inclines,
Absurdly bends his whole designs.
Not empire to the rising sun
By valour, conduct, fortune won;
Not highest wisdom in debates
For framing laws to govern states;
Not skill in sciences profound
So large to grasp the circle round,
Such heavenly influence require,
As how to strike the Muse's lyre.
Not beggar's brat on bulk begot;
Not bastard of a pedlar Scot;
Not boy brought up to cleaning shoes,
The spawn of Bridewell or the stews;
Not infants dropped, the spurious pledges
Of gipsies littering under hedges,
Are so disqualified by fate
To rise in church, or law, or state,
As he whom Phoebus in his ire
Hath blasted with poetic fire.
What hope of custom in the fair,
While not a soul demands your ware?
Where you have nothing to produce
For private life or public use?
Court, city, country, want you not;
You cannot bribe, betray, or plot.
For poets, law makes no provision;
The wealthy have you in derision;
Of state affairs you cannot smatter,
Are awkward when you try to flatter;
Your portion, taking Britain round,
Was just one annual hundred pound;
Now not so much as in remainder,
Since Gibber brought in an attainder,
For ever fixed by right divine,
(A monarch's right,) on Grub Street line.
Poor starveling bard, how small thy gains!
How unproportioned to thy pains!
And here a simile comes pat in:
Though chickens take a month to fatten,
The guests in less than half an hour
Will more than half a score devour.
So, after toiling twenty days
To earn a stock of pence and praise,
Thy labours, grown the critic's prey,
Are swallowed o'er a dish of tea;
Gone to be never heard of more,
Gone where the chickens went before.
How shall a new attempter learn
Of different spirits to discern,
And how distinguish which is which,
The poet's vein, or scribbling itch?
Then hear an old experienced sinner
Instructing thus a young beginner:
Consult yourself; and if you find
A powerful impulse urge your mind,
Impartial judge within your breast
What subject you can manage best;
Whether your genius most inclines
To satire, praise, or humorous lines,
To elegies in mournful tone,
Or prologues sent from hand unknown;
Then, rising with Aurora's light,
The Muse invoked, sit down to write;
Blot out, correct, insert, refine,
Enlarge, diminish, interline;
Be mindful, when invention fails,
To scratch your head, and bite your nails.
Your poem finished, next your care
Is needful to transcribe it fair.
In modern wit, all printed trash is
Set off with numerous breaks and dashes.
To statesmen would you give a wipe,
You print it in italic type;
When letters are in vulgar shapes,
'Tis ten to one the wit escapes;
But when in capitals expressed,
The dullest reader smokes the jest;
Or else, perhaps, he may invent
A better than the poet meant;
As learned commentators view
In Homer, more than Homer knew.
Your poem in its modish dress,
Correctly fitted for the press,
Convey by penny-post to Lintot;
But let no friend alive look into 't.
If Lintot thinks 'twill quit the cost,
You need not fear your labour lost:
And how agreeably surprised
Are you to see it advertised!
The hawker shows you one in print,
As fresh as farthings from a mint:
The product of your toil and sweating,
A bastard of your own begetting.
Be sure at Will's the following day,
Lie snug, and hear what critics say;
And if you find the general vogue
Pronounces you a stupid rogue,
Damns all your thoughts as low and little,
Sit still, and swallow down your spittle;
Be silent as a politician,
For talking may beget suspicion;
Or praise the judgment of the town,
And help yourself to run it down;
Give up your fond paternal pride,
Nor argue on the weaker side;
For poems read without a name
We justly praise, or justly blame;
And critics have no partial views,
Except they know whom they abuse;
And since you ne'er provoked their spite,
Depend upon 't, their judgment's right.
But if you blab, you are undone:
Consider what a risk you run:
You lose your credit all at once;
The town will mark you for a dunce;
The vilest doggrel Grub Street sends
Will pass for yours with foes and friends;
And you must bear the whole disgrace,
Till some fresh blockhead takes your place.
Your secret kept, your poem sunk,
And sent in quires to line a trunk,
If still you be disposed to rhyme,
Go try your hand a second time.
Again you fail: yet safe's the word;
Take courage, and attempt a third.
But just with care employ your thoughts,
Where critics marked your former faults;
The trivial turns, the borrowed wit,
The similes that nothing fit;
The cant which every fool repeats,
Town jests and coffee-house conceits;
Descriptions tedious, flat, and dry,
And introduced the Lord knows why:
Or where we find your fury set
Against the harmless alphabet;
On A's and B's your malice vent,
While readers wonder what you meant:
A public or a private robber,
A statesman, or a South-Sea jobber;
A prelate who no God believes;
A parliament, or den of thieves;
A pick-purse at the bar or bench;
A duchess, or a suburb wench:
Or oft, when epithets you link
In gaping lines to fill a chink;
Like stepping-stones to save a stride,
In streets where kennels are too wide;
Or like a heel-piece, to support
A cripple with one foot too short;
Or like a bridge, that joins a marish
To moorland of a different parish;
So have I seen ill-coupled hounds
Drag different ways in miry grounds;
So geographers in Afric maps
With savage pictures fill their gaps,
And o'er unhabitable downs
Place elephants, for want of towns.
But though you miss your third essay,
You need not throw your pen away.
Lay now aside all thoughts of fame,
To spring more profitable game.
From party-merit seek support--
The vilest verse thrives best at court.
And may you ever have the luck,
To rhyme almost as ill as Duck;
And though you never learnt to scan verse,
Come out with some lampoon on D'Anvers.
A pamphlet in Sir Bob's defence
Will never fail to bring in pence:
Nor be concerned about the sale--
He pays his workmen on the nail.
Display the blessings of the nation,
And praise the whole administration:
Extol the bench of Bishops round;
Who at them rail, bid----confound:
To Bishop-haters answer thus,
(The only logic used by us,)
'What though they don't believe in----,
Deny them Protestants,--thou liest.'
A prince, the moment he is crowned,
Inherits every virtue round,
As emblems of the sovereign power,
Like other baubles in the Tower;
Is generous, valiant, just, and wise,
And so continues till he dies:
His humble senate this professes
In all their speeches, votes, addresses.
But once you fix him in a tomb,
His virtues fade, his vices bloom,
And each perfection, wrong imputed,
Is fully at his death confuted.
The loads of poems in his praise
Ascending, make one funeral blaze.
As soon as you can hear his knell
This god on earth turns devil in hell;
And lo! his ministers of state,
Transformed to imps, his levee wait,
Where, in the scenes of endless woe,
They ply their former arts below;
And as they sail in Charon's boat,
Contrive to bribe the judge's vote;
To Cerberus they give a sop,
His triple-barking mouth to stop;
Or in the ivory gate of dreams
Project Excise and South-Sea schemes,
Or hire their party pamphleteers
To set Elysium by the ears.
Then, poet, if you mean to thrive,
Employ your Muse on kings alive;
With prudence gather up a cluster
Of all the virtues you can muster,
Which, formed into a garland sweet,
Lay humbly at your monarch's feet,
Who, as the odours reach his throne,
Will smile and think them all his own;
For law and gospel both determine
All virtues lodge in royal ermine,
(I mean the oracles of both,
Who shall depose it upon oath.)
Your garland in the following reign,
Change but the names, will do again.
But, if you think this trade too base,
(Which seldom is the dunce's case,)
Put on the critic's brow, and sit
At Will's the puny judge of wit.
A nod, a shrug, a scornful smile,
With caution used, may serve a while.
Proceed on further in your part,
Before you learn the terms of art;
For you can never be too far gone
In all our modern critics' jargon;
Then talk with more authentic face
Of unities, in time, and place;
Get scraps of Horace from your friends,
And have them at your fingers' ends;
Learn Aristotle's rules by rote,
And at all hazards boldly quote;
Judicious Rymer oft review,
Wise Dennis, and profound Bossu;
Read all the prefaces of Dryden--
For these our critics much confide in,
(Though merely writ at first for filling,
To raise the volume's price a shilling.)
A forward critic often dupes us
With sham quotations _Peri Hupsous_.
And if we have not read Longinus,
Will magisterially outshine us.
Then, lest with Greek he overrun ye,
Procure the book for love or money,
Translated from Boileau's translation,
And quote quotation on quotation.
At Will's you hear a poem read,
Where Battus from the table-head,
Reclining on his elbow-chair,
Gives judgment with decisive air;
To whom the tribes of circling wits
As to an oracle submits.
He gives directions to the town,
To cry it up, or run it down;
Like courtiers, when they send a note,
Instructing members how to vote.
He sets the stamp of bad and good,
Though not a word he understood.
Your lesson learned, you'll be secure
To get the name of connoisseur:
And, when your merits once are known,
Procure disciples of your own.
For poets, (you can never want 'em,)
Spread through Augusta Trinobantum,
Computing by their pecks of coals,
Amount to just nine thousand souls.
These o'er their proper districts govern,
Of wit and humour judges sovereign.
In every street a city-bard
Rules, like an alderman, his ward;
His undisputed rights extend
Through all the lane, from end to end;
The neighbours round admire his shrewdness
For songs of loyalty and lewdness;
Outdone by none in rhyming well,
Although he never learned to spell.
Two bordering wits contend for glory;
And one is Whig, and one is Tory:
And this for epics claims the bays,
And that for elegiac lays:
Some famed for numbers soft and smooth,
By lovers spoke in Punch's booth;
And some as justly Fame extols
For lofty lines in Smithfield drolls.
Bavius in Wapping gains renown,
And Mavius reigns o'er Kentish-town;
Tigellius, placed in Phoebus' car,
From Ludgate shines to Temple-bar:
Harmonious Cibber entertains
The court with annual birth-day strains;
Whence Gay was banished in disgrace;
Where Pope will never show his face;
Where Young must torture his invention
To flatter knaves, or lose his pension.
But these are not a thousandth part
Of jobbers in the poet's art;
Attending each his proper station,
And all in due subordination,
Through every alley to be found,
In garrets high, or under ground;
And when they join their pericranies,
Out skips a book of miscellanies.
Hobbes clearly proves that every creature
Lives in a state of war by nature;
The greater for the smallest watch,
But meddle seldom with their match.
A whale of moderate size will draw
A shoal of herrings down his maw;
A fox with geese his belly crams;
A wolf destroys a thousand lambs:
But search among the rhyming race,
The brave are worried by the base.
If on Parnassus' top you sit,
You rarely bite, are always bit.
Each poet of inferior size
On you shall rail and criticise,
And strive to tear you limb from limb;
While others do as much for him.
The vermin only tease and pinch
Their foes superior by an inch:
So, naturalists observe, a flea
Hath smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller still to bite 'em,
And so proceed _ad infinitum_.
Thus every poet in his kind
Is bit by him that comes behind:
Who, though too little to be seen,
Can tease, and gall, and give the spleen;
Call dunces fools and sons of whores,
Lay Grub Street at each other's doors;
Extol the Greek and Roman masters,
And curse our modern poetasters;
Complain, as many an ancient bard did,
How genius is no more rewarded;
How wrong a taste prevails among us;
How much our ancestors out-sung us;
Can personate an awkward scorn
For those who are not poets born;
And all their brother-dunces lash,
Who crowd the press with hourly trash.
O Grub Street! how do I bemoan thee,
Whose graceless children scorn to own thee!
Their filial piety forgot,
Deny their country like a Scot;
Though by their idiom and grimace,
They soon betray their native place.
Yet thou hast greater cause to be
Ashamed of them, than they of thee,
Degenerate from their ancient brood
Since first the court allowed them food.
Remains a difficulty still,
To purchase fame by writing ill.
From Flecknoe down to Howard's time,
How few have reached the low sublime!
For when our high-born Howard died,
Blackmore alone his place supplied;
And lest a chasm should intervene,
When death had finished Blackmore's reign,
The leaden crown devolved to thee,
Great poet of the Hollow Tree.
But ah! how unsecure thy throne!
A thousand bards thy right disown;
They plot to turn, in factious zeal,
Duncenia to a commonweal;
And with rebellious arms pretend
An equal privilege to defend.
In bulk there are not more degrees
From elephants to mites in cheese,
Than what a curious eye may trace
In creatures of the rhyming race.
From bad to worse, and worse, they fall;
But who can reach the worst of all?
For though in nature, depth and height
Are equally held infinite;
In poetry, the height we know;
'Tis only infinite below.
For instance, when you rashly think
No rhymer can like Welsted sink,
His merits balanced, you shall find
The laureate leaves him far behind;
Concannen, more aspiring bard,
Soars downwards deeper by a yard;
Smart Jemmy Moor with vigour drops;
The rest pursue as thick as hops.
With heads to point, the gulf they enter,
Linked perpendicular to the centre;
And, as their heels elated rise,
Their heads attempt the nether skies.
Oh, what indignity and shame,
To prostitute the Muse's name,
By flattering kings, whom Heaven designed
The plagues and scourges of mankind;
Bred up in ignorance and sloth,
And every vice that nurses both.
Fair Britain, in thy monarch blest,
Whose virtues bear the strictest test;
Whom never faction could bespatter,
Nor minister nor poet flatter;
What justice in rewarding merit!
What magnanimity of spirit!
What lineaments divine we trace
Through all his figure, mien, and face!
Though peace with olive bind his hands,
Confessed the conquering hero stands.
Hydaspes, Indus, and the Ganges,
Dread from his hand impending changes;
From him the Tartar and the Chinese,
Short by the knees, entreat for peace.
The comfort of his throne and bed,
A perfect goddess born and bred;
Appointed sovereign judge to sit
On learning, eloquence and wit.
Our eldest hope, divine Iülus,
(Late, very late, oh, may he rule us!)
What early manhood has he shown,
Before his downy beard was grown!
Then think what wonders will be done,
By going on as he begun,
An heir for Britain to secure
As long as sun and moon endure.
The remnant of the royal blood
Comes pouring on me like a flood:
Bright goddesses, in number five;
Duke William, sweetest prince alive!
Now sings the minister of state,
Who shines alone without a mate.
Observe with what majestic port
This Atlas stands to prop the court,
Intent the public debts to pay,
Like prudent Fabius, by delay.
Thou great vicegerent of the king,
Thy praises every Muse shall sing!
In all affairs thou sole director,
Of wit and learning chief protector;
Though small the time thou hast to spare,
The church is thy peculiar care.
Of pious prelates what a stock
You choose, to rule the sable flock!
You raise the honour of your peerage,
Proud to attend you at the steerage;
You dignify the noble race,
Content yourself with humbler place.
Now learning, valour, virtue, sense,
To titles give the sole pretence.
St George beheld thee with delight
Vouchsafe to be an azure knight,
When on thy breasts and sides herculean
He fixed the star and string cerulean.
Say, poet, in what other nation,
Shone ever such a constellation!
Attend, ye Popes, and Youngs, and Gays,
And tune your harps, and strew your bays:
Your panegyrics here provide;
You cannot err on flattery's side.
Above the stars exalt your style,
You still are low ten thousand mile.
On Louis all his bards bestowed
Of incense many a thousand load;
But Europe mortified his pride,
And swore the fawning rascals lied.
Yet what the world refused to Louis,
Applied to George, exactly true is.
Exactly true! invidious poet!
'Tis fifty thousand times below it.
Translate me now some lines, if you can,
From Virgil, Martial, Ovid, Lucan.
They could all power in heaven divide,
And do no wrong on either side;
They teach you how to split a hair,
Give George and Jove an equal share.
Yet why should we be laced so strait?
I'll give my monarch butter weight;
And reason good, for many a year
Jove never intermeddled here:
Nor, though his priests be duly paid,
Did ever we desire his aid:
We now can better do without him,
Since Woolston gave us arms to rout him.
ON THE DEATH OF DR SWIFT.
Occasioned by reading the following maxim in Rochefoucault, 'Dans
l'adversité de nos meilleurs amis, nous trouvons toujours quelque
chose qui ne nous déplaît pas;'--'In the adversity of our best
friends, we always find something that doth not displease us.'
As Rochefoucault his maxims drew
From nature, I believe them true:
They argue no corrupted mind
In him; the fault is in mankind.
This maxim more than all the rest
Is thought too base for human breast:
'In all distresses of our friends,
We first consult our private ends;
While nature, kindly bent to ease us,
Points out some circumstance to please us.'
If this perhaps your patience move,
Let reason and experience prove.
We all behold with envious eyes
Our equals raised above our size.
Who would not at a crowded show
Stand high himself, keep others low?
I love my friend as well as you:
But why should he obstruct my view?
Then let me have the higher post;
Suppose it but an inch at most.
If in a battle you should find
One, whom you love of all mankind,
Had some heroic action done,
A champion killed, or trophy won;
Rather than thus be over-topped,
Would you not wish his laurels cropped?
