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** out of the prince's own flaggon, insomuch (says " the historian) that thro' so great good eating and
drinking he contracted a most terrible gout." Sorry I am to relate what follows, but that I cannot leave
my reader's curiosity unsatisfied in the cataftrophe of this extraordinary man. To use my author's words, which are remarkable, mortuo Leone, profrigatisque poetis, etc. “ When Leo died, and poets
were no more.” (for I would not understand profiigatis literally, as if poets then were profligate) chis unhappy Laureate was forthwith reduced to return to his country, where, oppressed with old age and want, he miserably perished in a common hospital.
We see from this sad conclusion (which may be of example to the poets of our time) that it were happier to meet 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 furer support than the temporary, or at best, mortal favours of the great. It was doubtless for this considera. tion, 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 station of Poet Laureate any man who hath once been chosen, tho' rever fo much greater Genius's might arise in his time. A noble instance, how much the charity of our monarchs 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 but of fack to the salary
Secondly, the braffica must be made use of as 'a qualifier of the former. It feems the cabbage was antiently accounted a remedy for drunkenness; a power the French now ascribe to the onion, and style a soup made of it, soupe d'Ycurogre. 'I would recommend a large mixture of the braffica, if Mr. Dennis bechofen; but if Mr. TIBBALD, it is not so necessary, unless the cabbage be supposed to signify 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 emblema. tical of the three virtụes 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 sing it fo affectingly. But what this cancicie
Mould be, either in his or the other candidate's cafe, I shall not pretend to determine.
Thirdly, there ought to be a public show, or entry of the poet: To settle the order or procession of which, Mr.Anstis and Mr. Dennis ought to have a conference. I apprehend here two difficulties; one, of procuring an elephant; the other of teaching the poet to ride him: Therefore I should imagine the next animal in size or dignity would do beft : either a mule or a large ass; particularly if that noble one could be had, whose 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 swans from Cæsar in Egypt.
We have spoken fufficiently of the ceremony; let us now speak of the qualifications and privileges of the Laureate. First, we fee he must be able to make verses extempore, and to pour forth innumerable, if Jequired. In this I doubt Mr. TIBBALD. Secondly, he ought to sing, 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 too 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 stomach, to eat and drink whatever his betters think fit; and therefore it is in this high office as in many others, no puny constitution can discharge it. I do not think Cibber 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, fueh a person as is truly jealous of the huncur and dignity of poetry 3 no joker, or trifler; but a bard in good earnest; nay, not amiss if a critic, and the better if a little obfii. náte. For when we consider what great privileges have been lot from this office (as we see from the forecited authentick record of Jovius) namely those of feeding from the prince's table, drinking out of his own fiaggon, 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 teady affertion of these privileges may be expected ; and, if there be such a one, I must do him the juftice to say, it is Mr. Dennis the worthy president of our fociety.
March 16, 17.13.
HOUGH most things which are wrong in
their own nature are at once confessed and absolved in that single word, the Custom; yet there are some, which as they have a dangerous tendency, a thinking man will the less excuse on that
very count. 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 moft part ought to have inspired with nobler and jufter 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 must 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 to express it, but what have been already used, and