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Flies, like a bee, along the Muses' field,
Peeps in, and tastes what any flow'r can yield,
Free, from the various blossom that he meets
To pick, and cull, and carry home the sweets;
While, saunt'ring out, the heavy, stingless drone
Amidst a thousand sweets-makes none of 'em

his own.


A CRITIC, once, to a Miltonian, made
Of Milton's plagiarisms a long parade;
To prove his work not owing to his genius,
But to Adamus Exul, and Masenius;
That he had stol'n the greater part, by much,
Both of his plan, and matter, from the Dutch:


CRIME in a poet, sirs, to steal a thought?
No, that 't is not; if it be good for aught:
'Tis lawful theft; 't is laudable to boot;
'Tis want of genius if he does not do 't:
The fool admires-the man of sense alone
Lights on a happy thought-and makes it all his MILTONUM, vir, O facinus nefarium!



His Abdiel, his fine characters, he took, And heav'nly scenes, from such and such a book; His hellish too the same; from such a one He stole his Pandemonium,-and so onTill Milton's friend cri'd out, at last, quite giddy, "Poh! hold thy tongue-he stole the Devil, did he?"


WHEN Oxford saw, in her Radclivian dome,
Greek skill, and Roman rival'd here at home;
Wond'ring she stood; 'till one judicious spark
Address'd the crowd, and made this sage re-

"The most unlicens'd plagiary—this Gibbs-
Nothing in all his pile, but what he cribs.

"The ground he builds upon is not his ownI know the quarry whence he had his stoneThe forest too where all his timber grow'd— The forge wherein his fused metals flow'dIn short, survey the edifice entire, 'Tis all a borrow'd work, from base to spire,"


LAUDER,-thy authors Dutch, and German,
There is no need to disinter, man:
To search the mould'ring anecdote,
For source of all that Milton wrote:
We'll own-from these, and many more,
The bard enrich'd his ample store.

Thus, with our epic architect, he deals,
Who says that Milton in his poem steals:
Steals, if he will-but, without licence? no;
Pedlars in verse, unmeaningly, do so:
Him Phoebus licens'd; and the Muses Nine
Help'd the rare thief to raise up-a design.

Phoebus himself could not escape
The tricks of this poetic ape;
For, to complete his daring vole',
From his enliven'd wheels he stole,
Prometheus-like, the solar ray,
That animated all his clay.

Prometheus-like, then chain him down;
Prey on his vitals of renown;
With critic talons, and with beak,
Upon his fame thy vengeance wreak:
It grows again at ev'ry hour,
Fast as the vulture can devour.

Exagitavit tanquam plagiarium:
Miramur, hanc qui protulisset thesin,
Quid esse, Momus, crederet poesin.
Num, quæso, vult ut, hâc obstetricante,
Dicendum sit quod nemo dixit ante?

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J. WHAT ills, dear Phebe, would it not prevent,
To learn this one short lesson-" be content!"
No very hard prescription, in effect,
This same content; and yet, thro' its neglect,
What mighty evils do we human elves,
As Prior calls us, bring upon ourselves!
Evils that Nature never meant us for,
The vacuums, that she really does abhor:
Of all the ways of judging things amiss,
No instance shows our weakness more than this,
That men on Earth won't set their hearts at rest,
When God in Heaven does all things for the best:
What strange, absurd perverseness!-

P. Hold, good brother, Don't put yourself, I pray, in such a pother; 'T is a fine thing to be content; why, true; 'T is just, and right, we know, as well as you; And yet, to be so, after all this rout, Sometimes has puzzled you yourself, I doubt.

'From the French word vol, signifying theft.