Dear honest Ned is in the gout,
Lies racked with pain, and you without:
How patiently you hear him groan!
How glad the case is not your own!
What poet would not grieve to see
His brother write as well as he?
But, rather than they should excel,
Would wish his rivals all in hell?
Her end when emulation misses,
She turns to envy, stings, and hisses:
The strongest friendship yields to pride,
Unless the odds be on our side.
Vain human-kind! fantastic race!
Thy various follies who can trace?
Self-love, ambition, envy, pride,
Their empire in our hearts divide.
Give others riches, power, and station,
'Tis all on me an 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,
It gives me such a jealous fit,
I cry, 'Pox take him and his wit!'
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 at first, and showed its use.
St John, as well as Pultney, knows
That I had some repute for prose;
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 hath blest 'em,
Have I not reason to detest 'em?
To all my foes, dear Fortune, send
Thy gifts; but never to my friend:
I tamely can endure the first;
But this with envy makes me burst.
Thus much may serve by way of proem;
Proceed we therefore to our poem.
The time is not remote when I
Must by the course of nature die;
When, I foresee, my special friends
Will try to find their private ends:
And, though 'tis hardly understood
Which way my death can do them good,
Yet thus, methinks, I hear them speak:
'See how the Dean begins to break!
Poor gentleman, he droops apace!
You plainly find it in his face.
That old vertigo in his head
Will never leave him, till he's dead.
Besides, his memory decays:
He recollects not what he says;
He cannot call his friends to mind;
Forgets the place where last he dined;
Plies you with stories o'er and o'er;
He told them fifty times before.
How does he fancy we can sit
To hear his out-of-fashion wit?
But he takes up with younger folks,
Who for his wine will bear his jokes.
Faith! he must make his stories shorter,
Or change his comrades once a quarter:
In half the time he talks them round,
There must another set be found.
'For poetry, he's past his prime:
He takes an hour to find a rhyme;
His fire is out, his wit decayed,
His fancy sunk, his Muse a jade.
I'd have him throw away his pen;--
But there's no talking to some men!'
And then their tenderness appears
By adding largely to my years:
'He's older than he would be reckoned,
And well remembers Charles the Second.
He hardly drinks a pint of wine;
And that, I doubt, is no good sign.
His stomach too begins to fail:
Last year we thought him strong and hale;
But now he's quite another thing:
I wish he may hold out till spring!'
They hug themselves, and reason thus:
'It is not yet so bad with us!'
In such a case, they talk in tropes,
And by their fears express their hopes.
Some great misfortune to portend,
No enemy can match a friend.
With all the kindness they profess,
The merit of a lucky guess
(When daily how-d'ye's come of course,
And servants answer, 'Worse and worse!')
Would please them better, than to tell,
That, 'God be praised, the Dean is well.'
Then he who prophesied the best,
Approves his foresight to the rest:
'You know I always feared the worst,
And often told you so at first.'
He'd rather choose that I should die,
Than his predictions prove a lie.
Not one foretells I shall recover;
But all agree to give me over.
Yet, should some neighbour feel a pain
Just in the parts where I complain;
How many a message would he send!
What hearty prayers that I should mend!
Inquire what regimen I kept;
What gave me ease, and how I slept;
And more lament when I was dead,
Than all the snivellers round my bed.
My good companions, never fear;
For, though you may mistake a year,
Though your prognostics run too fast,
They must be verified at last.
Behold the fatal day arrive!
'How is the Dean?'--'He's just alive.'
Now the departing prayer is read;
He hardly breathes--The Dean is dead.
Before the passing-bell begun,
The news through half the town is run.
'Oh! may we all for death prepare!
What has he left? and who's his heir?'
'I know no more than what the news is;
'Tis all bequeathed to public uses.'
'To public uses! there's a whim!
What had the public done for him?
Mere envy, avarice, and pride:
He gave it all--but first he died.
And had the Dean, in all the nation,
No worthy friend, no poor relation?
So ready to do strangers good,
Forgetting his own flesh and blood!'
Now Grub-Street wits are all employed;
With elegies the town is cloyed:
Some paragraph in every paper,
To curse the Dean, or bless the Drapier.
The doctors, tender of their fame,
Wisely on me lay all the blame.
