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SATIRES OF DR. JOHN DONNE,
Quid vetat et nosmet Lucili scripta legentes
Quærere, num illius, num rerum dura negârit
Versiculos natura magis factos, et euntes
YES; thank my stars! as early as I knew
This town, I had the sense to hate it too:
Yet here, as ev'n in hell, there must be still
One giant-vice, so excellently ill,
That all beside one pities, not abhors:
As who knows Sappho, smiles at other whores.
SIR; though (I thank God for it) I do hate
Perfectly all this town: yet there's one state
In all ill things, so excellently best,
That hate towards them, breeds pity towards the
I grant that poetry's a crying sin;
It brought (no doubt) th' excise and army in: Catch'd like the plague, or love, the Lord knows how, But that the cure is starving, all allow.
Yet like the papist's, is the poet's state,
Poor and disarm'd, and hardly worth your hate!
Here a lean bard, whose wit could never give
Himself a dinner, makes an actor live:
The thief condemn'd, in law already dead,
So prompts, and saves a rogue who cannot read.
Thus as the pipes of some carv'd organ move,
The gilded puppets dance and mount above.
Heav'd by the breath th' inspiring bellows blow:
Th' inspiring bellows lie and pant below.
One sings the fair: but songs no longer move;
No rat is rhym'd to death, nor maid to love:
In love's, in nature's spite, the siege they hold,
And scorn the flesh, the devil, and all but gold.
These write to lords, some mean reward to get,
As needy beggars sing at doors for meat.
Though poetry, indeed, be such a sin,
As I think, that brings dearth and Spaniards in:
Though like the pestilence and old-fashion'd love,
Ridlingly it catch men, and doth remove
Never, till it be starv'd out; yet their state
Is poor, disarm'd, like papists, not worth hate.
One (like a wretch, which at bar judg'd as dead,
Yet prompts him which stands next, and cannot read
And saves his life) gives ideot actors means
(Starving himself) to live by 's labour'd scenes.
As in some organs puppets dance above,
And bellows pant below, which them do move.
One would move love by rhymes; but witchcraft's
Bring not now their old fears, nor their old harms; Rams and slings now are silly battery,
Pistelets are the best artillery.
Those write because all write, and so have still
Excuse for writing, and for writing ill.
Wretched indeed! but far more wretched yet
Is he who makes his meal on others' wit:
"Tis chang'd, no doubt, from what it was before;
His rank digestion makes it wit no more:
Sense, past through him, no longer is the same;
For food digested takes another name.
I pass o'er all those confessors and martyrs,
Who live like S-tt-n, or who die like Chartres,
Out-cant old Esdras, or out-drink his heir,
Out-usure Jews, or Irishmen out-swear;
Wicked as pages, who in early years
Act sins which Prisca's confessor scarce hears.
Ev'n those I pardon, for whose sinful sake
Schoolmen new tenements in hell must make;
Of whose strange crimes no canonist can tell
In what commandment's large contents they dwell.
One, one man only breeds my just offence;
Whom crimes gave wealth, and wealth gave impu-
And they who write to lords, rewards to get,
Are they not like singers at doors for meat?
And they who write, because all write, have still
That 'scuse for writing, and for writing ill.
But he is worst, who beggarly doth chaw
Other wits-fruits, and in his ravenous maw
Rankly digested, doth those things out-spue,
As his own things; and they're his own, 'tis true,
For if one eat my meat, though it be known
The meat was mine, the excrement's his own.
But these do me no harm, nor they which use,
* to out-usure Jews.
To out-drink the sea, t'out-swear the letanie,
Who with sins all kinds as familiar be
As confessors, and for whose sinful sake
Schoolmen new tenements in hell must make ;
Time, that at last matures a clap to pox,
Whose gentle progress makes a calf an ox,
And brings all natural events to pass,
Hath made him an attorney of an ass.
No young divine, new-benefic'd, can be
More pert, more proud, more positive than he.
What further could I wish the fop to do,
But turn a wit, and scribble verses too?
Pierce the soft labyrinth of a lady's ear
With rhymes of this per cent, and that per year?
Or court a wife, spread out his wily parts,
Like nets or lime-twigs, for rich widows' hearts;
Call himself barrister to every wench,
And woo in language of the Pleas and Bench?
Language, which Boreas might to Auster hold
More rough than forty Germans when they scold.
Curs'd be the wretch, so venal and so vain:
Paltry and proud, as drabs in Drury-lane.
'Tis such a bounty as was never known,
If Peter deigns to help you to our own:
Whose strange sins canonists could hardly tell
In which commandment's large receit they dwell.
But these punish themselves. The insolence
Of Coscus, only, breeds my just offence,
Whom time (which rots all, and makes botches pox,
And plodding on, must make a calf an ox)
Hath made a lawyer; which (alas) of late;
But scarce a poet: jollier of this state,
Than are new benefic'd ministers, he throws
Like-nets or lime-twigs whereso'er he goes
His title of barrister on every wench,
And wooes in language of the Pleas and Bench. *
* Words, words which would tear
The tender labyrinth of a maid's soft ear:
More, more than ten Sclavonians scolding, more
Than when winds in our ruin'd abbeys roar.
Then sick with poetry, and possest with muse
Thou wast, and mad I hop'd; but men which chuse
What thanks, what praise, if Peter but supplies!
And what a solemn face, if he denies!
Grave, as when prisoners shake the head and swear
'Twas only suretyship that brought them there.
His office keeps your parchment fates entire,
He starves with cold to save them from the fire;
For you he walks the streets through rain or dust,
For not in chariots Peter puts his trust;
For you he sweats and labours at the laws,
Takes God to witness he affects your cause,
And lies to every lord in every thing,
Like a king's favourite--or like a king.
These are the talents that adorn them all,
From wicked Waters ev'n to godly * *
Not more of simony beneath black gowns,
Not more of bastardy in heirs to crowns.
In shillings and in pence at first they deal;
And steal so little, few perceive they steal;
Till, like the sea, they compass all the land,
From Scots to Wight, from Mount to Dover strand:
Law practice for mere gain: bold soul repute
Worse than imbrothel'd strumpets prostitute.
Now like an owl-like watchman he must walk,
His hand still at a bill; now he must talk
Idly, like prisoners, which whole months will swear,
That only suretiship had brought them there,
And to every suitor lye in every thing,
Like a king's favourite-or like a king.
Like a wedge in a block, wring to the barre,
Bearing like asses, and more shameless farre
Than carted whores, lye to the grave judge; for
Bastardy abounds not in king's titles, nor
Simony and sodomy in churchmen's lives,
As these things do in him; by these he thrives.
Shortly (as th' sea) he'll compass all the land,
From Scots to Wight, from Mount to Dover strand.
And spying heirs melting with luxury,
Satan will not joy at their sins as he;