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Such wits their nuisance manfully expose,
But, O! what wisdom can convince a fool
A virgin author, recent from the press,
In vain advertisements the town o'erspread; They're epitaphs, and say the work is dead.” Who press for fame, but small recruits will raise ; 'Tis volunteers alone can give the bays.
A famous author visits a great man, Of his immortal work displays the plan, And says, “Sir, I'm your friend; all fear dismiss; Your glory and my own shall live by this; Your power is fix’d, your fame through time
convey'd, And Britain Europe's queen—if I am paid.?
A statesman has his answer in a trice;
Sir, such a genius is beyond all price ; What man can pay for this ?'—Away he turns, His work is folded, and his bosom burns : His patron he will patronize no more, But rushes like a tempest out of door. Lost is the patriot, and extinct his name! Out comes the piece, another, and the same; For A, his magic pen evokes an 0, And turns the tide of Europe on the foe: He rams his quill with scandal and with scoff, But 'tis so very foul it won't go off : Dreadful his thunders, while unprinted, roar, But when once publish'd, they are heard no more: Thus distant bugbears fright; but nearer draw, The block's a block, and turns to mirth your awe. Can those oblige whose heads and hearts are
Behind the curtain lurks the fountainhead,
But when they have bespatter'd all they may,
With golden forceps these another takes,
The richest statesman wants wherewith to pay A servile sycophant, if well they weigh How much it costs the wretch to be so base ; Nor can the greatest powers enough disgrace, Enough chastise, such prostitute applause, If well they weigh how much it stains their cause.
But are our writers ever in the wrong? Does virtue ne'er seduce the venal tongue? Yes; if well bribed, for Virtue's self they fight; Still in the wrong, though champions for the right: Whoe'er their crimes for interest only quit, Sin on in virtue, and good deeds commit.
Nought but inconstancy Britannia meets, And broken faith in their abandon'd sheets. From the same hand how various is the page! What civil war their brother pamphlets wage! Tracts battle tracts, self-contradictions glare ; Say, is this lunacy?-I wish it were. If such our writers, startled at the sight, Felons may bless their stars they cannot write!
How justly Proteus' transmigrations fit The monstrous changes of a modern wit! Now such a gentle stream of eloquence, As seldom rises to the verge of sense; Now, by mad rage, transform’d into a flame, Which yet fit engines, well applied, can tame; Now, on immodest trash, the swine obscene Invites the Town to sup at Drury Lane; A dreadful lion, now be roars at power, Which sends him to his brothers at the Tower:
He's now a serpent, and his double tongue
The flood, fiame, swine, the lion, and the snake,
things, Made up of venom, volumes, stains, and stings ! Thrown from the tree of knowledge,like you,cursed To scribble in the dust, was snake the first.
What if the figure should in fact prove true? It did in Elkanah *, why not in you? Poor Elkanah, all other changes pass'd, For bread in Smithfield dragons hiss'd at last, Spit streams of fire to make the butchers gape, And found his manners suited to his shape. Such is the fate of talents misapplied ; So lived your prototype, and so he died. The' abandon'd manners of our writing train May tempt mankind to think religion vain; But in their fate, their habit, and their mien, That gods there are is eminently seen: [pen, Heaven stands absolved by vengeance on their And marks the murderers of fame from men : Through meagre jaws they draw their venal breath, As ghastly as their brothers in Macbeth : Their feet through faithless leather meet the dirt, And oftener changed their principles than shirt: The transient vestments of these frugal men Hasten to paper for our mirth again :
* Elkanah Settle, the city poet.
Too soon (O merry melancholy fate!)
From these their politics our quidnuncs seek,
state Discharges all her poor and profligate, Crimes of all kinds dishonour'd weapons wield, And prisons pour their filth into the field; Thus Nature's refuse and the dregs of men Compose the black militia of the pen.