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And wand'ring in the wilderness about,
At end of forty years not wear her out.
But when you see these pictures, let none dare
To own beyond a limb or single share:
For where the punk is common, he's a sot,
Who needs will father what the parish got.
H' unhappy man, who once has trail'd a
Lives not to please himself, but other men;
Is always drudging, wastes his life and blood,
Yet only eats and drinks what you think good.
What praise foe'er the poetry deserve,
Yet ev'ry fool can bid the poet
That fumbling letcher to revenge is bent,
Because he thinks himself or whore is meant :
Name but a cuckold, all the city swarms;
From Leadenhall to Ludgate is in arms:
Were there no fear of Antichrist or France,
In the blest time poor poets live by chance.
Either you come not here, or, as you grace
Some old acquaintance, drop into the place,
Careless and qualmish with a yawning face:
You sleep o'er wit, and by my troth you may ;
Most of your talents lie another way.
You love to hear of some prodigious tale,
The bell that toli'd alone, or Irish whale.
News is your food, and you enough provide,
Both for yourselves, and all the world beside.
One theatre there is of vast resort,
Which whilome of Requests was called the Court;.
But now the great Exchange of News 'tis hight,
And full of hum and buz from noon 'till night.
Up stairs and down you run, as for a race,
And each man wears three nations in his face.
So big you look, tho'claret you retrench,
That, arm’d with bottled ale, you huff the French.
But all your entertainment ftill is fed
By villains in your own dull island bred.
Would you return to us, we dare engage
rogues upon the stage.
You know no poison but plain ratsbane here;
Death's more refin'd, and better bred elsewhere.
They have a civil way in Italy
By smelling a perfume to make you die;
A trick would make you lay your snuff-box by.
's a trade, so known and practis’d there,
That 'tis infallible as is the chair.
But, mark their feast, you shall behoid such pranks;
The pope says grace, but 'tis the devil gives thanks.
HESPIST, the first professor of our art,
At country wakes, sung ballads from a cart.
To prove this true, if Latin be no trespass,
Dicitur & plaustris vexiffe Poemata Thespis.
But Æschylus, says Horace in some page,
Was the first mountebank that trod the stage:
Yet Athens never knew your learned sport
Of tosling poets in a tennis-court.
But 'tis the talent of our English nation.
Still to be plotting some new reformation:
And few years hence, if anarchy goes on,
Jack Presbyter shall here erect his throne,
Knock out a tub with preaching once a day,
And ev'ry prayer be longer than a play.
Then all your heathen wits shall go to pot,
For disbelieving of a Popish-plot:
Your poets shall be us'd like infidels,
And worst the author of the Oxford bells:
Nor should we 'scape the sentence, to depart,
E’en in our first original, a cart.
No zealous brother there would want a stone,
To maul us cardinals, and pelt pope Joan:
Religion, learning, wit, would be supprest,
Rags of the whore, and trappings of the beast :
Scot, Suarez, Tom of Aquin, must go down,
As chief supporters of the triple crown ;
And Aristotle's for destruction ripe;
Some fay, he call’d the soul an organ-pipe,
Which, by some little help of derivation,
Shall then be prov'd a pipe of inspiration.
In that which reasonable men should write;
To them alone we dedicate this night.
The rest may satisfy their curious itch
With city-gazettes, or some factious speech,
Or whate'er libel, for the public good,
Stirs up the shrove-tide crew to fire and blood.
Remove your benches, you apoftate pit,
And take, above, twelve pennyworth of wit;
Go back to your dear dancing on the rope,
Or fee what's worse, the devil and the
pope. The plays that take on our corrupted stage, Methinks, resemble the distracted age;
Noise, madness, all unreasonable things,
That strike at sense, as rebels do at kings.
The style of forty-one our poets write,
And you are grown to judge like forty-eight.
Such censures our mistaking audience make,
That 'tis almost grown scandalous to take:
They talk of fevers that infect the brains;
But nonsense is the new disease that reigns.
Weak ftomachs, with a long disease oppreft,
Cannot the cordials of strong wit digeft.
Therefore thin nourishment of farce ye
Decoctions of a barley-water muse:
A meal of tragedy would make ye fick,
Unless it were a very tender chick.
Some scenes in sippets would be worth our time;
Those would go down; some love that's poach'd ist
If these should fail
We must lie down, and, after all our cost,
Keep holiday, like watermen in frost;
While you turn players on the world's great stage,
And act yourselves the farce of your own age.