'We must confess, his case was nice;
But he would never take advice.
Had he been ruled, for aught appears,
He might have lived these twenty years:
For, when we opened him, we found
That all his vital parts were sound.'
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.
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:
'Why, if he died without his shoes,'
Cries Bob, 'I'm sorry for the news:
Oh, 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.
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 will 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.
The rest will give a shrug, and cry,
'I'm sorry--but we all must die!'
Indifference, clad in Wisdom's guise,
All fortitude of mind supplies:
For how can stony bowels melt
In those who never pity felt!
When we are lashed, they kiss the rod,
Resigning to the will of God.
The fools, my juniors by a year,
Are tortured with suspense and fear;
Who wisely thought my age a screen,
When death approached, to stand between:
The screen removed, their hearts are trembling;
They mourn for me without dissembling.
My female friends, whose tender hearts
Have better learned to act their parts,
Receive the news in doleful dumps:
'The Dean is dead: (Pray, what is trumps?)
Then, Lord have mercy on his soul!
(Ladies, I'll venture for the vole.)
Six Deans, they say, must bear the pall:
(I wish I knew what king to call.)
Madam, your husband will attend
The funeral of so good a friend.'
'No, madam, 'tis a shocking sight;
And he's engaged to-morrow night:
My Lady Club will take it ill,
If he should fail her at quadrille.
He loved the Dean--(I lead a heart)--
But dearest friends, they say, must part.
His time was come; he ran his race;
We hope he's in a better place.'
Why do we grieve that friends should die?
No loss more easy to supply.
One year is past; a different scene!
No further mention of the Dean,
Who now, alas! no more is missed,
Than if he never did exist.
Where's now the favourite of Apollo?
Departed:--and his works must follow;
Must undergo the common fate;
His kind of wit is out of date.
Some country squire to Lintot goes,
Inquires for Swift in verse and prose.
Says Lintot, 'I have heard the name;
He died a year ago.'--'The same.'
He searches all the shop in vain.
'Sir, you may find them in Duck Lane:
I sent them, with a load of books,
Last Monday, to the pastry-cook's.
To fancy they could live a year!
I find you're but a stranger here.
The Dean was famous in his time,
And had a kind of knack at rhyme.
His way of writing now is past:
The town has got a better taste.
I keep no antiquated stuff;
But spick and span I have enough.
Pray, do but give me leave to show 'em:
Here's Colley Cibber's birthday poem.
This ode you never yet have seen,
By Stephen Duck, upon the queen.
Then here's a letter finely penned
Against the Craftsman and his friend:
It clearly shows that all reflection
On ministers is disaffection.
Next, here's Sir Robert's vindication,
And Mr Henley's last oration.
The hawkers have not got them yet;
Your honour please to buy a set?
'Here's Wolston's tracts, the twelfth edition;
'Tis read by every politician:
The country-members, when in town,
To all their boroughs send them down:
You never met a thing so smart;
The courtiers have them all by heart:
Those maids of honour who can read,
Are taught to use them for their creed.
The reverend author's good intention
Hath been rewarded with a pension:
He doth an honour to his gown,
By bravely running priestcraft down:
He shows, as sure as God's in Gloucester,
That Moses was a grand impostor;
That all his miracles were cheats,
Performed as jugglers do their feats:
The church had never such a writer;
A shame he hath not got a mitre!'
Suppose me dead; and then suppose
A club assembled at the Rose;
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,
Although, ironically grave,
He shamed the fool, and lashed the knave;
To steal a hint was never known,
But what he writ was all his own.'
'Sir, I have heard another story;
He was a most confounded Tory,
And grew, or he is much belied,
Extremely dull, before he died.'
'Can we the Drapier then forget?
Is not our nation in his debt?
'Twas he that writ the Drapier's letters!'--
'He should have left them for his betters;
We had a hundred abler men,
Nor need depend upon his pen.--
Say what you will about his reading,
You never can defend his breeding;
Who, in his satires running riot,
Could never leave the world in quiet;
Attacking, when he took the whim,
Court, city, camp,--all one to him.--
But why would he, except he slobbered,
Offend our patriot, great Sir Robert,
Whose counsels aid the sovereign power
To save the nation every hour!
What scenes of evil he unravels
In satires, libels, lying travels,
Not sparing his own clergy cloth,
But eats into it, like a moth!'
'Perhaps I may allow the Dean
Had too much satire in his vein,
And seemed determined not to starve it,
Because no age could more deserve it.
Yet malice never was his aim;
He lashed the vice, but spared the name.
No individual could resent,
Where thousands equally were meant:
His satire points at no defect,
But what all mortals may correct;
For he abhorred the 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 dulness moved his pity,
Unless it offered to be witty.
Those who their ignorance confessed
He ne'er offended with a jest;
But laughed to hear an idiot quote
A verse from Horace learned by rote.
Vice, if it e'er can be abashed,
Must be or ridiculed, or lashed.
If you resent it, who's to blame?
He neither knows you, nor your name.
Should vice expect to 'scape rebuke,
Because its owner is a dukel?
His friendships, still to few confined,
Were always of the middling kind;
No fools of rank, or mongrel breed,
Who fain would pass for lords indeed:
Where titles give no right or power,
And peerage is a withered flower;
He would have deemed it a disgrace,
If such a wretch had known his face.
On rural squires, that kingdom's bane,
He vented oft his wrath in vain:
* * * * * * * squires to market brought,
Who sell their souls and * * * * for nought.
The * * * * * * * * go joyful back,
To rob the church, their tenants rack;
Go snacks with * * * * * justices,
And keep the peace to pick up fees;
In every job to have a share,
A gaol or turnpike to repair;
And turn * * * * * * * to public roads
Commodious to their own abodes.
'He never thought an honour done him,
Because a peer was proud to own him;
Would rather slip aside, and choose
To talk with wits in dirty shoes;
And scorn the tools 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:
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 succoured virtue in distress,
And seldom failed of good success;
As numbers in their hearts must own,
Who, but for him, had been unknown.
'He kept with princes due decorum;
Yet never stood in awe before 'em.
He followed David's lesson just,
In princes never put his trust:
And, would you make him truly sour,
Provoke him with a slave in power.
The Irish senate if you named,
With what impatience he declaimed!
Fair LIBERTY was all his cry;
For her he stood prepared to die;
For her he boldly stood alone;
For her he oft exposed his own.
Two kingdoms, just as faction led,
Had set a price upon his head;
But not a traitor could be found,
To sell him for six hundred pound.
'Had he but spared his tongue and pen,
He might have rose like other men:
But power was never in his thought,
And wealth he valued not a groat:
Ingratitude he often found,
And pitied those who meant to wound;
But kept the tenor of his mind,
To merit well of human-kind;
Nor made a sacrifice of those
Who still were true, to please his foes.
He laboured many a fruitless hour,
To reconcile his friends in power;
Saw mischief by a faction brewing,
While they pursued each other's ruin.
But, finding vain was all his care,
He left the court in mere despair.
'And, oh! how short are human schemes!
Here ended all our golden dreams.
What St John's skill in state affairs,
What Ormond's valour, Oxford's cares,
To save their sinking country lent,
Was all destroyed by one event.
Too soon that precious life was ended,
On which alone our weal depended.
When up a dangerous faction starts,
With wrath and vengeance in their hearts;
By solemn league and covenant bound,
To ruin, slaughter, and confound;
To turn religion to a fable,
And make the government a Babel;
Pervert the laws, disgrace the gown,
Corrupt the senate, rob the crown;
To sacrifice old England's glory,
And make her infamous in story:
When such a tempest shook the land,
How could unguarded virtue stand!
'With horror, grief, despair, the Dean
Beheld the dire destructive scene:
His friends in exile, or the Tower,
Himself within the frown of power;
Pursued by base envenomed pens,
Far to the land of S---- and fens;
A servile race in folly nursed,
Who truckle most, when treated worst.
'By innocence and resolution,
He bore continual persecution;
While numbers to preferment rose,
Whose merit was to be his foes;
When even his own familiar friends,
Intent upon their private ends,
Like renegadoes now he feels,
Against him lifting up their heels.
'The Dean did, by his pen, defeat
An infamous destructive cheat;
Taught fools their interest how to know,
And gave them arms to ward the blow.
Envy hath owned it was his doing,
To save that hapless land from ruin;
While they who at the steerage stood,
And reaped the profit, sought his blood.
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