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No Persian carpets spread th' imperial way,
But scattered limbs of mangled poets lay;
Much Heywood, Shirley, Ogleby there lay,
But loads of Shadwell almost choked the way.
Bilked stationers for yeomen stood prepar'd,
And Herringman was captain of the guard.
The hoary prince in majesty appear'd,
High on a throne of his own labours rear'd.
At his right hand our young Ascanius sat,
Rome's other hope and pillar of the state.
His brows thick fogs instead of glories grace,
And lambent dulness played around his face.
As Hannibal did to the altars come,
Sworn by his sire a mortal foe to Rome
So Shadwell swore, nor should his vow be vain,
That he till death true dulness would maintain,
And, in his father's right and realms defence,
Ne'er to have peace with wit or truce with sense.
The king himself the sacred unction made,
As king by office and as priest by trade.
In his sinister hand, instead of ball,
He plac'd a mighty mug of potent ale;
“Love's Kingdom” io his right he did convey,
At once his sceptre and his rule of sway;
Whose righteous lore the prince had practis'd young,
And from whose loins recorded “Psyche ” sprung.
His temples, last, with poppies were o'erspread,
That nodding seemed to consecrate his head.
Just at that point of time, if fame not lye,
On his left hand twelve reverend owls did fly.
So Romulus, 'tis sung, by Tiber's brook,
Presage of sway from twice six vultures took.
The admiring throng loud acclamations make,
And omens of his future empire take.
The sire then shook the honours of his head,
And from his brows damps of oblivion shed
Full on the filial dulness. Long he stood,
Repelling from his breast the raging God;
At length burst out in this prophetic mood :
my son! From Ireland let him reign
To far Barbadoes on the western main;
Of his dominion may no end be known,
And greater than his father's be his throne;
Beyond 'Love's Kingdom' let him stretch his pen!”
He paus'd, and all the people cried “ Amen."
Then thus continued he: “My son, advance
Still in new impudence, new ignorance.
Success let others teach; learn thou from me
Pangs without birth and fruitless industry.
Let' Virtuoso's ' in five years be writ,
Yet not one thought accuse thy toil of wit.
Let gentle George in triumph tread the stage,
Make Dorimant betray, and Loveit rage;
Let Cully, Cockwood, Fopling, charm the pit,
And in their folly show the writers' wit.
Yet still the fools shall stand in thy defence,
And justify their author's want of sense.
Let 'em be all by thy own model made
Of dulness, and desire no foreign aid,
That they to future ages may be known,
Not copies drawn, but issue of thy own.
Nay, let thy men of wit, too, be the same,
All full of thee, and differing but in name.
But let no alien Sedley interpose
To lard with wit thy hungry Epsom prose.
And when false flowers of rhetoric thou wouldst cull,
Trust nature, do not labour to be dull;
But write thy best and top, and in each line
Sir Formal's oratory will be thine.
Sir Formal, though unfought, attends thy quill,
And does thy northern dedications fill.
Nor let false friends seduce thy name to fame,
By arrogating Jonson's hostile name;
Let Father Flecknoe fire thy mind with praise,
And uncle Ogleby thy envy raise.
Thou art my blood, where Jonson has no part;
What share have we in nature or in art?
Where did his wit on learning fix a brand,
And rail at arts he did not understand ?
When made he love in Prince Nicander's vein,
Or swept the dust in Psyche's humble strain ?
Where did his muse from Fletcher scenes purloin,
As thou whole Etheridge dost transfuse to thine?
But so transfused as oil on waters flow,
His always floats above, thine sinks below.
This is thy province, this thy wondrous way,
New humours to invent for each new play;
This is that boasted bias of thy mind,
By which one way to dulness 'tis inclined,
Which makes thy writings lean on one side still,
And in all changes that way bends thy will.
Nor let thy mountain belly make pretence
Of likeness; thine's a tympany of sense.
A tun of man in thy large bulk is writ,
But sure thou'rt but a kilderkin of wit.
Like mine, thy gentle numbers feebly creep;
Thy tragic Muse gives smiles, thy comic, sleep.
With whate'er gall thou setst thyself to write,
Thy inoffensive satyrs never bite.
In thy felonious heart though venom lies,
It does not touch thy Irish pen, and dies.
Thy genius calls thee not to purchase fame
In keen Iambics, but mild Anagram.
Leave writing plays, and choose for thy command
Some peaceful province in Acrostic land.
There thou mayst wings display and altars raise,
And torture one poor word ten thousand ways;
wouldst thy diff'rent talents suit,
Set thy own songs, and sing them to thy lute."
He said, but his last words were scarcely heard,
For Bruce and Longville had a trap prepared,
And down they sent the yet declaiming bard.
Sinking, he left his drugget robe behind,
Borne upwards by a subterranean wind.
The mantle fell to the young prophet's part,
With double portion of his father's art.
To a deep scholar said his wife:
“Would that I were a book, my life!
me, then, you would sometimes look.
But I should wish to be the book
That you would mostly wish to see.
Then say, what volume should I be?”
"An Almanack," said he, "my dear;
You know we change them every year.”
The Country Squire in London Mrs. MARALL, PETULANT, WITWOUD, SIR WILFUL WITWOUD,
Wit. In the name of Bartlemew and his fair, what have we here?
Mrs. Mar. 'Tis your brother, I fancy. Don't you know him?
Wit. (aside). Not I. Yes, I think he is it. I've almost forgot him; I have not seen him since the Revolution.
Foot. (to Sir WILFUL). Sir, my lady's dressing. Here's company, if you please to walk in in the meantime.
Sir Wil. Dressing! What, it's but morning here, I warrant, with you in London. We should count it toward afternoon in our parts, down in Shropshire. Why, then, belike my aunt hasn't dined yet-ha, friend?
Foot. Your aunt, sir?
Sir Wil. My aunt, sir-yes, my aunt, sir. Your lady is my aunt, sir. Why, what, dost thou not know me, friend? Why, then, send somebody hither that does. How long hast thou lived with thy lady, fellow, ha ?
Foot. A week, sir; longer than anybody in the house, except my lady's woman.
Sir Wil. Why, then, belike thou dost not know thy lady when thou seest her-ha, friend?
Foot. Why, truly, sir, I cannot safely swear to her face in a morning before she is dressed. 'Tis like I may give a shrewd guess at her by this time.