Page images
PDF
EPUB

uncle, by the Mother's side, had, formerly, been servi. tor 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 parliameut, who spake thereof unto the Peers of the Realm. Lo! thus did our counsels enter into the hearts of our Generals and our Lawgivers; 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 laf (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 O-, D- of O Lords Hand B, and other great men; do here mai 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 abftraEted. I took a journey into the Country on purpose; but could not find the leaf 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 Philips, who had been dead about twelve years. And upon enquiry, al be 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 Eas, that constantly followed bim.

Dd 2

In the Church-yard, I read his Epitaph, said to be written by

kimself
O Reader, if that thou canst read,

Look down upon this Stone ;
Do all we can, Death is a man,

That never spareth none.

[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

THE time of the cleation of 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 pepherd or threfner, is not material.) " This man (says Jovius) exo cited by the fame of the great encouragement given

to pocts at court, and the high honour in which they 56 were held, came to the city, bringing with him a strange s kind of lyre in his hand, and at least some twenty " thousand of verses. All the wits and critics of the court A flocked about him, delighted to see a clown, with a ruddy, $ hale complexion, and in his own long hair so top-full of “ poetry; and at the first sight of him all agreed he was

66 born

“ born to be Poet-Laureate *. He had a most hearty wel“ come in an island of the river Tiber (an agreeable place • not unlike our Richmond), where he was first made to eat “ and drink plentifully, and to repeat his verses to every body. " Then they adorned him with a new and elegant garland, " composed of vine leaves, laurel, and brafica (a sort of “ cabbage) so composed, says my author, emblematically, “ Ut tam falfe quam lepide ejus temulentia, brafficae remedio cohibenda, notaretur. He was then faluted by common « consent with the title of archi-poeta, orarch-poet, in the “ style of those days, in ours Poet Laureate. This honour " the poor man received with the most sensible demonftra . « tions of joy, his eyes drank with tears and gladness ta • Next, the public acclamation was expressed in a care ticle, which is transmitted to us, as follows:

Salve, brassicae virens corona,
Et lauro, arch-ipoeta, pampinoque !
Dignus principis auribus Leonis.

All hail, arch-poet, without peer!
Vine, bay, or cabbage, fit to wear,

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 ended."

The historian tells us further, “ That at his introduc« tion to Leo, he not only poured forth verses innumera6 ble, like a torrent, but also sung them with open mouth. Nor “ was he only once introduced, or on flated days (like our “ Laureates) but made a companion to his master, and en“ tertained as one of the inftruments of his most elegant

pleasures. When the prince was at table, the poet had “ his place at the window. When the prince had half

* Apalus præpingui vultu alacer, et prolixe comatus, omnino dignus festa Laurca videretur. # Mcbantibus præ gaudio oculis.

caten

55. eaten * 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 historian) " that, through so great good eating and drinking, he 6. contracted a moft 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 yords, which are remarkable, mortuo Leone, profligatisque poetis, etc. 66 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 fee from this fad conclusion (which may be of crample 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 confideration, 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 inftance, how much the charity of our monarchs hath exceeded their love of fame.

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 inixed with vine-leaves, as the vine is the plant of Bacchus, and full as essential to the honour, as the butt of fack to the salary.

Secondly, the braffica muft be made use of as a qualifier

• Semesis opfoniis,

of

« PreviousContinue »