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C/OME hither, boy, we'll hunt to-day
The Book-worm, rav'ning beast of prey!
Produc'd by parent Earth, at odds,
As Fame reports it, with the gods.
Him frantic hunger wildly drives
Against a thousand authors' lives:
Through all the fields of wit he flies;
Dreadful his wit with clust'ring eyes,
With horns without, and tusks within,
And scales to serve him for a skin.
Observe him nearly, lest he climb
To wound the bards of ancient time,
Or down the vale of Fancy go,
To tear some modern wretch below.
On ev'ry corner fix thine eye,
Or ten to one he slips thee by.
See where his teeth a passage eat:
We'll rouse him from the deep retreat.
But who the shelter's forc'd to give?
'Tis sacred Virgil, as I live!
From leaf to leaf, from song to song,
He draws the tadpole form along;
He mounts the gilded edge before;
He's up, he scuds the cover o'er;
He turns, he doubles—there he pass'd;
And here we have him, caught at last.
Insatiate brute, whose teeth abuse
The sweetest servants of the Muse!
(Nay, never offer to deny,
I took thee in the fact to fly.)
His roses nipt in ev'ry page,
My poor Anacreon mourns thy rage;
By thee my Ovid wounded lies;
By thee my Lesbia's sparrow dies;
Thy rabid teeth have half destroy'd
The work of love in Biddy Floyd;
They rent Belinda's locks away,
And spoil'd the Blouzelind of Gay.
For all, for ev'ry single deed,
Relentless Justice bids thee bleed,
Then fall a victim to the Nine,
Myself the priest, my desk the shrine.
Bring Homer, Virgil, Tasso near,
To pile a sacred altar here;
Hold, boy! thy hand outruns thy wit,
You 've reach'd the plays that Dennis writ;
You 've reach'd me Philips' rustic strain;
Pray take your mortal Bards again.
Come, bind the victim—there he lies;
And here between his num'rous eyes
This venerable dust I lay,
From manuscript just swept away.
The goblet in my hand I take,
(For the libation's yet to make)
A health to poets! all their days
May they have bread as well as praise;
Sense may they seek, and less engage
In papers fill'd with party rage:
But, if their riches spoil their vein,
Ye Muses, make them poor again!
Now bring the weapon, yonder blade,
With which my tuneful pens are made.
I strike the scales that arm thee round,
And twice and thrice I print the wound;
The sacred altar floats with red,
And now he dies—and now he's dead.
How like the son of Jove I stand, This Hydra stretch'd beneath my hand! Lay bare the monster's entrails here, To see what dangers threat the year: Ye gods! what sonnets on a wench! What lean translations out of French! 'Tis plain, this lobe is so unsound, S prints before the months go round.
But hold—before I close the scene,
The sacred altar should be clean.
Oh, had I Shad well's second bays,
Or, Tate, thy pert and humble lays!
(Ye pair, forgive me, when I vow
I never miss'd your works till now)
I 'd tear the leaves to wipe the shrine
(That only way you please the Nine);
But since I chance to want these two,
I '11 make the songs of Durfey do.
Rent from the corps, on yonder pin
I hang the scales that brae'd it in;
I hang my studious morning gown,
And write my own inscription down:
V This trophy from the Python won, "This robe in which the deed was done, "These Parnell, glorying in the feat,
Hung on these shelves, the Muses' seat. "Here Ignorance and Hunger found "Large realms of Wit to ravage round;