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Enjoys his garden and his book in quiet ;
And then a perfect hermit in his diet.
Of little use the man you may suppose,
Who says in verse what others say in prose;
Yet let me show, a poet's of some weight,
And (tho' no soldier) useful to the state.
What will a child learn sooner than a song? 205
What better teach a foreigner the tongue ?
What's long or short, each accent where to place,
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 ; 210
Or virtue, or religion turn to sport,
To please a lewd, or unbelieving court.
Unhappy Dryden! In all Charles's days,
Roscommon only boasts unspotted bays ;
And in our own (excuse some courtly stains) 215
No whiter page than Addison 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 each 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 gratetul verse ingravid,
“ The rights a court attack'd, a poet sav'd.” .
Behold the hand that wrought a nation's cure, 225
Stretch'd to relieve the idiot and the poor,
Proud vice to brand, or injurd worth-adorng :
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, 231
Implore your help in these pathetic strains: .
How could devotion touch the country pews,
Unless the gods bestow?d a proper muse?.
Verse chears their leisure, verse assists their work,
Verse prays for peace, or sings down Pope and Turk.
The silenc'd preacher.yields to potent strain, .
And feels that grace his pray’r besought in vain s,
The blessing thrills thro' all the lab?ring, throng,
And Heav'n is won by violence of song. . . 240
Our rural aneestors, with little blesto
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: 246.
The laugh, the jest, attendants on the bowl,
Smooth'd ev'ry brow, and open'd ev'ry soul :
With growing years the pleasing licence grew,
And taunts alternate innocently flew.
But times corrupt, and nature, ill-inclin’d,
Produc'd the point that left a sting behind ; .
Till friend with friend, and families at strife,
Triumphant malice rag'd through private life.
Who felt the wrong, or fear'd it, took th' alarm,
Appeal'd to law, and Justice lent her arm. 256
At length, by wholesome dread of statutes bound,
The poets learn’d to please, and not to wound :
Most warp'd to Flatt'ry's side ; but some, more nice,
Preservd the freedom, and forebore the vice. 260
Hence satire rose, that just the medium hit,
And heals with morals what it hurts with wit.
We conquer'd France, but felt our captive's charms;
Her arts victorious triumph'd o'er our arms ;
Britain to soft refinements less a foe, · 265
Wit grew polite, and numbers learn’d to flow.
Waller was smooth ; but Dryden taught to join
The varying verse, the full resounding line,
The long majestic march, and energy divine.
Tho' still some traces of our rustic vein, 270
And splay-foot verse, remain'd, and will remain.
Late, very latė, correctness grew our care,
When the tir'd nation breath'd from civil war.
Exact Racine, and Corneille's noble fire,
Show'd us that France had something to admire.
Not but the tragic spirit was our own, 276
And full in Shakespear, fair in Otway shone :
But Otway fail'd to polish or refine,
And fluent Shakespear scarce effac'd a line.
Ev'n copious Dryden wanted, or forgot, 280
The last and greatest art, the art to blot.
· Some doubt, if equal pains, or equal fire
The humble muse of comedy require.
But in known images of life, I guess
The labour greater, as th' indulgence less.
Observe how seldom ev'n the best succeed :
Tell me if Congreve's fools are fools indeed;
What pert, low dialogue has Farqu’ar writ !
How Van wants grace, who never wanted wit!
The stage how loosely does Astrea tread, 290
Who fairly puts all characters to bed!
And idle Cibber, how he breaks the laws,
To make poor Pinky eat with vast applause !
But fill their purse, our poet's work is done,
Alike to them, by pathos or by pun. 295
O you! whom vanity's light bark conveys
On fame's mad voyage by the wind of praise,
With what a shifting gale your course you ply,"
For ever sunk too low, or born too high! .
Who pants for glory finds bat short repose, :
A breath revives him, or a breath o’erthrows.
Farewell the stage ! if just as thrives the play,
The silly bard grows fat, or falls away.
There still remains, to mortify a wit, ,
The many-headed monster of the pit:
305 A senseless, worthless, and unhonour'd crowd ; Who, to disturb their betters mighty proud,
Clatt'ring VER. 287. Congreve] He alludes to the characters of Brisk and Witwood.
Ver. 290. Astrea] A namę taken by Mrs. Behn, authoress of several obscene plays, &c.
Clatt'ring their sticks before ten lines are spoke,
Call for the farce, the bear, or the Blackjoke.
What dear delight to Britons farce affords ! 310
Ever the taste of mobs, but now of lords :
(Taste, that eternal wanderer, which flies
From heads to ears, and now from ears to eyes.)
The play stands still ; damn action and discourse,
Back fly the scenes, and enter foot and horse; 315
Pageants on pageants, in long order drawn,
Peers, heralds, bishops, ermin, gold, and lawn;
The champion too! and, to complete the jest,
Old Edward's armour beams on Cibber's breast.
With laughter sure Democritus had dy'd, 320
Had he beheld an audience gape so wide.
Let bear or elephant be e'er so white,
The people, sure, the people are the sight!
Ah luckless poet! stretch thy lungs and roar,
That bear or elephant shall heed thee more ; 325
While all its throats the gallery extends,
And all the thunder of the pit ascends !
Loud as the wolves, on Orcas' stormy steep,
Howl to the roarings of the northern deep.
Such Vek. 319. Old Edward's armour beams on Cibber's breast.] The Coronation of Henry VIII. and Queen Anne Boleyn, in which the playhouses vied with each other to represent all the pomp of a coronation. In this noble contention the armour of one of the Kings of England was borrowed from the Tower, to dress the champion.
Ver. 328. Orcas' stormy steep,] The farthest northern promon: tory of Scotland, opposite to the Orcades.