TO MR. S. TUCKER.
1 THE sons of man, by various passions led,
2 The paths of bus'ness or of pleasure tread;
3 The florist views his dear carnation rise,
4 And wonders who can doat on Flavia's eyes;
5 The lover sees, unmov'd, each gaudy streak,
6 And knows no bloom but that on Daphne's cheek:
7 While some grow pale o'er Newton, Locke, or Boyle,
8 Miss reads romances, and my lady Hoyle;
9 Thus inclination binds her fetters strong,
10 And, just as judgment marks, we're right or wrong.
11 Fair are those hills where sacred laurels grow,
12 Rul'd by the pow'r who draws the golden bow;
13 But see how few attain the dang'rous road,
14 How few are born to feel th' inspiring god!
15 Yet all, to reach the arduous summit try,
16 From soaring Pope to reptile Ogleby.
17 Among the rest, your friend attempts to climb,
18 But ah, how diff'rent poesy and rhyme!
19 The mid-night bard, reciting to his bell,
20 Who breaks our rest, and tolls the muses knell,
21 Is just a poet matchless and divine,
22 As he a Raphael, who, on ale-house sign,[Page 268]
23 Seats his bold George in attitude so quaint,
24 That none can tell the dragon from a saint.
25 Reckon each sand in wide New-market plain,
26 Mount yon blue vault, and count the starry train;
27 But numbers ne'er can comprehend the throng
28 Of retail dealers in the art of song.
29 Like summer flies they blot the solar ray,
30 And, like their brother insects, live a day.
31 Am I not blasted by some friendless star,
32 To know my wants, yet wage unequal war?
33 I own I am; and dabbling thus in rhyme,
34 'Tis folly's bell that rings the pleasing chyme;
35 Bit by the bard's tarantula I swell,
36 Write off the raging fit, and all is well.
37 And yet, perhaps, to lose my time this way
38 Is better far than some mis-spend the day.
39 The fatal dice-box never fill'd my hand,
40 By me no orphan weeps his ravish'd land;
41 What ward can tax me with a deed unjust?
42 What friend upbraids me with a broken trust?
43 (Some few except, whom pride and folly blind,
44 I found them chaff, and give them to the wind)
45 Like a poor bird, and one of meanest wing,
46 Around my cage I flutter, hop, and sing.
47 Unlike in this my brethren of the bays,
48 I sue for pardon, and they hope for praise;
49 And when for verse I find my genius warm,
50 Like infants sent to school, I keep from harm. [Page 269]
51 What time the dog-star with unbating flames
52 Cleaves the parch'd earth, and sinks the silver Thames;
53 While the shrill tenant*
* The grasshopper. of the sun-burnt blade,
54 (A poet he, and singing all his trade)
55 Tears his small throat, I brave the sultry ray,
56 And deep-embower'd, escape the rage of day.
57 Thrice bless'd the man, who, shielded from the beam,
58 Sings lays melodious to the sacred stream;
59 Thrice bless'd the stream, who views his banks of flow'rs,
60 Crown'd with the Muse's or imperial tow'rs,
61 Whose limpid waters as they onwards glide,
62 See humble oziers nod, or threat'ning squadrons ride.
63 Health to my friend, and to his partner, peace,
64 A good long life, and moderate increase;
65 May Dulwich garden double treasures share,
66 And be both Flora and Pomona's care.
67 Ye Walton naiads, guard the fav'rite child,
68 Drive off each marsh-born fog; ye zephyrs mild,
69 Fan the dear innocent; ye fairies, keep
70 Your wonted distance, nor disturb his sleep;
71 Nor in the cradle, while your tricks you play,
72 The changeling drop, and bear our boy away.
73 However chance may chalk his future fate,
74 Or doom his manhood to be rich or great,
75 Is not our care; oh, let the guiding pow'r
76 Decide that point, who rules the natal hour;
77 Nor shall we seek, for knowledge to enrich,
78 The Delphic tripod, or your Norwood witch.
79 But Tucker doubts, and "if not rich,"he cries,
80 "How can the boy reward the good and wife?
