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A soul so charming from a stock so good ;
Thy father was transfused into thy blood :
So wert thou born into a tuneful strain,
An early, rich, and inexhausted vein.
But if thy pre-existing soul
Was form’d at first with myriads more, It did through all the mighty poets roll,
Who Greek or Latin laurels wore, And was that Sappho last, which once it was before.
then cease thy flight, О heaven-born mind! Thou hast no dross to purge from thy rich ore : Nor can thy soul a fairer mansion find
Than was the beauteous frame she left behind. Return to fill or mend the choir of thy celestial kind.
O gracious God! how far have we
Profaned thy heavenly gift of poesy ?
Made prostitute and profligate the Muse,
Debased to each obscene and impious use,
Whose harmony was first ordain'd above
For tongues of angels, and for hymns of love ?
O wretched we! why were we hurried down
This lubrique and adulterate age,
(Nay, added fat pollutions of our own,)
T' increase the steaming ordures of the stage ? What can we say t' excuse our second fall ? Let this thy vestal, Heaven, atone for all ; Her Arethusian stream remains unsoild, Unmix'd with foreign filth, and undefiled ; Her wit was more than man; her innocence a child.
When in mid-air the golden trump shall sound,
To raise the nations under ground;
When in the valley of Jehoshaphat,
The judging God shall close the book of fate;
And there the last assizes keep
For those who wake, and those who sleep; The sacred poets first shall hear the sound,
And foremost from the tomb shall bound, For they are cover'd with the lightest ground; And straight, with inborn vigour, on the wing, Like mountain larks, to the new morning sing. There thou, sweet saint, before the quire shalt go, As harbinger of heaven, the way to show, The way which thou so well hast learnt below,
Three poets, in three distant ages born,
Greece, Italy, and England did adorn.
The first in loftiness of thought surpass'd;
The next in majesty; in both the last.
The force of nature could no further go;
To make a third, she join'd the other two.
FROM ` ABSALOM AND ACHITOPHEL.' 149. CHARACTER OF SHAFTESBURY (ACHITOPHEL). Of these the false Achitophel was first; A name to all succeeding ages curst : For close designs and crooked counsels fit, Sagacious, bold, and turbulent of wit : Restless, unfixed in principles and place; In power unpleased, impatient of disgrace, A fiery soul which working out its way, Fretted the pigmy body to decay, And o'er informed its tenement of clay : A daring pilot in extremity ; Pleased with the danger, when the waves went high He sought the storms; but, for a calm unfit, Would steer too nigh the sands to show his wit. Great wits are sure to madness near allied, And thin partitions do their bounds divide : Else, why should he, with wealth and honours blest, Refuse his age the needful hours of rest ? Punish a body which he could not please ; Bankrupt of life, yet prodigal of ease ?
In friendship false, implacable in hate,
Resolved to ruin or to rule the state.
To compass this the triple bond he broke,
The pillars of the public safety shook,
And fitted Israel with a foreign yoke ;
Then, seized with fear, yet still affecting fame,
Usurped a patriot's all-atoning name;
So easy still it proves, in factious times,
With public zeal to cancel private crimes.
How safe is treason, and how sacred ill,
Where none can sin against the people's will !
Where crowds can wink, and no offence be known,
Since in another's guilt they find their own!
Yet fame deserved no enemy can grudge ;
The statesman we abhor, but praise the judge.
In Israel's courts ne'er sat an Abethdin
With more discerning eyes or hands more clean,
Unbribed, unsought, the wretched to redress;
Swift of dispatch and easy of access.
Oh had he been content to serve the crown
With virtue only proper to the gown ;
Or had the rankness of the soil been freed
From cockle, that oppressed the noble seed;
David for him his tuneful harp had strung.
But wild Ambition loves to slide, not stand ;
And Fortune's ice prefers to Virtue's land.
Achitophel grown weary to possess
A lawful fame, a lasting happiness,
Disdained the golden fruit to gather free,
And lent the crowd his arm to shake the tree.
Now, manifest of crimes contrived long since,
He stood at bold defiance with his prince;
Held up the buckler of the people's cause
Against the crown, and skulked behind the laws.
150. CHARACTER OF ZIMRI (VILLIERS, Duke of Buckingham).
Some of their chiefs were princes of the land ;
In the first rank of these did Zimri stand :
A man so various, that he seem'd to be
Not one, but all mankind's epitome :
Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong ;
Was every thing by starts, and nothing long ;
But, in the course of one revolving moon,
Was chemist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon.
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 shew 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.
Beggar'd by fools, whom still he found too late ;
He had his jest, and they had his estate.
He laugh'd 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 not faction, but of that was left.
151. CHARACTER OF OG (the Poet SHADWELL). Og from a treason-tavern rolling home, Round as a globe, and liquor'd every chink, Goodly and great he sails behind his link; With all this bulk there's nothing lost in Og, For every inch that is not fool is rogue : A monstrous mass of foul corrupted matter, As all the devils had spew'd to make the batter. When wine has given him courage to blaspheme, He curses God, but God before curst him ; And, if man could have reason, none has more, That made his paunch so rich, and him so poor. With wealth he was not trusted, for heaven knew What 'twas of old to pamper up a Jew; To what would he on quail and pheasant swell, That ev'n on tripe and carrion could rebel ? But though heaven made him poor, with reverence speaking, He never was a poet of God's making ; 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 any thing but write : Thou art of lasting make, like thoughtless mev, A strong nativity—but for the pen! Eat opium, mingle arsenic in thy drink, Still thou mayst live, avoiding pen and ink. I see, I see, 'tis counsel given in vain,
treason botch'd in rhyme will be thy bane ; Rhyme is the rock ou 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.
152. VENI CREATOR SPIRITUS.
Creator Spirit, by whose aid
The World's foundations first were laid,
Come, visit every pious mind;
Come, pour thy joys on human kind;
From sin and sorrow set us free,
And make thy temples worthy Thee.
O source of uncreated light,
The Father's promised Paraclete !
Thrice holy fount, thrice holy fire,
Our hearts with heavenly love inspire ;
Come, and thy sacred unction bring,
To sanctify us while we sing.
Plenteous of grace, descend from high,
Rich in thy sevenfold energy!
Thou strength of His Almighty hand,
Whose power does heaven and earth command;
Proceeding Spirit, our defence,
Who dost the gifts of tongues dispense,
And crown'st thy gifts with eloquence !
Refine and purge our earthly parts ;
But, oh inflame and fire our hearts !
Our frailties help, our vice control,
Submit the senses to the soul ;
And when rebellious they are grown,
Then lay thine hand, and hold them down.
Chase from our minds the infernal foe,
And peace, the fruit of love, bestow;
And, lest our feet should step astray,
Protect and guide us in the way.
Make us eternal truths receive,
And practise all that we believe :
Give us Thyself, that we may see
The Father, and the Son, by Thee.
Immortal honour, endless fame,
Attend the Almighty Father's name!
The Saviour Son be glorified,
Who for lost man's redemption died !
And equal adoration be,
Eternal Paraclete, to Thee !