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Ben, old and poor, as little seem'd to heed
“ Yet surely, surely, these were famous men ! “ What boy but hears the sayings of old Ben ? 80 “ In all debates where critics bear a part, “ Not one but nods, and talks of Jonson's art, « Of Shakespear's nature, and of Cowley's wit; “ How Beaumont's judgment check'd what Fletcher
“ writ; “ How Shadwell hasty, Wycherley was slow; 85 “ But, for the passions, Southern sure and Rowe. “ These, only these, support the crowded stage, “ From eldest Heywood down to Cibber's age."
All this may be ; the people's yoice is odd, It is, and it is not, the voice of God. To Gammer Gurton if it give the bays, And yet deny the Careless Husband praise, Or say our fathers never broke a rule ; Why then, I say, the public is a fool. But let them own, that greater faults than we 95 They had, and greater virtues, I'll agree.
VER. 91. Gammer Gurton A piece of very low humour, one of the first printed plays in English, and therefore much valued by some antiquaries. Written by J. Still, afterwards Bishop of Bach and Wells
Spenser himself affects the obsolete,
But for the wits of either Charles's days,
115 When works are censurd, not as bad but new; While if our elders break all reason's laws, These fools demand not pardon, but applause..
On Avon's bank, where flow'rs eternal blow, If I but ask, if any weed can grow?
: 120 One tragic sentence if I dare deride Which Betterton's grave action dignify'd, Or well-mouth'd Booth with emphasis proclaims, (Tho' but, perhaps, a muster-roll of names,)
How will our fathers rise up in a rage, 125
In days of ease, when now the weary sword.
Lely Ver. 142.) A verse of the Lord Lansdown,
Ver. 143. in horsemanship t'excel, -- And ev'ry flow'ry courtier writ romance. The Duke of Newcastle's book of horsemanship: the romance of Parthenissa by the Earl of Orrery, and most of the French romances translated hy Persons of Quality.
Lely on animated canvas stole
But Britain, changeful as a child at play, 155
160 Time was, a saber Englishman would knock His servants up, and rise by five o'clock, Instruct his family in ev'ry rules And send his wife to church, his son to school, To worship like his fathers, was his care ; , 165 To teach their frugal virtues to his heir ;. '. To prove, that luxury could never hold ; : , And places on good security, his goldó Now times are chang?d, and one poetic itch Has seiz'd the court and city, poor and rich: 170 Sons : sires, and grandsires, all will wear the bays, Our wives read Milton, and our daughters plays, To theatres, and to rehearsals throng, And all our grace at table is a song, I, who so oft renounce the muses, lie,
175 Not ''self e'er tells more fibs than I ;
When sick of muse, or follies we deplore, "ro
He serv'd a 'prenticeship, who sets up shop ; .'
Yet, Sir, reflect, the mischief is not great ; These madmen never hurt the church or state : 190 Sometimes the folly benefits mankind; And rarely av'rice taints the tuneful mind.. Allow him but his plaything of a pen, He ne’er rebels, or plots, like other men': Flight of cashiers, or mobs, he'll never mind;. 195 And knows no losses while the muse is kind. To cheat a friend, or ward, he leaves to Peter ; The good man heaps up nothing but mere metre, ..
Enjoys Ver. 182. Ward] A famous empiric, whose pill and drop had several surprising effects, and were one of the principal subjects of writing and conversation at this time.
Ver. 186. Should Ripley venture,] Ripley, the architect.
VER. 195. Flight of cashiers,] Alluding to Mr. Knight's (one of the cashiers of the South Sea Company) Aying into France on the failure of that bubble, by which Pope was a considerable sufferer.