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Let nie for once presume t' instruct the times,
To know the poet from the man of rhymes:
'Tis he who gives my breast a thousand pains,
Can make me feel each passion that he feigns;
Enrage, compose, with more than magic art,
With pity and with terror tear my heart,
And snatch me o'er the earth, or thro' the air,
To Thebes, to Athens, when he will and where:
But not this part of the poetic state
Alone deserves the favour of the great.
Think of those authors, sir, who would rely
More on a reader's sense than gazer's eye.
Or who shall wander where the Muses sing?
Who climb their mountain, or who taste their spring?
How shall we fill a library with wit,

When Merlin's cave is half unfurnish'd yet?



My liege! why writers little claim your thought

I guess, and with their leave will tell the fault.
We poets are (upon a poet's word)

Of all mankind the creatures most absurd :
The season when to come and when to go,
To sing, or cease to sing, we never know;
And if we will recite nine hours in ten,
You lose your patience just like other men.
Then, too, we hurt ourselves when, to defend
A single verse, we quarrel with a friend;
Repeat unask'd; lament the wit's too fine
For vulgar eyes, and point out every line:
But most when straining with too weak a wing,
We needs will write epistles to the king;
And from the moment we oblige the town,
Expect a place or pension from the crown;
Or, dubb'd historians, by express command,
T'enrol our triumphs o'er the seas and land,
Be call'd to court to plan some work divine,
As once for Louis, Boileau and Racine.





Yet think, great sir! (so many virtues shown) Ab! think what poet best may make them known; Or choose at least some minister of grace, Fit to bestow the laureat's weighty place.

Charles, to late times to be transmitted fair, 380 Assign'd his figure to Bernini's care;


And great Nassau to Kneller's hand decreed
To fix him graceful on the bounding steed:
So well in paint and stone they judg'd of merit :
But kings in wit may want discerning spirit.
The hero William, and the martyr Charles,
One knighted Blackmore, and one pension'd Quarles,
Which made old Ben and surly Dennis swear,
'No Lord's anointed, but a Russian bear.'


Not with such majesty, such bold relief, The form august of kings, or conquering chief, E'er swell'd on marble, as in verse have shin'd (In polish'd verse) the manners and the mind. Oh! could I mount on the Mæonian wing, Your arms, your actions, your repose, to sing! What seas you travers'd, and what fields you fought! Your country's peace how oft, how dearly bought! How barbarous rage subsided at your word,


And natious wonder'd while they dropp'd the sword!
How when you nodded, o'er the land and deep 400
Peace stole her wings, and wrapp'd the world in sleep,
Till earth's extremes your mediation own,
And Asia's tyrants tremble at your throne-
But verse, alas! your majesty disdains:
And I'm not us'd to panegyric strains.
The zeal of fools offends at any time,
But most of all the zeal of fools in rhyme.
Besides, a fate attends on all I write,
That when I aim at praise they say I bite.
A vile encomium doubly ridicules;



There's nothing blackens like the ink of fools.

If true, a woeful likeness; and if lies,

‹ Praise undeserv'd is scandal in disguise.'

Well may he blush who gives it, or receives;
And when I flatter, let my dirty leaves
(Like journals, odes, and such forgotten things,
As Eusden, Philips, Settle, writ of kings,)
Clothe spice, line trunks, or fluttering in a row,
Befringe the rails of Bedlam and Soho.




DEAR Col'nel, Cobham's and your country's friend! You love a verse; take such as I can send.

A Frenchman comes, presents you with his boy, Bows and begins-" This lad, sir, is of Blois : Observe his shape how clean! his locks how curl'd! My only son, I'd have him see the world:

His French is pure; his voice too-you shall hear.
Sir, he's your slave for twenty pound a-year.
Mere wax as yet, you fashion him with ease,
Your barber, cook, upholsterer; what you please:
A perfect genius at an opera song-

To say too much might do my honour wrong.
Take him with all his virtues, on my word;
His whole ambition was to serve a lord.

But, sir, to you with what would I not part?



Though, faith, I fear 'twill break his mother's


Once (and but once) I caught him in a lie,

And then unwhipp'd, he had the grace to cry:
The fault he has I fairly shall reveal,
(Could you o'erlook but that) it is to steal."

If, after this, you took the graceless lad,
Could you complain, my friend, he prov'd so bad?
Faith, in such case, if you should prosecute,
I think Sir Godfrey should decide the suit,
Who sent the thief, that stole the cash away,
And punish'd him that put it in his way.

Consider then, and judge me in this light;
I told you when I went I could not write;
You said the same; and are you discontent
With laws to which you gave your own assent?
Nay, worse, to ask for verse at such a time!
D'ye think me good for nothing but to rhyme?
In Anna's wars a soldier, poor and old,
Had dearly earn'd a little purse of gold:
Tir'd in a tedious march, one luckless night
He slept, (poor dog!) and lost it, to a doit.





This put the man in such a desperate mind,
Between revenge, and grief, and hunger join'd,
Against the foe, himself, and all mankind,
He leap'd the trenches, scal'd a castle wall,
Tore down a standard, took the fort and all.
"Prodigious well!” his great commander cried;
Gave him much praise, and some reward beside.
Next pleas'd his excellence a town to batter;
(Its name I know not, and 'tis no great matter)
"Go on, my friend," he cried, "see yonder walls!
Advance and conquer! go where glory calls!
More honours, more rewards, attend the brave."
Don't you remember what reply he gave?-
"D'ye think me, noble general! such a sot?
Let him take castles who has ne'er a groat."

Bred up at home full early I begun
To read in Greek the wrath of Peleus' son:
Besides, my father taught me from a lad
The better art, to know the good from bad;
(And little sure imported to remove,
To hunt for truth in Maudlin's learned grove)
But knottier points, we knew not half so well,
Depriv'd us soon of our paternal cell;






And certain laws, by sufferers thought unjust,
Denied all posts of profit or of trust:

Hopes after hopes of pious papists fail'd,

While mighty William's thundering arm prevail'd.

For right hereditary tax'd and fin'd,

He stuck to poverty with peace of mind;

And me the Muses help to undergo it;

Convict a papist he, and I a poet.

But (thanks to Homer) since I live and thrive,
Indebted to no prince or peer alive,

Sure I should want the care of ten Monroes,

If I would scribble rather than repose.



Years following years steal something every day; At last they steal us from ourselves away; In one our frolics, one amusements end, In one a mistress drops, in one a friend.


This subtle thief of life, this paltry time,
What will it leave me if it snatch my rhyme?
If every wheel of that unweary'd mill,

That turn'd ten thousand verses, now stands still?
But, after all, what would you have me do,
When out of twenty I can please not two?
When this heroics only deigns to praise,
Sharp satire that, and that Pindaric lays?
One likes the pheasant's wing, and one the leg;
The vulgar boil, the learned roast an egg:
Hard task to hit the palate of such guests,
When Oldfield loves what Dartineuf detests!

But grant I may relapse, for want of grace,
Again to rhyme, can London be the place?
Who there his Muse, or self, or soul, attends,




In crowds, and courts, law, business, feasts, and friends?

My counsel sends to execute a deed;

A poet begs me I will hear him read.

In Palace-yard at nine you'll find me there-
At ten, for certain, sir, in Bloomsbury square-
Before the lords at twelve my cause comes on-
There's a rehearsal, sir, exact at one.-
Oh! but a wit can study in the streets,


And raise his mind above the mob he meets.'
Not quite so well, however, as one ought:


A hackney-coach may chance to spoil a thought;

And then a nodding beam, or pig of lead,
God knows, may hurt the very ablest head.

Have you not seen, at Guildhall's narrow pass,
Two aldermen dispute it with an ass?


And peers give way, exalted as they are,
Ev'n to their own s-r-v-rence in a car?

Go, lofty poet! and in such a crowd
Sing thy sonorous verse-but not aloud.
Alas! to grottos and to groves we run
To ease and silence every Muse's son:
Blackmore himself, for any grand effort,
Would drink and dose at Tooting or Earl's-court.


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