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Ben, old and poor, as little seem'd to heed
The life to come, in ev'ry poet's creed.
Who now reads Cowley ? if he pleases yet, 75
His moral pleases, not his pointed wit ;
Forgot his Epic, nay Pindaric art,
But still I love the language of his heart.

“ 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.

Spenser

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,
And Sidney's verse halts ill on Roman feet :
Milton's strong pinion now not Heav'n can bound,
Now serpent-like, in prose he sweeps the ground,
In quibbles, angel and archangel join, 101
And God the Father turns a school-divine.
Not that I'd lop the beauties from his book,
Like slashing, Bentley with his desp’rate hook,
Or damn all Shakespear, like th' affected fool 105
At court, who hates whate'er he read at school.

But for the wits of either Charles's days,
The mob of gentlemen who wrote with ease ;
Sprat, Carew, Sedley, and a hundred more,
(Like twinkling stars the Miscellanies o’er,) 110
One simile, that solitary shines
In the dry desert. of a thousand lines,
Or lengthen'd thought that gleams through many a
Has sanctify'd whole poems for an age. (page,
I lose my patience, and I own it too,

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,)

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135

How will our fathers rise up in a rage, 125
And swear all shame is lost in George's age !
You'd think no fools disgrac'd the former reign,
Did not some grave examples yet remain,
Who scorn a lad should teach his father skill,
And, having once been wrong, will be so still. 130
He, who to seem more deep than you or I,
Extols old bards, or Merlin's prophecy,
Mistake him not; he envies, not admires,
And to debase the sons, exalts the sires.
Had ancient times conspir’d to disallow
What then was new, what had been ancient now?
Or what remain'd, so worthy to be read
By learned critics, of the mighty dead?

In days of ease, when now the weary sword.
Was sheath'd, and luxury with Charles restor’d; 140
In ev'ry taste of foreign courts improv'd,
“ All, by the King's example, liv'd and lov'd,"
Then peers grew proud in horsemanship t’excel,
New-market's glory rose, as Britain's fell;
The soldier breath'd the gallantries of France, 145
And ev'ry flow'ry courtier writ romance.
Then marble, soften'd into life, grew warm,
And yielding metal Aow'd to human form:

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
The sleepy eye, that spoke the melting soul. 150
No wonder then, when all was love and sport,, ..
The willing muses were debauch'd at court:
On each eneryate string they taught the note
To pants or tremble through an eunuch's throat. :

But Britain, changeful as a child at play, 155
Now calls in princes, and now turns away.
Now Whig, now.Tory, what we lov'd we hate ;
Now all for pleasure, now for church and state ;
Now for prerogative, and now for laws ; . .
Effects unhappy! from a noble cause..

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 ;

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When

When sick of muse, or follies we deplore, "ro
And promise our best friends to rhyme no more ;
We wake next morning in a raging fit;
And call for pen and ink to show our wit. i

He serv'd a 'prenticeship, who sets up shop ; .'
Ward try'd on puppies, and the poor, his drop;
Evin Radcliff's doctors travel first to France,
Nor dare to practise till they've learn’d to dance...
Who builds a bridge that never drove a pile ? 185
(Should Ripley venture, all the world would smile ;)
But those who cannot write, and those who can,
All rhyme, and scrawl, and scribble, to a man.

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.

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