Thomas Bewick.

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<< Must we turn base apostates to our own ?
" Where do these words of Greece and Rome excel,
" That England may not please the ear as well ?
" What mighty magic's in the place or air,
'' That all perfection needs must centre there ?
*' In states let strangers blindly be preferred, *
*' In state of letters Merit should be heard.
" Genius is of no country ; her pure ray
" Spreads all abroad, as gen'ral as the day ;
*' Foe to restraint, from place to place she flies,
" And may hereailer ev'n in Holland rise.
<* May not, (to give a pleasing fancy scope,
" And cheer a patriot heart with patriot hope)—
" May not some great extensive genius raise
*' The name of Britain 'bove Athenian praise,
" And, whilst brave thirst of fame his bosom warms,
<< Make England great in letters as in arms } [^aspires
'« There may — there hath— and Shakespeare's Muse
" Beyond the reach of Greece ; with native fires,
" Mounting aloft, he wings his daring flight,
" Whilst Sophocles below stands trembling at his height.

" Why should we then abroad for judges roam,
'' When abler judges we may And at home ?
** Happy in tragic and in comic pow'rs,
" Have we not Shakespeare ? — is not Jonson t ours ?
" For them, your nat'ral judges, Britons ! vote ;
" They'll judge like Britons who like Britons wrote."

He said, and conquer'd — Sense resum'd her sway.
And disappointed pedants stalk'd away :
Shakespeare and Jonson, with deserv'd applause,
Joint judges were ordain'd to try the cause.
Meantime the stranger ev'ry voice employ'd
To ask or tell his name — Who is it ? — Lloyd. }

Thus when the aged friends of Job stood mute,
And tamely prudent gave up the dispute,
Elihu, with the decent warmth of youth,
Boldly stood forth the advocate of Truth,

* The future political satirist seems to break forth in this line.

^£en Jonson.
X The Critical Reviewers, in their wisdoms, informed the world
who was the author of The Rosciad by transcribing the latter half
of this line— «* Who is it?— Lloyd."



dbyGoOgk



THE ROSCIAD. 195

Confuted Falsehood, and disabled Pride,
Whilst baffled Age stood snarling at his side.

The day of trial's fix'd, nor any fear
Lest day of trial should be put off here.
Causes but seldom for delay can call
In courts where forms are few, fees none at all.

The morning came, nor find I that the sun,
As he on other great events hath done,
Put on a brighter robe than what he wore
To go his journey in the day before.

Full in the centre of a spacious plain,
On plan entirely new, where nothing vain,
Nothing magnificent, appear'd, but Art
With decent modesty performed her part.
Rose a tribunal ; from no other court
It borrow'd ornament or sought support :
No juries here were pack'd to kill or clear,
No bribes were taken, nor oatlts broken here ;
No gownsmen, partial to a client's cause,
To their own purpose tum'd the pliant laws :
Each judge was true and steady to his trust.
As Mansfield wise, and as old Foster just.

In the first seat, in robe of various dyes,
A noble wildness flashing from his eyes.
Sat Shakespeare — ^in one hand a wand he bore,
For mighty wonders fam'd in days of yore,
The other held a globe, which to his will
Obedient turn'd, and own'd the master's skill ;
Things of the noblest kind his genius drew.
And look'd thro' Nature at a single view ;
A loose he gave to his unbounded soul.
And taught new lands to rise, new seas to roll,
Caird into being scenes unknown before,
And passing Nature's bounds was something more.

Next Johnson sat, in ancient learning train'd.
His rigid judgment fancy's flights restrain'd.
Correctly prun'd, each wild luxuriant thought
Mark'd out her course, nor spar'd a glorious fault ;
The book of Man he read with nicest art.
And ransack'd all the secrets of the heart.
Exerted penetration's utmost force.
And trac'd each passion to its proper source,



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196 THE R08CIAD.

Then, strongly mark'd, in liveliest colours drew^
And brought each foible forth to public view ;
The coxcomb felt a lash in ev'ry word,
And fools hung out their brother fools deterr'd ;
His comic humour kept the world in awe.
And Laughter frighten'd Folly more than Law.

