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As a politician too, Gibbon was attacked. He is said to have publicly declared, that it was necessary for the safety of the country that half a dozen of the members of the cabinet should be executed ; and yet within a few weeks of this declaration, he accepted (1779) the office of one of the Lords Commissioners of Trade and Plantations, worth about £700 per annum. Upon this an epigram appeared, which has been ascribed to Charles James Fox (“Notes and Queries," 1st S. VIII. 312), but upon insufficient authority:

King George in a fright
Lest Gibbon should write
The story of Britain's disgrace,

Thought no means more sure
His pen to secure
Than to give the historian a place.

But his caution is vain,

"Tis the curse of his reign
That his projects should never succeed;

Tho' he wrote not a line,

Yet a cause of decline
In our author's example we read.

His book well describes
How corruption and bribes
O'erthrew the great empire of Rome;

And his writings declare
A degeneracy there,
Which his conduct exhibits at home.


(“Notes and Queries," 2nd S. XII. 98.) Mr. William Sheepshanks, tutor of Jesus College, Cambridge (who took his degree in 1814), wrote satyrs instead of satires in giving an exercise from Horace or Juvenal. This produced the following epigram, which was fastened on the door of the tutor's room.

The satyrs of old were satyrs of note,
With the head of a man, and the shanks of a goat;
But the satyrs of Jesus these satyrs surpass,

With the shanks of a sheep and the head of an ass, This is ascribed to Mr. H. A. Wedgwood, who graduated at Jesus College in 1821. The same wit embalmed Shelford of Corpus, who was public examiner in 1821, and noted for plucking mon. Shelford fen is near Cambridge:

I've seen a man pluck geese on Shelford fen,
And now I've seen a Shelford goose pluck men.



SIR JOHN SUCKLING Was born at Whitton, in Middlesex, in 1609. He was a inan of fortune, and spent his time and his money amongst the wits of the age. In the civil war he espoused the royal cause, and raised a troop of horse for the King. He died in 1641. The following pieces, though strictly admissible into this collection, are, like some by Sir Charles Sedley, on the border-land between epigrams and vers de société, and may be called by either name. They are taken from Tonson's edition of Suckling's Works, 1709,

Why so pale and wan, fond Lover?

Prithee why so pale?
Will, when looking well can't move her,

Looking ill prevail?

Prithee why so pale?
Why so dull and mute, young sinner?

Prithee why so mute?
Will, when speaking well can't win her,

Saying nothing do't?

Prithee why so mute?
Quit, quit, for shame, this will not move,

This cannot take her;
If of herself she will not love,

Nothing can make her :

The devil take her. George Wither, who was contemporary with Suckling, writes in tho same strain. The following is the first of several stanzas (Ellis' “Specimens of the Early English Poets,” 1803, III. 83):

Shall I, wasting in despair,
Die because a woman's fair?
Or make pale my cheeks with care
'Cause another's rosy are ?

Be she fairer than the day,
Or the flowery meads in May;

If she be not so to me,

What care I how fair she be ? Lord Nugent has an epigram on the happy effects of a lady's disdain when constantly shown (Dodsley's “Collection of Poems," 1782, IL 244):

Since first you knew my am'rous smart,

Each day augments your proud disdain ;
'Twas then enough to break my heart,

And now, thank heav'n! to break my chain.
Cease, thou scorner, cease to shun me!

Now let love and hatred cease!
Half that rigour had undone me,

All that rigour gives me peace. Possibly, however, Suckling's heroine was not indifferent, but carried too far the advice given by a lady in the following lines, and lost her lover by over anxiety to keep him (“The Grove,1721, 56):

She, that would gain a constant lover,

Must at a distance keep the slave,
Not by a look her heart discover,

Men should but guess the thoughts we have,
Whilst they're in doubt, the flame increases,

And all attendance they will pay ;
When we're possess'd, their transport ceases,

And vows, like vapours, fleet away.

Out upon it, I have lov'd

Three whole days together;
And am like to love three more,
If it

fine weather.
Time shall moult away his wings

Ere he shall discover
In the whole wide world again

Such a constant lover.
But the spite on't is, no praise

Is due at all to me;
Love with me had made no stays

Had it any been but she.

Had it any been but she,

And that very face,
There had been at least, ere this,

A dozen dozen in her place ! Sir Charles Sedley, in an epigram “To Celia,” acknowledges that, like Suckling, he would not be constant for an hour together, were not the object of his love the most charming of her sex (Sedley's “ Poetical Works,” 1707, 7):

Not, Celia, that I juster am

Or better than the rest;
For I would change each hour, like them,

Were not my heart at rest.
But I am tied to very thee,

By every thought I have:
Thy face I only care to see,

Thy heart I only crave.
All that in woman is adored

In thy dear self I find,
For the whole sex can but afford

The handsome and the kind.
Why then should I seek farther store,

And still make love anew?
When change itself can give no more

'Tis easy to be true. The ladies to whom these poets professed such constancy, must have been the equals of her on whose girdle Waller wrote his elegant stanzas, the last of which forms in itself a beautiful little epigram;

A narrow compass ! and yet there
Dwelt all that's good, and all that's fair:
Give me but what this ribband bound,
Take all the rest the sun goes round.


I will not love one minute more swear,
No not a minute; not a sigh or tear
Thou gett'st from me, or one kind look agen,
Tho' thou should'st court me to 't, and would'st begin.
I will not think of thee but as men do
Of debts and sins, and then I'll curse theo too:

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