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That not in fancy's maze he wander'd long,
But stoop'd to truth, and moraliz'd his song:
That not for fame, but virtue's better end,
He stood the furious foe, the timid friend,
The damning critic, half-approving wit,
The coxcomb hit, or fearing to be hit;
Laughed at the loss of friends he never had,
The dull, the proud, the wicked, and the mad;
The distant threats of vengeance on his head,
The blow unfelt, the tear he never shed;
The tale reviv'd, the lie so oft o'erthrown,
Th' imputed trash, and dulness not his own;
The morals blacken'd when the writings 'scape,
The libell'd person, and the pictur'd shape;
Abuse, on all he lov'd, or lov'd him, spread,
A friend in exile, or a father dead:
The whisper, that to greatness still too near,
Perhaps yet vibrates on his sovereign's ear—
Welcome for thee, fair virtue! all the past :
For thee, fair virtue! welcome ev'n the last!
A. But why insult the poor, affront the great ? P. A knave's a knave to me, in ev'ry state: Alike my scorn, if he succeed or fail, Sporus at court, or Japhet in a jail, A hireling scribbler, or a hireling peer, Knight of the post corrupt, or of the shire; If on a pillory, or near a throne,
He gain his prince's ear, or lose his own.
Yet soft by nature, more a dupe than wit, Sappho can tell you how this man was bit: This dreaded satirist Dennis will confess Foe to his pride, but friend to his distress: So humble, he has knock'd at Tibbald's door, Has drunk with Cibber, nay has rhym'd for Moore, Full ten years slander'd, did he once reply? Three thousand suns went down on Welsted's lie, To please his mistress, one aspers'd his life; He lash'd him not, but let her be his wife:
Let Budgel charge low Grubstreet on his quill,
And write whate'er he pleased, except his will;
Let the two Curlls of town and court, abuse
His father, mother, body, soul, and muse.
Yet why? that father held it for a rule,
It was a sin to call our neighbour fool:
That harmless mother thought no wife a whore:
Hear this, and spare his family, James Moore !
Unspotted names, and memorable long!
If there be force in virtue, or in song.
Of gentle blood (part shed in Honour's cause,
While yet in Britain honour had applause,)
Each parent sprung-A. What fortune, pray?— P. Their own
And better got, than Bestia's from the throne.
Born to no pride, inheriting no strife,
Nor marrying discord in a noble wife,
Stranger to civil and religious rage,
The good man walk'd innoxious through his age.
No courts he saw, no suits would ever try,
Nor dar'd an oath, nor hazarded a lie.
Unlearn'd he knew no schoolman's subtle art,
No language but the language of the heart.
By nature honest, by experience wise,
Healthy by temperance, and by exercise;
His life, tho' long, to sickness past unknown,
His death was instant, and without a groan.
O grant me, thus to live, and thus to die!
Who sprung from kings shall know less joy than I.
O Friend! may each domestic bliss be thine!
Be no unpleasing melancholy mine:
Me, let the tender office long engage,
To rock the cradle of reposing age,
With lenient arts extend a mother's breath,
Make languor smile, and smooth the bed of death, Explore the thought, explain the asking eye, And keep awhile one parent from the sky! On cares like these, if length of days attend, May Heaven, to bless those days, preserve my friend, VOL. III.
Preserve him social, cheerful, and serene,
And just as rich as when he serv'd a Queen.
A. Whether that blessing be denied or giv'n,
Thus far was right, the rest belongs to Heav'n.
FROM THE FIRST EPISTLE OF THE SECOND BOOK
OF HORACE IMITATED.
While you, great patron of mankind! sustain
The balanc'd world, and open all the main ;
Your country, chief, in arms abroad defend,
At home, with morals, arts, and laws amend :
How shall the muse, from such a monarch, steal
An hour, and not defraud the public weal?
