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And to all future mankind show

How strange a paradox is true,
That men who lived and died without a name
Are the chief heroes in the sacred lists of fame.

TO MR. CONGREVE.

Written in November, 1693.
THRICE, with a prophet's voice and prophet's power,
The muse was called in a poetic hour,
And insolently thrice the slighted maid
Dared to suspend her unregarded aid;
Then, with that grief we form in spirits divine,
Pleads for her own neglect, and thus reproaches mine.

Once highly honored ! false is the pretence
You make to truth, retreat, and innocence!
Who, to pollute my shades, bring'st with thee down
The most ungenerous vices of the town;
Ne'er sprung a youth from out this isle before
I once esteem’d, and loved, and favor'd more,
Nor ever maid endured such courtlike scorn,
So much in mode, so very city-born;
'Tis with a foul design the muse you send,
Like a cast mistress, to your wicked friend;
But find some new address, some fresh deceit,
Nor practice such an antiquated cheat;
These are the beaten methods of the stews,
Stale forms, of course, all mean deceivers use,
Who barbarously think to 'scape reproach,
By prostituting her they first debauch.

Thus did the muse severe unkindly blame
This offering long design'd to Congrere's fame;
First chid the zeal as unpoetic fire,
Which soon his merit forced her to inspire;
Then call this verse, that speaks her largest aid,
The greatest compliment she ever made,
And wisely judge, no power beneath divine
Could leap the bounds which part your world and mine;

For, youth, believe, to you unseen, is fix'd A mighty gulf, unpassable betwixt,

Nor tax the goddess of a mean design
To praise your parts by publishing of mine ;
That be my thought when some large bulky writ
Shows in the front the ambition of my wit;
There to surmount what bears me up, and sing
Like the victorious wren perch'd on the eagle's wing;
This could I do, and proudly o'er him tower,
Were my desires but heighten’d to my power.

Godlike the force of my young Congreve's bays,
Softening the Muse's thunder into praise;
Sent to assist an old unvanquish'd pride

A pride that well suspends poor mortals' fate,
Gets between them and my resentment's weight.
Stands in the gap 'twixt me and wretched men,
Tavert th' impending judgments of my pen.

Thus I look down with mercy on the age,
By hopes my Congreve will reform the stage:
For never did poetic mind before
Produce a richer vein, or cleaner ore;
The bullion stamp'd in your refining mind
Serves by retail to furnish balf mankind.
With indignation I behold your wit
Forced on me, crack’d, and clipp'd, and counterfeit,
By vile pretenders, who a stock maintain
From broken scraps and filings of your brain.
Through native dross your share is hardly known,
And by short views mistook for all their own;
So small the gain those from your wit do reap,
Who blend it into folly's larger heap,
Like the gun's scatter'd beams which loosely pass,
When some rough hand breaks the assembling glass.

Yet want your critics no just cause to rail, Since knaves are ne'er obliged for what they steal. These pad on wit's high road, and suits maintain With those they rob, by what their trade does gain Thus censure seems that fiery froth which breeds O'er the sun's face, and from his heat proceeds, Crusts o'er the day, shadowing its partent beam, Ay ancient nature's modern masters dream; This bids some curious praters here below Call Titan sick, because their sight is so; And well, methinks, does this allusion fit To scribblers and the god of light and wit; Those who by wild delusions entertain A lust of rhyming for a poet's vein, Raise envy's clouds to leave themselves in night, But can no more obscure my Congreve's light Than swarms of gnats, that wanton in a ray Which gave them birth, can rob the world of day.

What northern hive pour'd out these foes to wit? Whence came these Goths to overrun the pit? How would you blush the shameful birth to hear Of those you so ignobly stoop to fear; For, ill to them, long have I travell’d since, Round all the circles of impertinence, Search'd in the nest where every worm did lie Before it grew a city batteriy; I'm sure I found them other kind of things Than those with backs of silk and golden wings; A search, no doubt, as curious and as wise As virtuosoes' in dissecting flies : For, could you think? the fiercest fves you dread, And court in prologues, all are country bred; Bred in my scene, and for the poet's sins

Those beds of dung, where schoolboys sprout up beaus
Far sooner than the nobler mushroom grows:
These are the lords of the poetic schools,
Who preach the saucy pedantry of rules ;
Those pow'rs the critics, who may boast the odds
Oe'r Nile, with all its wilderness of gods;
Nor could the nations kneel to viler shapes,
Which worshipp'd cats and sacrificed to apes;
And can you think the wise forbear to laugh
At the warm zeal that breeds this golden calf?

Haply you judge these lines severely writ
Against the proud usurpers of the pit;
Stay while I tell my story, short and true;
To draw conclusions shall be left to you;
Nor need I ramble far to force a rule,
But lay the scene just here at Farnham school.

