« ZurückWeiter »
So I took to the road, and what 's very odd,
The first man I robb'd was a parson, by G-.
Now, madam, you'll think it a strange thing to say,
But the sight of a book makes me sick to this day.'
"Never since I was born did I hear so much wit,
And, madam, I laugh'd till I thought I should split.
So then you look'd scornful, and snift at the Dean,
As who should say, Now, am I skinny and lean ?*
But he durst not so much as once open his lips,
And the doctor was plaguily down in the hips.'
Thus merciless Hannah ran on in her talk,
Till she heard the Dean call," Will your ladyship
Her ladyship answers, "I'm just coming down:" Then, turning to Hannah, and forcing a frown, Although it was plain in her heart she was glad, Cry'd," Hussy, why sure the wench is gone mad! How could these chimeras get into your brains? Come hither, and take this old gown for your pains. But the Dean, if this secret should come to his ears, Will never have done with his gibes and his jeers: For your life, not a word of the matter, I charge ye: Give me but a barrack, a fig for the clergy."
ON POETRY: A RHAPSODY.
ALL human race would fain be wits,
And millions miss for one that hits.
Young's universal passion, pride,
Was never known to spread so wide.
Nick-names for my lady.
Say, Britain, could you ever boast,
Three poets in an age at most?
Our chilling climate hardly bears
A sprig of bays in fifty years;
While every fool his claim alleges,
As if it grew in common hedges.
What reason can there be assign'd
For this perverseness in the mind?
Brutes find out where their talents lie:
A bear will not attempt to fly;
A founder'd horse will oft debate,
Before he tries a five-barr'd gate;
A dog by instinct turns aside,
Who sees the ditch too deep and wide.
But man we find the only creature
Who, led by folly, combats nature;
Who, when she loudly cries, forbear,
With obstinacy fixes there;
And, where his genius least inclines,
Absurdly bends his whole designs.
Not empire to the rising Sun
By valour, conduct, fortune won;
Not highest wisdom in debates
For framing laws to govern states;
Not skill in sciences profound,
So large to grasp the circle round;
Such heavenly influence require,
As how to strike the Muse's lyre.
Not beggar's brat on bulk begot;
Not bastard of a pedlar Scot;
Not boy brought up to cleaning shoes,
The spawn of Bridewell or the stews;
Not infants dropt, the spurious pledges
Of gypsies littering under hedges;
Are so disqualified by fate
To rise in church, or law, or state,
As he whom Phoebus in his ire
Hath blasted with poetic fire.
What hope of custom in the fair,
While not a soul demands your ware?
Where you have nothing to produce
For private life, or public use?
Court, city, country, want you not;
You cannot bribe, betray, or plot.
For poets, law makes no provision;
The wealthy have you in derision:
Of state affairs you cannot smatter;
Are awkward when you try to flatter:
Your portion, taking Britain round,
Was just one annual hundred pound;
Now not so much as in remainder,
Since Cibber brought in an attainder;
For ever fix'd by right divine
(A monarch's right) on Grub-street line.
Poor starveling bard, how small thy gains!
How unproportioned to thy pains!
And here a simile comes pat in:
Though chickens take a month to fatten,
The guests in less than half an hour
Will more than half a score devour.
So, after toiling twenty days
To earn a stock of pence and praise,
Thy labours, grown the critic s prey,
Are swallow'd o'er a dish of tea;
Gone to be never heard of more,
Gone where the chickens went before.
How shall a new attempter learn
Of different spirits to discern,
And how distinguish which is which,
The poet's vein, or scribbling itch?
Then hear an old experienc'd sinner
Instructing thus a young beginner.
Consult yourself; and if you find
A powerful impulse urge your mind,
Impartial judge within your breast
What subject you can manage best;
Whether your genius most inclines
To satire, praise, or humorous lines,
To elegies in mournful tone,
Or prologue sent from hand unknown.
Then, rising with Aurora's light,
The Muse invok'd, sit down to write;
Blot out, correct, insert, refine,
Enlarge, diminish, interline;
Be mindful, when invention fails,
To scratch your head, and bite your nails.
Your poem finish'd, next your care
Is needful to transcribe it fair.
In modern wit, all printed trash is
Set off with numerous breaks and dashes.
To statesmen would you give a wipe,
You print it in italic type.
When letters are in vulgar shapes,
'Tis ten to one the wit escapes:
But, when in capitals exprest,
The dullest reader smokes the jest:
Or else perhaps he may invent
A better than the poet meant ;
As learned commentators view
In Homer more than Homer knew.
Your poem in its modish dress,
Correctly fitted for the press,
Convey by penny-post to Lintot,
But let no friend alive look into 't.
If Lintot thinks 'twill quit the cost,
You need not fear your labour lost :
And how agreeably surpris'd
Are you to see it advertis'd!
The hawker shows you one in print,
As fresh as farthings from the mint :
The product of your toil and sweating;
A bastard of your own begetting.
Be sure at Will's, the following day,
Lie snug, and hear what critics say;
And, if you find the general vogue
Pronounces you a stupid rogue,
Damns all your thoughts as low and little,
Sit still, and swallow down your spittle.
Be silent as a politician,
For talking may beget suspicion :
Or praise the judgment of the town,
And help yourself to run it down.
Give up your fond paternal pride,
Nor argue on the weaker side:
For poems read without a name
We justly praise, or justly blame;
And critics have no partial views,
Except they know whom they abuse: