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LL write at London ; shall the
Here, where it most should shine, the Muses' seat?
Where, mortal or immortal, as they please,
The learn'd may chuse eternity, or ease ?
Has not a * Royal Patron wisely strove
To woo the Muse in her Athenian grove ?
Added new strings to her harmonious shell,
And given new tongues to those who spoke fo well ?
Let these inftruct, with truth's illustrious ray,
Awake the world, and scare our owls away.
Mean while, O friend ! indulge me, if I give
Some needful precepts how to write, and live ;
Serious should be an author's final views;
Who write for pure amusement, ne'er amuse.
An Author ! 'Tis a venerable name !
How few deserve it, and what numbers claim !
Unbleft with sense above their peers refin'd,
Who shall stand up, diktators to mankind ?
Nay, who dare sine, if not in virtue's cause,
That fole proprietor of just applause?
Ye restless men, who pant for letter'd praise,
With whom would you consult to gain the bays ?--
With those great authors whose fam'd works you
read? 'Tis well : go, then, consult the laurel'd shade,
What * King George I.
What answer will the laureld fhade return ?
Hear it, and tremble ! he commands you burn
The noblest works his envy'd genius writ,
That boast of nought more excellent than wit.
If this be true, as 'tis a truth most dread,
Woe to the page which has not that to plead !
Fontaine and Chaucer, dying, wish'd unwrote
The sprightlieft efforts of their wanton thought :
Sidney and Waller, brightest fons of fame,
Condemn the charm of ages to the flame :
And in one point is all true wisdom caft,
To think that early we must think at lafi.
Immortal wits, ev'n dead, break nature's laws,
Injurious still to virtue's sacred caufe";
And their guilt growing, as their bodies rot,
(Revers'd ambition !) pant to be forgot.
Thus ends your courted fame: does lucre then, The facred thirst of gold, betray your pen? In prose 'tis blameable, in verse 'tis worse, Provokes the Muse, extorts Apollo's curse ; His facred influence never should be fold; 'Tis arrant fimony to sing for gold: 'Tis immortality should fire your mind; Scorn a less paymaster than all mankind.
If bribes ye feek, know this, ye writing tribe'! Who writes for virtue has the largest bribe : All 's on the party of the virtuouis man; The good will surely serve him, if they can; The bad, when interest or ambition guide, And 'tis at once their interest and their pride :
But should both fail to take him to their care,
He boasts a greater friend, and both may spare.
Letters to man uncommon light dispenfe ;
And what is virtue, but superior sense ?
In parts and learning ye who place your pride,
Your faults are crimes, your crimes are double-dy'd.
What is a scandal of the first renown,
But letter'd knaves, and atheists in a gown?
'Tis harder far to please than give offence
The least misconduct damns the brightest sense;
Each shallow pate, that cannot read your name,
your life, and will be proud to blame.
Flagitious manners make impressions deep
On those that o’er a page of Milton feep :
Nor in their dulness think to save your shame,
True, these are fools; but wise men say the same.
Wits are a despicable race of men,
If they confine their talents to the pen ;
When the man shocks us, while the writer shines,
Our scorn in life, our envy in his lines.
Yet, proud of parts, with prudence fome dispense,
And play the fool, because they ’re men of sense
What instances bleed recent in each thought,
Of men to ruin by their genius brought !
Against their wills what numbers ruin shun,
Purely through want of wit to be undone ?
Nature has shewn, by making it so rare,
That wit 's a jewel which we need not wear.
Of plain sound senfe life's current coin is made ;
With that we drive the most fubftantial trade.
Prudence protects and guides us; wit betrays;
A splendid source of ill ten thousand ways ;
A certain snare to miseries immense ;
A gay prerogative from common sense;
Unless strong judgment that wild thing can tame,
And break to paths of virtue and of fame.
But grant your judgment equal to the best,
Sense fills your head, and genius fires your breast;
Yet still forbear: your wit (consider well)
Tis great to fhew, but greater to conceal;
As it is great to seize the golden prize
Of place or power; but greater to despise.
If still you languish for an author's name,
Think private merit less than public fame,
And fancy not to write is not to live ;
Deserve, and take, the great prerogative.
But ponder what it is; how dear 't will cost,
To write one page which you may justly boast.
Sense may be good, yet not deserve the press ;
Who write, an awful character profess;
The world as pupil of their wisdom claim,
And for their stipend an immortal fame :
Nothing but what is folid or refin'd,
Should dare alk public audience of mankind.
Severely weigh your learning and your wit :
Keep down your pride by what is nobly writ :
No writer, fam'd in your own way, pass o’er ;
Much trust example, but reflexion more :
More had the antients writ, they more had taught;
Which Mews fome work is left for modern thought.
This weigh'd, perfection know; and, known, adore;
Toil, burn for that; but do not aim at more;
Above, beneath it, the just limits fix;
And zealously prefer four lines to fix.
Write, and re-write, blot out, and write again,
And for its swiftness ne'er applaud your pen.
Leave to the jockeys that Newmarket praise,
Slow runs the Pegasus that wins the bays.
Much time for immortality to pay,
Is just and wife ; for less is thrown away.
Time only can mature the labouring brain ;
Time is the father, and the midwife pain :
The same good sense that makes a man excel,
Still makes him doubt he ne'er has written well.
Downright impoflibilities they seek;
What man can be immortal in a week?,
Excuse no fault; though beautiful, 't will harm;
One fault shocks more than twenty beauties charm.
Our age demands correctness ; Addison
And you this commendable hurt have done.
- Now writers find, as once Achilles found,
The whole is mortal, if a part 's unfound.
He that strikes out, and strikes not out the best,
Pours lustre in, and dignifies the rest :
Give e'er so little, if what 's right be there,
We praise for what you burn, and what you spare:
The part you burn, finells sweet before the shrine,
And is as incense to the part divine.
Nor frequent write, though you can do it well ; Men may too oft, though not too much, excel.