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Poetical Works by Charles Churchill

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Who knows and guides her to her proper end; 330
Whose royalty of nature blazes out
So fierce, 'twere sin to entertain a doubt.
Did tyrant Stuarts now the law dispense,
(Bless'd be the hour and hand which sent them hence!)
For something, or for nothing, for a word
Or thought, I might be doom'd to death, unheard.
Life we might all resign to lawless power,
Nor think it worth the purchase of an hour;
But Envy ne'er shall fix so foul a stain
On the fair annals of a Brunswick's reign. 340
If, slave to party, to revenge, or pride;
If, by frail human error drawn aside,
I break the law, strict rigour let her wear;
'Tis hers to punish, and 'tis mine to bear;
Nor, by the voice of Justice doom'd to death
Would I ask mercy with my latest breath:
But, anxious only for my country's good,
In which my king's, of course, is understood;
Form'd on a plan with some few patriot friends,
Whilst by just means I aim at noblest ends, 350
My spirits cannot sink; though from the tomb
Stern Jeffries should be placed in Mansfield's room;
Though he should bring, his base designs to aid,
Some black attorney, for his purpose made,
And shove, whilst Decency and Law retreat,
The modest Norton from his maiden seat;
Though both, in ill confederates, should agree,
In damned league, to torture law and me,
Whilst George is king, I cannot fear endure;
Not to be guilty, is to be secure. 360
But when, in after-times, (be far removed
That day!) our monarch, glorious and beloved,
Sleeps with his fathers, should imperious Fate,
In vengeance, with fresh Stuarts curse our state;
Should they, o'erleaping every fence of law,
Butcher the brave to keep tame fools in awe;
Should they, by brutal and oppressive force,
Divert sweet Justice from her even course;
Should they, of every other means bereft,
Make my right hand a witness 'gainst my left; 370
Should they, abroad by inquisitions taught,
Search out my soul, and damn me for a thought;
Still would I keep my course, still speak, still write,
Till Death had plunged me in the shades of night.
Thou God of truth, thou great, all-searching eye,
To whom our thoughts, our spirits, open lie!
Grant me thy strength, and in that needful hour,
(Should it e'er come) when Law submits to Power,
With firm resolve my steady bosom steel,
Bravely to suffer, though I deeply feel. 380
Let me, as hitherto, still draw my breath,
In love with life, but not in fear of death;
And if Oppression brings me to the grave,
And marks me dead, she ne'er shall mark a slave.
Let no unworthy marks of grief be heard,
No wild laments, not one unseemly word;
Let sober triumphs wait upon my bier;
I won't forgive that friend who drops one tear.
Whether he's ravish'd in life's early morn,
Or in old age drops like an ear of corn, 390
Full ripe he falls, on Nature's noblest plan,
Who lives to Reason, and who dies a Man.

* * * * *


[182] 'The Conference:' this poem was published by our author in
November 1763, soon after his elopement with Miss Carr.

[183] 'Dares starve:' this will suggest Burns's noble line, 'We daur be
poor, for a' that.'

[184] 'Shore:' Churchill, sunk in deep debt, was delivered from the
impending horrors of a jail, by Dr Peirson Lloyd, second master of
Westminster school.

[185] 'Ralph:' Mr James Ralph a hack author. See 'The Dunciad,' and
Franklin's 'Autobiography.' He was hired by Pelham to abuse Sir R.
Walpole, whom he had supported before.

[186] 'Whitehead:' author of 'Manners, a Satire.'

[187] 'Shelburne:' William Petty, Earl of Shelburne, afterwards
Marquis of Lansdowne.

[188] 'Calcraft:' John Calcraft, Esq., M.P., army agent and


In Four Books.


With eager search to dart the soul,
Curiously vain, from pole to pole,
And from the planets' wandering spheres
To extort the number of our years,
And whether all those years shall flow
Serenely smooth, and free from woe,
Or rude misfortune shall deform
Our life with one continual storm;
Or if the scene shall motley be.
Alternate joy and misery, 10
Is a desire which, more or less.
All men must feel, though few confess.
Hence, every place and every age
Affords subsistence to the sage,
Who, free from this world and its cares,
Holds an acquaintance with the stars,
From whom he gains intelligence
Of things to come some ages hence,
Which unto friends, at easy rates.
He readily communicates. 20
At its first rise, which all agree on,
This noble science was Chaldean;
That ancient people, as they fed
Their flocks upon the mountain's head,
Gazed on the stars, observed their motions,
And suck'd in astrologic notions,
Which they so eagerly pursue,
As folks are apt whate'er is new,
That things below at random rove,
Whilst they're consulting things above; 30
And when they now so poor were grown,
That they'd no houses of their own,
They made bold with their friends the stars,
And prudently made use of theirs.
To Egypt from Chaldee it travell'd,
And Fate at Memphis was unravell'd:
The exotic science soon struck root,
And flourish'd into high repute.
Each learned priest, oh strange to tell!
Could circles make, and cast a spell; 40
Could read and write, and taught the nation
The holy art of divination.
Nobles themselves, for at that time
Knowledge in nobles was no crime,
Could talk as learned as the priest,
And prophesy as much, at least.
Hence all the fortune-telling crew,
Whose crafty skill mars Nature's hue,
Who, in vile tatters, with smirch'd face,
Run up and down from place to place, 50
To gratify their friends' desires,
From Bampfield Carew,[190] to Moll Squires,[191]
Are rightly term'd Egyptians all;
Whom we, mistaking, Gypsies call.
The Grecian sages borrow'd this,
As they did other sciences,
From fertile Egypt, though the loan
They had not honesty to own.
Dodona's oaks, inspired by Jove,
A learned and prophetic grove, 60
Turn'd vegetable necromancers,
And to all comers gave their answers.
At Delphos, to Apollo dear,
All men the voice of Fate might hear;
Each subtle priest on three-legg'd stool,
To take in wise men, play'd the fool.
A mystery, so made for gain,
E'en now in fashion must remain;
Enthusiasts never will let drop
What brings such business to their shop; 70
And that great saint we Whitefield call,
Keeps up the humbug spiritual.
Among the Romans, not a bird
Without a prophecy was heard;
Fortunes of empires often hung
On the magician magpie's tongue,
And every crow was to the state
A sure interpreter of Fate.
Prophets, embodied in a college[192]
(Time out of mind your seat of knowledge; 80
For genius never fruit can bear
Unless it first is planted there,
And solid learning never falls
Without the verge of college walls)
Infallible accounts would keep
When it was best to watch or sleep,
To eat or drink, to go or stay,
And when to fight or run away;
When matters were for action ripe,
By looking at a double tripe; 90
When emperors would live or die,
They in an ass's skull could spy;
When generals would their station keep,
Or turn their backs, in hearts of sheep.
In matters, whether small or great,
In private families or state
As amongst us, the holy seer
Officiously would interfere;
With pious arts and reverend skill
Would bend lay bigots to his will; 100
Would help or injure foes or friends,
Just as it served his private ends.
Whether in honest way of trade
Traps for virginity were laid;
Or if, to make their party great,
Designs were form'd against the state,
Regardless of the common weal,
By interest led, which they call zeal,
Into the scale was always thrown
The will of Heaven to back their own. 110
England--a happy land we know,
Where follies naturally grow,
Where without culture they arise
And tower above the common size;
England, a fortune-telling host,
As numerous as the stars, could boast,--
Matrons, who toss the cup, and see
The grounds of Fate in grounds of tea,
Who, versed in every modest lore,
Can a lost maidenhead restore, 120
Or, if their pupils rather choose it,
Can show the readiest way to lose it;
Gypsies, who every ill can cure,
Except the ill of being poor,
Who charms 'gainst love and agues sell,
Who can in hen-roost set a spell,
Prepared by arts, to them best known,
To catch all feet except their own,
Who, as to fortune, can unlock it
As easily as pick a pocket; 130
Scotchmen, who, in their country's right,
Possess the gift of second-sight,
Who (when their barren heaths they quit,
Sure argument of prudent wit,
Which reputation to maintain,
They never venture back again)
By lies prophetic heap up riches,
And boast the luxury of breeches.
Amongst the rest, in former years,
Campbell[193] (illustrious name!) appears, 140
Great hero of futurity,
Who, blind, could every thing foresee,
Who, dumb, could every thing foretell,
Who, Fate with equity to sell,
Always dealt out the will of Heaven
According to what price was given.
Of Scottish race, in Highlands born,
Possess'd with native pride and scorn,
He hither came, by custom led,
To curse the hands which gave him bread. 150
With want of truth, and want of sense,
Amply made up by impudence
(A succedaneum, which we find
In common use with all mankind);
Caress'd and favour'd too by those
Whose heart with patriot feelings glows,
Who foolishly, where'er dispersed,
Still place their native country first;
(For Englishmen alone have sense
To give a stranger preference, 160
Whilst modest merit of their own
Is left in poverty to groan)
Campbell foretold just what he would,
And left the stars to make it good,
On whom he had impress'd such awe,
His dictates current pass'd for law;
Submissive, all his empire own'd;
No star durst smile, when Campbell frown'd.
This sage deceased,--for all must die,
And Campbell's no more safe than I, 170
No more than I can guard the heart,
When Death shall hurl the fatal dart,--
Succeeded, ripe in art and years,
Another favourite of the spheres;
Another and another came,
Of equal skill, and equal fame;
As white each wand, as black each gown,
As long each beard, as wise each frown,
In every thing so like, you'd swear
Campbell himself was sitting there: 180
To all the happy art was known,
To tell our fortunes, make their own.
Seated in garret,--for, you know,
The nearer to the stars we go
The greater we esteem his art,--
Fools, curious, flock'd from every part;
The rich, the poor, the maid, the married,
And those who could not walk, were carried.
The butler, hanging down his head,
By chambermaid, or cookmaid led, 190
Inquires, if from his friend the Moon
He has advice of pilfer'd spoon.
The court-bred woman of condition,
(Who, to approve her disposition
As much superior as her birth
To those composed of common earth,
With double spirit must engage
In every folly of the age)
The honourable arts would buy,
To pack the cards, and cog a die. 200
The hero--who, for brawn and face,
May claim right honourable place
Amongst the chiefs of Butcher-row:[194]
Who might, some thirty years ago,
If we may be allow'd to guess
At his employment by his dress,
Put medicines off from cart or stage,
The grand Toscano of the age;
Or might about the country go
High-steward of a puppet-show,-- 210
Steward and stewardship most meet,
For all know puppets never eat:
Who would be thought (though, save the mark!
That point is something in the dark)
The man of honour, one like those
Renown'd in story, who loved blows
Better than victuals, and would fight,
Merely for sport, from morn to night:
Who treads like Mavors firm, whose tongue
Is with the triple thunder hung, 220
Who cries to Fear, 'Stand off--aloof,'
And talks as he were cannon-proof;
Would be deem'd ready, when you list,
With sword and pistol, stick and fist,
Careless of points, balls, bruises, knocks,
At once to fence, fire, cudgel, box,
But at the same time bears about,
Within himself, some touch of doubt,
Of prudent doubt, which hints--that fame
Is nothing but an empty name; 230
That life is rightly understood
By all to be a real good;
That, even in a hero's heart,
Discretion is the better part;
That this same honour may be won,
And yet no kind of danger run--
Like Drugger[195] comes, that magic powers
May ascertain his lucky hours;
For at some hours the fickle dame,
Whom Fortune properly we name, 240
Who ne'er considers wrong or right,
When wanted most, plays least in sight,
And, like a modern court-bred jilt,
Leaves her chief favourites in a tilt.
Some hours there are, when from the heart
Courage into some other part,
No matter wherefore, makes retreat,
And Fear usurps the vacant seat;
Whence, planet-struck, we often find
Stuarts[196] and Sackvilles[197] of mankind. 250
Farther, he'd know (and by his art
A conjurer can that impart)
Whether politer it is reckon'd
To have, or not to have, a second;
To drag the friends in, or alone
To make the danger all their own;
Whether repletion is not bad,
And fighters with full stomachs mad;
Whether, before he seeks the plain,
It were not well to breathe a vein; 260
Whether a gentle salivation,
Consistently with reputation,
Might not of precious use be found,
Not to prevent, indeed, a wound,
But to prevent the consequence
Which oftentimes arises thence,
Those fevers, which the patient urge on
To gates of death, by help of surgeon;
Whether a wind at east or west
Is for green wounds accounted best; 270
Whether (was he to choose) his mouth
Should point towards the north or south;
Whether more safely he might use,
On these occasions, pumps or shoes;
Whether it better is to fight
By sunshine or by candlelight;
Or, lest a candle should appear
Too mean to shine in such a sphere,
For who could of a candle tell
To light a hero into hell; 280
And, lest the sun should partial rise
To dazzle one or t'other's eyes,
Or one or t'other's brains to scorch,
Might not Dame Luna hold a torch?
These points with dignity discuss'd,
And gravely fix'd,--a task which must
Require no little time and pains,
To make our hearts friends with our brains,--
The man of war would next engage
The kind assistance of the sage, 290
Some previous method to direct,
Which should make these of none effect.
Could he not, from the mystic school
Of Art, produce some sacred rule,
By which a knowledge might be got
Whether men valiant were, or not;
So he that challenges might write
Only to those who would not fight?
Or could he not some way dispense
By help of which (without offence 300
To Honour, whose nice nature's such
She scarce endures the slightest touch)
When he, for want of t'other rule,
Mistakes his man, and, like a fool,
With some vain fighting blade gets in,
He fairly may get out again?
Or should some demon lay a scheme
To drive him to the last extreme,
So that he must confess his fears,
In mercy to his nose and ears, 310
And like a prudent recreant knight,
Rather do anything than fight,
Could he not some expedient buy
To keep his shame from public eye?
For well he held,--and, men review,
Nine in ten hold the maxim too,--
That honour's like a maidenhead,
Which, if in private brought to bed,
Is none the worse, but walks the town,
Ne'er lost, until the loss be known. 320
The parson, too, (for now and then
Parsons are just like other men,
And here and there a grave divine
Has passions such as yours and mine)
Burning with holy lust to know
When Fate preferment will bestow,
'Fraid of detection, not of sin,
With circumspection sneaking in
To conjurer, as he does to whore,
Through some bye-alley or back-door, 330
With the same caution orthodox
Consults the stars, and gets a pox.
The citizen, in fraud grown old,
Who knows no deity but gold,
Worn out, and gasping now for breath,
A medicine wants to keep off death;
Would know, if that he cannot have,
What coins are current in the grave;
If, when the stocks (which, by his power,
Would rise or fall in half an hour; 340
For, though unthought of and unseen,
He work'd the springs behind the screen)
By his directions came about,
And rose to par, he should sell out;
Whether he safely might, or no,
Replace it in the funds below?
By all address'd, believed, and paid,
Many pursued the thriving trade,
And, great in reputation grown,
Successive held the magic throne. 350
Favour'd by every darling passion,
The love of novelty and fashion,
Ambition, avarice, lust, and pride,
Riches pour'd in on every side.
But when the prudent laws thought fit
To curb this insolence of wit;
When senates wisely had provided,
Decreed, enacted, and decided,
That no such vile and upstart elves
Should have more knowledge than themselves; 360
When fines and penalties were laid
To stop the progress of the trade,
And stars no longer could dispense,
With honour, further influence;
And wizards (which must be confess'd
Was of more force than all the rest)
No certain way to tell had got
Which were informers, and which not;
Affrighted sages were, perforce,
Obliged to steer some other course. 370
By various ways, these sons of Chance
Their fortunes labour'd to advance,
Well knowing, by unerring rules,
Knaves starve not in the land of fools.
Some, with high titles and degrees,
Which wise men borrow when they please,
Without or trouble, or expense,
Physicians instantly commence,
And proudly boast an Equal skill
With those who claim the right to kill. 380
Others about the country roam,
(For not one thought of going home)
With pistol and adopted leg,
Prepared at once to rob or beg.
Some, the more subtle of their race,
(Who felt some touch of coward grace,
Who Tyburn to avoid had wit,
But never fear'd deserving it)
Came to their brother Smollett's aid,
And carried on the critic trade. 390
Attach'd to letters and the Muse,
Some verses wrote, and some wrote news;
Those each revolving month are seen,
The heroes of a magazine;
These, every morning, great appear
In Ledger, or in Gazetteer,
Spreading the falsehoods of the day,
By turns for Faden and for Say.[198]
Like Swiss, their force is always laid
On that side where they best are paid: 400
Hence mighty prodigies arise,
And daily monsters strike our eyes;
Wonders, to propagate the trade,
More strange than ever Baker[199] made,
Are hawk'd about from street to street,
And fools believe, whilst liars eat.
Now armies in the air engage,
To fright a superstitious age;
Now comets through the ether range,
In governments portending change; 410
Now rivers to the ocean fly
So quick, they leave their channels dry;
Now monstrous whales on Lambeth shore
Drink the Thames dry, and thirst for more;
And every now and then appears
An Irish savage, numbering years
More than those happy sages could
Who drew their breath before the flood;
Now, to the wonder of all people,
A church is left without a steeple; 420
A steeple now is left in lurch,
And mourns departure of the church,
Which, borne on wings of mighty wind,
Removed a furlong off we find;
Now, wrath on cattle to discharge,
Hailstones as deadly fall, and large,
As those which were on Egypt sent,
At once their crime and punishment;
Or those which, as the prophet writes,
Fell on the necks of Amorites, 430
When, struck with wonder and amaze,
The sun, suspended, stay'd to gaze,
And, from her duty longer kept,
In Ajalon his sister slept.
But if such things no more engage
The taste of a politer age,
To help them out in time of need
Another Tofts[200] must rabbits breed:
Each pregnant female trembling hears,
And, overcome with spleen and fears, 440
Consults her faithful glass no more,
But, madly bounding o'er the floor,
Feels hairs all o'er her body grow,
By Fancy turn'd into a doe.
Now, to promote their private ends,
Nature her usual course suspends,
And varies from the stated plan
Observed e'er since the world began.
Bodies--which foolishly we thought,
By Custom's servile maxims taught, 450
Needed a regular supply,
And without nourishment must die--
With craving appetites, and sense
Of hunger easily dispense,
And, pliant to their wondrous skill,
Are taught, like watches, to stand still,
Uninjured, for a month or more,
Then go on as they did before.
The novel takes, the tale succeeds,
Amply supplies its author's needs, 460
And Betty Canning[201] is at least,
With Gascoyne's help, a six months' feast.
Whilst, in contempt of all our pains,
The tyrant Superstition reigns
Imperious in the heart of man,
And warps his thoughts from Nature's plan;
Whilst fond Credulity, who ne'er
The weight of wholesome doubts could bear,
To Reason and herself unjust,
Takes all things blindly upon trust; 470
Whilst Curiosity, whose rage
No mercy shows to sex or age,
Must be indulged at the expense
Of judgment, truth, and common sense,
Impostures cannot but prevail;
And when old miracles grow stale,
Jugglers will still the art pursue,
And entertain the world with new.
For them, obedient to their will,
And trembling at their mighty skill, 480
Sad spirits, summon'd from the tomb,
Glide, glaring ghastly, through the gloom;
In all the usual pomp of storms,
In horrid customary forms,
A wolf, a bear, a horse, an ape,
As Fear and Fancy give them shape,
Tormented with despair and pain,
They roar, they yell, and clank the chain.
Folly and Guilt (for Guilt, howe'er
The face of Courage it may wear, 490
Is still a coward at the heart)
At fear-created phantoms start.
The priest--that very word implies
That he's both innocent and wise--
Yet fears to travel in the dark,
Unless escorted by his clerk.
But let not every bungler deem
Too lightly of so deep a scheme;
For reputation of the art,
Each ghost must act a proper part, 500
Observe Decorum's needful grace,
And keep the laws of Time and Place;
Must change, with happy variation,
His manners with his situation;
What in the country might pass down,
Would be impertinent in town.
No spirit of discretion here
Can think of breeding awe and fear;
'Twill serve the purpose more by half
To make the congregation laugh. 510
We want no ensigns of surprise,
Locks stiff with gore, and saucer eyes;
Give us an entertaining sprite,
Gentle, familiar, and polite,
One who appears in such a form
As might an holy hermit warm,
Or who on former schemes refines,
And only talks by sounds and signs,
Who will not to the eye appear,
But pays her visits to the ear, 520
And knocks so gently, 't would not fright
A lady in the darkest night.
Such is our Fanny, whose good-will,
Which cannot in the grave lie still,
Brings her on earth to entertain
Her friends and lovers in Cock-lane.


A sacred standard rule we find,
By poets held time out of mind,
To offer at Apollo's shrine,
And call on one, or all the Nine.
This custom, through a bigot zeal,
Which moderns of fine taste must feel
For those who wrote in days of yore,
Adopted stands, like many more;
Though every cause which then conspired
To make it practised and admired, 10
Yielding to Time's destructive course,
For ages past hath lost its force.
With ancient bards, an invocation
Was a true act of adoration,
Of worship an essential part,
And not a formal piece of art,
Of paltry reading a parade,
A dull solemnity in trade,
A pious fever, taught to burn
An hour or two, to serve a turn. 20
They talk'd not of Castalian springs,
By way of saying pretty things,
As we dress out our flimsy rhymes;
'T was the religion of the times;
And they believed that holy stream
With greater force made Fancy teem,
Reckon'd by all a true specific
To make the barren brain prolific:
Thus Romish Church, (a scheme which bears
Not half so much excuse as theirs) 30
Since Faith implicitly hath taught her,
Reveres the force of holy water.
The Pagan system, whether true
Or false, its strength, like buildings, drew
From many parts disposed to bear,
In one great whole, their proper share.
Each god of eminent degree
To some vast beam compared might be;
Each godling was a peg, or rather
A cramp, to keep the beams together: 40
And man as safely might pretend
From Jove the thunderbolt to rend,
As with an impious pride aspire
To rob Apollo of his lyre.
With settled faith and pious awe,
Establish'd by the voice of Law,
Then poets to the Muses came,
And from their altars caught the flame.
Genius, with Phoebus for his guide,
The Muse ascending by his side, 50
With towering pinions dared to soar,
Where eye could scarcely strain before.
But why should we, who cannot feel
These glowings of a Pagan zeal,
That wild enthusiastic force,
By which, above her common course,
Nature, in ecstasy upborne,
Look'd down on earthly things with scorn;
Who have no more regard, 'tis known,
For their religion than our own, 60
And feel not half so fierce a flame
At Clio's as at Fisher's[202] name;
Who know these boasted sacred streams
Were mere romantic, idle dreams,
That Thames has waters clear as those
Which on the top of Pindus rose,
And that, the fancy to refine,
Water's not half so good as wine;
Who know, if profit strikes our eye,
Should we drink Helicon quite dry, 70
The whole fountain would not thither lead
So soon as one poor jug from Tweed:
Who, if to raise poetic fire,
The power of beauty we require,
In any public place can view
More than the Grecians ever knew;
If wit into the scale is thrown,
Can boast a Lennox[203] of our own;
Why should we servile customs choose,
And court an antiquated Muse? 80
No matter why--to ask a reason,
In pedant bigotry is treason.
In the broad, beaten turnpike-road
Of hacknied panegyric ode,
No modern poet dares to ride
Without Apollo by his side,
Nor in a sonnet take the air,
Unless his lady Muse be there;
She, from some amaranthine grove,
Where little Loves and Graces rove, 90
The laurel to my lord must bear,
Or garlands make for whores to wear;
She, with soft elegiac verse,
Must grace some mighty villain's hearse,
Or for some infant, doom'd by Fate
To wallow in a large estate,
With rhymes the cradle must adorn,
To tell the world a fool is born.
Since then our critic lords expect
No hardy poet should reject 100
Establish'd maxims, or presume
To place much better in their room,
By nature fearful, I submit,
And in this dearth of sense and wit--
With nothing done, and little said,
(By wild excursive Fancy led
Into a second Book thus far,
Like some unwary traveller,
Whom varied scenes of wood and lawn,
With treacherous delight, have drawn, 110
Deluded from his purposed way,
Whom every step leads more astray:
Who, gazing round, can no where spy,
Or house, or friendly cottage nigh,
And resolution seems to lack
To venture forward, or go back)
Invoke some goddess to descend,
And help me to my journey's end;
Though conscious Arrow all the while
Hears the petition with a smile, 120
Before the glass her charms unfolds,
And in herself my Muse beholds.
Truth, Goddess of celestial birth,
But little loved or known on earth,
Whose power but seldom rules the heart,
Whose name, with hypocritic art,
An arrant stalking-horse is made,
A snug pretence to drive a trade,
An instrument, convenient grown,
To plant more firmly Falsehood's throne, 130
As rebels varnish o'er their cause
With specious colouring of laws,
And pious traitors draw the knife
In the king's name against his life;
Whether (from cities far away,
Where Fraud and Falsehood scorn thy sway)
The faithful nymph's and shepherd's pride,
With Love and Virtue by thy side,
Your hours in harmless joys are spent
Amongst the children of Content; 140
Or, fond of gaiety and sport,
You tread the round of England's court,
Howe'er my lord may frowning go,
And treat the stranger as a foe,
Sure to be found a welcome guest
In George's and in Charlotte's breast;
If, in the giddy hours of youth,
My constant soul adhered to truth;
If, from the time I first wrote Man,
I still pursued thy sacred plan, 150
Tempted by Interest in vain
To wear mean Falsehood's golden chain;
If, for a season drawn away,
Starting from Virtue's path astray,
All low disguise I scorn'd to try,
And dared to sin, but not to lie;
Hither, oh! hither condescend,
Eternal Truth! thy steps to bend,
And favour him, who, every hour,
Confesses and obeys thy power. 160
But come not with that easy mien
By which you won the lively Dean;
Nor yet assume that strumpet air
Which Rabelais taught thee first to wear;
Nor yet that arch ambiguous face
Which with Cervantes gave thee grace;
But come in sacred vesture clad,
Solemnly dull, and truly sad!
Far from thy seemly matron train
Be idiot Mirth, and Laughter vain! 170
For Wit and Humour, which pretend
At once to please us and amend,
They are not for my present turn;
Let them remain in France with Sterne.
Of noblest City parents born,
Whom wealth and dignities adorn,
Who still one constant tenor keep,
Not quite awake, nor quite asleep;
With thee let formal Dulness come,
And deep Attention, ever dumb, 180
Who on her lips her finger lays,
Whilst every circumstance she weighs,
Whose downcast eye is often found
Bent without motion to the ground,
Or, to some outward thing confined,
Remits no image to the mind,
No pregnant mark of meaning bears,
But, stupid, without vision stares;
Thy steps let Gravity attend,
Wisdom's and Truth's unerring friend; 190
For one may see with half an eye,
That Gravity can never lie,
And his arch'd brow, pull'd o'er his eyes,
With solemn proof proclaims him wise.
Free from all waggeries and sports,
The produce of luxurious courts,
Where sloth and lust enervate youth,
Come thou, a downright City-Truth:
The City, which we ever find
A sober pattern for mankind; 200
Where man, in equilibrio hung,
Is seldom old, and never young,
And, from the cradle to the grave,
Not Virtue's friend nor Vice's slave;
As dancers on the wire we spy,
Hanging between the earth and sky.
She comes--I see her from afar
Bending her course to Temple-Bar;
All sage and silent is her train,
Deportment grave, and garments plain, 210
Such as may suit a parson's wear,
And fit the headpiece of a mayor.
By Truth inspired, our Bacon's force
Open'd the way to Learning's source;
Boyle through the works of Nature ran;
And Newton, something more than man,
Dived into Nature's hidden springs,
Laid bare the principles of things,
Above the earth our spirits bore,
And gave us worlds unknown before. 220
By Truth inspired, when Lauder's[204] spite
O'er Milton east the veil of night,
Douglas arose, and through the maze
Of intricate and winding ways,
Came where the subtle traitor lay,
And dragg'd him, trembling, to the day;
Whilst he, (oh, shame to noblest parts,
Dishonour to the liberal arts,
To traffic in so vile a scheme!)
Whilst he, our letter'd Polypheme,[205] 230
Who had confederate forces join'd,
Like a base coward skulk'd behind.
By Truth inspired, our critics go
To track Fingal in Highland snow,
To form their own and others' creed
From manuscripts they cannot read.
By Truth inspired, we numbers see
Of each profession and degree,
Gentle and simple, lord and cit,
Wit without wealth, wealth without wit, 240
When Punch and Sheridan have done,
To Fanny's[206] ghostly lectures run.
By Truth and Fanny now inspired,
I feel my glowing bosom fired;
Desire beats high in every vein
To sing the spirit of Cock-lane;
To tell (just as the measure flows
In halting rhyme, half verse, half prose)
With more than mortal arts endued,
How she united force withstood, 250
And proudly gave a brave defiance
To Wit and Dulness in alliance.
This apparition (with relation
To ancient modes of derivation,
This we may properly so call,
Although it ne'er appears at all,
As by the way of inuendo,
_Lucus_ is made _a non lucendo_)
Superior to the vulgar mode,
Nobly disdains that servile road 260
Which coward ghosts, as it appears,
Have walk'd in full five thousand years,
And, for restraint too mighty grown,
Strikes out a method of her own.
Others may meanly start away,
Awed by the herald of the day;
With faculties too weak to bear
The freshness of the morning air,
May vanish with the melting gloom,
And glide in silence to the tomb; 270
She dares the sun's most piercing light,
And knocks by day as well as night.
Others, with mean and partial view,
Their visits pay to one or two;
She, in great reputation grown,
Keeps the best company in town.
Our active enterprising ghost
As large and splendid routs can boast
As those which, raised by Pride's command[207],
Block up the passage through the Strand. 280
Great adepts in the fighting trade,
Who served their time on the parade;
She-saints, who, true to Pleasure's plan,
Talk about God, and lust for man;
Wits, who believe nor God, nor ghost,
And fools who worship every post;
Cowards, whose lips with war are hung;
Men truly brave, who hold their tongue;
Courtiers, who laugh they know not why,
And cits, who for the same cause cry; 290
The canting tabernacle-brother,
(For one rogue still suspects another);
Ladies, who to a spirit fly,
Rather than with their husbands lie;
Lords, who as chastely pass their lives
With other women as their wives;
Proud of their intellects and clothes,
Physicians, lawyers, parsons, beaux,
And, truant from their desks and shops,
Spruce Temple clerks and 'prentice fops, 300
To Fanny come, with the same view,
To find her false, or find her true.
Hark! something creeps about the house!
Is it a spirit, or a mouse?
Hark! something scratches round the room!
A cat, a rat, a stubb'd birch-broom.
Hark! on the wainscot now it knocks!
'If thou 'rt a ghost,' cried Orthodox,
With that affected solemn air
Which hypocrites delight to wear, 310
And all those forms of consequence
Which fools adopt instead of sense;
'If thou 'rt a ghost, who from the tomb
Stalk'st sadly silent through this gloom,
In breach of Nature's stated laws,
For good, or bad, or for no cause,
Give now nine knocks;[208] like priests of old,
Nine we a sacred number hold.'
'Psha,' cried Profound, (a man of parts,
Deep read in all the curious arts, 320
Who to their hidden springs had traced
The force of numbers, rightly placed)
'As to the number, you are right;
As to the form, mistaken quite.
What's nine? Your adepts all agree
The virtue lies in three times three.'
He said; no need to say it twice,
For thrice she knock'd, and thrice, and thrice.
The crowd, confounded and amazed,
In silence at each other gazed. 330
From Caelia's hand the snuff-box fell;
Tinsel, who ogled with the belle,
To pick it up attempts in vain,
He stoops, but cannot rise again.
Immane Pomposo[209] was not heard
T' import one crabbed foreign word.
Fear seizes heroes, fools, and wits,
And Plausible his prayers forgets.
At length, as people just awake,
Into wild dissonance they break; 340
All talk'd at once, but not a word
Was understood or plainly heard.
Such is the noise of chattering geese,
Slow sailing on the summer breeze;
Such is the language Discord speaks
In Welsh women o'er beds of leeks;
Such the confused and horrid sounds
Of Irish in potatoe-grounds.
But tired, for even C----'s[210] tongue
Is not on iron hinges hung, 350
Fear and Confusion sound retreat,
Reason and Order take their seat.
The fact, confirm'd beyond all doubt,
They now would find the causes out.
