English Poets of the Eighteenth Century eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 437 pages of information about English Poets of the Eighteenth Century.

* * * * *

When the dread trumpet sounds, the slumbering dust,
Not unattentive to the call, shall wake,
And every joint possess its proper place
With a new elegance of form unknown
To its first state.  Nor shall the conscious soul
Mistake its partner, but, amidst the crowd
Singling its other half, into its arms
Shall rush with all the impatience of a man
That’s new come home, who having long been absent
With haste runs over every different room
In pain to see the whole.  Thrice happy meeting! 
Nor time nor death shall part them ever more. 
’Tis but a night, a long and moonless night,
We make the grave our bed, and then are gone.

  Thus at the shut of even the weary bird
  Leaves the wide air and, in some lonely brake,
  Cowers down and dozes till the dawn of day,
  Then claps his well-fledged wings and bears away.



  Our mirthful age, to all extremes a prey,
  Even, courts the lash, and laughs her pains away,
  Declining worth imperial wit supplies,
  And Momus triumphs, while Astraea flies. 
  No truth so sacred, banter cannot hit,
  No fool so stupid but he aims at wit. 
  Even those whose breasts ne’er planned one virtuous deed,
  Nor raised a thought beyond the earth they tread: 
  Even those can censure, those can dare deride
  A Bacon’s avarice, or a Tully’s pride;
  And sneer at human checks by Nature given. 
  To curb perfection e’er it rival Heaven: 
  Nay, chiefly such in these low arts prevail,
  Whose want of talents leaves them time to raid. 
  Born for no end, they worse than useless grow,
  (As waters poison, if they cease to flow;)
  And pests become, whom kinder fate designed
  But harmless expletives of human kind. 
  See with what zeal th’ insidious task they ply! 
  Where shall the prudent, where the virtuous fly? 
  Lurk as ye can, if they direct the ray,
  The veriest atoms in the sunbeams play. 
  No venial slip their quick attention ’scapes;
  They trace each Proteus through his hundred shapes;
  To Mirth’s tribunal drag the caitiff train,
  Where Mercy sleeps, and Nature pleads in vain.

* * * * *

Here then we fix, and lash without control
These mental pests, and hydras of the soul;
Acquired ill-nature, ever prompt debate,
A seal for slander, and deliberate hate: 
These court contempt, proclaim the public foe,
And each, Ulysses like, should aim the blow. 
Yet sure, even here, our motives should be known: 
Rail we to check his spleen, or ease our own?

  Does injured virtue every shaft supply,
  Arm the keen tongue, and flush th’ erected eye? 
  Or do we from ourselves ourselves disguise? 
  And act, perhaps, the villain we chastise? 
  Hope we to mend him? hopes, alas, how vain! 
  He feels the lash, not listens to the rein.

Project Gutenberg
English Poets of the Eighteenth Century from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook