Page images
[ocr errors]

Walk with respect behind, while we at ease

Weave laurel crowns, and take what names we
My dear Tibullus! (if that will not do) [please.
Let me be Horace, and be Ovid you:

Or, I'm content, allow me Dryden's strains,
And you
shall rise up Otway for your pains.'
Much do I suffer, much, to keep in peace
This jealous, waspish, wrong-head, rhyming race;
And much must flatter, if the whim should bite,
To court applause, by printing what I write :
But let the fit pass o'er; I'm wise enough
To stop my ears to their confounded stuff.
In vain bad rhymers all mankind reject,
They treat themselves with most profound respect;
"Tis to small purpose that you hold your tongue,
Each, praised within, is happy all day long:
But how severely with themselves proceed
The men who write such verse as we can read?
Their own strict judges, not a word they spare
That wants or force, or light, or weight, or care,
Howe'er unwillingly it quits its place,

Nay, though at court (perhaps) it may find grace:
Such they'll degrade; and, sometimes in its stead,
In downright charity revive the dead;

Mark where a bold expressive phrase appears
Bright through the rubbish of some hundred
Command old words, that long have slept, to wake,
Words that wise Bacon or brave Raleigh spake;
Or bid the new be English ages hence;
(For Use will father what's begot by Sense)
Pour the full tide of eloquence along,
Serenely pure, and yet divinely strong,
Rich with the treasures of each foreign tongue;
Prune the luxuriant, the uncouth refine,
But show no mercy to an empty line;

Then polish all with so much life and ease
You think 'tis Nature, and a knack to please:
'But ease in writing flows from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance.'
If such the plague and pains to write by rule,
Better (say I) be pleased, and play the fool:
Call, if you will, bad rhyming a disease,
It gives men happiness, or leaves them ease.
There lived in primo Georgii (they record)
A worthy member, no small fool, a lord;
Who, though the house was up, delighted sat,
Heard, noted, answer'd, as in full debate:
In all but this a man of sober life,

Fond of his friend, and civil to his wife;
Not quite a madman, though a pasty fell,
And much too wise to walk into a well.

Him the damn'd doctors and his friends immured,
They bled, they cupp'd, they purged; in short, they
Whereat the gentleman began to stare [cured:
My friends! (he cried) pox take you for your care!
That from a patriot of distinguish'd note
Have bled and purged me to a simple vote.'
Well, on the whole, plain prose must be
my fate:
Wisdom (curse on it!) will come soon or late.
There is a time when poets will grow dull:
I'll e'en leave verses to the boys at school:
To rules of poetry no more confined,
I'll learn to smooth and harmonize my
Teach every thought within its bounds to roll,
And keep the equal measure of the soul.

Soon as I enter at my country door,
My mind resumes the thread it dropp'd before;
Thoughts, which at Hyde-park-corner I forgot,
Meet and rejoin me in the pensive grot:

There all alone, and compliments apart,
I ask these sober questions of my heart:

If, when the more you drink the more you crave, You tell the doctor; when the more you have The more you want, why not, with equal ease, Confess as well your folly as disease? The heart resolves this matter in a trice, 'Men only feel the smart, but not the vice.' When golden angels cease to cure the evil, You give all royal witchcraft to the Devil : When servile chaplains cry, that birth and place Endue a peer with honour, truth, and grace, Look in that breast, most dirty dean! be fair, Say, can you find out one such lodger there? Yet still, not heeding what your heart can teach, You go to church to hear these flatterers preach. Indeed, could wealth bestow, or wit or merit, A grain of courage, or a spark of spirit, The wisest man might blush, I must agree, If D*** loved sixpence more than he.

If there be truth in law, and use can give A property, that's yours on which you live. Delightful Abs-court, if its fields afford Their fruits to you, confesses you its lord: All Worldly's hens, nay, partridge, sold to town, His venison too a guinea makes your own: He bought at thousands what with better wit You purchase as you want, and bit by bit: Now, or long since, what difference will be found? You pay a penny, and he paid a pound.

Heathcote himself, and such large acred men, Lords of fat E'sham, or of Lincoln Fen, Buy every stick of wood that lends them heat, Buy every pullet they afford to eat.

Yet these are wights who fondly call their own
Half that the Devil o'erlooks from Lincoln town.
The laws of God, as well as of the land,
Abhor a perpetuity should stand:

Estates have wings, and hang in Fortune's power,
Loose on the point of every wavering hour,
Ready by force, or of your own accord,

By sale, at least by death, to change their lord.
Man? and for ever? wretch! what wouldst thou
Heir urges heir, like wave impelling wave. [have?
All vast possessions (just the same the case
Whether you call them villa, park, or chase),
Alas, my Bathurst! what will they avail?
Join Cotswood hills to Saperton's fair dale;
Let rising granaries and temples here,
There mingled farms and pyramids, appear,
Link towns to towns with avenues of oak,
Enclose whole downs in walls; 'tis all a joke!
Inexorable Death shall level all,

And trees, and stones, and farms, and farmer, fall.
Gold, silver, ivory, vases sculptured high,
Paint, marble, gems, and robes of Persian dye,
There are who have not-and, thank Heaven!
there are

Who, if they have not, think not worth their care. Talk what you will oftaste, my friend! you'll find Two of a face as soon as of a mind.

Why of two brothers, rich and restless one Ploughs, burns, manures, and toils from sun to sun; The other slights, for women, sports, and wines, All Townshend's turnips, and all Grosvenor's mines:

Why one, like Bu**, with pay and scorn content, Bows and votes on in court and parliament;

One, driven by strong benevolence of soul,
Shall fly, like Oglethorpe, from pole to pole;
Is known alone to that directing Power
Who forms the genius in the natal hour:
That God of Nature, who, within us still,
Inclines our action, not constrains our will:
Various of temper, as of face or frame,
Each individual: His great end the same.
Yes, sir, how small soever be my heap,
A part I will enjoy as well as keep.
My heir may sigh, and think it want of grace
A man so poor would live without a place;
But sure no statute in his favour says
How free or frugal I shall pass my days;
I who at some times spend, at others spare,
Divided between carelessness and care.
"Tis one thing, madly to disperse my store;
Another, not to heed to treasure more;
Glad, like a boy, to snatch the first good day,
And pleased, if sordid want be far away.
What is❜t to me (a passenger, God wot)
Whether my vessel be first-rate or not?
The ship itself may make a better figure,
But I that sail, am neither less nor bigger.
I neither strut with every favouring breath,
Nor strive with all the tempest in my teeth :
In power, wit, figure, virtue, fortune, placed
Behind the foremost, and before the last.

But why all this of avarice? I have none.'
I wish you joy, sir, of a tyrant gone:
But does no other lord it at this hour,
As wild and mad? the avarice of power?
Does neither rage inflame, nor fear appal?
Not the black fear of death, that saddens all?

« PreviousContinue »