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And nigh an ancient obelisk

More false and nice than weighing of the weather Was tais'd by him, found out by Fisk,

To th’ hundredth atom of the lightest feather, On which was written, not in words,

Or measuring of air upon Parnassus, But hieroglyphic mute of birds,

With cylinders of Torricellian glasses ; Many rare pithy saws, concerning

Reduce all Tragedy, by rules of art, The worth of astrologic learning:

Back to its antique theatre, a cart, From top of this there hung a rope,

And make them thenceforth keep the beaten roads To which he fasten'd telescope,

Of rev'rend chorusses and episodes; The spectacles with which the stars

Reform and regulate a puppet play, He reads in smallest characters.

According to the true and ancient way, It happen'd as a boy, one night,

That not an actor shall presume to squeak, Did fly his tassel of a kite,

Unless he have a licence for 't in Greek ; The strangest long-wing'd hawk that flies,

Nor Whittington henceforward sell his cat in That, like a bird of Paradise,

Plain vulgar English, without mewing Latin : Or herald's martlet, has no legs,

No pudding shall be suffer'd to be witty, Nor hatches young ones, nor lays eggs;

Unless it be in order to raise pity ; His train was six yards long, milk-white,

Nor devil in the puppet-play b' allow'd At th' end of which there hung a light,

To roar and spit fire, but to fright the crowd, Inclos'd in lantern made of paper,

Unless some god or demon chanced t have piques That far off like a star did appear:

Against an ancient family of Greeks ; This Sidrophel by chance espy'd,

That other men may tremble and take warning, And with amazement staring wide,

How such a fatal progeny they're born in ; Bless us, quoth he, what dreadful wonder

For none but such for tragedy are fitted, Is that appears in Heaven yonder?

That have been ruin’d only to be pity'd; A comet, and without a beard!

And only those held proper to deter, Or star that ne'er before appear'd !

Who've had th’ill luck against their wills to err; I'm certain 'tis not in the scroll

Whence only such as are of middling sizes, Of all those beasts, and fish, and fowl,

Between morality and venial vices, With which, like Indian plantations,

Are qualified to be destroy'd by Fate, The learned stock the constellations;

For other mortals to take warning at. Nor those that drawn for signs have been

As if the antique laws of Tragedy To th' houses where the planets inn.

Did with our own municipal agree, It must be supernatural,

And served, like cobwebs, t'ensnare the weak, Unless it be that cannon-ball

And give diversion to the great to break; That, shot i' th' air point blank upright,

To make a less delinquent to be brought Was borne to that prodigious height

To answer for a greater person's fault, That, learn'd philosophers maintain,

And suffer all the worst the worst approver It ne'er came backwards down again,

Can, to excuse and save himself, discover. But in the airy region yet

No longer shall Dramatics be confined Hangs, like the body of Mahomet:

To draw true images of all mankind; For if it be above the shade

To punish in effigy criminals, That by the earth's round bulk is made,

Reprieve the innocent, and hang the false ; 'Tis probable it may, from far,

But a club-law to execute and kill,
Appear no bullet, but a star.

For nothing, whomsoe'er they please, at will,
To terrify spectators from committing

The crimes they did, and suffer'd for, unwitting.

These are the reformations of the Stage,

Like other reformations of the age, WIO JUDGE OF MODERN PLAYS PRECISELY BY THE

On purpose to destroy all wit and sense,

As th’ other did all law and conscience ; Who ever will regard poetic fury,

No better than the laws of British plays, When it is once found Idiot by a jury,

Confirm'd in th' ancient good King Howell's days, And every pert and arbitrary fool

Who made a general council regulate Can all poetic licence over-rule;

Men's catching women by the--you know what, Assume a barb'rous tyranny to handle

And set it in the rubric at what time
The Muses worse than Ostrogoth and Vandal; It should be counted legal, when a crime,
Make 'em submit to verdict and report,

Declare when 'twas, and when 'twas not a sin, And stand or fall to th' orders of the court ?

And on what days it went out or came in. Much less be sentenced by the arbitrary

An English poet should be try'd b' his peers, Proceedings of a witless plagiary,

And not by pedants and philosophers, That forges old records and ordinances

Incompetent to judge poetic fury, Against the right and properties of fancies,

As butchers are forbid to be of a jury ;


Besides the most intolerable wrong

So, in return, that strives to render less To try their matters in a foreign tongue,

The last delusion, with its own excess, By foreign jurymen, like Sophocles,

And, like two unskill'd gamesters, use one way, Or tales falser than Euripides ;

With bungling t’ help out one another's play. When not an English native dares appear

For those who heretofore sought private holes, To be a witness for the prisoner ;

Securely in the dark to damn their souls, When all the laws they use t'arraign and try

Wore vizards of hypocrisy, to steal The innocent and wrong'd delinquent by,

And slink away in masquerade to hell, Were made b’a foreign lawyer, and his pupils, Now bring their crimes into the open sun, To put an end to all poetic scruples,

For all mankind to gaze their worst upon, And by th' advice of virtuosi Tuscans,

As eagles try their young against his rays, Determin’d all the doubts of socks and buskins; To prove if they ’re of gen’rous breed or base; Gave judgment on all past and future plays, Call heav'n and earth to witness how they've aim'd, As is apparent by Speroni's case,

With all their utmost vigour, to be damn’d, Which Lope Vega first began to steal,

And by their own examples in the view And after him the French filou Corneille;

Of all the world, strived to damn others too ; And since our English plagiaries nim,

On all occasions sought to be as civil And steal their far-fet criticisms from him,

As possibly they could t' his grace the Devil, And by an action falsely laid of Trover,

To give him no unnecessary trouble, The lumber for their proper goods recover;

Nor in small matters use a friend so noble, Enough to furnish all the lewd impeachers

But with their constant practice done their best Of witty Beaumont's poetry, and Fletcher's,

T'improve and propagate his interest: Who for a few misprisions of wit,

For men have now made vice so great an art, Are charg'd by those who ten times worse commit; The matter of fact 's become the slightest part ; And for misjudging some unhappy scenes,

And the debauched'st actions they can do, Are censured for 't with more unlucky sense ; Mere trifles to the circumstance and shew. When all their worst miscarriages delight,

For 'tis not what they do that's now the sin, And please more than the best that pedants write. But what they lewdly affect and glory in,

As if prepost’rously they would profess

A forced hypocrisy of wickedness;

And affectation, that makes good things bad,

Must make affected shame accurs'd and mad; 'Tis a strange age we've lived in, and a lewd, For vices for themselves may find excuse, As e'er the sun in all his travels view'd;

But never for their complement and shews ; An age as vile as ever Justice urg'd,

That if there ever were a mystery
Like a fantastic letcher to be scourg'd ;

Of moral secular iniquity,
Nor has it ’scap'd, and yet has only learn'd, And that the churches may not lose their due
The more 'tis plagued, to be the less concern'd. By being encroach'd upon, 'tis now,

and new :
Twice have we seen two dreadful judgments rage, For men are now as scrupulous and nice,
Enough to fright the stubborn’st-hearted age ; And tender-conscienc'd of low paltry vice,
The one to mow vast crowds of people down, Disdain as proudly to be thought to have
The other (as then needless) half the town ;

To do in any mischief but the brave, And two as mighty miracles restore

As the most scrup’lous zealot of late times What both had ruin'd and destroy'd before ; T' appear in any but the horrid'st crimes; In all as unconcern'd as if they 'ad been

Have as precise and strict punctilios But pastimes for diversion to be seen,

Now to appear, as then to make no shews,
Or, like the plagues of Egypt, meant a curse, And steer the world by disagreeing force
Not to reclaim us, but to make us worse. [head) Of diff'rent customs 'gainst her nat’ral course :

