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Yg paltry underlings of state,
Ye senators, who love to prate;
Ye rascals of inferiour note,
Who for a dinner sell a vote ;
Ye pack of pensionary peers,
Whose fingers itch for poets' cars ;
Ye bishops, far remov'd from saints,
Why all this rage? Why these complaints ?
Why against printers all this noise ?
This summoning of blackguard boys?
Why so sagacious in your guesses ?
Your effs, and tees, and arrs, and esses ?
Take my advice; to make you safe,
I know a shorter way by half.
The point is plain ; remove the cause;
Defend your liberties and laws.
Be sometimes to your country true,
Have once the public good in view :
Bravely despise champaign at court,
And choose to dine at home with port:
Let prelates, by their good behaviour,
Convince us they believe a Saviour;
Nor sell what they so dearly bought,
This country, now their own, for nought.
Ne'er did a true satirick muse
Virtue or Innocence abuse;
And 'tis against poetick rules
To rail at men, by nature fools:
ON POETRY. A RHAPSODY. 1783.
All human race would fain be wits,
And millions miss for one that hits.
Young's universal passion, pride,
Was never known to spread so wide.
Say, Britain, could you ever boast
Three poets in an age at most?
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 valour, conduct, 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 pedlar Scot;
Not boy brought up to cleaning shoes,
The spawn of Bridewell or the stews;
Not infants dropp'd, 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
Has blasted with poetick fire.
What hope of custom in the fair,
While not a soul demands
Where you have nothing to produce
For private life, or publick 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 roừnd,
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 linc.
Poor starv'ling bard, how gmall 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 labours, grown the critick’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 seribbling 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
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 Italick iype. When letters are in vulgar shapes, 'Tis ten to one the wit escapes: But, when in capitals express'd, The dullest reader smokes the jest a Op 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 pennypust to Lintot,
But let no friend alive look into't. VOL. XI.,
If Lintot thinks 'twill quit the cost,
You need not fear your labour 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 criticks 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:
read without a name
We justly praise, or justly blame ;
And criticks 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,
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.