Page images

Worth makes the man, and want of it the fellow:
The rest is all but leather or prunella.*

But by your father's worth if yours you rate,
Count me those only who were good and great.
Go! if your ancient but ignoble blood

Has crept through scoundrels ever since the flood,
Go! and pretend your family is young;

Nor own your fathers have been fools so long.
What can ennoble sots, or slaves, or cowards?
Alas! not all the blood of all the Howards.

Look next on greatness; say where greatness lies:
'Where, but among the heroes and the wise?'
Heroes are much the same, the point 's agreed,
From Macedonia's madman to the Swede;
The whole strange purpose of their lives to find,
Or make, an enemy of all mankind!

If parts allure thee, think how Bacon shined,
The wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind:
Or ravished with the whistling of a name,
See Cromwell, damned to everlasting fame!
If all united thy ambition call,

From ancient story learn to scorn them all.
There, in the rich, the honoured, famed, and great,
See the false scale of happiness complete!
In hearts of kings, or arms of queens who lay,
How happy! those to ruin, these betray:
Mark by what wretched steps their glory grows,
From dirt and sea-weed as proud Venice rose;
In each how guilt and greatness equal ran,
And all that raised the hero, sunk the man:
Now Europe's laurels on their brows behold,
But stained with blood, or ill exchanged for gold:
Then see them broke with toils, or sunk in ease,
Or infamous for plundered provinces.

O wealth ill-fated! which no act of fame
E'er taught to shine, or sanctified from shame!
What greater bliss attends their close of life?
Some greedy minion, or imperious wife,
The trophied arches, storied halls invade,

And haunt their slumbers in the pompous shade.
Alas! not dazzled with their noontide ray,
Compute the morn and evening to the day;
The whole amount of that enormous fame,

A tale, that blends their glory with their shame!+
Know then this truth-enough for man to know-→
'Virtue alone is happiness below.'

The only point where human bliss stands still,
And tastes the good without the fall toll;
Where only merit constant pay receives

Is blest in what it takes, and what it gives;
The joy unequalled, if its end it gain,
And if it lose, attended with no pain:

Without satiety, though e'er so blessed,"

And but more relished as the more distressed:

The broadest mirth unfeeling Folly wears,

Less pleasing far than Virtue's very tears:

Good from each object, from each place acquired,

*Prunella was a species of woollen stuff, of which clergymen's gowns were often made.

The allusion in this splendid passage is to the great Duke of Marlborough and his imperious' duchess.


For ever exercised, yet never tired;
Never elated, while one man 's oppressed;
Never dejected, while another's blessed;
And where no wants, no wishes can remain,
Since but to wish more virtue, is to gain.

From 'The Prologue to the Satires,' addressed to Dr. Arbuthnot.

P. Shut up the door, good John! fatigued I said,
Tie up the knocker; say I'm sick, I'm dead.
The dog-star rages! nay, 'tis past a doubt,

All Bedlam or Parnassus is let out:

Fire in each eye, and papers in each hand,

They rave, recite, and madden round the land.

What walls can guard me, or what shades can hide?
They pierce my thickets, through my grot they glide.
By land, by water, they renew the charge;

They stop the chariot, and they board the barge.
No place is sacred, not the church is free,

Even Sunday shines no Sabbath-day to me;

Then from the Mint walks forth the man of rhyme
Happy to catch me just at dinner time.*

Is there a parson, much bemused in beer,
A maudlin poetess, a rhyming peer,

A clerk, foredoomed his father's soul to cross,
Who pens a stanza when he should engross?

Is there, who, locked from ink and paper, scrawls
With desperate charcoal round his darkened walls?
All fly to Twit'nam, and in humble strain

Apply to me, to keep them mad or vain.

Who shames a scribbler? Break one cobweb through,
He spins the slight, self-pleasing thread anew;

Destroy his fib or sophistry: in vain!

The creature 's at his dirty work again. ...
One dedicates in high heroic prose,

And ridicules beyond a hundred foes:
One from all Grub Street will my fame defend,
And, more abusive, calls himself my friend.
This prints my letters, that expects a bribe,
And others roar aloud: 'Subscribe, subscribe!'
There are, who to my person pay their court:
I cough like Horace, and though lean, am short.
Ammon's great son one shoulder had too high,
Such Ovid's nose, and, Sir! you have an eye!'
Go on, obliging creatures, make me see
All that disgraced my betters, met in me.
Say for my comfort, languishing in bed:
'Just so immortal Maro held his head ;'
And when I die, be sure you let me know
Great Homer died three thousand years ago.
Why did I write ? what sin to me unknown
Dipped me in ink; my parents', or my own?
As yet a child, nor yet a fool to fame,

I lisped in numbers, for the numbers came.

