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Do not I know that none will frown at this,
But such as have apparent guiltiness ;
Or such as must to shame and ruin run,
As some, once aiming at my fall have done?
And can I fear those idle scare-crows then,
Those bugbear perils, those mere shades of men,
At whose displeasure they for terror sweat,
Whose heart upon the world's vain love is set ?
No; when this Motto first I mine did make,
To me I took it not for fashion's sake,
But that it might express me as I am,
And keep me mindful to be still the same,
Which I resolve to be ; for could the eye
Of other men within
My resolution and the cause thereof,
They durst not at this boldness make a scoff.
“When ideas rise above the ordinary routine of business-when the mind forgets to accommodate itself to the petty de. tails of office, and to the mere empty ceremonies of that, which before us lies in daily life'—when the voice falters from the pressure of ideas, which are too lofty for utterance, instead of lowering itself to some common-place mathematical truism, which has been repeated times without numberwhen such traces of a diviner nature are manifested, the spite and malignity of such persons arise to crush and overpower them. Hence we have to lament that George Wither spent his days in a prison—that the divine Spenser lived in misery and depression-that Otway was starved to death- that Burns expired, shrieking amid the horrors of desolate poverty-and perhaps that numberless lofty spirits have died
unwept, unhonoured, overwhelmed by misfortune, before opportunity was afforded them of becoming known to the world."
Shall I be fearful of myself to speak, For doubt some other may exceptions take? If this age hold, ere long we shall go near Of every word of our to stand in fear; And, five to one, if any should confess Those sins in public which his soul oppress, Some guilty fellow, mov'd thereat, would take it Unto himself, and so, a libel make it! Nay, we shall hardly be allowed to pray Against a crying sin, lest great men may Suspect, that by a figure we intend To point out them, and how they do offend. As I have hope to prosper, ere I'll fall To such a bondage, I'll adventure all, And make the whole world mad to hear, how I Will fearless write and rail at villainy.
But oh! beware, grey-hair'd Discretion says: The dog fights well that out of danger plays; For now, these guilty times so captious be, That such as love in speaking to be free May for their freedom to their cost be shent, How harmless e'er they be in their intent; And such as of their future peace have care, Unto the Times a little servile are.
Pish! tell not me of Times or danger thus : To do a villainy is dangerous ;
But in an honest action, my heart knows
No more of fear than dead men do of blows;
And to be slave to Times is worse to me,
Than to be that which most men fear to be.
I tell thee, Critic! whatsoever thou
Or any man of me shall censure now,
They, who for ought here written do accuse
Or with a mind malicious tax my Muse,
Shall nor by day awake, nor sleep by night,
With more contentment, in their glories' height,
Than I will do, though they should lay me where,
I must in darkness bolts of iron wear;
For I am not so ignorant, but that
I partly know what things I'may relate;
And what an honest man should still conceal,
I know as well as what he may reveal.
If they be poor and base, that fear my strain,
These poor base féllows are afraid in vain.
I scorn to 'spurn a dog, or strike a fly,
Or with such grooms to soil my poesy.
If great they were and fallen, let them know,
I do abhor to touch a wounded foe.
If on the top of honour yet they be,
'Tis poor weak honour, if ought done by me
May blot or shake the same; yea, whatsoe'er
Their titles cost or they would fain appear,
They are ignoble and beneath me far,
If with these measures they distemper'd are.
For, if they had true greatness, they would know,
The spite of all the world were far below
The seat of noblest honour, and that he
In whom true worth and real virtues be,
So well is arm'd, as that he fears no wrong
From any tyrant's hand or villain's tongue;
Much less be startled at those numbers would,
Where virtue's praised and proud vice contrould,
Is any man the worse, if I express
My wants, my riches, or my carelessness?
Or can my honest thoughts or my content
Be turn'd to any man's disparagement,
If he be honest ? Nay, those men will find,
A pleasure in this picture of my mind,
Who honour virtue, and instead of blame,
Will, as they have done, love me for the same.
You are deceiv'd, if the Bohemian state
You think I touch, or the Palatinate,
Or that this ought of Eighty-eight contains,
The powder-plot, or any thing of Spain's,
That their ambassador need question me,
Or bring me justly for it on my knee.
The state of those occurrences I know
Too well, my raptures that way to bestow..
Nor need you doubt but any friend you have
May play the fool, and if he list the knave,
For ought here written for it is not such
As you suppose, nor what you fear so much.
If I had been dispos’d to satyrize,
Would I have tam'd my numbers in this wise ?
No: I have furies that lie tied in chains,
Bold, English mastiff-like, advent'rous strains,
Who fearless dare on any monster fly
That wears a body of mortality ;
And I had let them loose, if I had list
To play again the sharp-fang'd Satyrist.
That therefore you no more mis-title this,
I say, it is my Motto; and it is :
I'll bave it so; for, if it please not me,
It shall not be a Satire, though it be.
What is't to you, or any man,
This little Poem term as foolishly
As some men do their children? Is it not
Mine own Minerva, of my brains begot?
For ought I know, I never did intrude
To name your whelps; and if you be so rude
To meddle with my kitling, though in sport,
'Tis odds but she'll go near to scratch you
for't. Play with your monkey then, and let it lie; Or, if you be not angry, take it, pray,