Page images

To come now to the intent of this paper. We have here the whole ancient ceremonial of the Laureate. In the first place, the crown is to be mixed with vineleaves, as the vine is the plant of Bacchus, and full as essential to the honour, as the butt of sack to the salary.

Secondly, the brassica must be made use of as a qualifier of the former. It seems the cabbage was anciently accounted a remedy for drunkenness; a power the French now ascribe to the onion, and style a soup made of it, Soupe drurogne. I would recommend a large mixture of the brassica, if Mr. Dennis be chosen ; but if Mr. Tibbald, it is not so necessary, unless the cabbage be supposed to signify the same thing with respect to poets as to taylors, viz. stealing. I should judge it not amiss to add another plant to this garland, to wit, ivy : not only as it anciently belonged to poets in general; but as it is emblematical of the three virtues of a court poet in particular ; it is creeping, dirty, and dangling

In the next place, a canticle must be composed and sung in laud and praise of the new poet. If Mr. CIBBER be laureated, it is my opinion no man can write this but himself : and no man, I am sure, can sing it so affectingly. But what this canticle should be, either in his or the other candidate's case, I shall not pretend to determine.

Thirdly, there ought to be a public show, or entry of the poet : to settle the order or procession of which, Mr. Anstis ° and Mr. DENNIS ought to have a conference. I apprehend here two difficulties : one, of procuring an elephant ; the other of teaching the poet to ride him ; therefore I should imagine the next animal in size or dignity would do best ; either a mule or a large ass ", particularly if that noble one

c Anstis, Garter King of Arms.

« The first editions of the Dunciad published in London were ornamented with the picture of an ass laden with books.

could be had, whose portraiture makes so great an ornament of the Dunciad, and which, (unless I am misinformed) is yet in the park of a nobleman near this city:- unless Mr. CIBBER be the man; who may, with great propriety and beauty, ride on a dragon, if he goes by land ; or if he choose the water, upon one of his own swans from Casar in Egypt.

We have spoken sufficiently of the ceremony ; let us now speak of the qualifications and privileges of the Laureate. First, we see he must be able to make verses extempore, and to pour forth innumerable, if required. In this I doubt Mr. TIBBALD. Secondly, he ought to sing, and intrepidly, patulo ore : here, I confess the excellency of Mr. ĆIBBER. Thirdly, he ought to carry a lyre about with him : if a large one be thought too cumbersome, a small one may be contrived to hang about the neck, like an order; and be very much a grace to the person. Fourthly, he ought to have a good stomach, to eat and drink whatever his betters think fit ; and therefore it is in this high office, as in many others, no puny constitution can discharge it. I do not think CiBBER or TibBALD here so happy : but rather a stanch, vigorous, seasoned, and dry old gentleman', whom I have in my eye.

I could also wish at this juncture, such a person as is truly jealous of the honour and dignity of poetry ; no joker, or trifler ; but a bard in good.earnest ; nay, not amiss if a critic, and the better if a little obstinate. For when we consider what great privileges have been lost from this office, (as we see from the fore-cited authentick records of Jovius,) namely, those of feeding from the prince's table, drinking out of his own flaggon, becoming even his domestick and companion; it requires a man warm and resolute, to be able to claim and obtain the restoring of these high honours. I have

[merged small][ocr errors]

cause to fear, most of the candidates would be liable, either through the influence of ministers, or for rewards or favours, to give up the glorious rights of the Laureate : yet I am not without hopes, there is one, from whom a serious and steady assertion of these privileges may be expected ; and, if there be such a one, I must do him the justice to say, it is Mr. DENNIS the worthy president of our society.





CONCERNING "The strange and deplorable Frenzy of Mr. JOHN

Dennis, an Officer of the Custom-house.


« PreviousContinue »