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MAC-FLECKNOE; OR, A SATIRE ON THE TRUE BLUE PROTESTANT POET, T. S.1
(1682) All human things are subject to decay, And, when fate summons, monarchs must obey. This Flecknoe found, who, like Augustus,
young Was called to empire, and had governed long; In prose and verse was owned, without dis
pute, Through all the realms of Nonsense, absolute. This aged prince, now flourishing in peace, And blest with issue of a large increase, Worn out with business, did at length debate To settle the succession of the state; And, pondering which of all his sons was fit To reign, and wage immortal war with wit, Cried, "Tis resolved! for Nature pleads, that he Should only rule, who most resembles me. Shadwell alone my perfect image bears, Mature in dulness from his tender years; Shadwell alone, of all my sons, is he, Who stands confirmed in full stupidity. The rest to some faint meaning make pretence, But Shadwell never deviates into sense; Some beams of wit on other souls may fall, Strike through, and make a lucid interval; But Shadwell's genuine night admits no ray, His rising fogs prevail upon the day. Besides, his goodly fabric fills the eye,
25 And seems designed for thoughtless majesty; Thoughtless as monarch oaks, that shade the
plain, And, spread in solemn state, supinely reign. Heywood and Shirley were but types of thee, Thou last great prophet of tautology! Even I, a dunce of more renown than they, Was sent before but to prepare thy way; And, coarsely clad in Norwich drugget,2 came To teach the nations in thy greater name.
My warbling lute,-the lute I whilom strung, 35
hand; St. Andre's feet ne'er kept more equal time, Not even the feet of thy own Psyche's rhyme: Though they in number as in sense excel; So just, so like tautology, they fell, That, pale with envy, Singleton forswore The lute and sword, which he in triumph bore, And vowed he ne'er would act Villerius more.' Here stopt the good old sire and wept for
joy, In silent raptures of the hopeful boy. All arguments, but most his plays, persuade, That for anointed dulness he was made.
Close to the walls which fair Augusta' bind, (The fair Augusta much to fears inclined), 65 An ancient fabric raised to inform the sight, There stood of yore, and Barbicans it hight,' A watch-tower once, but now, so fate ordains, Of all the pile an empty name remains; . . . .69 Near it a Nursery10 erects its head, Where queens are formed and future heroes
bred, Where unfledged actors learn to laugh and
cry, And little Maximingll the gods defy. Great Fletcher never treads in buskins here, Nor greater Jonson dares in socks appear; 80 But gentle Simkin12 just reception finds Amidst this monument of vanished minds; Pure clinches13 the suburban muse affords, And Panton14 waging harmless war with words. Here Flecknoe, as a place to fame well
known, Ambitiously designed his Shadwell's throne. For ancient Decker prophesied long since,
3 An allusion to some work of Flecknoe's of which, it seems, nothing is now known.
* Apparently the bread and toast thrown into the Thames from the boats in order to attract the fishes.
5 A fashionable dancing master of the time. 6 An opera singer and musician. He acted the part of Villerius, in Sir William Davenant's opera, The Siege of Rhodes.
? The title given by the Romans to London, Londinium Augusto.
8 A round tower near the junction of Barbican and Aldersgate Streets.
9 Was called. 10 A school of acting established in 1665 by the king. u Maximin was the hero of Dryden's Tyrannic Love. 12 A cobbler, in an Interlude of the day, 13 Pups. 14 A noted punster.
25 Advowson meant originally the obligation to protect a religious office or institution; hence the passage would seem to mean that hypocrisy and nonsense had come to defend and excuse bis conscience.
1 Mac-Flecknoe is a satire directed against Thomas Shadwell."T. S.," (1640-1692), a minor poet and dramatist of the Restoration. Dryden's poem. The Medal, drew from Shadwell a venomous counter attack, The Medal of John Bayes (i. e. Dryden). This Dryden answered in Mac-Plecknoe. Shadwell is represented in the poem as the son or poetic successor of Richard Flecknoe, an Irish poet, wit, and playwright, and the poem opens with the abdication of Flecknoe as absolute monarch of the kingdom of Nonsense, in favor of Shadwell.
?" This stuff appears to have been sacred to the poorer votaries of Parnassus; and it is somewbat odd that it seems to have been the dress of our poet himself in the entire stages of his fortune." Scott.
That in this pile should reign a mighty prince, Born for a scourge of wit, and flail of sense; To whom true dulness should some Psyches
owe, But worlds of Misersls from his pen should
flow; Humorists and Hypocrites, it should pro
duce,Whole Raymond families, and tribes of Bruce.
Now empress Fame had published the reOf Shadwell's coronation through the town. Roused by report of fame, the nations meet, From near Bunhill, 16 and distant Watling
Street. 17 No Persian carpets spread the imperial way, But scattered limbs of mangled poets lay. Much Heywood, Shirley, Ogleby is there lay,102 But loads of Shadwell almost choked the way; Bilked 19 stationers for yeomen stood prepared, And Herringman' was captain of the guard. 105 The hoary prince in majesty appeared, High on a throne of his own labours reared. At his right hand our young Ascanius sate, Rome's other hope, and pillar of the state. His hrows thick fogs, instead of glories, grace, And lambent dulness played around his face.111 As Hannibal did to the altars come, Sworn by his sire, a mortal foe to Rome, So Shadwell swore, nor should his vow be vain, That he till death true dulness would main
tain; And, his father's right, and realm's defence, Ne'er to have peace with wit, nor truce with
120 He placed a mighty mug of potent ale; “Love's kingdom" to his right he did convey, At once his sceptre, and his rule of sway; Whose righteous lore the prince had practised
young, And from whose loins recorded 21 Psychc22
sprung His temples, last, with poppies were o'erspread, That nodding seemed to consecrate his head. Just at the point of time, if fame not lie, On his left hand twelve reverend owls did fly; So Romulus, 'tis sung, by Tiber's brook, Presage of sway from twice six vultures took. The admiring throng loud acclamations make, And omens of his future empire take. The sire then shook the honours of his head, And from his brows damps of oblivion shed 135 Full on the filial dulness: long he stood, Repelling from his breast the raging god;
At length burst out in this prophetic mood:-“Heavens bless my son! from Ireland let him
reign, Tofar Barbadoes on the western main; Of his dominion may no end be known, And greater than his father's be his throne; Beyond love's kingdom let him stretch his
pen!" He paused, and all the people cried, “Amen." Then thus continued he: “My son, advance 145 Still in new impudence, new ignorance. Success let others teach, learn thou from me Pangs without birth, and fruitless industry. Let Virtuosos in five years be writ, Yet not one thought accuse thy toil of wit. Let gentle George23 triumph tread the stage, Make Dormiant betray, and Loveit rage; Let Cully, Cockwood, Fopling, charm the pit, And in their folly show the writer's wit; Yet still thy fools shall stand in thy defence, 155 And justify their author's want of sense. Let them be all by thy own model made Of dulness, and desire no foreign aid, That they to future ages may be known, Not copies drawn, but issue of thy own: Nay, let thy men of wit too be the same, Allfull of thee, and differing but in name, But let no alien Sedley 24 interpose, To lard with wit thy hungry Epsom prose. And when false flowers of rhetoric thou wouldst
cull, Trust nature; do not labour to be dull, But write thy best, and top; and, in each line, Sir Formal's25 oratory will be thine: Sir Formal, though unsought, attends thy quill, And does thy northern dedications26 fill. 170 Nor let false friends seduce thy mind to fame, By arrogating Jonson's hostile name; Let father Flecknoe fire thy mind with praise, And uncle Ogleby thy envy raise. Thou art my blood, where Jonson has no part: What share have we in nature, or in art? Where did his wit on learning fix a brand, And rail at arts he did not understand? Where made he love in Prince Nicander's 27
vein, Or swept the dust in Psyche's humble
180 When did his muse from Fletcher scenes purloin,
183 As thou whole Etherege dost transfuse to thine? But so transfused, as oil and waters flow, His always floats above, thine sinks below. This is thy province, this thy wondrous way, New humours to invent for each new play: This is that boasted bias of thy mind, By which one way to dulness 'tis inclined;
strain? : ..
16 The reference here is to The Miser and The II umorists, plays by Shadwell. Raymond is a character in The Humorists, while Bruce appears in another of Shadwell's plays.
16.17 Two sections of London. The sense is that they come from north and south.
18 John Ogleby, 1600-1676, a Scotch versifier.
23 Sir George Etheridge (c. 1636–1689), a famous wit and comedy writer. Dorimant, Loveit, etc., are characters in his plays.
24 Sir Charles Sedley, 1639-1701, a wit and patron of literature, who assisted Shadwell in his comedy Epson Wills. The insinuation is that Sedley larded its prose with a wit alien to its dullness.
25 A character in Shadwell's Virtuoso.
2 Certain dedications of Shadwell's to the Duke and Duchess of Newcastle.
27 A lover in the opera of Psyche.
Which makes thy writings lean on one side still,
mand, Some peaceful province in Acrostic land. There thou may'st wings display, and altars
raise, And torture one poor word ten thousand ways; Or, if thou wouldst thy different talents suit, Set thy own songs, and sing them to thy lute." He said: but his last words were scarcely
heard; For Bruce29 and Longvil20 had a trap prepared And down they sent the yet declaiming bard. Sinking he left his drugget robe behind, Borne upwards by a subterranean wind. The mantle fell to the young prophet's part; With double portion of his father's art.
To compass this the triple bond? he broke;
clean, Unbribed, unsought, the wretched to redress; Swist of despatch, and easy of access. Oh! had he been content to serve the crown, With virtue only proper to the gown; Or had the rankness of the soil been freed From cockle, that oppressed the noble seed; 195 David for him his tuneful harp had strung, And heaven had wanted one immortal song. But wild ambition loves to slide, not stand, And fortune's ice prefers to virtue's land. Achitophel, grown weary to possess
200 A lawsul fame, and lazy happiness, Disdained the golden fruit to gather free, And lent the crowd his arm to shake the tree.
A SONG FOR ST. CECILIA'S' DAY, 22ND
ACHITOPHEL(From Absalom and Achitophel, 1681) Of these the false Achitophel was first; A name to all succeeding ages curst: For close designs, and crooked counsels fit; Sagacious, bold, and turbulent of wit; Restless, unfixed in principles and place; In power unpleased, impatient of disgrace; 155 A fiery soul, which, working out its way, Fretted the pigmy-body to decay, And o'er-informed the tenement of clay. A daring pilot in extremity, Pleased with the danger, when the waves went
high, He sought the storms; but for a calm unfit, Would steer too nigh the sands, to boast his wit. Great wits are sure to madness near allied, And thin partitions do their bounds divide; Else, why should he, with wealth and honour
blest, Refuse his age the needful hours of rest? Punish a body which he could not please; Bankrupt of life, yet prodigal of ease? And all to leave what with his toil he won, To that unfeathered two-legged thing, a son;170 Got, while his soul did huddled notions try; And born a shapeless lump, like anarchy. In friendship false, implacable in hate; Resolved to ruin, or to rule the state.
From harmony, from heavenly harmony,
This universal frame began:
Of jarring atoms lay,
“Arise, ye more than dead.”
And Music's power obey.
This universal frame began;
The diapason closing full in man.
II What passion cannot music raise and quell? When Jubal struck the chorded shell,
28 A small barrel.
i The earliest of Dryden's satires. It was directed against the versatile, able, but unscrupulous politician, Anthony Ashley Cooper, Lord Shaftsbury, who appears under the name of Achitophel.
His listening brethren stood around, ? A "Triple Alliance" between Holland, Sweden, and England in 1668. It was broken by an infamous secret treaty with France. Shaftshury was one of its signers.
3 A Hebrew word meaning "father of the Nation;" i.e.. the judges. As Lord Chancellor, Shaftsbury had a well deserved reputation for uprightness and ability,
"Sl. Cecilia, virgin martyr of the third century, became patron saint of music, and was supposed to have invented the organ.
And, wondering, on their faces fell
To worship that celestial sound:
That spoke so sweetly, and so well.
Excites us to arms,
And mortal alarms.
30 Cries, hark! the foes come: Charge, charge! 'tis too late to retreat.
His valiant peers were placed around; Their brows with roses and with myrtles bound:
(So should desert in arms be crowned.)
Happy, happy, happy pair!
Sharp violins proclaim
What human voice can reach,
Notes inspiring holy love,
To mend the choirs above.
Timotheus, placed on high
Amid the tuneful quire,
And heavenly joys inspire.
When he to fair Olympia pressed,
And while he sought her snowy breast;
of the world.
With ravished ears,
Affects to nod,
Affects to nod,
As from the power of sacred lays
The spheres began to move, And sung the great Creator's praise
To all the blessed above; So when the last and dreadful hour This crumbling pageant shall devour, The trumpet shall be heard on high, The dead shall live, the living die, And Music shall untune the sky.
ALEXANDER'S FEAST, OR THE POWER OF MUSIC; AN ODE IN HONOUR OF ST. CECILIA'S DAY, 1697
The praise of Bacchus then the sweet musician
The jolly god in triumph comes;
Flushed with a purple grace
He shows his honest face:
Bacchus, ever fair and young,
Rich the treasure,
Sweet the pleasure,
60 1 Spirals, coils. Cf. Milton, Par, Lost. ix, 502.
The prince, unable to conceal his pain,
Gazed on the fair
Who caused his care,
And sighed and looked, sighed and looked,
Sighed and looked, and sighed again; 120 At length, with love and wine at once oppressed,
The vanquished victor sunk upon her breast. Soothed with the sound, the king grew vain:
Fought all his battles o'er again; And thrice he routed all his foes, and thrice he slew the slain.
Now strike the golden lyre again; The master saw the madness rise,
A louder yet, and yet a louder strain. His glowing cheeks, his ardent eyes;
Break his bands of sleep asunder,
Has raised up his head;
As awaked from the dead,
And amazed, he stares around.
Revenge, revenge! Timotheus cries,
See the furies arise;
See the snakes, that they rear,
How they hiss in their hair,
And the sparkles that flash from their eyes!135 By those his former bounty fed;
Behold a ghastly band, On the bare earth exposed he lies,
Each a torch in his band! With not a friend to close his eyes.
Those are Grecian ghosts, that in battle were With downcast looks the joyless victor sate,
slain, Revolving, in his altered soul,
And, unburied, remain
Inglorious on the plain:
Give the vengeance due
To the valiant crew.
How they point to the Persian abodes,
And glittering temples of their hostile gods.The various turns of chance below;
The princes applaud, with a furious joy, And, now and then, a sigh he stole;
And the king seized a flambeau with zeal to
To light him to his prey,
And, like another Helen, fired another Troy. 150 The mighty master smiled, to see That love was in the next degree; 'Twas but a kindred-sound to move, For pity melts the mind to love.
And the King seized a flambeau with zeal to deSoftly sweet, in Lydian measures,
stroy; Soon he soothed his soul to pleasures:
Thais led the way, War, he sung, is toil and trouble;
To light him to his prey, Honour, but an empty bubble;
And, like another Helen, fired another Troy. Never ending, still beginning, Fighting still, and still destroying:
If the world be worth thy winning,
Thus, long ago,
While organs yet were mute,
Could swell the soul to rage, or kindle soft
desire. Gazed on the fair.
110 At last divine Cecilia came, Who caused his care,
Inventress of the vocal frame; And sighed and looked, sighed and looked, The sweet enthusiast, from her sacred store,
Sighed and looked, and sighed again; Enlarged the former narrow bounds, At length, with love and wine at once op- And added length to solemn sounds, pressed
With nature's mother-wit, and arts unknown The vanquished victor sunk upon her breast.115