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To laugh were want of goodness and of grace,
With honest anguish and an aching head,
This saving counsel, 'Keep your peace nine years.'
If I dislike it, Furies, death, and rage!'
Lintot, dull rogue, will think your price too much: Not, sir, if you revise it, and retouch.'
my demurs but double his attacks; At last he whispers, Do, and we go snacks.'
Glad of a quarrel, straight I clap the door; Sir, let me see your works and you no more.' 'Tis sung, when Midas' ears began to spring, (Midas, a sacred person and a king)
His very minister who spied them first
I'd never name queens, ministers, or kings;
You think this cruel? take it for a rule,
Let peals of laughter, Codrus, round thee break,
He spins the slight self-pleasing thread anew:
The creature's at his dirty work again,
Does not one table Bavius still admit?
There are who to my person pay their court:I cough like Horace; and, though lean, am short; Ammon's great son one shoulder had too high, Such Ovid's nose, and Sir! you have an eye-.' Go on, obliging creatures! make me see All that disgraced my betters met in me. Say, for my comfort, languishing in bed, 'Just so immortal Maro held his head:' And, when I die, be sure you let me know Great Homer died three thousand years ago. Why did I write? what sin to me unknown Dipp'd me in ink, my parents', or my own? As yet a child, nor yet a fool to fame, I lisp'd in numbers, for the numbers came : I left no calling for this idle trade,
No duty broke, no father disobey'd:
The Muse but served to ease some friend, not wife, To help me through this long disease, my life;
To second, Arbuthnot! thy art and care,
But why then publish? Granville the polite, And knowing Walsh, would tell me I could write; Well-natured Garth inflamed with early praise, And Congreve loved, and Swift endured, my lays; The courtly Talbot, Somers, Sheffield, read, E'en mitred Rochester would nod the head, And St. John's self (great Dryden's friend before) With open arms received one poet more. Happy my studies, when by these approved! Happier their author, when by these beloved! From these the world will judge of men and books, Not from the Burnets, Oldmixons, and Cooks.
Soft were my numbers; who could take offence While pure description held the place of sense? Like gentle Fanny's was my flowery theme,
A painted mistress, or a purling stream.'
If want provoked, or madness made them print,
Did some more sober critic come abroad; If wrong, I smiled; if right, I kiss'd the rod. Pains, reading, study, are their just pretence, And all they want is spirit, taste, and sense. Commas and points they set exactly right, And 'twere a sin to rob them of their mite; Yet ne'er one sprig of laurel graced these ribalds, From slashing Bentley down to piddling Tibbalds: Each wight who reads not, and but scans and spells, Each word-catcher that lives on syllables,
E'en such small critics some regard may claim, Preserved in Milton's or in Shakspeare's name. Pretty! in amber to observe the forms
Of hairs, or straws, or dirt, or grubs, or worms! The things, we know, are neither rich nor rare, But wonder how the devil they got there.
Were others angry: I excused them too; Well might they rage, I gave them but their due. A man's true merit 'tis not hard to find; But each man's secret standard in his mind, That casting-weight pride adds to emptiness, This who can gratify? for who can guess? The bard whom pilfer'd pastorals renown, Who turns a Persian tale for half-a-crown, Just writes to make his barrenness appear, [year; And strains from hard-bound brains eight lines a He who still wanting, though he lives on theft, Steals much, spends little, yet has nothing left; And he who now to sense, now nonsense, leaning, Means not, but blunders round about a meaning; And he whose fustian's so sublimely bad, It is not poetry, but prose run mad; All these my modest satire bade translate, And own'd that nine such poets made a Tate. How did they fume, and stamp, and roar, and chafe! And swear not Addison himself was safe.
Peace to all such! But were there one whose fires True genius kindles, and fair fame inspires, Bless'd with each talent and each art to please, And born to write, converse, and live with ease; Should such a man, too fond to rule alone, Bear, like the Turk, no brother near the throne; View him with scornful, yet with jealous eyes, And hate for arts that caused himself to rise;