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BOOK IV. ODE IX.
Lest you should think that verse shall die
Winch sounds the silver Thames along,
Taught on the wings of truth to fly
Above the reach of vulgar soug;
Though daring Milton sits sublime, 5
In Spenser native Muses play; Nor yet shall Waller yield to time,
Nor pensive Cowley's moral lay—
Sages and chiefs long since had birth
Ere C;esar was or Newton nam'd; 10
These rais'd new empires o'er the earth,
And those new heav'ns and iystems fram'd.
Vain was the chief's, the sage's pride!
They had no poet, and they died.
In vain they schem'd, in vain they bled! li
They had no poet, and are dead.
DR. JOHN DONNE,
DEAN OF ST. PAUL'S,
©uid vetat et nosmet Lucili scripU legentes
Quicrere, num illius, Bum rerum dura negarifc
Versiculos natura magis fattos, et euntes
Yes, thank my stars ! as early as 1 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, i
As who knows Sappho, smiles at other whores.
I grant that poetry's a crying sin;
It brought no doubt tli' excise and army in:
Catch'd like the plague, or love, the Lord knows how,
But that the cure is starving all allow. 10
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, If
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. 20
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: 26
Those write because all write, and so have still
Excuse for writing, and for writing ill.
Wretched indce-1! but far uiore wretched vet
Is he who makes his meal on pihers' wit: 30
Tis chaug'd, no doubt, from what it was before;
His rank digestion makes it wit no more:
Sense pass'd through him no longer is the same;
For food digested takes another name.
I pass o'er all those confessors and martyrs, 3S
Who live like S—tt—n, or who die like Chartres.
Outcant old Esdras, or outdrink his heir,
Out-usure Jews, or Irishmen out-swear;
Wicked as pages, who in early years
Act sins which Prisca's confessor scarce hears. 40
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, 45
Whom crimes gave wealth, and wealth gave impu-
Time, that at last matures a clap to p—x, [dence:
Whose gentle progress makes a calf an os,
And brings all natural events to pass,
Hath made him an attorney of an ass. SO
No young divine, new benefie'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 lab'rinth of a lady's ear 53
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 widow's hearts;
Call himself barrister to ev'ry wench, »
And woo in language of the Pleas and Bench? 60
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, (13
If Petcrdcigns to help you to your own: J:
What thanks, what praise, if Peter but supplies!
And what a solemn face if he denies!
Grave as when pris'ners shake the head, and swear
'Twos only suretyship that brought 'em there. 70
Ilis office keeps your parchment fates entire,
He starves with cold to save tliem from the fire;
For you he walks the stroets through rain or dust,
For not in chariots Peter puts his trust:
F'or you he sweats and labours at the laws, 15
Takes God to witness he affects your cause,
And lies to every lord in every thing,
Like a kind's favourite—or like a king.
These are the talents that adorn them all,
From wicked Waters ev'n to godly **. 80
Not more of simony beneath black gowns,
Nor 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, 85
From Scots to Wight, from Mount to Dover Strand:
And when rank widows purchase luscious nights,
Or when a duke to Jansen punts at White's,
Or city-heir in mortgage melts away,
Satan himself feels far less joy than they. 90
Piece-meal they win this acre first, then that,
Glean on, and gather up the whole estate;
Then strongly fencing ill-got wealth by law,
Indentures, covenants, articles they draw,
Large as the fields themselves, and larger far 95
Than civil codes, with all their glosses, are;
So vast, our new divines, we must confess,
Are fathers of the church for writing less.
But let them write, for you each rogue impairs
The deeds, and dext'rously omits ses heires: 100
No commentator can more slily pass
O'er a learn'd unintelligible place;
Or in quotation shrewd divines leave out
Those words that would against them clear the doubt.
So Luther thought the Pater-noster long, 10J
When doom'd to say his beads and even-song;
But having cast bis cowl, and left those laws,
Adds to Christ's pray'r the pou'r and glory clause.
The lands are bought; but where arc to be found Those ancient woods that shaded all the ground?
We see no new-built palaces aspire,
No kitchens emulate the vestal fire.
Where are those troops of poor, that throng'd of yore
The good old landlord's hospitable door?
Well, I could wish that still, in lordly domes, I1S
Some beasts were kill'd, though not whole heca
. tombs; That both extremes were banish'd from their walls, Carthusian fasts and fulsome bacchanals; And all mankind might that just mean observe, In which none e'er could surfeit, none could starve. These are good works, 'tis true, we'll ail allow, 121 But, oh! these works are not in fashion now: Like rich old wardrobes, things extremely rare, Extremely fine, but what no man will wear.
Thus much I've said, I trust without offence: \iS Let no court sycophant pervert my sense, Nor sly informer watch, these words to draw Within the reach of treason or the law.
Well; if it be my time to quite the stage,
Adieu to all the follies of the age!
I die in charity with fool and knave,
Secure of peace at least beyond the grave.
I've had my purgatory here betimes,
And paid for all my satires, all my rhymes:
The poet's hell, its tortures, fiends, and flames,
To this were trifles, toys, and empty names.
With foolish pride my heart was never fir'd,
Nor the vain itch t' admire or be admir'd; 1»
1 hop'd for no commission from his grace;
I bought no benefice, I begged no place;
Had no new verses nor new suit to show,
Yet went to court!—the devil would have it so.
But as the fool that in reforming days 15
Would go to mass in jest; (as story says.)
Could not but think to pay his fine was odd,
Since 'twas no form'd design of serving God,