1741 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

David Mallet

Anonymous, "To Mr. Mallet, after reading his Life of my Lord Bacon" London Evening Post (7 March 1741).



Guided by Truth, how could'st thou hope to please,
Whilst Prejudice spreads wide like a Disease?
Freely to strike Kings, Priests, and Men of Law,
Must, on th' Historian heavy Censures draw;
For Power and Pageantry the many blind,
Think not that Heav'n did all Men equal frame;
That, of Things worthy, among Mortals found,
Fair Virtue first, then Science, should be crown'd.

Yet thou arraign'st not the high Rank of King,
Conscious that Blessings from good Monarchs spring:
For Princes, whom Temptations compass round,
When all their Actions are with Justice crown'd,
Frail, Human Nature, it so much refines,
They seem as Gods. — And such ELIZA shines.

How justly drawn thy Characters appear!
Strong, moral, elegant, concise and clear.
The upright Minister here gilds thy Page;
The wicked Statesman, there, provokes thy Rage:
Each as a shining Beacon plac'd on high,
To warn us, as they catch the wond'ring Eye.

But chief see VERULAM exert his Rays;
And gild our Orb with an unusual Blaze.
Like some new Planet he attracts the Sight;
Thick Clouds of Error, instant, take their Flight.
Now, from his Zenith, he adorns the Scene,
Majestic, bright, beneficent, serene.
Yet was this Sun eclips'd, that shone so clear,
To shew that all Things are imperfect here.

Hail happy Artist, who has fram'd a Piece,
Worthy the noblest Pens of Rome or Greece!
Where the Materials by cool Judgment brought,
Are blended with warm Energy of Thought.
Not a crude, motley, indigested Heap,
Where, after Facts, Facts indolently creep:
But all conspiring to one great Design,
The Centre of each well-conducted Line.