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To Mr. DELANY, Nov. 10, 1718. T you, whose virtues, I must own
With shame, I have too lately known ; To you, by art and nature taught To be the man I long have fought, Had not ill Fate, perverse and blind, Plac'd
in life too far behind;
Or, what I should repine at more,
Plac'd me in life too far before :
the Muse this verse bestows,
Which might as well have been in prose;
No thought, no fancy, no sublime,
But simple topicks told in rhyme.
Talents for conversation fit,
Are humour, breeding, fenfe, and wit :
The last, as boundless as the wind,
Is well conceiv'd, though not defin'd:
For, sure, by wit is chiefly meant
Applying well what we invent.
What hamour is, not all the tribe
Of logick-mongers can defcribe;
Here nature only acts her part,
Unhelp'd by practice, books, or art :
For wit and humour differ quite;
That gives surprize, and this delight.
Humour is odd, grotesque, and wild,
Only by affectation spoil'd :
Tis never by invention got,
Men haye it when they know it not.
Our conversation to refine,
Humour and wit must both combine :
From both we learn to railly well,
Wherein sometimes the French excel.
Voiture, in various lights, displays
That irony which turns to praise :
His genius first found out the rule
For an obliging ridicule :
He flatters with peculiar air
The brave, the witry, and the fair :
And fools would fancy he intends
A satire, where he most commends.
But, as a poor pretending beau,
Because he fain would make a show,
Nor can arrive at filver lace,
Takes up with copper in the place :
So the pert dunces of mankind,
Whene'er they would be thought refin'ch,
As if the difference lay abftrufe
"Twixt raillery and gross abuse ;
To lhew their parts, will fcold and rail,
Like porters o'er a pot of ale.
Such is that clan of boisterous bears,
Always together by the ears ;
Shrewd fellows and arch wags, a tribe
That meet for nothing but a gibe ;
Who first run one another down,
And then fall foul on all the town;
Skil'd in the horse-laugh and dry rub,
And call'd by excellence The Club.
I mean your Butler, Dawson, Car,
All special friends, and always jar.
The mettled and the vicious Iteed
Differ as little in their breed ;
Nay, Voiture is as like Tom Leigh
As rudeness is to repartee.
If what you said I wish unspoke,
'Twill not suffice it was a joke:
Reproach not, though in jest, a friend
For those defects he cannot mend;
His lineage, calling, shape, or fenfe,
If nam'd with scorn, gives just offence.
What use in life to make men fret,
Part in worse humour than they met
Thus all society is lost,
Men laugh at one another's cost;
And half the company is teaz’d,
Chat came together to be pleas'd :
or all buffoons have moft in view
o please themselves by vexing you.
You wonder now to see me write
gravely on a subject light ;
ome part of what I here design
egards a friend * of your's and mine ;
Tho, neither void of sense nor wit,
et seldom judges what is fit,
But sallies oft' beyond his bounds,
And takes unmeasurable rounds.
When jests are carried on too far,
And the loud laugh begins the war,
You keep your countenance for shame,
friend to blame :
For, though men cry they love a jest,
'Tis but when others stand the test;
And (would you have their meaning known)
They love a jest that is their own.
You must, although the point be nice,
Bestow your friend some good advice :
One hint from you will fet him right,
And teach him how to be polite.
Bid him, like
observe with care,
Whom to be hard on, whom to spare ;
Nor indistinctly to suppose
All subjects like Dan Jackson's nose *.
To ftudy the obliging jest,
By reading those who teach it best;
For profe I recommend Voiture's, .
For verse (I speak my judgement) yours.
He 'll find the secret out from thence,
To rhyme all day without offence ;
And I no more shall then accuse
The flirts of his ill-manner'd Muse.
If he be guilty, you must mend him ; If he be innocent, defend him. * Which was afterwards the subject of several poems by Dr. Swift and others.
A LEFT-HANDED LETTER
TO DR. SHERIDAN* 1718.
DELANY reports it
, and he has a fhrewd tongue, That we both act the part of the clown and
cow-dung; We lye cramming ourselves, and are ready to burst, Yet still are no wiser than we were at first, Prdet bæc opprobria, I freely must tell ye, Et dici potuisse, et non potuise refelli. Though Delany advis’d you to plague me no longer, You reply and rejoin like Hoadly of Bangor. I must now, at one fitting, pay off my old score ; How many to answer ? One, two, three, four. But, because the three former are long ago past, I shall, for method fake, begin with the last. You treat me like a boy that knocks down his foe, Who, ere e’other gets up, demands the rising blow. Yet I know a young rogue, that, thrown flat on the field, Would, as he lay under, cry out, Sirrah! yield. So the French, when our Generals soundly did pay
them: Went triumphant to church, and sang stoutly Te Deum. So the famous Tom Leigh, when quite run aground, Comes off by out-laughing the company round. In every vile pamphlet you
'll read the same fancies, Having thus overthrown all our further advances.
* The humour of this poem is partly lost, by the imposibility of printing it left-handed as it was written.