Imatges de pÓgina
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THE art of English poetry, I find,

At present, Jenkins, occupies your mind;
You have a vast desire to it, you say,
And want my heip to put you in the way;
Want me to tell what books you are to read;
How to begin, at first, and how proceed―

Now, tho' in short-hand I may well pretend
To give directions, my Salopian friend,
As having had the honour to impart
Its full perfection to that English art;
Which you, and many a sagacious youth,
By sure experience, know to be the truth;
Yet how, in matters of poetic reach,
Untaught myself, shall I pretend to teach?
Well I remember that my younger breast
The same desire, that reigns in yours, possest;
Me, numbers flowing to a measur'd time,
Me, sweetest grace of English verse, the rhyme,
Choice epithet, and smooth descriptive linė,
Conspiring all to finish one design,
Smit with delight, full negligent of prose,
And, thro' mere liking, tempted to compose,
To rate, according to my schoolboy schemes,
Ten lines in verse worth half a hundred themes.
Without one living person to consult,
The years went on, from tender to adult;
And, as for poring to consult the dead,
Truly, that never came into my head:
Not Homer, Virgil, Horace! (if you ask)
Why, yes, the rod would send me to the task;
But all the consultation that came out
Had its own end-to 'scape the whipping bout.
Beside, if subject wanted to be sung,
The Muse was question'd in the vulgar tongue;
Who, if she could not answer well in that,
Would hardly mend herself in Greek or Lat.

But poor encouragement for you to hope
That my instructions will attain the scope:
Yet since the help, which you are pleas'd to seek,
Does not concern the Latin, or the Greek;
In ancient classics, tho' but little read,
I know and care as little what they said,
In plain, familiar English, for your sake,
This untry'd province I will undertake;
And rules for verse as readily instill,
As if ability had equall'd will:

Fair stipulation, first, on either side,
In form, and manner, here annex'd, imply'd-
Conditions are-that, if the Muse should err,
You gave th' occasion, and must pardon her:
If aught occur, on sitting down to try,
That may deserve the casting of your eye;
If hint arise, in any sort, to suit

With your intent--you shall be welcome to 't,

You may remember, when you first begån
To learn the truly tachygraphic plan,
How tracing, step by step, the simplest line,
We grounded, rais'd, and finish'd our design:
How we examin'd language, and its pow'rs,
And then adjusted ev'ry stroke to ours:
Whilst the same method, follow'd, in the main,
Made other matters more concisely plain;
Made English, French, Italian-Hebrew too-
Appear the clearest in a short-hand view;
Which, in all points, where language was con

Explain'd how best, and soonest they were leam'd
Show'd where to end, as well as to commence,
At that one central point of view-good sense.
There fix your eye then,-if you mean to write
Verse that is fit to read, or to recite:
A poet, slighting this initial rule,
Is but, at best, an artificial fool;
Of learning verse quite needless the expense,
Plain prose might serve to show his want of sense

But you, who have it, and would give to pros The grace, that English poetry bestows, Consider how the short-hand scheme, in part, May be apply'd to the poetic art:

To write, or read in that, you understood, There must be sense, and sense that must b good;

The more that words were proper and exact,
In book, or speech, the more we could contracts
The hand, you know, became a kind of test,
In this respect, what writings were the best.
If incorrect the language, or absurd,
It cost the fuller noting of each word;
But, when more apt, grammatical, and true,
Full oft a letter for a word would do.

Form to yourself, directly, the design
Of so constructing a poetic line;
That it may cost, in writing it our way,
The least expense of ink, as one may say;
That word, or phrase-in measure that ye

May come the nearest to prosaic ease:
You'll see the cases from the rule exempt,
Whilst it directs, in gen'ral, your attempt;
How word, or sentence, you may oft transpose,
And verse be, still, as natural as prose.

As natural-for, tho' we call it art,
The worth in poetry is Nature's part:
Here-artis est celare artem-here,
Art must be hid that Nature may appear;
So lie conceal'd behind the shining glass,
That Nature's image may the best repass:
All o'er, indeed, must quicksilver be spread,
But all its useless motion must lie dead.

