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Our chilling climate hardly bears
A sprig of bays in fifty years ;
While every fool his claim alleges,
As if it grew in common hedges.
What reason can there be assign'd
For this perverseness in the mind?
Brutes find out where their talents lie :
A bear will not attempt to fly ;
A founder'd horse will oft debate,
Before he tries a five-barr'd gate ;
A dog by instinct turns aside,
Who sees the ditch too deep and wide.
But man we find the only creature
Who, led by folly, combats nature;
Who, when she loudly cries, forbear,
With obstinacy fixes there;
And, where his genius least inclines,
Absurdly bends his whole designs.
Not empire to the rising Sun
By valor, condutt, fortune won;
Not highest wisdom in debates
For framing laws to govern states ;
Not skill in sciences profound,
So large to grasp the circle round;
Such heavenly influence require,
As how to strike the Muse's lyre.
Not beggar's brat on bulk begot;
Not bastard of a pedler Scot;
Not boy brought up to cleaning shoes,
The spawn of Bridewell or the stews;
Not infants dropt, the spurious pledges
Of gypsies littering under hedges ;
Are so disqualified by fate
To rise in church, or law, or state,
As he whom Phæbus in his ire
Hath blasted with poetic fire.
What hope of custom in the fair,
While not a soul demands your ware?
Where you have nothing to produce
For private life, or public use?
Court, city, country, want you not ;
You cannot bribe, betray, or plot.
For poets, law makes no provision ;
The wealthy have you in derision :
Of state affairs you cannot smatter;
Are awkward when you try to flatter:
Your portion, taking Britain round,
Was just one annual hundred pound;
Now not so much as in remainder,
Since Cibber brought in an attainder;
For ever fix'd by right divine
(A monarch's right) on Grub-street line.
Poor starveling bard, how small thy gains !
How unproportion'd to thy pains !
And here a simile comes pat in:
Though chickens take a month to fatten,
The guests in less than half an hour
Will more than half a score devour.
So, after toiling twenty days
To earn a stock of pence and praise,
Thy labors, grown the critic's prey,
Are swallow'd o'er a dish of tea;
Gone to be never heard of more,
Gone where the chickens went before.
How shall a new attempter learn
Of different spirits to discern,
And how distinguish which is which,
The poet's vein, or scribbling itch ?
Then hear an old experienc'd sinner
Instructing thus a young beginner.
Consult yourself; and if you find
A powerful impulse urge your mind,
Impartial judge within your breast
What subject you can manage best;
Whether your genius most inclines
To satire, praise, or humorous lines,
To elegies in mournful tone,
Or prologue sent from hand unknown.
Then, rising with Aurora's light,
The Muse invok'd, sit down to write;
Blot out, correct, insert, refine,
Enlarge, diminish, interline;
Be mindful, when invention fails,
To scratch your head, and bite your nails.
Your poem finish'd, next your care
Is needful to transcribe it fair.
In modern wit, all printed trash is
Set off with numerous breaks and dashes.
To statesmen would you give a wipe,
You print it in italic type.
When letters are in vulgar shapes,
'Tis ten to one the wit escapes :
But, when in capitals exprest,
The dullest reader smokes the jest:
Or else perhaps he may invent
A better than the poet meant;
As learned commentators view
In Homer more than Homer knew.
Your poem in its modish dress,
Correctly fitted for the press,
Convey by penny-post to Lintot,
But let no friend alive look into 't
If Lintot thinks 'twill quit the cost,
You need not fear your labor lost :
And how agreeably surpris'd
Are you to see it advertis'd !
The hawker shows you one in print,
As fresh as farthings from the mint:
The product of your toil and sweating;
A bastard of your own begetting.
Be sure at Will's, the following day,
Lie snug, and hear what critics say ;
And, if you find the general vogue
Pronounces you a stupid rogue,
Damns all your thoughts as low and little,
Sit still, and swallow down your spittle.
