The Ghost. Book II.

A poem by Charles Churchill

A sacred standard rule we find,
By poets held time out of mind,
To offer at Apollo's shrine,
And call on one, or all the Nine.
This custom, through a bigot zeal,
Which moderns of fine taste must feel
For those who wrote in days of yore,
Adopted stands, like many more;
Though every cause which then conspired
To make it practised and admired,
Yielding to Time's destructive course,
For ages past hath lost its force.
With ancient bards, an invocation
Was a true act of adoration,
Of worship an essential part,
And not a formal piece of art,
Of paltry reading a parade,
A dull solemnity in trade,
A pious fever, taught to burn
An hour or two, to serve a turn.
They talk'd not of Castalian springs,
By way of saying pretty things,
As we dress out our flimsy rhymes;
'T was the religion of the times;
And they believed that holy stream
With greater force made Fancy teem,
Reckon'd by all a true specific
To make the barren brain prolific:
Thus Romish Church, (a scheme which bears
Not half so much excuse as theirs)
Since Faith implicitly hath taught her,
Reveres the force of holy water.
The Pagan system, whether true
Or false, its strength, like buildings, drew
From many parts disposed to bear,
In one great whole, their proper share.
Each god of eminent degree
To some vast beam compared might be;
Each godling was a peg, or rather
A cramp, to keep the beams together:
And man as safely might pretend
From Jove the thunderbolt to rend,
As with an impious pride aspire
To rob Apollo of his lyre.
With settled faith and pious awe,
Establish'd by the voice of Law,
Then poets to the Muses came,
And from their altars caught the flame.
Genius, with Phoebus for his guide,
The Muse ascending by his side,
With towering pinions dared to soar,
Where eye could scarcely strain before.
But why should we, who cannot feel
These glowings of a Pagan zeal,
That wild enthusiastic force,
By which, above her common course,
Nature, in ecstasy upborne,
Look'd down on earthly things with scorn;
Who have no more regard, 'tis known,
For their religion than our own,
And feel not half so fierce a flame
At Clio's as at Fisher's[1] name;
Who know these boasted sacred streams
Were mere romantic, idle dreams,
That Thames has waters clear as those
Which on the top of Pindus rose,
And that, the fancy to refine,
Water's not half so good as wine;
Who know, if profit strikes our eye,
Should we drink Helicon quite dry,
The whole fountain would not thither lead
So soon as one poor jug from Tweed:
Who, if to raise poetic fire,
The power of beauty we require,
In any public place can view
More than the Grecians ever knew;
If wit into the scale is thrown,
Can boast a Lennox[2] of our own;
Why should we servile customs choose,
And court an antiquated Muse?
No matter why--to ask a reason,
In pedant bigotry is treason.
In the broad, beaten turnpike-road
Of hacknied panegyric ode,
No modern poet dares to ride
Without Apollo by his side,
Nor in a sonnet take the air,
Unless his lady Muse be there;
She, from some amaranthine grove,
Where little Loves and Graces rove,
The laurel to my lord must bear,
Or garlands make for whores to wear;
She, with soft elegiac verse,
Must grace some mighty villain's hearse,
Or for some infant, doom'd by Fate
To wallow in a large estate,
With rhymes the cradle must adorn,
To tell the world a fool is born.
Since then our critic lords expect
No hardy poet should reject
Establish'd maxims, or presume
To place much better in their room,
By nature fearful, I submit,
And in this dearth of sense and wit--
With nothing done, and little said,
(By wild excursive Fancy led
Into a second Book thus far,
Like some unwary traveller,
Whom varied scenes of wood and lawn,
With treacherous delight, have drawn,
Deluded from his purposed way,
Whom every step leads more astray:
Who, gazing round, can no where spy,
Or house, or friendly cottage nigh,
And resolution seems to lack
To venture forward, or go back)
Invoke some goddess to descend,
And help me to my journey's end;
Though conscious Arrow all the while
Hears the petition with a smile,
Before the glass her charms unfolds,
And in herself my Muse beholds.
Truth, Goddess of celestial birth,
But little loved or known on earth,
Whose power but seldom rules the heart,
Whose name, with hypocritic art,
An arrant stalking-horse is made,
A snug pretence to drive a trade,
An instrument, convenient grown,
To plant more firmly Falsehood's throne,
As rebels varnish o'er their cause
With specious colouring of laws,
And pious traitors draw the knife
In the king's name against his life;
Whether (from cities far away,
Where Fraud and Falsehood scorn thy sway)
The faithful nymph's and shepherd's pride,
With Love and Virtue by thy side,
Your hours in harmless joys are spent
Amongst the children of Content;
Or, fond of gaiety and sport,
You tread the round of England's court,
Howe'er my lord may frowning go,
And treat the stranger as a foe,
Sure to be found a welcome guest
In George's and in Charlotte's breast;
If, in the giddy hours of youth,
My constant soul adhered to truth;
If, from the time I first wrote Man,
I still pursued thy sacred plan,
Tempted by Interest in vain
To wear mean Falsehood's golden chain;
If, for a season drawn away,
Starting from Virtue's path astray,
All low disguise I scorn'd to try,
And dared to sin, but not to lie;
Hither, oh! hither condescend,
Eternal Truth! thy steps to bend,
And favour him, who, every hour,
Confesses and obeys thy power.
But come not with that easy mien
By which you won the lively Dean;
Nor yet assume that strumpet air
Which Rabelais taught thee first to wear;
Nor yet that arch ambiguous face
Which with Cervantes gave thee grace;
But come in sacred vesture clad,
Solemnly dull, and truly sad!
Far from thy seemly matron train
Be idiot Mirth, and Laughter vain!
For Wit and Humour, which pretend
At once to please us and amend,
They are not for my present turn;
Let them remain in France with Sterne.
Of noblest City parents born,
Whom wealth and dignities adorn,
Who still one constant tenor keep,
Not quite awake, nor quite asleep;
With thee let formal Dulness come,
And deep Attention, ever dumb,
Who on her lips her finger lays,
Whilst every circumstance she weighs,
Whose downcast eye is often found
Bent without motion to the ground,
Or, to some outward thing confined,
Remits no image to the mind,
No pregnant mark of meaning bears,
But, stupid, without vision stares;
Thy steps let Gravity attend,
Wisdom's and Truth's unerring friend;
For one may see with half an eye,
That Gravity can never lie,
And his arch'd brow, pull'd o'er his eyes,
With solemn proof proclaims him wise.
Free from all waggeries and sports,
The produce of luxurious courts,
Where sloth and lust enervate youth,
Come thou, a downright City-Truth:
The City, which we ever find
A sober pattern for mankind;
Where man, in equilibrio hung,
Is seldom old, and never young,
And, from the cradle to the grave,
Not Virtue's friend nor Vice's slave;
As dancers on the wire we spy,
Hanging between the earth and sky.
She comes--I see her from afar
Bending her course to Temple-Bar;
All sage and silent is her train,
Deportment grave, and garments plain,
Such as may suit a parson's wear,
And fit the headpiece of a mayor.
By Truth inspired, our Bacon's force
Open'd the way to Learning's source;
Boyle through the works of Nature ran;
And Newton, something more than man,
Dived into Nature's hidden springs,
Laid bare the principles of things,
Above the earth our spirits bore,
And gave us worlds unknown before.
By Truth inspired, when Lauder's[3] spite
O'er Milton east the veil of night,
Douglas arose, and through the maze
Of intricate and winding ways,
Came where the subtle traitor lay,
And dragg'd him, trembling, to the day;
Whilst he, (oh, shame to noblest parts,
Dishonour to the liberal arts,
To traffic in so vile a scheme!)
Whilst he, our letter'd Polypheme,[4]
Who had confederate forces join'd,
Like a base coward skulk'd behind.
By Truth inspired, our critics go
To track Fingal in Highland snow,
To form their own and others' creed
From manuscripts they cannot read.
By Truth inspired, we numbers see
Of each profession and degree,
Gentle and simple, lord and cit,
Wit without wealth, wealth without wit,
When Punch and Sheridan have done,
To Fanny's[5] ghostly lectures run.
By Truth and Fanny now inspired,
I feel my glowing bosom fired;
Desire beats high in every vein
To sing the spirit of Cock-lane;
To tell (just as the measure flows
In halting rhyme, half verse, half prose)
With more than mortal arts endued,
How she united force withstood,
And proudly gave a brave defiance
To Wit and Dulness in alliance.
This apparition (with relation
To ancient modes of derivation,
This we may properly so call,
Although it ne'er appears at all,
As by the way of inuendo,
_Lucus_ is made _à non lucendo_)
Superior to the vulgar mode,
Nobly disdains that servile road
Which coward ghosts, as it appears,
Have walk'd in full five thousand years,
And, for restraint too mighty grown,
Strikes out a method of her own.
Others may meanly start away,
Awed by the herald of the day;
With faculties too weak to bear
The freshness of the morning air,
May vanish with the melting gloom,
And glide in silence to the tomb;
She dares the sun's most piercing light,
And knocks by day as well as night.
Others, with mean and partial view,
Their visits pay to one or two;
She, in great reputation grown,
Keeps the best company in town.
Our active enterprising ghost
As large and splendid routs can boast
As those which, raised by Pride's command[6],
Block up the passage through the Strand.
Great adepts in the fighting trade,
Who served their time on the parade;
She-saints, who, true to Pleasure's plan,
Talk about God, and lust for man;
Wits, who believe nor God, nor ghost,
And fools who worship every post;
Cowards, whose lips with war are hung;
Men truly brave, who hold their tongue;
Courtiers, who laugh they know not why,
And cits, who for the same cause cry;
The canting tabernacle-brother,
(For one rogue still suspects another);
Ladies, who to a spirit fly,
Rather than with their husbands lie;
Lords, who as chastely pass their lives
With other women as their wives;
Proud of their intellects and clothes,
Physicians, lawyers, parsons, beaux,
And, truant from their desks and shops,
Spruce Temple clerks and 'prentice fops,
To Fanny come, with the same view,
To find her false, or find her true.
Hark! something creeps about the house!
Is it a spirit, or a mouse?
Hark! something scratches round the room!
A cat, a rat, a stubb'd birch-broom.
Hark! on the wainscot now it knocks!
'If thou 'rt a ghost,' cried Orthodox,
With that affected solemn air
Which hypocrites delight to wear,
And all those forms of consequence
Which fools adopt instead of sense;
'If thou 'rt a ghost, who from the tomb
Stalk'st sadly silent through this gloom,
In breach of Nature's stated laws,
For good, or bad, or for no cause,
Give now nine knocks;[7] like priests of old,
Nine we a sacred number hold.'
'Psha,' cried Profound, (a man of parts,
Deep read in all the curious arts,
Who to their hidden springs had traced
The force of numbers, rightly placed)
'As to the number, you are right;
As to the form, mistaken quite.
What's nine? Your adepts all agree
The virtue lies in three times three.'
He said; no need to say it twice,
For thrice she knock'd, and thrice, and thrice.
The crowd, confounded and amazed,
In silence at each other gazed.
From Caelia's hand the snuff-box fell;
Tinsel, who ogled with the belle,
To pick it up attempts in vain,
He stoops, but cannot rise again.
Immane Pomposo[8] was not heard
T' import one crabbed foreign word.
Fear seizes heroes, fools, and wits,
And Plausible his prayers forgets.
At length, as people just awake,
Into wild dissonance they break;
All talk'd at once, but not a word
Was understood or plainly heard.
Such is the noise of chattering geese,
Slow sailing on the summer breeze;
Such is the language Discord speaks
In Welsh women o'er beds of leeks;
Such the confused and horrid sounds
Of Irish in potatoe-grounds.
But tired, for even C----'s[9] tongue
Is not on iron hinges hung,
Fear and Confusion sound retreat,
Reason and Order take their seat.
The fact, confirm'd beyond all doubt,
They now would find the causes out.
For this a sacred rule we find
Among the nicest of mankind,
Which never might exception brook
From Hobbes even down to Bolingbroke,
To doubt of facts, however true,
Unless they know the causes too.
Trifle, of whom 'twas hard to tell
When he intended ill or well;
Who, to prevent all further pother,
Probably meant nor one, nor t'other;
Who to be silent always loth,
Would speak on either side, or both;
Who, led away by love of fame,
If any new idea came,
Whate'er it made for, always said it,
Not with an eye to truth, but credit;
For orators profess'd, 'tis known,
Talk not for our sake, but their own;
Who always show'd his talents best
When serious things were turn'd to jest,
And, under much impertinence,
Possess'd no common share of sense;
Who could deceive the flying hours
With chat on butterflies and flowers;
Could talk of powder, patches, paint,
With the same zeal as of a saint;
Could prove a Sibyl brighter far
Than Venus or the Morning Star;
Whilst something still so gay, so new,
The smile of approbation drew,
And females eyed the charming man,
Whilst their hearts flutter'd with their fan;
Trifle, who would by no means miss
An opportunity like this,
Proceeding on his usual plan,
Smiled, stroked his chin, and thus began:
'With shears or scissors, sword or knife,
When the Fates cut the thread of life,
(For if we to the grave are sent,
No matter with what instrument)
The body in some lonely spot,
On dunghill vile, is laid to rot,
Or sleep among more holy dead
With prayers irreverently read;
The soul is sent where Fate ordains,
To reap rewards, to suffer pains.
The virtuous to those mansions go
Where pleasures unembitter'd flow,
Where, leading up a jocund band,
Vigour and Youth dance hand in hand,
Whilst Zephyr, with harmonious gales,
Pipes softest music through the vales,
And Spring and Flora, gaily crown'd,
With velvet carpet spread the ground;
With livelier blush where roses bloom,
And every shrub expires perfume;
Where crystal streams meandering glide,
Where warbling flows the amber tide;
Where other suns dart brighter beams,
And light through purer ether streams.
Far other seats, far different state,
The sons of Wickedness await.
Justice (not that old hag I mean
Who's nightly in the Garden seen[10],
Who lets no spark of mercy rise,
For crimes, by which men lose their eyes;
Nor her who, with an equal hand,
Weighs tea and sugar in the Strand;
Nor her who, by the world deem'd wise,
Deaf to the widow's piercing cries,
Steel'd 'gainst the starving orphan's tears,
On pawns her base tribunal rears;
But her who after death presides,
Whom sacred Truth unerring guides;
Who, free from partial influence,
Nor sinks nor raises evidence,
Before whom nothing's in the dark,
Who takes no bribe, and keeps no clerk)
Justice, with equal scale below,
In due proportion weighs out woe,
And always with such lucky aim
Knows punishments so fit to frame,
That she augments their grief and pain,
Leaving no reason to complain.
Old maids and rakes are join'd together,
Coquettes and prudes, like April weather.
Wit's forced to chum with Common-Sense,
And Lust is yoked to Impotence.
Professors (Justice so decreed)
Unpaid, must constant lectures read;
On earth it often doth befall,
They're paid, and never read at all.
Parsons must practise what they teach,
And bishops are compell'd to preach.
She who on earth was nice and prim,
Of delicacy full, and whim;
Whose tender nature could not bear
The rudeness of the churlish air,
Is doom'd, to mortify her pride,
The change of weather to abide,
And sells, whilst tears with liquor mix,
Burnt brandy on the shore of Styx.
