Page images
PDF
EPUB

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 :

And, since you ne'er provoke their spite,
Depend upon 't their judgment 's right.
But if you blab, you are undone :
Consider what a risk you run:
You lose your credit all at once;
The town will mark you for a dunce ;
The vilest doggrel Grub-street sends,
Will pass for yours with foes and friends;
And you must bear the whole disgrace,
Till some fresh blockhead takes your places

Your secret kept, your poem sunk,
And sent in quires to line a trunk,
If still you be dispos’d to rhyme,
Go try your hand a second time,
Again you

fail :

: yet Safe's the word ; Take courage, and attempt a third. But first with care employ your thoughts Where critics mark'd your former faults; The trivial turns, the borrow'd wit, The similes that nothing fit; The cant which every fool repeats, Town jests and coffee-house conceits ; Descriptions tedious, flat and dry, And introduc'd the Lord knows why : Or where we find your fury set Against the harmless alphabet ; On A's and B's your malice vent, While readers wonder whom you meant; A public or a private robber, A statesman, or a South-sea jobber ; A prelate who no God believes; A parliament, or den of thieves ;

A pick-purse at the bar or bench;
A duchess, or a suburb-wench:
Or oft', when epithets you link
In gaping lines to fill a chink;'
Like stepping-stones to save a stride,
In streets where kennels are too wide;
Or like a heel-piece, to support
A cripple with one foot too short;
Or like a bridge, that joins a marish
To moorlands of a different parish :
So have I seen ill-coupled hounds
Drag different ways in miry grounds.
So geographers in Afric maps
With savage pictures fill their gaps,
And o'er unhabitable downs
Place elephants for want of towns.

But, though you miss your third essay,
You need not throw your pen away:
Lay now aside all thoughts of fame,
To spring more profitable game.
From party-merit seek support;
The vilest verse thrives best at court
A pamphlet in Sir Bob's defence
Will never fail to bring in pence :
Nor be concern'd about the sale,
He pays his workmen on the nail.

A prince, the moment he is crown'd,
Inherits every virtue round,
As emblems of the sovereign power,
Like other baubles in the Tower;
Is generous, valiant, just, and wise,
And so continues till he dies :

His humble senate this professes,
In all their speeches, votes, addresses
But once you fix him in a tomb,
His virtues fade, his vices bloom;
And each perfection wrong imputed,
Is fully at his death confuted.
The loads of poems in his praise,
Ascending, make one funeral blaze :
As soon as you can hear his knell,
This god on Earth turns devil in Hell:
And lo! his ministers of state,
Transform’d to imps, his levee wait ;
Where, in the scenes of endless woe,
They ply their former arts below;
And, as they sail in Charon's boat,
Contrive to bribe the judge's vote ;
To Cerberus they give a sop,
His triple-barking mouth to stop ;
Or in the ivory gate of dreams
Project excise and South-sea schemes;
Or hire the party pamphleteers
To set Elysium by the ears.

Then, poet, if you mean to thrive,
Employ your Muse on kings alive :
With prudence gathering up a cluster
Of all the virtues you can muster,
Which, form'd into a garland sweet,
Lay humbly at your monarch's feet;
Who, as the odours reach his throne,
Will smile, and think them all his own;
For law'and gospel both determine
All virtues lodge in royal ermine :

« EelmineJätka »