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Too weak for those decisive blows, that once
Insured us mastery there, we yet retain
Some small pre-eminence; we justly boast
At least superior jockeyship, and claim
The honours of the turf as all our own.
Go then, well worthy of the praise ye seek,
And show the shame ye might conceal at home,
In foreign eyes!-be grooms, and win the plate 14, 280
Where once your nobler fathers won a crown !—
'Tis generous to communicate your skill
To those that need it. Folly is soon learn'd15;
And under such preceptors, who can fail?
There is a pleasure 16 in poetic pains
Which only poets know. The shifts" and turns,
The expedients and inventions multiform
To which the mind resorts, in chase of terms
Though apt, yet coy, and difficult to win,—
To arrest the fleeting images that fill
The mirror of the mind, and hold them fast,
And force them sit, till he has pencil'd off
14 Then peers grew proud in horsemanship to excel, Newmarket's glory rose, as Britain's fell.
Pope. Imit. of Horace, ii. 1.
15 But difficulties soon abate
When birds are to be taught to prate,
And women are the teachers.
17 'Twere long to tell the expedients and the shifts
Which he that fights a season so severe
Book iii. 559.
Tr. from Vincent Bourne.
16 There is a pleasure in being mad, which only madmen know. Nat. Lee.
A faithful likeness of the forms he views;
Then to dispose his copies with such art
That each may find its most propitious light,
And shine by situation, hardly less
Than by the labour and the skill it cost,
Are occupations of the poet's mind
So pleasing, and that steal away the thought
With such address, from themes of sad import,
That lost in his own musings, happy man!
He feels the anxieties of life, denied
Their wonted entertainment, all retire.
18 Damnant quod non intelligunt. Cic.
Serious should be an author's final views;
Who write for pure amusement, ne'er amuse.
Young. Second Epis. to Pope.
Such joys has he that sings. But ah! not such,
Or seldom such, the hearers of his song.
Fastidious, or else listless, or perhaps
Aware of nothing arduous in a task
They never undertook, they little note
His dangers or escapes, and haply find
There least amusement where he found the most 18. 310
But is amusement all? studious of song,
And yet ambitious not to sing in vain,
I would not trifle merely, though the world
Be loudest in their praise who do no more.
Yet what can satire, whether grave or gay?
It may correct a foible, may chastise
The freaks of fashion, regulate the dress,
Retrench a sword-blade, or displace a patch;
But where are its sublimer trophies found?
What vice has it subdued? whose heart reclaim'd 320
By rigour, or whom laugh'd into reform?
Alas! Leviathan is not so tamed.
Laugh'd at, he laughs again; and stricken hard,
Turns to the stroke his adamantine scales,
That fear no discipline of human hands.
The pulpit therefore, (and I name it, fill'd
With solemn awe, that bids me well beware
With what intent I touch that holy thing;)
The pulpit, (when the satirist has at last,
Strutting and vapouring in an empty school,
Spent all his force, and made no proselyte ;)
say the pulpit (in the sober use
Of its legitimate peculiar powers,)
Must stand acknowledged, while the world shall stand, The most important and effectual guard,
Support, and ornament of virtue's cause.
There stands the messenger of truth. There stands
The legate of the skies; his theme divine,
His office sacred, his credentials clear.
By him, the violated law speaks out
Its thunders, and by him, in strains as sweet
As angels use, the gospel whispers peace.
He stablishes the strong, restores the weak,
Reclaims the wanderer, binds the broken heart,
And arm'd himself in panoply complete
Of heavenly temper, furnishes with arms
Bright as his own, and trains by every rule
Of holy discipline, to glorious war,
The sacramental host of God's elect.
Are all such teachers? would to heaven all were! 350 But hark, the Doctor's voice!-fast wedged between
Two empirics he stands, and with swoln cheeks
Inspires the news, his trumpet. Keener far
Than all invective is his bold harangue,
While through that public organ of report
He hails the clergy; and defying shame,
Announces to the world his own and theirs.
He teaches those to read, whom schools dismiss'd,
And colleges, untaught; sells accent, tone,
And emphasis in score, and gives to prayer
The adagio and andante it demands.
He grinds divinity of other days
Down into modern use; transforms old print
To zigzag manuscript, and cheats the eyes
Of gallery critics by a thousand arts.—
Are there who purchase of the Doctor's ware?
Oh name it not in Gath!—it cannot be,
To such I render more than mere respect,
Whose actions say that they respect themselves.
But loose in morals, and in manners vain,
In conversation frivolous, in dress
Extreme, at once rapacious and profuse,
Frequent in park, with lady at his side,
Ambling and prattling scandal as he goes,
But rare at home, and never at his books,
That grave and learned Clerks should need such aid.
He doubtless is in sport, and does but droll,
Assuming thus a rank unknown before,
Grand caterer and dry nurse of the church.
I venerate the man, whose heart is warm,
Whose hands are pure, whose doctrine and whose life
Coincident, exhibit lucid proof
That he is honest in the sacred cause.
Or with his pen, save when he scrawls a card;
Constant at routes, familiar with a round
Of ladyships, a stranger to the poor;
Ambitious of preferment for its gold,
And well prepared by ignorance and sloth,
By infidelity and love of the world
To make God's work a sinecure; a slave
To his own pleasures and his patron's pride;—
From such apostles, O ye mitred heads,
Preserve the church! and lay not careless hands
On sculls that cannot teach, and will not learn 19.
Would I describe a preacher, such as Paul,
Were he on earth, would hear, approve, and own,
Paul should himself direct me. I would trace
His master-strokes, and draw from his design.
I would express him simple, grave, sincere;
In doctrine uncorrupt; in language plain ;
And plain in manner. Decent, solemn, chaste,
And natural in gesture. Much impress'd
Himself, as conscious of his aweful charge,
And anxious mainly that the flock he feeds
May feel it too. Affectionate in look,
And tender in address, as well becomes
A messenger of grace to guilty men.
Behold the picture!-Is it like?—Like whom?
The things that mount the rostrum with a skip,
And then skip down again; pronounce a text,
Cry, hem; and reading what they never wrote,—
Just fifteen minutes, huddle up their work,
And with a well-bred whisper close the scene.
19 We could not teach, and must despair to learn.
Book vi. 620.