Page images

And you shall see, the first warm weather, Me and the butterflies together.

My lord, your favours well I know;
'Tis with distinction you bestow,
And not to every one that comes,
Just as a Scotsman does his plums.
'Pray take them, sir-enough's a feast:
Eat some, and pocket up the rest'-
What, rob your boys? those pretty rogues;
'No, sir, you'll leave them to the hogs.'
Thus fools with compliments besiege ye,
Contriving never to oblige ye.
Scatter your favours on a fop,
Ingratitude's the certain crop;

And 'tis but just, I'll tell you wherefore:
You give the things you never care for.
A wise man always is or should
Be mighty ready to do good;
But makes a difference in his thought
Betwixt a guinea and a groat.

Now this I'll say, you'll find in me
A safe companion, and a free;
But if you'd have me always near—
A word, pray, in your honour's ear:
I hope it is your resolution

To give me back my constitution,
The sprightly wit, the lively eye,
The' engaging smile, the gaiety
That laugh'd down many a summer sun,
And kept you up so oft till one;
And all that voluntary vein,
As when Belinda raised my strain.
A weasel once made shift to slink
In at a corn-loft through a chink,

But having amply stuff'd his skin,
Could not get out as he got in;
Which one belonging to the house
("Twas not a man, it was a mouse,)
Observing, cried, You scape not so;
Lean as you came, sir, you must go.'

[ocr errors]

Sir, you may spare your application, I'm no such beast, nor his relation, Nor one that temperance advance, Cramm'd to the throat with ortolans; Extremely ready to resign

All that may make me none of mine.
South-sea subscriptions take who please,
Leave me but liberty and ease.

"Twas what I said to Craggs and Child,
Who praised my modesty, and smiled.
Give me, I cried, (enough for me)
My bread and independency!'
So bought an annual rent or two,
And lived-just as you see I do;
Near fifty, and without a wife,
I trust that sinking fund, my life.
Can I retrench? Yes, mighty well,
Shrink back to my paternal cell,
A little house with trees a-row,
And, like its master, very low;
There died my father, no man's debtor,
And there I'll die, nor worse nor better.
To set this matter full before ye,
Our old friend Swift will tell his story.

Harley, the nation's great support'But you may read it, I stop short.



The reflections of Horace, and the judgments passed in his epistle to Augustus, seemed so seasonable to the present times, that I could not help applying them to the use of my own country. The author thought them considerable enough to address them to his prince, whom he paints with all the great and good qualities of a monarch upon whom the Romans depended for the increase of an absolute empire but to make the poem entirely English, I was willing to add one or two of those which contribute to the happiness of a free people, and are more consistent with the welfare of our neighbours.

This epistle will show the learned world to have fallen into two mistakes: one, that Augustus was a patron of poets in general; whereas he not only prohibited all but the best writers to name him, but recommended that care even to the civil magistrate; Admonebat prætores, ne paterentur nomen suum obsolefieri, &c.; the other, that this piece was only a general discourse of poetry; whereas it was an apology for the poets, in order to render Augustus more their patron. Horace here pleads the cause of his contemporaries; first, against the taste of the town, whose humour it was to magnify the authors of the preceding age; secondly, against the court and nobility, who encouraged only the writers for the theatre; and, lastly, against the emperor himself, who had conceived them of little use to the government. He shows (by a view of the progress of learning, and the change of taste among the Romans,) that the introduction of the polite arts of Greece had given the writers of his time great advantages over their predecessors; that their morals were much improved, and the license of those ancient poets restrained; that satire and comedy were become more just and useful; that whatever extravagances were left on the stage were owing to the ill taste of the nobility; that poets, under due regulations, were in many respects useful to the state; and concludes,

that it was upon them the emperor himself must depend for his fame with posterity.

We e may further learn from this epistle, that Horace made his court to this great prince, by writing with a decent freedom towards him, with a just contempt of his low flatterers, and with a manly regard to his own character.

To Augustus.

you, great patron of mankind! sustain
The balanced 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 endured,
The Gaul subdued, or property secured,
Ambition humbled, mighty cities storm'd,
Or laws establish'd, and the world reform'd;
Closed their long glories with a sigh, to find
The' 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 these 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 revered
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 confess'd
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 Queene;
A Scot will fight for Christ's Kirk o' the Green;
And each true Briton is to Ben so civil,

He swears the Muses met him at the Devil.
Though justly Greece her eldest sons admires,
Why should not we be wiser than our sires?
In every 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 began to' immortalize?
'Who lasts a century can have no flaw;
I hold that wit a classic, good in law.'
you compound?
And shall we deem him ancient, right, and sound,
Or damn to all eternity at once

Suppose he wants a year, will

At ninety-nine a modern and a dunce?

« PreviousContinue »