Though those shall sink, which now appear to thrive,
As Custom arbitrates, whose shifting sway
Our life and language must alike obey.
The immortal wars which Gods and Angels wage,
Are they not shown in Milton's sacred page?
His strain will teach what numbers best belong
To themes celestial told in Epic song.
The slow, sad stanza will correctly paint
The Lover's anguish, or the Friend's complaint.110
But which deserves the Laurel—Rhyme or Blank?
Which holds on Helicon the higher rank?
Let squabbling critics by themselves dispute
This point, as puzzling as a Chancery suit.
Satiric rhyme first sprang from selfish spleen.
You doubt—see Dryden, Pope, St. Patrick's Dean.
As Custom fluctuates whose Iron Sway
Though ever changing Mortals must obey.—[MS. M.]
- To mark the Majesty of Epic song.—[MS. L. (a).]
But which is preferable rhyme or blank
Which holds in poesy.—[MS. L. (a).]
- Mac Flecknoe, the Dunciad, and all Swift's lampooning ballads. Whatever their other works may be, these originated in personal feelings, and angry retort on unworthy rivals; and though the ability of these satires elevates the poetical, their poignancy detracts from the personal character of the writers.
Ford, and Beaumont and Fletcher, which were adversely criticized by Gifford. For an account of his relations to Scott and of his melancholy end, see Lockhart's Life of Scott (1871), p. 251.]