Beyond a tavern, or a tedious play, ^
We take your book, and laugh our spleen away. 3
If all your tribe, too studious of debate,
Would cease false hopes and titles to create.
Led by the rare example you begun.
Clients would fail, and lawyers be undone.
DEAR FRIEND, MR. CONGREVE,
ON HIS COMEDY CALLED 'THE DOUBLE DEALER.'
Well then, the promis'd hour is come at last,
The present age of wit obscures the past :
Strong were our sires, and as they fought they writ,
Conquering with force of arms and dint of wit :
Theirs was the giant race before the flood ;
And thus, when Charles return'd, our empire stood.
Like Janus he the stubborn soil raanur'd,
With rules of husbandry the rankness cur'd ;
Tam'd us to manners when the stage was rude,
And boisterous English wit with art endued,
Our age was cultivated thus at length,
But what we gain'd in skill, we lost in strength*
Our builder's were with want of genius curs'd ;
The second temple was not like the first:
Till you, the best Vitruvius, come at length,
Our beauties equal, but excel our strength.
Firm Doric pillars found your solid base, "^
The fair Corinthian crowns the higher space ; >
Thus all below is strength, and all above is grace. .)
In easy dialogue is Fletcher's praise ;
He mov'd the mind, but had not power to raise:
Great Jonson did by strength of judgment please ;
Yet, doubling Fletcher's force, he wants his ease.
In differing talents both adorn'd their age ;
One for the study, t'other for the stage.
But both to Congreve justly shall submit.
One match'd in judgment, both o'ermatch'd in wit j
In him all beauties of this age we see, ^
Etherege's courtship. Southern's purity, v
The satire, wit, and strength of manly Wycherly. j
All this in blooming youth you have achiev'd;
Nor are your foil'd contemporaries griev'd.
So much the sweetness of your manners move,
VV^e cannot envy you, because we love.
Fabius might joy in Scipio, when he saw
A beardless consul made against the law.
And join his suffrage to the votes of Rome,
Though he with Hannibal was overcome.
Thus old Romano bow'd to Raphael's fame.
And scholar to the youth he taught became.
O that your brows my laurel had sustain'd!
Well had I been depos'd, if you had reign'd :
The father had descended for the son,
For only you are lineal to the throne.
Thus when the state one Edward did depose,
A greater Edward in his room arose.
But now, not I, but Poetry is curs'd ;
For Tom the Second reigns like Tom the First.
But let 'em not mistake my patron's part,
Nor call his charity their own desert.
Yet this I prophecy, â€” thou shalt be seen
(Though with some short parenthesis between)
High on the throne of Wit; and seated there,
Not mine, (that's little) but thy laurel wear.
Thy first attempt an early promise made ;
That early promise this has more than paid.
So bold, yet so judiciously you dare,
That your least praise is to be regular.
Time, place, and action, may with pains be wrought,
But genius must be born, and never can be taught.
This is your portion, this your native store ; â– ^
Heaven, that but once was prodigal before, '
To Shakspeare gave as much : she could not give i
him more ! ^
Maintain your post, that's all the fame you need ;
For 'tis impossible you should proceed.
Already I am worn with cares and age.
And just abandoning the' ungrateful stage,
Unprofitably kept at Heaven's expense,
I live a rent-charge on his Providence :
But you, whom every Muse and Grace adorn,
Whom I foresee to better fortune bom,
Be kind to my Remains; and O defend.
Against your judgment, your departed friend !
Let not the' insulting foe my fame pursue,
But shade those laurels which descend to you ;
And take for tribute what these lines express ^
You merit more, nor could my love do less.
TO MR. GRANVILLE',
ON HIS EXCELLENT TRAGEDY CALLED ' HEROIC
Auspicious Poet, wert thou not my friend,
How could I envy what I must commend?
But since 'tis Nature's law, in love and wit,
That youth should reign, and withering age submit,
With less regret those laurels I resign,
Which, dying on my brows, revive on thine.
With better grace an ancient chief may yield
The long-contended honours of the field,
Thau venture all his fortune at a cast.
And fight, like Hannibal, to lose at last.
Young princes, obstinate to win the prize,
Though yearly beaten, yearly yet they rise :
Old monarchs, though successful, still in doubt,
Catch at a peace, and wisely turn devout.
Thine be the laurel, then j thy blooming age
Can best, if any can, support the stage ;
Which so declines, that shortly we may see
Players and plays reduc'd to second infancy.
Sharp to the world, but thoughtless of renown.
They plot not on the stage, but on the Town,
And, in despair their empty pit to fill.
Set up some foreign monster in a bill.
1 Afterwards Lord Lansdown.
Thus they jog on, still tricking, never thriving',
And murdering plays, which they miscal â€” reviving.
Our sense is nonsense through their pipes convey'd y
Scarce can a poet know the play he made,
'Tis so disguis'd in death : nor thinks 'tis he
That suffers in the mangled tragedy.
Thus Itys first was kill'd, and after dress'd
For his own sire, the chief invited guest.
I say not this of thy successful scenes.
Where thine was all the glory, theirs the gains.
Withlengthof time, much judgment, and more toil,
Not ill they acted what they could not spoil.
Their setting-sun still shoots a glimmering ray,
Like ancient Rome, majestic in decay ;
And better gleanings their Mom soil can boast
Than the crab-vintage of the neighbouring coast.
This difference yet the judging world will see,
Thou copiest Homer, and they copy thee.
TO MY rniEXD
31 R. MOTTEUX,
ON HIS TRAGEDY CALLED ' BEAUTY IN DISTRESS.
'Tis hard, my friend, to write in such an age
As damns not only poets, but the stage.
That sacred art, by Heaven itself infus'd,
Which Moses, David, Solomon, have us'd.
Is now to be no more. The Muses' foes
Would sink their Makers' praises into prose.
Were they content to prune the lavish vine
Of straggling branches, and improve the wine,
Who, but a madman, would his thoughts defend ?
All would submit; for all but fools will mend :
But when to common sense they give the lie.
And turn distorted words to blasphemy,
They give the scandal, and the wise discern
Their glosses teach an age too apt to learn.
What I have loosely or profanely writ,
Let them to fires (their due desert) commit :
Nor, when accus'd by me, let them complain;
Their faults, and not their function, I arraign.
Rebellion, worse than witchcraft they pursued ;
The pulpit preach'd the crime the people rued.
The stage was silenced ; for the saints would see
In fields perform'd their plotted tragedy.
But let us first reform, and then so live,
Tliat we may teach our teachers to forgive :
Our desk be plac'd below their lofty chairs ;
Ours be the practice, as the precept theirs.
The moral part, at least, we may divide.
Humility reward, and punish pride ;
Ambition, interest, avarice accuse ;
These are the province of a Tragic Muse.
These hast thou chosen ; and the public voice
Has equaird thy performance with thy choice.
Time, action, place, are so preserv'd by thee, ^
That e'en Corneille might with envy see 5
The' alliance of his tripled unity. }
Thy incidents, perhaps, too thick are sown ;
But too much plenty is thy fault alone :
At least but two can that good crime commit.
Thouin design, and Wycherly in wit.
Let thy own Grauls condemn tbee if they dare,
Contented to be thinly regular.
Born there, but not for them, our fruitful soil
With more increase rewards thy happy toil.
Their tongue, enfeebled, is refind too much,
And, like pure gold, it bends at every touch:
Our sturdy Teuton yet will art obey,
More fit for manly thought, and strengthen'd with
But whence art thou inspir'd, and thou aloue,
To flourish in an idiom not thy own?
It moves our wonder that a foreign guest
Should overmatch the most, and match the best.
In under-praising thy deserts I wrong ;
Here find the first deficience of our tongue ;
AVords, once my stock, are wanting to commend
So great a poet, and so good a friend.
HONOURED KINSMAN, JOHN DRYDEN,
OF CHESTERTON, IN THE COUNTY OF
How bless'd is be who leads a country life,
Unvex'd with anxious cares, and void of strife!
Who, studying peace and shunning civil rage,
Enjoy'd his youth, and now enjoys his age?
All who deserve his love he makes his own,
And, to be lov'd himself, needs only to be known.
Just, good, and wise, contending neighbours
From your award, to wait their final doom,
And, foes before, return in friendship home.
Without their cost you terminate the cause,
And save the' expense of long litigious laws;
Where suits are travers'd, and so little won,
That he who conquers is but last undone.
Such are not your decrees ; but, so design 'd,
The sanction leaves a lasting peace behind,
Like your own soul, serene, a pattern of your i
Promoting concord, and composing strife,
Lord of yourself, uncumber'd with a wife;
Where, for a year, a month, perhaps a night,
Long penitence succeeds a short delight ;
Minds are so hardly match'd, that e'en the first,
Though pair'd by Heaven, in Paradise were curst :
For man and woman, though in one they grow,
Yet, first or last, return again to two :
He to God's image, she to his was made ;
So farther from the fount the stream at random
How could he stand, when, put to double pain,
He must a weaker than himself sustain ?
Each might have stood perhaps; but, each alone!
Two wrestlers help to pull each other down.
Not that my verse would blemish all the fair; "1
But yet, if some be bad, 'tis wisdom to beware ; S-
And bettershunthebaitthanstruggleinthesnare. J
Thus have you shun'd, and shun the married state,
Trusting as little as you can â€” to Fate.
No porter guards the passage of your door,
To' admit the wealthy and exclude the poor ;
For God, Avho gave the riches, gave the heart
To sanctify the whole, by giving part ;
Heaven, who foresaw the will, the means has
And to the second sou a blessing brought:
The first-begotten had his father's share,
But you, like Jacob, are Rebecca's heir.
So may your stores and fruitful fields increase,
And ever be you bless'd, who live to bless.
As Ceres sow'd, where'er her chariot flew ;
As Heaven in deserts rain'd the bread of dew ;
So, free to many, to relations most,
You feed with manna your own Israel-host.
"With crowds attended, of your ancient race,
You seek the champion sports or silvan chase :
With w ell-breath'd beagles you surround the wood,
E'en then industrious of the common good ;
And often have you brought the wily fox
To suffer for the firstlings of the flocks;
Chas'd e'en amid the folds, and made to bleed,
Like felons, where they did the murderous deed.
This fiery game your active youth raaintain'd,
Not yet by years extinguish'd, though restrain'd ;
You season still with sports your serious hours ;
For age but tastes of pleasures, youth devours.
The hare in pastures or in plains is found,
Emblem of human life, who runs the round,
And, after all his wandering ways are done, "^
His circle fills, and ends where he begun, >
Just as the setting meets the rising sue. -^
Thus princes ease their cares ; but happier he
Who seeks not pleasure through necessity,
Than such as once on slippery thrones were plac'd,
And chasing, sigh to think themselves are chas'd.
So liv'd our sires, ere doctors learn'd to kili,
And multiplied with theirs the weekly bill.
The first physicians by debauch were made ;
Excess began, and sloth sustains the trade.
Pity the generous kind their cares bestow
To search forbidden truths ; (a sin to know)
To which if human science could attain,
The doom of death, pronounc'd by God, were vain :
In vain the leech would interpose delay ;
Fate fastens first, and vindicates the prey.
What help from Art's endeavours can we have? ^
Gibbons ' but guesses, nor is sure to save ; \
But Maurus sweeps v;hole parishes, and peoples L
every grave, -^
And no more mercy to mankind will use,
Than when he robb'd and murder'd Maro's muse.
Wouldst thou be soon dispatch'd, and perish
Trust Maurus with thy life, and Milbourn^ with
By chase our long-liv'd fathers earn'd their food,
Toil strung the nerves, and purified the blood ;
But we, their sons, a pamper'd race of men,
Are dwindled down to threescore years and ten.
Better to hunt in fields for health unbought,
Than fee the doctor for a nauseous draught.
The wise, for cure, on exercise depend :
God never made his work for man to mend.
The tree of Knowledge, once in Eden plac'd,
Was easy found, but was forbid the taste :
1 Dr. W. Gibbons succeeded Ratcliffeas physician to Queen
Anne, and died Marcli 25, 1728.
2 The Rev. Luke Milbourn wrote notes on Dryden's Virgil,
&c. and died April 15, 1720.
O, had our grandsire walk'd without his wife,
He first had sought the better plant of Life !
Now both are lost; yet, wandering in the dark,
Physicians, for the tree, have found the bark :
They, labouring for relief of humankind.
With sharpen'd sight some remedies may find :
The' apothecary-ti-ain is wholly blind.
From files a random recipe they take,
And many deaths of one prescription make.
Garth, generous as his muse, prescribes and gives;
The shopman sells, and by destniction lives.
Ungrateful tribe ! who, like the viper's brood.
From raed'cine issuing, suck their mother's blood !
Let these obey, and let the learn'd prescribe,
That men may die without a double bribe;
Let them, but under their superiors, kill.
When doctors first have sign'd the bloody bill :
He 'scapes the best who, nature to repair.
Draws physic from the fields in draughts of vital
You hoard not health for your own private use,
But on the public spend the rich produce.
When, often urg'd, unwilling to be great,
Your country calls you from your lov'd retreat.
And sends to senates, charg'd with common care,
Which none more shuns, and none can better bear.
Where could they find another form'd so fit
To poise, with solid sense, a sprightly wit ?
Were these both wanting, as they both abound,
Where could so firm integrity be found?
Well-born and wealthy, wanting no support.
You steer betwixt the country and the court;
Nor gratify whate'er the great desire.
Nor, grudging, give what public needs requirf.
Part must be left, a fund, when foes invade,
And part eraploy'd to roll the watery trade :
E'en Canaan's happy land, when worn with toil,
Requir'd a sabbath-year to mend the meagre soil.
Good senators (and such as you) so give.
That kings may be supplied, the people thrive.
And he, when want requires, is truly wise.
Who slights not foreign aids, nor over-buys,
But on our native strength in time of need relies.
Munster was bought ; we boast not the success ;
Who fights for gain, for greater makes his peace.
The peace both parties want, is like to last;
Which, if secure, securely Ave may trade ;
Or, not secure, should never have been made.
Safe in ourselves, while on ourselves we stand.
The sea is ours, and that defends the land.
Be, then, the naval stores the nation's care,
New ships to build, and batter'd to repair.
Observe the war in every annual course ;
What has been done was done with British force.
Namur subdued â€” is England's palm alone;
The rest besieg'd, but we constrain'd the town.
We saw the' event that follow'd our success ;
France, though pretending arms,pursued the peace ;
Oblig'd, by one sole treaty, to restore
What twenty years of war had won before.
Enough for Europe has our Albion fought ;
Let us enjoy the peace our blood has bought.
When once the Persian king was put to flight,
The weary Macedons refus'd to fight ;
Themselves their own mortality confess'd,
And left the son of Jove to quarrel for the rest.
E'en victors are by victories undone;
Thus Hannibal, with foreign laurels won,
To Carthage was recall'd, too late to keep hi
While sore of battle, while our wounds are green,
Why should we tempt the doubtful die again ?
*ve stand, '\
land ; f
drown the k
Sure of a share, as umpires of the peace.
A patriot both the king and country serves,
Prerogative and privilege preserves;
Of each our laws the certain limit show ;
One must not ebb, nor t'other overflow :
Betwixt the prince and parliament we stand,
The barriers of the state on either hand ;
May neither overflow, for then they
When both are full, they feed our bless'd abode,
Like those that water'd once the paradise of God.
SoTiie overpoise of sway, by turns, they share;
In peace, the people ; and the prince, in war:
Consuls of moderate power in calms were made ;
When the Gauls came, one sole Dictator sway'd.
Patriots in peace assert the people's right.
With noble stubbornness resisting might ;
No lawless mandates from the Court receive,
Nor lend by force, but in a body give.
Such was your generous grandsire; free to grant,
In parliaments that weigh'd their prince's want;
But so tenacious of the common cause,
As not to lend the king against his laws ;
And, in a loathsome dungeon doom'd to lie.
In bonds retaiu'd his birthright liberty.
And sham'd Oppression till it set him free.
O true descendent of a patriot line! [thine,
Who, while thou shar'st their lustre, lend'st them
Vouchsafe this picture of thy soul to see,
'Tis so far good, as it resembles thee;
The beauties to the' original I owe.
Which when I miss, my own defects I show.
Nor think the kindred Muses thy disgrace ;
A poet is not bom in every race :
Two of a house few ages can atford,
One to perform, another to record.
Praise-worthy actions are by thee embrac'd,
And 'tis my praise to make thy praises last:
For ev'n when death dissolves our human frame,
The soul returns to Heaven, from whence it came ;
Earth keeps the body, Verse preserves the fame.
SIR GODFREY KNELLER,
PRINCIPAL PAINTER TO HIS MAJESTY.
Once I beheld the fairest of her kind.
And still the sweet idea charms ray mind;
True, she was dumb ; for Nature gaz'd so long,
Pleas'd with her work, that she forgot her tongue;
But, smiling, said, ' She still shall gain the prize;
I only have transferr'd it to her eyes.'
Such are thy pictures, Kneller; such thy skill,
That Nature seems obedient to thy will;
Comes out, and meets thy pencil in the draught;
Lives there, and wants but words to speak her
At least thy pictures look a voice ; and we "^
Imagine sounds, deceiv'd to that degree, ^
We think 'tis somewhat more than just to see. J
Shadows are but privations of the light,
Yet, when we walk, they shoot before the sight;
With us approach, retire, ai'ise, and fall;
Nothing themselves, and yet expressing all.
Such are thy pieces, imitating life
So near, they almost conquer in the strife ;
And from their animated canvas came
Demanding souls, and loosen'd from the frame.
Prometheus, were he here, would cast away
His Adam, and refuse a soul to clay ;
And either would thy nobler work inspire.
Or think it warm enough without his fire.
But vulgar hands may vulgar likeness raise ;
This is the least attendant on thy praise :
From hence the rudiments of Art began ;
A coal, or chalk, first imitated man :
Perhaps the shadow, taken on a wall,
Gave outlines to the rude original;
Ere canvas yet was stain'd, before the grace "^
Of blended colours found their use and place, ^
Or cypress-tablets first receiv'd a face. J
By slow degrees the godlike art advanc'd ;
As man grew polish'd, picture was enhanc'd :
Greece added posture, shade, and perspective ;
And then the mimic-piece began to live.
Yet perspective was lame, no distance true.
But all came forward in one common view :
No point of light was known, no bounds of art;
When light was there, it knew not to depart,
But glaring, on remoter objects play'd ;
Not languish'd, and insensibly decay'd.
Rome rais'd not Art, but barely kept alive,
And with old Greece unequally did strive;
Till Goths and Vandals, a rude northern race,
Did all the matchless monuments deface :
Then all the Muses in one ruin lie.
And rhyme began to' enervate poetry.
Thus, in a stupid military state.
The pen and pencil find an equal fate :
Flat faces, such as would disgrace a screen,
Such as in Bantam's embassy were seen,
Unrais'd, unrounded, were the rude delight
Of brutal nations, only born to fight.
Long time the Sister Arts, in iron sleep,
A heavy sabbath did supinely keep ;
At length, in Raphael's age, at once they rise,
Stretch all their limbs, and open all their eyes.
Thence rose the Roman and the Lombard Hue;
One colour'd best, and one did best design.
Raphael's, like Homer's, was the nobler part.
But Titian's painting look'd like Virgil's art.
Thy genius gives thee both: where true design,
Postures unforc'd, and lively colours join.
Likeness is ever there ; but still the best,
Like proper thoughts in lofty language drest;
Wlierelight,to shades descending,plays, not strives,
Dies by degrees, and by degrees revives.
Of various parts a perfect whole is wrought :
Thy pictures think, and we divine their thought.
Shakspeare, thy gift, I place before my sight;
With awe I ask his blessing ere I write ;
With reverence look on his majestic face.
Proud to be less, but of his godlike race.
His soul inspires me while thy praise I write,
And I, like Teucer, under Ajax fight ;
Bids thee, through me, be bold; with dauntless
Contemn the bad, and emulate the best, [breast
Like his, thy critics in the' attempt are lost;
When most they rail, know then they envy most.
In vain they snarl aloof; a noisy crowd,
Like women's anger, impotent and loud.
While they their barren industry deplore,
Pass on secure, and mind the goal before.
Old as she is, my Muse shall march behind,
Bear off the blast, and intercept the wind.
Our arts are sisters, though not twins in birth.
For hymns were sung in Eden's happy earth :
But, oh, the painter-muse, though last in place,
Has seiz'd the blessing first, like Jacob's i-ace.
Apelles' art an Alexander found, ^
And Raphael did with Leo's gold abound, >
But Homer was with barren laurel crown'd. J
Thou hadst thy Charles awhile, and so had I ;
But pass we that unpieasiug image by.
Rich in thyself, and of thyself divine.
All pilgrims come and offer at thy shrine.
A graceful truth thy pencil can command ;
The fair themselves go mended from thy hand.
Likeness appears in every lineament ;
But likeness in thy work is eloquent.
Though Nature there her true resemblance bears,
A nobler beauty in thy piece appears.
So warm thy work, so glows the generous frame.
Flesh looks less living in the lovely dame.
Thou paint'st as we describe, improving still, "1
When on wild Nature we ingraft our skill, ^
But not creating beauties at our will. ^
But poets are confin'd in narrower space,
To speak the language of their native place :
The painter widely stretches his command ;
Thy pencil speaks the tongue of every land.
From hence, ray friend, all climates are your own.
Nor can you forfeit, for you hold of none.
All nations, all immunities, will give
To make you theirs, where'er you please to live
And not seven cities,but the world, would strive.
Sure some propitious planet then did smile,
When first you were conducted to this isle :
Our Genius brought you here, to' enlarge our fame j
For your good stars are every where the same.
Thy matchless hand, of every region free,
Adopts our climate, not our climate thee.
Great Rome and Venice early did impart
To thee the' examples of tlieir wondrous art,
Those masters then, but seen, not understood,
With generous emulation fir'd thy blood :
For what, in Nature's dawn, the child admir'd.
The youth endeavour'd, and the man acquir'd.
If yet thou hast not reach'd their high degree,
'Tis only wanting to this age, not thee.
Thy genius, bounded by the times, like mine, '^
Drudges on petty draughts, nor dare design >
A more exalted work, and more divine. ^
For what a song, or senseless opera,
Is to the living labour of a play ;
Or what a play to Virgil's work would be.
Such is a single piece to History.
But we, who life bestow, ourselves must live:
Kings cannot reign, unless their subjects give ;