For this a sacred rule we find
Among the nicest of mankind,
Which never might exception brook
From Hobbes even down to Bolingbroke,
To doubt of facts, however true,
Unless they know the causes too. 360
Trifle, of whom 'twas hard to tell
When he intended ill or well;
Who, to prevent all further pother,
Probably meant nor one, nor t'other;
Who to be silent always loth,
Would speak on either side, or both;
Who, led away by love of fame,
If any new idea came,
Whate'er it made for, always said it,
Not with an eye to truth, but credit; 370
For orators profess'd, 'tis known,
Talk not for our sake, but their own;
Who always show'd his talents best
When serious things were turn'd to jest,
And, under much impertinence,
Possess'd no common share of sense;
Who could deceive the flying hours
With chat on butterflies and flowers;
Could talk of powder, patches, paint,
With the same zeal as of a saint; 380
Could prove a Sibyl brighter far
Than Venus or the Morning Star;
Whilst something still so gay, so new,
The smile of approbation drew,
And females eyed the charming man,
Whilst their hearts flutter'd with their fan;
Trifle, who would by no means miss
An opportunity like this,
Proceeding on his usual plan,
Smiled, stroked his chin, and thus began: 390
'With shears or scissors, sword or knife,
When the Fates cut the thread of life,
(For if we to the grave are sent,
No matter with what instrument)
The body in some lonely spot,
On dunghill vile, is laid to rot,
Or sleep among more holy dead
With prayers irreverently read;
The soul is sent where Fate ordains,
To reap rewards, to suffer pains. 400
The virtuous to those mansions go
Where pleasures unembitter'd flow,
Where, leading up a jocund band,
Vigour and Youth dance hand in hand,
Whilst Zephyr, with harmonious gales,
Pipes softest music through the vales,
And Spring and Flora, gaily crown'd,
With velvet carpet spread the ground;
With livelier blush where roses bloom,
And every shrub expires perfume; 410
Where crystal streams meandering glide,
Where warbling flows the amber tide;
Where other suns dart brighter beams,
And light through purer ether streams.
Far other seats, far different state,
The sons of Wickedness await.
Justice (not that old hag I mean
Who's nightly in the Garden seen[211],
Who lets no spark of mercy rise,
For crimes, by which men lose their eyes; 420
Nor her who, with an equal hand,
Weighs tea and sugar in the Strand;
Nor her who, by the world deem'd wise,
Deaf to the widow's piercing cries,
Steel'd 'gainst the starving orphan's tears,
On pawns her base tribunal rears;
But her who after death presides,
Whom sacred Truth unerring guides;
Who, free from partial influence,
Nor sinks nor raises evidence, 430
Before whom nothing's in the dark,
Who takes no bribe, and keeps no clerk)
Justice, with equal scale below,
In due proportion weighs out woe,
And always with such lucky aim
Knows punishments so fit to frame,
That she augments their grief and pain,
Leaving no reason to complain.
Old maids and rakes are join'd together,
Coquettes and prudes, like April weather. 440
Wit's forced to chum with Common-Sense,
And Lust is yoked to Impotence.
Professors (Justice so decreed)
Unpaid, must constant lectures read;
On earth it often doth befall,
They're paid, and never read at all.
Parsons must practise what they teach,
And bishops are compell'd to preach.
She who on earth was nice and prim,
Of delicacy full, and whim; 450
Whose tender nature could not bear
The rudeness of the churlish air,
Is doom'd, to mortify her pride,
The change of weather to abide,
And sells, whilst tears with liquor mix,
Burnt brandy on the shore of Styx.
Avaro[212], by long use grown bold
In every ill which brings him gold,
Who his Reedemer would pull down,
And sell his God for half-a-crown; 460
Who, if some blockhead should be willing
To lend him on his soul a shilling,
A well-made bargain would esteem it,
And have more sense than to redeem it,
Justice shall in those shades confine,
To drudge for Plutus in the mine,
All the day long to toil and roar,
And, cursing, work the stubborn ore,
For coxcombs here, who have no brains,
Without a sixpence for his pains: 470
Thence, with each due return of night,
Compell'd, the tall, thin, half-starved sprite
Shall earth revisit, and survey
The place where once his treasure lay,
Shall view the stall where holy Pride,
With letter'd Ignorance allied,
Once hail'd him mighty and adored,
Descended to another lord:
Then shall he, screaming, pierce the air,
Hang his lank jaws, and scowl despair; 480
Then shall he ban at Heaven's decrees,
And, howling, sink to Hell for ease.
Those who on earth through life have pass'd
With equal pace from first to last,
Nor vex'd with passions nor with spleen,
Insipid, easy, and serene;
Whose heads were made too weak to bear
The weight of business, or of care;
Who, without merit, without crime,
Contrive to while away their time; 490
Nor good nor bad, nor fools nor wits,
Mild Justice, with a smile, permits
Still to pursue their darling plan,
And find amusement how they can.
The beau, in gaudiest plumage dress'd,
With lucky fancy o'er the rest
Of air a curious mantle throws,
And chats among his brother beaux;
Or, if the weather's fine and clear,
No sign of rain or tempest near, 500
Encouraged by the cloudless day,
Like gilded butterflies at play,
So lively all, so gay, so brisk,
In air they flutter, float, and frisk.
The belle (what mortal doth not know
Belles after death admire a beau?)
With happy grace renews her art
To trap the coxcomb's wandering heart;
And, after death as whilst they live,
A heart is all which beaux can give. 510
In some still, solemn, sacred shade,
Behold a group of authors laid,
Newspaper wits, and sonneteers,
Gentleman bards, and rhyming peers,
Biographers, whose wondrous worth
Is scarce remember'd now on earth,
Whom Fielding's humour led astray,
And plaintive fops, debauch'd by Gray,
All sit together in a ring,
And laugh and prattle, write and sing. 520
On his own works, with Laurel crown'd,
Neatly and elegantly bound,
(For this is one of many rules,
With writing lords, and laureate fools,
And which for ever must succeed
With other lords who cannot read,
However destitute of wit,
To make their works for bookcase fit)
Acknowledged master of those seats,
Gibber his Birth-day Odes repeats. 530
With triumph now possess that seat,
With triumph now thy Odes repeat;
Unrivall'd vigils proudly keep,
Whilst every hearer's lull'd to sleep;
But know, illustrious bard! when Fate,
Which still pursues thy name with hate,
The regal laurel blasts, which now
Blooms on the placid Whitehead's brow,
Low must descend thy pride and fame,
And Cibber's be the second name.'-- 540
Here Trifle cough'd, (for coughing still
Bears witness of the speaker's skill,
A necessary piece of art,
Of rhetoric an essential part,
And adepts in the speaking trade
Keep a cough by them ready made,
Which they successfully dispense
When at a loss for words or sense)
Here Trifle cough'd, here paused--but while
He strove to recollect his smile, 550
That happy engine of his art,
Which triumph'd o'er the female heart,
Credulity, the child of Folly,
Begot on cloister'd Melancholy,
Who heard, with grief, the florid fool
Turn sacred things to ridicule,
And saw him, led by Whim away,
Still further from the subject stray,
Just in the happy nick, aloud,
In shape of Moore[213], address'd the crowd: 560
'Were we with patience here to sit,
Dupes to the impertinence of Wit,
Till Trifle his harangue should end,
A Greenland night we might attend,
Whilst he, with fluency of speech,
Would various mighty nothings teach'--
(Here Trifle, sternly looking down,
Gravely endeavour'd at a frown,
But Nature unawares stept in,
And, mocking, turn'd it to a grin)-- 570
'And when, in Fancy's chariot hurl'd,
We had been carried round the world,
Involved in error still and doubt,
He'd leave us where we first set out.
Thus soldiers (in whose exercise
Material use with grandeur vies)
Lift up their legs with mighty pain,
Only to set them down again.
Believe ye not (yes, all, I see,
In sound belief concur with me) 580
That Providence, for worthy ends,
To us unknown, this spirit sends?
Though speechless lay the trembling tongue,
Your faith was on your features hung;
Your faith I in your eyes could see,
When all were pale and stared like me.
But scruples to prevent, and root
Out every shadow of dispute,
Pomposo, Plausible, and I,
With Fanny, have agreed to try 590
A deep concerted scheme--this night
To fix or to destroy her quite.
If it be true, before we've done,
We'll make it glaring as the sun;
If it be false, admit no doubt
Ere morning's dawn we'll find it out.
Into the vaulted womb of Death,
Where Fanny now, deprived of breath,
Lies festering, whilst her troubled sprite
Adds horror to the gloom of night, 600
Will we descend, and bring from thence
Proofs of such force to Common-Sense,
Vain triflers shall no more deceive,
And atheists tremble and believe.'
He said, and ceased; the chamber rung
With due applause from every tongue:
The mingled sound (now let me see--
Something by way of simile)
Was it more like Strymonian cranes,
Or winds, low murmuring, when it rains. 610
Or drowsy hum of clustering bees,
Or the hoarse roar of angry seas?
Or (still to heighten and explain,
For else our simile is vain)
Shall we declare it like all four,
A scream, a murmur, hum, and roar?
Let Fancy now, in awful state,
Present this great triumvirate,
(A method which received we find,
In other cases, by mankind) 620
Elected with a joint consent,
All fools in town to represent.
The clock strikes twelve--Moore starts and swears.
In oaths, we know, as well as prayers,
Religion lies, and a church-brother
May use at will, or one, or t'other;
Plausible from his cassock drew
A holy manual, seeming new;
A book it was of private prayer,
But not a pin the worse for wear: 630
For, as we by-the-bye may say,
None but small saints in private pray.
Religion, fairest maid on earth!
As meek as good, who drew her birth
From that bless'd union, when in heaven
Pleasure was bride to Virtue given;
Religion, ever pleased to pray,
Possess'd the precious gift one day;
Hypocrisy, of Cunning born,
Crept in and stole it ere the morn; 640
Whitefield, that greatest of all saints,
Who always prays and never faints,
(Whom she to her own brothers bore,
Rapine and Lust, on Severn's shore)
Received it from the squinting dame;
From him to Plausible it came,
Who, with unusual care oppress'd,
Now, trembling, pull'd it from his breast;
Doubts in his boding heart arise,
And fancied spectres blast his eyes, 650
Devotion springs from abject fear,
And stamps his prayers for once sincere.
Pomposo, (insolent and loud,
Vain idol of a scribbling crowd,
Whose very name inspires an awe,
Whose every word is sense and law,
For what his greatness hath decreed,
Like laws of Persia and of Mede,
Sacred through all the realm of Wit,
Must never of repeal admit; 660
Who, cursing flattery, is the tool
Of every fawning, flattering fool;
Who wit with jealous eye surveys,
And sickens at another's praise;
Who, proudly seized of Learning's throne,
Now damns all learning but his own;
Who scorns those common wares to trade in,
Reasoning, convincing, and persuading,
But makes each sentence current pass
With puppy, coxcomb, scoundrel, ass; 670
For 'tis with him a certain rule,
The folly's proved when he calls fool;
Who, to increase his native strength,
Draws words six syllables in length,
With which, assisted with a frown
By way of club, he knocks us down;
Who 'bove the vulgar dares to rise,
And sense of decency defies;
For this same decency is made
Only for bunglers in the trade, 680
And, like the cobweb laws, is still
Broke through by great ones when they will)--
Pomposo, with strong sense supplied,
Supported, and confirm'd by Pride,
His comrades' terrors to beguile
'Grinn'd horribly a ghastly smile:'
Features so horrid, were it light,
Would put the Devil himself to flight.
Such were the three in name and worth
Whom Zeal and Judgment singled forth 690
To try the sprite on Reason's plan,
Whether it was of God or man.
Dark was the night; it was that hour
When Terror reigns in fullest power,
When, as the learn'd of old have said,
The yawning Grave gives up her dead;
When Murder, Rapine by her side,
Stalks o'er the earth with giant stride;
Our Quixotes (for that knight of old
Was not in truth by half so bold, 700
Though Reason at the same time cries,
'Our Quixotes are not half so wise,'
Since they, with other follies, boast
An expedition 'gainst a ghost)
Through the dull deep surrounding gloom,
In close array, towards Fanny's tomb[214]
Adventured forth; Caution before,
With heedful step, the lantern bore,
Pointing at graves; and in the rear,
Trembling, and talking loud, went Fear. 710
The churchyard teem'd--the unsettled ground,
As in an ague, shook around;
While, in some dreary vault confined,
Or riding on the hollow wind,
Horror, which turns the heart to stone,
In dreadful sounds was heard to groan.
All staring, wild, and out of breath,
At length they reach the place of Death.
A vault it was, long time applied
To hold the last remains of Pride: 720
No beggar there, of humble race,
And humble fortunes, finds a place;
To rest in pomp as well as ease,
The only way's to pay the fees.
Fools, rogues, and whores, if rich and great,
Proud even in death, here rot in state.
No thieves disrobe the well-dress'd dead;
No plumbers steal the sacred lead;
Quiet and safe the bodies lie;
No sextons sell, no surgeons buy. 730
Thrice, each the ponderous key applied,
And thrice to turn it vainly tried,
Till taught by Prudence to unite,
And straining with collected might,
The stubborn wards resist no more,
But open flies the growling door.
Three paces back they fell amazed,
Like statues stood, like madmen gazed;
The frighted blood forsakes the face,
And seeks the heart with quicker pace; 740
The throbbing heart its fear declares,
And upright stand the bristled hairs;
The head in wild distraction swims,
Cold sweats bedew the trembling limbs;
Nature, whilst fears her bosom chill,
Suspends her powers, and life stands still.
Thus had they stood till now; but Shame
(An useful, though neglected dame,
By Heaven design'd the friend of man,
Though we degrade her all we can, 750
And strive, as our first proof of wit,
Her name and nature to forget)
Came to their aid in happy hour,
And with a wand of mighty power
Struck on their hearts; vain fears subside,
And, baffled, leave the field to Pride.
Shall they, (forbid it, Fame!) shall they
The dictates of vile Pear obey?
Shall they, the idols of the Town,
To bugbears, fancy-form'd, bow down? 760
Shall they, who greatest zeal express'd,
And undertook for all the rest,
Whose matchless courage all admire,
Inglorious from the task retire?
How would the wicked ones rejoice,
And infidels exalt their voice,
If Moore and Plausible were found,
By shadows awed, to quit their ground?
How would fools laugh, should it appear
Pomposo was the slave of fear? 770
'Perish the thought! Though to our eyes,
In all its terrors, Hell should rise;
Though thousand ghosts, in dread array,
With glaring eyeballs, cross our way;
Though Caution, trembling, stands aloof,
Still we will on, and dare the proof.'
They said; and, without further halt,
Dauntless march'd onward to the vault.
What mortal men, who e'er drew breath,
Shall break into the house of Death, 780
With foot unhallow'd, and from thence
The mysteries of that state dispense,
Unless they, with due rites, prepare
Their weaker sense such sights to bear,
And gain permission from the state,
On earth their journal to relate?
Poets themselves, without a crime,
Cannot attempt it e'en in rhyme,
But always, on such grand occasion,
Prepare a solemn invocation, 790
A posy for grim Pluto weave,
And in smooth numbers ask his leave.
But why this caution? why prepare
Rites, needless now? for thrice in air
The Spirit of the Night hath sneezed,
And thrice hath clapp'd his wings, well-pleased.
Descend then, Truth, and guard thy side,
My Muse, my patroness, and guide!
Let others at invention aim,
And seek by falsities for fame; 800
Our story wants not, at this time,
Flounces and furbelows in rhyme;
Relate plain facts; be brief and bold;
And let the poets, famed of old,
Seek, whilst our artless tale we tell,
In vain to find a parallel:
Silent all three went in; about
All three turn'd, silent, and came out.


It was the hour, when housewife Morn
With pearl and linen hangs each thorn;
When happy bards, who can regale
Their Muse with country air and ale,
Ramble afield to brooks and bowers,
To pick up sentiments and flowers;
When dogs and squires from kennel fly,
And hogs and farmers quit their sty;
When my lord rises to the chase,
And brawny chaplain takes his place. 10
These images, or bad, or good,
If they are rightly understood,
Sagacious readers must allow
Proclaim us in the country now;
For observations mostly rise
From objects just before our eyes,
And every lord, in critic wit,
Can tell you where the piece was writ;
Can point out, as he goes along,
(And who shall dare to say he's wrong?) 20
Whether the warmth (for bards, we know,
At present never more than glow)
Was in the town or country caught,
By the peculiar turn of thought.
It was the hour,--though critics frown,
We now declare ourselves in Town,
Nor will a moment's pause allow
For finding when we came, or how.
The man who deals in humble prose,
Tied down by rule and method goes; 30
But they who court the vigorous Muse
Their carriage have a right to choose.
Free as the air, and unconfined,
Swift as the motions of the mind,
The poet darts from place to place,
And instant bounds o'er time and space:
Nature (whilst blended fire and skill
Inflame our passions to his will)
Smiles at her violated laws,
And crowns his daring with applause. 40
Should there be still some rigid few,
Who keep propriety in view,
Whose heads turn round, and cannot bear
This whirling passage through the air,
Free leave have such at home to sit,
And write a regimen for wit;
To clip our pinions let them try,
Not having heart themselves to fly.
It was the hour when devotees
Breathe pious curses on their knees; 50
When they with prayers the day begin
To sanctify a night of sin;
When rogues of modesty, who roam
Under the veil of night, sneak home,
That, free from all restraint and awe,
Just to the windward of the law,
Less modest rogues their tricks may play,
And plunder in the face of day.
But hold,--whilst thus we play the fool,
In bold contempt of every rule, 60
Things of no consequence expressing,
Describing now, and now digressing,
To the discredit of our skill,
The main concern is standing still.
In plays, indeed, when storms of rage
Tempestuous in the soul engage,
Or when the spirits, weak and low,
Are sunk in deep distress and woe,
With strict propriety we hear
Description stealing on the ear, 70
And put off feeling half an hour
To thatch a cot, or paint a flower;
But in these serious works, design'd
To mend the morals of mankind,
We must for ever be disgraced
With all the nicer sons of Taste,
If once, the shadow to pursue,
We let the substance out of view.
Our means must uniformly tend
In due proportion to their end, 80
And every passage aptly join
To bring about the one design.
Our friends themselves cannot admit
This rambling, wild, digressive wit;
No--not those very friends, who found
Their credit on the self-same ground.
Peace, my good grumbling sir--for once,
Sunk in the solemn, formal dunce,
This coxcomb shall your fears beguile--
We will be dull--that you may smile. 90
Come, Method, come in all thy pride,
Dulness and Whitehead by thy side;
Dulness and Method still are one,
And Whitehead is their darling son:
Not he[215], whose pen, above control,
Struck terror to the guilty soul,
Made Folly tremble through her state,
And villains blush at being great;
Whilst he himself, with steady face,
Disdaining modesty and grace, 100
Could blunder on through thick and thin,
Through every mean and servile sin,
Yet swear by Philip and by Paul,
He nobly scorn'd to blush at all;
But he who in the Laureate[216] chair,
By grace, not merit, planted there,
In awkward pomp is seen to sit,
And by his patent proves his wit;
For favours of the great, we know,
Can wit as well as rank bestow; 110
And they who, without one pretension,
Can get for fools a place or pension,
Must able be supposed, of course,
(If reason is allow'd due force)
To give such qualities and grace
As may equip them for the place.
But he--who measures as he goes
A mongrel kind of tinkling prose,
And is too frugal to dispense,
At once, both poetry and sense; 120
Who, from amidst his slumbering guards,
Deals out a charge to subject bards,
Where couplets after couplets creep
Propitious to the reign of sleep;
Yet every word imprints an awe,
And all his dictates pass for law
With beaux, who simper all around,
And belles, who die ill every sound:
For in all things of this relation,
Men mostly judge from situation, 130
Nor in a thousand find we one
Who really weighs what's said or done;
They deal out censure, or give credit,
Merely from him who did or said it.
But he--who, happily serene,
Means nothing, yet would seem to mean;
Who rules and cautions can dispense
With all that humble insolence
Which Impudence in vain would teach,
And none but modest men can reach; 140
Who adds to sentiments the grace
Of always being out of place,
And drawls out morals with an air
A gentleman would blush to wear;
Who, on the chastest, simplest plan,
As chaste, as simple, as the man
Without or character, or plot,
Nature unknown, and Art forgot,
Can, with much raking of the brains,
And years consumed in letter'd pains, 150
A heap of words together lay,
And, smirking, call the thing a play;[217]
Who, champion sworn in Virtue's cause,
'Gainst Vice his tiny bodkin draws,
But to no part of prudence stranger,
First blunts the point for fear of danger.
So nurses sage, as caution works,
When children first use knives and forks,
For fear of mischief, it is known,
To others' fingers or their own, 160
To take the edge off wisely choose,
Though the same stroke takes off the use.
Thee, Whitehead, thee I now invoke,
Sworn foe to Satire's generous stroke,
Which makes unwilling Conscience feel,
And wounds, but only wounds to heal.
Good-natured, easy creature, mild
And gentle as a new-born child,
Thy heart would never once admit
E'en wholesome rigour to thy wit; 170
Thy head, if Conscience should comply,
Its kind assistance would deny,
And lend thee neither force nor art
To drive it onward to the heart.
Oh, may thy sacred power control
Bach fiercer working of my soul,
Damp every spark of genuine fire,
And languors, like thine own, inspire!
Trite be each thought, and every line
As moral and as dull as thine! 180
Poised in mid-air--(it matters not
To ascertain the very spot,
Nor yet to give you a relation
How it eluded gravitation)--
Hung a watch-tower, by Vulcan plann'd
With such rare skill, by Jove's command,
That every word which, whisper'd here,
Scarce vibrates to the neighbour ear,
On the still bosom of the air
Is borne and heard distinctly there-- 190
The palace of an ancient dame
Whom men as well as gods call Fame.
A prattling gossip, on whose tongue
Proof of perpetual motion hung,
Whose lungs in strength all lungs surpass,
Like her own trumpet made of brass;
Who with an hundred pair of eyes
The vain attacks of sleep defies;
Who with an hundred pair of wings
News from the furthest quarters brings, 200
Sees, hears, and tells, untold before,
All that she knows and ten times more.
Not all the virtues which we find
Concenter'd in a Hunter's[218] mind,
Can make her spare the rancorous tale,
If in one point she chance to fail;
Or if, once in a thousand years,
A perfect character appears,
Such as of late with joy and pride
My soul possess'd, ere Arrow died; 210
Or such as, Envy must allow,
The world enjoys in Hunter now;
This hag, who aims at all alike,
At virtues e'en like theirs will strike,
And make faults in the way of trade,
When she can't find them ready made.
All things she takes in, small and great,
Talks of a toy-shop and a state;
Of wits and fools, of saints and kings,
Of garters, stars, and leading strings; 220
Of old lords fumbling for a clap,
And young ones full of prayer and pap;
Of courts, of morals, and tye-wigs,
Of bears and Serjeants dancing jigs;
Of grave professors at the bar
Learning to thrum on the guitar,
Whilst laws are slubber'd o'er in haste,
And Judgment sacrificed to Taste;
Of whited sepulchres, lawn sleeves,
And God's house made a den of thieves: 230
Of funeral pomps,[220] where clamours hung,
And fix'd disgrace on every tongue,
Whilst Sense and Order blush'd to see
Nobles without humanity;
Of coronations,[221] where each heart,
With honest raptures, bore a part;
Of city feasts, where Elegance
Was proud her colours to advance,
And Gluttony, uncommon case,
Could only get the second place; 240
Of new-raised pillars in the state,
Who must be good, as being great;
Of shoulders, on which honours sit
Almost as clumsily as wit;
Of doughty knights, whom titles please,
But not the payment of the fees;
Of lectures, whither every fool,
In second childhood, goes to school;
Of graybeards, deaf to Reason's call,
From Inn of Court, or City Hall, 250
Whom youthful appetites enslave,
With one foot fairly in the grave,
By help of crutch, a needful brother,
Learning of Hart[222] to dance with t'other;
Of doctors regularly bred
To fill the mansions of the dead;
Of quacks, (for quacks they must be still,
Who save when forms require to kill)
Who life, and health, and vigour give
To him, not one would wish to live; 260
Of artists who, with noblest view,
Disinterested plans pursue,
For trembling worth the ladder raise,
And mark out the ascent to praise;
Of arts and sciences, where meet,
Sublime, profound, and all complete,
A set[223] (whom at some fitter time
The Muse shall consecrate in rhyme)
Who, humble artists to out-do,
A far more liberal plan pursue, 270
And let their well-judged premiums fall
On those who have no worth at all;
Of sign-post exhibitions, raised
For laughter more than to be praised,
(Though, by the way, we cannot see
Why Praise and Laughter mayn't agree)
Where genuine humour runs to waste,
And justly chides our want of taste,
Censured, like other things, though good,
Because they are not understood. 280
To higher subjects now she soars,
And talks of politics and whores;
(If to your nice and chaster ears
That term indelicate appears,
Scripture politely shall refine,
And melt it into concubine)
In the same breath spreads Bourbon's league;[224]
And publishes the grand intrigue;
In Brussels or our own Gazette[225]
Makes armies fight which never met, 290
And circulates the pox or plague
To London, by the way of Hague;
For all the lies which there appear
Stamp'd with authority come here;
Borrows as freely from the gabble
Of some rude leader of a rabble,
Or from the quaint harangues of those
Who lead a nation by the nose,
As from those storms which, void of art,
Burst from our honest patriot's heart,[226] 300
When Eloquence and Virtue, (late
Remark'd to live in mutual hate)
Fond of each other's friendship grown,
Claim every sentence for their own;
And with an equal joy recites
Parade amours and half-pay fights,
Perform'd by heroes of fair weather,
Merely by dint of lace and feather,
As those rare acts which Honour taught
Our daring sons where Granby[227] fought, 310
Or those which, with superior skill,
Sackville achieved by standing still.
This hag, (the curious, if they please,
May search, from earliest times to these,
And poets they will always see
With gods and goddesses make free,
Treating them all, except the Muse,
As scarcely fit to wipe their shoes)
Who had beheld, from first to last,
How our triumvirate had pass'd 320
Night's dreadful interval, and heard,
With strict attention, every word,
Soon as she saw return of light,
On sounding pinions took her flight.
Swift through the regions of the sky,
Above the reach of human eye,
Onward she drove the furious blast,
And rapid as a whirlwind pass'd,
O'er countries, once the seats of Taste,
By Time and Ignorance laid waste; 330
O'er lands, where former ages saw
Reason and Truth the only law;
Where Arts and Arms, and Public Love,
In generous emulation strove;
Where kings were proud of legal sway,
And subjects happy to obey,
Though now in slavery sunk, and broke
To Superstition's galling yoke;
Of Arts, of Arms, no more they tell,
Or Freedom, which with Science fell, 340
By tyrants awed, who never find
The passage to their people's mind;
To whom the joy was never known
Of planting in the heart their throne;
Far from all prospect of relief,
Their hours in fruitless prayers and grief,
For loss of blessings, they employ,
Which we unthankfully enjoy.
Now is the time (had we the will)
To amaze the reader with our skill, 350
To pour out such a flood of knowledge
As might suffice for a whole college,
Whilst with a true poetic force,
We traced the goddess in her course,
Sweetly describing, in our flight,
Each common and uncommon sight,
Making our journal gay and pleasant,
With things long past, and things now present.
Rivers--once nymphs--(a transformation
Is mighty pretty in relation) 360
From great authorities we know
Will matter for a tale bestow:
To make the observation clear,
We give our friends an instance here.
The day (that never is forgot)
Was very fine, but very hot;
The nymph (another general rule)
Inflamed with heat, laid down to cool;
Her hair (we no exceptions find)
Waved careless, floating in the wind; 370
Her heaving breasts, like summer seas,
Seem'd amorous of the playful breeze:
Should fond Description tune our lays
In choicest accents to her praise,
Description we at last should find,
Baffled and weak, would halt behind.
Nature had form'd her to inspire
In every bosom soft desire;
Passions to raise, she could not feel,
Wounds to inflict, she would not heal. 380
A god, (his name is no great matter,
Perhaps a Jove, perhaps a Satyr)
Raging with lust, a godlike flame,
By chance, as usual, thither came;
With gloating eye the fair one view'd,
Desired her first, and then pursued:
She (for what other can she do?)
Must fly--or how can he pursue?
The Muse (so custom hath decreed)
Now proves her spirit by her speed, 390
Nor must one limping line disgrace
The life and vigour of the race;
She runs, and he runs, till at length,
Quite destitute of breath and strength,
To Heaven (for there we all apply
For help, when there's no other nigh)
She offers up her virgin prayer,
(Can virgins pray unpitied there?)
And when the god thinks he has caught her,
Slips through his hands and runs to water, 400
Becomes a stream, in which the poet,
If he has any wit, may show it.
A city once for power renown'd
Now levell'd even to the ground,
Beyond all doubt is a direction
To introduce some fine reflection.
Ah, woeful me! ah, woeful man!
Ah, woeful all, do all we can!
Who can on earthly things depend
From one to t'other moment's end? 410
Honour, wit, genius, wealth, and glory,
Good lack! good lack! are transitory;
Nothing is sure and stable found,
The very earth itself turns round:
Monarchs, nay ministers, must die,
Must rot, must stink--ah, me! ah, why!
Cities themselves in time decay;
If cities thus--ah, well-a-day!
If brick and mortar have an end,
On what can flesh and blood depend! 420
Ah, woeful me! ah, woeful man!
Ah, woeful all, do all we can!
England, (for that's at last the scene,
Though worlds on worlds should rise between,
Whither we must our course pursue)
England should call into review
Times long since past indeed, but not
By Englishmen to be forgot,
Though England, once so dear to Fame,
Sinks in Great Britain's dearer name. 430
Here could we mention chiefs of old,
In plain and rugged honour bold,
To Virtue kind, to Vice severe,
Strangers to bribery and fear,
Who kept no wretched clans in awe,
Who never broke or warp'd the law;
Patriots, whom, in her better days,
Old Rome might have been proud to raise;
Who, steady to their country's claim,
Boldly stood up in Freedom's name, 440
E'en to the teeth of tyrant Pride,
And when they could no more, they died.
There (striking contrast!) might we place
A servile, mean, degenerate race;
Hirelings, who valued nought but gold,
By the best bidder bought and sold;
Truants from Honour's sacred laws,
Betrayers of their country's cause;
The dupes of party, tools of power,
Slaves to the minion of an hour; 450
Lackies, who watch'd a favourite's nod,
And took a puppet for their god.
Sincere and honest in our rhymes,
How might we praise these happier times!
How might the Muse exalt her lays,
And wanton in a monarch's praise!
Tell of a prince, in England born,
Whose virtues England's crown adorn,
In youth a pattern unto age,
So chaste, so pious, and so sage; 460
Who, true to all those sacred bands,
Which private happiness demands,
Yet never lets them rise above
The stronger ties of public love.
With conscious pride see England stand,
Our holy Charter in her hand;
She waves it round, and o'er the isle
See Liberty and Courage smile.
No more she mourns her treasures hurl'd
In subsidies to all the world; 470
No more by foreign threats dismay'd,
No more deceived with foreign aid,
She deals out sums to petty states,
Whom Honour scorns and Reason hates,
But, wiser by experience grown,
Finds safety in herself alone.
'Whilst thus,' she cries, 'my children stand
An honest, valiant, native band,
A train'd militia, brave and free,
True to their king, and true to me, 480
No foreign hirelings shall be known,
Nor need we hirelings of our own:
Under a just and pious reign
The statesman's sophistry is vain;
Vain is each vile, corrupt pretence,
These are my natural defence;
Their faith I know, and they shall prove
The bulwark of the king they love.'
These, and a thousand things beside,
Did we consult a poet's pride, 490
Some gay, some serious, might be said,
But ten to one they'd not be read;
Or were they by some curious few,
Not even those would think them true;
For, from the time that Jubal first
Sweet ditties to the harp rehearsed,
Poets have always been suspected
Of having truth in rhyme neglected,
That bard except, who from his youth
Equally famed for faith and truth, 500
By Prudence taught, in courtly chime
To courtly ears brought truth in rhyme.[228]
But though to poets we allow,
No matter when acquired or how,
From truth unbounded deviation,
Which custom calls Imagination,
Yet can't they be supposed to lie
One half so fast as Fame can fly;
Therefore (to solve this Gordian knot,
A point we almost had forgot) 510
To courteous readers be it known,
That, fond of verse and falsehood grown,
Whilst we in sweet digression sung,
Fame check'd her flight, and held her tongue,
And now pursues, with double force
And double speed, her destined course,
Nor stops till she the place[229] arrives
Where Genius starves and Dulness thrives;
Where riches virtue are esteem'd
And craft is truest wisdom deem'd, 520
Where Commerce proudly rears her throne,
In state to other lands unknown:
Where, to be cheated and to cheat,
Strangers from every quarter meet;
Where Christians, Jews, and Turks shake hands,
United in commercial bands:
All of one faith, and that to own
No god but Interest alone.
When gods and goddesses come down
To look about them here in Town, 530
(For change of air is understood
By sons of Physic to be good,
In due proportions, now and then,
For these same gods as well as men)
By custom ruled, and not a poet
So very dull but he must know it,
In order to remain _incog_.
They always travel in a fog;
For if we majesty expose
To vulgar eyes, too cheap it grows; 540
The force is lost, and free from awe,
We spy and censure every flaw;
But well preserved from public view,
It always breaks forth fresh and new;
Fierce as the sun in all his pride
It shines, and not a spot's descried.
Was Jove to lay his thunder by,
And with his brethren of the sky
Descend to earth, and frisk about,
Like chattering N----[230] from rout to rout, 550
He would be found, with all his host,
A nine days' wonder at the most.
Would we in trim our honours wear,
We must preserve them from the air;
What is familiar men neglect,

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