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Again you fail: yet Safe's the word;
Take courage, and attempt a third.
But first with care employ your thoughts
Where criticks mark'd your former faults;
The trivial turns, the borrow'd wit,
The siiniles that nothing fit;
The cant which every fool repeats,
Town jests and coffeehouse conceits,
Descriptions tedious, flat and dry,
And introduc'd the Lord knows why:
Or where we find your fury set
Against the harmless alphabet;
On As and Bes your malice vent,
While readers wonder whom you meant;
A publick or a private robber,
A statesman, or a South-sea jobber ;
A prelate, who no God believes ;
A parliament, or den of thieves;
A pickpurse at the bar or bench,
A duchess, or a suburbwench:
Or oft, when epithets you link
In gaping lines to fill a chink;
Like steppingstones, to save a stride,
In streets where kennels are too wide;
Or like a heel-piece, to support
A cripple with one foot too short;
Or like a bridge, that joins a marish
To moorlands of a different parish.
So have I seen ill-coupled hounds
Drag different ways in miry grounds.
So geographers, in Africk maps,
With savage pictures fill their gaps,
And o'er un habitable downs
Place elephants for want of towns.
But, though you miss your third essay,
You need not throw your pen away.
Lay now aside all thoughts of fame,
To spring more profitable game.
From party merit seek support;
The vilest verse thrives best at court.
A pamphlet in sir Bob's defence
Will never fail to bring in pence:
Nor be concern'd about the sale,
He pays his workmen on the nail.
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:
Aud lol 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 their party pamphleteers
To set Elysium by the ears.
Then, poet, if you mean to thrive, Employ your Muse on kings alive; With prudence gathering up a cluster Of all the virtues you can muster,
Which, form'd into a garland sweet,
Lay humbly at your monarch's feet :
Who, as the odours reach his throne,
Will smile, and think them all his own;
For law and Gospel both determine
All virtues lodge in royal ermine:
I mean the oracles of both,
Who shall depose it upon oath.
Your garland, in the following reign,
Change but the names, will do again.
But, if you think this trade too base,
(Which seldom is the dunce's case)
Put on the critick's brow, and sit
At Will's the puny judge of wit.
A nod, a shrug, a scornful smile,
With caution us'd, may serve a while.
Proceed no farther in your part,
Before you learn the terms of art;
For you can never be too far gone
In all our modern criticks' jargon:
Then talk with more authentick face
Of unities, in time and place;
Get scraps of Horace from your friends,
And have them at your fingers ends ;
Learn Aristotle's rules by rote,
And at all hazards boldly quote;
Judicious Rymer oft review,
Wise Dennis, and profound Bossu,
Read all the prefaces of Dryden,
For these our criticks much confide in;
Though merely writ at first for filling,
To raise the volume's price a shilling.
A forward critick often dupes us
With sham quotations peri hupsous :
And if we have not read Longinus,
Will magisterially outshive us.
Then, lest with Greek he overrun ye,
Procure' the book for love or money,
Translated from Boileau's translation,
And quote quotation on quotation,
At Will's you hear a poem read,
Where Battus from the table head,
Reclining on his elbowchair,
Gives judgment with decisive air ;
To whom the tribe of circling wits
As to an oracle submits.
He gives directions to the town,
Το it up, or run it down;
Like courtiers, when they send a note,
Instructing members how to vote,
He sets the stamp of bad and good,
Though not a word be understood.
Your lesson learn'd, you'll be secure
To get the name of connoisseur :
And, when your merits once are known,
Procure disciples of your own.
For poets (you can never want them)
Spread through Augusta Trinobantum,
Computing by their pecks of coals,
Amount to just nine thousand souls:
These o'er their proper districts govern,
Of wit and humour judges sovereign.
In every street a city bard
Rules, like an alderman, his ward;
His indisputed rights extend
Through all the lane, from end to end;
The neighbours round admire his shrewdness
For songs of loyalty and lewdness;
Outdone by none in rhyming well,
Although he never learn’d to spell.
Two bordering wits contend for glory:
And one is whig, and one is tory:
And this, for epicks clainis the bays,
And that, for elegiack Jays:
Some fam'd for numbers soft and smooth, .
By lovers spoke in Punch's booth;
Avd some as justly Fame extols
For lofty lines in Smithfield drolls.
Bavius in Wapping gains renown,
And Mævius reigns o'er Kentishtown:
Tigellius plac'd in Phæbus' car
From Ludgate shines to Temple-bar :
Harmonious Cibber entertains
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 koaves, 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 due subordination,
Through every alley to be found,
In garrets high, or under ground;
And when they join their pericranies,
Out skips a book of uniscellanies,
Hobbes clearly proves,
every creature Lives in a state of war by nature. The greater for the smaller 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 inferiour size On you shall rail and criticise,
i And strive to tear you limb from limb; While others do as much for him.
The vermin only tease and pinch Their foes superiour by an inch.