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Virtue may chufe the high or low Degree,
'Tis juft alike to Virtue, and to me;
much more than he had feigned in the imaginary virtues of the man of Rafs. One, who, whether he be confidered in his civil, focial, domeftic, or religious character, is, in all these views, an ornament to human nature.
And, indeed, we fhall fee, that what is here faid of him agrees only with fuch a Character. But as both the thought and the expreffion have been cenfured, we shall
confider them in their order.
Let bumble ALLEN, with an aukward Shame,
This encomium has been called obfcure (as well as penurious.) It may be fo; not from any defect in the concep tion, but from the deepnefs of the fenfe; and, what may feem more strange, (as we fhall fee afterwards) from the elegance of phrafe, and exactness of expreffion. We are fo abfolutely governed by cuftom, that to act contrary to it, creates even in virtuous men, who are ever modeít, a kind of diffidence, which is the parent of Shame. But when, to this, there is joined a consciousness that, in forfaking custom, you follow truth and reason, the indignation arifing from fuch a confcious virtue, mixing with Shame, produces that amiable aukwardness, in going out of the fashion, which the Poet, here, celebrates.
and blush to find it Fame.
i. e. He blufhed at the degeneracy of his times, which, at beft, gave his goodness its due commendation (the thing he never aimed at) instead of following and imitating his example, which was the reason why fome acts of it were not done by stealth, but more openly.
So far as to the thought: but it will be faid,
tantamne rem tam negligenter?
And this will lead us to fay fomething concerning the ex
Dwell in a Monk, or light upon a King,
She's ftill the fame, belov'd, contented thing.
And stoops from Angels to the Dregs of Earth:
Our Youth, all livery'd o'er with foreign Gold, 155
preffion, which will clear up what remains of the difficulty. In thefe lines, and in thofe which precede and follow them, are contained an ironical neglect of Virtue, and an ironical concern and care for Vice. So that the Poet's elegant correctness of compofition required, that his language, in the first cafe fhould prefent fomething of negli gence and cenfure; which is admirably implied in the expreffion of the thought.
Hear her black Trumpet thro' the Land proclaim,
See, all our Fools afpiring to be Knaves!
The Wit of Cheats, the Courage of a Whore, 165 Are what ten thousand envy and adore :
All, all look up, with reverential Awe,
At Crimes that 'fcape, or triumph o'er the Law: While Truth, Worth, Wisdom, daily they decry— "Nothing is Sacred now but Villainy."
Yet may this Verse (if such a Verse remain) Show, there was one who held it in disdain.
Written in MDCCXXXVIII.
AIS all a Libel-Paxton (Sir) will fay
P. Not yet, my Friend! to morrow faith
And for that very cause I print to day.
Vice, with fuch Giant ftrides comes on amain,
Feign what I will, and paint it e'er so ftrong,
F. Yet none but you by Name the guilty lash; 10 Ev'n Guthry faves half Newgate by a Dash.
VER. 1. Paxton.] Late follicitor to the Treasury. VER. 11. Ev'n Guthry.] The Ordinary of Newgate, VOL. IV.
* R 3
Spare then the Person, and expose the Vice.
P. How, Sir! not damn the Sharper, but the Dica? Come on then, Satire! gen'ral, unconfin'd,
Spread thy broad wing, and fouce on all the kind. 15
Ye Tradefmen, vile, in Army, Court, or Hall!
P. See, now I keep the Secret, and not you! The bribing Statesman-F. Hold, too high you go. 24 P. The brib'd Elector--F. There you ftoop too low. P. I fain would please you, if I knew with what ; Tell me, which Knave is lawful Game, which not? Muft great Offenders, once escap'd the Crown, Like Royal Harts be never more run down? Admit your Law to fpare the Knight requires, As Beafts of Nature may we hunt the Squires? Suppose I cenfure-you know what I meanTo fave a Bifhop, may I name a Dean?
who publishes the memoirs of the Malefactors, and is often prevailed upon to be fo tender of their reputation, as to fet down no more than the initials of their name. P.