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Of comments and disputes, ridiculous and vain,
All of old cut with a new dye:
How soon have you restor'd her charms
And rather tight than great!
How much of heaven is in her naked looks!
Thus the deluding Muse oft blinds me to her ways,
And ev'n my very thoughts transfers
Of that proud tyrant sex of hers.
But with my own rebellious heart,
To fan th' unhappy fire.
Cruel unknown! what is it you intend ? ? Ah! could you, could you hope a poet for your
friend! Rather forgive what my first transport said : May all the blood, which shall by woman's scorn
be shed, Lie upon you and on your children's head! For you (ah! did I think I e'er should live to see.
The fatal time when that could be!)
Still boasting of her great unknown
Which 'tis a shame to see how much of late
You've taught the covetous wretches to o'errate, And which they've now the consciences to weigh
In the same balance with our tears, And with such scanty wages pay
The bondage and the slavery of years, Let the vain sex dream on; the empire comes
And had they common generosity,
They would not use thus.
I sigh whene'er I think of it:
Of some great king and conqueror's death,
When the sad melancholy Muse
There is a noontide in our lives,
Which still the sooner it arrives, Although we boast our winter sun looks bright, And foolishly are glad to see it at its beight, Yet so much sooner comes the long and gloomy night.
No conquest ever yet begun, And by one mighty hero carried to its height, E’er flourish'd under a successor or a son; It lost some mighty pieces through all hands it past, And vanish'd to an empty title in the last. For, when the animating mind is fled (Which nature never can retain,
Nor e'er call back again) The body, though gigantic, lies all cold and dead.
With what unhappy men shall dare
On Learning's high establish'd throne.
Censure, and Pedantry, and Pride, Numberless nations, stretching far and wide, Shall (I foresee it) soon with Gothic swarms come
forth From Ignorance's universal North, And with blind rage break all this peaceful govern
Like a just map, to tell the vast extent
And to all future mankind shew
How strange a paradox is true, That men who liv'd and died without a name Are the chief heroes in the sacred list of fame.
TO MR. CONGREVE.
WRITTEN IN NOVEMBER 1693.
Turice, with a prophet's voice and prophet's
pow'r, The Muse was called in a poetic hour, And insolently thrice, the slighted maid Dared to suspend her unregarded aid; Then with that grief we form in spirits divine Pleads for her own neglect, and thus reproaches
mine: Once highly honour'd ! false is the pretence You make to truth, retreat, and innocence ! Who, to pollute my shades, bring'st with thee down The most ungen'rous vices of the town; Ne'er sprung a youth from out this isle before I once esteem'd, and lov'd, and favour'd more, Nor ever maid endured such courtlike scorn, So much in mode, so very city-born ; 'Tis with a foul design the muse you send, Like a cast mistress to your wicked friend ; But find some new address some fresh deceit, Nor practise such an antiquated cheat; These are the beaten methods of the stews, Stale forms of course, all mean deceivers use, Who barbarously think to 'scape reproach, By prostituting her they first debauch.
Thus did the muse severe unkindly blame This off"ring long design’d to Congreve's fame; First chid the zeal as unpoetic fire, Which soon his merit forced her to inspire;
Then call this verse, that speaks her largést aid,
Nor tax the goddess of a mean design To praise your parts by publishing of mine; That be my thought when some large bulky writ Shows in the front the ambition of my wit; There to surmount what bears me up and sing Like the victorious wren perch'd on the eagle's
wing; This could I do, and proudly o'er him tower, Were my desires but heighten’d to my power. .
Godlike the force of my young Congreve's bays, Soft'ning the Muse's thunder into praise; Sent to assist an old unvanquish'd pride That looks with scorn on half mankind beside; A pride that well suspends poor mortals fate, Gets between them and my resentment's weight, Stands in the gap 'twixt me and wretched men, T'avert th' impending judgments of my pen.
Thus I look down with mercy on the age, By hopes my Congreve will reform the stage; For never did poetic mind before Produce a richer vein or cleaner ore; The bullion stamp'd in your refining mind Serves by retail to furnish half mankind. With indignation I behold Forced on me, crack’d, and clipp’d, and counterfeit, By vile pretenders, who a stock inaintain From broken scraps and filings of your brain.