I left no calling for this idle trade,

No duty broke, no father disobeyed:

The muse but served to ease some friend, not wife;

To help me through this long disease, my life;

To second, Arbuthnot! thy art and care,

And teach the being you preserved, to bear...
A man's true merit 'tis not hard to find;

* The Mint in Southwark was a sanctuary for insolvent debtors.

But each man's secret standard in his mind,
That casting-weight pride adds to emptiness,
This, who can gratify ? for who can guess?
The bard whom pilfered Pastorals renown,
Who turns a Persian tale for half-a-crown,
Just writes to make his barrenness appear,
And strains from hard-bound brains eight lines a year; *
He who, still wanting, though he lives on theft,
Steals much, spends little, yet has nothing left:
And he, who now to sense, now nonsense leaning,
Means not, but blunders round about a meaning;
And he, whose fustian 's so sublimely bad,

It is not poetry, but prose run mad:

All these my modest satire bade translate,

And owned that nine such poets made a Tate.

How did they fume, and stamp, and roar, and chafe!
And swear, not Addison himself was safe.

Peace to all such! but were there one whose fires
True genius kindles, and fair fame inspires;
Blest with each talent and each art to please,
And born to write, converse, and live with ease:
Should such a man, too fond to rule alone,
Bear, like the Turk, no brother near the throne,;
View him with scornful, yet with jealous eyes,
And hate for arts that caused himself to rise;
Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
And, without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;
Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike;
Alike reserved to blame or to commend,
A timorous foe, and a suspicious friend;
Dreading even fools, by flatterers besieged,
And so obliging, that he ne'er obliged;
Like Cato, give his little senate laws,
And sit attentive to his own applause;
While wits and Templars every sentence raise,
And wonder with a foolish face of praise.
Who but must laugh, if such a man there be?
Who would not weep, if Atticus were he? †

Let Sporus tremble - A. What! that thing of silk,
Sporus, that mere white curd of asses' milk?

Satire or sense, alas! can Sporus feel?

Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?

P. Yet let me flap this bug with gilded wings,
This painted child of dirt, that stinks and stings;
Whose buzz the witty and the fair annoys,

Yet wit ne'er tastes, and beauty ne'er enjoys:
So well-bred spaniels civilly delight

In mumbling of the game they dare not bite.
Eternal smiles his emptiness betray,

As shallow streams run dimpling all the way;

Whether in florid impotence he speaks,

And, as the prompter breathes, the puppet squeaks;

Or at the ear of Eve, familiar toad,

Half froth, half venom, spits himself abroad.

In puns, or politics, or tales, or lies,

Ambrose Philips.

The jealousy betwixt Addison and Pope, originating in literary and political rivalry, has been rendered memorable by the above highly finished and poignant satire. When Atterbury read it, he saw that Pope's strength lay in satirical poetry, and he wrote to him not to suffer that talent to be unemployed. Lord Hervey.

Or spite, or smut, or rhymes, or blasphemies;
His wit all seesaw, between that and this,

Now high, now low, now master up, now miss,
And he himself one vile antithesis.

Amphibious thing! that acting either part,
The trifling head, or the corrupted heart,
Fop at the toilet, flatterer at the board,
Now trips a lady, and now struts a lord.
Eve's tempter thus the Rabbins have expressed:
A cherub's face, a reptile all the rest,

Beauty that shocks you, parts that none will trust,
Wit that can creep, and pride that licks the dust.
Not fortune's worshipper, nor fashion's fool;
Not lucre's madman, nor ambition's tool:
Not proud nor servile: be one poet's praise,
That, if he pleased, he pleased by manly ways;
That flattery even to kings he held a shame,
And thought a lie in verse or prose the same;
That not in fancy's maze he wandered long,
But stooped to truth, and moralised his song;
That not for fame, but virtue's better end,
He stood the furious foe, the timid friend,
The damning critic, half-approving wit,
The coxcomb hit, or fearing to be hit;
Laughed at the loss of friends he never had,
The dull, the proud, the wicked, and the mad;
The distant threats of vengeance on his head
The blow, unfelt, the tear he never shed;
The tale revived, the lie so oft o'erthrown,
The imputed trash, and dulness not his own;
The morals blackened when the writings 'scape
The libelled person, and the pictured shape;
Abuse on all he loved, or loved him, spread,
A friend in exile, or a father dead;
The whisper, that to greatness still too near,
Perhaps yet vibrates on his sovereign's ear.
Welcome for thee, fair Virtue, all the past;
For thee, fair Virtue! welcome even the last!

The Man of Ross.*—From 'Moral Essays, Epistle III.'
But all our praises why should lords engross ?
Rise, honest Muse! and sing the Man of Ross:
Pleased Vaga echoes through her winding bounds,
And rapid Severn hoarse applause resounds.

Who hung with woods yon mountain's sultry brow?
From the dry rock who bade the waters flow?
Not to the skies in useless columns tossed,

Or in proud falls magnificently lost;

But clear and artless, pouring through the plain,
Health to the sick, and solace to the swain.
Whose causeway parts the vale with shady rows?
Whose seats the weary traveller repose?
Who taught the heaven-directed spire to rise?
"The Man of Ross,' each lisping babe replies.
Behold the market-place with poor o'erspread;
The Man of Ross divides the weekly bread:
He feeds yon almshouse, neat, but void of state,
Where age and want sit smiling at the gate:

*The Man of Ross was Mr. John Kyrle, who died in 1724, aged ninety, and was interred in the church of Ross, in Herefordshire. Mr. Kyrle was enabled to effect many of his benevolent purposes by the assistance of friends to whom he acted as almoner.

Him portioned maids, apprenticed orphans blessed,
The young who labour, and the old who rest.
Is any sick? the Man of Ross relieves,
Prescribes, attends, and med'cine makes and gives.
Is there a variance? enter but his door,
Balked are the courts, and contest is no more:
Despairing quacks with curses fled the place,
And vile attorneys, now an uscless race.

B. Thrice happy man, enabled to pursue
What all so wish, but want the power to do!
Csay, what sums that generous hand supply?
What mines to swell that boundless charity?

P. Of debts and taxes, wife and children clear,
This man possessed-five hundred pounds a year!
Blush, Grandeur, blush! proud courts, withdraw your blaze!
Ye little stars! hide your diminished rays.

B. And what! no monument, inscription, stone?
His race, his form, his name almost unknown?

P. Who builds a church to God, and not to fame
Will never mark the marble with his name:
Go, search it there, where to be born and die,
Of rich and poor makes all the history;
Enough, that virtue filled the space between ⚫
Proved by the ends of being to have been.

Death of Villiers, Duke of Buckingham.
In the worst inn's worst room, with mat half-hung,
The floors of plaster, and the walls of dung,
On once a flock-bed, but repaired with straw,
With tape-tied curtains, never meant to draw,
The George and Garter dangling from that bed
Where tawdry yellow strove with dirty red,

Great Villiers lies *-alas! how changed from him,
That life of pleasure, and that soul of whim!
Gallant and gay, in Cliveden's proud alcove,
The bower of wanton Shrewsbury and love;
Or just as gay, at council, in a ring

[ocr errors]

*George Villiers, second Duke of Buckingham For Dryden's character of Villiers, see ante. Pope has over-coloured the picture of the duke's death; he did not die in an inn, but in the house of one of his tenants in Yorkshire, at Kirby- Moorside. The event took place in 1688, when Villiers was in his sixty-first year. Pope alludes to Cliefden and the Countess of Shrewsbury. Cliefden was a villa on the banks of the Thames, in which the countess and Buckingham resided for some time. The Countess of Shrewsbury." says Pope. was a woman abandoned to gallantries. The Earl. her husband, was killed by the Duke of Buckingham in a duel, and it has been said, that during the combat, she held the Duke's horse in the habit of a page." Burnet says the Duke had great liveliness of wit, with a peculiar faculty of turning all thing into ridicule. Of this faculty the farce of the Reheursul (see ante) is an example. But in the composition of the piece, the Duke was assisted by Butler, Sprat, Clifford, and others. Davenant, under the character of Bilboa, was the original hero of the farce, and after his death. Dryden. as Bayes,' was substituted. The extravagances of the rhyming, heroic plays were parodied, and Dryden's dress, manner, and usual expressions copied on the stage. Some of the phrases are still current. Thus the new play writers were said to be fellows that scorn to imitate nature; but are given altogether to elevate and surprise. When Bayes is reminded that the plot stands still, he breaks out: Plot stands still! why what a devil is the plot good for, but to bring in fine things?' Dryden was a great snuffer, and when about to engage in any considerable work. he took medicine and observed a cooling diet. Bayes alludes to this: If I am to write familiar things, as sonnets, to Armida, and the like. I make use of stewed prunes only; but when I have a grand design in hand I ever take physic, and let blood; for when you would have pure swiftness of thought and fiery flights of fancy, you must have a care of the pensive part; in fine, you must purge the belly. Sheridan's Critic was evidently suggested by the Rehearsal,

[ocr errors]
« EelmineJätka »