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Of this new portico condemns the face,
And turns the entrance to a better place;
Designs the stair-cafe at the other end,
His friend approves, does for his mason fend.
He comes; the doctor's arguments prevail.
In fhort, to finish this our humorous tale,
He Galen's dangerous fcience does reject,
And from ill doctor turns good architect.
In this example we may have our part:
Rather be mason, 'tis a useful art!
Than a dull poet; for that trade accurft,
Admits no mean betwixt the best and worst.
In other fciences, without difgrace,
A candidate may fill a fecond place;
But poetry no medium can admit,
No reader fuffers an indifferent wit:
The ruin'd stationers against him baul,
And Herringman degades him from his stall,
Burlesque, at leaft our laughter may excite :
But a cold writer never can delight.
The 2 Counter-Scuffle has more wit and art
Than the stiff formal ftyle of Gondibert.
Be not affected with that empty praise
Which your vain flatterers will fometimes raise,
And when you read, with ecftafy will fay,
“The finish'd piece! the admirable play!"
Which, when expos'd to cenfure and to light,
Cannot endure a critick's piercing fight.
A hundred authors fates have been foretold,
And Shadwell's works are printed, but not fold.
Hear all the world; confider every thought;
A fool by chance may ftumble on a fault :
Yet, when Apollo does your muse inspire,
Be not impatient to expofe your fire;
2 A poem written in doggrel verfe. See Dryden's Mifcellanies, Vol. III. page 32, printed in 1727.
Nor imitate the Settles of our times,
Thofe tuneful readers of their own dull rhimes.
Who feize on all th' acquaintance they can meet,
And stop the passengers that walk the street;
There is no fanctuary you can chufe
For a defence from their pursuing mufe.
I've faid before, be patient when they blame;
To alter for the better is no shame.
Yet yield not to a fool's impertinence:
Sometimes conceited feeptics void of fenfe,
By their falfe tafte condemn fome finish'd part,
And blame the nobleft flights of wit and art,
In vain their fond opinions you deride,
With their lov'd follies they are fatisfy'd;
And their weak judgment, void of fense and light,
Thinks nothing can escape their feeble fight:
Their dangerous counfels do not cure, but wound;
To fhun the ftorm they run your verse aground,
And thinking to escape a rock, are drown'd.
Chufe a fure judge to cenfure what you write,
Whofe reafon leads, and knowledge gives you light,
Whofe fteady hand will prove your faithful guide,
And touch the darling follies you would hide;
He, in your doubts, will carefully advife,
And clear the mift before your feeble eyes.
"Tis he will tell you, to what noble height
A generous mufe may fometimes take her flight;
When too much fetter'd with the rules of art,
May from her ftricter bounds and limits part:
But fuch a perfect judge is hard to fee,
And every rhimer knows not poetry;
Nay fome there are for writing verfe extoll'd,
Who know not Lucan's drofs from Virgil's gold,
Would you in this great art acquire renown?
Authors obferve the rules I here lay down.
In prudent leffons every where abound;
With pleasant join the useful and the found:
A fober reader a vain tale will flight;
He feeks as well inftruction as delight.
Let all your thoughts to virtue be confin'd,
Still offering nobler figures to our mind:
I like not those loose writers, who employ
Their guilty mufe, good manners to deftroy;
Who with falfe colours ftill deceive our eyes,
And show us vice drefs'd in a fair disguise.
Yet do I not their fullen mufe approve,
Who from all modeft writings banish love;
That ftript the play-house of its chief intrigue,
And make a murderer of Roderigue:
The lighteft love, if decently expreft,
Will raise no vitious motions in our breast.
Dido in vain may weep, and ask relief;
I blame her folly, whilft I fhare her grief.
A virtuous author, in his charming art,
To please the fense needs not corrupt the heart:
His heat will never cause a guilty fire:
To follow virtue then be your defire,
In vain your art and vigour are expreft;
The obfcene expreffion fhows the infected breast.
But above all bafe jealoufies avoid,
In which detracting poets are employ'd,
A noble wit dares liberally commend ;
And fcorns to grudge at his deferving friend.
Bafe rivals, who true wit and merit hate,
Caballing ftill against it with the great,
Maliciously afpire to gain renown,
By standing up, and pulling others down.
Never debase yourself by treacherous ways,
Nor by fuch abje&t methods feek for praise :
Let not your only bufinefs be to write;
Be virtuous, juft, and in your friends delight.
'Tis not enough your poems be admir'd;
But ftrive your converfation be defir'd:
Write for immortal fame; nor ever chufe
Gold for the object of a generous muse,
I know a noble wit may, without crime,
Receive a lawful tribute for his time:
Yet I abhor those writers, who despise
Their honour; and alone their profits prize;
Who their Apollo bafely will degrade,
And of a noble fcience make a trade.
Before kind reafon did her light difplay,
And government taught mortals to obey,
Men, like wild beasts, did nature's laws pursue,
They fed on herbs, and drink from rivers drew;
Their brutal force, on luft and rapine bent,
Committed murder without punishment:
Reafon at last by her all-conquering arts,
Reduc'd these favages, and tun'd their hearts;
Mankind from bogs, and woods, and caverns calls,
And towns and cities fortifies with walls:
Thus fear of juftice made proud rapine cease,
And shelter'd innocence by laws and peace.
Thefe benefits from poets we receiv'd,
From whence are rais'd thofe fictions fince believ'd,
That Orpheus, by his foft harmonious ftrains,
Tam'd the fierce tigers of the Thracian plains;
Amphion's notes, by their melodious powers,
Drew rocks and woods, and rais'd the Theban tow'rs:
Thefe miracles from numbers did arife:
Since which, in verse heaven taught his mysteries,
And by a prieft, poffefs'd with rage divine,
Apollo fpoke from his prophetick fhrine,
Soon after Homer the old heroes prais'd,
And noble minds by great examples rais'd;
Then Hefiod did his Grecian fwains incline
To till the fields, and prune the bounteous vine,
Thus useful rules were by the poets aid,
In eafy numbers to rude men convey'd,
And pleasingly their precepts did impart ;
First charm'd the ear, and then engag'd the heart:
The mufes thus their reputation rais'd,
And with juft gratitude in Greece were prais'd.
With pleasure mortals did their wonders fee,
And facrific'd to their divinity;
But want, at laft, bafe flattery entertain'd,
And old Parnaffus with this vice was ftain'd:
Defire of gain dazzling the poets eyes,
Their works were fill'd with fulfome flatteries.
Thus needy wits a vile revenue made,
And verfe became a mercenary trade.
Debafe not with fo mean a vice thy art:
If gold must be the idol of thy heart,
Fly, fly th' unfruitful Heliconian strand,
Thofe ftreams are not inrich'd with golden fand:
Great wits, as well as warriors, only gain
Laurels and honours for their toil and pain:
But what? an author cannot live on fame,
Or pay a reckoning with a lofty name:
A poct to whom fortune is unkind,
Who when he goes to bed has hardly din'd;
Takes little pleasure in Parnaffus' dreams,
Or relishes the Heliconian ftreams.
Horace had eafe and plenty when he writ,
And free from cares for money or for meat,
Did not expect his dinner from his wit.
'Tis true; but verfe is cherish'd by the great,
And now none famifh who deferve to eat:
What can we fear, when virtue, arts, and fense,
Receive the stars propitious influence;
When a fharp-fighted prince, by early grants
Rewards your merits, and prevents your wants?
Sing then his glory, celebrate his fame;
Your nobleft theme is his immortal name.
Let mighty Spenfer raife his reverend head,
Cowley and Denham ftart up from the dead;