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AN

ESSAY ON SATIRE.

PART I.
FATE

gave

the word; the cruel arrow sped, And Pope lies number'd with the mighty dead! ! Resigu'd he fell; superior to the art

That quench'd its rage in your's and Britain's heart.
You mourn; but Britain, lull'd in rest profound, 5
(Unconscious Britain !) slumbers o'er her wound.
Exulting Dulness ey'd the setting light,
And flapp'd her wing, impatient for the night:
Rous'd at the signal, Guilt collects her train,
And counts the triumphs of her growing reign: 10
With inextinguishable rage they burn,
And snake-hung Envy hisses o'er his urn :
Th’ envenom'd monsters spit their deadly foam
To blast the laurel that surrounds his tomb.

But you, O Warburton! whose eyes refin'd, 15
Can see the greatness of an honest mind;
Can see each virtue and each grace unite,
And taste the raptures of a pure delight;
You visit oft his awful page with care,
And view that bright assemblage treasur'd there; 20
You trace the chain that links his deep design,
And pour new lustre on the glowing line.

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Yet deign to hear the efforts of a Muse
Whose eye, not wing, his ardent flight pursues:
Intent from this great archetype to draw 25
Satire's bright form, and fix her equal law;
Pleas'd if from hence th' unlearn'd may comprehend,
And rev'rence his and Satire's gen'rous end.

In ev'ry breast there burns an active flame,
The love of glory, or the dread of shame : 30
The passion one, tho' various it appear,
As brighten'd into hope or dimm'd by fear.
The lisping infant and the hoary sire,
And youth and manhood, feel the heart-born fire:
The charms of praise the coy, the modest, woo, 35
And only fly that glory may pursue:
She, pow'r resistless, rules the wise and great,
Bends ev'n reluctant hermits at her feet;
Haunts the proud city and the lowly shade,
And sways alike the sceptre and the spade. 40

Thus heav'n in pity wakes the friendly flame,
To urge mankind on deeds that merit fame:
But man, vain man ! in folly only wise,
Rejects the inanna sent him from the skies :
With rapture hears corrupted Passion's call, 45
Still proudly prone to mingle with the stall.
As each deceitful shadow tempts his view,
He for the imag'd substance quits the true ;

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Eager to catch the visionary prize,
In quest of glory plunges deep in vice;

50 Till madly zealous, impotently vain, He forfeits ev'ry praise he pants to gain.

Thus still imperious Nature plies her part, And still her dictates work in ev'ry heart. Each pow'r that sov'reign Nature bids enjoy 55 Man may corrupt, but man can ne'er destroy: Like mighty rivers, with resistless force The passions rage, obstructed in their course; Swell to new heights, forbidden paths explore, And drown those virtues which they fed before. 60

And sure the deadliest foe to virtue's flame, Or worst of evils, is perverted shame: Beneath this load what abject numbers groan, Th’ entangled slaves to folly not their own! Meanly by fashionable fear opprest,

65 We seek our virtues in each other's breast; Blind to ourselves, adopt each foreign vice, Another's weakness, int’rest, or caprice. Each fool to low ambition, poorly great, That pines in splendid wretchedness of state, 70 Tir'd in the treach'rous chase, would nobly yield, And, but for shame, like Sylla, quit the field : The dæmon Shame paints strong the ridicule, And whispers close, “ The world will call you fool."

Behold yon wretch, by impious fashion driv'n, 75 Believes and trembles while he scoffs at heav'n. By weakness strong, and bold thro’ fear alone, He dreads the sneer by shallow coxcombs thrown; Dauntless pursues the path Spinoza trod; To man a coward, and a brave to God.

80
Faith, Justice, heav'n itself, now quit their hold,
When to false fame the captiv'd heart is sold :
Hence, blind to truth, relentless Cato dy'd ;
Nought could subdue his virtue but his pride ;
Hence chaste Lucretia's innocence betray'd, 85
Fell by that honour which was meant its aid.
Thus Virtue sinks beneath unnumber'd woes,
When passions, born her friends, revolt her foes.

Hence Satire's pow'r: 'tis her corrective part
To calm the wild disorders of the heart.
She points the arduous height where glory lies,
And teaches mad Ambition to be wise;
In the dark bosom wakes the fair desire,
Draws good from ill, a brighter flame from fire;
Strips black Oppression of a gay disguise,
And bids the hag in native horror rise;
Strikes tow’ring Pride and lawless Rapine dead,
And plants the wreath on Virtue's awful head.

Nor boasts the Muse a vain imagin’d pow'r,
Tho' oft she mourns those ills she cannot cure. 100

90

95

The worthy court her, and the worthless fear;
Who shun her piercing eye that eye revere,
Her awful voice the vain and vile obey,
And ev'ry foe to wisdom feels her sway.
Smarts, pedants, as she smiles, no more are vain;
Desponding Fops resign the clouded cane: 106
Hush'd at her voice, pert Folly's self is still,
And Dulness wonders while she drops her quill.
Like the arm'd bee, with art most subtly true,
From poisonous vice she draws a healing dew. 110
Weak are the ties that civil arts can find
To quell the ferment of a tainted mind :
Cunning evades, securely wrapt in wiles,
And Force, strong-sinew'd, rend th’ unequal toils ;
The stream of vice impetuous drives along, 115
Too deep for Policy, for Pow'r too strong.
Ev'n fair Religion, native of the skies,
Scorn’d by the crowd, seeks refuge with the wise ;
The crowd with laughter spurns her awful train,
And Mercy courts, and Justice frowns in vain. 120
But Satire's shaft can pierce the harden'd breast;
She plays a ruling passion on the rest ;
Undaunted storms the batt’ry of his pride,
And awes the brave that earth and heav'n defy'd.
When fell Corruption, by her vassals crown'd, 125
Derides fall’n Justice prostrate on the ground,

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