Condemn the unlucky Curate to recite
Their last dramatic work by candle-light,
How would the preacher turn each rueful leaf,
Dull as his sermons, but not half so brief!
Yet, since 'tis promised at the Rector's death,
He'll risk no living for a little breath.770
Then spouts and foams, and cries at every line,
(The Lord forgive him!) "Bravo! Grand! Divine!"
Hoarse with those praises (which, by Flatt'ry fed,
Dependence barters for her bitter bread),
He strides and stamps along with creaking boot;
Till the floor echoes his emphatic foot,
Then sits again, then rolls his pious eye,
As when the dying vicar will not die!
Nor feels, forsooth, emotion at his heart;—
But all Dissemblers overact their part.780
"Expunge that stanza, lop that line away,"
Ye, who aspire to "build the lofty rhyme,"
Believe not all who laud your false "sublime;"
But if some friend shall hear your work, and say,
Hoarse with bepraising, and half choaked with lies,
Sweat oil his brow and tear drops in his eyes.—[MS. L. (a).]
Then sits again, then shakes his piteous head
As if the Vicar were already dead.—[MS. L. (a).]
- [See Milton's Lycidas.]