Folks in the vigour of their health, and strength,
May rail at discontent, in words at length;
Who yet, when disappointed of their wishes,
Will put you off with surly humphs, and pishes;
"Let's be content and easy;"-gen'ral stuff!
Your happy people are content enough;
If you would reason to the purpose, show,
How they who are unhappy may be so;
How they who are in sickness, want, or pain,
May get their health, estate, and ease again:
How they-

J. Nay, Phebe, don't go on so fast; Your just rebuke now suits yourself at last; Methinks you wander widely from the fact'Tis not how you, or I, or others act, That we are talking of, but how we shou'dA rule, tho' ill observ'd, may still be good: Nor did I say that a contented will Wou'd hinder all, but many sorts of ill: This it will do; and, give me leave to say, Much lessen such as it can't take away; You said yourself, 't was just, I think you did

P. Yes, yes; I don't deny it

J. Sense forbid

That e'er you should; it's practice then, perchance, Is monstrous hard, in many a circumstance

P. Monstrous? why monstrous? let that word be barr'd,

And I shan't stick to say, I think it hard, And very hard, nay, I could almost add, That, in some cases, 't is not to be had

J. Not to be had! content! it costs us nought; 'Tis purchas'd only with a little thought; We need not fetch it from a distant clime, It may be found at home, at any time; Our very cares contribute to its growth, It knows no check, but voluntary sloth; None but ourselves can rob us of its fruit; It finds, whene'er we use it, fresh recruit; The more we gather, still the more it thrives, Fresh as our hopes, and lasting as our lives: Not to be bad is wrong;-but I forgot, You did not say quite absolutely not But could almost have said so; the almost, Perhaps, was meant against a florid boast Of such content as, when a trial came Severe enough, would hardly own its name

P. Perhaps it was, and now your fire is spent, You can reflect, I find, that this content, Which you are fond of celebrating so, May, now and then, be difficult to show, So difficult that

P. Why, for this reason-tho' it should be true,
That what is just and right, is easy too,
Such ease is nothing of a talking kind,

But of right will, that, likes to be resign'd,
And cherishes a grace which, with regard
To the unpractis'd, may sometimes be hard:
You treat content as if it were a weed,
Of neither cost, nor culture; when indeed,
It is as fine a flower as can be found
Within the mind's best cultivated ground;
Where, like a seed, it must have light and air
To help its growth, according to the care
That owners take, whose philosophic skill
Will much depend upon the weather still;
Good should not make them careless, nor should

J. Hold a bit-or ten To one the chance, that I shall fire again; "T is just and right, you own, as well as me; Now, for my part, I rather choose to see The easiness of what is just and right, Which makes it more encouraging to sight, Than scarecrow hardships, that almost declare Content an un-come-at-able affair; And, consequently, tempt one to distrust, For difficulties, what is right and just: Thus I object to hardship; if you please, Show for what reason you object to ease

J. Right, provided it be had, I'll not dispute; but own, what you have said Has hit the nail, directly, on the head: Easy or hard, all pains, within our pow'r, Are well bestow'd on such a charming flow'r.

As Tom the porter went up Ludgate-hill,
A swinging show'r oblig'd him to stand still;
So, in the right-hand passage thro' the gate,
He pitch'd his burthen down, just by the grate,
From whence the doleful accent sounds away,
"Pity-the poor-and hungry-debtors-pray."
To the same garrison, from Paul's Church-

An half-drown'd soldier ran to mount the guard:
Now Tom, it seems, the Ludgateer, and he
Were old acquaintance, formerly, all three;
And as the coast was clear, by cloudy weather,
They quickly fell into discourse together.

'T was in December, when the Highland clans Had got to Derbyshire from Preston Pans; And struck all London with a general panicBut mark the force of principles Britannic.

The soldier told 'em fresh the city news, Just piping hot from stockjobbers, and Jews; Of French fleets landing, and of Dutch neutrality; Of jealousies at court amongst the quality; Of Swarston-bridge, that never was pull'd down; Of all the rebels in full march to town; And of a hundred things beside, that made Lord may'r himself, and aldermen afraid; Painting with many an oath the case in view, And ask'd the porter-what he thought to do?

"Do?" says he, gravely-" what I did before; What I have done these thirty years, and more; Carry, as I am like to do, my pack, Glad to maintain my belly by my back; If that but hold, I care not; for my part, Come as come will, 't shall never break my heart; I don't see folks that fight about their thrones, Mind either soldiers' flesh, or porters' bones; Whoe'er gets better, when the battle's fought, Thy pay nor mine will be advanc'd a groat-But to the purpose-now we are met here, I'll join, if t' will, for one full mug of beer."

The soldier, touch'd a little with surprise To see his friend's indifference, replies"What you say, Tom, I own is very good, But our religion !" (and he d-n'd his blood)

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comes on,

"What will become of our religion !"-" True!"
Says the jail-bird-“ and of our freedom too?
If the Pretender" (rapt he out)
Our liberties and properties are gone!"
And so the soldier and the pris'ner join'd
To work up Tom into a better mind;
He staring, dumb, with wonder struck and pity,
Took up his load, and trudg'd into the city.

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THE art of English poetry, I find,
At present, Jenkins, occupies your mind;
You have a vast desire to it, you say,
And want my help to put you in the way;
Want me to tell what books you are to read;
How to begin, at first, and how proceed-

Now, tho' in short-hand I may well pretend
To give directions, my Salopian friend,
As having had the honour to impart
Its full perfection to that English art;
Which you, and many a sagacious youth,
By sure experience, know to be the truth;
Yet how, in matters of poetic reach,
Untaught myself, shall I pretend to teach?
Well I remember that my younger breast
The same desire, that reigns in yours, possest;
Me, numbers flowing to a measur'd time,
Me, sweetest grace of English verse, the rhyme,
Choice epithet, and smooth descriptive line,
Conspiring all to finish one design,

Smit with delight, full negligent of prose,
And, thro' mere liking, tempted to compose,
To rate, according to my schoolboy schemes,
Ten lines in verse worth half a hundred themes.

You may remember, when you first began
To learn the truly tachygraphic plan,
How tracing, step by step, the simplest line,
We grounded, rais'd, and finish'd our design:
How we examin'd language, and its pow'rs,
And then adjusted ev'ry stroke to ours:
Whilst the same method, follow'd, in the main,
Made other matters more concisely plain;
Made English, French, Italian-Hebrew too-
Appear the clearest in a short-hand view;
Which, in all points, where language was con-

Explain'd how best, and soonest they were learn'd;
Show'd where to end, as well as to commence,
At that one central point of view-good sense.

There fix your eye then,-if you mean to write
Verse that is fit to read, or to recite:
A poet, slighting this initial rule,
Is but, at best, an artificial fool;
Of learning verse quite needless the expense,
Plain prose might serve to show his want of sense.
But you, who have it, and would give to prose
The grace, that English poetry bestows
Consider how the short-hand scheme, in part,
May be apply'd to the poetic art:
To write, or read in that, you understood,
There must be sense, and sense that must be


Without one living person to consult,
The years went on, from tender to adult;
And, as for poring to consult the dead,
Truly, that never came into my head:
Not Homer, Virgil, Horace! (if you ask)
Why, yes, the rod would send me to the task;
But all the consultation that came out
Had its own end-to 'scape the whipping bout.
Beside, if subject wanted to be sung,
The Muse was question'd in the vulgar tongue;
Who, if she could not answer well in that,
Would hardly mend herself in Greek or Lat.
But poor encouragement for you to hope
That my instructions will attain the scope:
Yet since the help, which you are pleas'd to seek,
Does not concern the Latin, or the Greek;
In ancient classics, tho' but little read,

I know and care as little what they said,
In plain, familiar English, for your sake,
This untry'd province I will undertake;
And rules for verse as readily instill,
As if ability had equall'd will:
Fair stipulation, first, on either side,
In form, and manner, here annex'd, imply'd—
Conditions are-that, if the Muse should err,
You gave th' occasion, and must pardon her:
If aught occur, on sitting down to try,
That may deserve the casting of your eye;
If hint arise, in any sort, to suit
With your intent-you shall be welcome to 't,

The more that words were proper and exact,
In book, or speech, the more we could contract:
The hand, you know, became a kind of test,
In this respect, what writings were the best.
If incorrect the language, or absurd,
It cost the fuller noting of each word;
But, when more apt, grammatical, and true,
Full oft a letter for a word would do.

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Form to yourself, directly, the design
Of so constructing a poetic line;
That it may cost, in writing it our way,
The least expense of ink, as one may say;
That word, or phrase-in measure that you


May come the nearest to prosaic ease:
You'll see the cases from the rule exempt,
Whilst it directs, in gen'ral, your attempt;
How word, or sentence, you may oft transpose,
And verse be, still, as natural as prose.

As natural-for, tho' we call it art,
The worth in poetry is Nature's part:
Here artis est celare artem-here,
Art must be hid that Nature may appear;
So lie conceal'd behind the shining glass,
That Nature's image may the best repass:
All o'er, indeed, must quicksilver be spread,
But all its useless motion must lie dead.

The art of swimming-next that comes to

Perhaps may show you what is here design'd:
A young beginner struggling, you may see,
With all his might-'t was so at least with me
With all the splutter of his limbs to swim,
And keep his brains, and breath, above the brim;
Whiist, the more eager he to gain his art,
The sooner ev'ry limb is thrown athwart;
Till by degrees he learns, with less ado,
And gentler stroke, the purpose to pursue;
To Nature's motions poising he conforms,
Nor puts th' unwilling element in storms;
Taught, as the smoother wave shall yield, to yield,
And rule the surface of the wat'ry field.

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Soon as you can then, learn to lay aside All wild endeavours against Nature's tide; Which way she bends take notice, and comply; The verse that will not, burn, or throw it by: May be the subject does not suit your skillDismiss, dismiss-till one comes up that will: If sense, if Nature succour not the theme, All art and skill is strife against the stream; If they assist to waft your verses o'er, Stretch forward, and possess the wish'd-for shore. 'Twas from a certain native sense, and wit, That came-Poeta nascitur, non fitAdage forbidding any rhyming blade, That was not born a poet, to be made; For if to sing, (in music) or to hear, Require a natural good voice, or ear; If art and rule but awkwardly advance, Without a previous, pliant shape, to dance, Well may the Muse, before she can inspire, Versatile force of subtle wit require.

Of this if critics should demand a sign, Strong inclination should be one of mine; A fair desire is seldom known to spring, But where there is some fituess for the thing: Tho', by untoward circumstances check'd, There lies a genius, but without effect; Many a fine plant, uncultivated, dies; And worse, with more encouragement, may rise: Des Mecænates-what had Maro been, Had not Mecænas rais'd the Muse within?

Yours, honest pupil, when you are inclin'd,
May versify, according to your mind;
She has no reason, to no patron ty'd,
To prostitute her favours to a side;
Nor to false taste, if any such the age
Shall run into, to sacrifice her page;
Much less, with any vicious topic vile,
An art of chaster off-pring to defile:
All verse unworthy of an English Muse,
Of short-hand race, she may, and must refuse.
Ancient and modern aptitude to run
Into some errours, which you ought to shun,
Will now and then occasion, I foresee,
In place, or out, a præcipe from me:
When this shall happen, never stand to try
The where of its appearance, but the why;
Lest, by authorities, or old, or new,
You should be tempted to incur them too;
Since the most celebrated names infer
No sort of privilege in you to err:

Far from it-even, where they may excel,
Barely to imitate is not so well;
Much less should their authority prevail,
Or warrant you to follow, where they fail.

"T is not to search for precedents alone,
But how to form a judgment of your own;
In writing verse that is your main affair,
Main end of all my monitory care,
Who hate servility to common law,
That keeps an equitable right in awe;
By use and custom justifies its lot,
Its modes, and fashions, whether right, or not;
Cramps the free genius, clips the Muse's wing,
And to one poet ties another's string;
Producing, from their hardy various lines,
So many copies, and so few designs.

By neither names, nor numbers, be deterr'd; Nor yield to mix amongst the servile herd: Exert the liberty, which all avow, Tho' slaves in practice and begin just now,

Begin with me, and construe what I write,
Not to preclude your judgment, but excite;
Just as you once examin'd what I taught,
From first to last, with unaddicted thought,
So while, at your request, I venture here
To play the master, see that all be clear;
Preserve the freedom, which you always took,
Nor, if it teach amiss, regard the book.

Thus, unencumber'd, let us move along, As road shall lead us, to the mount of song; Still keeping, so far by agreement ty'd,

Good verse in prospect, and good sense for guide.

SENSE presuppos'd, and resolute intent
To regulate thereby poetic bent,
Let us examine language once again,
As erst we did to regulate the pen;
And then observe how the peculiar frame
Of words, in English, may assist your aim.

The end of speech, vouchsaf'd to human kind,
Is to express conceptions of the mind:
By painted speech, or writing's wond'rous aid,
The lines of thought are legibly display'd;
In any place, at any time appear,
And silent figure speaks to mental ear;
Surprising permanence of meaning, found
For distant voice, and momentary sound:
Whether by Heav'n, at first, the huge effect.
Reveal'd, or by inventive wit-reflect
What good may follow, if a man exert
The talent right, what ill, if he pervert;
And to exertion, whether good, or bad,
What strength engaging poetry may add;
That, if successful in your present drift,
You may not risk to desecrate the gift.

You see, in speaking, or by sound, or ink,
The grand inceptive caution is-to think ;
To measure, ponder, ruminate, digest,
Or phrase whatever, that betokens best
A due attention to make art, and skill,
Turn all to good, or least of all to ill;
Never to give, on any warm pretence,
To just observers cause of just offence:
To truth, to good, undoubtedly, betong
The skill of poets, and the charms of song.
In verse, or prose, in nature, or in art,
The head begins the movement, or the heart;
If both unite, if both be clear and sound,
Then may perfection in a work be found;
Then does the preacher, then the poet shine,
And justly take the title of divine.

By common sense the world has been all led
To make distinction of the heart and head;
Distinction worthy of your keenest ken,
In passing judginent upon books, and men;
Upon yourself, before you shall submit
To other judges what yourself has writ.

The heart, the head, it may suffice to note, Two diff'rent kinds of poetry promote; One more sublime, more sacred, and severe, That shines in Poetry's celestial sphere; One of an useful, tho' an humbler birth, That ornaments its lower globe of Earth; These we shall here ascribe, if you think fit, One to good sense, the other to good wit; And grant that, whichsoever be display'd, It must have something of the other's aid; Without some wit solidity is dull, As bad the sprightly nonsense, to the full.

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To clothe them both in language, and by rule,
Let us again revise the short-hand school,
And trace the branching stamens of discourse
From their most plain and primmerly resource.
Four parts of speech, you know, we us'd to make
The best arrangement, for inquiry's sake;
And how, spontaneous, to determine those,
The noun, and adnoun, verb, and adverb rose.
Occurring hints, but to no stiffness ty'd
Of formal method, let these four divide;
They do, in fact, partition out, you know,
The sense of words, as far as words can go;
For of a thing the clear ideal sense,

The properties that really spring from thence,
Actions, and modes of action that ensue,
Must all unite to make the language true;
If false, some one or other of these four
Unveils delusion ent'ring at its door;
But wonted lessons I shall here pass by,
Trusting to your remembrance--and apply.

The noun, the name, the substantive, the thing,
Let represent the subject that you sing:
The main, essential matter, whereupon
You mean to set the Muse at work anon:
E'er you begin the verse that you intend,
Respice finem-think upon its end;
One single point, on which you are to fix,
Must govern all that you shall intermix;
Before you quest for circumstances round,
Peg down, at first, the centre of your ground;
Each periodic incident when past,
Examine gently whether that be fast:
How can you help, if it should e'er come out,
Mistaking quite the point you are about?
How, with no tether fix'd to your designs,
Help incoherent, loose, unmeaning lines?

You need not ask of classic Rome, or Greece, Whether your work should all be of a piece; The thing is plain-and all that rule can tell Is Memorandum to observe it well;

To frame, whatever you shall intersperse
Of decoration, well connected verse;
That shall, whatever may across be spread,
From end to end, maintain an equal thread;
That botch, or patch, or clumsy, awkward seam
Mar not poetic unity of theme.

This theme, or subject, for your English Muse Belongs, of right, to you and her to choose: Your own unbiass'd inclinations best The freer topics for a verse suggest; All, within bound of innocence, is free; And you may range, without consulting me, The just, delightful, and extensive sphere; All else, what need of caution to forbear? None-if the bards, and some of them renown'd, Had not transgrest, and overleap'd the bound; This may indeed bid you to have a care, Me, to renew the warning, to beware; While, unrestrain'd, you set yourself the task, Let it be harmless, and 't is all I ask.

Some, to be sure, more excellent, and grand, Your practis'd genius may in time demand; To these in view, no doubt, you may, in will, Devote, at present, your completer skill; And whilst, in little essays, you express, Or clothe a thought in versifying dress, On fair ideas they may turn, and just, And pave the way to something more august: If well your earlier specimens intend, From small beginnings you may greatly end;

Write what the good may praise, as they peruse, And bless, with no unfruitful fame, the Muse.

A youthful Muse, a sprightly one, may crave
To intermix the cheerful with the grave-
Indulge her choice, nor stop the flowing stream,
Where verse adorns an inoffensive theme.
Unwill'd endeavour is the same as faint,
And brisk will languish if it feel constraint:
From task impos'd, from any kind of force,
A stiff, and starch'd production comes, of course;
Unless it suit, as it may chance to do,
The present humour of the Muse, and you:
Sooner, so ask'd, that willing numbers flow,
The more acceptable, and a-propos;
Tho' prompt, if proper the occasion rise,
Her nimbler aid no gen'rous Muse denies;
But if a fair and friendly call invite,
Speeds on the verse to opportune delight;
Cuts all delays to satisfaction short,
When friends and seasons are in temper for 't:
As, by this present writing, one may see,
Dear Muse of mine, is just the case with thee.

A gen'rous Muse, I must again repeat,
Disdains the poor, poetical conceit
Of poaching verse, for personal repute,
And writing-only to be thought to do 't;
Without regarding one of its chief ends,
At once to profit, and to pleasure friends.
Tho' to the bard she dictate first the line,
The reader's benefit is her design:
Mistaken poets seek for private fame;
'Tis gen'ral use that sanctifies the name.

Be free, and choose what subject then you will,
But keep your readers in remembrance still,
Your future judges-tho' 't is in your choice
In what committees who shall have a voice:
Their satisfaction if the Muse prefers,
And their esteem, who justly merit hers,
They who do not, however prompt of throat,
Stand all excluded from the legal vote.
Verse any readers, for whom verse is writ,
May to the press, or to the flames commit:
A poet signs the judgment on his verse,
If readers, worthy to be pleas'd, rehearse;
But, when the blockheads meddle in the cause,
Laughs at their blame, and smiles at their ap-

'T will add to future versifying ease

To think on judges, whom you ought to please;
To fancy some of your selected friends
Discussing points, to which a subject tends;
By whom you guess it would be well discuss'd,
And judgment form'd, that you might safely trust;
If you conceive them sitting on the bench,
Hints, what is fit to add, or to retrench,
Anticipating Fancy may supply,
And save the trouble to the real eye:
Judgment awaken'd may improve the theme
With righter verdict, tho' the court's a dream.


I HEARD two neighbours talk, the other night,
About this new distemper-giving plan,
Which some so wrong, and others think so right;
Short was the dialogue-and thus it ran.

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