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In the black form of cinder-wench she came,
When love, the hour, the place, had banish’d fħame;
To the dark alley arm in arm they move : -
O may no link-boy interrupt their love.
When the pale moon had nine times fill'd herfpace,
The pregnant Goddess (cautious of disgrace)
Descends to earth; but fought no midwife's aid,
Nor midst her anguish to Lucinda pray'd ;
No cheerfulgoffip wish’d the mother joy,
Alone, beneath a bulk she dropt the boy.
The child through various risques in years improv'd,
At first a beggar's brat, compassion mov'd;
His infant tongue foon learnt the canting art,
Knew all the pray'rs and whines to touch the heart.
Oh happy unown'd youths, your limbs can béar
The scorching dog-star, and the winter's air,
While the rich nurs'd with care and pain,
Thirsts with each heat, and coughs with ev'ry rain !
The Goddefs long had mark'd the child's distress,
And long had fought his suff'rings to redress;
She prays the Gods to take the fondling's part,
To teach his hands fome beneficial art
Praćtis'd in streets : the Gods her fuit allow’d,
And made him useful to the walking croud,
To cleanse the miry, feet, and o'er the shoe
With nimble skill the glofly black renew,
Each power contributes to relieve the poor :
With the strong bristles of the mighty boar
Diana forms his bruih'; the God of day
A tripod gives, amid the crouded way
To raife the dirty foot, and ease his toil;
Kind Neptune fills his vafe with fetid oil
Prest from th' enormous whale: the God of fire,
From whose dominions fmoky clouds aspire,
Among these gen’rous presents joins his part,
And aids with foot the new japanning art ; -
Pleas'd she receives the gifts ; she downward glides,
Lights in Fleet-ditch, and shoots beneath the tides.
Now dawns the morn, the sturdy lad awakes,
Leaps from his stall, his tangled hair he shakes,
Then leaning o'er the rails, he mufing stood,
And view'd below the black canal of mud,
Where common fhores a lulling murmur keep,
Whose torrents rush from Holbourn's fatal steep :
Penfive through idleness, tears flow'd apace,
Which eas'd his loaded heart, and wash'd his face ;
At length he fighing cry'd ; That boy was blest,
Whose infant lips have drain'd a mother's breast ;
* But happier far are those, (if fuch be known)
Whom both a father and a mother own :
But I, alas ! hard fortune's utmost scorn,
Who ne'er knew parent, was an orphan born !
Some boys are rich by birth beyond all wants,
Belov’d by uncles, and kind good old aunts ;
When times comes round, a Christmas box they bear,
And one day makes them rich for all the year.
Had I the precepts of a father learn'd,
Perhaps I then the coachman's fare had earn'd,
For leffer boys can drive; I thirsty stand
And fee the double flaggon charge their hand,
See them puff off the froth, and gulp amain,
While with dry tongue Ilick my lips in vain.
While thus he fervent prays, the heaving tide
In widen'd circles beats on either fide;
The Goddess rose amid the inmost round,
With wither’d turnip-tops her temples crown'd;
Low reach'd her dripping treffes, lank, and black
As the fmooth jet, or gloffy raven's back ;
Around her waist a circling eel was twin'd,
Which bound her robe that hung in rags behind.
Now beck’ning to the boy; she thus begun ;
Thy prayers are granted ; weep no more, my fon :
Go thrive. At fome frequented corner stand,
This brush I give thee, grasp it in thy hand.
Temper the foot within this vafe of oil,
And let the little tripod aid thy toil ;
'On this methinks I fee the walking crew, .
At thy request support the miry shoe,
The foot grows black that was with dirt embrown'd,
And in thy pocket gingling halfpence found.
The Goddess plunges swift beneath the flood,
And dashes all around her show’rs of mud ; -
The youth straight chofe his post; the labour ply'd,
Where branching streets from Charing-cross divide ;
His treble voice refounds, along the Meuse,
And Whitehallechoes Clean your honour's/hoes.
Episodes, and poetical fictions, properly introduc'd, have a most admirable effećt in preceptive poetry ; for they take off the attention of the mind, when fatigued with dry precepts, and lead it to subjećts that are entertaining. They may, in this respect, be compared to inns placed at proper distances on the road, where, when a man is tired, he may ftop to refresh himself.