Edward and Henry, now the boast of fame,
And virtuous Alfred, a more sacred name,
After a life of generous toils endur'd,
The Gaul subdu'd, or property secur'd,
Ambition humbled, mighty cities storm'd,
Or laws established, and the world reform'd;
Clos'd their long glories, with a sigh, to find
Th' unwilling gratitude of base mankind!
All human virtue, to its latest breath,
Finds envy never conquer'd, but by death.
The great Alcides, every labour past,
Had still this monster to subdue at last.
Sure fate of all, beneath whose rising ray
Each star of meaner merit fades away!
Oppress'd we feel the beam directly beat,
Those suns of glory please not till they set.
To thee, the world its present homage pays
The harvest early, but mature the praise:
Great friend of liberty! in kings a name
Above all Greek, above all Roman fame :
Whose word is truth, as sacred and rever'd,
As Heaven's own oracles from altars heard.
Wonder of kings! like whom, to mortal eyes
None e'er has risen, and none e'er shall rise.
Just in one instance, be it yet confest, Your people, Sir, are partial in the rest: Foes to all living worth except your own, And advocates for folly dead and gone. Authors, like coins, grow dear as they grow old; It is the rust we value, not the gold. Chaucer's worst ribaldry is learn'd by rote, And beastly Skelton heads of houses quote: One likes no language but the Faery Queen; A Scot will fight for Christ's Kirk of the Green; And each true Briton is to Ben so civil, He swears the muses met him at the devil.
Tho' justly Greece her eldest sons admires,
Why should not we be wiser than our sires?
In ev'ry public virtue we excel,
We build, we paint, we sing, we dance as well.
And learned Athens to our art must stoop,
Could she behold us tumbling through a hoop.
If time improve our wit as well as wine,
Say at what age a poet grows divine?
Shall we, or shall we not, account him so,
Who died, perhaps, a hundred years ago?
End all dispute; and fix the year precise
When British bards begin t' immortalize?
'Who lasts a century can have no flaw, I hold that wit a classic, good in law.'
Suppose he wants a year, will you compound? And shall we deem him ancient, right and sound, Or damn to all eternity at once,
At ninety-nine, a modern and a dunce?
'We shall not quarrel for a year or two; By courtesy of England, he may do.'
Then, by the rule that made the horse-tail bare, I pluck out year by year, as hair by hair, And melt down ancients like a heap of snow: While you, to measure merits, look in Stowe,
And estimating authors by the year,
Bestow a garland only on a bier.
Shakespeare, (whom you and ev'ry play-house bill
Style the divine, the matchless, what you will,)
For gain, not glory, wing'd his roving flight,
And grew immortal in his own despite.
Ben, old and poor, as little seem'd to heed
The life to come, in ev'ry poet's creed.
Who now reads Cowley? if he pleases yet,
His moral pleases, not his pointed wit;
Forgot his epic, nay Pindaric art,
But still I love the language of his heart.
'Yet surely, surely, these were famous men !
What boy but hears the sayings of old Ben?
In all debates where critics bear a part,
Not one but nods, and talks of Jonson's art,
Of Shakespeare's nature, and of Cowley's wit;
How Beaumont's judgment check'd what Fletcher writ;
How Shadwell hasty, Wycherley was slow;
But, for the passions, Southern sure and Rowe.
These, only these, support the crowded stage,
From eldest Heywood down to Cibber's age.'
All this may be; the people's voice is odd,
It is, and it is not, the voice of God.
To Gammer Gurton if it give the bays,
And yet deny the Careless Husband praise,
Or say our fathers never broke a rule;
Why then, I say, the public is a fool.
But let them own, that greater faults than we
They had, and greater virtues, I'll agree.
Spenser himself affects the obsolete,
And Sidney's verse halts ill on Roman feet:
Milton's strong pinion now not heaven can bound,
Now serpent-like, in prose he sweeps the ground,
In quibbles angel and archangel join,
And God the Father turns a school-divine.
Not that I'd lop the beauties from his book,
Like slashing Bentley with his desperate hook,