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Seventeenth Century

Eighteenth Century



Earl of Rochester

Lord Rochester bestowing a garland of laurel upon his monkey.

HORACE's Tenth Satire of the
First Book imitated

Well Sir, 'tis granted, I said Dryden's Rhimes
Were stol'n, unequal, nay dull many Times.
What foolish Patron is there found of his,
So blindly partial, to deny me this?
But that his Plays, embroider'd up and down
With Wit and Learning, justly pleas'd the Town,
In the same Paper I as freely own:
Yet, having this allow'd, the heavy Mass,
That stuffs up his loose Volumes, must not pass;
For, by that Rule, I might as well admit
CR O W N'S's tedious Scenes for Poetry and Wit.
'Tis therefore not enough, when your false Sense
Hits the false Judgment of an Audience
Of clapping Fools assembling, a vast Croud,
'Till the throng'd Play-House crack with the dull Load.
Tho' ev'n that Talent merits in some Sort,
That can divert the Rabble and the Court;
Which blund'ring SE T T L E never could attain,
And puzzling OT W A Y labours at in vain.
But within due Proportion circumscribe
What e'er you write, that with a flowing Tide
The Stile may rise; yet in its Rise forbear
With useless Words t'oppress the weary'd Ear.
Here be your Language lofty; there more light,
Your Rhet'ric with your Poetry unite;
For Elegance sake, sometimes allay the Force
Of Epithets; 'twill soften the Discourse:
A Jest in Scorn points out, and hits the Thing
More home, than the morosest Satire's Sting.
SH A K E S P E A R E and JO H N S O N did in this excel,
And might herein be imitated well;
Whom refin'd ET H E R E G E copies not at all,
But is himself a mere Original:
Nor that slow Drudge in swift Pindaric Strains,
FL A T M A N, who CO W L E Y imitates with Pains,
And rides a jaded Muse whipt with loose Reins.
When LE E makes temp'rate SC I P I O fret and rave,
And HA N N I B A L a whining am'rous Slave,
I laugh, and wish the hot-brain'd Fustian Fool
In BU S B Y's Hands, to be well lash'd at School.
Of all our Modern Wits, none seem to me
Once to have touch'd upon true CO M E D Y,
But hasty SH A D W E L L and slow WY C H E R L Y.
SH A D W E L L's unfinish'd Works do yet impart
Great Proofs of Force of Nature, none of Art;
With just bold Strokes he dashes here and there,
Shewing Great Mastery with Little Care;
Scorning to varnish his Good Touches o'er,
To make the Fools and Women praise him more.
But WY C H E R L Y earns hard whate'er he gains;
He wants no Judgment, and he spares no Pains;
He frequently excels; and, at the least,
Makes fewer Faults, than any of the rest.
WA L L E R, by Nature for the Bays design'd,
With Force, and Fire, and Fancy, unconfin'd,
In Panegyric, does excel Mankind.
He best can turn, inforce, and soften Things,
To praise great Conquerors, and flatter Kings.
For pointed Satire I would BU C K H U R S T chuse,
The Best good Man, with the Worst-natur'd Muse.
For Songs and Verses mannerly obscene,
That can stir Nature up by Springs unseen,
And, without forcing Blushes, warm the Queen;
SE D L E Y has that prevailing gentle Art,
That can with a Resistless Pow'r impart
The Loosest Wishes to the Chastest Heart;
Raise such a Conflict, kindle such a Fire
Betwixt declining Virtue and Desire,
'Till the poor vanquish'd Maid desolves away
In Dreams all Night, in Sighs and Tears all Day.
DR Y D E N in vain try'd this nice Way of Wit,
For He, to be a Tearing Blade, thought fit;
But when he would be sharp, he still was blunt,
To frisk and frolick Fancy he'd cry —
Would give the Ladies a Dry-bawdy Bob,
And thus he got the Name of Poet-Squab.
But, to be just, 'twill to his Praise be found,
His Excellencies more than Faults abound;
Nor dare I from his sacred Temple tear
That Laurel, which he best deserves to wear.
But does not DR Y D E N find ev'n JO H N S O N dull,
BE A U M O N T and FL E T C H E R incorrect, and full
Of Lewd Lines, as he calls them?  SH A K E S P E A R E's Stile
Stiff and affected? To his own, the while,
Allowing all the Justice, that his Pride
So arrogantly had to these deny'd?
And may not I have Leave impartially
To search and censure DR Y D E N's Works, and try
If those gross Faults his Choice Pen does commit,
Proceed from Want of Judgment, or of Wit?
Or, if his lumpish Fancy does refuse
Spirit and Grace to his loose slattern Muse?
Five Hundred Verses ev'ry Morning writ,
Prove him no more a Poet than a Wit?
Such scribling Authors have been sent before;
Mustapha, the Island Princess, forty more,
Were Things, perhaps, compos'd in Half an Hour.
To Write, what may securely stand in the Test,
Of being well read over, thrice at least;
Compare each Phrase, examine ev'ry Line,
Weigh ev'ry Word, and ev'ry Thought refine.
Scorn all Applause the Vile Rout can bestow,
And be content to please those few who know.
Can'st thou be such a vain mistaken Thing,
To wish thy Works may make a Play-house ring
With the unthinking Laughter and poor Praise
Of Fops and Ladies, factious for thy Plays?
Then send a cunning Friend to learn thy Doom,
From the shrewd Judges in the Drawing-Room.
I've no Ambition on that idle Score,
But say with BE T T Y MO R R I C E heretofore
When a Court-Lady call'd her BU C K H U R S T's Whore;
I please one Man of Wit, am proud on't too;
Let all the Coxcombs dance to Bed to you.

Should I be troubled when the PU R B L I N D KN I G H T,
Who squints more in his Judgment, than his Sight,
Picks silly Faults, and censures what I write?
Or when the Poor-fed Poets of the Town,
For Scraps and Coach-Room cry my Verses down?
I loath the Rabble, 'tis enough for me,
If SE D L E Y, SH A D W E L L, SH E P H A R D, WY C H E R L Y,
And some few more, whom I omit to name,
Approve my Sense, I count their Censure Fame.

The Works of the Earls of Rochester, Roscomon,... &c. Vol I.
London: [no pub], 1739. 67-71.


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Restoration & 18th-century:

Samuel Butler
John Dryden
Samuel Pepys
John Bunyan
Aphra Behn
John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester
Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea
Mary Astell
William Congreve
Matthew Prior
Daniel Defoe
John Gay
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
Jonathan Swift
Joseph Addison
Sir Richard Steele
James Thomson
Alexander Pope
Dr. Samuel Johnson
Thomas Gray
William Collins
Christopher Smart
Oliver Goldsmith
George Crabbe
William Cowper
James Boswell
Essays and Articles
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