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GEORGE VILliers, duke of BUCKINGHAM. 1682.
SOME of their chiefs were princes of the land;
In the first rank of these did Zimri stand;
A man so various, that he seemed to be
Not one, but all mankind's epitome:
Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong;
Was everything by starts, and nothing long;
But, in the course of one revolving moon,
Was chymist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon;
Then all for women, painting, rhyming, drinking,
Besides ten thousand freaks that died in thinking.
Blest madman, who could every hour employ,
With something new to wish or to enjoy!
Railing and praising were his usual themes;
And both, to show his judgment, in extremes:
So over-violent or over-civil,
That every man with him was God or Devil.
In squandering wealth was his peculiar art;
Nothing went unrewarded but desert.
Beggared by fools, whom still he found too late;
He had his jest, and they had his estate.
He laughed himself from court, then sought relief
By forming parties, but could ne'er be chief;
For, spite of him, the weight of business fell
On Absalom, and wise Achitophel.
Thus, wicked but in will, of means bereft,
He left no faction, but of that was left.
LEUCONOMUS (beneath well-sounding Greek
I slur a name a poet may not speak)
Stood pilloried on infamy's high stage,
And bore the pelting storm of half an age;
The very butt of slander, and the blot
For every dart that malice ever shot.
The man that mentioned him at once dismissed
All mercy from his lips, and sneered and hissed;
His crimes were such as Sodom never knew,
And perjury stood up to swear all true;
His aim was mischief, and his zeal pretence,
His speech rebellion against common sense;
A knave, when tried on honesty's plain rule,
And when by that of reason, a mere fool ;
The world's best comfort was, his doom was past;
Die when he might, he must be damned at last.
Now, truth, perform thine office; waft aside The curtain drawn by prejudice and pride, Reveal (the man is dead) to wondering eyes This more than monster in his proper guise.
He loved the world that hated him; the tear
That dropped upon his Bible was sincere;
Assailed by scandal and the tongue of strife,
His only answer was a blameless life;
And he that forged and he that threw the dart
Had each a brother's interest in his heart.
Paul's love of Christ and steadiness unbribed
Were copied close in him, and well transcribed.
He followed Paul; his zeal a kindred flame,
His apostolic charity the same.
Like him crossed cheerfully tempestuous seas,
Forsaking country, kindred, friends, and ease;
Like him he labored, and like him, content
To bear it, suffered shame where'er he went.
Blush, Calumny! and write upon his tomb,
If honest Eulogy can spare thee room,
Thy deep repentance of thy thousand lies,
Which, aimed at him, has pierced the offended
To name his works, - he would but cite a few,
Rhymes on Blenheim,'
He had written praises of a regicide;
He had written praises of all kings whatever; He had written for republics far and wide,
And then against them bitterer than ever; For pantisocracy he once had cried
SHADWELL, THE DRAMATIST.
Now stop your noses, readers, all and some,
For here's a tun of midnight work to come.
Og, from a treason-tavern rolling home
Round as a globe, and liquored every chink,
Goodly and great he sails behind his link :
With all this bulk there's nothing lost in Og,
Aloud, a scheme less moral than 't was clever ; For every inch that is not fool is rogue;
Then grew a hearty anti-jacobin,
A monstrous mass of foul, corrupted matter,
Had turned his coat, and would have turned As all the devils had spewed to make the batter.
Sporus, that mere white curd of asses' milk?
Satire of sense, alas! can Sporus feel?
Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?
P. Yet let me flap this bug with gilded wings,
This painted child of dirt that stinks and stings;
Whose buzz the witty and the fair annoys,
Yet wit ne'er tastes, and beauty ne'er enjoys:
So well-bred spaniels civilly delight
In mumbling of the game they dare not bite.
Eternal smiles his emptiness betray,
As shallow streams run dimpling all the way.
Whether in florid impotence he speaks,
And, as the prompter breathes, the puppet squeaks,
Or at the ear of Eve, familiar toad,
Half froth, half venom, spits himself abroad,
In puns, or politics, or tales, or lies,
Or spite, or smut, or rhymes, or blasphemies;
His wit all seesaw, between that and this.
