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This prints my letters, that expects a bribe,
There are who to my person pay their court
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 sers'd to ease some friend, not wife, To help me through this long disease, my life, To second, Arbuthnot! thy art and care, And teach the being you preserv'd to bear,
But why then publish? Granville the polite, And knowing Walsh, would tell me I could write; Well-natur'd Garth iuffam'd with early praise, Aod Congreve lov'd, and Swift endur'd, my lays; The courtly Talbot, Somers, Sheffield, read, Ev'n mitred Rochester would nod the head, And St. John's self (great Dryden's friends before) With open arms receiv'd one poet more. Happy my studies, when by these approv'd! Happier their author, when by these belov'd! 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." Yet then did Gildon draw his venal quill; I wish'd the man a dinner, and sat still:
Yet then did Dennis rave in furious fret;
Did some more sober critic come abroad ;
Were others angry: I excus'd 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, And strains from hard-bound brains eight lines a year; 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 caus'd himself to rise; Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer, And without sneering teach the rest to speer; Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike, Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike; Alike reserv'd to blame or to commend, A timorous foe, and a suspicious friend; Dreading ev'n fools ; by flatterers besieg'd, And so obliging that he ne'er oblig'd; Like Cato, give his little senate laws, And sit attentive to his own applause; While wits and templars every sentence raise, And wonder with a foolish face of praiseWho but must laugh if such a man there be ? Who would not weep, if Atticus were he?
What though my name stood rubric on the walls,
Proud as Apollo on his forked hill
Fed with soft dedication all day long,
May some choice patron bless eacht grey.goose quill!
Oh ! let me live my own, and die so too! (To live and die is all I have to do) Maintain a poet's dignity and ease, And see what friends, and read what books, I please; Above a patron, though I condescend Sometimes to call a minister my friend. I was not born for courts or great affairs; I pay my debts, believe, and say my pray’rs; Can sleep without a poem in my head, Nor know if Dennis be alive or dead.
Why am I ask'd what next shall see the light? Heav'ns I was I born for nothing but to write!
Has life no joys for me? or (to be grave) Have I no friend to serve, no soul to save? 'I found him close with Swift - Indeed ? no doubt (Cries prating Balbus) something will come out.' Tis all in vain, deny it as I will ; 'No, such a genius never can lie still :' And then for mine obligingly mistakes The first lampoon Sir Will, or Bubo makes. Poor guiltless I! and can I choose but smile, When every coxcomb knows me by my style ?
Carst be the verse, how well soe'er it flow, That tends to make one worthy man my foe, Give virtue scandal, innocence a fear, Or from the soft-ey'd virgin steal a tear! But he who hurts a harmless neighbour's peace, Insults fall'n worth, or beauty in distress, Who loves a lie, lame slander helps about, Who writes a libel, or who copies out; That fop whose pride affects a patron's name, Yet absent wounds an author's honest fame; Who can your merit selfishly approve, And show the sense of it without the love ; Who has the vanity to call you friend, Yet wants the honour, injur'd, to defend ; Who tells whate'er you think, whate'er you say, And, if he lie not, must at least betray; Who to the dean and silver bell can swear, And sees at Canons what was never there; Who reads but with a lust to misapply, Makes satire a lampoon, and fiction lie: A lash like mine no honest man shall dread, But all such babbling blockheads in his stead,
Let Sporus tremble-A. What? that thing of silk, Sporus, that mere white curd of asses' milk? Satire or sense, alas ! can Sporus feel? Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?
P. Yet let me flap this bug with gilded wings, This painted child of dirt, that stinks and stings; Whose buzz the witty and the fair annoys, Yet wit ne'er tastes, and beauty ne'er enjoys: