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Maintain a poet's dignity and ease,
And see what friends, and read what books I please :
Above a patron, tho' I condescend
Sometimes to call a minister my friend.
I was not born for courts or great affairs;
I pay my debts, believe, and say my prayers ;
Can sleep without a poem in my head,
Nor know if Dennis be alive or dead.
Why am I ask'd what next shall see the light?
Heavens ! was I born for nothing but to write?
Has life no joys for me? or (to be grave)
Have I no friend to serve, no soul to save?
'I found him close with Swift-indeed ? no doubt
(Cries prating Balbus) something will come out.
'Tis all in vain, deny it as I will;
'No, such a genius never can lie still ;'
And then for mine obligingly mistakes
The first lampoon Sir Will, or Bubo makes.
Poor guiltless I ! and can I choose but smile
When every coxcomb knows me by my style ?
Curst be the verse, how well soe'er it flow,
That tends to make one worthy man my foe,
Give virtue scandal, innocence a fear,
Or from the soft-ey'd virgin steal a tear!
But he who hurts a harmless neighbour's peace,
Insults fall’n worth, or beauty in distress,
Who loves a lie, lame slander helps about,
Who writes a libel, or who copies out:
That fop, whose pride affects a patron's name,
Yet absent, wounds an author's honest fame :
Who can your merit selfishly approve,
And show the sense of it without the love ;
Who has the vanity to call you friend,
Yet wants the honour, injur'd, to defend ;
Who tells whate'er you think, whate'er you say.
And, if he lie not, must at least betray :
Who to the Dean, and silver bell can swear,
And sees at Canons what was never there ;
Who reads, but with a lust to misapply,
Make satire a lampoon, and fiction lie ;
A lash like mine no honest man shall dread,
But all such babbling blockheads in his stead.
Let Sporus tremble--A. What? that thing of silk,
Sporus, that mere white curd of ass's milk?
Satire or sense, alas ! can Sporus feel?
Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?
P. Yet let me flap this bug with gilded wings,
This painted child of dirt, that stinks and stings ;
Whose buzz the witty and the fair annoys,
Yet wit ne'er tastes, and beauty ne'er enjoys :
So well-bred spaniels civilly delight
In mumbling of the game they dare not bite.
Eternal smiles his emptiness betray,
As shallow streams run dimpling all the way.
Whether in florid impotence he speaks,
And, as the prompter breathes, the puppet squeaks ;
Or at the ear of Eve, familiar toad,
Half froth, half venom, spits himself abroad,
In puns, or politics, or tales, or lies,
Or spite, or smut, or rhymes, or blasphemies.
His wit all see-saw, between that and this,
Now high, now low, now master up, now miss,
And he himself one vile antithesis.
Amphibious thing! that acting either part,
The trifling head, or the corrupted heart,
Fop at the toilet, flatterer at the board,
Now trips a lady, and now struts a lord.
Eve's temper thus the rabbins have exprest,
A cherub's face, a reptile all the rest,
Beauty that shocks you, parts that none will trust,
Wit that can creep, and pride that licks the dust.
Not fortune's worshipper, nor fashion's fool,
Not lucre's madman, nor ambition's tool,
Not proud, nor servile ; be one poet's praise,
That, if he pleas'd, he pleas'd by manly ways :
That flattery, ev'n to Kings, he held a shame,
And thought a lie in verse or prose the same.
That not in fancy's maze he wander'd long,
But stoop'd to truth, and moraliz'd his song :
That not for fame, but virtue's better end,
He stood the furious foe, the timid friend,
The damning critic, half-approving wit,
The coxcomb hit, or fearing to be hit ;
Laughed at the loss of friends he never had,
The dull, the proud, the wicked, and the mad;
The distant threats of vengeance on his head,
The blow unfelt, the tear he never shed ;
The tale reviv'd, the lie so oft o’erthrown,
Th’imputed trash, and dulness not his own ;
The morals blacken'd when the writings 'scape,
The libell’d person, and the pictur'd shape ;
Abuse, on all he lov'd, or lov'd him, spread,
A friend in exile, or a father dead :
The whisper, that to greatness still too near,
Perhaps yet vibrates on his sovereign's ear-
Welcome for thee, fair virtue! all the past :
For thee, fair virtue! welcome ev'n the last !.
A. But why insult the poor, affront the great ?
P. A knave 's a knave to me, in ev'ry state :
Alike my scorn, if he succeed or fail,
Sporus at court, or Japhet in a jail,
A hireling scribbler, or a hireling peer,
Knight of the post corrupt, or of the shire;
If on a pillory, or near a throne,
He gain his prince's ear, or lose his own.
Yet soft by nature, more a dupe than wit, Sappho can tell you how this man was bit : This dreaded satirist Dennis will confess Foe to his pride, but friend to his distress : So humble, he has knock'd at Tibbald's door, Has drunk with Cibber, nay has rhym'd for Moore, Full ten years slander'd, did he once reply? Three thousand suns went down on Welsted's lie, To please his mistress, one aspers'd his life ; He lash'd him not, but let her be his wife :
Let Budgel charge low Grubstreet on his quill,
And write whate'er he pleased, except his will ;
Let the two Curlls of town and court, abuse
His father, mother, body, soul, and muse.
Yet why? that father held it for a rule,
It was a sin to call our neighbour fool :
That harmless mother thought no wife a whore :
Hear this, and spare his family, James Moore !
Unspotted names, and memorable long !
If there be force in virtue, or in song.
Of gentle blood (part shed in Honour's cause,
While yet in Britain honour had applause,)
Each parent sprung-A. What fortune, pray ?-P. Their own
And better got, than Bestia's from the throne.
Born to no pride, inheriting no strife,
Nor marrying discord in a noble wife,
Stranger to civil and religious rage,
The good man walk'd innoxious through his age.
No courts he saw, no suits would ever try,
Nor dar'd an oath, nor hazarded a lie.
Unlearn'd he knew no schoolman's subtle art,
No language but the language of the heart.
By nature honest, by experience wise,
Healthy by temperance, and by exercise ;
His life, tho' long, to sickness past unknown,
His death was instant, and without a groan.
O grant me, thus to live, and thus to die !
Who sprung from kings shall know less joy than I.
O Friend ! may each domestic bliss be thine!
Be no unpleasing melancholy mine:
Me, let the tender office long engage,
To rock the cradle of reposing age,
With lenient arts extend a mother's breath,
Make languor smile, and smooth the bed of death,
Explore the thought, explain the asking eye,
And keep awhile one parent from the sky !
On cares like these, if length of days attend,
May Heaven, to bless those days, preserve my friend. VOL. III.
Preserve him social, cheerful, and serene,
And just as rich as when he serv'd a Queen.
A. Whether that blessing be denied or giv'n,
Thus far was right, the rest belongs to Heav'n.
FROM THE FIRST EPISTLE OF THE SECOND BOOK
OF HORACE IMITATED.
While you, great patron of mankind ! sustaina
The balanc'd world, and open all the main ;
Your country, chief, in arms abroad defend,
At home, with morals, arts, and laws amend :
How shall the muse, from such a monarch, steal
An hour, and not defraud the public weal?
Edward and Henry, now the boast of fame,
And virtuous Alfred, a more sacred name,
After a life of generous toils endur'd,
The Gaul subdu'd, or property secur’d,
Ambition humbled, mighty cities storm'd,
Or laws established, and the world reform’d;
Clos'd their long glories, with a sigh, to find
Th' unwilling gratitude of base mankind !
All human virtue, to its latest breath,
Finds envy never conquer'd, but by death.
The great Alcides, every labour past,
Had still this monster to subdue at last.
Sure fate of all, beneath whose rising ray
Each star of meaner merit fades away!
Oppress'd we feel the beam directly beat,
Those suns of glory please not till they set.
To thee, the world its present homage pays
The harvest early, but mature the praise :
Great friend of liberty! in kings a name
Above all Greek, above all Roman fame :
Whose word is truth, as sacred and rever'd,
As Heaven's own oracles from altars heard.