1700 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Nathaniel Lee

Samuel Cobb, in Poetae Britannici (1700) 18-19.



When the wild Fury did his breast inspire,
She rav'd, and set the Little World on Fire.
Thus L—gh by Reason strove not to controul,
The Powerful heat, which o'er-inform'd his Soul.
He took his Swinge, and Nature's bounds surpast,
Stretch'd her, and bent her, till she broke at last.
I scorn to Flatter, or the Dead defame;
But who will call a blaze a Lambent Flame?
Terror and Pity are allow'd to be,
The moving parts of Tragic Poetry.
If Pity sooths us, Otway claims our praise;
If Terrour strikes, then L—gh deserves the Bays.
We grant a Genius shines in Jaffeir's part,
And Roman Brutus speaks a Master's Art.
But still we often Mourn to see their Phrase
An Earthly Vapour, or a Mounting blaze.
A rising Meteor never was design'd,
T' amaze the sober part of Human kind.
Were I to write for Fame, I would not chuse,
A prostitute and mercenary Muse.
Which for poor gains, must in rich Trappings go,
Emptily gay, magnificently low,
Like ancient Rome's Religion, Sacrifice and show.
Things fashion'd for Amusement and surprize,
Ne're move the Head, tho' they divert the Eyes.
The mouthing Actor's well-dissembled Rage,
May strike the young Sir Foplings, on the Stage.
But, disingag'd, the swelling Phrase I find,
Like Spencer's Gyant, sunk away in Wind.
It grates judicious Readers, when they meet,
Nothing but jingling Verse, and even feet:
Such false, such counterfeited Wings as these,
Forsake th' unguided Boy, and plunge him in the Seas.
L—gh aim'd to rise above great Dr—'s height,
But lofty Dr—n kept a steddy Flight.