« PreviousContinue »
A. Guard what you say; the patriotic tribe
Will sneer and charge you with a bribe.-B. A
The worth of his three kingdoms I defy,
To lure me to the baseness of a lie :
And, of all lies, (be that one poet's boast)
The lie that flatters I abhor the most.
Those arts be theirs, who hate his gentle reign,
But he that loves him has no need to feign.
8. Your smooth eulogium to one
crown addressid, Seems to imply a censure on the rest.
B. Quevedo, as he tells his sober tale,
Ask'd, when in Hell, to see the royal jail;
Approv'd their method in all other things :
But where, good sir, do you confine your kings?
There-said his guide-the group is full in view.
Indeed ?-replied the don- there are but few.
His black interpreter the charge disdain'd-
Few, fellow ?-there are all that ever reign'd.
Wit, undistinguishing, is apt to strike
The guilty and not guilty both alike:
the sarcasm is too severe, And we can readily refute it here;
While Alfred's name, the father of his age,
And the Sixth Edward's grace
page. A. Kings then at last have but the lot of all : By their own conduct they must stand or fall.
B. True. While they live the courtly laureat pays
His quitrent ode, his peppercorn of praise ;
And many a dunce, whose fingers itch to write,
Adds, as he can, his tributary mite:
A subject's faults a subject may proclaim,
A monarch's errors are forbidden game!
Thus free from censure, overaw'd by fear,
And prais'd for virtues, that they scorn to wear,
The fleeting forms of majesty engage
Respect, while stalking o'er life's narrow stage ;
Then leave their crimes for history to scan,
And ask with busy scorn, Was this the man?
I pity kings, whom Worship waits upon
Obsequious from the cradle to the throne ;
Before whose infant eyes the flatt'rer bows,
And binds a wreath about their baby brows;
Whom Education stiffens into state,
And Death awakens from that dream too late.
Oh! if Servility with supple knees,
Whose trade it is to smile, to crouch, to please ;
If smooth Dissimulation, skill'd to grace
A devil's purpose with an angel's face;
If smiling peeresses, and simp’ring peers,
Encompassing his throne a few short years;
If the gilt carriage and the pamper'd steed,
That wants no driving, and disdains the lead ;
If guards, mechanically form'd in ranks,
Playing, at beat of drum, their martial pranks,
Should'ring and standing as if stuck to stone,
While condescending majesty looks on;
If monarchy consist in such base things,
Sighing, I say again, I pity kings!
To be suspected, thwarted, and withstood,
Ev'n when he labours for his country's good;
To see a band, call’d patriot for no cause,
But that they catch at popular applause,
Careless of all th' anxiety he feels,
Hook disappointment on the public wheels;
With all their flippant fluency of tongue,
Most confident, when palpably most wrong;
If this be kingly, then farewell for me
All kingship; and may I be poor and free!
To be the Table Talk of clubs up stairs, To which th' unwash'd artificer repairs,
T' indulge his genius after long fatigue,
By diving into cabinet intrigue;
(For what kings deem a toil, as well they may,
To him is relaxation and mere play)
To win no praise when well-wrought plans prevail,
But to be rudely censur'd when they fail;
To doubt the love his fav’rites may pretend,
And in reality to find no friend;
If he indulge a cultivated taste,
His gall’ries with the works of art well gracid,
To hear it call'd extravagance and waste;
If these attendants, and if such as these,
Must follow royalty, then welcome ease;
However humble and confind the sphere,
Happy the state that has not these to fear.
A. Thus men, whose thoughts contemplative
On situations, that they never felt,
Start up sagacious, cover'd with the dust
Of dreaming study and pedantic rust,
And prate and preach about what others prove,
As if the world and they were hand and glove.
Leave kingly backs to cope with kingly cares;
They have their weight to carry, subjects theirs ;
Poets, of all mėn, ever least regret
Increasing taxes and the nation's debt.
Could you contrive the payment, and rehearse
The mighty plan, oracular, in verse,
No bard, howe'er majestic, old or new,
Should claim my fix'd attention more than you.
B. Not Brindley nor Bridgewater would essay
To turn the course of Helicon that way;
Nor would the Nine consent the sacred tide
Should purl amidst the traffic of Cheapside,
Or tinkle in 'Change Alley, to amuse
The leathern rs of stock-jobbers and Jews.
A. Vouchsafe, at least, to pitch the key of rhyme
To things more pertinent, if less sublime.
When ministers and ministerial arts;
Patriots, who love good places at their hearts;
When admirals, extolled for standing still,
Or doing nothing with a deal of skill ;
Gen'rals, who will not conquer when they may,
Firm friends to peace, to pleasure, and good pay ;
When Freedom, wounded almost to despair,
Though Discontent alone can find out where ;
When themes like these employ the poet's tongue,
I hear as mute as if a syren sung.