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While servile trick and imitative knack Confine the million in the beaten track, Perhaps some courser, who disdains the road, Snuffs up the wind, and flings himself abroad. Contemporaries all surpass'd, see one; Short his career indeed, but ably run; Churchill; himself, unconscious of his pow'rs, In penury consum'd his idle hours; And, like a scatter'd seed at random sown, Was left to spring by vigour of his own. Lifted at length, by dignity of thought And dint of genius, to an affluent lot, He laid his head in Luxury's soft lap, And took, too often, there his easy nap. If brighter beams than all he threw not forth, 'T was negligence in him, not want of worth. Surly, and slovenly, and bold, and coarse, Too proud for art, and trusting in mere force, Spendthrift alike of money and of wit, Always at speed, and never drawing bit, He struck the lyre in such a careless mood, And so disdain'd the rules he understood, The laurel seem'd to wait on his command, He snatch'd it rudely from the Muses' hand, Nature, exerting an unwearied pow'r, Forms, opens, and gives scent to ev'ry flow'r; Spreads the fresh verdure of the field, and leads The dancing Naiads through the dewy meads: She fills profuse ten thousand little throats With music, modulating all their notes; [known, And charms the woodland scenes, and wilds unWith artless airs and concerts of her own:
But seldom (as if fearful of expense)
Vouchsafes to man a poet's just pretence-
Fervency, freedom, fluency of thought,
Harmony, strength, words exquisitely sought;
Fancy, that from the bow, that spans the sky,
Brings colours, dipp'd in Heav'n, that never die;
A soul exalted above Earth, a mind
Skill'd in the characters that form mankind;
And, as the Sun in rising beauty dress'd,
Looks to the westward from the dappled east,
And marks, whatever clouds may interpose,
Ere yet his race begins, it's glorious close;
An eye like his to catch the distant goal;
Or, ere the wheels of verse begin to roll,
Like his to shed illuminating rays
On ev'ry scene and subject it surveys:
Thus grac'd, the man asserts a poet's name,
And the world cheerfully admits the claim.
Pity Religion has so seldom found
A skilful guide into poetic ground!
The flow'rs would spring where'er she deign'd to
And ev'ry Muse attend her in her way.
Virtue indeed meets many a rhyming friend,
And many a compliment politely penn'd;
But, unattir'd in that becoming vest
Religion weaves for her, and half undress'd,
Stands in the desert, shiv'ring and forlorn,
A wint❜ry figure, like a wither'd thorn.
The shelves are full, all other themes are sped;
Hackney'd and worn to the last flimsy thread,
Satire has long since done his best; and curst
And loathsome Ribaldry has done his worst;
Fancy has sported all her pow'rs away
In tales, in trifles, and in children's play;
And 't is the sad complaint, and almost true,
Whate'er we write, we bring forth nothing new.
'T were new indeed to see a bard all fire,
Touch'd with a coal from Heav'n, assume the
And tell the world, still kindling as he sung,
With more than mortal music on his tongue,
That He, who died below, and reigns above,
Inspires the song, and that his name is Love.
For, after all, if merely to beguile,
By flowing numbers and a flow'ry style,
The tædium that the lazy rich endure,
Which now and then sweet poetry may cure;
Or, if to see the name of idle self,
Stamp'd on the well-bound quarto, grace the shelf,
To float a bubble on the breath of Fame,
Prompt his endeavour and engage his aim,
Debas'd to servile purposes of pride,
How are the pow'rs of genius misapplied!
The gift, whose office is the Giver's praise,
To trace him in his word, his works, his ways!
Then spread the rich discov'ry, and invite
Mankind to share in the divine delight,
Distorted from it's use and just design,
To make the pitiful possessor shine.
To purchase, at the fool-frequented fair
Of vanity, a wreath for self to wear,
Is profanation of the basest kind -
Proof of a trifling and a worthless mind.
A. Hail Sternhold, then; and Hopkins, hail!— B. Amen.
If flatt'ry, folly, lust, employ the pen ;
If acrimony, slander, and abuse,
Give it a charge to blacken and traduce;
Though Butler's wit, Pope's numbers, Prior's eas
With all that fancy can invent to please,
Adorn the polish'd periods as they fall,
One madrigal of theirs is worth them all.
A. 'T would thin the ranks of the poetic tribe,
To dash the pen through all that you proscribe.
B. No matter we could shift when they were
And should, no doubt, if they were all forgot.
Nam neque me tantum venientis sibilus austri, Nec percussa juvant fluctu tam litora, nec quæ Saxosas inter decurrunt flumina valles.
VIRG. Ecl. v.
THOUGH Nature weigh our talents, and dispense
To ev'ry man his modicum of sense,
And Conversation in it's better part
May be esteem'd a gift, and not an art,
Yet much depends, as in the tiller's toil,
On culture, and the sowing of the soil.
Words learn'd by rote a parrot may rehearse,
But talking is not always to converse;
Not more distinct from harmony divine,
The constant creaking of a country sign.
As Alphabets in ivory employ,
Hour after hour, the yet unletter'd boy,
Sorting and puzzling with a deal of glee
Those seeds of science called his A B C ;
So language in the mouths of the adult,
Witness it's insignificant result,
Too often proves an implement of play,
A toy to sport with, and pass time away.
Collect at ev'ning what the day brought forth,
Compress the sum into it's solid worth,
And if it weigh th' importance of a fly,
The scales are false, or algebra a lie.
Sacred interpreter of human thought,
How few respect or use thee as they ought!
But all shall give account of ev'ry wrong,
Who dare dishonour or defile the tongue;
Who prostitute it in the cause of vice,
Or sell their glory at a market-price;
Who vote for hire, or point it with lampoon,
The dear-bought placeman, and the cheap buf-
There is a prurience in the speech of some, Wrath stays him, or else God would strike them
His wise forbearance has their end in view,
They fill their measure, and receive their due.
The heathen law-givers of ancient days,
Names almost worthy of a Christian's praise,
Would drive them forth from the resort of men,
And shut up ev'ry satyr in his den.
O come not ye near innocence and truth,
Ye worms that eat into the bud of youth!