Obrázky na stránke




[ocr errors][merged small]

A. Your smooth eulogium, to one crown addressed,
Seems to imply a censure on the rest.

B. Quevedo, as he tells his sober tale,
Asked, when in Hell, to see the royal jail;
Approved 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 disdained
Few, fellow !-there are all that ever reigned.'
Wit, undistinguishing, is apt to strike
The guilty and not guilty, both alike;
I grant 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 the historic 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 laureate 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, overawed by fear,
And praised 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 flatterer 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;



I 20

125 130




If smooth Dissimulation, skilled to grace
A devil's purpose with an angel's face;
If smiling peeresses, and simpering peers,
Encompassing his throne a few short years;
If the gilt carriage, and the pampered steed,
That wants no driving and disdains the lead;
If guards, mechanically formed in ranks
Playing, at beat of drum, their martial pranks.
Shouldering, and standing as if struck 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,
E'en when he labours for his country's good;
To see a band, called patriot, for no cause
But that they catch at popular applause,
Careless of all the 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 freed.

To be the Table Talk of clubs up stairs,
To which the unwashed artificer repairs
To 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 censured when they fail;
To doubt the love his favourites may pretend,
And in reality to find no friend;
If he indulge a cultivated taste,
His galleries with the works of art well graced,
To hear it called extravagance and waste;
If these attendants, and if such as these,
Must follow royalty, then welcome ease;
However humble and confined the sphere,

[ocr errors]






Happy the state that has not these to fear.
Thus men, whose thoughts contemplative have

On situations that they never felt,
Start up sagacious, covered with the dust

170 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; 175 Poets, of all men, 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,

180 Should claim my fixed 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,

185 Or tinkle in 'Change Alley, to amuse The leathern ears of stockjobbers and Jews.

A. Vouchsafe, at least, to pitch the key of rhyme
To themes 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 ;
Generals, who will not conquer when they may,
Firm friends to peace, to pleasure, and good pay; 195
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.


you can, what power maintains
A Briton's scorn of arbitrary chains ?
That were a theme might animate the dead,
And move the lips of poets cast in lead.

Or tell me,

200 210


B. The cause, though worth the search, may yet elude Conjecture and remark, however shrewd.

205 They take perhaps a well directed aim, Who seek it in his climate and his frame. Liberal in all things else, yet Nature here With stern severity deals out the year; Winter invades the spring, and often pours A chilling flood on summer's drooping flowers; Unwelcome vapours quench autumnal beams, Ungenial blasts attending curl the streams; The peasants urge their harvest, ply the fork With double toil, and shiver at their work;

215 Thus with a rigour, for his good designed, She rears her favourite man of all mankind. His form robust and of elastic tone, Proportioned well, half muscle and half bone, Supplies with warm activity and force A mind well lodged, and masculine of course. Hence Liberty, sweet Liberty, inspires And keeps alive his fierce but noble fires. Patient of constitutional control, He bears it with meek manliness of soul;

225 But if Authority grow wanton, woe To him that treads upon his free-born toe; One step beyond the boundary of the laws Fires him at once in Freedom's glorious cause. Thus proud Prerogative, not much revered,

230 Is seldom felt, though sometimes seen and heard; And in his cage, like parrot fine and gay, Is kept to strut, look big, and talk away.

Born in a climate softer far than ours, Not formed like us, with such Herculean powers, 235 The Frenchman, easy, debonair, and brisk, Give him his lass, his fiddle, and his frisk, Is always happy, reign whoever may, And laughs the sense of misery far away ; He drinks his simple beverage with a gust,

240 And, feasting on an onion and a crust;






We never feel the alacrity and joy
With which he shouts and carols, 'Vive le Roy !'
Filled with as much true merriment and glee,
As if he heard his king say, “Slave, be free !

Thus happiness depends, as Nature shows,
Less on exterior things than most suppose.
Vigilant over all that he has made,
Kind Providence attends with gracious aid ;
Bids equity throughout his works prevail,
And weighs the nations in an even scale;
He can encourage slavery to a smile,
And fill with discontent a British isle.

A. Freeman and slave then, if the case be such,
Stand on a level, and you prove too much.
If all men indiscriminately share
His fostering power, and tutelary care,
As well be yoked by Despotism's hand,
As dwell at large in Britain's chartered land.

B. No. Freedom has' a thousand charms to show,
That slaves, howe'er contented, never know.
The mind attains, beneath her happy reign,
*The growth that Nature meant she should attain;
The varied fields of science, ever new,
Opening and wider opening on her view,
She ventures onward with a prosperous force,
While no base fear impedes her in her course;
Religion, richest favour of the skies,
Stands most revealed before the freeman's eyes;
No shades of superstition blot the day,
Liberty chases all that gloom away;
The soul, emancipated, unoppressed,
Free to prove all things, and hold fast the best,
Learns much, and to a thousand listening minds
Communicates, with joy, the good she finds;
Courage in arms, and ever prompt to show
His manly forehead to the fiercest foe;
Glorious in war, but for the sake of peace,
His spirits rising as his toils increase,




« PredošláPokračovať »