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A COPY OF VERSES
Lord March and Lord George,
His Grace the Duke of Rd,
Dangerously falling through the Ice at God
wood: illustrated with Notes Variorum, by Martin SCRIBBLER, Jun.-Supposed to be written by B. THORNTON, Esq.
EAVE, rustic Muse, the Cott and furrow'd
Plains, The Loves of rural Nymphs, and Shepherd Swains; Lay by the lowly Reed, whose simple Notes Die on the lonely Hills round wattled Cotes.
Furrow'd Plains.] Left we should imagine that the Plains herë meant were plain and even, as all Plains
should be, the Author judiciously adds an Epithet which unplains the Plains at once.
Wattled Cotes.] An elegant Expression.
Critics are in doubt what Instrument our Poet would here make Use of; though I think it is plain, it can be no other than a few's Harp. Nor is it any Objection to fay that this is sometimes in the Mouth of the Vulgar, since its Notes seem adapted to such noble Subjects as this. For, as the Poet Fustian Sackbut sweetly fings:
Buzzing twangs the Iron Lyre
Whizzing with the wav'ring Wire. Son'rous.] Who, that has not lost his Ears, can be satisfied with the cutting off the long 0 in this Word ? I say, read Snorus; as the Baís of a Jew's Harp, or, (as it should be written) Jaws-Harp, very nearly resembles Snoring. B-NTLY.
While condescending Nobles circle round, In bending Attitude, to judge the Sound. This is truly
sublime. Here we have the Humility, (a rare Virtue) the Manner of fitting or standing, and the Posture of the Nobles who are (not barely to hear, but) to try, hang, or acquit the Sound, as they think fit, and all in two Verses.
Fancy delighted touches o'er the Strings, And warbling to the Groves of Richmond wings. The last Line, I confess, has long puzzled me, and I suspect it is a false Reading, and should be corrected thus : And rambling thro' the Groves of Richmond sings.
When January, newly in his Reign,
With frosty Fetters bound the rugged Plain. The History is this : January was the eldest Son of December, and mounted the Throne of his Ancestors on the Demise of his father. Now these Lines are fine indirect Satire on Kings : for you see King January is no sooner' pop'd upon the Throne, than he makes Use of Fetters to bind his Dominions to Submiffion. O Reges, Reges!
Rugged Plain ] See, Note the Second.
And o'er the Pool outspread the icy Sheet,
Tempting to slipp’ry Sport the School-Boy's Feet. Zoilus, Jun. cavils at this first Verse, as not thinking it a proper Employment for King January to turn Chamberlain. But fure, he forgot that even Princesses of old would darn Stockings, or mend Towels, or do any such housewifely Work. Then sure our new Monarch might make a Bed without Scandal, as the Sheets were doubtless of the finest Ice.
Two Youths, whose Birth the highest Reve
rence claim, Sweet Buds of Honour, rip’ning into Fame; Left the warm Hearth, to taste the freezing Air, 'Twixt hisfing Woods by rocking Winds stript
bare. Philosophers have not yet fixed the true Taste of freezing Air ; though we may learn from this Parfage that it was not warm; because then the two Youths would not have left the warm Hearth, to taste it between hissing Woods : so that we may conclude it to be hifling cold.
-By rocking Winds stript bare.] Rocking Winds. Nonsense. We must certainly read, robbing Winds, and then the Sense is complete. The Winds were a Sort of Free-Booty Gentlemen, that stript the poor
Woods to the Skin, and left them (in worse Condition than Adam and Eve) without so much as a Leaf to cover their Nakedness.
The starting Deer before their Footsteps fly,
And turning shiver with astonish'd Eye. The ordinary Reader will not be able to comprehend this Passage. It means, that the Deer run away from them, that they shiver with Cold, that they turn to look, and consequently with an Eye, which Eye is astonished : And as they shiver and have an Eye, they must shiver with that Eye; and they must also shiver in turning, and turn in Thivering: and so they turn and shiver, and shiver and
W-RB-RT-N. Zoilus asks what their Eye is astonished at ? Why, at fifty Things ; at the Buds of Honour, the hilling Woods, the rocking Winds, Icy Sheet, rugged Plain, frosty Fetters.
OnNature's Fingers turn'd, their Locks embrac'd
Their Vi'let Temples, pittoresquely grac'd. Nature is here elegantly represented as a TyreWoman, or rather Woman-Barber; and as Barbers bind the Hair round their Fingers to make it curl, our Poet properly says, 'On Nature's Fingers turned, to express, that their Locks curled naturally. So intimately he knows Arts and Artists.
Vi'let Temples.] A less judicious Writer would have said, Snow-white; and that not improperly, as it was the snowy Season. But how much more significant is the Epithet, Violet? For as Violets are blue, and ’tis common in cold frosty Weather for the Nose to look blue, fo the Temples will be blue or Violet in so severe a Frost.
The Cotton MS. has two Lines immediately after these, which seem to come from our Author. F 3
And Yove, kind Barber, from his heav'nly Puff, · Those Locks to powder, shook down Snow enough.
The furious Blasts, with which the Forest mews,
Dancing the Curls, their salvage Nature-lose. Every Naturalist knows how such' Forests, agitated by the Wind, in their Sound resemble the Cry of a Cat, especially if the growls a little, at the same Time the mews.
Lonely they wander'd thro' the leafless Shade,
How careful is our Poet to let us know that the Shade here meant is leafless, left immediately on mentioning the Shade of Trees we should look for Leaves, and be disappointed. We are not too nicely to enquire how the Shade was made; for this is one of the Mysteries which sublime Poets are allowed to conceal from vulgar Apprehensions.
Doubting its Strength, they try the brittle Sides,
The trembling Trees their lengthen'dArms extend,
It is a Doubt whether the Trees would have bent towards him, had they not been pushed by the Winds. For my Part, I am inclined to think they would; for had they been unwilling to do it, they need not have stretched out their Arms, as they did,