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So fare the men, who writers dare commence
Without their patent, probity, and sense.
From these, their politics our quidñuncs seek,
And Saturday's the learning of the week :
These labouring wits, like paviours, mend our ways,
With heavy, huge, repeated, flat, effays;
Ram their coarse nonsense down, though ne'er so dull;
And hem at every thump upon your
These staunch-bred writing hounds begin the cry,
And honest folly echoes to the lye.
O how I laugh, when I a blockhead fee,
Thanking a villain for his probity;
Who stretches out a most respectful ear,
With snares for woodcocks in his holy leer :
It tickles thro' my soul to hear the cock's
Sincere encomium on his friend the fox,
Sole patron of his liberties and rights!
While graceless Reynard liftens till he bites.
As when the trumpet sounds, th' o'erloaded state
Discharges all her poor and profligate;
Crimes of all kinds dishonour'd
And prisons pour their filth into the field;
Thus nature's refuse, and the dregs of men,
Compose the black militia of the pen.
LL write at London ; shall the rage abate
Where, mortal or immortal, as they please,
The learn'd may chuse eternity, or ease ?
Has not a * Royal Patron wisely strove
To woo the muse in her Athenian grove ?
Added new strings to her harmonious Thell,
And giv'n new tongues to those who spoke so well?
Let these instruct, with truth's illustrious ray,
Awake the world, and scare our owls away.
Mean while, O friend ! indulge me, if I give
Some needful precepts how to write, and live !
* His late Majesty's benefaction for modern languages, VOL. I.
Serious should be an author's final views;
Who write for pure amusement, ne'er amuse.
An Author ! 'Tis a venerable name !
How few deserve it, and what numbers claim !
Unbleft with sense above their
refin'd, Who shall stand up, diétators to mankind ? Nay, who dare shine, if not in virtue's cause ? That sole proprietor of just applause.
Ye restless men, who pant for letter'd praise, With whom would you consult to gain the bays ?With those great authors whose fam'd works
'Tis well : go, then, consult the laurell’d shade.
What answer will the laurell'd shade return?
Hear it, and tremble ! he commands you burn
The noblest works his envy'd genius writ,
That boast of nought more excellent than wit.
If this be true, as 'tis a truth most dread,
Woe to the
page which has not that to plead !
Fontaine and Chaucer, dying, wilh'd unwrote,
The sprightlieft efforts of their wanton thought:
Sidney and Waller, brightest sons of fame,
Condemn the charm of ages to the flame :
And in one point is all true wisdom cast,
To think that early we must think at laft.
Immortal wits, ev'n dead, break nature's laws,
Injurious still to virtue's facred cause;
And their guilt growing, as their bodies rot,
(Revers'd ambition !) pant to be forgot.
Thus ends your courted fame : does lucre then,
The facred thirst of gold, betray your pen?
In prose 'tis blameable, in verse 'tis worse,
Provokes the muse, extorts Apollo's curse :
His facred influence never should be sold;
'Tis arrant Simony to fing for gold;
”Tis immortality Should fire your mind;
Scorn a less paymaster than all mankind.
If bribes you seek, know this, ye writing tribe!
Who writes for virtue has the largest bribe :
All's on the party of the virtuous man ;
The good will surely serve him, if they can;
The bad, when intereft, or ambition guide,
And 'tis at once their interest and their pride :
But should both fail to take him to their care,
He boasts a greater friend, and both may spare.
Letters to man uncommon light dispense ;
And what is virtue, but superior sense?
In parts and learning you who place your pride,
Your faults are crimes, your crimes are double-dy'd.
What is a scandal of the first renown,
But letter'd knaves, and atheists in a gown?
'Tis harder far to please than give offence;
The leaft misconduct damns the brightest sense ;
Each shallow pate, that cannot read your name,
Can read your life, and will be proud to blame,
Flagitious manners make impressions deep
On those, that o'er a page of Milton sleep:
Nor in their dulness think to save
your shame, True, these are fools; but wise men say the same.
Wits are a despicable race of men,
If they confine their talents to the pen ;
When the man shocks us, while the writer shines,
Our scorn in life, our envy in his lines.
Yet, proud of parts, with prudence fome dispense,
And play the fool, because they're men of sense.
What instances bleed recent in each thought,
Of men to ruin by their genius brought !
Against their wills what numbers ruin fhun,
Purely through want of wit to be undone !
Nature has shewn, by making it so rare,
That wit's a jewel which we need not wear.
Of plain sound sense life's current coin is made;
With that we drive the most substantial trade.
Prudence protects and guides us; wit betrays;
A splendid source of ill ten thousand ways;
A certain snare to miseries immense;
A gay prerogative from common sense ;
Unless strong judgment that wild thing can tame,
And break to paths of virtue and of fame.
But grant your judgment equal to the best,
Sense fills your head, and genius fores your breast;
Yet still forbear: your wit (consider well)
"Tis great to shew, but greater to conceal ;
As it is great to seize the golden prize
Of place or power; but greater to despise.
If still you languish for an author's name,
Think private merit less than public fame,
And fancy not to write is not to live ;
Deserve, and take, the great prerogative.
But ponder what it is; how dear 'twill cost,
To write one page which you may justly boast.
Sense may be good, yet not deserve the press ;
Who write, an awful character profess;
The world as pupil of their wisdom claim,
And for their ftipend an immortal fame :
Nothing but what is solid or refin'd,
Should dare al public audience of mankind.
Severely weigh your learning and your wit:
Keep down your pride by what is nobly writ:
No writer, fam'd in your own way, pass o'er ;
Much truft example, but reflection more:
More had the ancients writ, they more had taught ;
Which shews fome work is left for modern thought.