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Where a new world leaps out at his command,
Unhappy wit, like most mistaken things,
495 In youth alone its empty praise we boast, But soon the short-liv'd vanity is lost ; Like some fair flow'r the early spring supplies, That gaily blooms, but ev'n in blooming dies. What is this wit which must our cares employ? 500 The owner's wife that other men enjoy; Then most our trouble still when most admir'd, And still the more we give the more's requir'd; Whose fame with pains we guard, but lose with ease, Sure some to vex, but never all to please; 505 "Tis what the vicious fear, the virtuous shun; By fools 'tis hated, and by knaves undone !
If wit so much from ign’rance undergo, Ah! let not learning too commence its foe. Of old those met rewards who could excel, 510 And such were prais'd who but endeavour'd well:
Tho' triumphs were to gen'rals only due,
530 Tho' wit and art conspire to move your mind; But dulness with obscenity must prove As shameful sure as impotence in love. In the fat age of pleasure, wealth, and ease, Sprang the rank weed, and thriv'd with large increase: When love was all an easy monarch's care, 536 Seldom at council, never in a war,
Jilts rul'd the state, and statesmen farces writ;
dispute, Lest God himself should seem too absolute: Pulpits their sacred satire learn'd to spare,
550 And Vice admir'd to find a flatt'rer there! Encourag'd thus, Wit's Titans brav'd the skies, And the press groan'd with licens'd blasphemies. These monsters, Critics! with your darts engage, Here point your thunder, and exhaust your rage! Yet shun their fault who, scandalously nice, 556 Will needs mistake an author into vice: All seems infected that th' infected spy, As all looks yellow to the jaundic'd eye.
LEARN then what morals critics ought to show,
Be silent always when you doubt your sense,
570 And make each day a critique on the last.
"Tis not enough your counsel still be true, Bluut truths more mischief than nice falsehoods do: Men must be taught as if you taught them not, And things unknown propos'd as things forgot. 575 Without good-breeding truth is disapprov'd; That only makes superior sense belov'd.
Be niggards of advice on no pretence, For the worst avarice is that of sense. With mean complacence ne'er betray your trust, 580 Nor be so civil as to prove unjust. Fear not the anger of the wise to raise ; Those best can bear reproof who merit praise.
"Twere well might critics still this freedom take, But Aprius reddens at each word you speak,
585 And stares tremendous, with a threat'ning eye, Like some fierce tyrant in old tapestry, Fear most to tax an honourable fool, Whose right it is, uncensur'd, to be dull : Such without wit are poets when they please, 590 As without learning they can take degrees. Leave dang'rous truths to unsuccessful satires, And flattery to fulsome dedicators, Whom, when they praise, the world believes no more Than when they promise to give scribbling o'er. 595 "Tis best sometimes your censure to restrain, And charitably let the dull be vain; Your silence there is better than your spite, For who can rail so long as they can write ? Still humming on their drowsy course they keep, 600 And lash'd so long, like tops are lash'd asleep. False steps but help them to renew their race, As after stumbling jades will mend their pace. What crowds of these, impenitently bold, In sounds and jingling syllables grown old, 605 Still run on poets in a raging vein, Ev'n to the dregs and squeezings of the brain, Strain out the last dull droppings of their sense, And rhyme with all the rage of impotence!