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As with a moral view design’d,
To please and to reform mankind;
And if he often miss'd his aim,
The world must own it, to their shame,
The praise is his, and theirs the blame.
He gave the little wealth he bad
To build a house for fools and mad;
To show, by one satiric touch,
No nation wanted it so much.
That kingdom he hath left his debtor,
I wish it soon may have a better :
And since you dread no farther lashes,
Methinks you may forgive his ashes.'

SWIFT.

ON POETRY.

A Rhapsody.

1733.

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All human race would fain be wits,
And millions miss for one that hits :
Young's universal passion, pride,
Was never known to spread so wide.
Say, Britain! could you ever boast
Three poets in an age at most ?
Our chilling climate hardly bears
A sprig of bays in fifty years,
While every fool his claim alleges,
As if it grew in common hedges.
What reason can there be assign'd
For this perverseness in the mind ?

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Brutes find out where their talents lie:
A bear will not attempt to fly;
A founder'd horse will oft debate
Before he tries a five-barr'd gate;
A dog by instinct turns aside,
Who sees the ditch too deep and wide;
But man we find the only creature
Who, led by folly, combats Nature;
Who, when she loudly cries, Forbear,
With obstinacy fixes there;
And where his genius least inclines,
Absurdly bends his whole designs.

Not empire to the rising sun
By valour, conduct, fortune, won;
Not highest wisdom in debates
For framing laws to govern states;
Not skill in sciences profound,
So large to grasp the circle round,
Such heavenly influence require,
As how to strike the Muse's lyre.

Not beggar's brat on bulk begot;
Not bastard of a pedler Scot;
Not boy brought up to cleaning shoes,
The spawn of Bridewell or the stews;
Not infants dropp'd, the spurious pledges
Of gipsies littering under hedges,
Are so disqualified by fate
To rise in church or law or state
As he whom Phoebus in his ire
Hath blasted with poetic fire.

What hope of custom in the fair, While not a soul demgads your ware? Where you have nothing to produce For private life, or public use?

Court, city, country, want you not;
You cannot bribe, betray, or plot.
For poets law makes no provision;
The wealthy have you in derision :
Of state affairs you cannot smatter;
Are awkward when you try to flatter:
Your portion, taking Britain round,
Was just one annual hundred pound * ;
Now nor so much as in remainder,
Since Cibber brought in an attainder;
For ever fix'd by right divine
(A monarch's right) on Grub-street line.

Poor starveling bard! how small thy gains !
How unproportion'd to thy pains !
And here a simile comes pat in;
Though chickens take a month to fatten,
The guests in less than half an hour
Will more than half a score devour.
So after toiling twenty days
To earn a stock of pence and praise,
Thy labours, grown the critic's prey,
Are swallow'd o'er a dish of tea;
Gone, to be never heard of more,
Gone, where the chickens went before.

How shall a new attempter learn
Of different spirits to discern?
And how distinguish which is which,
The poet's vein, or scribbling itch?
Then hear an old experienced sinner
Instructing thus a young beginner :

Consult yourself, and if you find
A powerful impulse urge your mind,

• Paid to the Poet Laureat, which place was given to Mr. Colley Cibber, a player.

Impartial judge within your breast
What subject you can manage best;
Whether your genius most inclines
To satire, praise, or humorous lines;
To elegies in mournful tone,
Or prologue sent from hand unknown;
Then rising with Aurora's light,
The Muse invoked, sit down to write;
Blot out, correct, insert, refine,
Enlarge, diminish, interline;
Be mindful, when invention fails,
To scratch your head and bite your nails.

Your poem finish'd, next your care
Is needful to transcribe it fair :
In modern wit all printed trash is
Set off with numerous breaks—and dashes.-

To statesmen would you give a wipe,
You print it in Italic type:
When letters are in vulgàr shapes,
'Tis ten to one the wit escapes ;
But when in capitals express’d,
The dullest reader smokes the jest ;*
Or else perhaps he may invent
A better than the poet meant,
As learned commentators view
In Homer more than Homer knew.

Your poem in its modish dress,
Correctly fitted for the press,
Convey by penny-post to Lintot,
But let no friend alive look into't.
If Lintot thinks 'twill quit the cost,
You need not fear your labour lost :
And how agreeably surprised
Are you to see it advertised !

VOL. V.

к

The hawker shows you one in print,
As fresh as farthings from the mint,
The product of your toil and sweating,
A bastard of your own begetting.

Be sure at Will's the following day
Lie snug, and hear what critics say;
And if you find the general vogue
Pronounces you a stupid rogue,
Damns all your thoughts as low and little;
Sit still, and swallow down your spittle:
Be silent as a politician,
For talking may beget suspicion;
Or praise the judgment of the town,
And help yourself to run it down;-
Give up your fond paternal pride,
Nor argue on the weaker side;
For poems read without a name
We justly praise, or justly blame;
And critics have no partial views,
Except they know whom they abuse;
And since you ne'er provoked their spite,
Depend upon't their judgment's right.
But if you blab, you are undone;
Consider what a risk you run;
You lose your credit all at once,
The town will mark you for a dunce;
The vilest doggrel Grub-street sends
Will pass for yours with foes and friends,
And you must bear the whole disgrace,
Till some fresh blockhead takes your place.

Your secret kept, your poem sunk,
And sent in quires to line a trunk,
If still you be disposed to rhyme,
Go try your hand a second time.

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