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34.-The Crow and the other Birds: containing e useful Hint to the Critics.
IN ancient times, tradition says,
When birds like men would strive for praise;
The bulfinch, nightingale, and thrush,
With all that chant from tree to bush,
Would often meet in song to vie;
The kinds that sing not, sitting by.
A knavish crow, it seems, had got
The knack to criticise by rote;
He understood each learned phrase,
As well as critics now-a-days:
Some say, he learn'd them from an owl,
By list'ning where he taught a school.
'Tis strange to tell, this subtle creature,
Though nothing musical by nature,
Had learn'd so well to play his part,
With nonsense couch'd in terms of art,
As to be own'd by all at last
Director of the public taste.
Then puff'd with insolence and pride,
And sure of numbers on his side,
Each song he freely criticis'd;
What he approv'd not, was despis'd:
But one false step in evil hour
For ever stript him of his power.
Once when the birds assembled sat,
All list'ning to his formal chat;
By instinct nice he chanc'd to find
A cloud approaching in the wind,
And ravens hardly can refrain
From croaking when they think of rain:
His wonted song he sung: the blunder
Amaz'd and scar'd them worse than thunder;
For no one thought so harsh a note
Could ever sound from any throat;
They all at first with mute surprise
Each on his neighbour turn'd his eyes:
But scorn succeeding soon took place,
And might be read in every face.
All this the raven saw with pain,
And strove his credit to regain.
Quoth he, the solo which ye heard In public should not have appear'd: My voice, that's somewhat rough and strong, Might chance the melody to wrong, But, tried by rules, you'll find the grounds Most perfect and harmonious sounds. He reason'd thus; but to his trouble, At every word the laugh grew double: At last, o'ercome with shame and spite, He flew away quite out of sight.
35.-The two Owls and the Sparrow.
Two formal Owls together sat,
Conferring thus in solemn chat:
How is the modern taste decay'd!
Where's the respect to wisdom paid?
Our worth the Grecian sages knew;
They gave our sires the honour due;
They weigh'd the dignity of fowls,
And pry'd into the depth of Owls.
Athens, the seat of learned fame,
With general voice rever'd our name;
On merit title was conferr'd,
And all ador'd th' Athenian bird.
Brother, you reason well, replies
The solemn mate, with half-shut eyes;
Right, Athens was the seat of learning,
And truly wisdom is discerning.
Besides, on Pallas' helm we sit,
The type and ornament of wit;
But now, alas! we're quite neglected,
And a pert Sparrow's more respected.
A Sparrow, who was lodg'd beside, O'erhears them sooth each other's pride, And thus he nimbly vents his heat:
Who meets a fool must find conceit.
I grant, you were at Athens grac'd,
And on Minerva's helm were plac'd ;
But every bird that wings the sky,
Except the Owl, can tell you why.
From hence they taught their schools to know
How false we judge by outward show;
That we should never looks esteem,
Since fools as wise as you might seem.
Would ye contempt and scorn avoid,
Let your vain-glory be destroy'd:
Humble your arrogance of thought,
Pursue the ways by nature taught;
So shall you find delicious fare,
And grateful farmers praise your care.
36.-Courage in Poverty.
IN Anna's wars, a soldier poor and old Had dearly earn'd a little purse of gold: Tir'd with a tedious march, one luckless night, He slept, poor dog! and lost it, every mite. This put the man in such a desp'rate mind, Between revenge, and grief, and hunger join'd, Against the foe, himself, and all mankind, He leap'd the trenches, scal'd a castle-wall, Tore down a standard, took the Fort and all. "Prodigious well!" his great Commander cry'd, Gave him much praise, and some reward beside. Next, pleas'd his Excellence a town to batter; (Its name I know not, and 'tis no great matter) "Go on, my Friend, (he cry'd), see yonder walls, "Advance and conquer! go, where glory calls! "More honours, more rewards attend the brave." Don't you remember what reply he gave? "D'ye think me, noble Gen'ral, such a sot? "Let him take castles, who has ne'er a groat." Pope.
