Charles Churchill.

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had entered into with him. Be that as it may, the Doctor



THE APOLOGY. 129

Which with more justice blooms upon thine own.
Compared with thee, be all life-writers dumb,
But he who wrote the Life of Tommy Thumb. 155
Who ever read the Regicide, but swore



appears not by his subsequent performances to have forgotten
the transaction. His constitution being at last greatly im-
paired by a sedentary life, he went abroad for bis health in
1763. During his travels he appears to have laboured under
a constant fit of chagrin ; in one of his " Letters from France
and Italy," afterwards published by him, he writes to a friend
thus : — " In gratifying your curiosity I shall find some amuse-
ment to beguile the tedious hours, which without some such
employment would be rendered insupportable by distemper
and disquiet. You knew and pitied my situation, traduced
by malice, persecuted by faction, abandoned by false patrons,
and overwhelmed by the sense of a domestic calamity, which
it was not in the power of fortune to repair." This domestic
calamity was the loss of his only child, a daughter whom he
loved with the tenderest afiection. The querulous tone of
his travels in unison with that of Matthew Bramble in his own
Humphrey Clinker, was justly animadverted on by Sterne in
his Sentimental Journey : " The learned Smelfungus tra-
velled from Boulogne to Paris, from Paris to Rome, and so
on, but he set out with the spleen and jaundice, and every
object he passed by was discoloured or distorted. He wrote
an account of them, but it was nothing but the account of
his miserable feelings." The Doctor lived to return to his
native country; but his health continuing to decline, and
meeting with fresh mortifications and disappointments, he
went back to Leghorn, where he died, Oct. 21, 1771, in the
fifty-second year of his age. A pillar at his birthplace, on
the banks of the Leven, near Dumbarton, was erected to his
memory, with a Latin inscription revised by Dr. Johnson.

156] Very early in life Dr. Smollett wrote a tragedy, en-
titled the Regicide, founded on the story of the assassination
of James the First of Scotland, which, with all his interest, he
could never get represented on the stage ; he afterwards pub-
VOL. I. K



130 THE APOLOGY.

The author wrote as man ne'er wrote before ?
Others for plots and under-plots may call,
Here's the right method — have no plot at all.
Who can so often in his cause engage i6o

The tiny pathos of the Grecian stage,
Whilst horrors rise, and tears spontaneous flow
At tragic Ha ! and no less tragic Oh !
To praise his nervous weakness all agree,
And then for sweetness who so sweet as he ! 160
Too big for utterance when sorrows swell.
The too big sorrows flowing tears must tell ;
But when those flowing tears shall cease to flow.
Why — then the voice must speak again, you know.
Rude and unskilful in the poet's trade, 170

I kept no Naiads by me ready made ;



lished it by subscription with no great success. He has
alluded to this and other of his theatrical transactions in the
story of Melopoyne in Roderic Random. He sent his tragedy
to Lord Lyttelton, with whom he was not acquainted, and
who, not caring to point out its defects, civilly advised him to
try comedy. He accordingly wrote one, and solicited the same
lord to recommend it to the stage. This his lordship declined ;
but promised, if it should be acted, to do the author all the
service in his power.

The Doctor then wanted Garrick and Quin to patronize tliis
play, but could not prevail on them ; and in revenge attacked
them both most furiously in Roderic Random and Peregrine
Pickle, not allowing them even a moderate share of skill in
their profession ; but on the publication of the Regicide, the
public fully acquitted these distinguished actors of all blame for
rejecting so very feeble a performance. Dr. Smollett atoned
for this outrage upon good taste, although at the sacrifice of
consistency, by the following honourable mention of Mr.
Garrick in his History of England ; — " The exhibitions of the



THE APOLOGY. 131

Ne'er did I colours high in air advance,
Torn from the bleeding fopperies of France ;
No flimsy linsey-woolsey scenes I wrote, 174

With patches here and there, like Joseph's coat :
Me humbler themes befit : secure, for me,
Let play-wrights smuggle nonsense duty free ;
Secure, for me, ye lambs, ye lambkins ! bound,
And frisk and frolic o'er the fairy ground :
Secure, for me, thou pretty little fawn ! iso

Lick Sylvia's hand, and crop the flowery lawn ;
Uncensured let the gentle breezes rove
Through the green umbrage of the enchanted grove :
Secure, for me, let foppish Nature smile.
And play the coxcomb in the Desert Isle. 18.5

The stage I chose — a subject fair and free —



stage were improved to the most exquisite entertainment by
the talent and management of Garrick, who greatly surpassed
all his predecessors of this and perhaps every other country in
his genius for acting, in the sweetness and variety of his tones,
the irresistible magic of his eye, the fire and vivacity of his
action, the elegance of attitude, and the whole pathos of ex-
pression." As a poet, Smollett's Tears of Scotland, and Ode
to Independence, shew the excellence to which he might
have attained, had he cultivated a muse which in those in-
stances had been so propitious to him.

