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WHILE Celia's Tears make sorrow bright,
Thus from the Ocean first did rise: And thus through Mists we see the sun, Which else we durst not gaze upon.
These silver drops, like morning dew,
The Baby in that sunny Sphere
EXACTLY in the taste of Lopes de Vega, who, speaking of a shepherdess weeping near the sea-side, says, "The ocean advances to collect her tears, and enclosing them in shells, converts them into pearls."
EARL OF ROCHESTER.
THE verses on Silence are a sensible imitation of the Earl of Rochester's on Nothing; which piece, together with his Satire on Man from the fourth of Boileau, and the tenth Satire of Horace (which in truth is excellent), are the only pieces of this profligate nobleman which modesty or common sense will allow any man to read. Rochester had much energy in his thoughts and diction; and though the ancient Satirists often use great liberty in their expressions, yet, as the ingenious historian* observes, "Their freedom no more resembles the licence of Rochester, than the nakedness of an Indian does that of a common prostitute."
Pope, in this imitation, has discovered a fund of solid sense, and just observation upon vice and folly, that are very remarkable in a person so extremely young as he was at the time of composing it. I believe, on a fair comparison with Rochester's lines, it will be found, that although the turn of the Satire be copied, yet it is excelled. That Rochester should write a Satire on Man I am not surprised; it is the business of the libertine to degrade his species, and debase the dignity of human nature, and thereby destroy the most efficacious incitements to lovely and laudable actions. But that a writer of Boileau's purity of manners should represent his kind in the dark and disagreeable colours he has done, with all the malignity of a discontented Hobbist, is a lamentable perversion of fine talents, and is a real injury to society. It is a fact worthy the attention of those who study the history of learning, that the gross licentiousness and applauded debauchery of Charles the Second's court proved almost as pernicious to the progress of polite literature and the fine arts, that began to revive after the Grand Rebellion, as the gloomy superstition, the absurd cant, and formal hypocrisy, that disgraced this nation, during the usurpation of Cromwell.
* Hume's History of Great Britain, vol. ii. p. 434.
EARL OF ROCHESTER.
SILENCE! coeval with Eternity;
Thou wert, ere Nature's self began to be, 'Twas one vast Nothing, all, and all slept fast in thee.
Thine was the sway, ere heav'n was form'd, or
6.3 3. Fur
Ere fruitful Thought conceiv'd creation's birth, Or midwife Word gave aid, and spoke the infant
Then various elements, against thee join'd,
And fram'd the clam'rous race of busy Human-kind.
The tongue mov'd gently first, and speech was low, Till wrangling Science taught it noise and show, And wicked Wit arose, thy most abusive foe.
V. But rebel Wit deserts thee oft' in vain se Lost in the maze of words he turns again, And seeks a surer state, and courts thy gentle reign.
Afflicted Sense thou kindly dost set free,
And routed Reason finds a safe retreat in thee.
With thee in private modest Dulness lies, And in thy bosom lurks in Thought's disguise; Thou varnisher of Fools, and cheat of all the Wise!
Yet thy indulgence is by both confest;
Folly by thee lies sleeping in the breast,
And 'tis in thee at last that Wisdom seeks for rest.
Silence the knave's repute, the whore's good name, The only honour of the wishing dame;
The very want of tongue makes thee a kind of Fame.
But could'st thou seize some tongues that now are free,
How Church and State should be oblig'd to thee? At Senate, and at Bar, how welcome wouldst thou be!
Yet speech ev'n there, submissively withdraws, From rights of subjects, and the poor man's cause: pompous Silence reigns, and stills the noisy Laws.
Past services of friends, good deeds of foes, What Fav'rites gain, and what the Nation owes, Fly the forgetful world, and in thy arms repose.