Works. A new ed., containing pieces hitherto uncollected, and a life of the author. With notes from various sources by J.W.M. Gibbes
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EPISTLE TO LORD CHESTERFIELD. 405
well worthy not only the acquaintance of the poet and his
lordship, but also of the public. A great part of the
epistle is taken up with this speech ; which, whenever the
writer takes up the conversation himself, is every whit as
humorous as the other. Hear him :
# * * * * * x
Who could have thought, to speak seriously, that such
indifferent prose should come from the man who is author
of many pretty poetical pieces, among which, this of Law-
son ' s Obsequies is not the worst. The following lines, for
instance, are not despicable :
" But should he fall ? And shall the mighty muse
The tuneful tribute of her grief refuse ?
Refuse to him her memorable tears,
With whom she sported in his tender years ?
While, yet unconscious of himself he stray ' d,
Unsought, unnotic ' d, through the pensive shade ;
With wealth unfavour ' d, to no lordly line
Ally ' d, but Pallas, and the sacred Nine,
I cull ' d him out from all the sable crowd
Of Alma ' s tribes, indignant of the proud,
The pert, the vain, preferr ' d his humble name,
And woo ' d his friendship with a pious flame.
" We laugh ' d at fops, fantastically gay,
The pomp of pride, and impotence of sway ;
At scribblers vile, who blurr ' d the blacken ' d page
With fustian phrensy, for poetic rage ;
We laugh ' d with Johnson, of ingenuous 2 heart,
Who well could act the candid critic ' s part ;
From fruitful fancy start the happy hint,
Surprising, quick as flashes from a flint ;
Maturely plan the regular design,
Mix wit with ease, and point the glowing line.
There runs, however, through the poem an affectation
which it is not easy to excuse, as when the poet has " manful
eloquence " for manly eloquence, the " museful powers, "
for the muses : such errors, though trifling, give an air of
vanity to the whole. The man who is bred at a distance
from the centre of learning and politeness, must have a
1 A page is here quoted from Dunkin ' s ' Epistle. ' ED.
2 Prior and Cunningham print " of ungenerous heart. " This stanza,
by the way, is omitted altogether in the collected edition of Dunkins
works. ED.
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