Page images
PDF
EPUB

A of

r. XI. Speculation; or, a Defence of Mankind: A Poem 460, 2 s. 6 d. Printed for the Author, and sold by Dodfley. 1780.

T a time when the rancour of party animosity seems in a is with no flight degree of satisfaction that we find this sportive bard once more invoking the Muse of Humour to laugh the vices and foibles of mankind out of countenance. And yet, if we may judge from the opening of his poem, he does not appear to have met, in his own estimation at least, with that treatment from the world to which his inoffensive reprehension of its vices ought to have entitled him :

: Ah me! what spleen; revenge, and hate
Those reprobated bards await,
Who seek by laughter to disgrace
The follies of the human race!

Howe'er by nature they're inclin'd
To pity and to love mankind,
And fain by every gentle art,
Which ridicule and mirsh impart,
Their minds to virtue would entice,
And Mame the harden'd front of vice,
How cautiously foe'er they aim,
Make manners, and not men, their game,
The only meed the world bestows,
Are civil friends, and latent foes.

And wilt thou then, dear Muse, once more
Adventure near that dangerous shore,
Once more, alas! be doom'd to hear
The scribbler's jest, and coxcomb's fneer
It must be so, for be it known
Thou art a harden'd finger grown,
Nor all the criticising race
Can move one muscle of thy face.

But if some man for taste renown'd,
of knowledge deep, and judgment sound,
One whom the monarchy of wic
Has deem'd for every science fit,
And letters patent has assign'd
To stamp th' opinions of mankind,
One, who if chance he find thee trip,
Will seize at once his critic whip,
As pleas'd as SCALIGER or BentLEY,
And flog thee pretty near as gently,
If such a man for once should smile,
(And long to damn thee all the while)
And ask thee why, “ 'mid every flower
That blooms around the Aonian bower,
And every painted bud that blows
To deck th' enraptur'd poet's brows,

Some

[ocr errors]

Some devious path thou should't explore,
For garlands never worn before,
And descant on a theme so long,
Ill suited to melodious song
Do thou rejoin-" 'was injur'd worth
That call'd thine indignation forth;
A phrase, which all mankind degradez
Sought refuge in thy friendly aid;
For injur'd words, like injur'd men,
Claim succour from an author's pen,
And all as juítly may command
The poet's lyre, as critic's wand;
Say, that of all th’ ill-faced words.
Great JOHNSON'S Di&ionary affords,
Or ever from the fruitful store
OF Roman and Arhenian lore
Were gather’d by that grand importer,
And pounded in an English mortar,
Of all th' unfortunate expressions
Abus'd by wights of all professions,
Hack'd at the bar, ia pulpit tortur'd,
Or chapel of St. Stephen Naughter'd,
Not one was e'er so basely treated,
of spirit, sense, and meaning cheated,
Or e'er deserv'd commiseration,

Like this poor word, call'd SPECULATION. After giving a definition of the term according to its primis time acceptation, he proceeds to point out its present milapplia cation and abuse:

• Whatever wild fantastic dreams
Give birth to man's outrageous schemes,
Pursu'd without the least pretence
To virtue, honesty, or seole,
Whate'er the wretched basely dare.,
From pride, ambition, or despair,
Fraud, luxury, or diflipation,

Affumes the name of-SPECULATION.' Of these speculators, who form, under the pencil of this admirable artist, a groupe truly grotesque, the Bull is not the least humorous :

! Oh! how. PYTHAGORAŞ would wonder!
And JUPITER prepare his thunder!
Think with what fury he would ruth
The brokers and the bank to cruih,
Could he behold, what ofc' the case is,
A man, who sells old cloaths and laces,
Such as the Reader may conceive L
Have seen among the tribe of Levi,
For goodness now, and worth renown'd,
Concract for fifty thousand pound,
Buy Scrip, Bank, Omnium, or Long Anno'.
Or Lottery Tick.- If such a man

The

The hasty spouse of Juno faw
With beard prolix, and familh'd jaw,
Dare to transmigrate, and become
A BULL, for that enormous fum,
Would not the jealous God appal
The wretch in some new shape, or call
The herald MERCURY at once,
To serve him like that PHRYGIAN dunce,
That jobber in the stocks of old
Whose touch turn'd every thing to gold?
And would not MERCURY himself
Look sharp, and tremble for his pelf,
Soon as the ISRAELITE he found
With folemn pace go lowing roun,
Contriving ev'ry base device
To raise the focks, and mend their price,
Could hear how oft' the monlter tries,
To furnith us with new allies,
With peace how often to regale us-
And victories can never fail us-
How oft' a finking State he saves,
By friendly aid of winds and waves ?

Oh! treacherous BULL, from heli deriv'd,
Worse than e'er Phalaris contriv'd,
Thou, that for cursed gold can't find
Such methods to diftress mankind,
And feed a nation's hopes in vain,

To sell thy bargain out again!'
In the same stile of painting are the Bear and the Lame
Duck. But, perhaps, the njoft exquisite picture in the whole
piece is the Birth of the Taxes.

* But turn, my gentle Muse, nor deign
To dwell with that onhallow'd train;
Thy kindred bards demand thy song,
To them thy grateful notes prolong,
Who quitting Bath's ador'd retrear,
Her frolic sports, and paftimes sucet,
And purer joys which verse inspires,
Suspend their foft harmonious lyres,
• To-day all hattening to attend
The groaning of their much-lov'd friend,
A Lady whole exalted station
Demands their utmost veneration,
And whose unmerited distress
Their pity and regret no less ;
For me, I must acknowledge fairly,
I visit at her house but rarely,
She always has fo large a crowd
Of well-bred men, who talk so loud,

* The twenty-fifth day of November last, at which time this poem was written,

Yet

Yet do I feel most truly for her,
And look upon her case with horror,
'Tis now, as she herself has reckon'd,
Five months, and upwards, fince she quicken'd,
And every moment, as ’ris said,
Is waiting to be brought to bed ;
Poor foul! what forrow and vexation
She fuff’red through the whole gestation !
And now but very ill sustains
The thought of her approaching pains;
So many children she has had,
And most of them turn'd out fo bad,
Have quarrellid with her deareft neighbours,
And marr'd her honeft tenants labours,
Their darken'd dwellings fill'd with strife,
And grudg'd them every joy of life,
Kept such a prodigal retinue,
Their wages eat up her revenue,
And all at such a shameful rate
Encreas'd the debt on her eftate,
The thoughts of adding to the number
Deprive her of her balmy number;
The same Man-Midwife who, I hear,
Attended at her Couche last year,
Speaks like a sensible phyfician,
And shakes his head at her condition ;
A stubborn acrimonious humour,
Which daily haftens to consume her,
Corrupts her pancreatic juices,
And choler without end produces,
And when upon her brain 'tis pitch'd,
'Twill make her talk like one bewitch'd ;
That when, in hopes some good to do her,
The Doctor puts a question to her,
And thinks, perhaps, that change of diet
Might help to keep her spirits quiet,
Or purgatives her heat asswage,
She'll Ay into a dreadful rage,
And all the answer she'll bestow
Is-Aye, Aye, Aye, or No, No, No.

Such symptoms make her friends begin
To think there's something wrong within,
That needs must take before the summer
The use of all her members from her,
Which in a broken constitution
Must soon bring on her dissolution.

Then say, Oh! say, ye learned leeches,
Whose fashionable doctrine teaches
That infants bear no mark nor sign
Of things for which their mothers pine,
And evils which afflict the parent
Are never in the child inherent,

Say,

Say, from this lady so affe&ted
What progeny can be expected ?
For me, (although 'tis rarely found
That poets are for truth renown'd)
I'll boldy venture to suppose
She'll bring with ftrong convulfive throws
Some ill-thap'd brat, of mien most horrid,
With marks of blood upon it's forehead,
An odious imp, whose bleared fight
Abhors the window's chearful light,
Will squint at every haman foul
And long to sconce bim on the poll;
Will pine for ev'ry thing it fees,
E'en for a bit of dirt will teaze,
And rather than char bit refuse,
Will eat it from a ploughman's shoes ;
Long of his half-pence to unload
The meanett traveller on the road;
A horse, a carriage, or a fervanc
Will tear and shatter every nerve on't,
And fight of every little tit
Will give it a convulsion fit;

And when the nurfe has cloath'd and fed it
With pap, she borrows on the credit
Of Doctor LOAN, whose famous tickets
Kill knawing worms, and cure the rickets,
And given it a charm the locks
Securely up in velvet box,
Which makes it neither purge nor vomit,
Nor caft the leaft corruption from it,
I trust the'll bring her baby forth,
And much commend its parts and worth,
Will smile with joy and admiration,
And call the monfter-SPECULATION.

Meanwhile some goffips that attend it Outrageous to the devil would send it, Will reprobate the odious creature, And militate 'gainst every feature, And when the nurse begins to cram it, Will one and all conspire to damn it: With might and main will crowd and clamber To get into the inward chamber, And should they gain admittance there, (For ought I'll venture to declare) Might take the baby in their arms, And hit upon fome secret charms, Some latent Je ne sçai quoi, or grace Which hitherto they ne'er could trace, Might kiss the moniter and caress it, And try in some new mode to dress it, And then declare it looks so smugly 'I was strange they ever thought it ugly,

« PreviousContinue »