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A sprig of bays in fifty years;
Not empire to the rising Sun
Not beggar's brat on bulk begot;
Not boy brought up to cleaning shoes,
To rise in church, or law, or state,
What hope of custom in the fair,
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
Or prologue sent from hand unknown.
Be mindful, when invention fails,
To scratch your head, and bite your nails.
Is needful to transcribe it fair.
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;
A public or a private robber,
A parliament, or den of thieves;
But, though you miss your third essay,
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 levee 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
Then, poet, if you mean to thrive,
But, if you think this trade too base,
A forward critic often dupes us
At Will's you hear a poem read,
He gives directions to the town,
His undisputed rights extend
Two bordering wits contend for glory;
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 dae 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
Is bit by him that comes behind :
O Grub-street! how do I bemoan thee, Whose graceless children scorn to own thee! Their filial piety forgot,
Deny their country, like a Scot;
To purchase fame by writing ill.
In bulk there are not more degrees
For though, in nature, depth and height Are equally held infinite;
In poetry, the height we know ;
For instance: when you rashly think,
Their heads attempt the nether skies.
By flattering kings, whom Heaven design'd
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
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. Of 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. Cætera desiderantur.
A DESCRIPTION OF A CITY-SHOWER. In imitation of Virgil's Georgics.-1710. CAREFUL observers may foretell the hour (By sure prognostics) when to dread a shower. While rain depends, 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, wafted 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, who, 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 the flood.
HORACE, BOOK III. ODE II.
TO THE EARL OF OXFORD, LATE LORD TREASURER.
Virtue repuls'd, yet knows not to repine,
Virtue, to crown her favorites, loves to try
Next, faithful silence hath a sure reward;
MRS. HARRIS'S PETITION.
To their excellencies the lords justices of Ireland,†
That I went to warm myself in Lady Betty's cham-
And I had in a purse seven pounds, four shillings,
I was resolv'd to tell my money, to see if it was
Therefore all the money I have, which, God knows,
I keep in my pocket, tied about my middle, next to my smock.
So when I went to put up my purse, as God would 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 to bed;
And, God knows, I thought my money was as safe as my maidenhead.
*The ensign of the lord treasurer's office.
So, when I came up again, I found my pocket fe very light:
But when I search'd, and miss'd my purse, Lord! thought I should have sunk outright. Lord! madam, says Mary, how d'ye do? Indeed says I, never worse:
But pray, Mary, can you tell what I have done with my purse?
Lord help me! said Mary, I never stirr'd out of this place:
Nay, said I, I had it in Lady Betty's chamber, that's a plain case.
So Mary got me to bed and cover'd me up warm: However, she stole away my garters, that I might do myself no harm.
So I tumbled and toss'd all night, as you may very well think,
But hardly ever set my eyes together, or slept a wink.
So I was a-dream'd, methought, that we went and
So next morning we told Whittle,† and he fell a-
Then my dame Wadgert came; and she, you know, is thick of hearing.
Dame, said I, as loud as I could bawl, do you know what a loss I have had?
Nay, said she, my Lord Colway's folks are all very sad;
For my Lord Dromedary|| comes a Tuesday without fail.
Pugh! said I, but that's not the business that I ail.
Yes, says the steward,** I remember, when I was
So I went to the party suspected, and I found her
However, I am resolv'd to bring the discourse slily
Dukes, said I, here's an ugly accident has
"Tis not that I value the money three skips of a
But the thing I stand upon is the credit of the
"Tis true, seven pounds, four shillings, and sixpence,
*Wife to one of the footmen.
† Earl of Berkeley's valet. The old deaf housekeeper. § Galway.
The Earl of Drogheda, who, with the primate, was to succeed the two earls.
¶ Clerk of the kitchen.
An usual saying of hers.