Twice have men turn'd the world (that silly block- So pow'rful's ill example to encroach,
The wrong side outward, like a juggler's pocket, And Nature, spite of all her laws, debauch;
Shook out hypocrisy as fast and loose

Example, that imperious dictator
As e'er the dev'l could teach, or sinners use,

Of all that's good or bad to human nature, And on the other side at once put in

By which the world's corrupted and reclaim'd, As impotent iniquity and sin;

Hopes to be saved, and studies to be damn'd;
As skulls that have been crack'd are often found That reconciles all contrarieties,
Upon the wrong side to receive the wound; Makes wisdom foolishness, and folly wise,
And like tobacco-pipes at one end hit,

Imposes on divinity, and sets
To break at th' other still that's opposite ;

Her seal alike on truths and counterfeits ; So men, who one extravagance would shun,

Alters all characters of virtue' and vice, Into the contrary extreme have run;

And passes one for th' other in disguise ; And all the difference is, that as the first

Makes all things, as it pleases, understood, Provokes the other freak to prove the worst, The good received for bad, and bad for good;

That slily counterchanges wrong and right, Teach virtue more fantastic ways and nice, Like white in fields of black, and black in white; Than ours will now endure t improve in vice, As if the laws of Nature had been made

Made a dull sentence, and a moral fable, On purpose only to be disobey'd ;

Do more than all our holdingsforth are able ; Or man had lost his mighty interest,

A forced obscure mythology convince, By having been distinguish'd from a beast ;

Beyond our worst inflictions upon sins : And had no other way but sin and vice,

When an old proverb, or an end of verse, To be restored again to Paradise.

Could more than all our penal laws coerce, How copious is our language lately growi, And keep men honester than all our furies To make blaspheming wit, and a jargon!

Of jailors, judges, constables, and juries; And yet how expressive and significant,

Who were converted then with an old saying, In damme, at once to curse, and swear, and rant! Better than all our preaching now, and praying. As if no way express'd men's souls so well,

What fops had these been, had they lived with us, As damning of them to the pit of hell;

Where the best reason's made ridiculous, Nor any assev'ration were so civil,

And all the plain and sober things we say, As mortgaging salvation to the devil;

By raillery are put beside their play! Or that his name did add a charming grace, For men are grown above all knowledge now, And blasphemy a purity to our phrase.

And what they 're ignorant of disdain to know; For what can any language more enrich,

Engross truth (like fanatics) underhand,
Than to pay souls for vitiating speech;

And boldly judge before they understand ;
When the great'st tyrant in the world made those The self-same courses equally advance
But lick their words out that abused his prose ? In spiritual and carnal ignorance.

What trivial punishments did then protect And, by the same degrees of confidence,
To public censure a profound respect,

Become impregnable against all sense ; When the most shameful penance, and severe, For as they outgrew ordinances then, That could b' inflicted on a Cavalier

So would they now morality again, For infamous debauchery, was no worse

Though Drudgery and Knowledge are of kin, Than but to be degraded from his horse,

And both descended from one parent, Sin, And have his livery of oats and hay,

And therefore seldom have been known to part, Instead of cutting spurs off, ta'en away!

In tracing out the ways of Truth and Art, They held no torture then so great as shame,

Yet they have north-west passages to steer And that to slay was less than to defame ;

A short way to it, without pains or care : For just so much regard as men express

For as implicit faith is far more stiff To th' censure of the public, more or less,

Than that which understands its own belief, The same will be return'd to them again,

So those that think and do but think they know, In shame or reputation, to a grain ;

Are far more obstinate than those that do, And how perverse soe'er the world appears,

And more averse than if they ’d ne'er been taught 'Tis just to all the bad it sees and hears ;

A wrong way, to a right one to be brought; And for that virtue strives to be allow'd

Take boldness upon credit beforehand, For all the injuries it does the good.

And grow too positive to understand; How silly were the sages heretofore,

Believe themselves as knowing and as famous, To fright their heroes with a syren whore !

As if their gifts had gotten a mandamus,
Make 'em believe a water-witch, with charms, A bill of store to take up a degree,
Could sink their men of war as easy as storms,

With all the learning to it, custom-free :
And turn their mariners, that heard them sing,

And look as big for what they bought at Court, Into land porpoises, and cod, and ling;

As if they ’ad done their exercises for 't.
To terrify those mighty champions,
As we do children now with Bloody bones;

SATIRE UPON THE ABUSE OF HUMAN Until the subtlest of their conjurers

Seal'd up the label to his soul his ears,
And tyed his deafen'd sailors (while he past

It is the noblest act of human reason
The dreadful lady's lodgings) to the mast,

To free itself from slavish prepossession, And rather venture drowning than to wrong

Assume the legal right to disengage The sea-pugs' chaste ears with a bawdy song:

From all it had contracted under age, To b' out of countenance, and, like an ass,

And not its ingenuity and wit Not pledge the lady Circe one beer-glass ;

To all it was imbued with first submit; Unmannerly refuse her treat and wine,

Take true or false, for better or for worse, For fear of being turn’d into a swine,

To have or thold indifferently of course. When one of our heroic advent'rers now,

For Custom, though but usher of the school Would drink her down, and turn her int' a sow. Where Nature breeds the body and the soul,

So simple were those times, when a grave sage Usurps a greater pow'r and interest Could with an old wife's tale instruct the age, O'er man, the heir of Reason, than brute beast,

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That by two different instincts is led,

When letters at the first were meant for play,
Born to the one, and to the other bred,

And only us'd to pass the time away,
And trains him up with rudiments more false When th' ancient Greeks and Romans had no name
Than Nature does her stupid animals ;

T'express a school and playhouse but the same,
And that's one reason why more care's bestow'd And in their languages, so long agone,
Upon the body than the soul's allow'd,

To study or be idle was all one;
That is not found to understand and know

For nothing more preserves men in their wits So subtly as the body's found to grow.

Than giving of them leave to play by fits, Tho'children, without study, pains, or thought, In dreams to sport and ramble with all fancies, Are languages and vulgar notions taught,

Aud waking, little less extravagances, Improve their nat’ral talents without care,

To rest and recreation of tir'd thought, And apprehend before they are aware,

When 'tis run down with care and overwrought, Yet as all strangers never leave the tones

Of which whoever does not freely take They have been used of children to pronounce,

His constant share, is never broad awake, So most men's reason never can outgrow

And when he wants an equal competence The discipline it first received to know,

Of both recruits, abates as much of sense. But renders words they first began to con,

Nor is their education worse design'd The end of all that's after to be known,

Than Nature (in her province) proves unkind:
And sets the help of education back,

The greatest inclinations with the least
Worse than, without it, man could ever lack; Capacities are fatally possest,
Who, therefore, finds the artificial'st fools

Condemn’d to drudge, and labour, and take pains,
Have not been changed i'th' cradle, but the schools, Without an equal competence of brains;
Where error, pedantry, and affectation,

While those she has indulg'd in soul and body,
Run them behind-hand with their education, Are most averse to industry and study,
And all alike are taught poetic rage,

And th' activist fancies share as loose alloys,
When hardly one's fit for it in an age.

For want of equal weight to counterpoise. No sooner are the organs of the brain

But when those great conveniences meet, Quick to receive, and sted fast to retain

Of equal judgment, industry, and wit, Best knowledges, but all’s laid out upon

The one but strives the other to divert, Retrieving of the curse of Babylon,

While Fate and Custom in the feud take part, To make confounded languages restore

And scholars by prepost'rous overdoing, A greater drudg’ry than it barr'd before:

And under-judging, all their projects ruin ; And therefore those imported from the East

Who, though the understanding of mankind Where first they were incurr'd, are held the best, Within so straight a compass is confin'd, Although conveyed in worse Arabian pothooks Disdain the limits Nature sets to bound Than gifted tradesmen scratch in sermon notebooks; The wit of man, and vainly rove beyond. Are really but pains and labour lost,

The bravest soldiers scorn until they're got
And not worth half the drudgery they cost,

Close to the enemy to make a shot;
Unless, like rarities, as they've been brought Yet great philosophers delight to stretch
From foreign climates, and as dearly bought, Their talents most at things beyond their reach,
When those who had no other but their own, And proudly think t' unriddle ev'ry cause
Have all succeeding eloquence outdone;

That Nature uses by their own bye-laws;
As men that wink with one eye see more true, When 'tis not only impertinent, but rude
And take their aim much better than with two: Where she denies admission, to intrude;
For the more languages a man can speak,

And all their industry is but to err, His talent has but sprung the greater leak;

Unless they have free quarantine from her; And for the industry he has spent upon't,

Whence 'tis the world the less has understood, Must full as much some other way discount.

By striving to know more than 'tis allow'd. The Hebrew, Chaldee, and the Syriac,

For Adam, with the loss of Paradise,
Do, like their letters, set men's reason back,

Bought knowledge at too desperate a price,
And turn their wits that strive to understand it, And ever since that miserable fate
(Like those that write the characters) left-handed; Learning did never cost an easier rate;
Yet he that is but able to express

For though the most divine and sov'reign good
No sense at all in several languages,

That Nature has upon mankind bestow'd,
Will pass for learneder than he that's known Yet it has prov'd a greater hinderance
To speak the strongest reason in his own.

To th' interest of truth than ignorance,
These are the modern arts of education,

And therefore never bore so high a value
With all the learned of mankind in fashion, As when 'twas low, contemptible, and shallow;
But practised only with the rod and whip,

Ilad academies, schools, and colleges,
As riding schools inculcate horsemanship;

Endow'd for it's improvement and increase ; Or Romish penitents let out their skins

With pomp and show was introduc'd with maqes, To bear the penalties of others' sins,

More than a Roman magistrate had fasces;


Empower'd with statute, privilege, and mandate, And understand no further than the shelves; T assume an art, and after understand it;

But smatter with their titles and editions, Like bills of store for taking a degree,

And place them in their classical partitions ; With all the learning to it custom-free;

When all a student knows of what he reads And own professions which they never took Is not in's own, but under general heads So much delight in as to read one book:

Of common-places, not in his own pow'r, Like princes, had prerogative to give

But, like a Dutchman's money, in the cantore; Convicted malefactors a reprieve;

Where all he can make of it at the best, And having but a little paltry wit

Is hardly three per cent. for interest; More than the world, reduced and governed it. And whether he will ever get it out But scorn'd as soon as 'twas but understood,

Into his own possession is a doubt: As better is a spiteful foe to good,

Affects all books of past and modern ages, And now has nothing left for its support,

But reads no further than their title-pages, But what the darkest times provided for't.

Only to con the authors' names by rote, Man has a natural desire to know,

Or at the best, those of the books they quote, But th' one half is for interst, th' other shew: Enough to challenge intimate acquaintance As scriv’ners take more pains to learn the sleight With all the learned moderns and the ancients. Of making knots, than all the hands they write: As Roman noblemen were wont to greet So all his study is not to extend

And compliment the rabble in the street, The bounds of knowledge, but some vainer end; Had nomenclators in their trains, to claim T'appear and pass for learned, though his claim Acquaintance with the meanest, by his name, Will hardly reach beyond the empty name: And by so mean, contemptible a bribe For most of those that drudge and labour hard, Trepann'd the suffrages of ev'ry tribe ; Furnish their understandings by the yard,

So learned men, by authors' names unknown, As a French library by the whole is,

Have gain'd no small improvement to their own, So much an ell for quartos and for folios;

And he's esteem'd the learned'st of all others To which they are but indexes themselves, That has the largest catalogue of authors.

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