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Yet Sir, reflect, the mischief is not great;
Enjoys his garden and his book in quiet;
Of little use the man you may suppose,
And speak in public with some sort of grace? I scarce can think him such a worthless thing, Unless he praise some monster of a king; Or virtue or religion turn to sport, To please a lewd or unbelieving court. Unhappy Dryden! in all Charies's days, Roscommon only boasts unspotted bays; And in our own (excuse from courtly stains) No whiter page than Addison's remains. He from the taste obscene reclaims our youth, And sets the passions on the side of truth; Forms the soft bosom with the gentlest art, And pours cach human virtue in the heart. Let Ireland tell, how wit upheld her cause, Her trade supported, and supplied her laws; And leave on Swift this grateful verse engrav'd, "The rights a court attack'd, a poet sav'd." Behold the hand that wrought a nation's cure, Stretch'd to relieve the ideot and the poor, Proud vice to brand, or injur'd worth adorn, And stretch the ray to ages yet unborn. Not but there are who merit other palms; Hopkins and Sternhold glad the heart with psalms :
The boys and girls whom charity maintains, Implore your help in these pathetic strains: How could devotion touch the country pews, Unless the gods bestow'd a proper muse? Verse cheers their leisure, verse assists their work,
Verse prays for peace, or sings down Pope and Turk.
The silene'd prcacher yields to potent strain, And feels that grace his pray'r besought in vain;
The blessing thrills thro'all the lab'ring throng, And heaven is won by violence of song.
Our rural ancestors, with little blest, Patient of labour when the end was rest, Indulg'd the day that hous'd their annual grain
With feasts and off rings, and a thankful strain: The joy their wives, their sons, and servants share,
Ease of their toil, and partners of their care: The laugh, the jest, attendants on the bowl, Smooth'a ev'ry brow, and open'd ev'ry soul : With growing years the pleasing license grew, And taunts alternate innocently flew. But times corrupt, and nature ill-inclin'd, Produc'd the points that left the sting behind; Till friend with friend, and families at strifo, Triumphant malice rang'd thro' private life. Who felt the wrong, or fear'd it, took th'alarm, Appeal'd to law, and justice lent her arm. At length by wholesome dread of statutes bound,
The poets learn'd to please, and not to wound: Most warp'd to flattery's side; but some, more
Preserv'd the freedom, and forbore the vice. Hence satire rose, that just the medium bit, And heals with morals what it hurts with wit. We conquer'd France, but feit our captive's charms,
Her arts victorious triumph'd o'er our arms; Britain to soft refinement less a foe, Wit grew polite, and numbers learn'd to flow. Waller was smooth; but Dryden taught tojoin The varying verse, the full resounding line, The long majestic march, and energy divine. Tho' still some traces of our rustic vein And splayfoot verse remain'd and will remain; Late, very late, correctness grew our care, When the tir'd nation breath'd from civil war. Exact Racine, and Corneille's noble fire, Shew'd us that France had something to admire !
Not but the tragic spirit was our own, And full in Shakespear, fair in Otway shone : But Otway fail'd to polish or refine, And fluent Shakespear scarce effac'd a line. Even copious Dryden wanted, or forgot, The last and greatest art, the art to blot. Some doubt if equal pains or equal fire The humbler muse of comedy require. But, in known images of life, I guess The labour greater, as th' indulgence less. Observe how seldom even the best succeed: Tell me if Congreve's fools are fools indeed? What pert low dialogue bas Farquhar writ! How Van wants grace who never wanted wit! The stage how loosely does Astrea tread, Who fairly puts all characters to bed! And idle Cibber, how he breaks the laws, To make poor Pinkey eat with vast applause !
But fiil their purse, our poets' work is done;
And snatch me o'er the earth, or thro' the air, To Thebes, to Athens, when he will, and where.
O you! whom vanity's light bark conveys
There still remains, to mortify a wit,
How shall we fill a library with wit,
A senseless, worthless, and unhonour'd crowd, || My Liege! why writers little claim your
Call for the Farce, the Bear, or the Black Joke.
The play stands still! damn action and dis-
Back fly the scenes, and enter foot and horse;
The champion too! and, to complete the jest,
With laughter sure Democritus had died,
Yet, lest you think I rally more than teach,
But not this part of the poetic state
I guess; and, with their leave, will tell the fault;
We Poets are (upon a Poet's word)
Of all mankind the creatures most absurd:
We needs will write epistles to the King;
Be call'd to court to plan some work divine,
Yet think, great Sir! (so many virtues shewn)
Ab think what Poet best may make them
Or choose at least some minister of grace,
Charles to late times to be transmitted fair,
Cato's long wig, flower'd gown, and lacquer'd | One knighted Blackmore, and one pension'd
Which made old Ben and surly Dennis swear,
What seas you travers'd, and what fields you fought!
Your country's peace how oft, how dearly bought!
How barb'rous rage subsided at your word, And nations wonder'd while they dropp'd the sword!
How, when you nodded, o'er the land and deep Peace stole her wing, and wrapp'd the world in sleep;
Till earth's extremes your mediation own,
As Eusden, Philips, Settle, writ of Kings) Clothe spice, line trunks, or flutt'ring in a row Befringe the rails of Bedlam and Soho.
EPISTLE II-BOOK II.
DEAR Colonel, Cobham's and your country's friend!
You love a verse, take such as I can send. A Frenchman comes, presents you with his boy,
Bows and begins-" This lad, Sir, is of Blois : "Observe his shape how clean, his locks how curl'd!
"My only son, I'd have him see the world: "His French is pure; his voice too-you shall hear,
"Sir, he's your slave, for twenty pounds a year. "Mere wax as yet, you fashion him with ease, "Your barber, cook, upholst'rer, what you please :
"A perfect genius at an opera song"To say too much, might do my honour wrong.
"Take him with all his virtues, on my word; "His whole ambition was to serve a lord: "But, Sir, to you, with what would I not part? "Tho' faith, I fear, 'twill break his mother's heart.
"Once (and but once) I caught him in a lie, "And then, unwhipp'd, he had the grace to cry:
"The fault he has I fairly shall reveal; "(Could you o'erlook but that) it is, to steal." If, after this, you took the graceless lad, Could you complain, my friend, he prov'd so bad?
'Faith, in such case, ,if you should prosecute, I think Sir Godfrey should decide the suit; Who sent the thief, that stole the cash, away, And punish'd him that put it in his way.
Consider then, and judge me in this light; I told you, when I went, I could not write; You said the same; and are you discontent With laws to which you gave your own assent? Nay worse, to ask for verse at such a time! D'ye think me good for nothing but for rhyme?
In Anna's wars, a soldier poor and old Had dearly earn'd a little purse of gold : Tir'd with a tedious march, one luckless night He slept, poor dog! and lost it to a doit. This put the man in such a desp'rate mind,' Between revenge, and grief, and hunger join'd,
Against the foe, himself, and all mankind, He leap'd the trenches, scal'd a castle wall, Tore down a standard, took the fort and all. "Prodigious well!" his great commander [side. Gave him much praise, and some reward beNext pleas'd his excellence a town to batter; (Its name I know not, and 'tis no great matter) "Go on, my friend (he cried) see yonder wails! "Advance and conquer! go where glory calls! "More honours, more rewards, attend the brave."
Don't you remember what reply he gave? "D'ye think me, noble Gen'ral, such a sot? "Let him take castles who has ne'er a groat."
Bred up at home, full early I begun
To hunt for truth in Maudlin's learned grove.)
For right hereditary tax'd and fin'd,
He stuck to poverty with peace of mind;
But (thanks to Homer!) since 1 live and thrive,
Indebted to no prince or peer alive,