81 Give him but gold, and merit ne'er shall freeze,
82 But rise from want to affluence and ease:
83 The Guido's touch shall warm his throbbing heart,
84 The patriot's bust shall speak the sculptor's art;
85 But if from Danae's precious show'r debar'd,
86 The Muse he may admire, but ne'er reward."
87 All this I grant; but does it follow then,
88 That parts have drawn regard from wealthy men?
89 Did Gay receive the tribute of the great?
90 No, let his tomb be witness of his fate:
91 For Milton's days are too long past to strike;
92 The rich of all times ever were alike.
93 See him, whose lines "in a fine frenzy roll,"
94 He comes to tear, to harrow up the soul;
95 Bear me, ye pow'rs, from his bewitching sprite,
96 My eye-balls darken at excess of light;
97 How my heart dances to his magic strain,
98 Beats my quick pulse, and throbs each bursting vein.
99 From Avon's bank with ev'ry garland crown'd,
100 'Tis his to rouse, to calm, to cure, to wound;
101 To mould the yielding bosom to his will,
102 And Shakespear is inimitable still:
103 Oppress'd by fortune, all her ills he bore,
104 Hear this ye Muses, and be vain no more.
105 Nor shall my*
* He was rewarded with lands in Ireland, which he lost in the rebellion of the earl of Desmond. He came over to England to solicit a recovery of them; but having attended long in vain, finished his days in grief and disappointment. Spenser want his share of praise,
106 The heav'n-sprung sisters wove the laureat's bays;
107 Yet what avail'd his sweet descriptive pow'r,
108 The fairy warrior, or inchanted bow'r?
109 Tho' matchless Sidney doated on the strain,
110 Lov'd by the learned†
† Sir Walter Raleigh. shepherd of the main,
111 Observe what meed his latest labours crown'd,
‡ Queen Elizabeth. smil'd not, and stern Burleigh frown'd.
113 If still you doubt, consult some well known friend,
114 Let Ellis speak, to him you oft attend,
115 Whom truth approves, whom candor calls her own,
116 Known by the God, by all the Muses known.
117 Where tow'r his hills, where stretch his lengths of vale,
118 Say, where his heifers load the smoaky pail?
119 Oh may this grateful verse my debt repay,
120 If aught I know, he show'd the arduous way;
121 Within my bosom fan'd the rising flame,
122 Plum'd my young wing, and bade me try for fame.
123 Since then I scribbl'd, and must scribble still,
124 His word was once a sanction to my will;
125 And I'll persist 'till he resume the pen,
126 Then shrink contented, and ne'er rhyme again.
127 Yet, ere I take my leave, I have to say,
128 That while in sleep my senses wasted lay,[Page 272]
129 The waking soul, which sports in fancy's beam,
130 Work'd on my drowsy lids, and form'd a dream;
131 Then to my lines a due attention keep,
132 For oft when poets dream, their readers sleep.
133 On a wide champian, where the surges beat
134 Th' extended beach, then sullenly retreat,
135 A dismal cottage rear'd its turfy head,
136 O'er which a yew her baleful branches spread;
137 The owl profane his dreadful dirges sung,
138 The passing bell the foul night-raven rung;
139 No village cur here bay'd the cloudless moon,
140 No golden sunshine chear'd the hazy noon,
141 But ghosts of men by love of gold betray'd,
142 In silence glided thro' the dreary shade.
143 There sat pale Grief in melancholy state,
144 And brooding Care was trusted with the gate,
145 Within, extended on the cheerless ground,
146 An old man lay in golden fillet bound;
147 Rough was his beard, and matted was his hair,
148 His eyes were fiery red, his shoulders bare;
149 Down furrow'd cheeks hot tears had worn their way,
150 And his broad scalp was thinly strew'd with grey;
151 A weighty ingot in his hand he prest,
152 Nor seem'd to feel the viper at his breast.
153 Around the caitiff, glorious to behold,
154 Lay minted coinage, and historic gold;*
155 High sculptur'd urns in bright confusion stood,
156 And streams of silver form'd a precious flood.
157 On nails, suspended rows of pearls were seen,
158 Not such the pendants of th' Aegyptian queen,
159 Who (joy luxurious swelling all her soul)
160 Quaff'd the vast price of empires in her bowl.
161 As seas voracious swallow up the land,
162 As raging flames eternal food demand,
163 So this vile wretch, unbless'd with all his store,
164 Repin'd in plenty, and grew sick for more;
165 Nor shall we wonder when his name I tell,
166 'Twas Avarice, the eldest born of hell.
167 But, hark! what noise breaks in upon my tale,
168 Be hush'd each sound, and whisper ev'ry gale;
169 Ye croaking rooks your noisy flight suspend,
170 Guess'd I not right how all my toil would end?
171 My heavy rhymes have jaded Tucker quite;
172 He yawns — he nods — he snores. Good night, good night.