But the humour and art of this author is fo powerful, that he can make us laugh even at circumstances that fhould excite a different fensation ; as will appear by the following description.
O roving muse, recal that wondrous year,
When winter reign'd in bleak Britannia’s air ;
When hoary Thames, with frosted osiers crown'd,
Was three long moons in icy fetters bound,
The waterman, forlorn along the shore,
Penfive reclines upon his ufeless oar,
See harness'd steeds defert the ftony town ;
And wander roads unstable, not their own :
Wheels o'er the harden'd waters fmoothly glide,
And raife with whiten'd tracks the flipp’ry tide.
Here the fat cook piles high the blazing fire,
And fcarce the spit can turn the steer entire.
Booths fudden hide the Thames, long streets appear,
And num'rous games proclaim the crouded fair,
So when a gen’ral bids the martial train
Spread their incampment o'er the spacious plain ;
Thick-rifing tents a canvas city build,
And the loud dice refound thro' all the field.
'Twas here the matron found a doleful fate :
Let elegiaclay the woe relate,
Soft as the breath of distant flutes, at hours
When filent ev’ning closes up the flow’rs ;
Lulling as falling water’s hollow noise ; , .
Indulging grief, like Philomela's voice.
Doll ev'ry day had walk'd these treach'rous roads ;
Her neck grew wrapt beneath autumnal loads
We should here treat of those preceptive poems that teach the art of poetry itself, of which there are many that deserve particular attention; but we have anticipated, our design, and render’d any farther notice of them in a manner ufeless, by the observations we have made in the course of this work. We ought however to remark, that Horace was the only poet among the ancients, who wrote precepts for poetry in verse, at least his epistle to the Pifö's is the only piece of the kind that has been handed down to us; and that is fo perfećt it seems almost to have precluded the necessity of any other. Among the
moderns we have feveral that are justly admired, which
the reader will find, occasionally mentioned in different
parts of this volume.
We are now to speak of those precepts that respect cri-
ticism ; and here we shall be obliged to draw all our ex-
amples from Mr. Pope, who is, perhaps, the only author
that has laid down rules in this manner for the direćtion
of the judgment. His effay is of a mix'd nature, and
may not improperly be called the Art of Poetry as well as
Criticism. This, however, is not to be confidered as a
blemish, but a beauty in his production.
Mr. Pope introduces his poem with this very just obser-
vation, that it is as great a fault to judge ill, as to write
ill, and more dangerous to the publick. He then pro-
ceeds to fhew, that a true tafte is as difficult to be found as
a true genius ; and observes, that tho' most men are born
with fome taste, yet it is generally spoiled by a false edu-
cation, He takes notice of the multitude of critics, and
tells us in the following lines that we ought to study our
own taste, and know the limits of our genius, and judg-
ment, before we'attempt to criticife on others.
But you who feek to give and merit fame,
And justly bear a critic's noble name,
Be fure yourself and your own reach to know,
How far your genius, taste, and learning go ;
Launch not beyond your depth, but be discreet,
And mark that point where fenfe and dulness meet.
And in the following beautiful lines he refers us to
nature as the best, and indeed, the only unerring guide
to the judgment.
First follow NATUR E, and your judgment frame
By her just standard, which is still the fame;
Unerring nature, still divinely bright,
One clear, unchang'd, and universal light,
Life, force, and beauty, must to all impart,
At once the fource, and end, and test of art.
Art from that fund, each just supply provides ;
Works without show, and without pomp presides :
In fome fair body thusith' informing foul -
With spirits feeds, with vigour fills the whole,
Each motion guides, and ev'ry nerve fustains ;
But the judgment, he observes, may be improved by the rules of art, which rules, ifjust and fit, are only nature methodised; and as these rules are derived from the praćtice of the ancient poets, the ancients, particularly Homer and Virgil, ought to be study’d by the critic.
Youthen whose judgment the right course wou'd steer,
Know well each Ancie NT's proper character ;
His fäble, subjećt, scope in ev'ry page ;
Religion, country, genius of his age :
Without all these at once before your eyes,
Cavil you may, but never criticize.
Be HoMER’s works your study, and delight,
Read them by day, and meditate by night;
Thence form your judgment, thence your maxims bring,
And trace the muses upward to their spring,