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cannot afford to part with any thing; and such a want of virtue, as to postpone it to a jest.
Such writers encourage vice and folly, which they pretend to combat, by setting them on an equal foot with better things: and while they labour to bring every thing into contempt, how can they expect their own parts should escape ? Some French writers particularly, are guilty of this in matters of the last consequence; and some of our own. They that are for lessening the true dignity of mankind, are not sure of being successful, but with regard to one individual in it. It is this conduct that justly makes a wit a term of reproach.
Which puts me in mind of Plato's fable of the birth of love; one of the prettiest fables of all antiquity; which will hold likewise with regard to modern poetry. Love, says he, is the son of the goddess poverty, and the god of riches : he has from his father his daring genius ; his elevation of thought; his building castles in the air ; his prodigality; his neglect of things serious and useful; his vain opinion of his own merit; and his affectation of preference and distinction: from his mother he inherits his indigence, which makes him a constant beggar of favours ; that importunity with which he begs ; his flattery; his servility; his fear of being despised, which is inseparable from him. This addition may be made ; viz., that poetry, like love, is a little subject to blindness, which makes her mistake her way to preferments and honours; that she has her sa
tirical quiver; and, lastly, that she retains a dutiful admiration of her father's family; but divides her favours, and generally lives with her mother's relations.
However, this is not necessity, but choice : were wisdom her governess, she might have much more of the father than the mother; especially in such an age as this, which shows a due passion for her charms.
TO HIS GRACE THE DUKE OF DORSET
Tanto major famæ sitis est, quam
JUV. SAT. X.
My verse is satire; Dorset, lend your ear,
decline the mistress we pursue ; Others are fond of fame, but fame of
you. Instructive satire, true to virtue's cause ! Thou shining supplement of public laws ! When flatter'd crimes of a licentious age Reproach our silence, and demand our rage;
When purchas'd follies, from each distant land,
Shall poesy, like law, turn wrong to right,
each senseless wretch for nature's boast,
Why slumbers Pope, who leads the tuneful train,
Doubly distrest, what author shall we find
And sharply smile prevailing folly dead?
The love of praise, howe'er conceal’d by art,
What is not proud? The pimp is proud to see So many like himself in high degree: The whore is proud her beauties are the dread Of peevish virtue, and the marriage-bed; And the brib'd cuckold, like crown'd victims born To slaughter, glories in his gilded horn.
Some go to church, proud humbly to repent, And come back much more guilty than they went: One way they look, another way they steer, Pray to the gods, but would have mortals hear; And when their sins they set sincerely down, They'll find that their religion has been one.
Others with wishful eyes on glory look,
When they have got their picture tow'rds a book;
On glass how witty is a noble peer! Did ever diamond cost a man so dear?
Polite diseases make some idiots vain Which, if unfortunately well, they feign.
Of folly, vice, disease, men proud we see; And (stranger still !) of blockheads' flattery; Whose praise defames; as if a fool should mean, By spitting on your face, to make it clean.
Nor is't enough all hearts are swoln with pride, Her power is mighty, as her realm is wide. What can she not perform ? The love of fame Made bold Alphonsus his Creator blame : Empedocles hurl'd down the burning steep : And (stronger still !) made Alexander weep. Nay, it holds Delia from a second bed, Tho' her lov'd lord has four half months been dead.
This passion with a pimple have I seen