« PreviousContinue »
Vice flutter'd, in the plumes of freedom dress'd; Or public spirit was the public jest.
Be ever, in a just expression, bold, Yet ne'er degrade fair SATIRE to a scold: Let no unworthy mien her form debase, But let her smile, and let her frown with grace: In mirth be temperate, temperate in her spleen; Nor, while she preaches modesty, obscene. Deep let her wound, not rankle to a sore, Nor call his Lordship her Grace a
The Muse's charms resistless then assail,
When wrapp'd in Irony's transparent veil:
Her beauties half conceal'd, the more surprize, 265 And keener lustre sparkles in her eyes.
Then be your line with sharp encomiums graced : Style Clodius honourable, Bufa chaste.
Dart not on Folly an indignant eye:
Who e'er discharged artillery on a fly?
Deride not Vice: absurd the thought and vain,
To bind the tiger in so weak a chain.
Nay, more: when flagrant crimes your laughter
The knave exults: to smile is to approve.
The Muse's labour then success shall crown, 275 When Folly feels her smile, and Vice her frown.
Know next what measures to each theme belong, And suit your thoughts and numbers to your song: On wing proportion'd to your quarry rise,
And stoop to earth, or soar among the skies. 280 Thus when a modish folly you rehearse,
Free the expression, simple be the verse.
In artless numbers paint th' ambitious peer
That mounts the box, and shines a charioteer.
In strains familiar sing the midnight toil
Of camps and senates disciplined by Hoyle;
Patriots and Chiefs, whose deep design invades
And carries off the captive king—of Spades!
Let SATIRE here in milder vigour shine,
And gayly graceful sport along the line;
Bid courtly fashion quit her thin pretence,
And smile each affectation into sense.
Not so when Virtue by her guards betray'd,
Spurn'd from her throne, implores the Muse's aid;
When crimes, which erst in kindred darkness lay,
Rise frontless, and insult the eye of day,
Indignant Hymen veils his hallow'd fires,
And white-robed Chastity with tears retires;
When rank Adultery on the genial bed
Hot from Cocytus rears her baleful head;
When private faith and public trust are sold,
And traitors barter liberty for gold;
When fell Corruption, dark and deep, like fate,
Saps the foundation of a sinking state;
When giant-vice and irreligion rise,
On mountain'd falsehoods to invade the skies:
Then warmer numbers glow thro' SATIRE's page,
And all her smiles are darken'd into rage:
On eagle-wing she gains Parnassus' height,
Not lofty EPIC soars a nobler flight:
Then keener indignation fires her eye;
Then flash her lightnings, and her thunders fly ;
Wide and more wide her flaming bolts are hurl'd,
Till all her wrath involves the guilty world.
Yet SATIRE oft assumes a gentler mien,
And beams on virtue's friends a smile serene :
She wounds reluctant, pours her balm with joy,
Glad to commend where worth attracts her eye.
But chief, when virtue, learning, arts decline,
She joys to see unconquer'd merit shine;
Where bursting glorious, with departing ray,
True genius gilds the close of Britain's day.
With joy she sees the stream of Roman art
From MURRAY's tongue flow purer to the heart;
Sees YORKE to fame, ere yet to manhood, known,
And just to every virtue but his own;
Hears unstain'd CAM with generous pride proclaim
A SAGE'S, CRITIC's, and a POET'S name;
Beholds, where WIDCOMBE's happy hills ascend,
Each orphan'd art and virtue find a friend;
TO HAGLEY'S honour'd shade directs her view,
And culls each flower, to form a wreath for You.
But tread with cautious step this dangerous
Beset with faithless precipices round.
Truth be your guide; disdain ambition's call; 335
And if you fall with truth, you greatly fall.
"Tis virtue's native lustre that must shine;
The poet can but set it in his line:
And who unmov'd with laughter can behold
A sordid pebble meanly graced with gold?
Let real merit then adorn your lays,
For shame attends on prostituted praise;
And all your wit, your most distinguish'd art,
But make us grieve you want an honest heart.
Nor think the Muse by SATIRE's law confined:
She yields description of the noblest kind.
Inferior art the landscape may design,
And paint the purple evening in the line:
Her daring thought essays a higher plan;
Her hand delineates passion, pictures man.
And great the toil, the latent soul to trace,
To paint the heart, and catch internal grace;
By turns bid vice or virtue strike our eyes,
Now bid a Wolsey, or a Cromwell rise;
Now with a touch more sacred and refined,
Call forth a CHESTERFIELD's or LONSDALE's mind.
Here sweet or strong may every colour flow;
Here let the pencil warm, the canvas glow;
Of light and shade provoke the noble strife,
And wake each striking feature into life.
THROUGH ages thus has SATIRE keenly shined,
The friend to truth, to virtue, and mankind:
Yet the bright flame from virtue ne'er had sprung,
And man was guilty ere the poet sung.
This Muse in silence joy'd each better age, 365
Till glowing crimes had wak'd her into rage.
Truth saw her honest spleen with new delight,
And bade her wing her shafts, and urge their flight.
First on the sons of Greece she proved her art,
And Sparta felt the fierce IAMBIC dart.*
TO LATIUM next, avenging SATIRE flew :
The flaming falchion rough LuCILIUS† drew;
With dauntless warmth in virtue's cause engaged,
And conscious villains trembled as he raged.
Then sportive HORACE caught the generous
For SATIRE's bow resign'd the sounding lyre:
Each arrow polish'd in his hand was seen,
And, as it grew more polish'd, grew more keen.
* Archilocum proprio rabies armavit iambo.
† Ense velut stricto quoties Lucilius ardens
Infremuit, rubet auditor cui frigida mens est
Criminibus, tacità sudant præcordia culpâ.
Omne vafer vitium ridenti Flaccus amico
Tangit, et admissus circum præcordia ludit,
Callidus excusso populum suspendere naso.