Avaro[11], by long use grown bold
In every ill which brings him gold,
Who his Reedemer would pull down,
And sell his God for half-a-crown;
Who, if some blockhead should be willing
To lend him on his soul a shilling,
A well-made bargain would esteem it,
And have more sense than to redeem it,
Justice shall in those shades confine,
To drudge for Plutus in the mine,
All the day long to toil and roar,
And, cursing, work the stubborn ore,
For coxcombs here, who have no brains,
Without a sixpence for his pains:
Thence, with each due return of night,
Compell'd, the tall, thin, half-starved sprite
Shall earth revisit, and survey
The place where once his treasure lay,
Shall view the stall where holy Pride,
With letter'd Ignorance allied,
Once hail'd him mighty and adored,
Descended to another lord:
Then shall he, screaming, pierce the air,
Hang his lank jaws, and scowl despair;
Then shall he ban at Heaven's decrees,
And, howling, sink to Hell for ease.
Those who on earth through life have pass'd
With equal pace from first to last,
Nor vex'd with passions nor with spleen,
Insipid, easy, and serene;
Whose heads were made too weak to bear
The weight of business, or of care;
Who, without merit, without crime,
Contrive to while away their time;
Nor good nor bad, nor fools nor wits,
Mild Justice, with a smile, permits
Still to pursue their darling plan,
And find amusement how they can.
The beau, in gaudiest plumage dress'd,
With lucky fancy o'er the rest
Of air a curious mantle throws,
And chats among his brother beaux;
Or, if the weather's fine and clear,
No sign of rain or tempest near,
Encouraged by the cloudless day,
Like gilded butterflies at play,
So lively all, so gay, so brisk,
In air they flutter, float, and frisk.
The belle (what mortal doth not know
Belles after death admire a beau?)
With happy grace renews her art
To trap the coxcomb's wandering heart;
And, after death as whilst they live,
A heart is all which beaux can give.
In some still, solemn, sacred shade,
Behold a group of authors laid,
Newspaper wits, and sonneteers,
Gentleman bards, and rhyming peers,
Biographers, whose wondrous worth
Is scarce remember'd now on earth,
Whom Fielding's humour led astray,
And plaintive fops, debauch'd by Gray,
All sit together in a ring,
And laugh and prattle, write and sing.
On his own works, with Laurel crown'd,
Neatly and elegantly bound,
(For this is one of many rules,
With writing lords, and laureate fools,
And which for ever must succeed
With other lords who cannot read,
However destitute of wit,
To make their works for bookcase fit)
Acknowledged master of those seats,
Gibber his Birth-day Odes repeats.
With triumph now possess that seat,
With triumph now thy Odes repeat;
Unrivall'd vigils proudly keep,
Whilst every hearer's lull'd to sleep;
But know, illustrious bard! when Fate,
Which still pursues thy name with hate,
The regal laurel blasts, which now
Blooms on the placid Whitehead's brow,
Low must descend thy pride and fame,
And Cibber's be the second name.'--
Here Trifle cough'd, (for coughing still
Bears witness of the speaker's skill,
A necessary piece of art,
Of rhetoric an essential part,
And adepts in the speaking trade
Keep a cough by them ready made,
Which they successfully dispense
When at a loss for words or sense)
Here Trifle cough'd, here paused--but while
He strove to recollect his smile,
That happy engine of his art,
Which triumph'd o'er the female heart,
Credulity, the child of Folly,
Begot on cloister'd Melancholy,
Who heard, with grief, the florid fool
Turn sacred things to ridicule,
And saw him, led by Whim away,
Still further from the subject stray,
Just in the happy nick, aloud,
In shape of Moore[12], address'd the crowd:
'Were we with patience here to sit,
Dupes to the impertinence of Wit,
Till Trifle his harangue should end,
A Greenland night we might attend,
Whilst he, with fluency of speech,
Would various mighty nothings teach'--
(Here Trifle, sternly looking down,
Gravely endeavour'd at a frown,
But Nature unawares stept in,
And, mocking, turn'd it to a grin)--
'And when, in Fancy's chariot hurl'd,
We had been carried round the world,
Involved in error still and doubt,
He'd leave us where we first set out.
Thus soldiers (in whose exercise
Material use with grandeur vies)
Lift up their legs with mighty pain,
Only to set them down again.
Believe ye not (yes, all, I see,
In sound belief concur with me)
That Providence, for worthy ends,
To us unknown, this spirit sends?