Last year a lad hence by his parents sent
With other cattle to the city went;
Where having cast his coat, and well pursued
The methods most in fashion to be lewd,
Return’d a finish'd spark this summer down,
Stock’d with the freshest gibberish of the town;
A jargon furm'd from the lost language, wit,
Confounded in that Babel of the pit;
Form’d by diseased conceptions, weak and wild,
Sick lust of souls, and an abortive child;
Born between whores and fops, by lewd compacts,
Before the play, or else between the acts;
Nor wonder, if from such polluted minds
Should spring such short and transitory kinds,
Or crazy rules to make us wits by rote,
Last just as long as ev'ry cuckoo's note:
What bungling, rusty tools, are used by fate!
'Twas in an evil hour to urge my hate,
My hate, whose lash just Ileaven has long decreed
Shall on a day make sin and folly bleed:
When man's ill genius to my presence sent
This wretch, to rouse my wrath, for ruin meant;
Who in his idiom vile, with Gray’s-inn grace,
Squander'd his noisy talents to my face;
Named every player on his fingers' ends,
Swore all the wits were his peculiar friends;
Talk'd with that saucy and familiar ease
Of Wycherly, and you, and Mr. Bays;
Said, how a late report your friends had ver’d,
Who heard you meant to write heroics next;
For, tragedy, he knew, would lose you quite,
And told you so at Will's but t'other night.

Thus are the lives of fools a sort of dreams,
Rend'ring shades things, and substances of names;
Such high companions may delusion keep,

Lords are a footboy's cronies in his sleep.

A pride that well suspends poor mortals' fate,
Gets between them and my resentment's weight.
Stands in the gap 'twixt mo and wretched men,
Tavert th' impending judgments of my pen.

Thus I look down with mercy on the age,
By hopes my Congreve will reform the stage:
For never did poetic mind before
Produce a richer vein, or cleaner ore;
The bullion stamp'd in your refining mind
Serves by retail to furnish half mankind.
With indignation I behold your wit
Forced on me, crack'd, and clipp'd, and counterfeit,
By vile pretenders, who a stock maintain
From broken scraps and filings of your brain.
Through native dross your share is hardly known,
And by short views mistook for all their own;
So small the gain those from your wit do reap,
Who blend it into folly's larger heap,
Like the sun's scatter'd beams which loosely pass,
When some rough hand breaks the assembling glass.

Yet want your critics no just cause to rail, Since knaves are ne'er obliged for what they steal. These pad on wit's high road, and suits maintain With those they rob, by what their trade does gain Thus censure seems that fiery froth which breeds O'er the sun's face, and from his heat proceeds, Crusts o'er the day, shadowing its partent beam, Ay ancient nature's modern masters dream ; This bids some curious praters here below Call Titan sick, because their sight is so; And well, methinks, does this allusion fit To scribblers and. the god of light and wit; Those who by wild delusions entertain A lust of rhyming for a poet's vein, Raise envy's clouds to leave themselves in night, But can no more obscure my Congreve's light Than swarms of gnats, that wanton in a ray Which gave them birth, can rob the world of day.

What northern hive pour’d out these foes to wit? Whence came these Goths to overrun the pit? How would you blush the shameful birth to hear Of those you so ignobly stoop to fear; For, ill to them, long have I travell’d since, Round all the circles of impertinence, Search'd in the nest where every worm did lie Before it grew a city butterfly; I'm sure I found them other kind of things Than those with backs of silk and golden wings; A search, no doubt, as curious and as wise As virtuosoes' in dissecting flies : For, could you think? the fiercest fves you dread, And court in prologues, all are country bred; Bred in my scene, and for the poet's sins

Those beds of dung, where schoolboys sprout up beaux
Far sooner than the nobler mushroom grows:
These are the lords of the poetic schools,
Who preach the saucy pedantry of rules ;
Those pow’rs the critics, who may boast the odds
Oe'r Nile, with all its wilderness of gods;
Nor could the nations kneel to viler shapes,
Which worshipp'd cats and sacrificed to apes;
And can you think the wise forbear to laugh
At the warm zeal that breeds this golden calf?

Haply you judge these lines severely writ
Against the proud usurpers of the pit;
Stay while I tell my story, short and true;
To draw conclusions shall be left to you;
Nor need I ramble far to force a rule,
But lay the scene just here at Farnham school.

Last year a lad hence by his parents sent
With other cattle to the city went;
Where having cast his coat, and well pursued
The methods most in fashion to be lewd,
Return’d a finish'd spark this summer down,
Stock’d with the freshest gibberish of the town;
A jargon form’d from the lost language, wit,
Confounded in that Babel of the pit;
Form’d by diseased conceptions, weak and wild,
Sick lust of souls, and an abortive child ;
Born between whores and fops, by lewd compacts,
Before the play, or else between the acts;
Nor wonder, if from such polluted minds
Should spring such short and transitory kinds,
Or crazy rules to make us wits by rote,
Last just as long as ev'ry cuckoo's note:
What bungling, rusty tools, are used by fate!
'Twas in an evil hour to urge my hate,
My hate, whose lash just Ileaven has long decreed
Shall on a day make sin and folly bleed:
When man's ill genius to my presence sent
This wretch, to rouse my wrath, for ruin meant;
Who in his idiom vile, with Gray’s-inn grace,
Squander'd his noisy talents to my face;
Named every player on his fingers' ends,
Swore all the wits were his peculiar friends ;
Talk'd with that saucy and familiar ease
Of Wycherly, and you, and Mr. Bays;
Said, how a late report your friends had ver'd,
Who heard you meant to write heroics next;
For, tragedy, he knew, would lose you quite,
And told you so at Will's but t’other night.

Thus are the lives of fools a sort of dreams,
Rend'ring shades things, and substances of names ;
Such high companions may delusion keep,

Lords are a footboy's cronies in his sleep.

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