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Yes; thank my stars ! as early as I knew
I grant that poetry 's a crying sin;
how; But that the cure is starving, all allow. Yet like the papist's, is the poet's state; Poor and disarm’d, and hardly worth your hate!
Here a lean bard, whose wit could never give Himself a dinner, makes an actor live: The thief condemn’d, in law already dead, 15 So prompts, and saves a rogue who cannot read. Thus, as the pipes of some carved organ move, The gilded puppets dance and mount above. Heaved by the breath, the inspiring bellows blow; The inspiring bellows lie and pant below. 20
One sings the fair; but songs no longer move ; No rat is rhymed to death, nor maid to love : In love's, in nature's spite, the siege they hold; And scorn the flesh, the devil, and all but gold.
And they who write to lords, rewards to get,
But he is worst, who beggarly doth chaw
But these do me no harm, nor they which use, . . . . . . . . to out-usure Jews, To outdrink the sea, to outswear the Letanie, Who with sins all kinds as familiar be As confessors, and for whose sinful sake Schoolmen new tenements in hell must make ; Whose strange sins canonists could hardly tell In which commandment's large receit they dwell.
But these punish themselves. The insolence Of Coscus, only, breeds my just offence, Whom time (which rots all, and makes botches
*** And plodding on, must make a calf an ox) Hath made a lawyer; which, alas ! of late; But scarce a poet : jollier of this state, Than are new-beneficed ministers, he throws, Like nets or lime-twigs, wheresoe'er he goes, His title of barrister on every wench, And woos in language of the Pleas and Bench.
These write to lords, some mean reward to get, As needy beggars sing at doors for meat; 26 Those write because all write, and so have still Excuse for writing, and for writing ill.
Wretched indeed! but far more wretched yet Is he who makes his meal on others' wit : 30 'Tis changed, no doubt, from what it was before ; His rank digestion makes it wit no more : Sense, pass'd through him, no longer is the same; For food digested takes another name.
I pass o'er all those confessors and martyrs 35 Who live like S—tt-n, or who die like Chartres, Out-cant old Esdras, or out-drink his heir, Out-usure Jews, or Irishmen out-swear; Wicked as pages, who in early years Act sins which Prisca's confessor scarce hears. Ev'n those I pardon, for whose sinful sake 41 Schoolmen new tenements in hell must make; Of whose strange crimes no canonist can tell In what commandment's large contents they
dwell. One, one man only breeds my just offence; 45 Whom crimes gave wealth, and wealth gave im
Words, words which would tear The tender labyrinth of a maid's soft ear: More, more than ten Sclavonians scolding, more Than when winds in our ruin'd abbyes roar. Then sick with poetry, and possest with Muse Thou wast, and mad I hoped; but men which chuse Law practice for mere gain; bold soul repute Worse than imbrotheld strumpets prostitute. Now like an owl-like watchman he must walk, His hand still at a bill; now he must talk Idly, like prisoners, which whole months will
: swear, That only suretyship hath brought them there ; And to every suitor lie in every thing, Like a king's favorite-or like a king. Like a wedge in a block, wring to the barre, Bearing like asses, and more shameless farre Than carted whores, lie to the grave judge; for Bastardy abounds not in the king's titles, nor Simony and sodomy in churchmen's lives, As these things do in him; by these he thrives. Shortly, as the sea, he'll compass all the land From Scots to Wight, from Mount to Dover strand :
Pierce the soft labyrinth of a lady's ear 55
Cursed be the wretch, so venal and so vain :
swear 'Twas only suretyship that brought them there. 70 His office keeps your parchment fates intire; He starves with cold to save them from the fire; For you he walks the streets through rain or dust, For not in chariots Peter puts his trust; For you he sweats and labors at the laws; 75 Takes God to witness he affects your cause; And lies to every lord, in every thing, Like a king's favorite—or like a king. These are the talents that adorn them all, From wicked Waters ev'n to godly Hall. Not more of simony beneath black gowns, Not more of bastardy in heirs to crowns. In shillings and in pence at first they deal ; And steal so little, few perceive they steal; Till, like the sea, they compass all the land, 85 From Scots to Wight, from Mount to Dover strand: