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109

As like as (if I am not grossly wrong)
Earl Robert's Mice to aught e'er Chaucer sung

120

Read boldly, and unprejudiced peruse
Each favourite modern, even each ancient muse.
With all the comic salt and tragic rage
The great stupendous genius of our stage,
Boast of our island, pride of human-kind,
Had faults to which the boxes are not blini
His frailties are to every gossip known:
Yet Milton's pedantries not shock the town.
Ne'er be the dupe of names, however high;
For some outlive good parts, some misapply.
Each elegant Spectator you admire;
But must you therefore swear by Cato’s fire?
Masques for the court, and oft a clumsy jest,
Disgraced the muse that wrought the Alchemist.
• But to the ancients.'-Faith! I am not clear,
For all the smooth round type of Elzevir,
That every work which lasts in prose or song,
Two thousand years, deserves to last so long.
For not to mention some eternal blades
Known only now in th' academic shades,
(Those sacred groves where raptured spirits stray,
And in word-hunting waste the live-long day)
Ancients whom none but curious critics scan,
Do read Messala’s praises2 if you can.
Ah! who but feels the sweet contagious smart
While soft Tibullus pours his tender heart?
With him the Loves and Muses melt in tears;
But not a word of some hexameters.

130

1 The Alchemist :' Ben Jonson.-3. Messala's praises :' a poem of Tibullus's in hexameter verse; as yawning and insipid as his elegies are tender and natural.

139

• You grow so squeamish and so devilish dry,
You'll call Lucretius vapid next. Not I.
Some find him tedious, others think him lame:
But if he lags his subject is to blame.
Rough weary roads through barren wilds he tried,
Yet still he marches with true Roman pride:
Sometimes a meteor, gorgeous, rapid, bright,
He streams athwart the philosophic night.
Find

you in Horace no insipid odes ?-
He dared to tell us Homer sometimes nods;
And but for such a critic's hardy skill
Homer might slumber unsuspected still.

150

Tasteless, implicit, indolent and tame,
At second-hand we chiefly praise or blame.
Hence 'tis, for else one knows not why nor how,
Some authors flourish for a year or two:
For many some, more wondrous still to tell;
Farquhar yet lingers on the brink of hell.
Of solid merit others pine unknown;
At first, though Carlos 1 swimmingly went down,
Poor Belvidera failed to melt the town.
Sunk in dead night the giant Milton lay
'Till Somers' hand produced him to the day.
But, thanks to heaven and Addison's good grace,
Now every fop is charmed with Chevy Chase.

160

Specious and sage, the sovereign of the flock
Led to the downs, or from the wave-worn rock
Reluctant hurled, the tame implicit train
Or crop the downs, or headlong seek the main.

1. Carlos :' Don Carlos, a tragedy of Otway's, now long and justly forgotten, went off with great applause; while his Orphan, a somewhat better performance, and what is yet more strange, bis Venice Preserved, according to the theatrical anecdotes of those times, wet wait a very cold reception.

168

As blindly we our solemn leaders follow,
And good, and bad, and execrable swallow.

Pray, on the first throng'd evening of a play That wears the facies hippocratica, Strong lines of death, signs dire of reprobation; Have you not seen the angel of salvation Appear sublime; with wise and solemn rap To teach the doubtful rabble where to clap?The rabble knows not where our dramas shine; But where the cane goes pat— By G- that's fine!

grave Milton's

Judge for yourself ; nor wait with timid phlegm 'Till some illustrious pedant hum or hem. The lords who starved old Ben were learn’dly fond 180 Of Chaucer, whom with bungling toil they conn'd. Their sons, whose ears bold Milton could not seize, Would laugh o'er Ben like mad, and snuff and sneeze, And swear, and seem as tickled as you please. Their spawn, the pride of this sublimer age, Feel to the toes and horns

rage. Though lived he now he might appeal with scorn To lords, knights, squires and doctors, yet unborn; Or justly mad, to Moloch's burning fane Devote the choicest children of his brain. Judge for yourself; and as you find, report Of wit as freely as of beef or port. Zounds ! shall a pert or bluff important wight, Whose brain is fanciless, whose blood is white, A mumbling ape of taste, prescribe us laws To try the poets, for no better cause Than that he boasts per ann, ten thousand clear,

190

1 'Facies hippocratica :' the appearance of the face in the last stage of a consumption, as it is described by Hippocrates.

D

198

Yelps in the House, or barely sits a peer?
For shame! for shame! the liberal British soul
To stoop to any stale dictator's rule.

be wrong,

I may

and often am no doubt, But right or wrong, with friends, with foes 'twill out. Thus 'tis perhaps my fault if I complain Of trite invention and a flimsy vein, Tame characters, uninteresting, jejune, And passions drily copied from Le Brun.' For I would rather never judge, than wrong That friend of all men, generous Fenelon. But in the name of goodness, must I be The dupe of charms I never yet could see? And then to flatter where there's no rewardBetter be any patron-hunting bard, Who half our lords with filthy praise besmears, And sing an anthem to all ministers: Taste th' Attic salt in every peer's poor

rebus, And crown each Gothic idol for a Phoebus.

210

Alas! so far from free, so far from brave,
We dare not show the little taste we have.
With us you 'll see even vanity control
The most refined sensations of the soul.

220

1'Le Brun:'first painter to Lewis XIV., who, to speak in fashionable French English, called himself Lewis the Great. Our sovereign lords the passions, Love, Rage, Despair, &c., were graciously pleased to sit to him in their turns for their portraits: which he was generous enough to communicate to the public; to the great improvement, no doubt, of history-painting. It was he who they say poisoned Le Sueur; who, without half his advantages in many other respects, was so unreasonable and provoking as to display a genius with which his own could stand no comparison. It was he and his Gothic disciples, who, with sly scratches, defaced the most masterly of this Le Sueur's performances, as often as their barbarous envy could snugly reach thein. Yet after all these achievements he died in his bed! A catastrophe which could not have happened to him in a country like this, where the fine arts are as zealously and judiciously patronised as they are well understood.

Sad Otway's scenes, great Shakespeare's we defy: 221
* Lard, Madam! 'tis so unpolite to cry!-
For shame, my dear! d' ye credit all this stuff?-
I vow—well, this is innocent enough.'
At Athens long ago, the ladies—(married)
Dreamt not they misbehaved though they miscarried,
When a wild poet with licentious rage
Turned fifty furies loose upon the stage.

They were so tender and so easy moved, Heavens! how the Grecian ladies must have loved! 230 For all the fine sensations still have dwelt, Perhaps, where one was exquisitely felt. Thus he who heavenly Maro truly feels Stands fixed on Raphael, and at Handel thrills. The grosser senses too, the taste, the smell, Are likely truest where the fine prevail: Who doubts that Horace must have catered well? Friend, I'm a shrewd observer, and will guess What books you doat on from your favourite mess. Brown and L'Estrange will surely charm whome'er 240 The frothy pertness strikes of weak small beer Who steeps the calf's fat loin in greasy sauce Will hardly loathe the praise that bastes an ass. Who riots on Scotch collops scorns not any Insipid, fulsome, trashy miscellany; And who devours whate'er the cook can dish up, Will for a classic consecrate each bishop.

But I am sick of pen and ink; and you Will find this letter long enough. Adieu!

1 Sec Felton's Classica

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