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THE AGE OF CLASSICISM
SIR SAMUEL GARTH (1661-1719)
How the dim speck of entity began
FROM THE DISPENSARY
Hence 'tis we wait the wondrous cause to find Speak, Goddess ! since 'tis thou that best canst tell How body acts upon impassive mind; How ancient leagues to modern discord fell; How fumes of wine the thinking part can fire, And why physicians were so cautious grown Past hopes revive, and present joys inspire; Of others' lives, and lavish of their own;
Why our complexions oft our soul declare, How by a journey to the Elysian plain,
And how the passions in the features are; 60 Peace triumphed, and old time returned again. How touch and harmony arise between Not far from that most celebrated place
Corporeal figure and a form unseen;
And act at every summons of the will;
LADY WINCHILSEA (1661-1720)
THE PETITION FOR AN ABSOLUTE Nor did the learn’d Society decline
Give me, o indulgent Fate!
Give me yet, before I die, Yet to the learn'd unveils her dark disguise,
A sweet, but absolute retreat, But shuns the gross access of vulgar eyes.
'Mongst paths so lost, and trees so high, Now she unfolds the faint and dawning strife
That the world may ne'er invade, Of infant atoms kindling into life;
Through such windings and such shade, How ductile matter new meanders takes,
My unshaken liberty.
No intruders thither come,
Who visit, but to be from home; While the more loose flow from the vital urn, 30
None who their vain moments pass,
Only studious of their glass.
That false alarm to hopes and fears,
That common theme for every fop, To slake a feverish heat with ambient showers; From the statesman to the shop, Whence their mechanic powers the spirits claim; In those coverts ne'er be spread. How great their force, how delicate their frame; Of who's deceas'd, or who's to wed, How the same nerves are fashioned to sustain
Be no tidings thither brought, The greatest pleasure and the greatest pain;
But silent, as a midnight thought, Why bilious juice a golden light puts on,
Where the world may ne'er invade, And floods of chyle in silver currents run;
Be those windings, and that shade!
Courteous Fate! afford me there A table spread without my care With what the neighb'ring fields impart, Whose cleanliness be all its art. When of old the calf was drest Tho' to make an angel's feast In the plain, unstudied sauce Nor truffle, nor morillia was; Nor could the mighty patriarch's board 30 One far-fetch'd ortolane afford. Courteous Fate, then give me there Only plain and wholesome fare. Fruits indeed, would Heaven bestow, All, that did in Eden grow, All, but the forbidden tree, Would be coveted by me: Grapes, with juice so crowded up As breaking thro' the native cup; Figs, yet growing, candied o'er By the sun's attracting power; Cherries, with the downy peach, All within my easy reach; Whilst, creeping near the humble ground, Should the strawberry be found, Springing wheresoe'er I strayed, Thro' those windings and that shade.
Esau's rural coat did yield
For my garments, let them be What may with the time agree; Warm, when Phæbus does retire, And is ill-supplied by fire; But when he renews the year And verdant all the fields appear, Beauty every thing resumes, Birds have dropt their winter-plumes; When the lily full displayed Stands in purer white arrayed Than that vest which heretofore The luxurious monarch wore When from Salem's gates, he drove To the soft retreat of love, Lebanon's all burnish'd house, And the dear Egyptian spouse, Clothe Fate, tho' not so gay, Clothe me light, and fresh as May. In the fountains let me view All my habit cheap and new, Such as, when sweet zephyrs fly, With their motions may comply, Gently waving, to express Unaffected carelessness. No perfumes have there a part, Borrow'd from the chymist's art; But such as rise from flow'ry beds, Or the falling jasmin sheds ! 'Twas the odour of the field
Exert thy voice, sweet harbinger of Spring!
This moment is thy time to sing,
This moment I attend to praise, And set my numbers to thy lays.
Free as thine shall be my song;
As thy music, short, or long. Poets, wild as thee, were born,
Pleasing best when unconfin'd,
When to please is least design'd, Soothing but their cares to rest;
Cares do still their thoughts molest,
And still th' unhappy poet's breast, Like thine, when best he sings, is plac'd against a
Muse, thy promise now fulfill
'Twill not be! then change thy note;
Let division shake thy throat. Hark! division now she tries;
Yet as far the muse outflies.
Cease then, prithee, cease thy tune;
Trifler, wilt thou sing till June?
Thus we poets that have speech,
If a fluent vein be shown
That's transcendent to our own,
But silent musings urge the mind to seek
WILLIAM WALSH (1663-1708)
A NOCTURNAL REVERIE
In such a night, when every louder wind
MATTHEW PRIOR (1664-1721)
In vain you tell your parting lover, You wish fair winds may waft him over. Alas! what winds can happy prove, That bear me far from what I love? Alas! what dangers on the main Can equal those that I sustain, From slighted vows, and cold disdain ?
FROM VERSES ON THE DEATH OF
Dear Thomas, did'st thou never pop
Moved in the orb, pleased with the chimes,
Vain human kind! fantastic race!
So fares it with those merry blades, That frisk it under Pindus's shades. In noble songs, and lofty odes, They tread on stars, and talk with gods;
Arbuthnot is no more my friend,
With favour some, and some without,
“The Dean, if we believe report,
“He never thought an honour done him,
From Dublin soon to London spread, 'Tis told at court, “the Dean is dead." And Lady Suffolk, in the spleen, Runs laughing up to tell the queen. The queen, so gracious, mild, and good, Cries, “Is he gone: 'tis time he should. He's dead, you say; then let him rot: I'm glad the medals were forgot. I promised him, I own; but when ? I only was the princess then; But now, as consort of the king, You know, 'tis quite another thing.” Now Chartres, at Sir Robert's levee, Tells with a sneer the tidings heavy: “Why, if he died without his shoes,” Cries Bob, “I'm sorry for the news: O, were the wretch but living still, And in his place my good friend Will! Or had a mitre on his head, Provided Bolingbroke were dead !" Now Curll his shop from rubbish drains: Three genuine tomes of Swift's remains ! And then, to make them pass the glibber, Revised by Tibbalds, Moore, and Cibber. He'll treat me as he does my betters, Publish my will, my life, my letters: Revive the libels born to die; Which Pope must bear, as well as I.
Here shift the scene, to represent How those I love my death lament. Poor Pope would grieve a month, and Gay A week, and Arbuthnot a day. St. John himself will scarce forbear To bite his pen, and drop a tear. The rest will give a shrug, and cry, “I'm sorry — but we all must die !"
"Perhaps I may allow the Dean Had too much satire in his vein; And seem'd determined not to starve it, Because no age could more deserve it. Yet malice never was his aim; He lash'd the vice, but spared the name; No individual could resent, Where thousands equally were meant; His satire points at no defect, But what all mortals may correct; For he abhorr'd that senseless tribe Who call it humour when they gibe: He spared a hump, or crooked nose, Whose owners set not up for beaux. True genuine dullness moved his pity, Unless it offer'd to be witty. Those who their ignorance confest, He ne'er offended with a jest; But laugh'd to hear an idiot quote
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,