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IN SEVEN CHARACTERISTICAL SATIRES.
-Fulgente trahit constrictos gloria curru Non minus ignotos generosis.
TO HIS GRACE THE DUKE OF DORSET.
Tanto major Famæ sitis est, quam
Juv. Sat. X.
My verse is Satire; Dorset, lend your ear,
And patronize a Muse you cannot fear.
To poets sacred is a Dorset's name;
Their wonted passport through the gates of Fame;
It bribes the partial reader into praise,
And throws a glory round the shelter'd lays :
The dazzled judgment fewer faults can see,
And gives applause to Blackmore, or to me.
But decline the mistress we pursue :
Others are fond of Fame, but Fame of you.
Instructive Satire, true to virtue's cause !
Thou shining supplement of public laws !
When flatter'd crimes of a licentious age
Reproach our silence, and demand our rage;
When purchas'd follies, from each distant land,
Like arts, improve in Britain's skilful hand;
When the Law shows her teeth, but dares not bite,
And South-sea treasures are not brought to light;
When churchmen Scripture for the classics quit,
Polite apostates from God's grace to wit ;
When men grow great from their revenue spent,
And fly from bailiffs into parliament;
When dying sinners, to blot out their score,
Bequeath the church the leavings of a whore;
To chafe our spleen, when themes like these increase,
Shall panegyric reign, and censure cease ?
Shall poesy, like law, turn wrong to right,
And dedications wash an Æthiop white,
Set up each senseless wretch for nature's boast,
On whom praise shines, as trophies on a post?
Shall funeral eloquence her colours spread,
And scatter roses on the wealthy dead ?
Shall authors smile on such illustrious days,
And satirise with nothing - but their praise ?
Why slumbers Pope, who leads the tuneful train,
Nor hears that virtue, which he loves, complain ?
Donne, Dorset, Dryden, Rochester, are dead,
And guilt's chief foe, in Addison, is fled ;
Congreve, who, crown'd with laurels, fairly won,
Sits smiling at the goal, while others run,
He will not write; and (more provoking still!)
Ye gods! he will not write, and Mævius will.
Doubly distrest, what author shall we find,
Discreetly daring, and severely kind,
The courtly Roman's* shining path to tread,
And sharply smile prevailing folly dead ?
Will no superior genius snatch the quill,
And save me, on the brink, from writing ill ?
Though vain the strife, I'll strive my voice to raise :
What will not men attempt for sacred praise ?
The love of praise, howe'er conceal'd by art,
Reigns, more or less, and glows, in every heart:
The proud, to gain it, toils on toils endure;
The modest shun it, but to make it sure.
O'er globes, and sceptres, now on thrones it swells;
Now, trims the midnight lamp in college cells :
'Tis Tory, Whig; it plots, prays, preaches, pleads,
Harangues in senates, squeaks in masquerades.
Here, to Steele's humour makes a bold pretence;
There, bolder, aims at Pulteney's eloquence.
It aids the dancer's heel, the writer's head,
And heaps the plain with mountains of the dead;
Nor ends with life; but nods in sable plumes,
Adorns our hearse, and flatters on our tombs.
What is not proud ? the pimp is proud to see
So many like himself in high degree :
The whore is proud her beauties are the dread
Of peevish virtue, and the marriage-bed ;
And the brib'd cuckold, like crown'd victims born
To slaughter, glories in his gilded horn.
Some go to church, proud humbly to repent, And come back much more guilty than they went : One way they look, another way they steer, Pray to the gods, but would have mortals hear; And when their sins they set sincerely down, They 'll find that their religion has been one.
Others with wistful eyes on glory look, When they have got their picture towards a book :
Or pompous title, like a gaudy sign,
Meant to betray dull sots to wretched wine.
If at his title T had dropp'd his quill,
T · might have pass’d for a great genius still.
But T alas! (excuse him if you can)
Is now a scribbler, who was once a man.
Imperious, some a classic fame demand,
For heaping up, with a laborious hand,
A waggon-load of meanings for one word,
While A 's depos'd, and B with pomp restor’d.
Some, for renown, on scraps of learning dote,
And think they grow immortal as they quote.
To patch-work learn'd quotations are ally'd ;
Both strive to make our poverty our pride.
On glass how witty is a noble peer! Did ever diamond cost a man so dear?
Polite diseases make some idiots vain ; Which, if unfortunately well, they feign.
Of folly, vice, disease, men proud we see ; And (stranger still !) of blockheads' flattery; Whose praise defames; as if a fool should mean, By spitting on your face, to make it clean.
Nor is 't enough all hearts are swoln with pride, Her power is mighty, as her realm is wide. What can she not perform ? The love of Fame Made bold Alphonsus his Creator blame : Empedocles hurl'd down the burning steep : And (stronger still !) made Alexander weep. Nay, it holds Delia from a second bed, Though her lov'd lord has four half months been dead.
This passion with a pimple have I seen Retard a cause, and give a judge the spleen.
By this inspir'd (O ne'er to be forgot !)
Some lords have learn’d to spell, and some to knot.
It makes Globose a speaker in the house;
He hems, and is deliver'd of his mouse.
It makes dear self on well-bred tongues prevail,
And I the little hero of each tale.
Sick with the Love of Fame, what throngs pour in,
Unpeople court, and leave the senate thin ?
My growing subject seems but just begun,
And, chariot-like, I kindle as I run.
Aid me, great Homer! with thy epic rules,
To take a catalogue of British fools.
Satire! had I thy Dorset's force divine,
A knave or fool should perish in each line ;
Though for the first all Westminster should plead,
And for the last all Gresham intercede.
Begin. Who first the catalogue shall grace? To quality belongs the highest place. My lord comes forward; forward let him come! Ye vulgar! at your peril, give him room : He stands for fame on his forefathers' feet, By heraldry, prov'd valiant or discreet : With what a decent pride he throws his eyes Above the man by three descents less wise ! If virtues at his noble hands you crave, You bid him raise his father's from the grave. Men should press forward in Fame's glorious chase; Nobles look backward, and so lose the race.
Let high-birth triumph! What can be more great ? Nothing - but merit in a low estate. To virtue's humblest son let none prefer Vice, though descended from the Conqueror.