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To quell the faction, that affronts the throne, Before whose infant eyes the flatterer bows,
And binds a wreath about their baby brows;
And Death awakens from that dream too late. To give Religion her unbridled scope,
Oh! if Servility, with supple knees, Nor judge by statute a believer's hope;
Whose trade it is to smile, to crouch, to please; With close fidelity and love unfeigned,
If smooth Dissimulation, skilled to grace To keep the matrimonial bond unstained; A devil's purpose with an angel's face; Covetous only of a virtuous praise;
If smiling peeresses, and simpering peers, His life a lesson to the land he sways;
Encompassing his throne a few short years;
A. Guard what you say, the patriotic tribe If monarchy consist in such base things,
To be suspected, thwarted, and withstood, The worth of his three kingdoms I defy, E'en when he labours for his country's good; To lure me to the baseness of a lie:
To see a band called patriot for no cause,
Careless of all th' anxiety he feels,
A. Your smooth eulogium to one crown addrest, Most confident when palpably most wrong;
If this be kingly, then farewell for me B. Quevedo, as he tells his sober tale, All kingship; and may I be poor and free! Asked, when in hell, to see the royal jail; To be the table talk of clubs up-stairs, Approved their method in all other things: To which th' unwashed artificer repairs, But where, good sir, do you confine your kings? T'indulge his genius after long fatigue, There—said his guide—the group is full in view. By diving into cabinet intrigue; Indeed ?-replied the don—there are but few. (For what kings deem a toil, as well they may, His black interpreter the charge disdained- To him is relaxation and mere play;) Few, fellow ?—there are all that ever reigned. To win no praise when well-wrought plans prevail, Wit, undistinguishing, is apt to strike
But to be rudely censured when they fail; The guilty and not guilty both alike:
To doubt the love his favourites may pretend, I grant the sarcasm is too severe,
And in reality to find no friend; And we can readily refute it here;
If he indulge a cultivated taste,
A. Kings then, at last, have but the lot of all: If these attendants, and if such as these,
Happy the state that has not these to fear,
A. Thus men, whose thoughts contemplative
On situations that they never felt,
Of dreaming study and pedantic rust,
Leave kingly backs to cope with kingly cares; Respect, while stalking o'er life's narrow stage; They have their weight to carry, subjects theirs; Then leave their crimes for history to scan, Poets, of all men, ever least regret And ask, with busy scorn, was this the man? Increasing taxes and the nation's debt.
I pity kings, whom Worship waits upon Could you contrive tne payment, and rehearse Obsequious from the cradle to the throne; The mighty plan, oracular, in verse,
No bard, howe'er majestic, old or new, Is alwas happy, reign whoever may,
B. Not Brindley nor Bridgewater would essay He drinks his simple beverage with a gust;
Filled with as much true merriment and glee, The leathern ears of stockjobbers and Jews. As if he heard his king say-Slave, be free.
A. Vouchsafe, at least, to pitch the key of rhyme Thus happiness depends, as Nature shows, To themes more pertinent, if less sublime. Less on exterior things than most suppose, When ministers and ministerial arts;
Vigilant over all that he has made,
And weighs the nations in an even scale;
His fostering power, and tutelary care, Or tell me, if you can, what power maintains, As well be yoked by Despotism's hand, A Briton's scorn of arbitrary chains:
As dwell at large in Britain's chartered land. That were a theme might animate the dead, B. No. Freedom has a thousand charms to And move the lips of poets cast in lead.
show, B. The cause, tho’ worth the search, may yet That slaves, howe'er contented, never know. elude
The mind attains beneath her happy reign, Conjecture and remark, however shrewd. The growth, that Nature meant she should attain; They take perhaps a well-directed aim,
The varied fields of science, ever new, Who seek it in his climate and his frame. Opening and wider opening on her view, Liberal in all things else, yet Nature here She ventures onward with a prosperous force, With stern severity deals out the year,
While no base fear impedes her in her course. Winter invades the spring, and often pours Religion, richest favour of the skies, A chilling flood on summer's drooping flowers; Stands most revealed before the freeman's eyes; Unwelcome vapcurs quench autumnal beams, No shades of superstition blot the day, Ungenial blasts attending curl the streams: Liberty chases all that gloom away: The peasants urge their harvest, ply the fork The soul emancipated, unopprest, With double toil, and shiver at their work; Free to prove all things, and hold fast the best, Thus with a rigour for his good designed, Learns much; and to a thousand listening minds She rears her favourite man of all mankind. Communicates with joy the good she finds: His form robust and of elastic tone,
Courage in arms, and ever prompt to show Proportioned well, half muscle and half bone, His manly fore head to the fiercest foe; Supplies with warm activity and force
Glorious in war, but for the sake of peace, A mind well lodged, and masculine of course. His spirits rising as his toils increase, Hence Liberty, sweet Liberty inspires
Guards well what arts and industry have won, And keeps alive his fierce but noble fires. And Freedom claims him for her first-born son. Patient of constitutional control,
Slaves fight for what were better cast awayHe bears it with meek manliness of soul; The chains that binds them, and a tyrant's sway; But if Authority grow wanton, wo
But they that fight for freedom, undertake To him that treads upon his free-born toe; * The noblest cause mankind can have at stake:One step beyond the boundary of the laws Religion, virtue, truth, whate'er we call Fires him at once in Freedom's glorious cause. A blessing--freedom is the pledge of all. Thus proud Prerogative, not much revered, O Liberty! the prisoner's pleasing dream, Is seldom felt, though sometimes seen and heard; The poet's muse, his passion, and his theme; And in his cage, like parrot fine and gay, Genius is thine, and thou art Fancy's nurse; Is kept to strut, look big, and talk away. Lost without th’ennobling powers of verse;
Born in a climate softer far than ours, Heroic song from thy free touch acquires Not formed, like us, with such Herculean powers, Its clearest tone, the rapture it inspires: The Frenchman, easy, debonair, and brisk, Place me where Winter breathes his keenest air, Give him his lass, his fiddle, and his frisk, And I will sing, if Liberty be there;
And I will sing at Liberty's dear feet,
He stood, as some inimitable hand In Afric's torrid clime, or India's fiercest heat. Would strive to make a Paul or Tully stand. A. Sing where you please; in such a cause I No sycophant or slave, that dared oppose
Her sacred cause, but trembled when he rose; grant An English poet's privilege to rant;
And every venal stickler for the yoke But is not Freedom--at least is not ours
Felt himself crushed at the first word he spoke. Too apt to play the wanton with her powers,
Such men are raised to station and command, Grow freakish, and, o'erleaping every mound,
When Providence means mercy to a land, Spread anarchy and terror all around?
He speaks, and they appear; to him they owe B. Agreed. But would you sell or slay your Skill to direct, and strength to strike the blow; horse
To manage with address, to seize with power For bounding and curveting in his course?
The crisis of a dark decisive hour;
' Or if, when ridden with a careless rein,
So Gideon earned a victory not his own; He break away, and seek the distant plain? Subserviency his praise, and that alone. No. His high mettle, under good control,
Poor England! thou art a devoted deer, Gives him Olympic speed, and shoots him to the Beset with every ill but that of fear. goal.
The nations hunt; all mark thee for a prey; Let discipline employ her wholesome arts;
They swarm around thee, and thou stand'st at Let magistrates alert perform their parts;
bay, Not skulk or put on a prudential mask,
Undaunted still, though wearied and perplexed; As if their duty were a desperate task;
Once Chatham saved thee; but who saves thee next? Let active laws apply the needful curb,
Alas! the tide of pleasure sweeps along To guard the peace that Riot would disturb;
All, that should be the boast of British song. And Liberty, preserved from wild excess,
'Tis not the wreath, that once adorned thy brow, Shall raise no feuds for armies to suppress.
The prize of happier times, will serve thee now When Tumult lately burst his prison-door,
Our ancestry, a gallant, chieftain race, And set plebeian thousands in a roar;
Patterns of every virtue, every grace, When he usurped Authority's just place
Confessed a God; they kneeled before they fought, And dared to look his master in the face
And praised him in the victories he wrought. When the rude rabble's watch-word was-De-Now from the dust of ancient days bring forth
Their sober zeal, integrity, and worth; stroy, And blazing London seemed a second Troy;
Courage, ungraced by these, affronts the skies,
Is but the fire without the sacrifice.
The stream, that feeds the wellspring of the heart Blushed, that effects like these she should pro- Than virtue quickens, with a warmth divine,
Not more invigorates life's noblest part, duce, Worse than the deeds of galley-slaves broke loose. The powers, that Sin has brought to a decline. She loses in such storms her very name,
A. Th' inestimable Estimate of Brown And fierce Licentiousness should bear the blame. Rose like a paper kite, and charmed the town; Incomparable gem! thy worth untold;
But measures, planned and executed well, Cheap though blood-bought, and thrown away He trod the very self-same ground you tread,
Shifted the wind that raised it, and it fell. when sold; May no foes ravish thee, and no false friend
And victory refuted all he said.
B. And yet his judgment was not framed amiss; Betray thee, while professing to defend! Prize it, ye ministers; ye monarchs, spare;
Its error, if it erred, was merely this
He thought the dying hour already come, Ye Patriots, guard it with a miser's care.
And a complete recovery struck him dumb.
But that effeminacy, folly, lust,
And that a nation shamefully debased,
B. Not so—the virtue still adorns our age, Unless sweet Penitence her powers renew;
There is a time, and Justice marks the date,
May she! and, if offended Heaven be still
To the lascivious pipe and wanton song, Accessible, and prayer prevail, she will.
That charm down fear, they frolic it along, 'Tis not, however, insolence and noise,
With mad rapidity and unconcern, The tempest of tumultuary joys,
Down to the gulf, from which is no return. Nor is it yet despondence and dismay
They trust in navies, and their navies failWill win her visits, or engage her stay; God's curse can cast away ten thousand sail! Prayer only, and the penitential tear,
They trust in armies, and their courage dies; Can call her smiling down, and fix her here. In wisdom, wealth, in fortune, and in lies;
But all they trust in withers, as it must, But when a country (one that I could name)
When He commands in whom they place no trust. In prostitution sinks the sense of shame: When infamous Venality, grown bold,
Vengeance at last pours down upon their coast Writes on his bosom, to be let or sold ;
A long despised, but now victorious host; When Perjury, that Heaven-defying vice,
Tyranny sends the chain that must abridge
The noble sweep of all their privilege; Sells oaths by tale, and at the lowest price;
Gives liberty the last, the mortal shock; Stamps God's own name upon a lie just made,
Slips the slave's collar on, and snaps the lock. To turn a penny in the way of trade; When Avarice starves (and never hides his face) Mean you to prophesy, or but to preach?
A. Such lofty strains embellish what you teach; Two or three millions of the human race, And not a tongue inquires, how, where, or when, The muse imparts, and can command the lyre,
B. I know the mind, that feels indeed the fire Though conscience will have twinges now and
Acts with a force, and kindles with a zeal, then;
Whate'er the theme, that others never feel. When profanation of the sacred cause
If human woes her soft attention claim,
A tender sympathy pervades the frame;
She pours a sensibility divine
| Along the nerve of every feeling line.
But if a deed, not tamely to be borne, And regions long since desolate proclaim.
Fire indignation and a sense of scorn, Nineveh, Babylon, and ancient Rome,
The strings are swept with a power, so loud, Speak to the present time, and times to come;
The storm of music shakes the astonished crowd. They cry aloud, in every careless ear,
So, when remote futurity is brought Stop, while ye may; suspend your mad career;
Before the keen inquiry of her thought, O learn from our example and our fate,
A terrible sagacity informs Learn wisdom and repentance, ere too late.
The poet's heart; he looks to distant storms; Not only Vice disposes and prepares
He hears the thunder ere the tempest lowers; The mind, that slumbers sweetly in her snares, And, armed with strength surpassing human To stoop to Tyranny's usurped command,
powers, And bend her polished neck beneath his hand, Seizes events as yet unknown to man, (A dire effect, by one of Nature's laws, And darts his soul into the dawning plan. Unchangeably connected with its cause;) Hence, in a Roman mouth, the graceful name But Providence himself will intervene,
Of prophet and of poet was the same; To throw his dark displeasure o'er the scene. Hence British poets too the priesthood shared, All are his instruments; each form of war, And every hallowed druid was a bard. What burns at home, or threatens from afar, But no prophetic fires to me belong; Nature in arms, her elements at strife,
I play with syllables, and sport in song. The storms, that overset the joys of life,
A. At Westminster, where little poets strive Are but the rods to scourge a guilty land, To set a distich upon six and five, And waste it at the bidding of his hand. Where discipline helps th' opening buds of sense, He gives his word, and Mutiny soon roars And makes his pupils proud with silver pence, In all her gates, and shakes her distant shores; I was a poet too; but modern taste The standards of all nations are unfurled ; Is so refined, and delicate, and chaste, She has one fue, and that one foe the world: That verse, whatever fire the fancy warms, And, if he doom that people with a frown, Without a creamy smoothness has no charms. And mark them with a seal of wrath pressed down, Thus, all success depending on an ear, Obduracy takes place; callous and tough, And thinking I might purchase it too dear, The reprobated race grows judgment-proof: If sentiment were sacrificed to sound, Earth shakes beneath them, and Heaven roars And truth cut short to make a period round, above;
I judged a man of sense could scarce do worse, But nothing scares them from the course they love. Than caper in the morris-dance of verse.
B. Thus reputation is a spur to wit, Like him unnoticed, I, and such as I, And some wits flag through fear of losing it. Spread little wings, and rather skip than fly; Give me the line that ploughs its stately course Perched on the meagre produce of the land, Like a proud swan,conquering the stream by force, An ell or two of prospect we command; That, like some cottage beauty, strikes the heart, But never peep beyond the thorny bound Quite unindebted to the tricks of art.
Or oaken fence, that hems the paddock round. When Labour and when Dullness, club in hand, In Eden, ere yet innocence of heart Like the two figures at St. Dunstan's stand, Had faded, poetry was not an art: Beating alternately, in measured time,
Language, above all teaching, or, if taught, The clock-work tintinabulum of rhyme, Only by gratitude and glowing thought, Exact and regular the sounds will be;
Elegant as simplicity, and warm But such mere quarter-strokes are not for me. As ecstacy, unmanacled by form;
From him, who rears a poem lank and long, Not prompted, as in our degenerate days, To him who strains his all into a song:
By low ambition and the thirst of praise; Perhaps some bonny Caledonian air,
Was natural as is the flowing stream, All birks and bračs, though he was never there;
And yet magnificent. A God the theme! Or, having whelped a prologue with great pains; That theme on earth exhausted, though above Feels himself spent, and fumbles for his brains;
'Tis found as everlasting as his love. A prologue interdashed with many a stroke
Man lavished all his thoughts on human thingsAn art contrived to advertise a joke,
The feats of heroes, and the wrath of kings; So that the jest is clearly to be seen,
But still, while Virtue kindled his delight, Not in the words—but in the gap between:
The song was moral, and so far was right. Manner is all in all, whate'er is writ,
'Twas thus, till Luxury seduced the mind The substitute for genius, sense, and wit.
To joys less innocent, as less refined;
Then genius danced a bacchanal; he crowned To dally'much with subjects mean and low Proves that the mind is weak, or makes it so.
The brimming goblet, seized the thyrsus, bound Neglected talents rust into decay,
His brows with ivy, rushed into the field
Of wild imagination, and there reeled,
The victim of his own lascivious fires,
And dizzy with delight, profaned the sacred wires.
Anacreon, Horace played in Greece and Rome Else, summoning the muse to such a theme, The fruit of all her labour is whipped cream.
This bedlam part; and others nearer home. As if an eagle flew aloft, and then
When Cromwell fought for power, and while he Stooped from its highest pitch to pounce a wren.
reigned As if the poet, purposing to wed,
The proud protector of the power he gained, Should carve himself a wife in gingerbread.
Religion, harsh, intolerant, austere,
Parent of manners like herself severe, Ages elapsed ere Homer's lamp appeared,
Drew a rough copy of the Christian face, And ages ere the Mantuan swan was heard.
Without the smile, the sweetness, or the grace; To carry nature lengths unknown before,
The dark and sullen humour of the time To give a Milton birth, asked ages more.
Judged every effort of the muse a crime; Thus Genius rose and set at ordered times,
Verse, in the finest mould of fancy cast, And shot a dayspring into distant climes,
Was lumber in an age so void of taste: Ennobling every region that he chose;
But when the Second Charles assumed the sway, He sunk in Greece, in Italy he rose:
And arts revived beneath a softer day; And tedious years of Gothic darkness past,
Then, like a bow long foreed into a curve, Emerged, all splendour, in our isle at last.
The mind, released from too constrained a nerve, Thus lovely halcyons dive into the main, Then show far off their shining plumes again.
Flew to its first position with a spring,
That made the vaulted roofs of pleasure ring. A. Is genius only found in epic lays ?
His court, the dissolute and hateful school Prove this, and forfeit all pretence to praise.
Of Wantonness, where vice was taught by rule, Make their heroic powers your own at once, Swarmed with a scribbling herd, as deep inlaid Or candidly confess yourself a dunce.
With brutal lust as ever Circe made.
The abuses of her sacred charge, the press,