Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

EPISTLE THE TWELFTH.

TO MY FRIEND MR. MOTTEUX,* ON HIS TRAGEDY CALLED

BEAUTY IN DISTRESS.

5

'Tis hard, my friend, to write in such an age,
As damns, not only poets, but the stage.
That sacred art, by heaven itself infus’d,
Which Moses, David, Solomon have us’d,
Is now to be no more: the muses' foes
Would sink their Maker's praises into prose.
Were they content to prune the lavish vine
Of straggling branches, and improve the wine,
Who but a madman would his thoughts defend?
All would submit; for all but fools will mend. 10
But when to common sense they give the lie,
And turn distorted words to blasphemy,
They give the scandal; and the wise discern,
Their glosses teach an age, too apt to learn.
What I have loosely, or profanely, writ,
Let them to fires, their due desert, commit:

15

* Peter Motteux, to whom this piece is addressed, was born in Normandy, but settled as a merchant in London very young, and lived in repute. He died in a house of ill fame near the Strand, and was supposed to have been murdered, in 1718. He produced eleven dramatic pieces, and his Beauty in Distress is thought much the best of them : it was played in Lincoln's-inn-fields by Betterton's company in 1698. D.

25

30

Nor, when accus'd by me, let them complain :
Their faults, and not their function, I arraign.
Rebellion, worse than witchcraft, they pursu'd;
The pulpit preach'd the crime, the people rued
The stage was silenc'd; for the saints would see
In fields perform'd their plotted tragedy.
But let us first reform, and then so live,
That we may teach our teachers to forgive :
Our desk be plac'd below their lofty chairs;
Ours be the practice, as the precept theirs.
The moral part, at least, we may divide,
Humility reward, and punish pride;
Ambition, interest, avarice, accuse :
These are the province of a tragic muse.
These hast thou chosen; and the public voice
Has equall’d thy performance with thy choice.
Time, action, place, are so preserv’d by thee,
That e’en Cornäille might with envy see
The alliance of his Tripled Unity.
Thy incidents, perhaps, too thick are sown;
But too much plenty is thy fault alone.
At least but two can that good crime commit,
Thou in design, and Wycherly in wit.
Let thy own Gauls condemn thee, if they dare;
Contented to be thinly regular:
Born there, but not for them, our fruitful soil
With more increase rewards thy happy toil.
Their tongue, enfeebled, is refin'd too much ;

19 Rebellion, worse than witchcraft] From 1 Sam. xv. 23. • For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,' &c. T.

35 45

And, like pure gold, it bends at every touch:
Our sturdy Teuton yet will art obey, [allay.
More fit for manly thought, and strengthen'd with
But whence art thou inspir’d, and thou alone,
To flourish in an idiom not thy own?
It moves our wonder, that a foreign guest
Should overmatch the most, and match the best.
In under praising thy deserts, I wrong;
Here find the first deficience of our tongue:
Words, once my stock, are wanting, to commend
So great a poet, and so good a friend.

50

5

EPISTLE THE THIRTEENTH.*

TO MY HONOURED KINSMAN JOHN DRIDEN, OF CHESTERTON,

IN THE COUNTY OF HUNTING DON, ESQ.

How bless'd is he, who leads a country life, Unvex'd with anxious cares, and void of strife! Who studying peace, and shunning civil rage, Enjoy'd his youth, and now enjoys his age;

* This poem was written in 1699. The person to whom it is addressed was cousin-german to the poet, and a younger brother of the baronet. D.

| How bless'd is he] This is one of the most truly Horatian epistles in our language, comprehending a variety of topics and useful reflections, and sliding from subject to subject with ease and propriety. Writing this note in the year 1799, I am much struck with the lines that follow the 175th, as containing the soundest political truths. Dr. J. W.

5

10

15

All who deserve his love, he makes his own;
And, to be lov'd himself, needs only to be known.

Just, good, and wise, contending neighbours come, From your

award to wait their final doom; And, foes before, return in friendship home. Without their cost, you terminate the cause; And save the expense of long litigious laws : Where suits are travers'd; and so little won, That he who conquers is but last undone: Such are not your decrees; but so design'd, The sanction leaves a lasting peace behind : Like your own soul, serene; a pattern of your

mind. Promoting concord, and composing strife, Lord of yourself, uncumber'd with a wife; Where, for a year, a month, perhaps a night, Long penitence succeeds a short delight: Minds are so hardly match’d, that e'en the first, Though pair’d by Heaven, in Paradise were curs’d. For man and woman, though in one they grow, Yet, first or last, return again to two. He to God's image, she to his was made; So, farther from the fount the stream at random

20

05

stray'd.

How could he stand, when, put to double pain, He must a weaker than himself sustain ! Each might have stood perhaps; but each alone; Two wrestlers help to pull each other down.

Not that my verse would blemish all the fair ; But yet if some be bad, 'tis wisdom to beware;

30 35

,

40

45

And better shun the bait than struggle in the snare.
Thus have you shunn'd, and shun the married state,
Trusting as little as you can to fate.

No porter guards the passage of your door,
T'admit the wealthy and exclude the poor ;
For God, who gave the riches, gave the heart,
To sanctify the whole, by giving part;
Heaven, who foresaw the will, the means has

wrought,
And to the second son a blessing brought;
The first-begotten had his father's share:
But
you,

like Jacob, are Rebecca's heir. So may your stores and fruitful fields increase; And ever be you bless'd, who live to bless. As Ceres sow'd, where'er her chariot flew; As heaven in deserts rain'd the bread of dew; So free to many, to relations most, You feed with manna your own Israel host. With crowds attended of

your You seek the champain sports, or sylvan chase : With well breath'd beagles you surround the wood, E'en then industrious of the common good : And often have you brought the wily fox To suffer for the firstlings of the flocks; Chas'd even amid the folds; and made to bleed, Like felons, where they did the murderous deed. This fiery game your active youth maintain’d, Not yet by years extinguish'd, though restrain'd: You season still with sports your serious hours : For age but tastes of pleasures, youth devours.

ancient race,

55

« EdellinenJatka »