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Few are my joys; alas! how soon forgot!
On that kind quarter thou invad'st me not:
While sharp and numberless my sorrows fall;
Yet thou repeat'st, and multiply'st 'em all !
Is chance a guilt? that my disastrous heart,
For mischief never meant, must ever smart?
Can self-defence be sin —Ah, plead no more 1
What though no purpos'd malice stain'd thee o'er?
Had Heav'n befriended thy unhappy side,
Thou hadst not been provok'd—or thou hadst died.
Far be the guilt of home-shed blood, from all
On whom, unsought, embroiling dangers fall !
Still the pale dead revives, and lives to me,
To me! through Pity's eye condemn'd to see.
Remembrance veils his rage, but swells his fate;
Griev'd I forgive, and am grown cool too late;
Young and unthoughtful then, who knows one day
What ripening virtues might have made their way !
He might have liv'd, till folly died in shame,
Till kindling wisdom felt a thirst for fame:
He might perhaps his country's friend have prov’d;
Both happy, generous, candid, and belov'd :
He might have sav'd some worth, now doom'd to
fall ; -
And I, perchance, in him, have murder'd all.
O fate of late repentance always vain:
Thy remedies but lull undying pain.
Where shall my hope find rest?—no Mother's care
Shielded my infant innocence with pray’r:
No Father's guardian hand my youth maintain'd,
Call'd forth my virtues, or from vice restrain'd.
Is it not thine to snatch some powerful arm,
First to advance, then skreen from future harm 2
I am return'd from death, to live in pain
Or would Imperial Pity save in vain
Distrust it not—What blame can Mercy find,
Which gives at once a life, and rears a mind?
Mother, miscall'd, farewell—of soul severe,
This sad reflection yet may force one tear:
All I was wretched by, to you I ow’d,
Alone from strangers every comfort flow'd?
Lost to the life you gave, your Son no more,
And now adopted, who was doom'd before,
New-born, I may a nobler Mother claim,
But dare not whisper her immortal name;
Supremely lovely, and serenely great!
Majestic Mother of a kneeling state:
Queen of a People's heart, who ne'er before
Agreed-yet now with one consent adore 1
One contest yet remains in this desire,
Who most shall give applause, where all admire.
A* human race would fain be wits, And millions miss for one that hits: Young's universal passion, pride, Was never known to spread so wide. Say, Britain could you ever boast Three poets in an age at most 2 Our chilling climate hardly bears A sprig of bays in fifty years, While every fool his claim alleges, As if it grew in common hedges. What reason can there be assign'd For this perverseness in the mind 2 Brutes find out where their talents lie: A bear will not attempt to fly; A founder'd horse will oft debate Before he tries a five-barr'd gate; A dog by instinct turns aside, Who sees the ditch too deep and wide; But man we find the only creature Who, led by folly, combats Nature; Who, when she loudly cries “Forbear,' With obstinacy fixes there, And where his genius least inclines, Absurdly bends his whole designs. Not empire to the rising sun By valour, conduct, fortune, won; Not highest wisdom in debates For framing laws to govern states; Not skill in sciences profound, So large to grasp the circle round, Such heavenly influence require As how to strike the Muse's lyre.
Not beggar's brat on bulk begot;
Not bastard of a pedlar Scot;
Not boy brought up to cleaning shoes,
The spawn of Bridewell or the stews;
Not infants dropt, the spurious pledges
Of gipsies littering under hedges,
Are so disqualified by fate
To rise in church, or law, or state,
As he whom Phoebus in his ire
Hath blasted with poetic fire. -
What hope of custom in the fair,
While not a soul demands your ware 2
Where you have nothing to produce
For private life or public use 2
Court, city, country, want you not;
You cannot bribe, betray, or plot.
For poets law makes no provision;
The wealthy have you in derision :
Of state-affairs you cannot smatter;
Are awkward when you try to flatter:
Your portion, taking Britain round,
Was just one annual hundred pound";
Now nor so much as in remainder
- Since Cibber brought in an attainder;
For ever fix’d by right divine
(A monarch's right) on Grub-street line. -
Poor starveling bard how small thy gainst
How unproportion'd to thy pains!
And here a simile comes pat in ;
Though chickens take a month to fatten,
The guests in less than half an hour
Will more than half a score devour.
So after toiling twenty days
To earn a stock of pence and praise,
Thy labours, grown the critic's prey,
Are swallow'd o'er a dish of tea;
Gone, to be never heard of more,
Gone, where the chickens went before.
* Paid to the Poet-laureat, which place was giv Mr. Colley Cibber, a player.” p given to
How shall a new attempter learn Of different spirits to discern ? And how distinguish which is which, The poet's vein or scribbling itch?' Then hear an old experienc'd sinner Instructing thus a young beginner. Consult yourself, and if you find A powerful impulse urge your mind, Impartial judge within your breast What subject you can manage best; Whether your genius most inclines To satire, praise, or humorous lines; To elegies in mournful tone, Or prologue sent from hand unknown; Then rising with Aurora's light, The Muse invok'd, sit down to write; Blot out, correct, insert, refine, Enlarge, diminish, interline; Be mindful, when invention fails, To scratch your head and bite your nails. Your poem finish'd, next your care Is needful to transcribe it fair: In modern wit all printed trash is Set off with numerous breaks—and dashes.— To statesmen would you give a wipe, You print it in Italic type: When letters are in vulgar shapes, *Tis ten to one the wit escapes; But when in Capitals exprest, The dullest reader smokes the jest ; Or else perhaps he may invent A better than the poet meant, As learned commentators view In Homer, more than Homer knew. Your poem in its modish dress, Correctly fitted for the press, Convey by penny-post to Lintot, But let no friend alive look into't. If Lintot thinks 'twill quit the cost,
You need not fear your labour lost;
Wol, I, S