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- Inebriety and the Candidate - 3/4 -

Familiar with disappointment, he shall not be much surprised to find he has mistaken his talent.

However, if not egregiously the dupe of his vanity, he promises to his readers some entertainment, and is assured that however little in the ensuing Poem is worthy of applause, there is yet less that merits contempt.


The pious pilot, whom the gods provide, Through the rough seas the shatter'd bark to guide, Trusts not alone his knowledge of the deep, Its rocks that threaten, and its sands that sleep; But whilst with nicest skill he steers his way, The guardian Tritons hear their favourite pray. Hence borne his vows to Neptune's coral dome, The god relents, and shuts each gulfy tomb. Thus as on fatal floods to fame I steer, I dread the storm that ever rattles here, Nor think enough, that long my yielding soul Has felt the Muse's soft but strong control, Nor think enough, that manly strength and ease, Such as have pleased a friend, will strangers please; But, suppliant, to the critic's throne I bow, Here burn my incense, and here pay my vow; That censure hush'd, may every blast give o'er, And the lash'd coxcomb hiss contempt no more. And ye, whom authors dread or dare in vain, Affecting modest hopes, or poor disdain, Receive a bard, who neither mad nor mean, Despises each extreme, and sails between; Who fears; but has, amid his fears confess'd, The conscious virtue of a Muse oppress'd; A muse in changing times and stations nursed, By nature honour'd, and by fortune cursed. No servile strain of abject hope she brings, Nor soars presumptuous, with unwearied wings, But, pruned for flight--the future all her care - Would know her strength, and, if not strong, forbear. The supple slave to regal pomp bows down, Prostrate to power, and cringing to a crown; The bolder villain spurns a decent awe, Tramples on rule, and breaks through every law; But he whose soul on honest truth relies, Nor meanly flatters power, nor madly flies. Thus timid authors bear an abject mind, And plead for mercy they but seldom find. Some, as the desperate, to the halter run, Boldly deride the fate they cannot shun; But such there are, whose minds, not taught to stoop, Yet hope for fame, and dare avow their hope, Who neither brave the judges of their cause, Nor beg in soothing strains a brief applause. And such I'd be;--and ere my fate is past, Ere clear'd with honour, or with culprits cast, Humbly at Learning's bar I'll state my case, And welcome then distinction or disgrace! When in the man the flights of fancy reign, Rule in the heart or revel in the brain, As busy Thought her wild creation apes, And hangs delighted o'er her varying shapes, It asks a judgment, weighty and discreet, To know where wisdom prompts, and where conceit. Alike their draughts to every scribbler's mind (Blind to their faults as to their danger blind); - We write enraptured, and we write in haste, Dream idle dreams, and call them things of taste, Improvement trace in every paltry line, And see, transported, every dull design; Are seldom cautious, all advice detest, And ever think our own opinions best; Nor shows my Muse a muse-like spirit here, Who bids me pause, before I persevere. But she--who shrinks while meditating flight In the wide way, whose bounds delude her sight, Yet tired in her own mazes still to roam, And cull poor banquets for the soul at home, Would, ere she ventures, ponder on the way, Lest dangers yet unthought of, flight betray; Lest her Icarian wing, by wits unplumed, Be robb'd of all the honours she assumed; And Dulness swell,--a black and dismal sea, Gaping her grave; while censures madden me. Such was his fate, who flew too near the sun, Shot far beyond his strength, and was undone; Such is his fate, who creeping at the shore The billow sweeps him, and he's found no more. Oh! for some god, to bear my fortunes fair Midway betwixt presumption and despair! "Has then some friendly critic's former blow Taught thee a prudence authors seldom know?" Not so! their anger and their love untried, A woe-taught prudence deigns to tend my side: Life's hopes ill-sped, the Muse's hopes grow poor, And though they flatter, yet they charm no more; Experience points where lurking dangers lay, And as I run, throws caution in my way. There was a night, when wintry winds did rage, Hard by a ruin'd pile, I meet a sage; Resembling him the time-struck place appear'd, Hollow its voice, and moss its spreading beard; Whose fate-lopp'd brow, the bat's and beetle's dome, Shook, as the hunted owl flew hooting home. His breast was bronzed by many an eastern blast, And fourscore winters seem'd he to have past; His thread-bare coat the supple osier bound, And with slow feet he press'd the sodden ground, Where, as he heard the wild-wing'd Eurus blow, He shook, from locks as white, December's snow; Inured to storm, his soul ne'er bid it cease, But lock'd within him meditated peace. Father, I said--for silver hairs inspire, And oft I call the bending peasant Sire - Tell me, as here beneath this ivy bower, That works fantastic round its trembling tower, We hear Heaven's guilt-alarming thunders roar, Tell me the pains and pleasures of the poor; For Hope, just spent, requires a sad adieu, And Fear acquaints me I shall live with you. There was a time when, by Delusion led, A scene of sacred bliss around me spread, On Hope's, as Pisgah's lofty top, I stood, And saw my Canaan there, my promised good; A thousand scenes of joy the clime bestow'd, And wine and oil through vision's valleys flow'd; As Moses his, I call'd my prospect bless'd, And gazed upon the good I ne'er possess'd: On this side Jordan doom'd by fate to stand, Whilst happier Joshuas win the promised land. "Son," said the Sage--"be this thy care suppress'd; The state the gods shall chose thee is the best: Rich if thou art, they ask thy praises more, And would thy patience when they make thee poor; But other thoughts within thy bosom reign, And other subjects vex thy busy brain, Poetic wreaths thy vainer dreams excite, And thy sad stars have destined thee to write. Then since that task the ruthless fates decree, Take a few precepts from the gods and me! "Be not too eager in the arduous chase; Who pants for triumph seldom wins the race: Venture not all, but wisely hoard thy worth, And let thy labours one by one go forth: Some happier scrap capricious wits may find On a fair day, and be profusely kind; Which, buried in the rubbish of a throng, Had pleased as little as a new-year's song, Or lover's verse, that cloy'd with nauseous sweet, Or birth-day ode, that ran on ill-pair'd feet. Merit not always--Fortune feeds the bard, And as the whim inclines bestows reward: None without wit, nor with it numbers gain; To please is hard, but none shall please in vain: As a coy mistress is the humour'd town, Loth every lover with success to crown; He who would win must every effort try, Sail in the mode, and to the fashion fly; Must gay or grave to every humour dress, And watch the lucky Moment of Success; That caught, no more his eager hopes are crost; But vain are Wit and Love, when that is lost." Thus said the god; for now a god he grew His white locks changing to a golden hue, And from his shoulders hung a mantle azure-blue. His softening eyes the winning charm disclosed Of dove-like Delia when her doubts reposed; Mira's alone a softer lustre bear, When woe beguiles them of an angel's tear; Beauteous and young the smiling phantom stood, Then sought on airy wing his blest abode. Ah! truth, distasteful in poetic theme, Why is the Muse compell'd to own her dream? Whilst forward wits had sworn to every line, I only wish to make its moral mine. Say then, O ye who tell how authors speed, May Hope indulge her flight, and I succeed? Say, shall my name, to future song prefixed, Be with the meanest of the tuneful mix'd? Shall my soft strains the modest maid engage, My graver numbers move the silver "d sage, My tender themes delight the lover's heart, And comfort to the poor my solemn songs impart? For Oh! thou Hope's, thou Thought's eternal King, Who gav'st them power to charm, and me to sing - Chief to thy praise my willing numbers soar, And in my happier transports I adore; Mercy! thy softest attribute proclaim, Thyself in abstract, thy more lovely name; That flings o'er all my grief a cheering ray, As the full moon-beam gilds the watery way. And then too, Love, my soul's resistless lord, Shall many a gentle, generous strain afford, To all the soil of sooty passion blind, Pure as embracing angels and as kind; Our Mira's name in future times shall shine, And--though the harshest--Shepherds envy mine.

Inebriety and the Candidate - 3/4

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