« EdellinenJatka »
But, gentlemen, you 're all concern'd in this ;
You are in fault for what they do amiss :
For they their thefts still undiscover'd think,
And durst not steal, unless you please to wink.
Perhaps, you may award by your decree,
They should refund ; but that can never be.
For should you letters of reprisal seal,
These men write that which no man else would steal
TO “THE PILGRIM,"
REVIVED FOR OUR AUTHOR'S BENEFIT, ANNO 1700.
How wretched is the fate of those who write!
Brought muzzled to the stage, for fear they bite.
Where, like Tom Dove, they stand the common foe;
Lugg'd by the critic, baited by the beau.
Yet worse, their brother Poets danın the Play,
And roar the loudest, though they never pay.
The fops are proud of scandal
, for they cry,
At every lewd, low character—That 's I.
He, who writes letters to himself, would swear,
The world forgot him, if he was not there.
What should a Poet do? 'Tis hard for one
To pleasure all the fools that would be shown:
And yet not two in ten will pass the town.
Most coxcombs are not of the laughing kind;
More goes to make a fop, than fops can find.
Quack Maurus, though he never took degrees
In either of our universities;
Yet to be shown by some kind wit he looks,
Because he play'd the fool, and writ three books.
But, if he would be worth a Poet's pen,
He must be more a fool, and write again :
For all the former fustian stuff he wrote,
Was dead-born doggrel, or is quite forgot
His man of Uz, stript of his Hebrew robe
Is just the proverb, and as poor as Job.
One would have thought he could no longer jog ;
But Arthur was a level, Job's a bog.
There, though he crept, yet still he kept in sight;
But here he founders in, and sinks down right.
Had he prepared us, and been dull by rule,
Tobit had first been turn'd to ridicule :
But our bold Briton, without fear or awe,
O’erleaps at once the whole Apocrypha ;
Invades the Psalms with rhymes, and leaves no room
For any Vandal Hopkins yet to come.
But when, if, after all
, this godly gear
Is not so senseless as it would appear ;
Our mountebank has laid a deeper train,
His cant, like Merry-Andrew's noble vein,
Cat-calls the sects to draw 'em in again.
At leisure hours, in epic song he deals,
Writes to the rumbling of his coach's wheels
Prescribes in haste, and seldom kills by rule,
But rides triumphant between stool and stool.
Well, let him go ; 'tis yet too early day,
To get himself a place in farce or play.
We know not by what name we should arraign him,
For no one category can contain him ;
A pedant, canting preacher, and a quack,
Are load enough to break one ass's back :
At last grown wanton, he presumed to write,
Traduced two kings, their kindness to requite ;
One made the doctor, and one dubb’d the knight.
You see what shifts we are enforced to try,
To help out wit with some variety ;
Shows may be found that never yet were seen,
'Tis hard to find such wit as ne'er has been :
You have seen all that this old world can do,
We, therefore, try the fortune of the new,
And hope it is below your aim to hit
At untaught nature with your practised wit:
Our naked Indians, then, when wits appear, Would as soon choose to have the Spaniards here. 'Tis true, you have marks enough,—the plot, the show The poet's scenes, nay, more, the painter's too; If all this fail, considering the cost, 'Tis a true voyage to the Indies lost : But if you smile on all, then these designs, Like the imperfect treasure of our minds, Will pass
for current wheresoe'er they go, When to your bounteous hands their stamps they owe.
TO “ THE INDIAN EMPEROR."
To all and singular in this full meeting,
Ladies and gallants, Phæbus sends ye greeting.
To all his sons, by whate'er title known,
Whether of court, or coffee-house, or town ;
From his most mighty sons, whose confidence
Is placed in lofty sound, and humble sense,
Even to his little infants of the time,
Who write new songs, and trust in tune and rhymne :
Be’t known, that Phoebus (being daily grieved
To see good plays condemn’d, and bad received)
Ordains, your judgment upon every cause,
Henceforth, be limited by wholesome laws.
He first thinks fit no sonnetteer advance
His censure, farther than the song or dance.
Your wit burlesque may one step higher climb,
And in his sphere may judge all doggrel rhyme ;
moves, and loves, and honours too ;
All that appears high sense, and scarce is low.
As for the coffee-wits, he says not much ;
Their proper business is to damn the Dutch :
For the great dons of wit-
Phoebus gives them full privilege alone,
To damn all others, and cry up their own.
Last, for the ladies, 'tis Apollo's will,
They should have power to save, but not to kill;
For love and he long since have thought it fit,
Wit live by beauty, beauty reign by wit.
OF all dramatic writing, comic wit,
As 'tis the best, so 'tis most hard to hit.
For it lies all in level to the eye,
Where all may judge, and each defect may spy.
Humour is that, which every day we meet,
And therefore known as every public street;
In which, if e'er the poet go astray,
You all can point, 'twas there he lost his way.
But, what's so common, to make pleasant too,
Is more than any wit can always do.
For 'tis like Turks, with hen and rice to treat ;
To make regalios out of common meat.
But, in your diet, you grow savages :
Nothing but human flesh your taste can please ;
And, as their feasts with slaughter'd slaves begar.,
So you, at each new play, must have a man.
Hither you come, as to see prizes fought ;
If no blood’s drawn, you cry, the prize is nought.
Dut fools grow wary now; and, when they see
A poet eyeing round the company,
Straight each man for himself begins to doubt;
They shrink like seamen when a press comes out.
Few of them will be found for public use,
Except you charge an oaf upon each house,
Like the train bands, and every man engage
For a sufficient fool, to serve the stage.
And when, with much ado, you get him there,
Where he in all his glory should appear,
Your poets make him such rare things to say,
That he's more wit than any man i' the play:
But of so ill a mingle with the rest,
As when a parrot's taught to break a jest.
Thus, aiming to be fine, they make a show,
As tawdry squires in country churches do.
Things well consider'd, 'tis so hard to make
A comedy, which should the knowing take,
That our dull poet, in despair to please,
Does humbly beg, by me, his writ of ease.
'Tis a land-tax, which he's too poor to pay ;
You therefore must some other impost lay.
you but change, for serious plot and verse,
This motley garniture of fool and farce,
Nor scorn a mode, because 'tis taught at home.
Which does, like vests, our gravity become,
Our poet yields you should this play refuse :
As tradesmen, by the change of fashions, lose,
With some content, their fripperies of France,
In hope it may their staple trade advance.
TO THE SECOND PART OF “THE CONQUEST OF
THEY, who have best succeeded on the stage,
Have still conform’d their genius to their age.
Thus Jonson did mechanic
When men were dull, and conversation low.
Then comedy was faultless, but 'twas coarse :
Cobb’s tankard was a jest, and Otter's horse.
And, as their comedy, their love was mean;
Except, by chance, in some one labour'd scene,
Which must atone for an ill-written play.
They rose, but at their height could seldom stay.
Fame then was cheap, and the first comer sped;
And they have kept it since, by being dead.
But, were they now to write, when critics weigh
Each line, and every word, throughout a play,
None of them, no, not Jonson in his height,
pass, without allowing grains for weight.
Think it not envy, that these truths are told;
Our poet 's not malicious, though he's bold.
'Tis not to brand them, that their faults are shown,
But, by their errors, to excuse his own.
If love and honour now are higher raised,
'Tis not the poet, but the age is praised.
Wit's now arrived to a more high degree;
Our native language more refined and free.
Our ladies and our men now speak more wit
In conversation, than those poets writ.
Then, one of these is, consequently, true ;
That what this poet writes comes short of you,