173] Murphy's practice of vamping up old French plays
is here alluded to, and the justice of the accusation ap-
peard by Lloyd's translating from the French of M. de Boissy
the New School for Woman, from which play JMurphy had
pilfered and patched up " The Way to Keep Him."

185] The Desert Island, a dramatic tale in three acts, by
A. Murphy, 1760, borrowed from a drama of INIetastasio,
entitled, L'Isola disabitata. This ridiculous pastoral med-
ley, only remarkable for affected simplicity of language, and



132 THE APOLOGY.

'Tis yours — 'tis mine — 'tis public property.

All common exhibitions open lie

For praise or censure to the common eye.

Hence are a thousand hackney writers fed ; 190

Hence Monthly Critics earn their daily bread.

This is a general tax which all must pay,

From those who scribble, down to those who play.

Actors, a venal crew, receive support

From public bounty for the pubhc sport. 195

To clap or hiss all have an equal claim,

The cobbler's and his lordship's right the same.

All join for their subsistence ; all expect

Free leave to praise their worth, their faults correct.

When active Pickle Smithfield stage ascends, 200

The three days' wonder of his laughing friends.

Each, or as judgment or as fancy guides,

The lively witling praises or derides.



the improbability of the catastrophe, suited not the taste of
John Bull, the Desert Island was deserted, and has never
since been represented on the stage. Murphy, in revenge
for the treatment he had received in the Rosciad, wrote a
contemptible satire, called " An Ode to the Naiads of Fleet-
ditch," grossly indecent in many of its allusions, and which
he was afterwards very desirous to suppress. He professed
in the advertisement to imitate the style and colouring of
Dryden and Pope, in the Macflecknoe and Dunciad. The
following lines descriptive of Churchill's behaviour at the
theatres will sufficiently demonstrate how well Murphy suc-
ceeded in his attempt :

. . . . . no more he'll sit
In foremost row before th' astonish'd pit,
In brawn Oldmixon's rival as in wit;
And grin dislike.



THE APOLOGY. 133

And where's the mighty difference, tell me where
Betwixt a Merry Andrew and a player ? cos

The strolling tribe, a despicable race !
Like wandering Arabs, shift from place to place.
Vagrants by law, to justice open laid.
They tremble, of the beadle's lash afraid, 209

And, fawning, cringe for wretched means of life
To Madam Mayoress, or his Worship's wife.

The mighty monarch, in theatric sack,
Carries his whole regalia at his back ;
His royal consort heads the female band,
And leads the heir apparent in her hand ; 215

The pannier 'd ass creeps on with conscious pride,
Bearing a future prince on either side.
No choice musicians in this troop are found
To varnish nonsense with the charms of sound ;
No swords, no daggers, not one poison'd bowl ;

And kiss the spike.
And giggle,
And wriggle,
And fiddle,
And diddle.
And fiddle, faddle,
And diddle, daddle.

208] By 17 G. II. c. 5. " All common players of inter-
ludes, and all persons who for hire or reward, act or cause to
be acted any interlude or entertainment of the stage, or any
part therein, not being authorized by law, shall be deemed
rogues and vagabonds, and be punished accordingly." This
statute has been altered and qualified by several subsequent
enactments.

Beggars they are with one consent,
And rogues by act of parliament.



134 THE APOLOGY.

No lightning flashes here, no thunders roll ; 2ci
No guards to swell the monarch's train are shown ;
The monarch here must be a host alone :
No solemn pomp, no slow processions here ;
No Ammon's entry, and no Juliet's bier. 225

By need compell'd to prostitute his art,
The varied actor flies from part to part ;
And, strange disgrace to all theatric pride !
His character is shifted with his side.
Question and answer he by turns must be, 230
Like that small wit in modern tragedy.
Who, to patch up his fame — or fill his purse —
Still pilfers wretched plans, and makes them worse ;
Like gypsies, lest the stolen brat be known,
Defacing first, then claiming for his own. 235

In shabby state they strut, and tatter'd robe,
The scene a blanket, and a barn the globe :
No high conceits their moderate wishes raise,
Content with humble profit, humble praise.
Let dowdies simper, and let bumpkins stare, 240
The strolling pageant hero treads in air :
Pleased for his hour, he to mankind gives law,
And snores the next out on a truss of straw.



231] Mr. Murphy, in the preface to his Grecian Daughter,
the only tragedy of his now on the acting list, acknowledges
that it is principally borrowed from the Zelmire of M. Belloy ;
all his other dramas may with ease be traced to their French
or Italian parents. Among others his Zenobia is an obvious
transcript from the Rhadamiste of Crebillon.

236] A ludicrous representation of the distresses of itine-
rant players had been given by Hogarth, in his engraving
published in 1738, of Strolling Actresses dressing in a barn,



THE APOLOGY. 135

But if kind fortune, who sometimes we know
Can take a hero from a puppet-show, 245

In mood propitious should her favourite call,
On royal stage in royal pomp to bawl,
Forgetful of himself he rears the head.
And scorns the dunghill where he first was bred.
Conversing now with well dress'd kings and queens,
With gods and goddesses behind the scenes, 251
He sweats beneath the terror-nodding plume,
Taught by mock honours real pride t'assume.
On this great stage, the world, no monarch e'er
Was half so haughty as a monarch player. 255

Doth it more move our anger or our mirth
To see these things, the lowest sons of earth.
Presume, with self-sufficient knowledge graced,
To rule in letters, and preside in taste ?
The town's decisions they no more admit, 260
Themselves alone the arbiters of wit,
And scorn the jurisdiction of that court
To which they owe their being and support.
Actors, like monks of old, now sacred grown,
Must be attack'd by no fools but their own. 265

of which piece Mr. Walpole observed, that for wit and imagi-
nation it was the best of all the artist's works.

260] Churchill appears to have been goaded to this addi-
tional attack upon actors in general, and placing their calling
in the most ludicrous point of view, by the absurd clamour
they raised at his treatment of them in the Rosciad, and by
his suspicion that they had influenced the Critical Re-
viewers, and had retained some hirelings to write the Anti-
Rosciad, Churchilliad, and other poems with which the
press then teemed, in their vindication.



136 THE APOLOGY.'

Let the vain tyrant sit amidst his guards,
His puny green-room wits and venal bards,
Who meanly tremble at the puppet's frown,
And for a play-house freedom lose their own ;
In spite of new-made laws, and new-made kings,
The free-born Muse with liberal spirit sings. S7i
Bow down, ye slaves ! before these idols fall ;
Let Genius stoop to them who've none at all :
Ne'er will I flatter, cringe, or bend the knee
To those who, slaves to all, are slaves to me. 275

Actors, as actors, are a lawful game,
The poet's right, and who shall bar his claim ?
And if, o'erweening of their little skill.
When they have left the stage they're actors still ;



266] These sarcastic lines were in general supposed to have
been aimed at Mr. Garrick, and were not bestowed in vain ;
he felt all the force of them, and was rendered exceedingly
unhappy at having, by some indiscreet reflections on the au-
thor of the Rosciad, provoked a writer at once so irritable and
so powerful. The ofl'ence given was a suggestion he had
dropped, that the author of the Rosciad had become his pane-
gyrist principally with a view to the freedom of the theatre.
The unworthy insinuation was thus immediately resented by
the Poet. To ensure a reconciliation, Garrick wrote a letter
to Churchill, which comprehended an apology for himself and
the players, full of encomiums upon the satirist's uncommon
vein of poetry, and concluding with deprecating his future
wrath. This epistle Garrick read to a friend, expecting his
approbation of it in very ample terms, but here he was disap-
pointed ; he was told that as Churchill had attacked him on
very slight or scarce any provocation, it was too great a con-
descension on his part to write such a laboured vindication
of his conduct, and to adopt a tone of expostulation in which
many of the expressions were of too humiliating and even de-



THE APOLOGY. 137

If to the subject world they still give laws, aso

With paper crowns, and sceptres made of straws ;

If they in cellar or in garret roar,

And kings one night, are kings for evermore ;

Shall not bold truth, e'en there, pursue her theme.

And wake the coxcomb from his golden dream ?

Or if, well worthy of a better fate, 285

They rise superior to their present state ;

If, with each social virtue graced, they blend

The gay companion and the faithful friend ;

If they, like Pritchard, join in private life 290

The tender parent and the virtuous wife ;

Shall not our verse their praise with pleasure speak,

Though Mimics bark, and Envy split her cheek ?



grading a nature for any man of spirit to submit to, and that
the writer of the Rosciad, who was a rnan of quick discern-
ment and of an undaunted mind, would not think the better
of him for such an apology. They were afterwards reconciled
by the mediation of Robert Lloyd ; and Churchill frequently
visited Garrick both at Hampton and in town, but would
never accept of any play-house freedom, from him, or from
any other manager or actor. In the following lines of the
Fribbleriad, Garrick alluded to this contemptuous mention of
his occupation :

Have we not read the holy writ

Just publish'd by a reverend wit,

That every Actor is a thing,

A merry Andrew, paper king,

A puppet made of rags and wood,

" The lowest son of earth," mere mud;

IMere public game where'er you meet him.

And cobblers as they please, may treat him ;

Slave, coxcomb, venal, and what not,

Ten thousand names that I've forgot.



138 THE APOLOGY.

No honest worth's beneath the Muse's praise ;
No greatness can above her censure raise ; 295
Station and wealth to her are trifling things ;
She stoops to actors, and she soars to kings.

Is there a man, in vice and folly bred,
To sense of honour as to virtue dead,
Whom ties nor human nor divine can bind, 300
Alien from God, and foe to all mankind ;
Who spares no character ; whose every word,
Bitter as gall, and sharper than the sword.
Cuts to the quick ; whose thoughts with rancour

swell ;
Whose tongue on earth performs the work of hell ?
If there be such a monster, the Reviews 306

Shall find him holding forth against abuse.
" Attack profession ! — 'tis a deadly breach ! —
The Christian laws another lesson teach : —
Unto the end shall charity endure. sio

And candour hide those faults it cannot cure."
Thus Candour's maxims flow from Rancour's throat.
As devils, to serve their purpose, Scripture quote.

298] Intended for Dr. Smollett, who even in the opinion
of his best friends, was too acrimonious in the conduct of
the Critical Review, and was at the same time so tremblingly
alive to ridicule as to evince much sensibility when retaliated
upon by any of the authors he had censured. He had made
some very severe strictures on a pamphlet published by Ad-
miral Knowles, as well as on the character of the writer, who
commenced a prosecution against the printer, declaring he
only wanted to know the author, that if a gentleman he might
obtain the satisfaction of a gentleman from him. In this affair
the Doctor behaved with great spirit. Just as sentence was
going to be pronounced against the printer he came into court,



THE APOLOGY. 139

The Muse's office was by Heaven design'd 3u
To please, improve, instruct, reform, mankind ;
To make dejected Virtue nobly rise
Above the towering pitch of splendid Vice ;
To make pale Vice, abash'd, her head hang down,
And, trembling, crouch at Virtue's awful frown.
Now arm'd with wrath, she bids eternal shame,
With strictest justice, brand the villain's name;
Now in the milder garb of Ridicule
She sports, and pleases while she wounds the fool.
Her shape is often varied; but her aim.
To prop the cause of Virtue, still the same, 325
In praise of mercy let the guilty bawl ;
When Vice and Folly for correction call,
Silence the mark of weakness justly bears.
And is partaker of the crimes it spares.

But if the Muse, too cruel in her mirth, 330
With harsh reflections wounds the man of worth ;
If wantonly she deviates from her plan,
And quits the actor to expose the man ;
Ashamed, she marks that passage with a blot,

avowed himself the author of the strictures in question, and
declared himself ready to give the Admiral any satisfaction he
chose. Upon this the Admiral, with equal bad taste and feeling,
commenced a fresh prosecution against the Doctor, who was
found guilty, fined £100, and condemned to three months
imprisonment in the King's Bench. While there he wrote tiie
Adventures of Sir Lancelot Greaves, in which he has de-
scribed some remarkable characters then his fellow-prisoners.
333] Churchill, much to his credit, blotted out several
lines, which, in the first edition of the Rosciad, were of a
nature personally injurious to the character of Mr. John Pal-
mer. The least obnoxious of them were these :



140 THE APOLOGY.

And hates the hue where candour was forgot. 335

But what is candour, what is humour's vein,
Though judgment join to consecrate the strain,
If curious numbers will not aid afford,
Nor choicest music play in every word ?
Verses must run, to charm a modern ear, 340

From all harsh, rugged interruptions clear.
Soft let them breathe, as Zephyr's balmy breeze,
Smooth let their current flow, as summer seas,
Perfect then only deem'd when they dispense
A happy tuneful vacancy of sense. 345

Italian fathers thus, with barbarous rage,
Fit helpless infants for the squeaking stage :
Deaf to the calls of pity. Nature wound.
And mangle vigour for the sake of sound.
Henceforth farewell then feverish thirst of fame ;
Farewell the longings for a poet's name ; 351



Truant to love and false to Lucia's charms,
He fled ungrateful from her virtuous arms ;
In vain recall'd, renounced love's softer claiiu,
And hither came to seek the bubble fame.

The author being convinced that Mr. Palmer had not de-
served such severity of treatment not only struck those and
other still more offensive lines out, but likewise made this hand-
some apology for his misplaced animadversion. The Lucia
alluded to was the celebrated Lucy Cooper.

367] Our author, who had studiously formed himself on
the model of Dryden, was always a warm advocate for the
superiority of that poet over Pope. Davies gives us the fol-
lowing anecdote on the subject: — " Churchill held Pope so
cheap that one of his most intimate friends assured me, that
he had some thoughts of attacking his poetry 5 and another



THE APOLOGY. 141

Perish my Muse — a wish 'bove all severe

To him who ever held the Muses dear —

If e'er her labours weaken to refine

The generous roughness of a nervous line. 355

Others aftect the stiff and swelling phrase ;
Their Muse must walk in stilts, and strut in stays ;
The sense they murder, and the words transpose,
Lest poetry approach too near to prose.
See tortured Reason how they pare and trim, 360
And, like Procrustes, stretch, or lop the limb.

Waller, whose praise succeeding bards rehearse,
Parent of harmony in English verse,
Whose tuneful Muse in sweetest accents flows,
In couplets first taught straggling sense to close.

In polish'd numbers and majestic sound, 3C6
W^here shall thy rival, Pope! be ever found?
But whilst each line with equal beauty flows,



gentleman informed me that, in a convivial hour, he wished
the bard of Twickenham was alive, that he might have an
opportunity to make him bring forth all his art of poetry ; for
he would not only have a struggle with him for pre-eminence,
but endeavour to break his heart." Davies adds, " this must
be considered as a wild effusion over a bottle." The private
character of Pope chiefly excited Churchill's antipathy, and
certainly gave rise to a design of systematically attacking the
" Sweet swan of Thames," which on maturer consideration
he abandoned, and even so far conquered his aversion as to
suppress a couple of very injurious lines which he had written
in the third book of Gotham, which we shall have occasion
to notice hereafter. In a letter to Wilkes, in August, 1763,
he thus confidently expresses his intention : " Next winter is
certainly ordained for the rising and falling of many in Israel
— the Lord forbid I should be idle in so great a work, aut



142 THE APOLOGY.

E'en excellence, unvaried, tedious grows.
Nature, through all her works, in great degree.
Borrows a blessing from variety. .371

Music itself her needful aid requires
To rouse the soul, and wake our dying fires.
Still in one key, the nightingale would tease ;
Still in one key, not Brent would always please.

Here let me bend, great Dryden, at thy shrine,
Thou dearest name to all the tuneful nine.
What if some dull lines in cold order creep,
And with his theme the poet seems to sleep ?

tanto cessarim cardine rerum. Several poems I shall have
out soon, but not I hope so soon as to cut them off from the
advantage of your criticism. Mr. Pope ought surely to feel
some instinctive terrors, for against him I have double pointed
all my little thunderbolts, in which as to the design I hope I
shall have your approbation when you consider his heart, and
as to the execution, if you approve it, I can sit down easily
and hear with contempt the censures of all the half-blooded,
prudish lords. For something relative to Pope take the fol-
lowing lines, intended as an answer to those who, because I
have mentioned slightly a few qualities of a goodly nature of
one of my friends, would have me enlarge on his bad, and
think me inexcusable for not mentioning them : —

Not spare the man I love, nor dare to feel

The partial glowings of a friendly zeal ?

Nature forgives, nay, justifies the deed,

By friendship's first and noblest law decreed.

Shall I not do then, what in days of yore

Most bitter satirists have done before ?

They saw the follies, but they loved the men :

E'en Pope could feel for friendship, now and then."

Churchill was not singular in his preference ; Voltaire
comparing the two poets, says, "that Pope drove gently about
town a neat gilt chariot with a pair of bays, whilst Dryden



THE APOLOGY. 143

Still, when his subject rises proud to view, sbo
With equal strength the poet rises too :
With strong invention, noblest vigour fraught.
Thought still springs up and rises out of thought ;
Numbers ennobling numbers in their course,
In varied sweetness flow, in varied force; 385

The powers of genius and of judgment join,
And the whole Art of Poetry is thine.

But what are numbers, what are bards, to me,
Forbid to tread the paths of poesy ?
" A sacred Muse should consecrate her pen ; 390



poured along the plain a full gallop in a coach with six fiery


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Online LibraryCharles ChurchillThe poetical works of Charles Churchill (Volume 1) → online text (page 18 of 26)