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And rofes (while his loud applaufe they fing)
Stand ready from his fepulchre to fpring?
All thefe, you cry, but light objections are;
Meer malice, and you drive the jeft too far.
For does there breathe a man, who can reject
A general fame, and his own lines neglect?
In cedar tablets worthy to appear,
That need not fish, or frankincense, to fear?
Thou, whom I make the adverse part, to bear,
Be anfwer'd thus: If I by chance fucceed
In what I write, (and that's a chance indeed)
Know, I am not fo ftupid, or fo hard,
Not to feel praife, or fame's deferv'd reward:
But this I cannot grant, that thy applause
my work's ultimate, or only caufe.
Prudence can ne'er propofe fo mean a prize ;
For mark what vanity within it lies.
Like Labeo's Iliads, in whofe verfe is found
Nothing but trifling care, and empty found:
Such little elegies as nobles write,
Who would be poets, in Apollo's fpight.
Them and their woeful works the Mufe defies:
Products of citron-beds, and golden canopies.
To give thee all thy due, thou haft the heart
To make a fupper, with a fine deffert;
And to thy thread-bare friend, a caft old fuit impart.
Thus brib'd, thou thus befpeak'ft him, Tell me
(For I love truth, nor can plain speech offend,)
What fays the world of me and of my Mufe?
The poor dare nothing tell but flattering news::
But fhall I fpeak? Thy verfe is wretched rhyme;
And all thy labours are but lofs of time.
Thy ftrutting belly fwells, thy paunch is high;
Thou writ'ft not, but thou piffeft poetry.
All authors to their own defects are blind;
Hadft thou but, Janus like, a face behind,
To fee the people, what splay-mouths they make;
To mark their fingers, pointed at thy back:
Their tongues loll'd out, a foot beyond the pitch,
When most a-thirft of an Apulian bitch :
But noble fcribblers are with flattery fed;
For none dare find their faults, who eat their bread.
To país the poets of patrician blood,
What is 't the common reader takes for good?
The verfe in fashion is, when numbers flow,
Soft without fenfe, and without spirit flow :
So fmooth and equal, that no fight can find
The rivet, where the polish'd piece was join'd.
So even all, with such a steady view,
As if he shut one eye to level true.
Whether the vulgar vice his fatire stings,
The people's riots, or the rage of kings,
The gentle poet is alike in all;
His reader hopes to rife, and fears no fall.
Friend. Hourly we fee, fome raw pin-feather'd thing
Attempt to mount, and fights and heroes fing;
Who, for falfe quantities, was whipt at school
But t' other day, and breaking grammar-rule,
Whofe trivial art was never try'd above
The brave defcription of a native grove :
Who knows not how to praise the country ftore,
The feafts, the baskets, nor the fatted boar;
Nor paint the flowery fields that paint themselves
Where Romulus was bred, and Quintius born,
Whose shining plough-fhare was in furrows worn,
Met by his trembling wife, returning home,
And ruftically joy'd, as chief of Rome:
She wip'd the fweat from the dictator's brow;
And o'er his back his robe did rudely throw;
The lictors bore in state their lord's triumphant
Some love to hear the fuftian poet roar;
And some on antiquated authors pore:
Rummage for fense; and think those only good
Who labour most, and least are understood.
When thou shalt see the blear-ey'd fathers teach
Their fons, this harsh and mouldy fort of speech;
Or others, new affected ways to try,
Of wanton finoothness, female poetry ;
One would enquire from whence this motly stile
Did firft our Roman purity defile :
For our old dotards cannot keep their feat;
But leap and catch at all that's obfolete.
Others, by foolish oftentation led,
When call'd before the bar, to fave their head,
Bring trifling tropes, inftead of folid fenfe :
And mind their figures more than their defence.
Are pleas'd to hear their thick-skull'd judges cry,
Well mov'd, oh finely faid, and decently :
Theft (fays th' accufer) to thy charge I lay,
O Pedius: what does gentle Pedius say?
Studious to please the genius of the times,
With periods, points, and tropes, he flurs his crimes:
"He robb'd not, but he borrow'd from the poor;
"And took but with intention to reftore."
He lards with flourishes his long harangue;
'Tis fine, fay'ft thou; what, to be prais'd, and hang?
Effeminate Roman, fhall fuch stuff prevail
To tickle thee, and make thee wag thy tail?
Say, fhould a fhipwreck'd failor fing his woe,
Would't thou be mov'd to pity, or bestow
An alms? What's more prepofterous than to fee
A merry beggar ? Mirth in mifery?
Perfius. He feems a trap, for charity, to lay :
And cons, by night, his leffon for the day.
Friend. But to raw numbers, and unfinish'd verse, Sweet found is added now, to make it terse : "'Tis tagg'd with rhyme, like Berecynthian Atys, "The mid-part chimes with art, which never flat is. "The dolphin brave, that cuts the liquid wave, "Or he who in his line, can chine the long-ribb'd
Perfius. All this is doggrel ftuff.
Friend. What if I bring A nobler verfe?" Arms and the man I fing." Perfius. Why name you Virgil with fuch fops as thefe ?
He's truly great, and muft for ever please :
Nor fierce, but awful, in his manly page;
Bold in his strength, but fober in his rage.
Friend. What poems think you foft and to be read
With languishing regards, and bended head?
"Their crooked horns the Mimallonian
"With blasts infpir'd; and Baffaris who flew
"The fcornful calf, with sword advanc'd on high,
"Made from his neck his haughty head to fly.
"And Mænas, when, with ivy bridles bound,
"She led the spotted lynx, then Evion rung around;
"Evion from woods and floods repairing echo's
Could fuch rude lines a Roman mouth become,
Were any manly greatness left in Rome ?
Mænas and Atys in the mouth were bred;
And never hatch'd within the labouring head:
No blood from bitten nails those poems drew :
But churn'd, like fpittle, from the lips they flew,
Friend. 'Tis fuftian all; 'tis execrably bad:
But if they will be fools, muft you be mad?
Your fatires, let me tell you, are too fierce;
The great will never bear fo blant a verse.
Their doors are barr'd against a bitter flout:
Snarl, if you please, but you shall fnarl without.
Expect fuch pay as railing rhymes deserve,
Y' are in a very hopeful way to starve.
Perfius. Rather than fo, uncenfur'd let them be; All, all is admirably well, for me.