Be silent as a politician,
For talking may beget suspicion :
Or praise the judgment of the town,
And help yourself to run it down.
Give up your fond paternal pride,
Nor argue on the weaker side :
For poems read without a name
We justly praise, or justly blame;
And critics have no partial views,
Except they know whom they abuse :
And, since you ne'er provoke their spite,
Depend upon't, their judgment's right.
But if you blab, you are undone :
Consider what a risk you run :
You lose your credit all at once ;
The town will mark you for a dunce ;
The vilest doggrel Grub-street sends,
Will pass for yours with foes and friends;
And you must bear the whole disgrace,
Till some fresh blockhead takes your place.
Your secret kept, your poem sunk,
And sent in quires to line a trunk,
If still you be dispos’d to rhyme,
Go try your hand a second time.
Again you fail : yet Safe's the word ;
Take courage, and attempt a third.
But first with care employ your thoughts
Where critics mark'd your former faults ;
The trivial turns, the borrow'd wit,
The similes that nothing fit;
The cant which every fool repeats,
Town jests and coffee-house conceits :
Descriptions tedious, flat and dry,
And introduc'd the Lord knows why:
Or where we find your fury set
Against the harmless alphabet;
On A's and B's your malice vent,
While readers wonder whom you meant;
A public or a private robber,
A statesman, or a South-sea jobber ;
A prelate who no God believes ;
A parliament, or den of thieves;
A pick-purse at the bar or bench;
A duchess, or a suburb-wench:
Or oft, when epithets you link
In gaping lines to fill a chink;
Like stepping-stones to save a stride,
In streets where kennels are too wide;
Or like a heel-piece, to support
A cripple with one foot too short;
Or like a bridge, that joins a marish
To moorlands of a different parish:
So have I seen ill-coupled hounds
Drag different ways in miry grounds.
So geographers in Afric maps
With savage pictures fill their gaps,
And o'er unhabitable downs
Place elephants for want of towns.
But, though you miss your third essay,
You need not throw your pen away.
Lay now aside all thoughts of fame,
To spring more profitable game.
From party-merit seek support;
The vilest verse thrives best at court.
A pamphlet in Sir Bob's defence
Will never fail to bring in pence:
Nor be concern'd about the sale,
He pays his workmen on the nail.
A prince, the moment he is crown'd, Inherits every virtue round, As emblems of the sovereign power, Like other baubles in the Tower; Is generous, valiant, just, and wise, And so continues till he dies : His humble senate this professes, In all their speeches, votes, addresses. But once you fix him in a tomb, His virtues fade, his vices bloom ; And each perfection wrong imputed, Is fully at his death confuted. The loads of poems in his praise, Ascending, make one funeral blaze : As soon as you can hear his knell, This god on Earth turns devil in Hell: And lo! his ministers of state, Transform'd to imps, his leveo wait; Where, in the scenes of endless woe, They ply their former arts below; And, as they sail in Charon's boat, Contrive to bribe the judge's vote ; To Cerberus they give a sop, His triple-barking mouth to stop; Or in the ivory gate of dreams Project excise and South-sea schemes ;
Or hire the party pamphleteers
To set Elysium by the ears.
Then, poet, if you mean to thrive,
Employ your Muse on kings alive:
With prudence gathering up a cluster
Of all the virtues you can muster,
Which, form'd into a garland sweet,
Lay humbly at your monarch's feet;
Who, as the odors reach his throne,
Will smile, and think them all his own;
For law and gospel both determine
All virtnes lodge in royal ermine :
(I mean the oracles of both,
Who shall depose it upon oath.)
Your garland in the following reign,
Change but the names, will do again.
But, if you think this trade too base,
(Which seldom is the dunce's case,)
Put on the critic's brow, and sit
At Will's the puny judge of wit.
A nod, a shrug, a scornful smile,
With caution us'd, may serve awhile.
Proceed no further in your part,
Before you learn the terms of art;
For you can never be too far gone
In all our modern critic's jargon :
Then talk with more authentic face
Of unities, in time and place ;
Get scraps of Horace from your friends,
And have them at your fingers' ends ;
Learn Aristotle's rules by rote,
And at all hazards boldly quote ;
Judicious Rymer oft review,
Wise Dennis, and profound Bossu ;
Read all the prefaces of Dryden,
For these our critics much confide in,
(Though merely writ at first for filling,
To raise the volume's price a shilling.)
A forward critic often dupes us
With sham quotations peri hupsous ;
And if we have not read Longinus,
Will magisterially outshine us.
Then, lest with Greek he overrun ye,
Procure the book for love or money,
Translated from Boileau's translation,
And quote quotation on quotation.
At Will's you hear a poem read,
Where Battus, from the table head,
Reclining on his elbow-chair,
Gives judgment with decisive air;
To whom the tribe of circling wits
As to an oracle submits.
He gives directions to the town,
To cry it up or run it down;
Like courtiers, when they send a note
Instructing members how to vote.
He sets the stamp of bad and good,
Though not a word be understood.
Your lesson learn'd, you'll be secure
To get the name of connoisseur:
And, when your merits once are known,
Procure disciples of your own.
For poets (you can never want 'em)
Spread through Augusta Trinobantum,
Computing by their pocks of coals,
Amount to just nine thousand souls:
These o'er their proper districts govern,
Of wit and humor judges sovereign.
In every street a city-bard
Rules, like an alderman, his ward ;
His undisputed rights extend
Through all the lane, from end to end ;
The neighbors round admire his shrewdness
For songs of loyalty and lewdness ;
Outdone by none in rhyming well,
Although he never learn'd to spel'.
Two bordering wits contend for glory;
And one is Whig, and one is Tory :
And this for epics claims the bays,
And that for elegiac lays :
Some fam'd for numbers soft and smooth,
By lovers spoke in Punch's booth ;
And some as justly fame extols
For lofty lines in Smithfield drolls.
Bavius in Wapping gains renown,
And Mævius reigns o'er Kentish-town:
Tigellius, plac'd in Phæbus' car,
From Ludgate shines to Temple-bar;
Harmonious Cibber entertains
The court with annual birth-day strains ;
Whence Gay was banish'd in disgrace ;
Where Pope will never show his face;
Where Young must torture his invention
To flatter knaves, or lose his pension.
But these are not a thousandth part Of jobbers in the poet's art, Attending each his proper station, And all in sae subordination, Through every alley to be found, In garrets high, or under ground; And when they join their pericranies, Out skips a book of miscellanies. Hobbes clearly proves that every creature Lives in a state of war by nature. The greater for the smallest watch, But meddle seldom with their match. A whale of moderate size will draw A shoal of herrings down his maw; A fox with geese his belly crams; A wolf destroys a thousand lambs : But search among the rhyming race, The brave are worried by the base. If on Parnassus' top you sit, You rarely bite, are always bit. Each poet of inferior size On you shall rail and criticise, And strive to tear you limb from limb; While others do as much for him.
The vermin only tease and pinch Their foes superior by an inch. So, naturalists observe, a flea Hath smaller fleas that on him prey ; And these have smaller still to bite 'em, And so proceed ad infinitum. Thus every poet in his kind Is bit by him that comes behind : Who, though too little to be seen, Can tease, and gall, and give the spleen ; Call dunces fools and sons of whores, Lay Grub-street at each other's doors; Extol the Greek and Roman masters, And curse our modern poetasters; Complain, as many an ancient bard did, How genius is no more rewarded ; How wrong a taste prevails among us; How much our ancestors outsung us; Can personate an awkward scorn For those who are not poets born ; And all their brother-dunces lash, Who crowd the press with hourly trash.
O Grub-street! how do I bemoan thee, Whose graceless childreri scorn to own thee! Their filial piety forgot, Deny their country, like a Scot; Though, by their idiom and grimace, They soon betray their native place. Yet thou hast greater cause to be Asham'd of them, than they of thee, Degenerate from their ancient brood, Since first the court allow'd them food.
Remains a difficulty still,
To purchase fame by writing ill.
From Flecknoe down to Howard's time,
How few have reach'd the low sublime !
For when our high-born Howard died,
Blackmore alone his place supplied :
And, lest a chasm should intervene,
When death had finish'd Blackmore's reign,
The leaden crown devolv'd to thee,
Great poet of the hollow tree.
But ah! how insecure thy throne !
A thousand bards thy right disown:
They plot to turn, in factious zeal,
Duncinia to a commonweal;
And with rebellious arms pretend
An equal privilege to descend.
In bulk there are not more degrees
From elephants to mites in cheese,
Than what a curious eye may trace
In creatures of the rhyming race.
From bad to worse, and worse, they fall;
But who can reach the worst of all ?
For though, in nature, depth and height
Are equally held infinite;
In poetry, the height we know;
'Tis only infinite below.
For instance: when you rashly think,
No rhymer can like Welsted sink,
His merits balanc'd, you shall find
The laureate leaves him far behind.
Concannen, more aspiring bard,
Soars downwards deeper by a yard.
Smart Jemmy Moor with vigor drops :
The rest pursue as thick as hops.
With heads to points the gulf they enter,
Link'd perpendicular to the centre;
And, as their heels elated rise,
Their heads attempt the nether skies.
Oh, what indignity and shame,
To prostitute the Muse's name!
By flattering kings, whom Heaven design'd
The plagues and scourges of mankind;
Bred up in ignorance and sloth,
And every vice that nurses both.
Fair Britain, in thy monarch blest,
Whose virtues bear the strictest test;
Whom never faction could bespatter,
Nor minister nor poet flatter;
What justice in rewarding merit!
What magnanimity of spirit!
What lineaments divine we trace
Through all his figure, mien, and face !
Though peace with olive bind his hands,
Confess'd the conquering hero stands.
Hydaspes, Indus, and the Ganges,
Dread from his hand impending changes.
From him the Tartar and Chinese,
Short by the knees, entreat for peace.
The consort of his throne and bed,
A perfect goddess born and bred,
Appointed sovereign judge to sit
On learning, eloquence, and wit.
Our eldest hope, divine lülus,
(Late, very late, oh may he rule us!)
What early manhood has he shown,
Before his downy beard was grown!
T'hen think, what wonders will be done,
By going on as he begun,
An heir for Britain to secure
As long as Sun and Moon endure.
The remnant of the royal blood
Comes pouring on me like a flood :
Bright goddesses, in number five;
Duke William, sweetest prince alive.
Now sing the minister of state,
Who shines alone without a mate.
Observe with what majestic port
This Atlas stands to prop the court :
Intent the public debts to pay,
Like prudent Fabius, by delay.
Thou great vicegerent of the king,
Thy praises every Muse shall sing !
In all affairs thou sole director,
Of wit and learning chief protector ;
Though small the time thou hast to spare,
The church is thy peculiar care.
Or pious prelates what a stock
You choose, to rule the sable flock!
You raise the honor of the peerage,
Proud to attend you at the steerage.
You dignify the noble race,
Content yourself with humbler place.
Now, learning, valor, virtue, sense,
To titles give the sole pretence.
St. George beheld thee with delight
Vouchsafe to be an azure knight,
When on thy breasts and sides Herculean
He fix'd the star and string cerulean.
Say, poet, in what other nation Shone ever such a constellation ! Attend, ye Popes, and Youngs, and Gays, And tune your harps, and strow your bays: Your panegyrics here provide ; You cannot err on flattery's side. Above the stars exalt your style, You still are low ten thousand mile. On Lewis, all his bards bestow'd Of incense many a thousand load; But Europe mortified his pride, And swore the fawning rascals lied. Yet what the world refus'd to Lewis, Applied to George, exactly true is. Exactly true! invidious poet! 'Tis fifty thousand times below it.
