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Bat Rome, in all her pomp and bliss,
Ne'er struck so fine a coin as this,
Besides, though Time, as is his way,
Has eat the inscription quite away,
My eye can trace, divinely true,
In this dark curve a little My :
And here, you see, there seems to lie
The ruins of a Doric Xi.
Perhaps, as Athens thought, and writ
With all the pow'rs of style, and wit,
The nymph upon a couch of mallows
Was meant to represent a Pallas;
And the baton
the Is but the olive-branch she bore.".
He said-but Swinton, full of fire, Asserted that it came from Tyre : A most divine antique he thought it, And with an empire wou'd have bought it, He swore the head in full profile was Undoubtedly the head of Belus; And the reverse, though hid in shade, Appear’d a young Sidonian maid, Whose tresses, buskins, shape, and mien, Mark'd her for Dido at sixteen; Perhaps the very year when she was First married to the rich Sichæus. The rod, as he could make it clear, Was nothing but a hunting spear, Which all the Tyrian ladies bore, To guard them when they chac'd the boar. A learned friend, he could confide on, Who liv'd full thirty years at Sidon,
Once shew'd him, 'midst the seals and rings
Of more than thirty Syrian kings,
A copper piece, in shape and size,
Exactly that before their eyes,
On which in high relief was seen
The image of a Tyrian queen ;
Which made him think this other dame
A true Phænician, and the same.
The next a critic, grave and big,
Hid in a most enormous wig,
Who in his manners, mien, and shape was
A genuine son of Esculapius,
Wonder'd that men of such discerning
In all th' abstruser parts of learning,
Could err, through want of wit or grace,
So strangely in so plain a case.
“ It came," says he," or I will be whipt, From Memphis in the Lower Egypt; Soon as the Nile's prolific flood Has fill'd the plains with slime and mud, All Egypt in a moment swarms With myriads of abortive worms, Whose appetites would soon devour Each cabbage, artichoke, and flow'r, Did not some birds, with active zeal, Eat up whole millions at a meal, And check the pest, while yet the year Is ripening into stalk and ear. This blessing, visibly divine, Is finely pourtray'd on the coin; For here this line, so faint and weak, Is certainly a bill or beak;
Which bill or beak, upon my word,
In hieroglyphics means a bird,
bird whose num'rous tribe is
Distinguish'd by the name of Ibis.
Besides the figure with the wand,
Mark'd by a sistrum in her hand,
Appears, the moment she is seen,
An Isis, Egypt's boasted queen.
Sir, I'm as sure as if my eye
Had seen the artist cut the die,
That these two curves which wave and float thus,
Are but the tendrils of the Lotus,
Which, as Herodotus has said,
Th’Egyptians always eat for bread.”
He spoke, and heard, without a pause,
The rising murmur of applause;
The voice of admiration rung
On ev'ry ear from ev'ry tongue :
Astonish'd at the lucky hit,
They star'd, they deify'd his wit.
But ah! what arts by fate are tried
To vex, and humble human pride ?
To pull down poets from Parnassus,
And turn grave doctors into asses!
For whilst the band their voices raise
To celebrate the sage's praise,
And echo through the house convey'd
Their pæans loud to man and maid;
Tom, a pert waiter, smart, and clever,
A droit pretence who wanted never,
Curious to see what caus'd this rout,
And what the doctors were about,
Slyly stepp'd in to snuff the candles,
And ask whate'er they pleas’d to want else.
Soon as the Synod he came near,
Loud dissonance assail'd his ear;
Strange mingled sounds, in pompous styles.
Of Isis, Ibis, Lotus, Nile :-
And soon in Romans? hand he spies
The coin, the cause of all their noise:
Quick to his side he flies amain,
And peeps, and snuffs, and peeps again;
And though antiques he had no skill ia;.
He knew a sixpence from a shilling;
And, spite of rust, or rub, could trace:
On humble brass Britannia's face.
Soon her fair image he discries,
And, big with laughter, and surprise,
He burst And is this group of learning
So short of sense, and plain discerning,
That a mere halfpenny can be
To them a curiosity ?
If this is your best proof of science,
With wisdom Tom claims no alliance;
Content with nature's artless knowledge;
He scorns alike both school and college.'
More bad he said-but, lo! around
A storm in ev'ry face he found:
On Roman's brow black thunders hung,
And whirlwinds rush'd from Swinton's tongue,
Thynne lightning flash'd from ev'ry pore,
And reason's voice was heard no more,
The tempest ey’d, Tom speeds his flights. And, sneering, bids 'em all good night; Convinc'd that pedantry's allies. May be too learned to be wise.
Next Shipbourne, though her precincts are confin'd
To narrow limits, yet can shew a train
Of village beauties pastorally sweet
And rurally magnificent. Fairlawn
Opes her delightful prospect ; dear Fairlawr !
There where at once at variance and agreed,
Nature and art hold dalliance ; there, where rills
Kiss the green drooping herbage; there, where trees,
The tall trees tremble at the approach of heaven,
And bow their salutation to the sun,
Who fosters all their foliage ;-these are thine !
Yes, little Shipbourne, boast that these are thine !
And if,but oh!
and if 'tis no disgrace,
The birth of him who now records thy praise.
The village of Shipbourne in Kent, was then the birth place of Christopher Smart, who was born April 11th, 1722. His father possessed an estate of some value in the neighbourhood, and was steward to the Kentish property of Lord Barnard, afterwards Earl of Darlington. He had been originally destined for the church, and had acquired in consequence a taste for literature, which induced him to give his son a learned education,
Christopher Smart, suffered from his birth, which was premature, under a feeble constitution of body, which was not improved by his subsequent habits, but he displayed we are informed, at a very early period of his life, a taste and a talent for poetry. He lisped in.