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My noddle with erudite lore arm'd quite thorough,
Who, staunch as their itch, send each Author to pot,
(a) There is no need to cross the Tweed in order to prove the illiberality of the reviewers of literature, as the metropolis of England teems every month with specimens of the grossest injustice, couched under assurances of the most scrupulous disin terestedness on the part of the editors, who are biassed by public opinion; not to lay any stress upon private pique, which has too frequently instigated their proceedings. One instance, however, the writer has to record, as coming directly under his cognizance, of a literary character, who, while in the practice of affixing his name to the title-page of his productions, was uniformly handled in the most illiberal manner; whereas, no sooner had he adopted the expedient of annexing a false signature, than several of these conscientious censors of literature, who would not have allowed this author the smallest share of praise had his name been rendered public, were themselves the most conspicuous in blazoning forth his productions, as being characterised by every requisite that could render them worthy the patrouage of the public.
The fine vellum, wire-wove, broad margin, hot
With Bulmer and Ballantine's types choicely
Not plates with vignettes can my acumen blind,
And make me commend where I cannot trace
So if Smithfield's Long Lane e'er should pathos
I'd praise whity-brown, and consign to a use
Which here can't be mention'd the hot-press'd that
Of title and fortune the dull leaden lore.
I envy no talent in poor or in great,
I laud or condemn void of spleen or of hate ;
For genius I search, truly fir'd in the cause,
And merit, when found, shall ensure my applause;
While upstarts, that dare load the press with their
Shall taste of Sir Noodle O'Scribble the lash.
And faith there's of Authors so many found tripping, Where one merits praise, ninety-nine deserve whipping; (b)
(b) Notwithstanding the correctness of the above assertion, it is hoped that no young bard will despair of arriving at the summit of Parnassus, be his dawning effusions what they may, when it is remembered that the great Jonathan Swift made his debut in the literary world by one of the most wretched odes that could disgrace the votaries of Grub-street: for the truth of which assertion let the following extracts stand recorded.
"The first of plants, after the thunder-storm and rain,
And thence, with joyful, nimble wing,
Flew dutifully back again."
"Who by that, vainly talks of baffling death,
And hopes to lessen life by a transfusion of breath?"
"And seem almost transform'd to water, flame, and air, So well you answer all phenomenas there."
If any thing, however, could contribute to the disgrace of
So each back of offender my weapon assails
Will doubtless exclaim, 'tis a cat with nine tails;
They deserve to be laugh'd at as donkeys that bray:
Who now ends his comment with counsel that's
Let men learn to read ere they venture to write.
Poeta, says Ovid, is born and Non fit. (c)
writing such a poem, it is the folly of having addressed it, with a very silly introductory letter, to the writers of the Athenian Oracle; a set of people whose conceit in offering to answer all questions, ignorance in giving solutions, and credulity in listening to the grossest falsehoods, is rendered conspicuous throughout the work in question. At the period when the above mentioned ode was written, Swift had attained the age of twentyfour.
(c) The following quotation, from a modern author, is inserted, as peculiarly applicable to the above line;
As the grand Mart that issues most trash that
Is close to the Temple of Pray'r, fam'd Saint Paul's;
"To ye, all Authors' known propellers,
These are your glories, volume venders,
My literary trash defenders,
So calculated to dissect,
And knock down stable intellect;