But hark !— the trumpet sounds, the crowd gives way.
And the procession comes in just array.

Now should I, in some sweet poetic line.
Offer up incense at Apollo's shrine.
Invoke the Muse to quit her calm abode.
And waken Mem'ry with a sleeping ode ; *
For how should mortal man in mortal verse
Their titles, merits, or their names, rehearse ?
But give, kind Dulness ! memory and rhyme,
Weil put off genius till another time.

First Order came— with solemn step and slow.
In measur'd time his feet were taught to go ;
Behind from time to time he cast his eye.
Lest this should quit his place, that step awry ;
Appearances to save his only care ;
So things seem right no matter what they are ;
In him his parents saw themselves renew'd,
Begotten by Sir Critic on Saint Prude.

Then came Drum, Trumpet, Hautboy, Fiddle, Flute,
Next Snuffer, Sweeper, Shifter, Soldier, Mute ;
Legions of Angels all in white advance.
Furies, all fire, come forward in a dance ;
Pantomime figures then are brought to view.
Fools hand in hand with fools go two by two ;
Next came the Treasurer of either House,
One with full purse, t'other with not a sous ;
Behind a group of figures awe create,
Set off with all th' impertinence of state.
By lace and feather consecrate to fame,
Expletive kings and queens without a name.

Here Havard, all serene, in the same strains
Loves, hates, and rages, triumphs, and complains ;
His easy vacant face proclaimed a heart
Which could not feel emotions nor impart.

* Mason, at whom our Author's satire is leveled in almost all his
writings, had published an Ode to Memory. See Ma$ou*9 Poems.



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THE ROSCIAD. 197

With him came mighty Davies ; on my life
That Davies hath a very pretty wife; —
Statesman all over ! — ^in plots famous grown !
He mouths a sentence as curs mouth a bone.

Next Holland came. — With truly tragic stalk
He creeps, he flies. — A hero should not walk.
As if with Heav'n he warr'd, his eager eyes
Planted their batteries against the skies ;
Attitude, action, air, pause, start, sigh, groan,
He borrow'd, and made use of as his own.
By Fortune thrown on any other stage
He might perhaps have pleas'd an easy age,
But now appears a copy and no more
Of something better we have seen before.
The actor who would build a solid fame
Must imitation's servile arts disclaim.
Act from himself, on his own bottom stand ;
I hate ev'n Garrick thus at second-hand.

Behind came King.-«-Bred up in modest lore,
Bashful and young, he sought Hibernia's shore,
Hibemia 1 fam'd, 'bove ev'ry other grace.
For matchless intrepidity of face ;
From her his features caught the gen'rous flarae,
And bid defiance to all sense of shame ;
Tutor'd by her all rivals to surpass,
'Mongst Drury's sons he comes, and shines in brass.

Lo, Yates !— Without the least finesse of art
He gets applause ; I wish he'd get his part.
When hot impatience is in full career
How vilely " Hark'e ! Hark'e !" grates the ear ?
When active fancy from the brain is sent.
And stands on tiptoe for some wish'd event,
I hate those careless blunders which recall
Suspended sense, and prove it fiction all.

In characters of low and vulgar mould.
Where Nature's coarsest features we behold.
Where, destitute of ev'ry decent grace,
Unmanner'd jests are blurted in your face.
There Yates with justice strict attention draws,
Acts truly from himself, and gains applause ;
But when to please himself or charm his wife
He aims at something in politer life,



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198 THE R08CIAD.

When blindly thwarting Nature's stubborn plan,
He treads the stage by way of gentleman.
The clown, who no one touch of breeding knows,
Looks like Tom Errand dress'd in Clincher's* clothes.
Fond of his dress, fond of his person grown,
Laugh'd at by all, and to himself unknown.
From side to side he struts, he smiles, he prates,
And seems to wonder what's become of Yates.

Woodward, endow'd with various tricks of face.
Great master in the science of grimace.
From Ireland ventures, fav'rite of the Town,
Lur'd by the pleasing prospect of renown ;
A speaking Harlequin, made up of whim.
He twists, he twines, he tortures, every limb.
Plays to the eye with a mere monkey's art.
And leaves to sense the conquest of the heart ;
We laugh indeed, but on reflection's birth
We wonder at ourselves, and curse our mirth.
His walk of parts he fatally mi^plac'd.
And inclination fondly took for taste ;
Hence hath the Town so often seen display'd
fieau in burlesque, high life in masquerade.

But when bold wits, not such as patch up plays.
Cold and correct, in these insipid days,
Some comic character strong-featur'd urge
To probability's extremest verge.
Where modest Judgment her decree suspends.
And for a time nor censures nor commends.
Where critics can't determine on the spot
Whether it is in nature found or not.
There Woodward safely shall his pow'rs exert.
Nor fail of favour where he shows desert ;
Hence he in Bobadil such praises bore.
Such worthy praises, Kitely scarce had more.

By turns transform'd into all kind of shapes.
Constant to none, Foote laughs, cries, struts, and scrapes ;
Now in the centre, now in van or rear.
The Proteus shifts, bawd, parson, auctioneer.
His strokes of humour and his bursts of sport
Are all contain'd in this one word, Distort.

Doth a man stutter, look a-squint, or halt ?
Mimics draw humour out of Nature's fault,

* See Farquhar's Constant Couple.



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THE ROSCIAD. 199

With personal defects their mirth adorn.
And hang misfortunes out to public scorn.
Ev'n I, whom Nature cast in hideous mould,
Whom having made she trembled to behold.
Beneath the load of mimicry may groan,
And find that Nature's errors are my own. *

Shadows behind of Foote and Woodward came,
Wilkinson this, Obrien was that name.
Strange to relate, but wonderfully true.
That even shadows have their shadows too !
With not a single comic pow'r endu'd.
The first a mere mere mimic's mimic stood,
The last, by Nature form'd to please, who shows
In Johnson's Stephen which way genius grows.
Self quite put off, affects with too much art
To put on Woodwaril in each mangled part,
Adopts his shrug, his wink, his stare, nay, more.
His voice, and croaks, for Woodward croak'd before.
When a dull copier simple grace neglects,
And rests his imitation in defects.
We readily forgive ; but such vile arts
Are double guilt in men of real parts.

By Nature form'd in her perversest mood.
With no one requisite of art endu'd.
Next Jackson came.-^Observe that settled glare,
Which better speaks a puppet than a play'r ;
Li!»t to that voice — did ever Discord hear
Sounds so well fitted to her untun'd ear?
When to enforce some very tender part
The right hand sleeps by instinct on the heart.
His soul, of ev'ry other thought berefl.
Is anxious only where to place the left;
He sobs and pants to sooth his weeping spouse,
To sooth his weeping mother turns and bows :
Awkward, embarrass'd, stiff, without the skill
Of moving gracefully or standing still,
One leg, as if suspicious of his brother.
Desirous seems to run away from t'other.

Some errors, handed down from age to age.
Plead custom's force, and still possess the stage.



* The poet has here made up a rod which Will do for the satirist
as well as the player.



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200 THE R08CIAD.

That* s vile.— Should we a parent's faults adore,
And err because our fathers err'd before ?
If^ inattentive to the author's mind.
Some actors made the jest they could not find.
If by low tricks they marr'd fair Nature's mien.
And blurr'd the graces of the simple scene.
Shall we, if reason rightly is employ'd,
Not see their faults, or seeing not avoid ?
When Falstaff stands detect^ in a lie.
Why without meaning rolls Love's glassy eye?
Why? — There's no cause — at least no cause we know-
It was the fashion twenty years ago.
Fashion — a word which knaves and fools may use,
Their knavery and folly to excuse.
To copy beauties forfeits all pretence
To fame— to copy faults is want of sense.

Yet (tho* in some particulars he fails.
Some few particulars, where mode prevails)
If in these hallow'd times, when sober sad
All gentlemen are melancholy mad.
When 'tis not deem'd so great a crime by half
To violate a Vestal as to laugh.
Rude mirth may hope presumpt'ous to engage
An act of toleration for the stage.
And courtiers will, like reasonable creatures,
Suspend vain fashion, and unscrew their features.
Old Falstaff play'd by Love shall please once more.
And humour set the audience in a roar.

Actors I 'ave seen, and of no vulgar name.
Who being from one part possess'd of fame.
Whether they are to laugh, cry, whine, or bawl.
Still introduce that fav'rite part in all
Here, Love, be cautious— ne'er be thou betray'd
To call in that wag Falstaff's dang'rous aid ;
Like Goths of old, howe'er he seems a friend.
He'll seize that throne you wish him to defend.
In a peculiar mould by Humour cast.
For Falstaff fram'd— himself the first and last-
He stands aloof from all— maintains his state.
And scorns, like Scotsmen, to assimilate.
Vain all disguise— too plain we see the tnck,
Tho' the knight wears the weeds of Dominick,



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THE ROSCIAD. 201

And Boniface, disgrac'd, betrays the smack
In anno Domini of Falstaff's sack.

Arms cross'd, brows bent, eyes fix'd, feet marching
A band of malcontents with spleen overflow ; [[slow.
Wrapt in conceit's impenetrable fog,
Which Pride, like Phoebus, draws from ev'ry bog.
They curse the managers, and curse the Town,
Whose partial favour keeps such merit down.

But if some man, more hardy than the rest.
Should dare attack these gnatlings in their nest.
At once they rise with impotence of rage.
Whet their small stings, and buzz about the stage
" 'Tis breach of privilege ! — Shall any dare
" To arm satiric truth against a play'r ?
*' Prescriptive rights we plead time out of mind ;
<< Actors unlash'd themselves may lash mankind."

What ! shall Opinion then, of Nature free.
And lib'ral as the vagrant air, agree
To rust in chains like these, impos'd by things
Which less than nothing ape the pride of kings ?
No— tho' half-poets with half-players join
To curse the freedom of each honest line,
Tho' rage and malice dim their faded cheek.
What the Muse freely thinks she'll freely speak ;
With just disdain of ev'ry paltry sneer.
Stranger alike to flattery and fear.
In purpose fix'd, and to herself a rule,
Public contempt shall wait the public fool.

Austin would always glisten in French silks,
Ackman would Norris be, and' Packer Wilks ;
For who like Ackman can with humour please?
Who can like Packer charm with sprightly ease ?
Higher than all the rest, see Bransby strut,
A mighty Gulliver in Lilliput !
Ludicrous Nature ! which at once could show
A man so very high, so very low.

If I forget thee, B lakes, or if I say
Aught hurtful, may I never see thee play.
Let critics with a supercilious air
Decry thy various merit, and declare
Frenchman is still at top ; — but scorn that rage
Which in attacking thee attacks the age.



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202 THE ROSCIAD.

French follies universally embrac'd

At once provoke our mirth and form our taste.

Long from a nation* ever hardly us'd,
At random censur'd^ wantonly abus*d,
Have Britons drawn their sport, with partial view
Form'd gen'ral notions from the rascal few^
Condemn'd a people as for vices known,
Which from their country banish'd seek our own.
At length, howe'er, the slavish chain is broke,
And Sense awaken'd scorns her ancient yoke :
Taught by thee. Moody, we now learn to raise
Mirth from their foibles, from their virtues praise.

Next come the legion which our summer Bayes
From alleys here and there contriv'd to raise,
Flush'd with vast hopes, and certain to succeed
With wits who cannot write and scarce can read.
Vet'rans no more support the rotten cause,
No more from Elliot's worth they reap applause ;
Each on himself determines to rely :
Be Yates disbanded, and let Elliot fly.
Never did play'rs so well an author fit,
To Nature dead, and foes declared to wit.
So loud each tongue, so empty was each head.
So much they talk'd, so very little said.
So wondrous dull, and yet so wondrous vain^
At once so willing and unfit to reign.
That Reason swore, nor would the oath recall.
Their mighty master's soul inform'tl them all.