Now high, now low, now master up, now miss,
And he himself one vile antithesis.
Amphibious thing! that, acting either part,
The trifling head, or the corrupted heart,
Fop at the toilet, flatterer at the board,
Now trips a lady, and now struts a lord.
Eve's tempter thus the rabbins have exprest,
A cherub's face, a reptile all the rest;
Beauty that shocks you, parts that none will trust,
Wit that can creep, and pride that licks the dust.
The midwife laid her hand on his thick skull, With this prophetic blessing, — "Be thou dull;
Drink, swear, and roar, forbear no lewd delight
Fit for thy bulk; do anything but write :
Thou art of lasting make, like thoughtless men;
A strong nativity — but for the pen !
Still thou mayst live, avoiding pen and ink":
Eat opium, mingle arsenic in thy drink,
I see, I see, 't is counsel given in vain,
For treason botched in rhyme will be thy bane;
Rhyme is the rock on which thou art to wreck,
'Tis fatal to thy fame and to thy neck;
Why should thy metre good King David blast?
A psalm of his will surely be thy last.
A double noose thou on thy neck dost pull
To die for faction is a common evil,
For writing treason and for writing dull.
But to be hanged for nonsense is the devil.
ODE TO RAE WILSON, ESQUIRE.
A WANDERER, Wilson, from my native land,
Remote, O Rae, from godliness and thee,
Where rolls between us the eternal sea,
Besides some furlongs of a foreign sand,
Beyond the broadest Scotch of London Wall,
Beyond the loudest Saint that has a call,
Across the wavy waste between us stretched,
A friendly missive warns me of a stricture,
Wherein my likeness you have darkly etched;
And though I have not seen the shadow sketched,
Thus I remark prophetic on the picture.
Yet sure of heaven themselves, as if they'd cribbed | Who looks on erring souls as straying pigs, The impression of St. Peter's keys in wax !
Nor think I'm pious when I'm only bilious,
Nor study in my sanctum supercilious
To frame a Sabbath Bill or forge a Bull.
I pray for grace,
repent each sinful act,
Peruse, but underneath the rose, my Bible;
And love my neighbor far too well, in fact,
To call and twit him with a godly tract
That's turned by application to a libel.
My heart ferments not with the bigot's leaven,
All creeds I view with toleration thorough.
And have a horror of regarding heaven
As anybody's rotten borough.
That must be lashed by law, wherever found,
And driven to church as to the parish pound.
I do confess, without reserve or wheedle,
I view that grovelling idea as one
Worthy some parish clerk's ambitious son,
A charity-boy who longs to be a beadle.
On such a vital topic sure 't is odd
How much a man can differ from his neighbor;
One wishes worship freely given to God,
Another wants to make it statute-labor,
The broad distinction in a line to draw,
As means to lead us to the skies above,
- Sir Andrew and his love of law,
And I, the Saviour with his law of love.
Spontaneously to God should tend the soul,
Like the magnetic needle to the Pole;
But what were that intrinsic virtue worth,
Suppose some fellow, with more zeal than knowl
Fresh from St. Andrew's college,
Should nail the conscious needle to the north?
I do confess that I abhor and shrink
From schemes, with a religious willy-nilly,
That frown upon St. Giles's sins, but blink
The peccadilloes of all Piccadilly, —
My soul revolts at such bare hypocrisy,
And will not, dare not, fancy in accord
The Lord of Hosts with an exclusive lord
Of this world's aristocracy.
It will not own a notion so unholy
As thinking that the rich by easy trips
May go to heaven, whereas the poor and lowly
Must work their passage, as they do in ships.
One place there is, beneath the burial-sod,
Where all mankind are equalized by death;
Another place there is, — the fane of God,
Where all are equal who draw living breath; -
Juggle who will elsewhere with his own soul,
Playing the Judas with a temporal dole,
He who can come beneath that awful cope,
In the dread presence of a Maker just,
Who metes to every pinch of human dust
One even measure of immortal hope,
He who can stand within that holy door,
With soul unbowed by that pure spirit-level,
And frame unequal laws for rich and poor,
Might sit for Hell, and represent the Devil!
