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“ thro’ so great good eating and drinking he con« tracted a most terrible gout.” Sorry I am to relate what follows, but that I cannot leave my reader's curiosity unsatisfied in the catastrophe of this extraordinary man. To use my author's words, which are remarkable, mortuo Leone, profligatisque portis, etc. “ When Leo died, and “ poets were no more.” (for I would not understand profligatis literally, as if poets then were profligate) this unhappy Laureate was forthwith reduced to return to his country, where, oppreffed with old age and want, he miserably perished in a common bolpitol.
. We see from this fad conclusion (which may be of example to the poets of our time) that it were happier to ineet with no encouragement at all, to remain at the plough, or other lawful occupation, than to be elevated above their condition, and taken out of the common means of life, without a surer lupport than the temporary, or at beit, mortal favours of the great. It was doubtlefs for this confideration, that when the Royal Bounty was lately extended to a rural genius, care was taken to settle it upon him for life. And it hath been the practice of our Princes, never to remove from the itation of Poet Laureate any man who hath once been chosen, tho' never so much greater Genius's might arise in his time. A noble instance, how much the charity of our nionarchs hath exceeded their love of fame.
To come now to the intent of this paper. We have here the whole ancient ceremonial of the Laureate. In the first place the crown is to be mixed with vine-leaves, as the vine is the plant of Bacchus, and full as essential to the honour, as the butt of fack to the salary.
Secondly, the brassica must be made use of as a qualifier of the former. It seems the cabbage was anciently accounted a remedy for drunkenness; a power the French now ascribe to the onion, and style a soup made of it, soupe d'Yvrogne. I would recommend a large mixture of the brassica, if Mr. Dennis be chosen ; but if Mr. Tibbald, it is not so necessary, unless the cabbage be supposed to figo nify the same thing with respect to poets as to taylors, viz. stealing. I should judge it not amiss to add another plant to this garland, to wit, ivy: Not only as it anciently belonged to poets in general; but as it is emblematical of the three virtues of a court poet in particular ; it is creeping, dirty, and dangling.
In the next place, a canticle must be composed and sung in laud and praise of the new Poet. If Mr. CIBBER be laureated, it is my opinion no man can write this but himself: And no man, I am sure, can fing it so affectingly. But what this canticle should be, either in his or the other candidate's case, I shall not pretend to determine.
Thirdly, there ought to be a public show, or entry of the poet : To settle the order or proces
fion of which, Mr. Anstis and Mr. Dennis ought to have a conference. I apprehend here two dimculties : One, of procuring an elephant ; the other of teaching the poet to ride him: Therefore I Tould imagine the next animal in fize or dignity would do best; either a mule or a large ass ; particularly if that noble one could be had, whole portraiture makes so great an ornament of the Dunciad, and which (unless I am misinformed) is yet in the park of a nobleman near this city :---Unless Mr, Cibber be the man ; who may, with great propriety and beauty, ride on a dragon, if he goes by land; or if he choose the water, upon one of his own fwans from Casar in Egypt.
We have spoken fufficiently of the ceremony; let us now speak of the qualifications and privileges of the Laureate. Firit, we see he must be able to make verses extempore, and to pour forth innumerable, if required. In this I doubt Mr. T1BBALD. Secondly, he ought to fing, and intrepidly, patulo ore : Here, I confess the excellency of Mr. Cibber. Thirdly, he ought to carry a lyre about with him: If a large one be thought tuo cumbersome, a small one may be contrived to hang about the neck, like an order ; and be very much a grace to the person. Fourthly, he ought to have a good licmach, to eat and drink whatever his betters think fit; and therefore it is in this high one as in many others, no puny constitution can ditcharge it. I do not think Cis.
Ber or Tibbald here so happy: but rather a stanch, vigorous, season'd, and dry old gentleman, whom I have in my eye.
I could also wish at this juncture, such a person as is truly jealous of the honour and dignity of poetry; no joker, or trifler ; but a bard in good earnest; nay, not amiss if a critic, and the better if a little obstinate. For when we consider what great privileges have been lost from this office (as we fee from the forecited authentick record of Jovius) namely those of feeding from the prince's table, drinking out of his own flaggon, becoming even his domestick and companion ; it requires a man warm and resolute, to be able to claim and obtain the restoring of these high honours. I have cause to fear, most of the candidates would be liable, either through the influence of ministers, or for rewards or favours, to give up the glorious rights of the Laureate : Yet I am not without hopes, there is one, from whom a serious and fteddy affertion of these privileges may be expected ; and, if there be such a one, I must do him the justice to say, it is Mr. Dennis the worthy president of our society.
March 16, 1713.
THOUGH most things which are wrong
T in their own nature are at once confeticu and absolved in that single word, the Custom ; ret there are some, which as they have a dangerous tendency, a thinking man will the less excuse on that very account. Among these I cannot but reckon the common practice of Dedications, which is of so much the worse consequence as 'tis generally used by people of politeness, and whom a learned education for the most part ought to have inspired with nobler and juster sentiments. This prostitution of Praise is not only a deceit upon the gross of mankind, who take their notion of characters from the Learned; but also the better fort muil by this means lose some part at least of that desire of Fame which is the incentive to generous actions, when they find it promiscuously bestowed on the meritorious and undeserving. Nay, the author himself, let him be supposed to have ever so true a value for the patron, can find no terms