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But rest secure, the readers will be thine.
Nor was thy labour'd drama damn'd or hiss'd, 20
But with a kind civility dismiss'd ;
With such good manners, as the Wife did use,
Who, not accepting, did but just refuse.
There was a glance at parting ; such a look,
As bids thee not give o'er, for one rebuke.
But if thou wouldst be seen, as well as read,
Copy one living author, and one dead :
The standard of thy style let Etheredge be;
For wit, the immortal spring of Wycherley ;
Learn, after both, to draw some just design,
And the next age will learn to copy thine.
TO HENRY HIGDEN,* ESQ., ON HIS TRANSLATION OF THE
TENTH SATIRE OF JUVENAL.
The Grecian wits, who Satire first began,
Were pleasant Pasquins on the life of man;
At mighty villains, who the state oppress’d,
They durst not rail, perhaps ; they lash'd at least,
And turn’d them out of office with a jest.
No fool could peep abroad, but ready stand
The drolls to clap a bauble in his hand.
Wise legislators never yet could draw
A fop within the reach of common law ;
For posture, dress, grimace and affectation,
Though foes to sense, are harmless to the nation.
Our last redress is dint of verse to try,
And Satire is our court of Chancery.
This way took Horace to reform an age,
Not bad enough to need an author's rage.
But yours, who liv'd in more degenerate times,
Was forc'd to fasten deep, and worry crimes.
Yet you, my friend, have temper'd him so well,
You make him smile in spite of all his zeal :
An art peculiar to yourself alone,
To join the virtues of two styles in one.
Oh! were your author's principle receiv'd,
Half of the lab’ring world would be reliev'd :
For not to wish is not to be deceiv'd.
Revenge would into charity be chang'd,
Because it costs too dear to be reveng’d:
It costs our quiet and content of mind,
And when 'tis compass'd leaves a sting behind.
Suppose I had the better end o'th' staff,
Why should I help the ill natur'd world to laugh?
'Tis all alike to them, who gets the day;
They love the spite and mischief of the fray.
No: I have cured myself of that disease;
Nor will I be provok'd, but when I please :
But let me half that cure to you restore;
You give the salve, I laid it to the sore.
Our kind relief against a rainy day,
Beyond a tavern, or a tedious play,
We take your book, and laugh our spleen away.
If all your tribe, too studious of debate,
Would cease false hopes and titles to create,
Led by the rare example you begun,
Clients would fail, and lawyers be undone.
TO MY DEAR FRIEND MR. CONGREVE, ON HIS COMEDY
CALLED THE DOUBLE DEALER.
WELL then, the promis’d hour is come at last,
The present age of wit obscures the past:
Strong were our sires, and as they fought they writ,
Conquering with force of arms, and dint of wit:
Theirs was the giant race, before the flood :
And thus, when Charles return'd, our empire stood.
Like Janus he the stubborn soil manur'd,
With rules of husbandry the rankness cur'd;
Tam'd us to manners, when the stage was rude ;
And boisterous English wit with art indu’d.
Our age was cultivated thus at length;
But what we gain'd in skill we lost in strength.
Our builders were with want of genius curs’d;
The second temple was not like the first:
Till you, the best Vitruvius, come at length; 15
Our beauties equal, but excel our strength.
Firm Doric pillars found your solid base :
The fair Corinthian crowns the higher space :
Thus all below is strength, and all above is grace.
In easy dialogue is Fletcher's praise;
He mov'd the mind, but had not power to raise.
Great Jonson did by strength of judgment please;
Yet, doubling Fletcher's force, he wants his ease.
In differing talents both adorn’d their age;
One for the study, ť other for the stage.
But both to Congreve justly shall submit,
One match'd in judgment, both o'ermatch'd in wit.
In him all beauties of this age we see,
Etheredge his courtship, Southerne's purity,
The satire, wit, and strength of manly Wycherly.
All this in blooming youth you have achiev'd:
Nor are your foild contemporaries griev'd.
So much the sweetness of your manners move,
We cannot envy you, because we love.
Fabius might joy in Scipio, when he saw
A beardless consul made against the law,
And join his suffrage to the votes of Rome;
Though he with Hannibal was overcome.
Thus old Romano bow'd to Raphael's fame,
And scholar to the youth he taught became.
O that your brows my laurel had sustain'd!
Well had I been depos’d, if you had reign'd:
The father had descended for the son;
For only you are lineal to the throne.
Thus, when the state one Edward did repose,
A greater Edward in his room arose.
But now, not I, but poetry is curs’d;
For Tom the second reigns like Tom the first.
But let them not mistake my patron's part,
Nor call his charity their own desert.
Yet this I prophesy ; thou shalt be seen,
(Though with some short parenthesis between)
High on the throne of wit, and, seated there,
Not mine, that's little, but thy laurel wear.
Thy first attempt an early promise made;
That early promise this has more than paid.
So bold, yet so judiciously you dare,
That your least praise is to be regular.
Time, place, and action, may with pains be wrought;
But genius must be born, and never can be taught.
This is your portion; this your native store;
Heaven, that but once was prodigal before,
To Shakespeare gave as much; she could not
give him more. Maintain your post: that 's all the fame you
For 'tis impossible you should proceed.
Already I am worn with cares and age,