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Whim, Weather, Envy, Party, Spite,
Sit heavy on the tribe that write;
Sad lot of authors ! vain your toil!
Away with all your midnight oil,
Your charity to human kind!
Who holds a taper to the blind?
A poet, wrapt in song sublime,
Suits not our sublunary clime;
Few are endued with eagle eyes,
To mark his progress through the skies;
And when he wings his lofty flight,
He perishes from vulgar sight.
Yet, spite of folly or caprice,
Suppose ('tis but hypothesis)
Your Muse could win her way to praise,
And Chesterfield to prove the lays:
Now sudden wreaths your temples crown,
Proclaim'd a poet-about town,
Thee, toasts admire, and peers caress;
Frail and fallacious happiness !
Peers treat their poets as their whores,
Enjoy, then turn them out of doors;
For wit (if always in your power)
Is but a cordial for an hour.
Shown like a fresh-imported ape,
Awhile you set the town agape;
Beaux, belles, and captains, form a ring
To see the new facetious thing:
This happy minion of the Nine,
We wonder when he means to shine.
Fool! would you prattle, tête-à-tête,
With all the fair and all the great ?
Mark whom their favours are bestow'd on.
Cibber, and Heidegger, and Boden.
Poets are arbiters of fame:
True; but who loves or fears a name?
Is it for fame, Sir ---
For fame that ~ ~
Such hate a poet, or despise ;
Their prospect in oblivion lies.
Search far and wide where Virtue dwells,
In camps, or colleges, or cells;
Heroes alike, and bards, instead
Of panegyric, sigh for bread.
Or call forth all the powers of fable, Describe a statesman just and able, Who, skill'd in play, disdains to pack; What will you gain? the butt of sack? Let Colley sing, in numbers meet, Our leagues and wars, and Spithead feet: Satire be thine ; a flowery field Yet has a serpent oft conceald. A jury finds your words in print, But Curlls interpret what is meant. Grant it were safe, not Oldham's storm Of satire could a soul reform. To curb the time, can poets hope ? Peter but sneers, though lash'd by Pope. Would you from dice or pox reclaim, Brand this or that Aagitious name: What boots it, sharpers and intriguers ? But ask, were Chartres, Oldfield, beggars ? No, born for modern imitation, Worthies that throve in their vocation. Not e’en thy Horace, happy bard, Was by the barren Muse preferr’d,
While yet a friend to Freedom hearty,
An honest, but a starving party.
He pass'd for but a simple wretch,
And lov'd his bottle and a catch :
He deem'd himself no very wise-man,
Nor aim'd at better than Excise-man;
To breeding had such poor pretence,
Most thought he wanted common sense.
Not courtly Athens, though polite
As Paris, could improve the wight.
Where'er he pass’d, the mob was eager
To laugh at so grotesque a figure.
Yet Horace o'er the sparkling bowl,
I grant, had talents for a droll ;
And hence, though sprung from dunghill earth,
He pleas'd the courtiers with his mirth ;
Next wisely ventur'd to renounce
His principles, and rose at once,
Rose from a bankrupt to the sum
Of human happiness-a plum!
Then drank, and reveld, and grew big,
Yet still an awkward dirty pig.
Lo! then the people felt his gall,
'Twas “ Sturdy beggars, damn ye all !"
Mindless of others love or spite,
He car'd not, so he pleas'd the knight;
And wrote, and wrote, as was the fashion,
To praise the knight's administration.
Nay once, all worldly zeal so warm is,
He wrote in praise of standing armies :
Such arts your darling Horace grew by ;
Such might have rais'd an arrant booby,