1 HIS country's hope, when now the blooming heir
2 Has left the parent's, or the guardian's care;
3 Fond to possess, yet eager to destroy,
4 Of each vain youth, say, what's the darling joy?
5 Of each fond frolic what the source and end,
6 His sole and first ambition what? — to spend.
7 Some 'squires, to Gallia's cooks most dainty dupes,
8 Melt manors in ragouts, or drown in soups:
9 This coxcomb doats on fidlers, till he sees
10 His mortgag'd mountains dcstitute of trees;
11 Convinc'd too late, that modern strains can move,
12 With mightier force than those of Greece, the grove.
13 In headless statues rich, and useless urns,
14 Marmoreo from the classic tour returns;
15 So poor the wretch of current coin, you'd laugh —
16 He cares not — if hisg
g Antique medals. Caesars be but safe.
17 Some tread the slippery paths of love's delights,
18 These deal the cards, or shake the box at White's.
19 To different pleasures different tastes incline,
20 Nor the same sea receives the rushing swine. [Page 215]
21 Tho' drunk alike with Circe's poisonous bowl,
22 In separate sties the mimic monsters roll.
23 But would ye learn, ye leisure-loving 'squires,
24 How best you may disgrace your prudent sires;
25 How soonest soar to fashionable shame,
26 Be damn'd at once to ruin — and to fame;
27 By hands of grooms ambitious to be crown'd,
28 O greatly dare to tread Olympic ground!
29 Where fam'd Newmarket spreads her tempting plain,
30 There let the chosen steed victorious strain;
31 Where noth
h Alluding to those well known lines of Sir John Denham, in Cooper's Hill, on London.
(as erst was sung in manly lays)
"— Thro' several ways they run,
" Some to undo, and some to be undone. "
32 Men fly to different ends thro' different ways;
33 Thro' the same path, to the same goal ye run,
34 And are, at once, undoing and undone,
35 Forfeit, forget friends, honour, and estate,
36 Lose all at once — for what? — to win the plate:
37 All are betray'd, and all alike betray,
38 To your own beasts, Actaeon-like, a prey.
39 What dreams of conquest flush'd Hilario's breast,
40 When the good knight at last retir'd to rest!
41 Behold the youth with new-felt rapture mark
42 Each pleasing prospect of the spacious Park,
43 That Park, where beauties undisguis'd engage,
44 Those beauties less the work of art than age;[Page 216]
45 In simple state, where genuine Nature wears
46 Her venerable dress of ancient years;
47 Where all the charms of Chance with order meet,
48 The rude, the gay, the graceful, and the great.
49 Here aged oaks uprear their branches. hoar,
50 And form dark groves, which Druids might adore;
51 Pride and support of Britain's conquering cross,
52 Which distant ancestors saw crown'd with moss:
53 With meeting boughs, and deepening to the view,
54 Here shoots the broad umbrageous avenue:
55 Here various trees compose a chequer'd scene,
56 Glowing in gay diversities of green:
57 There the full stream, thro' intermingling glades,
58 Shines a broad lake, or falls in deep cascades.
59 Nor wants there hazle copse, or beechen lawn,
60 To cheer with sun or shade the bounding sawn.
61 And see the good old seat, whose Gothic towers
62 Awful emerge from yonder tufted bowers;
63 Whose rafter'd hall the crowding tenants fed,
64 And dealt to Age and Want their daily bread:
65 Where garter'd knights, with peerless beauties join'd,
66 At high and solemn festivals have din'd;
67 Presenting oft fair Virtue's shining task,
68 In mystic pageantries, and morali[Page 217]
i It was a fashionable practice among our ancient nobility and gentry, of both sexes, to perform personally in entertainments of this kind. Nothing could be a more delightful or rational method of spending an evening than this. Milton's Comus was thus exhibited at Ludlow-Castle, in the year 1631. See Ben Johnson's Masques. masque.
