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Such is the shout, the long-applauding note,
330 At Quin's high plume, or Oldfield's petticoat; Or when from Court a birth-day suit bestow'd Sinks the lost actor in the tawdry load. Booth enters—hark! the universal peal ! “ But has he spoken ?” Not a syllable.
335 “ What shook the stage, and made the people stare ?" Cato's long wig, flow'r'd gown, and lacker'd chair,
Yet, lest you think I rally more than teach, Or praise malignly arts I cannot reach, Let me for once presume t'instruct the times, 340 To know the poet from the man of rhymes. 'Tis he who gives my breast a thousand pains, Can make me feel each passion that he feigns ; Enrage, compose, with more than magic art, With pity and with terror tear my heart, 345 And snatch me o'er the earth, or thro'the air, To Thebes, to Athens, when he will and where.
But not this part of the poetic state Alone deserves the favour of the great. Think of these authors, Sir, who would rely 350 More'on a reader's sense than gazer's eye. Or who shall wander where the Muses sing? Who climb their mountain, or who taste their spring? How shall we fill a library with wit, When Merlin's cave is half unfurnish'd yet ? 355
My Leige ! why writers little claim your thought I guess, and with their leave will tell the fault, We poets are (upon a Peet's word) Of all mankind the creatures most absurd : The season when to come and when to go, 360 To sing, or cease to sing, we never know ; And if we will recite nine hours in ten, You lose your patience just like other men. Then, too, we hurt ourselves, when, to defend A single verse, we quarrel with a friend; 365 Repeat unask'd; lament the wit's too fine For vulgar eyes, and point out ev'ry line : But most when straining with too weak a wing, We needs will write epistles to the King; And from the moment we oblige the Town, 370 Expect a place or pension from the Crown; Or, dubb’d Historians, by express command, L'enrol your triumphs o’er the seas and land, Be call'd to Court to plan some work divine, As once for Louis, Boileau and Racine.
375 Yet think, great Sir! (so many virtues shown,] Ah! think what poet best may make them known; Or chuse at least some minister of grace, Fit to bestow the Laureat's weighty place.
Charles, to late times to me transmitted fair, 380 Assign’d his figure to Bernini's care ;
And great Nassau to Kneller's hand decreed
405 The zeal of fools offends at any time, But most of all the zeal of fools in rhyme.
Besides, a fate attends on all I write,