The humble records of my life to search,
I have not herded with mere pagan beasts;
But sometimes I have "sat at good men's feasts,"
And I have been "where bells have knolled to
Dear bells! how sweet the sounds of village bells
When on the undulating air they swim!
Now loud as welcomes! faint, now, as farewells!
And trembling all about the breezy dells,
As fluttered by the wings of cherubim.
Meanwhile the bees are chanting a low hymn;
And, lost to sight, the ecstatic lark above
Sings, like a soul beatified, of love,
With, now and then, the coo of the wild pigeon;-
O pagans, heathens, infidels, and doubters!
If such sweet sounds can't woo you to religion,
Will the harsh voices of church cads and touters?
A man may cry Church! Church! at every word,
With no more piety than other people,
A daw's not reckoned a religious bird
Because it keeps a-cawing from a steeple ;
The Temple is a good, a holy place,
But quacking only gives it an ill savor,
While saintly mountebanks the porch disgrace,
And bring religion's self into disfavor!
I have not sought, 't is true, the Holy Land,
As full of texts as Cuddie Headrigg's mother,
The Bible in one hand,
And my own commonplace-book in the other;
But you have been to Palestine - alas !
Some minds improve by travel; others, rather,
Resemble copper wire or brass,
Which gets the narrower by going farther!
Worthless are all such pilgrimages — very!
If Palmers at the Holy Tomb contrive
The human heats and rancor to revive
That at the Sepulchre they ought to bury.
A sorry sight it is to rest the eye on,
To see a Christian creature graze at Sion,
Then homeward, of the saintly pasture full,
Rush bellowing, and breathing fire and smoke,
At crippled Papistry to butt and poke,
Exactly as a skittish Scottish bull
Hunts an old woman in a scarlet cloke.
Suppose the tender but luxuriant hop
Around a cankered stem should twine,
What Kentish boor would tear away the prop
So roughly as to wound, nay, kill the bine?
The images, 't is true, are strangely dressed,
With gauds and toys extremely out of season;
The carving nothing of the very best,
The whole repugnant to the eye of Reason,
Shocking to Taste, and to Fine Arts a treason,
Yet ne'er o'erlook in bigotry of sect
One truly Catholic, one common form,
At which unchecked
All Christian hearts may kindle or keep warm.
Say, was it to my spirit's gain or loss,
One bright and balmy morning, as I went
From Liege's lovely environs to Ghent,
If hard by the wayside I found a cross,
That made me breathe a prayer upon the spot,
While Nature of herself, as if to trace
The emblem's use, had trailed around its base
The blue significant Forget-Me-Not?
Methought, the claims of Charity to urge
More forcibly along with Faith and Hope,
The pious choice had pitched upon the verge
Of a delicious slope,
Giving the eye much variegated scope! "Look round," it whispered, "on that prospect
Those vales so verdant, and those hills so blue;
Enjoy the sunny world, so fresh and fair,
But" (how the simple legend pierced me through !)
"PRIEZ POUR LES MALHEUREUX."
With sweet kind natures, as in honeyed cells, Religion lives, and feels herself at home;
But only on a formal visit dwells
Where wasps instead of bees have formed the comb.
Shun pride, O Rae! - whatever sort beside
You take in lieu, shun spiritual pride!
A pride there is of rank, -a pride of birth,
A pride of learning, and a pride of purse,
A London pride, - in short, there be on earth
A host of prides, some better and some worse;
But of all prides, since Lucifer's attaint,
The proudest swell's a self-elected Saint.
To picture that cold pride so harsh and hard,
Fancy a peacock in a poultry-yard.
Behold him in conceited circles sail,
Strutting and dancing, and now planted stiff,
In all his pomp of pageantry, as if
He felt "the eyes of Europe on his tail!
As for the humble breed retained by man,
He scorns the whole domestic clan,
He bows, he bridles,
But what the better are their pious saws To ailing souls, than dry hee-haws, Without the milk of human kindness?