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The Wit of Cheats, the Courage of a Whore, 165
At Crimes that 'scape, or triumph o'er the Law:
VER. 165. The Wit of Cheats, the Courage of a Whore — Are what ten thousand envy and adore:]—And no wonder, for the Wit of Cheats being the evasion of Justice, and the Courage of a Whire the contempt of reputation; these emancipate men from the two tyrannical restraints upon free fpirits, fear of punishment, and dread of shame. SCRIBL.
Written in MDCCXXXVIII.
IS all a Libel-Paxton (Sir) will fay.
'faith it may;
And for that very cause I print to-day.
VER. 1. Paxton] Late follicitor to the Treafury.
VER. 8. Feign what I will, &c.] The Poet has here introduced an oblique apology for himself with great art. You attack perfonal characters, fay his enemies. No, replies he, I paint merely from my invention; and then, to prevent a likeness, I aggravate the features. But alas!
F. Yet none but you by Name the guilty lash; Ev'n Guthry faves half Newgate by a Dash. Spare then the Person, and expose the Vice. P. How, Sir! not damn the Sharper, but the Dice?
Come on then, Satire! gen'ral, unconfin'd, Spread thy broad wing, and foufe on all the kind. Ye Statefinen, Priests, of one Religion all ! 16 Ye Tradesmen, vile, in Army, Court, or Hall! Ye Rev'rend Atheists. F. Scandal! name them,
P. Why that's the thing you bid me not to do. Who ftarv'd a Sifter, who forswore a Debt, 20 I never nam'd; the Town's enquiring yet. The pois'ning Dame-F. You mean-P, I don't. F. You do.
P. See, now I keep the Secret, and not you! The bribing Statesman-F. Hold, too high you
P: The brib'd Elector-F. There you stoop
the growth of vice is fo monftrously fudden, that it rifes up to a refemblance before I can get from the prefs.
VER. 11. Ev'n Guthry] The Ordinary of Newgate, who publishes the Memoirs of the Malefactors, and is often prevailed upon to be fo tender of their reputation, as to fet down no more than the initials of their name.
VER. 13. How, Sir! not damn the Sharper! but the D'ce?] It is pity that the liveliness of the reply cannot excufe the bad realoning: The dice, though they rhyme to vice, can never fland for it; which his argument requires they fhould do,
P. I fain would please you, if I knew with what; Tell me, which Knave is lawful Game, which not?
Must great Offenders, once escap'd the Crown,
For dice are only the inftruments of fraud; but the question is not, whether the inftrument, but whether the act committed by it, should be exposed, instead of the perfon.
VER. 26. I fain would please you, if I knew with what; Tell me, which Knave is lawful Game, which not?] I have obferved, that our Author has invented, and introduced into his writings, a new fpecies of the jublime, by heightening it with wit. There is a fpecies of eloquence in his works (of which thefe lines are an instance) almost as peculiar to him; which he has produced by employing the fimpleft and tritest phrases to prevent ftiffness; and yet, by a fupreme effort of his art, giving them the dignity of the most felect. Quintilian was fo fenfible of the luftre which this throws upon true eloquence, under a masterly direction, and at the fame time, of the prejudices against it, from the difficulty of fucceeding in it; that he fays, Utinam-et verba in ufu quotidiano pofita minus timeremus.
VER. 29. Like Royal Harts, &c.] Alluding to the old Game laws; when our Kings spent all the time they could fpare from human flaughter, in Woods and Forests.
VER. 31. As beafts of Nature may we hunt the Squires?] The expreffion is rough, like the fubject, but without reflection: For if beafts of Nature, then not beasts of their own making; a fault too frequently objected to country Squires. However, the Latin is nobler; Ferae naturae, Things uncivilized, and free. Ferae, as the Critics fay, being from the Hebrew, Pere, Afinus filveftris. SCRIBL.
F. A Dean, Sir? No: his Fortune is not
You hurt a man that's rifing in the Trade.
Arraign no mightier Thief than wretched Wild;
46 Scarce hurts the Lawyer, but undoes the Scribe. Then better fure it Charity becomes
To tax Directors, who (thank God) have Plums;
VER. 35. You hurt a man that's rifing in the Trade.] For, as the reafonable De la Bruyere obferves, Qui ne fait être un "ERASME, doit penfer à être Evêque.”
VER. 39. wretched Wild,] Jonathan Wild, a famous Thief, and Thief-Impeacher, who was at laft caught in his own train and hanged.
VER. 42. for the Love of Vice!] We must confider the Poet as here directing his discourse to a follower of the new system of Politics and Religion, That private vices are public benefits.