The art of swimming-next that comes to

Perhaps may show you what is here design'd:
A young beginner struggling, you may see,
With all his might-'t was so at least with me-
With all the splutter of his limbs to swim,
And keep his brains, and breath, above the brim;
Whilst, the more eager he to gain his art,
The sooner ev'ry limb is thrown athwart;
Till by degrees he learns, with less ado,
And gentler stroke, the purpose to pursue;
To Nature's motions poising he conforms,
Nor puts th' unwilling element in storms;
Taught, as the smoother wave shall yield, to yiel
And rule the surface of the wat'ry field.

Soon as you can then, learn to lay aside All wild endeavours against Nature's tide; Which way she bends take notice, and comply; The verse that will not, burn, or throw it by: May be the subject does not suit your skillDismiss, dismiss-till one comes up that will: If sense, if Nature succour not the theme, All art and skill is strife against the stream; If they assist to waft your verses o'er, Stretch forward, and possess the wish'd-for shore. 'Twas from a certain native sense, and wit, That came-Poeta nascitur, non fitAdage forbidding any rhyming blade, That was not born a poet, to be made: For if to sing, (ia music) or to hear, Require a natural good voice, or ear; If art and rule but awkwardly advance, Without a previous, pliant shape, to dance, Well may the Muse, before she can inspire, Versatile force of subtle wit require.

Of this if critics should demand a sign,
Strong inclination should be one of mine;
A fair desire is seldom known to spring,
But where there is some fitness for the thing:
Tho', by untoward circumstances check'd,
There lies a genius, but without effect;
Many a fine plant, uncultivated, dies;
And worse, with more encouragement, may rise:
Des Mecænates-what had Maro been,
Had not Mecenas rais'd the Muse within?
Yours, honest pupil, when you are inclin❜d,
May versify, according to your mind;
She has no reason, to no patron ty'd,
To prostitute her favours to a side;
Nor to false taste, if any such the age
Shall run into, to sacrifice her page;
Much less, with any vicious topic vile,
An art of chaster off pring to defile:
All verse unworthy of an English Muse,
Of short-hand race, she may, and must refuse.
Ancient and modern aptitude to run
Into some errours, which you ought to shun,
Will now and then occasion, I foresee,
In place, or out, a præcipe from me:
When this shall happen, never stand to try
The where of its appearance, but the why;
Lest, by authorities, or old, or new,
You should be tempted to incur them too;
Since the most celebrated names infer
No sort of privilege in you to err:
Far from it-even, where they may excel,
Barely to imitate is not so well;
Much less should their authority prevail,
Or warrant you to follow, where they fail.
"T is not to search for precedents alone,
But how to form a judgment of your own;
In writing verse that is your main affair,
Main end of all my monitory care,
Who hate servility to common law,
That keeps an equitable right in awe;
By use and custom justifies its lot,

its modes, and fashions, whether right, or not;
Cramps the free geaius, clips the Muse's wing,
And to one poet ties another's string;
Producing, from their hardly various lines,
So many copies, and so few designs.

By neither names, nor numbers, be deterr'd; Nor yield to mix amongst the servile herd: Exert the liberty, which all avow,

Tho' slaves in practice-and begin just now,

Begin with me, and construe what I write,
Not to preclude your judgment, but excite;
Just as you once examin'd what I taught,
From first to last, with unaddicted thought,
So while, at your request, I venture here
To play the master, see that all be clear;
Preserve the freedom, which you always took,
Nor, if it teach amiss, regard the book.

Thus, unencumber'd, let us move along, As road shall lead us, to the mount of song; Still keeping, so far by agreement ty'd, Good verse in prospect, and good sense for guide.

SENSE presuppos'd, and resolute intent
To regulate thereby poetic bent,
Let us examine language once again,
As erst we did to regulate the pen;
And then observe how the peculiar frame
Of words, in English, may assist your aim.

The end of speech, vouchsaf'd to human kind,
Is to express conceptions of the mind:
By painted speech, or writing's wond'rous aid,
The lines of thought are legibly display'd;
In any place, at any time appear,
And silent figure speaks to mental ear;
Surprising permanence of meaning, found
For distant voice, and momentary sound:
Whether by Heav'n, at first, the huge effect
Reveal'd, or by inventive wit-reflect
What good may follow, if a man exert
The talent right, what ill, if he pervert;
And to exertion, whether good, or bad,
What strength engaging poetry may add;
That, if successful in your present drift,
You may not risk to desecrate the gift.

You see, in speaking, or by sound, or ink,
The grand inceptive caution is—to think;
To measure, ponder, ruminate, digest,
Or phrase whatever, that betokens best
A due attention to make art, and skill,
Turn all to good, or least of all to ill;
Never to give, on any warm pretence,
To just observers cause of just offence:
To truth, to good, undoubtedly, belong
The skill of poets, and the charms of song.

In verse, or prose, in nature, or in art,
The head begins the movement, or the heart;
If both unite, if both be clear and sound,
Then may perfection in a work be found;
Then does the preacher, then the poet shine,
And justly take the title of divine.

By common sense the world has been all led
To make distinction of the heart and head;
Distinction worthy of your keenest ken,
In passing judgment upon books, and men;
Upon yourself, before you shall submit
To other judges what yourself has writ.

The heart, the head, it may suffice to note,
Two diff'rent kinds of poetry promote;
One more sublime, more sacred, and severe,
That shines in Poetry's celestial sphere;
One of an useful, tho' an humbler birth,
That ornaments its lower globe of Earth;
These we shall here ascribe, if you think fit,
One to good sense, the other to good wit;
And grant that, whichsoever be display'd,
It must have something of the other's aid;
Without some wit solidity is dull,

As bad the sprightly nonsense, to the full

To clothe them both in language, and by rule,
Let us again revise the short-hand school,
And trace the branching stamens of discourse
From their most plain and primmerly resource.
Four parts of speech, you know, we us'd to make
The best arrangement, for inquiry's sake;
And how, spontaneous, to determine those,
The noun, and adnoun, verb, and adverb rose,
Occurring hints, but to no stiffness ty'd
Of formal method, let these four divide;
They do, in fact, partition out, you know,
The sense of words, as far as words can go;
For of a thing the clear ideal sense,

The properties that really spring from thence,
Actions, and modes of action that ensue,
Must all unite to make the language true;
If false, some one or other of these four
Unveils delusion ent'ring at its door;
But wonted lessons I shall here pass by,
Trusting to your remembrance--and apply.
The noun, the name, the substantive, the thing,
Let represent the subject that you sing:
The main, essential matter, whereupon
You mean to set the Muse at work anon:
E'er you begin the verse that you intend,
Respice finem-think upon its end;
One single point, on which you are to fix,
Must govern all that you shall intermix;
Before you quest for circumstances round,
Peg down, at first, the centre of your ground;
Each periodic incident when past,
Examine gently whether that be fast:
How can you help, if it should e'er come out,
Mistaking quite the point you are about?
How, with no tether fix'd to your designs,
Help incoherent, loose, unmeaning lines?

You need not ask of classic Rome, or Greece,
Whether your work should all be of a piece;
The thing is plain-and all that rule can tell
Is Memorandum to observe it well;
To frame, whatever you shall intersperse
Of decoration, well connected verse;
That shall, whatever may across be spread,
From end to end, maintain an equal thread;
That botch, or patch, or clumsy, awkward seam
Mar not poetic unity of theme.