Though speechless lay the trembling tongue,
Your faith was on your features hung;
Your faith I in your eyes could see,
When all were pale and stared like me.
But scruples to prevent, and root
Out every shadow of dispute,
Pomposo, Plausible, and I,
With Fanny, have agreed to try
A deep concerted scheme--this night
To fix or to destroy her quite.
If it be true, before we've done,
We'll make it glaring as the sun;
If it be false, admit no doubt
Ere morning's dawn we'll find it out.
Into the vaulted womb of Death,
Where Fanny now, deprived of breath,
Lies festering, whilst her troubled sprite
Adds horror to the gloom of night,
Will we descend, and bring from thence
Proofs of such force to Common-Sense,
Vain triflers shall no more deceive,
And atheists tremble and believe.'
He said, and ceased; the chamber rung
With due applause from every tongue:
The mingled sound (now let me see--
Something by way of simile)
Was it more like Strymonian cranes,
Or winds, low murmuring, when it rains.
Or drowsy hum of clustering bees,
Or the hoarse roar of angry seas?
Or (still to heighten and explain,
For else our simile is vain)
Shall we declare it like all four,
A scream, a murmur, hum, and roar?
Let Fancy now, in awful state,
Present this great triumvirate,
(A method which received we find,
In other cases, by mankind)
Elected with a joint consent,
All fools in town to represent.
The clock strikes twelve--Moore starts and swears.
In oaths, we know, as well as prayers,
Religion lies, and a church-brother
May use at will, or one, or t'other;
Plausible from his cassock drew
A holy manual, seeming new;
A book it was of private prayer,
But not a pin the worse for wear:
For, as we by-the-bye may say,
None but small saints in private pray.
Religion, fairest maid on earth!
As meek as good, who drew her birth
From that bless'd union, when in heaven
Pleasure was bride to Virtue given;
Religion, ever pleased to pray,
Possess'd the precious gift one day;
Hypocrisy, of Cunning born,
Crept in and stole it ere the morn;
Whitefield, that greatest of all saints,
Who always prays and never faints,
(Whom she to her own brothers bore,
Rapine and Lust, on Severn's shore)
Received it from the squinting dame;
From him to Plausible it came,
Who, with unusual care oppress'd,
Now, trembling, pull'd it from his breast;
Doubts in his boding heart arise,
And fancied spectres blast his eyes,
Devotion springs from abject fear,
And stamps his prayers for once sincere.
Pomposo, (insolent and loud,
Vain idol of a scribbling crowd,
Whose very name inspires an awe,
Whose every word is sense and law,
For what his greatness hath decreed,
Like laws of Persia and of Mede,
Sacred through all the realm of Wit,
Must never of repeal admit;
Who, cursing flattery, is the tool
Of every fawning, flattering fool;
Who wit with jealous eye surveys,
And sickens at another's praise;
Who, proudly seized of Learning's throne,
Now damns all learning but his own;
Who scorns those common wares to trade in,
Reasoning, convincing, and persuading,
But makes each sentence current pass
With puppy, coxcomb, scoundrel, ass;
For 'tis with him a certain rule,
The folly's proved when he calls fool;
Who, to increase his native strength,
Draws words six syllables in length,
With which, assisted with a frown
By way of club, he knocks us down;
Who 'bove the vulgar dares to rise,
And sense of decency defies;
For this same decency is made
Only for bunglers in the trade,
And, like the cobweb laws, is still
Broke through by great ones when they will)--
Pomposo, with strong sense supplied,
Supported, and confirm'd by Pride,
His comrades' terrors to beguile
'Grinn'd horribly a ghastly smile:'
Features so horrid, were it light,
Would put the Devil himself to flight.
Such were the three in name and worth
Whom Zeal and Judgment singled forth
To try the sprite on Reason's plan,
Whether it was of God or man.
Dark was the night; it was that hour
When Terror reigns in fullest power,
When, as the learn'd of old have said,
The yawning Grave gives up her dead;
When Murder, Rapine by her side,
Stalks o'er the earth with giant stride;
Our Quixotes (for that knight of old
Was not in truth by half so bold,
Though Reason at the same time cries,
'Our Quixotes are not half so wise,'
Since they, with other follies, boast
An expedition 'gainst a ghost)
Through the dull deep surrounding gloom,
In close array, towards Fanny's tomb[13]
Adventured forth; Caution before,
With heedful step, the lantern bore,
Pointing at graves; and in the rear,
Trembling, and talking loud, went Fear.
The churchyard teem'd--the unsettled ground,
As in an ague, shook around;
While, in some dreary vault confined,
Or riding on the hollow wind,
Horror, which turns the heart to stone,
In dreadful sounds was heard to groan.
All staring, wild, and out of breath,
At length they reach the place of Death.
A vault it was, long time applied
To hold the last remains of Pride:
No beggar there, of humble race,
And humble fortunes, finds a place;
To rest in pomp as well as ease,
The only way's to pay the fees.
Fools, rogues, and whores, if rich and great,
Proud even in death, here rot in state.
No thieves disrobe the well-dress'd dead;
No plumbers steal the sacred lead;
Quiet and safe the bodies lie;
No sextons sell, no surgeons buy.
Thrice, each the ponderous key applied,
And thrice to turn it vainly tried,
Till taught by Prudence to unite,
And straining with collected might,
The stubborn wards resist no more,
But open flies the growling door.
Three paces back they fell amazed,
Like statues stood, like madmen gazed;
The frighted blood forsakes the face,
And seeks the heart with quicker pace;
The throbbing heart its fear declares,
And upright stand the bristled hairs;
The head in wild distraction swims,
Cold sweats bedew the trembling limbs;
Nature, whilst fears her bosom chill,
Suspends her powers, and life stands still.
Thus had they stood till now; but Shame
(An useful, though neglected dame,
By Heaven design'd the friend of man,
Though we degrade her all we can,
And strive, as our first proof of wit,
Her name and nature to forget)
Came to their aid in happy hour,
And with a wand of mighty power
Struck on their hearts; vain fears subside,
And, baffled, leave the field to Pride.
Shall they, (forbid it, Fame!) shall they
The dictates of vile Pear obey?
Shall they, the idols of the Town,
To bugbears, fancy-form'd, bow down?
Shall they, who greatest zeal express'd,
And undertook for all the rest,
Whose matchless courage all admire,
Inglorious from the task retire?
How would the wicked ones rejoice,
And infidels exalt their voice,
If Moore and Plausible were found,
By shadows awed, to quit their ground?
How would fools laugh, should it appear
Pomposo was the slave of fear?
'Perish the thought! Though to our eyes,
In all its terrors, Hell should rise;
Though thousand ghosts, in dread array,
With glaring eyeballs, cross our way;
Though Caution, trembling, stands aloof,
Still we will on, and dare the proof.'
They said; and, without further halt,
Dauntless march'd onward to the vault.
What mortal men, who e'er drew breath,
Shall break into the house of Death,
With foot unhallow'd, and from thence
The mysteries of that state dispense,
Unless they, with due rites, prepare
Their weaker sense such sights to bear,
And gain permission from the state,
On earth their journal to relate?
Poets themselves, without a crime,
Cannot attempt it e'en in rhyme,
But always, on such grand occasion,
Prepare a solemn invocation,
A posy for grim Pluto weave,
And in smooth numbers ask his leave.
But why this caution? why prepare
Rites, needless now? for thrice in air
The Spirit of the Night hath sneezed,
And thrice hath clapp'd his wings, well-pleased.
Descend then, Truth, and guard thy side,
My Muse, my patroness, and guide!
Let others at invention aim,
And seek by falsities for fame;
Our story wants not, at this time,
Flounces and furbelows in rhyme;
Relate plain facts; be brief and bold;
And let the poets, famed of old,
Seek, whilst our artless tale we tell,
In vain to find a parallel:
Silent all three went in; about
All three turn'd, silent, and came out.

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