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Where are the soft, the tender strains, which call
For the moist eye, bow'd head, and lengthen'd drawl?
Lo! here" Canst thou, Matilda, urge my fate,
And bid me mourn thee?-yes, and mourn too late!
O rash, severe decree! my maddening brain
Cannot the ponderous agony sustain;
But forth I rush, from vale to mountain run,
And with my mind's thick gloom obscure the sun."
Heavens! if our ancient vigour were not fled,
Could verse like this be written? or be read?
Verse! that's the mellow fruit of toil intense,
Inspired by genius, and inform'd by sense;
This, the abortive progeny of Pride,
And Dulness, gentle pair, aye allied;
Begotten without thought, born without pains,
The ropy drivel of rheumatic brains.
F. So let it be and yet, methinks, my friend,
Silence were wise, where satire will not mend.
Why wound the feelings of our noble youth,
And grate their tender ears with odious truth?
They cherish Arno and his flux of song,
And hate the man who tells 'em they are wrong.
Your fate already I foresee. My Lord,
With cold respect, will freeze you from his board,
And His Grace cry, " Hence with that sapient sneer!
Hence! we desire no currish critic here."
ON THE FRIVOLOUS THEMES OF POETASTERS.
P. Nay, then, I'll dig a pit, and bury there The dreadful truth which so alarms thy fears: THE TOWN, THE TOWN, GOOD PIT, HAS ASSES' EARS! Thou think'st, perhaps, this wayward fancy strange; So think thou still: yet would not I exchange The secret humour of this simple hit
For all the Albums that were ever writ.
Of this, no more.-O thou (if yet there be,
One bosom from this vile infection free),
Thou who canst thrill with joy, or glow with ire,
As the great masters of the song inspire;
Canst bend enraptured o'er the magic page,
Where desperate ladies desperate lords engage;
Gnomes, Sylphs, and Gods, the fierce contention share,
And heaven and earth hang trembling on a hair:
Canst quake with horror, when Emelia's charms
Against a brother point a brother's arms;
And trace the fortune of the varying fray,
While hour on hour flits unperceived away-
Approach: 'twixt hope and fear I wait. O deign,
To cast a glance on this incondite strain:
Here, if thou find one thought but well exprest,
One sentence, higher finish'd than the rest,
Such as may win thee to proceed awhile,
And smooth thy forehead with a gracious smile,
I ask no more. But far from me the throng,
Who fancy fire in Laura's vapid song;
Who Anna's bedlam-rant for sense can take,
And over Edwin's mewlings keep awake;
Yes, far from me, whate'er their birth or place,
These long-ear'd judges of the Phrygian race;
Their censure and their praise alike I scorn,
And hate the laurel by their followers worn!
Let such (a task congenial to their powers)
At sales and auctions waste the morning hours,
While the dull noon away in Rumford's fane,
And snore the evening out at Drury-lane.
PERVERSION OF HISTORICAL TRUTH BY POETIC LICENSE.
When Mason leads Elfrida forth to view,
Adorn'd with virtues which she never knew,
I feel for every tear; while, borne along
By the full tide of unresisted song,
I stop not to inquire if all be just;
But take her goodness, as her grief, on trust,
Till calm reflection checks me, and I see
The heroine as she was, and ought to be,
A bold, bad woman, wading to the throne,
Thro' seas of blood, and crimes till then unknown:
Then, then I hate the magic that deceived,
And blush to think how fondly I believed.
Not so, when Edgar, made, in some strange plot,
The hero of a day that knew him not,
Struts from the field his enemy had won,
On stately stilts, exulting and undone!
Here I can only pity, only smile;
Where not one grace, one elegance of style,
Redeems th' audacious folly of the rest,
Truth sacrificed, and history made a jest.
ADVICE TO POETS.
Then let your style be brief, your meaning clear,
Nor, like Lorenzo, tire the labouring ear
With a wild waste of words; sound without sense.
And all the florid glare of impotence.
Still with your characters your language change,
From grave to gay, as nature dictates, range,
Now droop in all the plaintiveness of woe,
Now in glad numbers light and airy flow;
Now shake the stage with guilt's alarming tone,
And make the aching bosom all your own;
Now—but I sing in vain; from first to last,
Your joy is fustian, and your grief bombast:
Rhetoric has banish'd reason; kings and queens,
Vent in hyperboles their royal spleens ;
Guardsmen in metaphors express their hopes,
And "maidens, in white linen," howl in tropes.
Reverent I greet the bards of other days:
Blest be your names, and lasting be your praise!
From nature's varied face ye wisely drew,
And following ages own'd the copies true.
O! had our sots, who rhyme with headlong haste,
And think reflection still a foe to taste,
But brains your pregnant scenes to understand,
And give us truth, though but at second hand,
"Twere something yet! But no; they never look—
Shall souls of fire, they cry, a tutor brook?
Forbid it, inspiration! Thus, your pain
Is void, and ye have lived, for them, in vain.
From The Mæviad
LIFE OF PETER PINDAR.
But what is he, that, with a Mohawk's air,
"Cries Havoc, and lets slip the dogs of war?"
A bloated mass, a gross, blood-bolter'd clod,
A foe to man, a renegade from God;
From noxious childhood to pernicious age,
Separate to infamy, in every stage.
CORNWALL remembers yet his first employ, And shuddering tells, with what infernal joy, His little tongue in blasphemies was loosed, His little hands in deeds of horror used;
While mangled insects strew'd his cradle o'er,
And limbs of birds distain'd his bib with gore.
Anon, on stronger animals he flew,
For with his growth his savage passions grew,
And oft, what time his violence fail'd to kill,
He mix'd th' insidious dose with wicked skill;
Saw with wild joy, in pangs till then untried,
Cats, dogs, expire; and cursed them as they died!
With riper years a different scene began, And his hate turn'd from animals to man: Then letters, libels, flew on secret wings, And wide around infix'd their venom'd stings; All fear'd, where none could ward the coming blow, And each man eyed his neighbour as his foe: Till dragg'd to day, the lurking caitiff stood, Th' accursed cause of many a fatal feud, And begg'd for mercy in so sad a strain, So wept, so trembled, that the injured train, Who, crawling at their feet a miscreant saw, Too mean for punishment, too poor for law, O'erlook'd ('twas all they could) his numerous crimes, And shipp'd him off" to ape and monkey climes."
THERE, while the negroes view'd, with strong disgust, This prodigy of drunkenness and lust Explore the darkest cells, the dirtiest styes, And roll in filth at which their gorge would rise; He play'd one master-trick to crown the whole, And took, O Heavens! the sacerdotal stole !How shook the altar when he first drew near, Hot from debauch, and with a shameless leer, Pour'd stammering forth the yet unhallow'd prayers, Mix'd with convulsive sobs, and noisome airs!Then rose the people, passive now no more, And from his limbs the sacred vestments tore; Dragg'd him with groans, shouts, hisses, to the main, And sent him-to annoy these realms again.
CORNWALL, that fondly deem'd herself relieved,
Ill-fated land! once more the pest received;
But, wary and forewarn'd, observed his course,
And track'd each libel to its proper source;
Till indignation, wide and wider spread,
Burst in one dreadful tempest on his head.
From Epistle to Peter Pindar.
THIS highly gifted lady, whose works have been chiefly appreciated by the select few, was born in Glasgow, and was the daughter of Dr. Baillie, Professor of Divinity in the University of that city; her chief residence, however, from an early period of life, has been London, or its neighbourhood. Her principal work is a Series of Plays, each of which is confined to the illustration of a single passion; and they appeared in three volumes, published at intervals between 1798 and 1812; but on account of the artificial nature of such a plan, although they have charmed in the closet, they have never been produced on the stage. Miss Baillie is also the author of several miscellaneous Dramas, and minor Poems, and a collection of Metrical Legends of Eminent Characters, published in 1823.
Rosinberg. What does this shouting mean?
Voltomer. O! I have seen a sight, a glorious sight! Thou would'st have smiled to see it.
Rosin. How smile! methinks thine eyes are wet with
Volt. (Passing the back of his hand across his eyes) Faith, so they are; well, well, but I smiled too: You heard the shouting?
Rosin, and Fred. Yes.
Volt. O! had you seen it!
Drawn out in goodly ranks, there stood our troops;
Here, in the graceful state of manly youth,
His dark face brighten'd with a generous smile,
Which to his eyes such flashing lustre gave,
As though his soul, like an unsheathed sword,
Had through them gleam'd, our noble general stood;
And to his soldiers, with heart-moving words,
The vet'ran showing, his brave deeds rehearsed;
Who by his side stood like a storm-scath'd oak,
Beneath the shelter of some noble tree,
In the green honours of its youthful prime.
Rosin. How look'd the veteran?
O! I cannot tell thee!
At first he bore it up with cheerful looks,
As one who fain would wear his honours bravely,
And greet the soldiers with a comrade's face;
But when Count Basil, in such moving speech,
Told o'er his actions past, and bade his troops
Great deeds to emulate, his count'nance changed;
High heaved his manly breast, as it had been
By inward strong emotion half convulsed;
Trembled his nether lip; he shed some tears.