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- The Village and The Newspaper - 4/6 -


See other heroes die as MANNERS died: And from their fate, thy race shall nobler grow, As trees shoot upwards that are pruned below; Or as old Thames, borne down with decent pride, Sees his young streams run warbling at his side; Though some, by art cut off, no longer run, And some are lost beneath the summer sun - Yet the pure stream moves on, and, as it moves, Its power increases and its use improves; While plenty round its spacious waves bestow, Still it flows on, and shall for ever flow.

THE NEWSPAPER

E quibus, hi vacuas implent sermonibus aures: Hi narrata ferunt alio; mensuraque ficti Crescit, et auditis aliquid novus adjicit auctor: Illic Credulitas, illic temerarius Error, Vanaque Laetitia est, consternatique Timores, Seditioque repens, dubioque auctore Susurri. OVID, Metamorphoses

THE ARGUMENT

This not a Time favourable to Poetical Composition: and why-- Newspapers enemies to Literature, and their general Influence--Their Numbers--The Sunday Monitor--Their general Character--Their Effect upon Individuals--upon Society--in the Country--The Village Freeholder--What Kind of Composition a Newspaper is; and the Amusement it affords--Of what Parts it is chiefly composed--Articles of Intelligence: Advertisements: The Stage: Quacks: Puffing--The Correspondents to a Newspaper, political and poetical--Advice to the latter--Conclusion.

A time like this, a busy, bustling time, Suits ill with writers, very ill with rhyme: Unheard we sing, when party-rage runs strong, And mightier madness checks the flowing song: Or, should we force the peaceful Muse to wield Her feeble arms amid the furious field, Where party-pens a wordy war maintain, Poor is her anger, and her friendship vain; And oft the foes who feel her sting, combine, Till serious vengeance pays an idle line: For party-poets are like wasps, who dart Death to themselves, and to their foes but smart. Hard then our fate: if general themes we choose, Neglect awaits the song, and chills the Muse; Or should we sing the subject of the day, To-morrow's wonder puffs our praise away. More blest the bards of that poetic time, When all found readers who could find a rhyme; Green grew the bays on every teeming head, And Cibber was enthroned, and Settle read. Sing, drooping Muse, the cause of thy decline; Why reign no more the once-triumphant Nine? Alas! new charms the wavering many gain, And rival sheets the reader's eye detain; A daily swarm, that banish every Muse, Come flying forth, and mortals call them NEWS: For these, unread, the noblest volumes lie; For these, in sheets unsoil'd, the Muses die; Unbought, unblest, the virgin copies wait In vain for fame, and sink, unseen, to fate. Since, then, the Town forsakes us for our foes, The smoothest numbers for the harshest prose; Let us, with generous scorn, the taste deride, And sing our rivals with a rival's pride. Ye gentle poets, who so oft complain That foul neglect is all your labours gain; That pity only checks your growing spite To erring man, and prompts you still to write; That your choice works on humble stalls are laid, Or vainly grace the windows of the trade; Be ye my friends, if friendship e'er can warm Those rival bosoms whom the Muses charm; Think of the common cause wherein we go, Like gallant Greeks against the Trojan foe; Nor let one peevish chief his leader blame, Till, crown'd with conquest, we regain our fame; And let us join our forces to subdue This bold assuming but successful crew. I sing of NEWS, and all those vapid sheets The rattling hawker vends through gaping streets; Whate'er their name, whate'er the time they fly, Damp from the press, to charm the reader's eye: For soon as Morning dawns with roseate hue, The HERALD of the morn arises too; POST after POST succeeds, and, all day long, GAZETTES and LEDGERS swarm, a noisy throng. When evening comes, she comes with all her train; Of LEDGERS, CHRONICLES, and POSTS again. Like bats, appearing when the sun goes down, From holes obscure and corners of the town. Of all these triflers, all like these, I write; Oh! like my subject could my song delight, The crowd at Lloyd's one poet's name should raise, And all the Alley echo to his praise. In shoals the hours their constant numbers bring, Like insects waking to th' advancing spring; Which take their rise from grubs obscene that lie In shallow pools, or thence ascend the sky: Such are these base ephemeras, so born To die before the next revolving morn. Yet thus they differ: insect-tribes are lost In the first visit of a winters frost; While these remain, a base but constant breed, Whose swarming sons their short-lived sires succeed; No changing season makes their number less, Nor Sunday shines a sabbath on the press! Then lo! the sainted MONITOR is born, Whose pious face some sacred texts adorn: As artful sinners cloak the secret sin, To veil with seeming grace the guile within; So moral Essays on his front appear, But all is carnal business in the rear; The fresh-coin'd lie, the secret whisper'd last, And all the gleanings of the six days past. With these retired through half the Sabbath-day, The London lounger yawns his hours away: Not so, my little flock! your preacher fly, Nor waste the time no worldly wealth can buy; But let the decent maid and sober clown Pray for these idlers of the sinful town: This day, at least, on nobler themes bestow, Nor give to WOODFALL, or the world below. But, Sunday past, what numbers flourish then, What wondrous labours of the press and pen; Diurnal most, some thrice each week affords, Some only once,--O avarice of words! When thousand starving minds such manna seek, To drop the precious food but once a week. Endless it were to sing the powers of all, Their names, their numbers; how they rise and fall: Like baneful herbs the gazer's eye they seize, Rush to the head, and poison where they please: Like idle flies, a busy, buzzing train, They drop their maggots in the trifler's brain: That genia soil receives the fruitful store, And there they grow, and breed a thousand more. Now be their arts display'd, how first they choose A cause and party, as the bard his Muse; Inspired by these, with clamorous zeal they cry, And through the town their dreams and omens fly; So the Sibylline leaves were blown about, Disjointed scraps of fate involved in doubt; So idle dreams, the journals of the night, Are right and wrong by turns, and mingle wrong with right.- Some champions for the rights that prop the crown, Some sturdy patriots, sworn to pull them down; Some neutral powers, with secret forces fraught, Wishing for war, but willing to be bought: While some to every side and party go, Shift every friend, and join with every foe; Like sturdy rogues in privateers, they strike This side and that, the foes of both alike; A traitor-crew, who thrive in troubled times, Fear'd for their force, and courted for their crimes. Chief to the prosperous side the numbers sail, Fickle and false, they veer with every gale; As birds that migrate from a freezing shore In search of warmer climes, come skimming o'er, Some bold adventurers first prepare to try The doubtful sunshine of the distant sky; But soon the growing Summer's certain sun Wins more and more, till all at last are won: So, on the early prospect of disgrace, Fly in vast troops this apprehensive race; Instinctive tribes! their failing food they dread, And buy, with timely change, their future bread. Such are our guides; how many a peaceful head, Born to be still, have they to wrangling led! How many an honest zealot stol'n from trade, And factious tools of pious pastors made! With clews like these they thread the maze of state, These oracles explore, to learn our fate; Pleased with the guides who can so well deceive, Who cannot lie so fast as they believe. Oft lend I, loth, to some sage friend an ear, (For we who will not speak are doom'd to hear); While he, bewilder'd, tells his anxious thought, Infectious fear from tainted scribblers caught, Or idiot hope; for each his mind assails, As LLOYD'S court-light or STOCKDALE'S gloom prevails. Yet stand I patient while but one declaims, Or gives dull comments on the speech he maims: But oh! ye Muses, keep your votary's feet From tavern-haunts where politicians meet; Where rector, doctor, and attorney pause, First on each parish, then each public cause: Indited roads, and rates that still increase; The murmuring poor, who will not fast in peace; Election zeal and friendship, since declined;


The Village and The Newspaper - 4/6

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