69 But vain all ancient praise, or boasts of birth,
70 Vain all the palms of old heroic worth!
71 At once a bankrupt, and a prosperous heir,
72 Hilario bets — Park, house, dissolve in air.
73 With antique armour hung, high trophied rooms
74 Descend to gamesters, prostitutes, and grooms.
75 He sees his steel-clad sires, and mothers mild,
76 Who bravely shook the lance, or sweetly smil'd,
77 All the fair series of the whisker'd race,
78 Whose pictur'd forms the stately gallery grace,
79 Debas'd, abus'd, the price of ill-got gold,
80 To deck some tavern vile, at auctions sold.
81 The parish wonders at th' unopening door,
82 The chimnies blaze, the tables groan no more.
83 Thick weeds around th' untrodden courts arise,
84 And all the social scene in silence lies.
85 Himself, the loss politely to repair,
86 Turns atheist, fidler, highwayman, or player.
87 At length, the scorn, the shame of Man and God,
88 Is doom'd to rub the steeds that once he rode.
89 Ye rival youths, your golden hopes how vain,
90 Your dreams of thousands on the listed plain!
91 Not more fantastick
k Clavileno. See Don Quixote. Sancho's airy course,
92 When madly mounted on the magic horse,
93 He pierc'd heaven's opening spheres with dazzled eyes,
94 And seem'd to soar in visionary skies.
95 Nor less, I ween, precarious is the meed
96 Of young adventurers on the Muse's steed;[Page 218]
97 For poets have, like you, their destin'd round,
98 And ours is but a race on classic ground.
99 Long time, soft son of patrimonial ease,
100 Hippolitus had eat firloins in peace:
101 Had quaff'd secure, unvex'd by toils or wife,
102 The mild October of a rural life:
103 Long liv'd with calm domestic conquests crown'd,
104 And kill'd his game on safe paternal ground.
105 As bland he puff'd the pipe o'er weekly news,
106 His bosom kindles with sublimer views.
107 Lo there, thy triumphs, Taaff, thy palms, Portmore,
108 Tempt him to rein the steed, and stake his store.
109 Like a new bruiser on Broughtonic sand,
110 Amid the lists our hero takes his stand;
111 Suck'd by the sharper, to the peer a prey,
112 He roils his eyes that witness huge dismay;
113 When lo! the chance of one unlucky heat
114 Strips him of game, strong beer, and sweet retreat.
115 How aukward now he bears disgrace and dirt,
116 Nor knows the poor's last refuge, to be pert. —
117 The shiftless beggar bears of ills the worst,
118 At once with dullness, and with hunger curst.
119 And feels the tasteless breast equestrian fires?
120 And dwells such mighty rage in graver 'squires?
121 In all attempts, but for their country, bold,
122 Britain, thy conscript counsellors behold;
123 (For some, perhaps, by fortune favour'd yet,
124 May gain a borough by a lucky bet)
125 Smit with the love of the laconic boot,
126 The cap and wig succinct, the silken suit,[Page 219]
127 Mere modern Phaetons usurp the reins,
128 And scour in rival race Newmarket's plains,
129 See side by side, the Jockey and Sir John,
130 Discuss th' important point — of six to one.
131 For O, my Muse, the deep-felt bliss how dear,
132 How great the pride to gain a Jockey's ear!
133 See, like a routed host, with headlong pace,
134 Thy Members pour amid the mingling race!
135 All ask, what crowds the tumults could produce —
136 "Is Bedlam or the commons all broke loose?
137 Such noise and nonsense, betting, damning, sinking,
138 Such emphasis of oaths, and claret drinking!
139 Like school-boys freed, they run as chance directs,
140 Proud from a well-bred thing to risque their necks.
141 The warrior's scar not half so graceful seems,
142 As, at Newmarket, dislocated limbs.
143 Thy sages hear, amid th' admiring crowd
144 Adjudge the stakes, most eloquently loud:
145 With critic skill, o'er dubious bets preside,
146 The low dispute, or kindle, or decide:
147 All empty wisdom, and judicious prate,
148 Of distanc'd horses, gravely six the fate,
149 Guide the nice conduct of a daring match,
150 And o'er th' equestrian rights, with care paternal watch.
151 Mean time, no more the mimic patriots rise,
152 To guard Britannia's honour, warm and wise:
153 No more in senates dare assert her laws,
154 Nor pour the bold debate in Freedom's cause:[Page 220]
155 Neglect the counsels of a sinking land,
156 And know no rostrum, but Newmarket'sl
l A kind of scaffold, where is held a consistory, made up of several very eminent gentlemen for determining doubtful cases in the race, &c. This place might not improperly be called a Pandaemonium. stand.
157 Are these the sage directive powers design'd,
158 With the nice search of a sagacious mind,
159 In judgment's scales the fate of realms to weigh,
160 Britannia's interest, trade, and laws survey?
161 O say, when least their sapient schemes are crost,
162 Or when a nation, or a match is lost?
163 Who dams and sires with more exactness trace,
164 Than of their country's kings the sacred race:
165 Think London journies are the worst of ills,
166 And set their hands to articles for bills:
167 Strangers to all historians sage relate,
168 Theirs are the memoirs of th' equestrian state:
169 Unskill'd in Albion's past and present views,
m The accurate and annual author of an historical list of the running-horses, &c. Cheny's records for Rapin peruse.
171 Go on, brave youths, till, in some future age,
172 Whips shall become the senatorial badge;
173 'Till England see her thronging senators
174 Meet all at Westminster, in boots and spurs;
175 See the whole house, with mutual frenzy mad,
176 Her patriots all in leathern breeches clad;
177 Of bets, for taxes, learnedly debate,
178 And guide, with equal reins, a steed and state.
179 How would a virtuousn
n Vide Gulliver's travels, voyage to the Houhnhyms. Houhnhym neigh disdain,
180 To see his brethren brook th' imperious rein;
181 Bear slavery's wanton whip, or galling goad,
182 Smoak thro' the glebe, or trace the destin'd road,
183 And robb'd of manhood by the murderous knife,
184 Sustain each fordid toil of servile life.
185 Yet O, what rage would touch his generous mind,
186 To see his sons of more than mortal kind;
187 A kind, with each ingenuous virtue blest,
188 That fills the prudent head, or valorous breast,
189 Afford diversion to that monster base,
190 That meanest spawn of man's half-monkey race;
191 In whom pride, avarice, ignorance conspire,
192 That hated animal, a Yahoo-'squire.
193 How are th' adventurers of the British race
194 Chang'd from the chosen chiefs of ancient days;
195 Who, warm'd with genuine glory's honest thirst,
196 Divinely labour'd in the Pythian dust.
197 Theirs was the wreath that lifted from the throng,
198 Theirs was the Theban bard's recording song.
199 Mean time, to manly emulation blind,
200 Slaves to each vulgar vice that stains the mind,
201 Our British Therons issue to the race,
202 Of their own generous coursers the disgrace.
203 What tho' the grooms of Greece ne'er took the odds,
204 They won no bets — but then they soar'd to gods;[Page 222]
205 And more an Hiero's palm, a Pindar's ode,
206 Than all th' united plates of George bestow'd.
207 Greece! how I kindle at thy magic name,
208 Feel all thy warmth, and catch the kindred flame.
209 Thy solemn scenes, and awful visions rise,
210 In ancient grace, before my musing eyes.
211 Here Sparta's sons in mute attention hang,
212 While sage Lycurgus pours the mild harangue;
213 There Xerxes' host, all pale with deadly fear,
214 Shrink at hero
o Leonidas. fated hero's flashing spear.
215 Here, hung with many a lyre of silver string,
216 The laureat walks of sweet Ilissus spring:
217 And lo! where, rapt in beauty's heavenly dream,
218 Hoar Plato walks his oliv'd Academe. —
219 Yet ah! no more the seat of art and arms
220 Delights with wisdom, or with virtue warms.
221 Lo! the stern Turk, with more than Gothic rage,
222 Has blasted all the bays of ancient age;
223 No more her groves by sacred feet are trod,
224 Each Attic Grace has left the lov'd abode.
225 Fall'n is fair Greece! by Luxury's pleasing bane
226 Seduc'd, she drags a barbarous foreign chain,
227 Britannia, watch! O trim thy withering bays,
228 Remember thou hast rivall'd Graecia's praise,
229 Great Nurse of works divine! yet oh! beware
230 Lest thou the fate of Greece, my Country, share. [Page 223]
231 Recall thy wonted worth with conscious pride,
232 Thou too hast seen a Solon in a Hyde;
233 Hast bade thine Edwards and thine Henry's rear,
234 With Spartan fortitude, the British spear;
235 Alike hast seen thy sons deserve the meed,
236 Or of the moral, or the martial deed.