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He, in the old celestial cant,
Confess'd his flame, and swore by Styx, Whate'er she would desire, to grant
But wise Ardelia kuew his tricks. Ovid had warn’d her, to beware
Of strolling gods, whose usual trade is, Under pretence of taking air,
To pick up sublunary ladies. Howe'er she gave no flat denial,
As having malice in her heart; And was resolv'd upon a trial,
To cheat the god in his own art. “ Hear my request,” the virgin said;
“Let which I please of all the Nine Attend, whene'er I want their aid,
Obey my call, and only mine.” By vow oblig'd, by passion led,
The god could not refuse her prayer : He way'd his wreath thrice o'er her head,
Thrice mutter'd something to the air, And now he thought to seize his due;
But she the charm already tried: Thalia heard the call, and flew
To wait at brighit Ardelia's side. On sight of this celestial prude,
Apollo thought it vain to stay; Nor in her presence durst be rude,
But made his leg, and went away. He hop'd to find some lucky hour,
When on their queen the Muses wait; But Pallas owns Ardelia's power;
For vows divine are kept by Fate,
Then, full of rage, Apollo spoke:
“ Deceitful nymph! I see thy art; And, though I can't my gift revoke,
I'll disappoint its nobler part.
Let stubborn pride possess thee long,
And be thou negligent of fame;
With every Muse to grace thy song,
May'st thou despise a poet's name! Of modest poets thou be first;
To silent shades repeat tly verse, Till Fame and Echo almost burst,
Yet hardly dare one line rehearse. And last, my vengeance to complete,
May'st thou descend to take renown, Prevail'd on by the thing you hate,
A whig! and one that wears a gown!”
BUILT FROM THE RUINS OF WHITEH ALL THAT
WAS BURNT, 1709.
In times of old, when Time was young,
And Poets their own verses sung,
A verse would draw a stone or beam,
That now would overload a team;
Lead them a dance of many a mile,
Then rear them to a goodly pile.
Each number had its different power:
Heroic strains could build a tower,
Sonnets, or elegies to Chloris,
Might raise a house about two stories;
A lyric ode would slate; a catch
Wouid tile; an epigram would thatch.
But, to their own or landlord's cost,
Now Poets feel this art is lost.
Not one of all our tuneful throng
Can raise a lodging for a song.
For Jove consider'd well the case,
Observ’d they grew a numerous race;
And should they build as fast as write,
"Twould ruin undertakers quite.
This evil therefore to prevent,
He wisely chang’d their element :
On earth the God of Wealth was made
Sole patron of the building trade;
Leaving the Wits the spacious air,
With licence to build castles there:
And 'tis conceiv’d, their old pretence
To lodge in garrets comes from thence.
Prenising thus, in modern way,
The better lialf we have to say ;
Sing, Muse, the house of Poet Van,
In higher strains than we began.
Van (for 'tis fit the reader know it)
Is both a Herald * and a Poet;
No wonder then if nicely skill'd
In both capacities to build.
As Herald, he can in a day
Repair a house gone to decay;
Or, by achievement, armis, device,
Erect a new one in a trice;
* Sir John Vanbrugh held the office of Clarencieux king of
And as a Poet, he has skill
To build in speculation still.
“Great Jove!” he cry'd, “the art restore
To build by verse as heretofore,
And make my Muse the architect;
What palaces shall we erect !
No longer shall forsaken Thames
Lament his old Whitehall in flames;
A pile shall from its ashes rise,
Fit to invade or prop the skies.”
Jove smild, and like a gentle god,
Consenting with the usual nod,
Told Van, he knew his talent best,
And left the choice to his own breast.
So Van resolv'd to write a farce;
But, well perceiving wit was scarce,
With cunning that defect supplies :
Takes a French play as lawful prize;
Steals thence his plot and every joke,
Not once suspecting Jove would smoke;
And (like a wag set down to write)
Would whisper to himself, “a bite.”
Then, from this motley mingled style,
Proceeded to erect his pile.
So men of old, to gain renown, did
Build Babel with their tongues confounded.
Jove saw the cheat, but thought it best
To turn the matter to a jest:
Down from Olympus' top he slides,
Laughing as if he'd burst his sides:
Ay, thought the god, are these your tricks?
Why then old plays deserve old bricks;
And since you're sparing of your stuff,
Your building shall be small enough.
He spake, and grudging, lent his aid;
Th’experienc'd bricks, that knew their trade,
(As being bricks at second-hand)
Now move, and now in order stand.
The building, as the Poet writ,
Rose in proportion to his wit :
And first the prologue built a wall;
So wide as to encompass all.
The scene, a wood, produc'd no more
Than a few scrubby trees before.
The plot as yet lay deep; and so
A cellar next was dug below:
But this a work so hard was found,
Two acts it cost him under ground.
Two other acts, we may presume,
Were spent in building each a room ;
Thus far advanc'd, he made a shift
To raise a roof with act the fifth.
The epilogue behind did frame
A place not decent here to name.
Now Poets from all quarters ran,
To see the house of brother Van :
Look'd high and low, walk'd often round;
But no such house was to be found.
One asks the watermen hard by,
“Where may the Poet's palace lie?”
Another of the Thames inquires,
If he has seen its gilded spires ?
At length they in the rubbish spy
A thing resembling a goose-pye.
Thither in haste the Poets throng,
in silent wonder long.
Till one in raptures thus began
To praise the pile and builder Van: