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Turner, collar-maker; George Pilcocks, late exciseman; Thomas White, wheel-yright; and myself. First, of the first, Robert Jenkins.
He was a man of bright parts and shrewd conceit, for he never shoed an horse of a whig or a fanatick, but he lamed him sorely.
Amos Turner, a worthy person, rightly esteemed among us for his sufferings, in that he had been honoured in the stocks for wearing an oaken bough.
George Pilcocks, a sufferer also; of zealous and laudable freedom of speech, insomuch that his occupation had been taken from him.
Thomas White, of good repute likewise, for that his uncle, by the mother's side, had, formerly, been servitor at Maudlin college, where the glorious Sacheverel was educated.
Now were the eyes of all the parish upon these our weekly councils. In a short space, the minister came among us ; he spake concerning us and our councils to a multitude of other ministers at the visitation, and they spake thereof unto the ministers at London, so that even the bishops heard and marvelled thereat. Moreover Sir Thomas, member of parliament, spake of the same to other members of parliament; who spake thereof unto the peers of the realm. Lo! thus did our councils enter into the hearts of our generals and our law-givers ; and from henceforth, even as we devised, thus did they.
After this, the whole book is turned on a sudden from his own life, to a history of all the publick transactions of Europe, compiled from the newspapers of those times. I could not comprehend the meaning of this, till I perceived at last (to my no small astonishment) that all the measures of the four last years of the Queen, together with the peace at Utrecht, which have been usually attributed to the E— of 0-, D- of 0%, Lords Hand B , and other great men ; do here most plainly
appear to have been wholly owing to Robert Jenkins, Amos Turner, George Pilcocks, Thomas White, but above all, to P. P.
The reader may be sure I was very inquisitive after this extraordinary writer, whose work I have here abstracted. I took a journey into the country on pur. prose; but could not find the least trace of him : till by accident I met an old clergyman, who said he could not be positive, but thought it might be one Paul Phillips, who had been dead above twelve years. And upon inquiry, all he could learn of that person from the neighbourhood, was, That he had been taken notice of for swallowing loaches, and remembered by some people by a black and white cur with one ear, that constantly followed him.
In the church-yard, I read his epitaph, said to be written by himself :
O reader, if that thou canst read,
Look down upon this stone;
That never spareth none.
POET LAUREAT E.
November 19, 1729.
THE time of the election of a Poet Laureate being
now at hand, it may be proper to give some account of the rites and ceremonies anciently used at that solemnity, and only discontinued through the neglect and degeneracy of later times. These we have extracted from an historian of undoubted credit, a reverend bishop, the learned Paulus Jovius; and are the same that were practised under the pontificate of Leo X, the great restorer of learning.
As we now see an age and a court, that for the encouragement of poetry rivals, if not exceeds, that of this famous Pope, we cannot but wish a restoration of all its honours to poesy; the rather, since there are so many parallel circumstances in the person who was then honoured with the laurel, and in him, who (in all probability ) is now to wear it.
I shall translate my author exactly as I find it in the 82d chapter of his Elogia Vir. Doct. He begins with the character of the poet himself, who was the original and father of all laureates, and called Camillo. He was a plain countryman of Apulia (whether a shepherd or thresher is not material). « This man “ (says Jovius) excited by the fame of the great en« couragement given to poets at court, and the high 6 honour in which they were held, came to the city, “ bringing with him a strange kind of lyre in his
“ hand, and at least some twenty thousand of verses.
“ Salve, brassicea virens corona,
“ And worthy of the prince's ear?. “ From hence, he was conducted in pomp to the “ Capitol of Rome, mounted on an elephant, through “ the shouts of the populace, where the ceremony o ended.”
The historian tells us further, « That at his introa “ duction to Leo, he not only poured forth verses “ innumerable, like a torrent, but also sung them
a Irony against George II. and Caroline.
“ with open mouth. Nor was he only once introduced, 5 or on stated days (like our Laureates), but made “ a companion to his master, and entertained as one “ of the instruments of his most elegant pleasures. 66 When the prince was at table, the poet had his
place at the window. When the prince had half " caten his meat, he gave with his own hands the rest " to the poet. When the poet drank, it was out of " the prince's own flaggon, insomuch (says the histo“ rian) that through so great good eating and drink“ ing, he contracted a most terrible gout." Sorry I am to relate what follows, but that I cannot leave my reader's curiosity unsatisfied in the catastrophe of this extraordinary man. To use my author's words which are remarkable, mortuo Leone, profligatisque poetis, etc. “ When Leo died, and poets « were no more,” (for I would not understand profligatis literally, as if poets then were profligate,) this unhappy laureate was forthwith reduced to return to his country, where, oppressed with old age and want, he miserably perished in a common hospital.
We see from this sad conclusion (which may be of example to the poets of our time) that it were happier to meet with no encouragement at all, to remain at the plough, or other lawful occupation, than to be elevated above their condition, and taken out of the common means of life, without a surer support than the temporary, or at best, mortal favours of the great. It was doubtless for this consideration, that when the royal bounty was lately extended to a rural genius , care was taken to settle it upon him for life. And it hath been the practice of our princes, never to remove from the station of Poet Laureate any man who hath once been chosen, though never so much greater geniuses might arise in his time. A noble instance, how much the charity of our monarchs hath exceeded their love of fame.
6. Stephen Duck.