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give us thyself, that we may see
eternal Paraclete, to thee.
All human things are subject to decay, and when fate summons, monarchs must obey. This Flecknoe found, who, like Augustus, young was call'd to empire, and had govern'd long: in prose and verse, was own'd, without dispute, through all the realms of Nonsense, absolute. This aged prince, now flourishing in peace, and blest with issue of a large increase; worn out with business, did at length debate to settle the succession of the state:
and, pondering, which of all his sons was fit to reign, and wage immortal war with wit, cry'd, T is resolv'd; for nature pleads, that he should only rule, who most resembles me. Shadwell alone my perfect image bears, mature in dulness from his tender years: Shadwell alone, of all my sons, is he who stands confirm'd in full stupidity. The rest to some faint meaning make pretence, but Shadwell never deviates into sense, Some beams of wit on other souls may fall, strike through, and make a lucid interval: but Shadwell's genuine night admits no ray, his rising fogs prevail upon the day.
Besides, his godly fabric fills the eye,
and seems design'd for thoughtless majesty: thoughtless as monarch oaks, that shade the plain, and spread in solemn state supinely reign. Heywood and Shirley were but types of thee, thou last great prophet of tautology! Ev'n 1, a dunce of more renown than they, was sent before but to prepare thy way; and coarsely clad in Norwich drugget, came to teach the nations in thy greater name. My warbling lute, the lute 1 whilom strung, when to king John of Portugal I sung, was but the prelude to that glorious day, when thou on silver Thames didst cut thy way, with well-tim'd oars before the royal barge, swell'd with the pride of thy celestial charge; and, big with hymn, commander of an host, the like was ne'er in Epsom blankets tost. Methinks I see the new Arion sail,
the lute still trembling underneath thy nail, at thy well-sharpened thumb from shore to shore the trebles sqeak for fear, the bases roar: Echoes from Pissing-Alley, Shadwell call, and Shadwell they resound from Aston-Hall. About thy boat the little fishes throng, as at the morning toast that floats along. Sometimes, as prince of thy harmonious band, thou wield'st thy papers in thy threshing hand, St. Andre's feet ne'er kept more equal time, not ev❜n the feet of thy own Pysche's rhyme: though they in numbers as in sense excel;
so just, so like tautology they fell,
that, pale with envy, Singleton foreswore
the lute and sword, which he in triumph bore, and vow'd he ne'er would act Villerius more.'
Here stopt the good old sire, and wept for joy, in silent raptures of the hopeful boy.
All arguments, but most his plays, persuade, that for anointed dulness he was inade.
Close to the walls which fair Augusta bind, (the fair Augusta much to tears inclin'd) an ancient fabric rais'd t' inform the sight, there stood of yore, and Barbican it hight; a watch-tower once; but now, so fate ordains, of all the pile an empty name remains: from it's old ruins brothel-houses rise, scenes of lewd loves, and of polluted joys, where their vast courts the mother-strumpets keep, and, undisturb'd by watch, in silence sleep. Near those a nursery erects it's head,
where queens are form'd, and future heroes bred; where unfledg'd actors learn to laugh and cry, where infant punks their tender voices try, and little Maximins the gods defy.
Great Fletcher never treads in buskins here, nor greater Jonson dare in socks appear; but gentle Simkin just reception finds amidst this monument of vanish'd minds: pure clinches the suburbian Muse affords, and Panton waging harmless war with words. Here Flecknoe, as a place to fame well known, ambitiously design'd his Shadwell's throne. For ancient Decker prophecy'd long since, that in this pile should reign a mighty prince, born for a scourge of wit, and flail of sense, to whom true dulness should some Pysches owe, but worlds of misers from his pen should flow: humourists and hypocrites it should produce, whole Raymond families, and tribes of Bruce.
Now empress Fame had publish'd the renown
swore by his sire, a mortal foe to Rome;
so Shadwell swore, nor should his vow be vain, that he till death true dulness would maintain: and in his father's right, and realm's defence, ne'er to have peace with wit nor truce with sense. The king himself the sacred unction made, as king by office, and as priest by trade. In his sinister hand, instead of ball, he plac'd a mighty mug of potent ale; Love's kingdom to his right he did convey, at once his sceptre, and his rule of sway,
whose righteous lore the prince had practis'd young and from whose loins recorded Pysche sprung. His temples, last, with poppies were o'erspread, that nodding seem'd to consecrate his head.
Just at the point of time, if fame not lie,
The sire then shook the honours of his head,
of his dominion may no end be known,
yet not one thought accuse thy toil of wit.