37.-Prologue to Cato; 1713.
To wake the soul by tender strokes of art;
To raise the genius, and to mend the heart;
To make mankind, in conscious virtue bold,
Live o'er each scene, and be what they behold:
For this the tragic muse first trode the stage,
Commanding tears to stream through every age;
Tyrants no more their savage nature kept,
And foes to virtue wonder'd how they wept.
Our author shuns, by vulgar springs, to move
The hero's glory, or the virgin's love;
In pitying love, we but our weakness show,
And wild ambition well deserves its woe.
Here tears shall flow from a more generous cause,
Such tears as patriots shed for dying laws:
He bids your breast with ancient ardour rise,
And calls forth Roman drops from British eyes.
Virtue confess'd in human shape he draws,
What Plato thought, and god-like Cato was :
No common object to your sight displays,
But what with pleasure Heaven itself surveys,
A brave man struggling in the storms of fate,
And greatly falling with a falling state.
While Cato gives his little senate laws,
What bosom beats not in his country's cause?
Who sees him act, but envies every deed?
Who hears him groan, and does not wish to bleed?
Even when proud Cæsar, midst triumphal cars,
The spoils of nations, and the pomp of wars,
Ignobly vain and impotently great,
Shew'd Rome her Cato's figure drawn in state:
As her dead father's reverend image past,
The pomp was darken'd, and the day o'ercast;
The triumph ceas'd, tears gush'd from every eyeţ
The world's great victor pass'd unheeded by;
Her last good man dejected Rome ador'd,
And honour'd Cæsar's less than Cato's sword.
Britons attend: be worth like this approv'd, And show you have the virtue to be mov'd. With honest scorn the first fam'd Cato view'd Rome learning arts from Greece, whom she subdu'd; Our scene precariously subsists too long On French translation, and Italian song. Dare to have sense yourselves; assert the stage, Be justly warm'd with your own native rage: Such plays alone should please a British ear, As Cato's self had not disdain'd to hear.
38.-Epilogue by Mr Garrick, on quitting the Stage; June 1776.
A VETERAN see! whose last act on the stage
Intreats your smiles for sickness and for age;
Their cause I plead-plead it in heart and mind;
A fellow-feeling makes one wond'rous kind;
Might we but hope your zeal would not be less,
When I am gone, to patronize distress;
That hope obtain'd, the wish'd for end secures,
To soothe their cares, who oft have lighten'd yours.
Shall the great heroes of celestial line,
Who drank full bowls of Greek and Roman wine,
Cæsar and Brutus, Agamemnon, Hector,
Nay, Jove himself, who here has quaff'd his nectar!
Shall they who govern fortune, cringe and court her,
Thirst in their age, and call in vain for porter?
Like Belisarius, tax the pitying street,
With date obolum to all they meet?
Shan't I, who oft have drench'd my hands in gore;
Stabb'd many, poison'd some, beheaded more;
Who numbers slew in battle on this plain;
Shan't I, the slayer, try to feed the slain?
Brother to all, with equal love I view
The men who slew me, and the men I slew:
I must, I will this happy project seize,
That those, too old to die, may live with ease.
Suppose the babes I smother'd in the tower,
By chance, or sickness, lose their acting power,
Shall they, once princes, worse than all be serv'd!
In childhood murder'd, and, when murder'd, starv'd?
Can I, young Hamlet once, to nature lost,
Behold, O horrible! my father's ghost,
With grisly beard, pale cheek-stalk up and down,
And he, the Royal Dane, want half a crown?
Forbid it, ladies; gentlemen, forbid it;
Give joy to age, and let 'em say-You did it:
To you, ye gods!* I make my last appeal;
You have a right to judge, as well as feel;
*To the Upper Gallery.