Translate me now some lines, if you can, From Virgil, Martial, Ovid, Lucan. They could all power in Heaven divide, And do no wrong on either side; They teach you how to split a hair, -Give George and Jove an equal share. Yet why should we be lac'd so straight? I'll give my monarch butter-weight. And reason good ; for many a year Jove never intermeddled here: Nor, though his priests be duly paid, Did ever we desire his aid; We now can better do without him, Since Woolston gave us arms to rout him.
A DESCRIPTION OF A CITY-SHOWER.
In imitation of Virgil's Georgics.-1710. CAREFUL observers may foretell the hour (By sure pr gnostics) when to dread a shower. While rain aepends, the pensive cat gives o'er Her frolics, and pursues her tail no more. Returning home at night, you 'll find the sink Strike your offended sense with double stink. If you be wise, then go not far to dine ; You 'll spend in coach-hire more than save in wine A coming shower your shooting corns presage, Old aches will throb, your hollow tooth will rage. Sauntering in coffee-house is Dulman seen ; He damns the climate, and complains of spleen.
Meanwhile the south, rising with dabbled wings,
A sable cloud athwart the welkin flings
That swill'd more liquor than it could contain,
And, like a drunkard, gives it up again.
Brisk Susan whips her linen from the rope,
While the first drizzling shower is borne aslope :
Such is that sprinkling which some careless quean
Flirts on you from her mop, but not so clean:
You fly, invoke the gods; then, turning, stop
To rail; she, singing, still whirls on her mop.
Not yet the dust had shunn'd th' unequal strife,
But aided by the wind, fought still for life ;
And, wasted with its foe by violent gust,
'Twas doubtful which was rain, and which was dust.
Ah! where must needy poet seek for aid,
When dust and rain at once his coat invade?
Sole coat! where dust cemented by the rain
Erects the nap, and leaves a cloudy stain !
Now in contiguous drops the flood comes down,
Threatening with deluge this devoted town.
To shops in crowds the daggled females fly,
Pretend to cheapen goods, but nothing buy.
The Templar spruce, while every spout's abroach,
Stays till 'tis fair, yet seems to call a coach.
The tuck'd-up sempstress walks with hasty strides,
While streams run down her oil'd umbrella's sides Here various kinds, by various fortunes led,
Commence acquaintance underneath a shed.
Triumphant Tories and desponding Whigs
Forget their feuds, and join to save their wigs.
*Box'd in a chair, the beau impatient sits,
While spouts run clattering o'er the roof by fits,
And ever and anon with frightful din
The leather sounds; he trembles from within.
So when Troy chairmen bore the wooden steed,
Pregnant with Greeks impatient to be freed,
(Those bully Greeks, wlo, as the moderns do,
Instead of paying chairmen, ran them through,)
Laocoon struck the outside with his spear,
And each imprison'd hero quak'd for fear.
Now from all parts the swelling kennels flow, And bear their trophies with them as they go: Filths of all hues and odors seem to tell What street they sail'd from by their sight and smell. They, as each torrent drives, with rapid force, From Smithfield or St. 'Pulchre's shape their course, And in huge confluence join'd at Snowhill ridge, Fall from the conduit prone to Holborn bridge. Sweepings from butchers' stalls, dung, guts, and
blood, Drown'd puppies, stinking sprats, all drench'd in
mud, Dead cats, and turnip-tops, come tumbling down
So, when I came up again, I found my pocket feel HORACE, BOOK III. ODE II.
But when I search'd, and miss'd my purse, Lord! I TO THE EARL OF OXFORD, LATE LORD TREASURER.
thought I should have sunk outright.
Lord! madam, says Mary, how d'ye do? Indeed, Sent to him when in the Tower, 1617.
says I, never worse :
But pray, Mary, can you tell what I have done with How blest is he who for his country dies,
my purse? Since Death pursues the coward as he flies !
Lord help me! said Mary, I never stirr'd out of The youth in vain would fly from fate's attack,
this place : With trembling knees and terror at his back;
Nay, said I, I had it in Lady Betty's charnber, that's Though fear should lend him pinions like the wind,
a plain case. Yet swifter fate will seize him from behind.
So Mary got me to bed and cover'd me up warm: Virtue repuls'd, yet knows not to repine,
However, she stole away my garters, that I might But shall with unattainted honor shine ;
do myself no harm. Nor stoops to take the staff,* nor lays it down,
So I tumbled and toss'd all night, as you may very Just as the rabble please to smile or frown.
well think, Virtue, to crown her favorites, loves to try
But hardly ever set my eyes together, or slept a Some new unbeaten passage to the sky;r
wink. Where Jove a seat among the gods will give
So I was a-dream'd, methought, that we went and To those who die for meriting to live.
search'd the folks round, Next, faithsul silence hath a sure reward ;
And in a corner of Mrs. Dukes's* box, tied in a rag, Within our breast be every secret barr'd!
the money was found. He who betrays his friend, shall never be
So next morning we told Whittle,t and he fell aUnder one roof, or in one ship, with me.
swearing : For who with traitors would his safety trust,
Then my dame Wadgert came ; and she, you know, Lest, with the wicked, Heaven involve the just ?
is thick of hearing. And, though the villain ’scape awhile, he feels
Dame, said I, as loud as I could bawl, do you know Slow vengeance, like a blood-hound, at his heels.
what a loss I have had ? Nay, said she, my Lord Colway’s ý folks are all very
For my Lord Dromedaryll comes a Tuesday without
fail. MRS. HARRIS'S PETITION.
Pugh! said I, but that's not the business that I ail. 1699.
Says Cary, I says he, I have been a servant this five.
and-twenty years, come spring, To their excellencies the lords justices of Ireland,t And in all the places I liv'd, I never heard of such the humble petition of Frances Harris,
a thing. Who must starve, and die a maid, if it miscarries ; Yes, says the steward, ** I remember, when I was
at my Lady Shrewsbury's, Humbly showeth,
Such a thing as this happen'd just about the time of That I went to warm myself in Lady Betty’si cham. gooseberries. ber, because I was cold;
So I went to the party suspected, and I found her And I had in a purse seven pounds, four shillings,
full of grief, and sixpence, besides farthings, in money (Now, you must know, of all things in the world, I and gold :
hate a thief.) So, because I had been buying things for my lady However, I am resolv'd to bring the discourse slily last night,
about; I was resolvid to tell my money, to see if it was Mrs. Dukes, said I, here's an ugly accident has right.
happen'd out : Now, you must know, because my trunk has a very 'Tis not that I value the money three skips of a bad lock,
louse ;t* Therefore all the money I have, which, God knows, But the thing I stand upon is the credit of the is a very small stock,
house. I keep in my pocket, tied about my middle, next to "Tis true, seven pounds, four shillings, and sixpence, my smock.
makes a great hole in my wages : So when I went to put up my purse, as God would Besides, as they say, service is no inheritance in
have it, my smock was unript, And, instead of putting it into my pocket, down it
slipt; Then the bell rung, and I went down to put my lady
* Wife to one of the footmen. to bed ;
† Earl of Berkeley's valet. And, God knows, I thought my money was as safe 1 The old deaf housekeeper. as my maidenhead.
| The Earl of Drogheda, who, with the primate, was to
succeed the two earls. * The ensign of the lord treasurer's office.
1 Clerk of the kitchen. | The Earls of Berkeley and of Galway.
** Ferris. 1 Lady Betty Berkeley, afterwards Germaine.
# An usual saying of hers.