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NEVER did on cleft Parnaffus dream,
Nor tafte the facred Heliconian stream;
Nor can remember when my brain, inspir'd,
Was, by the Mufes, into madness fir'd.
My fhare in pale Pyrene I refign;
And claim no part in all the mighty Nine.
Statues, with winding ivy crown'd, belong
To nobler poets, for a nobler fong:
Heedlefs of verfe, and hopeless of the crown,
Scarce half a wit, and more than half a clown,
Before the fhrine I lay my rugged numbers down.
Who taught the parrot human notes to try,
Or with a voice endued the chattering pye?
'Twas witty want, fierce hunger to appease:
Want taught their mafters, and their masters these.
Let gain, that gilded bait, be hung on high,
The hungry witlings have it in their eye;
Pyes, crows, and daws, poetic presents bring:
You fay they fqueak; but they will fwear they fing.
ARGUMENT OF THE FIRST SATIRE.
I NEED not repeat, that the chief aim of the author is against bad poets in this fatire. But I must add, that he includes alfo bad orators, who began at that time (as Petronius in the beginning of his book tells us) to enervate manly eloquence, by tropes and figures, ill-placed and worse applied. Amongst the poets, Perfius covertly ftrikes at Nero; fome of whofe verfes he recites with scorn and indignation. He also takes notice of the noblemen and their abominable poetry, who, in the luxury of their fortunes, fet up for wits and judges. The fatire is in dialogue, betwixt the author and his friend or monitor; who diffuades him from this dangerous attempt of expofing great men. But Perfius, who is of a free fpirit, and has not forgotten that Rome was once a commonwealth, breaks through all thofe difficulties, and boldly arraigns the false judgment of the age in which he lives. The reader may observe that our poet was a ftoick philosopher; and that all his moral fentences, both here and in all the rest of his fatires, are drawn from the dogmas of that fect.
FIRST SATIR E.
In Dialogue betwixt the POET and his FRIEND or MONITOR.
anxious are our cares,
The bent of our defires!
Friend. Thy fpleen contain:
For none will read thy fatires.
Perfus. This to me? Friend. None; or what's next to none, but two or three. 'Tis hard, I grant.
Perfius. 'Tis nothing; I can bear
That paltry fcribblers have the public ear:
That this vaft univerfal fool, the town,
Should cry up Labeo's ftuff, and cry me down.
They damn themselves; nor will my Mufe defcend
To clap with fuch, who fools and knaves commend:
Their fmiles and cenfures are to me the fame:
I care not what they praife, or what they blame.
In full affemblies let the crow prevail.
I weigh no merit by the common scale.
The confcience is the teft of every mind;
"Seek not thyfelf, without thy felf, to find."
But where's that Roman? Somewhat I would fay,
But fear; let fear, for once, to truth give way.
Truth lends the Stoick courage: when I look
On human acts, and read in Nature's book,
From the first paftimes of our infant-age,
To elder cares, and man's feverer page;
When ftern as tutors, and as uncles hard,
We lafh the pupil, and defraud the ward :
Then, then I fay,or would fay, if I durft→
But thus provok’d, I must speak out, or burst.
Friend. Once more forbear.
Perfius. I cannot rule my spleen,
My fcorn rebels, and tickles me within.
First, to begin at home: our authors write
In lonely rooms, fecur'd from public fight;
Whether in profe, or verfe, 'tis all the fame:
The profe is fuftian, and the numbers-lame."
All noife, and empty pomp, a storm of words,
Labouring with found, that little fenfe affords.
They comb, and then they order every hair:
A gown, or white, or fcour'd to whitenefs, wear:
A birth-day jewel bobbing at their ear.
Next, gargle well their throats, and thus prepar'd,
They mount, a God's name, to be feen and heard.
From their high fcaffold, with a trumpet check,
And ogling all their audience ere they speak.
The naufeous nobles, ev'n the chief of Rome,
With gaping mouths to thefe rehearsals come,
And pant with pleasure, when fome lufty line
The marrow pierces, and invades the chine.
At open fulfome bawdry they rejoice,
And flimy jest applaud with broken voice.
Bafe prostitute, thus doft thou gain thy bread?
Thus doft thou feed their ears, and thus art fed?
At his own filthy ftuff he grins and brays:
And gives the fign where he expects their praise.
Why have I learn'd, fay'ft thou, if, thus confin'd,
I choke the noble vigour of my mind?
Know, my wild fig-tree, which in rocks is bred,
Will split the quarry, and fhoot out the head.
Fine fruits of learning! old ambitious fool,
Dar'st thou apply that adage of the school :
As if 'tis nothing worth that lies conceal'd,
And "fcience is not fcience till reveal'd?"
Oh, but 'tis brave to be adınir'd, to fee
The crowd, with pointing fingers, cry, That's he:
That's he whose wondrous poem is become
A lecture for the noble youth of Rome!
Who, by their fathers, is at feasts renown'd;
And often quoted when the bowls go round.
Full gorg'd and flush'd, they wantonly rehearse;
And add to wine the luxury of verse.
One, clad in purple, not to lofe his time,
Eats, and recites fome lamentable rhyme :
Some fenfelefs Phillis, in a broken note,
Snuffling at nofe, and croaking in his throat :
Then graciously the mellow audience nod:
Is not th' immortal author made a God?
Are not his manes blest, such praise to have?
Lies not the turf more lightly on his grave?