« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
(Born, 1667. Died, 1744.)
ON THE EVER-LAMENTED LOSS OF THE TWO YEW-TREES IN THE PARISH OF CHILTHORNE, SOMERSET,
Imitated from the Eighth Book of Ovid.
In ancient times, as story tells,
The saints would often leave their cells,
And stroll about, but hide their quality,
To try good people’s hospitality.
It happen'd on a winter-night,
As authors of the legend write,
Two brother-hermits, saints by trade,
Taking their tour in masquerade,
Disguised in tatter'd habits, went
To a small village down in Kent;
Where, in the strollers' canting strain,
They beggd from door to door in vain,
Tried every tone might pity win ;
But not a soul would let them in.
Our wandering saints, in woeful state,
Treated at this ungodly rate,
Having through all the village past,
To a small cottage came at last,
(* Mr. Campbell's silence upon Swift is less to be regretted, as we seem now, with the narratives of Lord Orrery, Sheridan, Delany, Mr. Swift, Dr. Johnson, Mr. Mitford, Sir Walter Scott, and the collected circumstances of Monck Mason and Dr. Barret, to know enough of Cadenus or the Dean, who gains on our dislike rather than our esteem by additional acquaintance. The life of this hateful fellow was one continuous growl of discontent. His loves, if loves they were, a series of shuffles, to be accounted for alone by a charitable supposition, that the malady which overthrew his intellect, touched his heart, before he became « The driveller and the show," of Johnson's verses; "The solitary idiot" of Byron's Letters.
"His Muse,” says Smollett, “was mere misanthropy," he might have added,--and nastiness. He is as obscene and outspoken as Lord Rochester, and writes rather in the style of the stews than the pulpit. “Almost all his works," says Jeffrey, “are libels, generally upon individuals, sometimes upon sects and parties, sometimes upon human nature." No one's writings need castration more. This done, and the clergyman and his beastliness forgotten, how indignant and admirable is his satire, how pleasant and pointed his humour! He lived to verify the prediction of Dryden, and was not a poet but a wit: a word which in this signification merits revival.
For some sensible remarks on Swift see Lord Mahon's list. of Eng. vol. i. p. 68.] [t This poem is very fine-GOLDSMITH.
At Addison's suggestion, in the short poem of Baucis and Philemon, Swift struck out forty verses, added forty verses and altered the same number. Sir Walter Scott's Life of Swin, p. 430.]
Where dwelt a good old honest ye’man,
Call’d in the neighbourhood Philemon ;
Who kindly did these saints invite
In his poor hut to pass the night ;
And then the hospitable sire
Bid goody Baucis mend the fire ;
While he from out the chimney took
A flitch of bacon off the hook,
And freely from the fattest side
Cut out large slices to be fried ;
Then stepp'd aside to fetch them drink,
Fill'd a large jug up to the brink,
And saw it fairly twice go round;
Yet (what is wonderful !) they found
'Twas still replenish'd to the top,
As if they ne'er had touch'd a drop.
The good old couple were amazed,
And often on each other gazed ;
For both were frighten'd to the heart,
And just began to cry,-What art?
Then softly turn'd aside to view
Whether the lights were burning blue.
The gentle pilgrims, soon aware on't,
Told them their calling and their errand :
Good folks, you need not be afraid,
We are but saints, the hermits said;
No hurt shall come to you or yours :
But for that pack of churlish hoor's,
Not fit to live on Christian ground,
They and their houses shall be drown'd;
Whilst you shall see your cottage rise,
And grow a church before your eyes.
They scarce had spoke, when fair and soft
The roof began to mount aloft ;
Aloft rose every beam and rafter ;
The heavy wall climb'd slowly after.
The chimney widen'd, and grew higher, Became a steeple with a spire.
The kettle to the top was hoist,
And there stood fasten'd to a joist,
But with the upside down to show
Its inclination for below :
In vain ; for a superior force,
plied at bottom, stops its course ;
Doom'd ever in suspense to dwell, "Tis now no kettle, but a bell.
A wooden jack which had almost
Lost by disuse the art to roast,
A sudden alteration feels,
Increased by new intestine wheels ;
And, what exalts the wonder more,
The number made the motion slower :
The flier, though 't had leaden feet,
Turn'd round so quick, you scarce could see 't;
But, slacken'd by some secret power,
Now hardly moves an inch an hour.
The jack and chimney, near allied,
Had never left each other's side :
The chimney to a steeple grown,
The jack would not be left alone ;
But, up against the steeple rear'd,
Became a clock, and still adhered ;
And still its love to household cares,
By a shrill voice at noon, declares,
Warning the cookmaid not to burn
That roast-meat which it cannot turn.
The groaning-chair began to crawl,
Like a huge snail, along the wall ;
There stuck aloft in public view,
And, with small change, a pulpit grew.
The porringers, that in a row
Hung high, and made a glittering show,
To a less noble substance changed,
Were now but leathern buckets ranged.
The ballads, pasted on the wall,
Of Joan of France, and English Moll,
Fair Rosamond, and Robin Hood,
The Little Children in the Wood,
Now seem'd to look abundance better,
Improved in picture, size, and letter;
And, high in order placed, describe
The heraldry of every tribe.
A bedstead of the antique mode,
Compact of timber many a load,
Such as our ancestors did use,
Was metamorphosed into pews ;
Which still their ancient nature keep
By lodging folks disposed to sleep.
The cottage by such feats as these
Grown to a church by just degrees,
The hermits then desired their host
To ask for what he fancied most.
Philemon, having paused a while,
Return'd them thanks in homely style :
Then said, My house is grown so fine,
Methinks I still would call it mine ;
I'm old, and fain would live at ease ;
Make me the parson, if you please.
He spoke, and presently he feels
His grazier's coat fall down his heels :
He sees, yet hardly can believe,
About each arm a pudding-sleeve ;
His waistcoat to a cassock grew,
And both assumed a sable hue ;
But, being old, continued just
As thread-bare, and as full of dust.
His talk was now of tithes and dues ;
He smoked his pipe, and read the news ;
Knew how to preach old sermons next,
Vamp'd in the preface and the text;
At christenings well could act his part,
And had the service all by heart;
Wish'd women might have children fast,
And thought whose sow had farrow'd last;
Against dissenters would repine,
And stood up firm for right divine;
Found his head fill'd with many a system :
But classic authors :-he ne'er miss'd 'em.
Thus having furbish'd up a parson,
Dame Baucis next they play'd their farce on.
Instead of homespun coifs, were seen
Good pinners edged with colberteen;
Her petticoat, transform'd apace,
Became black satin flounced with lace.
Plain Goody would no longer down ;
'Twas Madam, in her grogram gown.
Philemon was in great surprise,
And hardly could believe his eyes,
Amazed to see her look so prim ;
And she admired as much at him.
Thus happy in their change of life Were several years this man and wife ; When on a day, which proved their last, Discoursing o'er old stories past, They went by chance, amidst their talk, To the church-yard to take a walk ; When Baucis hastily cried out, My dear, I see your forehead sprout ! Sprout! quoth the man : what's this you tell us! I hope you don't believe me jealous ; But yet, methinks, I feel it true ; And really yours is budding tooNay,—now I cannot stir my foot ; It feels as if 'twere taking root.
Description would but tire my Muse;
In short, they both were turn'd to yews.
Old Goodman Dobson of the Green
Remembers, he the trees has seen;
He'll talk of them from noon till night,
And goes with folks to show the sight:
On Sundays after evening prayer,
He gathers all the parish there ;
Points out the place of either yew ;
Here Baucis, there Philemon grew :
Till once a Parson of our town,
To mend his barn, cut Baucis down ;
At which, 'tis hard to be believed,
How much the other tree was grieved,
Grew scrubbed, died a-top, was stunted ;
So the next parson stubb'd and burnt it.
All human race would fain be wits,
And millions miss for one that hits.
Young's Universal Passion, pride,
Was never known to spread so wide.
Say, Britain, could you ever boast
Three poets in an age at most ?
Our chilling climate hardly bears
A sprig of bays in fifty years ;
While every fool his claim alleges,
As if it grew in common hedges.
What reason can there be assign'd
For this perverseness in the mind ?
Brutes find out where their talents lie :
A bear will not attempt to fly;
A founder'd horse will oft debate
Before he tries a five-barr'd gate;
A dog by instinct turns aside,
Who sees the ditch too deep and wide.
But man we find the only creature,
Who, led by Folly, combats Nature ;
Who, when she loudly cries, Forbear,
With obstinacy fixes there ;
And, where his genius least inclines,
Absurdly bends his whole designs.
Not empire to the rising sun
By valour, conduct, fortune won ;
Not highest wisdom in debates
For framing laws to govern states ;
Not skill in sciences profound,
So large to grasp the circle round;
Such heavenly influence require,
As how to strike the Muse's lyre.
Not beggar's brat on bulk begot ;
Not bastard of a pedlar Scot;
Not boy brought up to cleaning shoes,
The spawn of Bridewell or the stews ;
Not infants dropt, the spurious pledges
Of gipsies littering under hedges ;
Are so disqualified by fate
To rise in church, or law, or state,
As he whom Phoebus in his ire
Hath blasted with poetic fire.
What hope of custom in the fair,
While not a soul demands your ware!
Where you have nothing to produce
For private life, or public use ?
Court, city, country, want you not ;
You cannot bribe, betray, or plot.
For poets, law makes no provision;
The wealthy have you in derision :
[* Here follows one of the best versified poems in our
Enguage, and the most masterly production of its author.
he severity with which Walpole is here treated, was in
onsequence of that minister's having refused to provide
T Swift in England, when applied to for that purpose,
the year 1725, if I remember right. The severity of a -et, however, gave Walpole very little uneasiness. A an whose schemes, like this minister's, seldom extend
beyond the exigency of the year, but little regarded e contempt of posterity.--GOLDSMITH.]
Of state affairs you cannot smatter ;
Are awkward when you try to flatter.
Your portion, taking Britain round,
Was just one annual hundred pound;
Now not so much as in remainder,
Since Cibber brought in an attainder ;
For ever fix'd by right divine
(A monarch's right) on Grub-street line.
Poor starveling bard, low small thy gains !
How unproportion’d to thy pains !
And here a simile comes pat in :
Though chickens take a month to fatten,
The guests in less than half an hour
Will more than half a score devour.
So, after toiling twenty days
To earn a stock of pence and praise,
Thy labours, grown the critic's prey,
Are swallow'd o'er a dish of tea ;
Gone to be never heard of more,
Gone where the chickens went before.
How shall a new attempter learn Of different spirits to discern, And how distinguish which is which, The poet's vein, or scribbling itch ? Then hear an old experienced sinner, Instructing thus a young beginner. Consult yourself ; and if you find A powerful impulse urge your mind, Impartial judge within your breast What subject you can manage best ; Whether your genius most inclines To satire, praise, or humorous lines, To elegies in mournful tone, Or prologues sent from hand unknown. Then, rising with Aurora's light, The Muse invoked, sit down to write ; Blot out, correct, insert, refine, Enlarge, diminish, interline ; Be mindful, when invention fails, To scratch your head, and bite your nails.
Your poem finish'd, next your care
Is needful to transcribe it fair.
In modern wit all printed trash is
Set offwith numerous breaks and dashes.
To statesmen would you give a wipe,
You print it in Italic type.
When letters are in vulgar shapes,
'Tis ten to one the wit escapes :
But, when in capitals exprest,
The dullest reader smokes the jest :
Or else perhaps he may invent
A better than the poet meant ;
As learned commentators view
In Homer, more than Homer knew.
Your poem in its modish dress,
Correctly fitted for the press,
Convey by penny-post to Lintot,
But let no friend alive look into 't.
If Lintot thinks 'twill quit the cost,
You need not fear your labour lost :
And how agreeably surprised
Are you to see it advertised !
The hawker shows you one in print,
As fresh as farthings from the mint :
The product of your toil and sweating ;
A bastard of your own begetting.
Be sure at Will's the following day,
Lie snug, and hear what critics say ;
And, if you find the general vogue
Pronounces you a stupid rogue,
Damns ail your thoughts as low and little,
Sit still, and swallow down your spittle.
Be silent as a politician,
For talking may beget suspicion :
Or praise the judgment of the town,
And help yourself to run it down.
Give up your fond paternal pride,
Nor argue on the weaker side :
For poems read without a name
We justly praise, or justly blame ;
And critics have no partial views,
Except they know whom they abuse :
And, since you ne'er provoke their spite,
Depend upon ’t their judgment's right.
But if you blab, you are undone :
Consider what a risk you run :
You lose your credit all at once ;
The town will mark you for a dunce ;
The vilest doggrel, Grub-street sends,
Will pass for yours with foes and friends ;
And you must bear the whole disgrace,
Till some fresh blockhead takes your place.
Your secret kept, your poem sunk, And sent in quires to line a trunk, If still you be disposed to rhyme, Go try your hand a second time. Again you fail : yet Safe 's the word; Take courage, and attempt a third. But first with care employ your thoughts Where critics mark'd your former faults ; The trivial turns, the borrow'd wit, The similes that nothing fit; The cant which every fool repeats, Town jests and coffee-house conceits ; Descriptions tedious, flat, and dry, And introduced the Lord knows why : Or where we find your fury set Against the harmless alphabet ; And A's and B's your malice vent, While readers wonder whom you meant ; A public or a private robber, A statesman, or a South-sea jobber ; A prelate who no God believes ; A parliament, or den of thieves ; A pick-purse at the bar or bench ; A duchess, or a suburb wench : Or oft, when epithets you link In gaping lines to fill a chink; Like stepping-stones to save a stride, In streets where kennels are too wide ; Or like a heel-piece, to support A cripple with one foot too short ; Or like a bridge, that joins a marish To moorland of a different parish.
So have I seen ill-coupled hounds
Drag different ways in miry grounds.
So geographers in Afric maps
With savage pictures fill their gaps,
And o'er unhabitable downs
Place elephants for want of towns.
But, though you miss your third essay,
You need not throw your pen away.
Lay now aside all thoughts of fame,
To spring more profitable game.
From party-merit seek support ;
The vilest verse thrives best at court.
A pamphlet in Sir Bob's* defence
Will never fail to bring in pence :
Nor be concern’d about the sale,
He pays his workmen on the nail.
A prince, the moment he is crown'd,
Inherits every virtue round,
As emblems of the sovereign power,
Like other baubles in The Tower ;
Is generous, valiant, just, and wise,
And so continues till he dies :
His humble senate this professes,
In all their speeches, votes, addresses.
But once you fix him in a tomb,
His virtues fade, his vices bloom ;
And each perfection, wrong imputed,
Is fully at his death confuted.
The loads of poems in his praise,
Ascending, make one funeral blaze :
As soon as you can hear his knell,
This god on earth turns devil in hell :
And lo ! his ministers of state,
Transform’d to imps, his levee wait ;
Where, in the scenes of endless woe,
They ply their former arts below;
And, as they sail in Charon's boat,
Contrive to bribe the judge's vote ;
To Cerberus they give a sop,
His triple-barking mouth to stop ;
Or in the ivory gate of dreams
Project excise and South-sea schemes ;
Or hire their party pamphleteers
To set Elysium by the ears.
Then, poet, if you mean to thrive,
Employ your Muse on kings alive ;
With prudence gathering up a cluster
Of all the virtues you can muster,
Which, form'd into a garland sweet,
Lay humbly at your monarch's feet;
Who, as the odours reach his throne,
Will smile, and think them all his own ;
For law and gospel both determine
All virtues lodge in royal ermine :
(I mean the oracles of both,
Who shall depose it upon oath.)
Your garland in the following reign,
Change but the names, will do again.
[* Sir Robert Walpole, who employed the scurrility,
not the genius of his age, to defend bis administratii),
and patronized, not the poets, but the rhymer, the
Mitchells and Oldmixons of his times.)
But if you think this trade too base,
(Which seldom is the dunce's case,)
Put on the critic's brow, and sit
At Will's the puny judge of wit.
A nod, a shrug, a scornful smile,
With caution used, may serve a while.
Proceed no further in your part,
Before you learn the terms of art;
For you can never be too far gone
In all our modern critics' jargon :
Then talk with more authentic face
Of unities, in time and place;
Get scraps of Horace from your friends,
And have them at your fingers' ends ;
Learn Aristotle's rules by rote,
And at all hazards boldly quote ;
Judicious Rymer oft' review,
Wise Dennis, and profound Bossu ;
Read all the prefaces of Dryden,
For these our critics much confide in
(I'hough merely writ at first for filling,
To raise the volume's price a shilling.)
A forward critic often dupes us
With sham quotations peri hupsous ;
And if we have not read Longinus,
Will magisterially outshine us.
Then, lest with Greek he overrun ye,
Procure the book for love or money,
Translated from Boileau's translation,
And quote quotation on quotation.
At Will's you hear a poem read,
Where Battus from the table-head,
Reclining on his elbow-chair,
Gives judgment with decisive air ;
To whom the tribe of circling wits
As to an oracle submits.
He gives directions to the town,
To cry it up, or run it down ;
Like courtiers, when they send a note,
Instructing members how to vote.
He sets the stamp of bad and good,
Though not a word be understood.
Your lesson learn’d, you'll be secure
To get the name of connoisseur ;
And, when your merits once are known,
Procure disciples of your own.
For poets (you can never want 'em)
Spread through Augusta Trinobantumt,
Computing by their pecks of coals,
Amount to just nine thousand souls :
These o'er their proper districts govern,
Of wit and humour judges sovereign.
In every street a city-bard
Rules, like an alderman, his ward ;
His undisputed rights extend
Through all the lane, from end to end ;
The neighbours round admire his shrewdness
For songs of loyalty and lewdness;
[* This is one of Swift's many flings at Dryden, that thread and disgrace his writings.]
[t The ancient name of London.]
Outdone by none in rhyming well,
Although he never learn’d to spell.
Two bordering wits contend for glory;
And one is Whig, and one is Tory :
And this for epics claims the bays,
And that for elegiac lays :
Some famed for numbers soft and smooth,
By lovers spoke in Punch's booth ;
And some as justly fame extols
For lofty lines in Smithfield drolls.
Bavius in Wapping gains renown,
And Mævius reigns o’er Kentish-town :
Tigellius, placed in Phæbus' car,
From Ludgate shines to Temple-bar :
Harmonious Cibber entertains
The court with annual birth-day strains ;
Whence Gay was banish'd in disgrace;
Where Pope will never show his face ;
Where Young must torture his invention
To flatter knaves, or lose his pension*.
But these are not a thousandth part
Of jobbers in the poet's art,
Attending each his proper station,
And all in due subordination,
Through every alley to be found,
In garrets high, or under ground;
And when they join their pericranies,
Out skips a book of miscellanies.
Hobbes clearly proves that every creature
Lives in a state of war by nature.
The greater for the smallest watch,
But meddle seldom with their match.
A whale of moderate size will draw
A shoal of herrings down his maw;
A fox with geese his belly crams;
A wolf destroys a thousand lambs :
But search among the rhyming race,
The brave are worried by the base.
If on Parnassus' top you sit,
You rarely bite, are always bit.
Each poet of inferior size
On you shall rail and criticise,
And strive to tear you limb from limb;
While others do as much for him.
The vermin only tease and pinch Their foes superior by an inch. So, naturalists observe, a flea Hath smaller fleas that on him prey ; And these have smaller still to bite 'em, And so proceed ad infinitum. Thus every poet in his kind Is bit by him that comes behind : Who though too little to be seen, Can tease, and gall, and give the spleen; (* Young disgraced his talents, and lowered his repu. tation, by the mean flattery with which he stuffed his dedications to great men; and Swift, with his usual acuteness, has touched this foible of his character:
And Young must torture his invention
To flatter knaves, or lose his pension.
J. W. CROKER, Suffolk Papers, vol. i. p. 285.]