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The wits of Charles found easier ways to fame,
Nor wilh'd for Jonson's art, or SHAKSPEARE's flame:
Themselves they ftudied, as they felt their writ;
Intrigue was plot, obscenity was wit.
Vice always found a sympathetic friend,
They pleas'd their age, and did not aim to mend.
Yet bards like these aspir’d to lafting praise,
And proudly hop'd to pimp in future days.
Their cause was gen’ral, their supports were strong,
Their llaves were willing, and their reign was long;
'Till shame regain’d the post that sense betray'd,
And Virtue call'd Oblivion to her aid.

Then crush'd by rules, and weaken'd as refin'd,
For years the power of tragedy declin'd;
From bard to bard the frigid caution crept,
'Till declamation roard, while passion flept.
Yet still did Virtue deign the stage to tread,
Philosophy remain?d, though Natare filed.
But forc'd at length her ancient reign to quit,
She saw great Fauftus lay the ghost of Wit :
Exulting Folly hail'd the joyful day,
And pantomime and song confirm’d her sway.

But who the coming changes can presage,
And mark the future periods of the stage ?
Perhaps if kill could diftant times explore,
New Behns, new Durfeys, yet remain in store.
Perhaps, where Lear has rav'd, and Hamlet dy'd,
On Aying cars new forcerers may ride.

Perhaps

7

Perhaps (for who can guess th' effects of chance ?) Here Hunt may box, or Mahomet may dance.

Hard is his lot, that here by Fortune plac'd, Must watch the wild viciffitudes of taste; With every meteor of caprice must play,

} And chace the new-blown bubbles of the day. Ah ! let not censure term our fate our choice ; The stage but echoes back the public voice,

T The drama's laws the drama's patrons give, For we that live to please, mut please, to live.

Then prompt no more the follies, you decry, As tyrants doom their tools of guilt to die ; 'Tis

yours this night to bid the reign commence Of rescu'd nature and reviving sense ; To chace the charms of sound, the pomp

of show, For useful mirth, and falutary woe; Bid scenic virtue form the rising age, And tráth diffuse her radiance from the stage,

OF ACTIVE and RETIRED LIFE.

Α Ν

E P I S T L E

TO

HENRY COVENTRY, Esq.

By WILLIAM MELMOTH, Esq;
First printed in the Year MDCCXXXV.

Meo quidem judicio reuter culpandus, alter dum expetit debitos titulos, dum alter mavult videri contempfile.

PLIN. Ep.

*3

Y"

ES, you condemn those sages too refin'd,

That gravely lecture ere they know mankind; Who whilst ambition's fiercer fires they blame, Would damp each useful spark that kindles fame.

'Tis in false estimates the folly lies ;
The passion's blameless, when the judgment's wife.

In vain philosophers with warmth conteft,
Life's secret shade, or open walk is best :
Each has its separate joys, and each its use :
This calls the patriot forth, and that the Muse.

a Author of Philemon to Hydafpes. He died 29th December 1752.

Hence

}

Hence not alike to all the species, heav'n
An equal thirst of public fame has giv'n:
Patrius it forms to shine in action great ;
While Decio's talents best adorn retreat.
If where Pierian maids delight to dwell,
The haunts of filence, and the peaceful cell,
Had, fair Afræa ! been thy Talbot's b choice,
Could lift’ning crowds now hang upon his voice?
And thou, bleft maid, might'st long have wept in yain
The diftant glories of a second reign,
In exile doom'd yet ages to complain.
Were high ambition still the power

confefs'd
That rul'd with equal fway in every breast,
Say where the glories of the sacred ninc?
Where Homer's verfe fublime, or, Milton, thine?
Nor thou, sweet Bard ! who “turnid the tuneful art,
“ From sound to sense, from fancy to the heart,"
Thy lays instructive to the world hadît giv'n,
Nor greatly justify'd the laws of heav'n.

Let satire blast with every mark of hate,
The vain aspirer, or dishonest Great,
Whom love of wealth, or wild ambition's sway
Push forward, ftill regardless of the way ;

b Charles Lord Talbot, Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain. He died' 14th February 1737.

c Mr. Pope.

High and more high who aim with restless pride,
Where neither reason nor fair virtue guide:
And him, the wretch, who labours on with pain,
For the low lucre of an useless gain,
(Wise but to get, and a&tive but to save)
May scorn deserv'd still follow to the grave.
But he who fond to raise a splendid name,
On life's ambitious height would fix his fame,
In active arts, or vent'rous arms would thine,
Yet shuns the paths which virtue bids decline ;
Who dignifies his wealth by gen'rous use,
To raise th' oppress'd, or merit to produce
Shall reason's voice impartial e'er condemn
The glorious purpose of so wise an aim ?

Where virtue regulates this juft desire,
"Twere dangerous folly to suppress its fire.
Say, whence could fame supply (its force unknown)
Her roll illustrious of fair renown?
What laurels prompt the hero's useful rage ?
What prize the patriot's weighty coils engage ?
Each public paflion bound to endless frost,
Each deed of social worth for ever lost.
O! may the Muse inspire the love of praise,
Raise the bright passion, but with judgment raise !
For this she oft has tun'd her sacred voice,
Call'd forth the patriot, and approv'd his choice;
Bid him the fteep ascent to honour take,
Nor, till the summit gain’d, her paths forsake.

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