As one with various disappointments sad.
Whom dulness only kept from being mad, t
Apart from all the rest, great Murphy came —
Common to fools and wits the rage of fame.
What tho' the sons of Nonsense bail him Sire,
Auditor, J Author, Manager, and Squire.^

* Ireland.

•f " Great wits to madness sure are near ally'd.*'

X This was the name of a periodical paper of politics. Lord
Bute was appointed First Commissioner of the Treasury 39th May
1762 ; on the same day was published No. 1. of The Briton ; No.
1. of The North Briton appeared June 5; No. 1. of The Auditor
June 10. Wilkes anfl his friends were supposed to be concerned
in The North Briton, and Murphy in the other two papers. There
is a deep stroke of politics upon record, which deserves to be



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THE ROSCIAD. 203

His restless soul's ambition stops not there ;
To make his triumphs perfect dub him Play'r.

In person tall, a figure form'd to please,
If symmetry could charm depriv'd of ease ;
When motionless he stands we all approve ;
What pity 'tis the Thing was made to move.

remembered. The gentlemen concerned in The North Briton
conveyed a letter to the conductor of The Auditor, reprobating
the art of falsehood which had been employed to set every acqui-
sition made by the treaty of peace in a contemptible light, and
more particularly the acquisition of Florida, " Than which," says
the letter-writer, " I never saw a finer country. The only, at
** present, Qjrofitable tracts of Florida are certain large bogs, which
" produce an excellent kind of fuel, pretty much the same thing
" which in England is called Peat or Turf. Of this there is by far
** a greater quantity than would serve the inhabitants for firing,
** were they ten times more numerous. Now, Sir, it is a fact
" notoriously true, and of which I have been an eye-witness, that
•• all kinds of fuel are extremely scarce in the West-Indies; I don't
** mean for boiling the sugars, for with that the trash of the sugar-
-cane abundantly supplies them, but for domestic uses. The
*< scarcity is such, that I can safely affirm not one of the lower
*• kind of planters has a comfortable fire in his parlour or bed-
" chamber : nay, even amongst the better sort I have seldom seen
*' a good fire, though at the severest season of the year.— Is it then
'< a small advantage to add, and that at a cheap rate, to the con-
*• veniences and comforts of fellow-subjects, fellow-creatures, and
*• fellow-Christians ?'»— This curious epistle The Auditor imme-
diately published in his 31st Number, taking merit to himself for
printing it " exactly as he received it," that he might ** tbrow all
*' the lights in his power upon the solid value of the advantages
" procured by the late negotiation." Before it appeared the person
who conducted the paper went out of Town ; but on his return,
in order to be ready for the periodical day of publication, he found
the whole Town on fire with his Floridatur. The North Briton
reprinted the letter in his 30th Number, with his best thanks to
The Auditor for having so obligingly inserted it. Florida turf
burnt most violently ; the situation was insufferable. The Auditor
bore it as long as he could, but at last perished in the flames. The
kindness of his correspondent reached beyond death, and thus in-
scribed his tomb, (the letter was signed Viator,)

Siste, Viator!
Deep in this hog The Auditor lies stilly
His labours finished, and worn out his quill ;
His Jires extinguished, and his works unread.
In peace he sleeps ^dth the forgotten dead :
With heath and sedge, oh ! may his tomb be drest.
And his own turf lie light upon his breast.
Et quocunque volunt animum Auditoris agunto, Hoa.



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204 THE ROSCIAD.

His voice in one dull, deep, unvary'd sound
Seems to break forth from caverns under ground ;
From hollow chest the low sepulchral note
Unwilling heaves, and struggles in his throat.

Could authors butcher'd give an actor grace, t
All must resign to him the foremost place.
When he attempts, in some one fav'rite part.
To ape the feelings of a manly heart.
His honest features the disguise defy,
And his face loudly gives his tongue the lie.

Still in extremes he knows no happy mean.
Or raving mad or stupidly serene :
In cold- wrought scenes the lifeless actor flags.
In passion tears the passion into rags.
Can none remember?— Yes— I know all must —
When in the Moor he ground his teeth to dust,
When o'er the stage he Folly's standard bore,
Whilst ( ommon Sense stood trembling at the door.

How few are found with real talents blest !
Fewer with Nature's gifts contented rest.
Man from his sphere eccentric starts astray ;
All bunt for fame, but most mistake the way.
Bred at St Omer's to the shuffling trade,
The hopeful youth a Jesuit might have made.
With various readings stor'd his empty scull,
Leam'd without sense, and venerably dull ;
Or at some banker's desk, like many more,
Content to tell that two and two make four.
His name had stood in City annals fair,
And prudent Dulness mark'd him for a may'r.

What then could tempt thee, in a critic age.
Such blooming hopes to forfeit on a stage ?
Could it be worth thy wondrous waste of pains
To publish to the world thy lack of brains ?
Or might not reason ev'n to thee have shown
Thy greatest praise had been to live unknown ?
Yet let not vanity like thine despair ;
Fortune makes Folly her peculiar care.

A vacant throne high-plac'd in Smithfield view.
To sacred Dulness and her first-born due,

-f* Certain Indian tribes are laid to believe that all the good
qualities of an enemy whom they butcher immediately become
their own.



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THE ROSCIAD. 205

Thither with haste in happy hour repair,
Thy birth-right claim^ nor fear a rival there ;
Shuter himself shall own thy juster claim^
And venal Legers puff their Murphy's* name,
Whilst Vaughan or Dapper, call him which you will,
Shall blow the trumpet and give out the bill.

There rule secure from critics and from sense.
Nor once shall Genius rise to give offence;
Eternal peace shall bless the happy shore.
And little factions break thy rest no more.

From Coveiit-Garden crowds promiscuous go.
Whom the Muse knows not, nor desires to know :
Vet'rans they seem'd, but knew of arms no more
Than if till that time arms they never bore :
Like Westminster militia train'd to fight,
They scarcely knew the left hand from the right ;
Asham'd among such troops to shew the head.
Their chiefs were scattered, and their heroes fled.

Sparks at his glass sat comfortably down
To sep'rate frown from smile and smile from frown.
Smith, the genteel, the airy, and the smart.
Smith was just gone to school to say his part.
Ross (a misfortune which we often meet)
, Was fast asleep at dear Statira's feet ;
Statira, with her hero to agree.
Stood on her feet as fast asleep as he.
Macklin, who largely deals in half-form'd sounds,
Who wantonly transgresses Nature's bounds,
Whose acting's hard, affected, and constrained.
Whose features, as each other they disdain'd.
At variance set, inflexible, and coarse.
Ne'er know the workings of united force.
Ne'er kindly soften to each other's aid.
Nor shew the mingled pow'rs of light and shade.
No longer for a thankless stage concern'd.
To worthier thoughts his mighty genius turn'd,
Harangu'd, gave lectures, made each simple elf
Almost as good a speaker as himself.
Whilst the whole Town, mad with mistaken zeal.
An awkward rage for elocution feel.
Dull cits and grave divines his praise proclaim,
And join with Sheridan's their Macklin's name.

• Murphy was supposed to be the author of The Public Leger.

S



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206 THE ROSCIAD.

Shuter, who never car'd a single pin
Whether he left out nonsense or put in^
Who aim'd at wit, tho', level'd in the dark.
The random arrow seldom hit the mark.
At Islington, all by the placid stream,
Where City swains in lap of Duluess dream.
Where quiet as her strains their strains do flow.
That all the patron by the bards may know,
Secret as night, with Rolt's experienc'd aid.


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Online LibraryThomas BewickA Collection of newspaper extracts: being, with a few exceptions, taken from ... → online text (page 17 of 19)