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“ Your work is long," the critics cry. 'Tis true,
And lengthens still, to take in fools like you :
Shorten my labour, if its length you blame;
For, grow but wise, you rob me of my game;
As hunted hags, who, while the dogs pursue,
Renounce their four legs, and start up on two.
Like the bold bird upon the banks of Nile,
That picks the teeth of the dire crocodile,
Will I enjoy (dread feast !) the critic's rage,
And with the fell destroyer feed my page.
For what ambitious fools are more to blame,
Than those who thunder in the critic's name?
Good authors damn'd, have their revenge in this,
To see what wretches gain the praise they miss.
Balbutius, muffled in his sable cloak,
Like an old Druid from his hollow oak,
As ravens solemn, and as boding, cries,
“ Ten thousand worlds for the three unities !"
Ye doctors sage, who through Parnassus teach,
Or quit the tub, or practise what you preach.
One judges as the weather dictates; right
The poem is at noon, and wrong at night:
Another judges by a surer gage,
An author's principles, or parentage ;
Since his great ancestors in Flanders fell,
The poem doubtless must be written well.
Another judges by the writer's look ;
Another judges, for he bought the book ;
Some judge, their knack of judging wrong to keep;
Some judge, because it is too soon to sleep.
Thus all will judge, and with one single aim, To gain themselves, not give the writer fame.
The very best ambitiously advise,
Half to serve you, and half to pass for wise.
Critics on verse, as squibs on triumphs wait,
Proclaim the glory, and augment the state;
Hot, envious, noisy, proud, the scribbling fry
Burn, hiss, and bounce, waste paper, stink, and die.
Rail on, my friends! what more my verse can crown
Than Compton's smile, and your obliging frown?
Not all on books their criticism waste : The genius of a dish some justly taste, And eat their way to fame ; with anxious thought The salmon is refus'd, the turbot bought. Impatient art rebukes the Sun's delay, And bids December yield the fruits of May; Their various cares in one great point combine The business of their lives, that is — to dine. Half of their precious day they give the feast; And to a kind digestion spare the rest. Apicius, here, the taster of the town, Feeds twice a week, to settle their renown.
These worthies of the palate guard with care
The sacred annals of their bills of fare ;
In those choice books their panegyrics read,
And scorn the creatures that for hunger feed.
If man by feeding well commences great,
Much more the worm to whom that man is nieat,
To glory some advance a lying claim,
Thieves of renown, and pilferers of fame :
Their front supplies what their ambition lacks;
They know a thousand lords, behind their backs.
Cottil is apt to wink upon a peer,
When turn'd away, with a familiar leer;
And Harvey's eyes, unmercifully keen,
Have murder'd fops, by whom she ne'er was seen.
Niger adopts stray libels; wisely prone
To covet shame still greater than his own,
Bathyllus, in the winter of threescore,
Belies his innocence, and keeps a whore.
Absence of mind Brabantio turns to fame,
Learns to mistake, nor knows his brother's name;
Has words and thoughts in nice disorder set,
And takes a memorandum to forget.
Thus vain, not knowing what adorns or blots,
Men forge the patents that create them sots.
As love of pleasure into pain betrays,
So most grow infamous through love of praise.
But whence for praise ca such an ardour rise,
When those, who bring that incense, we despise ?
For such the vanity of great and small,
Contempt goes round, and all men laugh at all.
Nor can e'en Satire blame them; for 't is true,
They have most ample cause for what they do.
O fruitful Britain ! doubtless thou wast meant
A nurse of fools, to stock the continent.
Though Phæbus and the Nine for ever mow,
Rank folly underneath the scythe will grow.
The plenteous harvest calls me forward still,
Till I surpass in length my lawyer's bill ;
A Welsh descent, which well-paid heralds damn;
Or, longer still, a Dutchman's epigram.
When cloy'd, in fury I throw down my pen,
In comes a coxcomb, and I write again.
See Tityrus, with merriment possest,
Is burst with laughter ere he hears the jest :
What need he stay? for, when the joke is o'er,
His teeth will be no whiter than before.
Is there of these, ye fair! so great a dearth,
That you need purchase monkeys for your mirth?
Some, vain of paintings, bid the world admire;
Of houses some; nay, houses that they hire :
Some (perfect wisdom !) of a beauteous wife ;
And boast, like Cordeliers, a scourge for life. [airs;
Sometimes, through pride, the sexes change their
My lord has vapours, and my lady swears ;
Then, stranger still! on turning of the wind,
My lord wears breeches, and my lady 's kinda
To show the strength, and infamy of pride,
By all 't is follow'd, and by all denied.
What numbers are there, which at once pursue
Praise, and the glory to contemn it, too!
Vincenna knows self-praise betrays to shame,
And therefore lays a stratagem for fame;
Makes his approach in modesty's disguise,
To win applause; and takes it by surprise.
“ To err,” says he, “ in small things is my fate."
“ He's exact in great.”
“ My style,” says he,“ is rude and full of faults."
“ But oh! what sense! what energy of thoughts !"
That he wants algebra, he must confess;
“ But not a soul to give our arms success.
“ Ah! That 's a hit indeed,” Vincenna cries ;
« But who in heat of blood was ever wise ?
I own 't was wrong, when thousands call’d me back,
To make that hopeless, ill-advis'd, attack;
All say, 't was madness; nor dare I deny ;
Sure never fool so well desery'd to die.”
Could this deceive in others, to be free,
It ne'er, Vincenna, could deceive in thee ;
Whose conduct is a comment to thy tongue,
So clear, the dullest cannot take thee wrong.
Thou on one sleeve wilt thy revenues wear;
And haunt the court, without a prospect there.
Are these expedients for renown? Confess
Thy little self, that I may scorn thee less.
Be wise, Vincenna, and the court forsake;
Our fortunes there, nor thou nor I shall make.
Even men of merit, ere their point they gain,
In hardy service make a long campaign ;
Most manfully besiege the patron's gate,
And, oft repuls'd, as oft attack the great
With painful art, and application warm,
And take, at last, some little place by storm ;
Enough to keep two shoes on Sunday clean,
And starve upon discreetly, in Sheer-Lane.
Already this thy fortune can afford ;
Then starve without the favour of my lord.
'T is true, great fortunes some great men confer :
But often, even in doing right, they err :
From caprice, not from chvice, their favours come:
They give, but think it toil to know to whom :
The man that 's nearest, yawning, they advance :
'T is inhumanity to bless by chance.
If merit sues, and greatness is so loth
To break its downy trance, I pity both.
I grant at court, Philander, at his need, (Thanks to his lovely wife,) finds friends indeed. Of every charm and virtue she's possest : Philander! thou art exquisitely blest;