« PreviousContinue »
The fools, my juniors by a year,
Are tortured with suspense and fear;
Who wisely thought my age a screen,
When death approached, to stand between:
The screen removed, their hearts are trembling;
They mourn for me without dissembling.
My female friends, whose tender hearts
Have better learned to act their parts,
Receive the news in doleful dumps :
"The Dean is dead (pray, what is trumps ?).”
"Then Lord have mercy on his soul !
(Ladies, I'll venture for the vole.)"
“Six deans, they say, must bear the pall
(I wish I knew what king to call).”
"Madam, your husband will attend
The funeral of so good a friend?”
“No, madam, 't is a shocking sight,
And he's engaged to-morrow night:
My lady Club will take it ill
If he should fail her at quadrille.
He loved the Dean (I lead a heart),
But dearest friends, they say, must part.
His time was come; he ran his race;
We hope he's in a better place.”
Suppose me dead, and then suppose
A club assembled at the Rose;
Where, from discourse of this and that,
I grow the subject of their chat;
And while they toss my name about,
With favour some, and some without,
One, quite indiff'rent in the cause,
My character impartial draws:
"The Dean, if we believe report,
Was never ill-received at court.
As for his works in verse and prose,
I own myself no judge of those,
Nor can I tell what critics thought 'em;
But this I know-all people bought 'em.
As with a moral view designed
To cure the vices of mankind.
His vein, ironically grave,
Exposed the fool and lashed the knave:
To steal a hint was never known,
But what he writ was all his own.
He never thought an honour done him
Because a duke was proud to own him;
Would rather slip aside and choose
To talk with wits in dirty shoes;
Despised the fools with stars and garters,
So often seen caressing Chartres.
He never courted men in station;
No persons held in admiration;
Of no man's greatness was afraid,
Because he sought for no man's aid.
Though trusted long in great affairs,
He gave himself no haughty airs;
Without regarding private ends,
Spent all his credit for his friends;
And only chose the wise and good-
No flatt'rers, no allies in blood;
But succored virtue in distress,
And seldom failed of good success,
As numbers in their hearts must own,
Who but for him had been unknown.
With princes kept a due decorum,
But never stood in awe before 'em:
He followed David's lesson just,
'In princes never put thy trust;
And would you make him truly sour,
Provoke him with a slave in power.
The Irish senate if you named,
With what impatience he declaimed!
Fair Liberty was all his cry,
For her he stood prepared to die;
For her he boldly stood alone;
For her he oft exposed his own.
Two kingdoms, just as faction led,
Had set a price upon his head;
But not a traitor could be found
To sell him for six hundred pound.
Had he but spared his tongue and pen,
He might have rose like other men;
But power was never in his thought,
And wealth he valued not a groat.
Ingratitude he often found,
And pitied those who meant the wound;
But kept the tenor of his mind,
To merit well of humankind,
Nor made a sacrifice of those
Who still were true, to please his foes.
He laboured many a fruitless hour
To reconcile his friends in power;
Saw mischief by a faction brewing,
While they pursued each other's ruin;
But finding vain was all his care,
He left the court in mere despair.
Harmonious Cibber entertains
The court with annual birthday strains;
Whence Gay was banished in disgrace;
Where Pope will never show his face;
Where Young must torture his invention
To flatter knaves, or lose his pension.
But these are not a thousandth part
Of jobbers in the poet's art,
Attending each his proper station,
And all in due subordination,
Through ev'ry alley to be found,
In garrets high or under ground;
And when they join their pericranies,
Out skips a book of miscellanies.
Hobbes clearly proves that ev'ry creature
Lives in state of war by nature;
The greater for the smaller watch,
But meddle seldom with their match:
A whale of mod'rate size will draw
A shoal of herrings down his maw;
A fox with geese his belly crams;
A wolf destroys a thousand lambs.
But search among the rhyming race,
The brave are worried by the base:
If on Parnassus' top you sit,
You rarely bite, are always bit;
Eacb poet of inferior size
On you shall rail and criticise,
And strive to tear you limb from limb;
While others do as much for him.
The vermin only tease and pinch
Their foes superior by an inch:
So, nat'ralists observe, a flea
Hath smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller still to bite 'em;
And so proceed ad infinitum.
Thus ev'ry poet, in his kind,
Is bit by him that comes behind;
Who, though too little to be seen,
Can tease, and gall, and give the spleen.
Happy the man whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air,
In his own ground:
Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire;
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter fire:
Blest who can unconcern'dly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day.
First in these fields I try the sylvan strains,
Nor blush to sport on Windsor's blissful plains :
Fair Thames, flow gently from thy sacred spring,
While on thy banks Sicilian Muses sing;
Let vernal airs through trembling osiers play,
And Albion's cliffs resound the rural lay.
You, that too wise for pride, too good for pow'r,
Enjoy the glory to be great no more,
And, carrying with you all the world can boast,
To all the world illustriously are lost,
O let my Muse her slender reed inspire,
Till in your native shades you tune the lyre:
So when the nightingale to rest removes,
The thrush may chant to the forsaken groves,
But, charmed to silence, listens while she sings,
And all th' aërial audience clap their wings.
Soon as the flocks shook off the nightly dews,
Two swains, whom love kept wakeful, and the Muse,
Poured o'er the whitning vale their fleecy care,
Fresh as the morn and as the season fair.
The dawn now blushing on the mountain's side,
Thus Daphnis spoke, and Strephon thus replied.
Daphnis. Hear how the birds, on ev'ry bloomy spray,
With joyous music wake the dawning day!
Why sit we mute when early linnets sing,
When warbling Philomel salutes the spring?