This theme, or subject, for your English Muse
Belongs, of right, to you and her to choose:
Your own unbiass'd inclinations best
The freer topics for a verse suggest;
All, within bound of innocence, is free;
And you may range, without consulting me,
The just, delightful, and extensive sphere;
All else,-what need of caution to forbear?
None-if the bards, and some of them renown'd,
Had not transgrest, and overleap'd the bound;
This may indeed bid you to have a care,
Me, to renew the warning, to beware;
While, unrestrain'd, you set yourself the task,
Let it be harmless, and 't is all I ask.

Some, to be sure, more excellent, and grand,
Your practis'd genius may in time demand;
To these in view, no doubt, you may, in will,
Devote, at present, your completer skill;
And whilst, in little essays, you express,
Or clothe a thought in versifying dress,
On fair ideas they may turn, and just,
And pave the way to something more august:
If well your earlier specimens intend,
From small beginnings you may greatly end;

Write what the good may praise, as they peruse,
And bless, with no unfruitful fame, the Muse.

A youthful Muse, a sprightly one, may crave
To intermix the cheerful with the grave-
Indulge her choice, nor stop the flowing stream,
Where verse adorns an inoffensive theme.
Unwill'd endeavour is the same as faint,
And brisk will languish if it feel constraint:
From task impos'd, from any kind of force,
A stiff, and starch'd production comes, of course;
Unless it suit, as it may chance to do,
The present humour of the Muse, and you:
Sooner, so ask'd, that willing numbers flow,
The more acceptable, and a-propos;
Tho' prompt, if proper the occasion rise,
Her nimbler aid no gen'rous Muse denies;
But if a fair and friendly call invite,
Speeds on the verse to opportune delight;
Cuts all delays to satisfaction short,
When friends and seasons are in temper fort:
As, by this present writing, one may see,
Dear Muse of mine, is just the case with thee.

A gen'rous Muse, I must again repeat,
Disdains the poor, poetical conceit
Of poaching verse, for personal repute,
And writing-only to be thought to do 't;
Without regarding one of its chief ends,
At once to profit, and to pleasure friends.
Tho' to the bard she dictate first the line,
The reader's benefit is her design:
Mistaken poets seek for private fame;
'Tis gen'ral use that sanctifies the name.

Be free, and choose what subject then you will,
But keep your readers in remembrance still,
Your future judges-tho' 't is in your choice
In what committees who shall have a voice:
Their satisfaction if the Muse prefers,
And their esteem, who justly merit hers,
They who do not, however prompt of throat,
Stand all excluded from the legal vote.
Verse any readers, for whom verse is writ,
May to the press, or to the flames commit:
A poet signs the judgment on his verse,
If readers, worthy to be pleas'd, rehearse;
But, when the blockheads meddle in the cause,
Laughs at their blame, and smiles at their ap

'T will add to future versifying ease
To think on judges, whom you ought to please;
To fancy some of your selected friends
Discussing points, to which a subject tends;
By whom you guess it would be well discuss'd,
And judgment form'd, that you might safely trust;
If you conceive them sitting on the bench,
Hints, what is fit to add, or to retrench,
Anticipating Fancy may supply,
And save the trouble to the real eye:
Judgment awaken'd may improve the theme
With righter verdict, tho' the court's a dream.

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"If I had twenty children of my own, I would inoculate them ev'ry one.-"

"Ay, but should any of them die! what moan Would then be made, for vent'ring thereupon?"

"No;. I should think that I had done the best; And be resign'd, whatever should befall.—" "But could you really be so, quite at rest?" "I could"" Then why inoculate at all?

"Since to resign a child to God, who gave, Is full as easy, and as just a part,

When sick, and led by Nature to the grave, As when in health, and driv'n to it by Art."


SAY to the sermon?-Why, you all were by,
And heard its whole contents, as well as I-
Without discussing what the preacher said,
I'll tell you, sirs, what came into my head.
While he went on, and learnedly perplext
The genuine meaning of his chosen text,
I cast my eyes above him, and explor'd
The dove-like form upon the sounding board.
That bird, thought I, was put there as a sign
What kind of spirit guides a good divine:
Such as, at first, taught preachers to impart
The pure and simple gospel to the heart:

A perfect, plain, intelligible rule,
Without the dark distinctions of the school;
That, with a nice, sophistical disguise,
Hide the clear precepts from the people's eyes.

Whatever doctrine in one age was true,
Must needs be so in all succeeding too;

Tho' circumstance may change-its inward aim,
Thro' ev'ry outward state, is still the same.

No thinking Christian can be pleas'd to hear
Men, who pretend to make the Scripture clear,
With low remarks, upon the letter play,
And take the spirit of it quite away.

Be time, or place, or person, or what will,
Urg'd in support of such a wretched skill,
It all amounts but to a vain pretence,
That robs the Gospel of its real sense.
Taught by the Saviour, and by holy men,
"Tis now the very same that it was then;
Not to be alter'd by unhallow'd pains;
The world may vary, but the truth remains.

Its consecrated phrases, one would think,
That priests and pulpits were not made to sink;
Prophaner wits can do it that disgrace-
What need of holy orders in the case?
The modish critical haranguer, heard,
May be admir'd; may be perhaps preferr'd;
Who sinks the dictates of the sacred page
Down to the maxims of the present age

But o'er his sounding canopy, why bring
The harmless dove to spread its hov'ring wing?
How in the church by such a shape exprest
Fulness of brain, and emptiness of breast?

Of heads so fatten'd, and of hearts so starv'd,
A different emblem should, methinks, be carv'd;
The owl of Athens, and not Sion's dove,
The bird of learning-not the bird of love.



THE book appears to my perusing sight,
So rambling, scambling, florid, and polite,
That tho' a manly skill may trace the clue,
A simple female knows not what to do;
Where to begin remark, or where to close,
Lost in a thousand-beauties, I suppose.

One seeming proof of such a coalition
Of num'rous beauties is a fifth edition;
As, reading authors, I have just now found
In the Whitehall-price three and sixpence bound:
Many a good book, but less of print concise,
Less clean of margin, sells for half the price.

So that the nation grows in books, 'tis plain,
Luxurious, effeminate and vain":"

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That is the purchasers or, if I durst,
I would have said the writers of 'em first;
And the luxuriant framer of this plan,
First of the first, should be the leading man

Somewhere before the middle of the book,
It seems the author, whom I really took
But for a politician, was in fine,
To my surprise, a protestant divine:
A protestant divine! in whose high flight
The question capital is-who shall fight??

Not who shall pay―as some divines have plann'd,
One has heard tell, the capital demand:
Both needless questions when divines arose
Who neither su'd their friends nor fought their
Now what more vain, effeminate, luxurious, [foes.
Than parson's talk, so capitally furious?

Truly the works of distaff and of needle Are worth whole volumes of courageous Tweedle; With the sum total-" Britons! all be free; Take the brown musket up, and follow me: Let us be strong, be hardy, sturdy, rough; Till we are all beatifi'd in buff."

1 "We may with truth and candour conclude that the ruling character of the present times is that of a vain, luxurious, and selfish effeminacy." Brown's Estimate. Sect. 6.

"It hath been urged indeed as a proof that the natural spirit of defence is not yet extinguished, that we raised such large sums during the Rebellion, and still continue such plentiful supplies for the support of our fleets and armies. This is weak reasoning: for will not cowardice, at least as soon as courage, part with a shilling or a pound to avoid danger?-The capital question therefore still remains-Not who shall pay, but who shall fight?" Sect. 6,

WITH manners just the same, as we are told,
Men are effeminate, and women bold 3:
If aught like satire or like ridicule

Should seem to rise, we must apply this rule
To solve the case-and so I think we may---
"It comes from folly's natural display."

Person and dress is left us to apply,
And little else, to know the sexes by:
Characteristics formerly made out,
Are now confounded by a present rout:
All would be lost if, as the cassoc warm,
With rage as just, the petticoat should arm.

But while men fight, both clergyfi'd and lay,
Who left but women to cry-Let us pray!
While men are marshalling in prose Pindaric
Religion, Virtue, Warburton, and Garrick,
Women must pray, that Heav'n would yet annex
Some little grace to the talk-valiant sex.

Love of our country is the manly sound That clads in armour all the Virtues round: Where is this lovely country to be sought? Why 'tis Great Britain, in their little thought: And the two states which these divines advance, The Heav'n of England, and the Hell of France.

Women must pray--and, if divines can reach No higher a theology-must preach. This world-this sea bound spot of it-may seem The central Paradise in men's esteem, Who have great souls; but women who have none, Have other realms to fix their hearts upon,

If such there be the only certain scheme To guard against each possible extreme, Is to put on, amidst the world's alarms, With a good heart, our real country's arms; Faith, hope, and patience, from the tow'rs above, All-bearing meekness, and all conqu'ring love,



DOCTOR, this new poetic species
Semel may do; but never decies:

3 "The sexes have now little other apparent distinction beyond that of person and dress: their peculiar and characteristic manners are confounded and lost: the one sex having advanced into boldness, as the other have sunk into effeminacy." Sect. 5.

4" Thus we have attempted a simple delineation of the ruling manners of the times: if any thing like ridicule appears to mix itself with this review, it ariseth not from the aggravation, but the natural display of folly." Sect. 5.

These Epistles were published in the year 1757.- "The species of poetry," says the editor," in which they are written has been used with great success among the French, by Chapelle, Chaulieu, La Farre, Gresset, madame Deshoulieres, and others."-To quote from them all the

For a Chapelle, or a Chaulieu,
The new devis'd conceit may do;;

In rambling rhymes, La Farre, and Gresset,
And easy diction may express it;
Or madam's muse, Deshoulieres,
Improve it farther still than theirs:
But in the name of all the Nine,
Will an epistolary line,

In English verse and English sense,
Admit to give them both offence,
The Gaulbred insipiditee

Of this new fangi'd melodee?
Indeed it won't-if Gallic phrase
Can bear with such enervate lays,
Nor pleasure nor pain-pinion'd hours
Can ever suffer them in ours;
Or icy crown'd, endure a theme
Silver'd with moonshine's maiden gleam
Not tho' so garlanded and flow'ry,
So soft, so sweet, so myrtle-bow'ry;
So balmy, palmy-and so on-
As is the theme here writ upon:
Writ in a species that, if taking,
Portends sad future verse unmaking:
Brown's Estimate of times and manners,
That paints effeminacy's banuers,
Has not a proof in its detail
More plain than this, if this prevail;
Forbid it sense, forbid it rhyme,
Whether familiar or sublime;
Whether ye guide the poet's hand
To easy diction or to grand;"
Forbid the Gallic namby pamby
Here to repeat its crazy crambe:
One instance of such special stuff,
To see the way on't is enough;
Excus'd for once; if Aristippus
Has any more within his cippus,
Let him suppress;-or sing 'em he
With gentle Muse, steet Euterpee;
Free to salute her, while they chirp,
For easier rhyming-sweet Euterp:
It is allow'd that verse to please
Should move along with perfect ease;
But this coxcombically mingling
Of rhymes, unrhyming, interjingling,
For numbers genuinely British
Is quite too finical and skittish;
But for the masculiner belles,
And the polite be maʼmoiselles;

Whom Dryads, Naiuds, Nymphs, and Fauns,
Meads, woods, and groves, and lakes, and lawns,
And loves, and doves-and fifty more
Such jaded terms, besprinkl'd o'er
With compound epithets uncouth,
Prompt to pronounce 'em verse, forsooth!
Verse let 'em be; tho' I suppose
Some verse as well might have been prose,
That England's common courtesy
Politely calls good poetry:
For if the poetry be good,
Accent at least is understood;
Number of syllables alone,
Without the proper stress of tone,

expressions alluded to in the following verses, would but swell out the notes to an unnecessary length. It is thought sufficient therefore to di stinguish such allusions by Italic characters.

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