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(Such as a sheriff's self might wear,
Or grace the wisdom of a mayr)
Turns rebel to dame Reason's throne
And holds no judgment like his own.
Yet while they spatter mutual dirt,
In idle threats that cannot hurt,
Methinks they waste a deal of time,
Both fool in profe, and fool in rhyme,
And when the angry bard exclaims,
And calls a thousand paltry names,
He doth his critic mighty wrong,
And hurts the dignity of song:
The prefatory matter past The tale, or story comes at last.
A candle stuck in Aaring state
Within the nozel of French plate,
Tow'ring aloft with smoaky light,
The snuff and flame of wondrous height,
(For, virgin yet of amputation,
No force had check'd its inclination)
Sullen address’d with conscious pride,
The dormant snuffers at its side,
« Mean vulgar tools, whose envious aim
“ Strikes at the vitals of my flame,
" Your rude assaults shall hurt no more,
“ See how my beams triumphant foar !
" See how I gayly blaze alone
“ With strength, with lustre all my own.
Lustre, good sir!" the snuffers cried, “ Alas! how ignorant is pride!
Thy light which wavers round the room, “ Shews as the counterfeit of gloom, " Thy snuff which idly tow'rs so high " Will waste thy essence by and by, “ Which, as I prize thy lustre dear “ I fain would lop to make thee clear. “ Boaft not, old friend, thy random rays, “ Thy wasting strength, and quiv'ring blaze, “ You shine but as a beggar's link, " To burn away, and die in stink, “ No merit waits unsteady light, “ You must burn true as well as bright.
Poets like candles all are puffers, And critics are the candle snuffers.
HO' pilot in the ship no more,
To bring the cargo safe to shore;
Permit, as time and place afford,
A passenger to come aboard.
The shepherd who survey'd the deep,
When all its tempefts were asleep,
Dreamt not of danger ; glad was he
To sell his flock, and put to sea.
The consequence has Æsop told,
He loft his venture, sheep and gold.
So fares it with us fons of rhyme,
From doggrel wit, to wit sublime;
On ink's calm ocean all seems clear,
No sands affright, no rocks appear ;
No lightnings blast, no thunders roar;
No surges lash the peaceful shore;
Till, all too vent'rous from the land,
The tempests dash us on the strand :
Then the low pirate boards the deck,
And sons of theft enjoy the wreck.
The harlot muse fo passing gay,
Bewitches only to betray;
Tho' for a while, with easy air,
She smooths the rugged brow of care,
And laps the mind in flow'ry dreams,
With fancy's transitory gleams.
Fond of the nothings she bestows,
We wake at last to real woes.
Thro* ev'ry age, in ev'ry place,
Consider well the poet's case;
By turns protected and caress’d,
Defam’d, dependant, and distress'd;
The joke of wits, the bane of slaves,
The curse of fools, the butt of knaves;
Too proud to stoop for servile ends,
To lacquey rogues, or flatter friends;
With prodigality to give,
Too careless of the means to live :
The bubble fame intent to gain,
And yet too lazy to maintain ;
He quits the world he never priz’d,
Pitied by few, by more despis'd;
And lost to friends, oppress’d by foes,
Sinks to the nothing whence he rose.
O glorious trade, for wit's a trade,
Where men are ruin'd more than made,
Let crazy Lee, neglected Gay,
The shabby OTWAY, Dryden grey,
Those tuneful servants of the nine,
(Not that I blend their names with mine)
Repeat their lives, their works, their fame,
And teach the world some useful shame,
At first the Poet idly strays
Along the greensward path of praise,
Till on his journies up and down,
To fee, and to be seen, in town,
What with ill-natur'd Aings and rubs
From flippant bucks, and hackney scrubs,
His toils thro' dust, thro' dirt, thro' gravel,
Take off his appetite for travel.
Tranfient is fame's immediate breath,
Though it blows stronger after death;
Own then, with MARTIAL, after fate
If glory comes, she comes too late,
For who'd his time and labour give
For praise, by which he cannot live?
But in APOLLO's court of fame (In this all courts are much the same)