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Heavens bless my son! from Ireland let him reign, To far 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 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 Cully, Cockwood, Fopling, charm the pit, †
To lard with wit thy hungry Epsom prose. ‡
But write thy best, and top; and, in each line,
Sir Formal, though unsought, attends thy quill,
*Note XIII. § Note XVI.
↑ Note XIV.
↑ Note XV.
Nor let false friends seduce thy mind to fame,
Thou art my blood, where Jonson has no part:
+ This elegant phrase is the current catch-word of Sir Samuel Hearty in the Virtuoso," described in the dramatis persona as
a brisk, amorous, adventurous, unfortunate coxcomb; one that, by the help of humorous, nonsensical bye-words, takes himself to be a great wit."
Alluding, probably, to the following vaunt of Shadwell, in the Dedication to the "Virtuoso:" "Four of the humours are entirely new; and, without vanity, I may say, I ne'er produced a comedy that had not some natural humour in it not represented before, and I hope I never shall."
Like mine, thy gentle numbers feebly creep;
He said:-but his last words were scarcely heard;
+ Bruce and Longvil are fine gentlemen in Shadwell's comedy of the "Virtuoso ;" who, during a florid speech of Sir Formal Trifle, contrive to get rid of the orator, by letting go a trap-door, upon which he had placed himself during his declamation.
This Flecknoe found.-P. 433.
Richard Flecknoe, the unfortunate bard whom our author has damned to everlasting fame, was by birth an Irishman, and by profession a Roman Catholic priest. Marvel, who seems to have known him at Rome, describes his person as meagre in the extreme, and his itch for scribbling as incessant. The poem, in which Marvel depicts him, is in the old taste of extravagant burlesque, and the lines are as rugged as Flecknoe could himself have produced. It contains, however, some witty and some humorous description, and the reader may be pleased to see a specimen :
Flecknoe, an English Priest at Rome.
Obliged by frequent visits of this man,
I for some branch of Melchizedec took,
I sought his lodging, which is at the sign
I found at last a chamber, as 'twas said,
-Nothing now, dinner staid,
I mean till he were dressed; for else, so thin
He stands, as if he only fed had been
With consecrated wafers; and the host
Hath sure more flesh and blood than he can boast.
This basso-relievo of a man,
Who, as a camel tall, yet easily can
The needle's eye thread without any stitch;
Lest his too subtle body, growing rare,
Doth make a primitive sotana fall;
And over that, yet casts an antique cloak,
It appears that Flecknoe either laid aside, or disguised, his spiritual character, when he returned to England; but he still preserved extensive connections with the Roman Catholic nobility and gentry. He probably wrote upon many occasional subjects, but his poetry has fallen into total oblivion. I have particularly sought in vain for his verses to King John of Portugal, to which Dryden alludes a little lower. Langbaine mentions four of his plays, namely, "Damoiselles a la Mode," "Erminia,” “Love's Dominion," and "Love's Kingdom," (of which more hereafter;) but none of these were ever acted, excepting the last. This gave Flecknoe great indignation, which he thus vents against the players in his preface to " Damoiselles à la Mode." "For the acting of this comedy, those who have the governing of the stage have their humour, and would be entreated; and I have mine, and won't entreat them: and were all dramatic writers of my mind, they should wear their old plays thread-bare before they
* An anonymous poet ascribes the estimation in which he was held to his poetical propensities:
Verse the famed Flecknoe raised, the muses' sport,