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Commas and points they set exactly right;
And 'twere a sin to rob them of their mite:
Yet ne'er one sprig of laurel grac'd those fibalds,
From slashing Bentley down to piddling Tibalds,
Who thinks he reads when he but scans and spells;
A word-catcher that lives on syllables.
Yet e'en this creature may some notice claim,
Wrapt round and sanctified with Shakspeare's name.
Pretty in amber to observe the forms
Of hairs, or straws, or dirt, or grubs, or worms!
The thing, we know, is neither rich nor rare;
And wonder how the devil it got there.
Are others angry I excuse them too:
Well may they rage; I gave them but their due.
Each 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 wretch *, whom pilfer'd pastorals renown,
Who turns a Persian tale for half a crown,
Just writes to make his barrenness appear,
And strains from hardbound brains six lines a year;
In sense still wanting, tho’ he lives on theft,
Steals much, spends little, yet has nothing left.
Johnson +, 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 Î :
Should modest Satire bid all these translate,
And own that nine such poets make a Tate ;
+ Author of the Victim, and Cobler of Preston,
! Verse of Dr. Ev.
How would they fume, and stamp, and roar, and
How would they swear not Congreve's self was safe!
Peace to all such but were there one whose fires
Apollo kindled, and fair fame inspires:
Blest 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 fearful eyes,
And hate for arts that caus’d himself to rise;
Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
And without sneering teach the rest to sneer:
Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike;
Alike reserv'd to blame, or to commend,
A tim’rous foe, and a suspicious friend:
Dreading e'en fools, by flatterers besieg'd,
And so obliging, that he ne'er oblig'd ;
Who, if two wits on rival themes contest,
Approves of each, but likes the worst the best;
Like Cato, gives his little senate laws,
And sits attentive to his own applause ;
While wits and templars ev'ry sentence raise,
And wonder with a foolish face of praise—
What pity, Heaven if such a man there be;
Who would not weep, if Addison were he
WHEN simple Macer, now of high renown, First sought a poet's fortune in the town; 'Twas all th’ ambition his great soul could feel, To wear red stockings, and to dine with Steele. Some ends of verse his betters might afford, And gave the harmless fellow a good word. Set up with these, he ventur'd on the town, And in a borrow'd play outdid poor Crown. There he stopt short, nor since has writ a tittle, But has the wit to make the most of little; Like stunted hidebound trees, that just have got Sufficient sap at once to bear and rot. Now he begs verse, and what he gets commends", Not of the wits his foes, but fools his friends. So some coarse country wench, almost decay’d, Trudges to town, and first turns chambermaid: Awkward and supple each devoir to pay, She flatters her good lady twice a day; Thought wond’rous honest, tho’ of mean degree, And strangely lik'd for her simplicity: In a translated suit then tries the town, With borrow'd pins, and patches not her own; But just endur'd the winter she began, And in four months a batter'd harridan. Now nothing's left ; but wither'd, pale, and shrunk, To bawd for others, and go shares with punk.
* He requested, by publick advertisements, the aid of the ingenious, to make up a miscellany, in 1713.
S Y L V I A *, A FRAGMENT.
SYLVIA my heart in wondrous wise alarm’d,
Aw'd without sense, and without beauty charm'd : But some odd graces and some flights she had,
Was just not ugly, and was just not mad:
Her tongue still ran on credit from her eyes,
More pert than witty, more a wit than wise:
Goodnature, she declar'd it, was her scorn,
Tho' 'twas by that alone she could be born:
Affronting all, yet fond of a good name;
A fool to pleasure, yet a slave to fame:
Now coy, and studious in no point to fall,
Now all agog for D–y at a ball:
Now deep in Taylor, and the Book of Martyrs, Now drinking citron with his grace and Chartres. Men, some to bus'ness, some to pleasure take :
But ev'ry woman's in her soul a rake.
Frail, fev'rish sex their fit now chills, now burns:
Atheism and superstition rule by turns; And the mere heathen in her carnal part Is still a sad good Christian in her heart.”
THOUGII ARTEMIs A talks, by fits,
Of councils, classicks, fathers, wits;
Reads Malbranche, Boyle, and Locke:
Yet in some things, methinks, she fails;
*Twere well, if she would pare her nails,
And wear a cleaner smock.
Haughty and huge as High Dutch bride;
Such nastiness, and so much pride,
Are oddly join'd by fate:
On her large squab you find her spread,
Like a site corpse upon a bed,
That lies and stinks in state.
She wears no colours (sign of grace)
On any part except her face;
All white and black beside :
Dauntless her look, her gesture proud,
Her voice theatrically loud, |
And masculine her stride. |
So have I seen, in black and white,
A prating thing, a magpie hight,
A stately, worthless animal,
That plies the tongue, and wags the tail,
All flutter, pride, and talk.