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O fay, this Comedy pleas'd long ago,
Is not enough to make it pass you now, Yet, gentlemen, your ancestors had wit; When few men censur'd, and when fewer writ. And Jonson, of those few the best, chose this, As the best model of his master-piece: Subtle was got by our Albumazar, That Alchymift by this Aftrologer ; Here he was fashion'd, and we may suppose · He lik'd the fashion well, who wore the clothes, But Ben made nobly his what he did mould ; What was another's lead, becomes his gold : Like an unrighteous conqueror he reigns, Yet rules that well, which he unjustly gains. By this our age such authors does afford, As make whole plays, and yet scarce write one word: Who, in his anarchy of wit, rob all, And what's their plunder, their possession call : Who, like bold padders, scorn by night to prey, But rob by sun-shine, in the face of day: Nay scarce the common ceremony use Of, Stand, Sir, and deliver up your Muse; But knock the Poet down, and, with a grace, Mount Pegasus before the owner's face. Faith, if you have such country Toms abroad, 'Tis time for all true men to leave that road. Yet it were modest, could it but be said, They strip the living, but these rob the dead; I An old play from which Ben Jonson took the hint of his Alchymist.
Dare with the mummies of the Muses play,
And make love to them the Ægyptian way;
Or, as a rhiming author would have said,
Join the dead living to the living dead.
Such men in Poetry may claim fome part :
They have the license, tho' they want the art;
And might, where theft was prais'd, for Laureats stand,
Poers, not of the head, but of the hand.
They make the benefits of others liudying,
Much like the meals of politic Jack-Pudding,
Whose dish to challenge no man has the courage ;
'Tis all his own, when once he has spit i'th' porridge.
But, gentlemen, you're all concern'd in this;
You are in fault for what they do amiss :
For they their thefts still undiscover'd think,
And durft not steal, unless you please to wink.
Perhaps, you may award by your decree,
They should refund; but that can never be.
For should you letters of reprisal seal,
These men write that which no man else would steal.
OU law our wife was chaste, yet throughly try'd
And, without doubt, y'are hugely edify'd;
For, like our hero, whom we shew'd to-day,
You think no woman true, but in a play.
Love once did make a pretty kind of show :
Esteem and kindness in one breast would
But 'twas Heav'n knows how many years ago.
Now some small chat, and guinea expectation,
Gets all the pretty creatures in the nation:
In Comedy your little selves you meet;
Tis Convent Garden drawn in Bridges-street.
Smile on our author then, if he has shown
A jolly nut-brown bastard of your own.
Ah! happy you, with ease and with delight,
Who act those follies, Poets toil to write!
The sweating Muse does almost leave the chace;
She puffs, and hardly keeps your Protean vices pace,
but in one vice, away you fly
To some new frisk of contrariety.
You rowl like snow-balls, gathering as you run,
And get seven devils, when dispoffess'd of one.
Your Venus once was a Platonic queen;
Nothing of love beside the face was seen;
inch of her you now uncafe,
And clap a vizard-mask upon the face,
For fins like these, the zealous of the land,
With little hair, and little or no band,
Declare how circulating peftilences
Watch, every twenty years, to snap offences,
Saturn, e’en now, takes doctoral degrees;
He'll do your work this summer without fees,
Let all the boxes, Phæbus, find thy grace,
And, ah, preserve the eighteen-penny place!
But for the pit confounders, let 'em go,
And find as little mercy as they show:
The Actors thus, and thus thy Poets pray;
For ev'ry critic fav’d, thou damn'it a play.
[By Mr. John DRY DEN, Jun', 1696.]
IKE some raw fophifter that mounts the pulpit,
So trembles a young Poet at a full pit.
Unus’d to crowds, the Parson quakes for fear,
And wonders how the devil he durst come there;
Wanting three talents needful for the place,
Some beard, some learning, and some little grace :
Nor is the puny Poet void of care;
For authors, such as our new authors are,
Have not much learning, nor much wit to spare:
And as for grace, to tell the truth, there's scarce one,
But has as little as the very Paríon :
Both say, they preach and write for your instruction:
But 'tis for a third day, and for induction.
The difference is, that tho' you like the play,
The Poet's gain is ne'er beyond his day.
But with the Parson 'tis another case,
He, without holiness, may rise to grace ;
The Poet has one disadvantage more,
That if his play be dull, he's damn'd all o'er,
Not only a damn’d blockhead, but damn'd poor,
But dulness well becomes the fable garment;
I warrant that ne'er spoil'd a Priest's preferment:
Wit's not his business, and as wit now goes,
Sirs, 'tis not so much yours as you suppole,
you like nothing now but nauseous beaux.
You laugh not, gallants, as by proof appears,
At what his beauship says, but what he wears ;
So 'tis your eyes are tickled, not your ears :
The taylor and the furrier find the stuff,
The wit lies in the dress, and monstrous muff.
The truth' on't is, the payment of the pit
Is like for like, clipt money for clipt wit.
You cannot from our absent author hope.
He should equip the stage with such a fop:
Fools change in England, and new fools arise,
For tho' the immortal species never dies,
Yet ev'ry year new maggots make new flies.
But where he lives abroad, he scarce can find
One fool, for million that he left behind.
[By B E AU MONT and FLETCHER.]
Revived for our Author's Benefit, Anno 1700.
OW wretched is the fate of those who write !
Brought muzzled to the stage, for fear they bite. Where, like Tom Dove, they stand the common foe; Lugg’d by the critic, baited by the beau. Yet worse, their brother Poets damn the play, And roar the loudest, tho' they never pay. The fops are proud of scandal, for they cry, At every lewd, low character,- - That's I. He, who writes letters to himself, would swear, The world forgot him, if he was not there. What should a Poet do? 'Tis hard for one To pleasure all the fools that wou'd be shown: And yet not two in ten will pass the town.