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But never will your works peruse At any time, if they can choose. 'Tis not the thing which men call wit, Nor characters, though truly hit, Nor flowing numbers soft or strong, That bears the raptur'd soul along ; 'Tis something of a diff'rent kind, 'Tis all those skilfully combin'd, To make what critics call a whole, Which ravishes and charms the soul. Alexis, by fair Celia's scorn To grief abandon'd and forlorn, Had sought in solitude to cover His anguish, like a hopeless lover: With his fond passion to debate,
Gay Strephon sought his rural seat,
And found him with the shepherd's plac'd
Far in a solitary waste.
"My friend," quoth he, "you're much to This foolish softness quit for shame; Nor foudly doat upon a woman,
Whose charms are nothing more than common.
That Celia's handsome I agree,
But Clara's handsomer than she:
Euanthe's wit, which all commend,
Does Celia's certainly transcend :
Nor can you find the least pretence
With Phobe's to compare her sense;
With better taste Belinda dresses,
With truer step the floor she presses;
And for behaviour soft and kind,
Melissa leaves her far behind:
What witchcraft then can fix the chain
Which makes you suffer her disdain,
And not attempt the manly part
To set at liberty your heart?
Make but one struggle, and you'll see
That in a moment you'll be free."
This Strephon urg'd, and ten times more,
From topics often touch'd before:
In vain his eloquence he try'd;
Alexis, sighing, thus reply'd:-
"If Clara's handsome and a toast,
"Tis all the merit she can boast:
Some fame Euanthe's wit has gain'd,
Because by prudence not restrain'd,
Phebe I own is wondrous wise,
She never acts but in disguise:
Belinda's merit all confess
Who know the mystery of dress:
But poor Melissa on the score
Of mere good-nature pleases more:
In those the reigning charm appears
Alone, to draw our eyes and ears,
No other rises by its side
And shines, attention to divide ;
Thus seen alone it strikes the eye,
As something exquisite and high:
But in my Celia you will find
Perfection of another kind;
Each charm so artfully exprest
As still to mingle with the rest:
Averse and shunning to be known,
An object by itself alone,
But thus combin'd they make a spell
Whose force no human tongue can tell;
A pow'rful magic which my breast
Will ne'er be able to resist :
For as she slights me or complies,
Her constant lover lives or dies."
THE RAKE AND THE HERMIT.
YOUTH, a pupil of the town,
Philosopher and atheist grown,
Benighted once upon the road,
Found out a Hermit's lone abode,
Whose hospitality in need
Reliev'd the trav'ler and his steed,
For both sufficiently were tir'd,
Well drench'd in ditches and bemir'd.
Hunger the first attention claims;
Upon the coals a rasher flames,
Dry crusts, and liquor something stale,
Were added to make up a meal;
At which our trav'ler as he sat,
By intervals began to chat
"Tis odd," quoth he, "to think what strains
Of folly govern some folks' brains:
What makes you choose this wild abode ?
You'll say, 'tis to converse with God:
Alas, I fear, 'tis all a whim;
You never saw or spoke with him.
They talk of Providence's pow'r,
And say it rules us every hour;
To me all nature seems confusion,
And such weak faucies mere delusion.
Say, if it rul'd and govern'd right,
Cou'd there be such a thing as night;
Which, when the Sun has left the skies
Puts all things in a deep disguise?
If then a trav'ler chance to stray
The least step from the public way,
He's soon in endless mazes lost,
As I have found it to my cost.
Besides, the gloom which nature wears,
Assists imaginary fears
Of ghosts and goblins from the waves
Of sulph'rous lakes, and yawning graves,
All sprung from superstitious seed,
Like other maxims of the creed.
For my part, I reject the tales
Which faith suggests when reason fails;
And reason nothing understands,
Unwarranted by eyes and hands.
These subtle essences, like wind,
Which some have dreamt of and call mind
It ne'er admits; nor joins the lie
Which says men rot, but never die.
It holds all future things in doubt,
And therefore wisely leaves them out:
Suggesting what is worth our care,
To take things present as they are,
Qur wisest course: the rest is folly,
The fruit of spleen and melancholy."-
"Sir," quoth the hermit, "I agree That reason still our guide shou'd be: And will admit her as the test,
Of what is true and what is best :
But reason sure wou'd blush for shame
At what you mention in her name;
Her dictates are sublime and holy :
Impiety's the child of folly:
Reason with measur'd steps and slow
To things above from things below
Ascends, and guides us through her sphere
With caution, vigilance, and care.
Faith in the utmost frontier stands,
And reason puts us in her hands,
But not till her commission giv'n
Is found authentic, and from Heav'n,
Tis strange that man, a reas'ning creature,
Shou'd miss a God in viewing nature:
Whose high perfections are display'd
In ev'ry thing his hands have made:
Ev'n when we think their traces lost,
When found again, we see them most;
The night, itself which you would blame
As something wrong in nature's frame,
Is but a curtain to invest
Her weary children, when at rest :
Like that which mothers draw to keep
The light off from a child asleep.
Beside, the fears which darkness breeds,
At least augments, in vulgar heads,
Are far from useless, when the mind
Is narrow and to Earth confin'd;
They make the wordling think with pain
On frauds and oaths and ill got gain;
Force from the ruffian's hand the knife
Just rais'd against his neighbour's life;
And in defence of virtue's cause
Assist each sanction of the laws.
But souls serene, where wisdom dwells
And superstitious dread expels,
The silent majesty of night
Excites to take a nobler flight;
With saints and angels to explore
The wonders of creating pow'r ;
And lifts on contemplation's wings
Above the sphere of mortal things:
Walk forth and tread those dewy plains
Where night in awful silence reigns;
The sky's serene, the air is still,
The woods stand list'ning on each hill,
To catch the sounds that sink and swell
Wide-Aoating from the ev'ning bell,
While foxes howl and beetles hum,
Sounds which make silence still more dunib:
And try if folly rash and rude
Dares on the sacred hour intrude.
Then turn your eyes to Heav'n's broad frame,
Attempt to quote those lights by name,
Which shine so thick and spread so far;
Conceive a sun in every star,
Round which unnumber'd planets roll,
While comets shoot athwart the whole.
From system still to system ranging,
Their various benefits exchanging,
And shaking from their flaming hair
The things most needed every where.
Explore this glorious scene, and say
That night discovers less than day;
That 'tis quite useless, and a sign
That chance disposes, not design:
Whoe'er maintains it, I'll pronounce
Him either mad, or else a dunce.
For reason, though 'tis far from strong,
Will soon find out that nothing's wrong,
From signs and evidences clear
Of wise contrivance every where."
The hermit ended, and the youth
Became a convert to the truth;
At least, he yielded, and confest
That all was order'd for the best.
PHEBUS AND THE SHEPHERD.
I CANNOT think but more or less
True merit always gains success;
That envy, prejudice, and spite,
Will never sink a genius quite.
Experience shows beyond a doubt
That worth, though clouded, will shine out.
The second name for epic song,
First classic of the English tongue,
Great Milton, when he first appear'd,
Was ill receiv'd and coldly heard:
In vain did faction damn those lays
Which all posterity shall praise:
Is Dryden or his works forgot,
For all that Buckingham has wrote?
The peer's sharp satire, charg'd with sense,
Gives pleasure at no one's expense:
The bard and critic, both inspir'd
By Phebus, shall be still admir'd:
"Tis true that censure, right or wrong,
May hurt at first the noblest song,
And for a while defeat the claim
Which any writer has to fame:
A mere book-merchant with his tools
Can sway with ease the herd of fools,
Who on a moderate computation
Are ten to one in every nation.—
"Your style is stiff-your periods halt→→
In every line appears a fault-
The plot and incidents ill sorted-
No single character supported—
Your similes will scarce apply;
The whole misshapen, dark and dry.—”
All this will pass, and gain its end
On the best poem e'er was penn'd:
But when the first assaults are o'er,
When fops and witlings prate no more,
And when your works are quite forgot
By all who praise or blame by rote:
Without self-interest, spleen, or hate,
The men of sense decide your fate:
Their judgment stands, and what they say
Gains greater credit ev'ry day;
Till groundless prejudices past,
True merit has its due at last.
The hackney scribblers of the town,
Who were the first to write you down,
Their malice chang'd to admiration
Promote your growing reputation,
And to excess of praise proceed;
But this scarce happens till you're dead,
When fame for genius, wit, and skill,
Can do you neither good nor ill;
Yet, if you would not be forgot,
They'll help to keep your name afloat,
An aged swain that us'd to feed
His flock upon a mountain's head,
Drew crouds of shepherds from each hill,
To hear and profit by his skill;
For ev'ry simple of the rock,
That can offend or cure a flock,
He us'd to mark, and knew its pow'r
In stem and foliage, root and flow'r,
Beside all this, he cou'd foretel
Both rain and sunshine passing well;
By deep sagacity he'd find,
The future shiftings of the wind;
And guess more shrewdly ev'ry year
If mutton wou'd be cheap or dear,
To tell his skill in every art,
Of which he understood a part,
His sage advice was wrapt in tales,
Which oft persuade when reason fails.
To do him justice every where
Wou'd take more time than I can spare,
And therefore now shall only touch
Upon a fact which authors vouch;
That Phebus oft wou'd condescend
To treat this shepherd like a friend:
Oft when the solar chariot past,
Provided he was not in haste,
He'd leave his steeds to take fresh breath,
And crop the herbage of the heath;
While with the swain a turn or two
He'd take, as landlords use to do,
When, sick of finer folks in town,
They find amusement in a clown.
One morning when the god alighted,
His winged steeds look'd wild and frighted;
The whip it seems had not been idle,
One's trace's broke, another's bridle:
All four were switch'd in very part,
Like common jades that draw a cart,
Whose sides and haunches all along
Show the just measure of the thong.
Those watry mirrors send your light
In streams amidst the shades of night:
Thus length'ning out your reign much more
Than they had shorten'd it before.
As this is so, I must maintain
You've little reason to complain:
For when the matter's understood,
The ill seems balanc'd by the good;
The only diff'rence in the case
Is that the mischief first takes place,
The compensation when you're gone
Is rather somewhat late, I own:
But since 'tis so, you'll own 'tis fit
To make the best on't, and submit."
THE BREEZE and the TEMPEST.
THAT nation boasts a happy fate Whose, prince is good as well as great,
"Why, what's the matter," quoth the swain, Calm peace at home with plenty reigns,
"My lord, it gives your servant pain;
Sure some offence is in the case,
I read it plainly in your face."
"Offence," quoth Phebus, vex'd and heated; "Tis one indeed and oft repeated;
Since first I drove through Heav'n's highway,
That's before yesterday you'll say,
The envious clouds in league with night
Conspire to intercept my light;
Rank vapours breath'd from putrid lakes,
The streams of common-sew 'rs and jakes,
Which under-ground shou'd be confin'd,
Nor suffer'd to pollute the wind;
Escap'd in air by various ways,
Extinguish or divert my rays.
Oft in the morning, when my steeds
Above the ocean lift their heads,
And when I hope to see my beams
Far glittering on the woods and streams:
A ridge of lazy clouds that sleep
Upon the surface of the deep,
Receive at once and wrap me round
In fogs extinguish'd half and drown'd.
But mark my purpose, and by Styx
I'm not soon alter'd when I fix ;
If things are suffer'd at this pass,
I'll fairly turn my nags to grass:
No more this idle round I'll dance,
But let all nature take its chance."
"If," quoth the shepherd, "it were fit
To argue with the god of wit,
I cou'd a circumstance suggest
That wou'd alleviate things at least.
That clouds oppose your rising light
Full oft and lengthen out the night,
Is plain; but soon they disappear,
And leave the sky serene and clear;
We ne'er expect a finer day,
Than when the morning has been gray;
Besides, those vapours which confine
Yon issuing from your eastern shrine,
By heat sublim'd and thinly spread,
Streak all the ev'ning sky with red:
And when your radiant orb in vain
Wou'd glow beneath the western main,
And not a ray cou'd reach our eyes,
Uuless reflected from the skies,
The law its proper course obtains;
Abroad the public is respected,
And all its int'rests are protected:
But when his genius, weak or strong,
Is by ambition pointed wrong,
When private greatness has possess'd
In place of public good his breast,
'Tis certam, and I'll prove it true,
That ev'ry mischief must ensue.
On some pretence a war is made,
he citizen must change his trade;
His steers the husbandman unyokes,
The shepherd too must quit his flocks,
His harmless life and honest gain,
To rob, to murder, and be slain:
The fields, once fruitful, yield no more
Their yearly produce as before:
Each useful plant neglected dies,
While idle weeds licentious rise
Unnumber'd, to usurp the land
Where yellow harvests us'd to stand.
Lean famine soon in course succeeds;
Diseases follow as she leads.
No infant bands at close of day
In ev'ry village sport and play.
The streets are throng'd with orphans dying
For want of bread, and widows crying:
Fierce rapine walks abroad unchain'd,
By civil order not restrain'd:
Without regard to right and wrong,
The weak are injur'd by the strong;
The hungry mouth but rarely tastes
The fatt'ning food which riots wastes,
All ties of conscience lose their force,
Ev'n sacred oaths grow words of course,
By what strange cause are kings inclin'd
To heap such mischiefs on mankind?
What pow'rful arguments control
The native dictates of the soul?
The love of glory and a name
Loud-sounded by the trump of Fame :
Nor shall they miss their end, unless
Their guilty projects want success.
Let one possess'd of sov'reign sway
Invade and murder and betray,
Let war and rapiue fierce be hurl'd
Through half the nations of the world;
And prove successful in a course
Of bad designs, and actions worse,
At once a demi-god he grows,
And, incens'd both in verse and prose,
Becomes the idol of mankind;
Though to what's good he's weak and blind;
Approv'd, applauded, and respected,
While better rulers are neglected.
Where Shotts's airy tops divide
Fair Lothian from the vale of Clyde,
A tempest from the east and north
Fraught with the vapours of the Forth,
In passing to the Irish seas,
Once chanc'd to meet the western breeze.
The tempest hail'd him with a roar,
"Make haste and clear the way before;
No paltry zephyr must pretend
To stand before me, or contend:
Begone, or in a whirlwind tost
Your weak existence will be lost."
The tempest thus:-The breeze reply'd, "If both our merits shou'd be try'd, Impartial justice wou'd decree
That you shou'd yield the way to me."
At this the tempest rav'd and storm'd,
Grew black and ten times more deform'd.
"What qualities," quoth he,
Vain flatt'ring wind, can equal mine?
Breath'd from some river, lake, or bog,
Your rise at first is in a fog;
And creeping slowly o'er the meads
Scarce stir the willows or the reeds;
While those that feel you hardly know
The certain part from which you blow.
From Earth's deep womb, the child of fire,
Fierce, active, vigorous, like my sire,
I rush to light; the mountains quake
With dread, and all their forests shake:
The globe itself convuls'd and torn,
Feels pangs unusual when I'm born:
Now free in air, with sov'reign sway
I rule, and all the clouds obey:
From east to west my pow'r extends,
Where day begins and where it ends:
And from Bootes downwards far,
Athwart the track of ev'ry star.
Through me the polar deep disdains
To sleep in winter's frosty chains;
But rous'd to rage, indignant heaves
Huge rocks of ice upon its waves;
While dread tornados lift on high
The broad Atlantic to the sky.
I rule the elemental roar,
And strew with shipwrecks ev'ry shore:
Nor less at land my pow'r is known
From Zembla to the burning zone.
I bring Tartarian frosts to kill
The bloom of summer; when I will
Wide desolation doth appear
To mingle and confound the year:
From cloudy Atlas wrapt in night,
On Barca's sultry plains I light,
And make at once the desert rise
In dusty whirlwinds to the skies;
In vain the trav'ler turns his steed,
And shuns me with his utmost speed;
I overtake him as he flies,
O'erblown he struggles, pants, and dies.
Where some proud city lifts in air
Its spires, I make a desert bare;
And when I choose, for pastime's sake,
Can with a mountain shift a lake;
The Nile himself, at my command.
Oft hides his head beneath the sand,
And midst dry deserts blown and tost
For many a sultry league is lost.
All this I do with perfect ease,
And can repeat whene'er I please:
What merit makes you then pretend
With me to argue and contend,
When all you boast of force or skill
Is scarce enough to turn a mill,
Or help the swain to clear his corn,
The servile tasks for which you're born?"
"Sir," quoth the breeze, "if force alone
Must pass for merit, I have none;
At least I'll readily confess
That yours is greater, mine is less.
But merit rightly understood
Consists aloue in doing good;
And therefore you yourself must see
That preference is due to me:
I cannot boast to rule the skies
Like you, and make the ocean rise,
Nor e'er with shipwrecks strew the shore,
For wives and orphans to deplore.
Mine is the happier task, to please
The mariner, and smooth the seas,
And waft him safe from foreign harms
To bless his consort's longing arms.
With you I boast not to confound
The seasons in their annual round,
And marr that harmony in nature
That comforts ev'ry living creature.
But oft from warmer climes I bring
Soft airs to introduce the spring;
With genial heat unlock the soil,
And urge the ploughman to his toil:
I bid the op'ning blooms unfold
Their streaks of purple, blue and gold,
And waft their fragrance to impart
That new delight to ev'ry heart,
Which makes the shepherd all day long.
To carrol sweet his vernal song:
The summer's sultry heat to cool,
From ev'ry river, lake and pool,
I skim fresh airs.. The tawny swain,
Who turns at noon the furrow'd plain,
Refresh'd and trusting in my aid,
His task pursues and scorns the shade:
And ev'n on Afric's sultry coast,
Where such immense exploits you boast,
I blow to cool the panting flocks
'Midst deserts brown and sun-burnt rocks,
And health and vigour oft supply
To such as languish, faint and die:
Those humbler offices you nam'd,
To own I'll never be asham'd,
With twenty others that conduce
To public good or private use,
The meanest of them far outweighs
The whole amount of all your praise;
If to give happiness and joy,
Excels the talent to destroy."
The tempest, that till now had lent
Attention to the argument,
Again began (his patience lost)
To rage, to threaten, huff and boast:
Since reason fail'd, resolv'd in course
The question to decide by force,
And his weak opposite to brave.—
The breeze retreated to a cave
To shelter, till the raging blast
Had spent its fury and was past.
THE CROW AND THE OTHER
CONTAINING AN USEFUL HINT TO THE CRITICS.
IN ancient times, tradition says,
When birds like men would strive for praise;
The bullfinch, nightingale, and thrush,
With all that chant from tree or bush,
Wou'd often meet in song to vie;
The kinds that sing not, sitting by.
A knavish crow, it seems, had got
The nack to criticise by rote;
He understood each learned phrase,
As well as critics now-a-days:
Some say, he learn'd them from an owl,
By list'ning where he taught a school.
'Tis strange to tell, this subtil creature,
Though nothing musical by nature,
Had learn'd so well to play his part,
With nonsense couch'd in terms of art,
As to be own'd by all at last
Director of the public taste.
Then puff'd with insolence and pride,
And sure of numbers on his side,
Each song he freely criticis'd;
What he approv'd not, was despis'd:
But one false step in evil hour
For ever stript him of his pow'r.
Once when the birds assembled sat,
All list'ning to his formal chat;
By instinct nice he chanc'd to find
A cloud approaching in the wind,
And ravens hardly can 'refrain
From croaking when they think of rain;
His wonted song he sung: the blunder
Amaz'd and scar'd them worse than thunder;
For no one thought so harsh a note
Cou'd ever sound from any throat;
They all at first with mute surprise
Each on his neighbour turn'd his eyes:
But scorn succeeding soon took place,
And might be read in ev'ry face.
All this the raven saw with pain,
And strove his credit to regain.
Quoth he, "The solo which ye heard
In public shou'd not have appear'd;
The trifle of an idle hour,
To please my mistress once when sour:
My voice, that's somewhat rough and strong,
Might chance the melody to wrong,
But, try'd by rules, you'll find the grounds,
Most perfect and harmonious sounds."—
He reason'd thus; but to his trouble,
At every word the laugh grew double,
At last o'ercome with shame and spite,
He flew away quite out of sight.
THE HARE AND THE PARTAN. The chief design of this fable is to give a true specimen of the Scotch dialect, where it may be supposed to be most perfect, namely, in [Partan] A Crab,
Mid-Lothian, the seat of the capital. The style is precisely that of the vulgar Scotch; and that the matter might be suitable to it, I chose for the subject a little story adapted to the ideas of peasants. It is a tale commonly told in Scotland among the country people; and may be looked upon as of the kind of those aniles fabellæ, in which Horace observes his country neighbours were accustomed to convey their rustic philosophy.
A canny man will scarce provoke
Ae 3 creature livin, for a joke;
For be they weak or be they strang♦,
A jibe leaves after it a stang
To mak them think on't; and a laird
May find a begger sae prepar'd,
Wi pawks and wiles, whar pith 9 is wantin, As soon will mak him rue his tauntin.
Ye hae my moral, if am able
All fit it nicely wi a fable.
A hare, ae morning, chanc'd to see A partan creepin on a lee 1o,
A fishwife wha was early oot
Had drapt the creature thereaboot.
Mawkin 13 bumbas'd '4 and frighted sair 1
To see a thing but hide and hair',
Which if it stur'd not might be taen 17
For naething ither than a stane 18.
A squunt-wise 19, wambling sair beset
Wi gerse and rashes a like a net,
• A canny man] A canny man signifies nearly the same thing as a prudent man: but when the Scotch say that a person is not canny, they mean not that they are imprudent, but mischievous and dangerous. If the term not canny is applied to persons without being explained, it charges them with sorcery and witchcraft.