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I grant that poetry's a crying sin; It brought (no doubt) th' excise and
Catch'd like the plague, orlove, the Lord knows how,
But that the cure is starving, all allow.
Yet like the papist's, is the poet's state,
Poor and disarm’d, and hardly worth your hate!
Here a lean bard, whose wit could never give
Himself a dinner, makes an actor live:
The thief condemn'd, in law already dead,
So prompts, and saves a rogue who cannot read.
Thus as the pipes of some carv'd organ move,
The gilded puppets dance and mount above.
Heav'd by the breath th’inspiring bellows blow:
Th' inspiring bellows lie and pant below.
One sings the fair: but songs no longer move;
No rat is rhym'd to death, por maid to love:
In love's, in nature's spite, the siege they hold,
And scorn the flesh, the devil, and all but gold.
These write to lords, some mean reward to get, As needy beggars sing at doors for meat.
Though poetry, indeed, be such a sin,
As I think, that brings dearth and Spaniards in:
Though like the pestilence and old-fashion'd love,
Ridlingly it catch men, and doth remove
Never, till it be starv'd out; yet their state
Is poor, disarm'd, like papists, not worth hate.
One (like a wretch, which at bar judg'd as dead,
Yet prompts him which stands next, and cannot read
And saves his life) gives ideot actors means
(Starving himself) to live by's labour'd scenes.
As in some organs puppets dance above,
And bellows pant below, which them do move.
One would move love by rhymes; but witchcraft's
charms Bring not now their old fears, nor their old harms; Rams and slings now are silly battery, Pistelets are the best artillery.
Those write because all write, and so have still
Excuse for writing, and for writing ill.
Wretched indeed! but far more wretched yet
Is he who makes his meal on others' wit:
"Tis chang'd, no doubt, from what it was before;
His rank digestion makes it wit no more:
Sense, past through him, no longer is the same;
For food digested takes another name.
o'er all those confessors and martyrs,
Who live like Soutt--n, or who die like Chartres,
Out-cant old Esdras, or out-drivk his heir,
Out-usure Jews, or Irishmen out-swear;
Wicked as pages, who in early years
Act sins which Prisca's confessor scarce hears.
Ev'n those I pardon, for whose sinful sake
Schoolmen new tenements in hell must make;
Of whose strange crimes no cauonist can tell
In what commandment's large contents they dwell.
One, one man only breeds my just offence; Whom crimes gave wealth, and wealth gave impu.
And they who write to lords, rewards to get,
Are they not like singers at doors for meat ?
And they who write, because all write, have still
That 'scuse for writing, and for writing ill.
But he is worst, who beggarly doth chaw
Other wits-fruits, and in his ravenous maw
Raukly digested, doth those things out-spue,
As his own things; and they're his own,
For if one eat my meat, though it be known
The meat was mine, the excrement's his own.
But these do me no harm, nor they which use,
to out-usure Jews.
To out-drink the sea, t'out-swear the letanie,
Who with sins all kinds as familiar be
As confessors, and for whose sinful sake
Schoolmen new tenements in hell must make;
Time, that at last matures a clap to pox,
Whose gentle progress makes a calf an ox,
And brings all natural events to pass,
Hath made him an attorney of an ass.
No young divine, new-benefic'd, can be
More pert, more proud, more positive than he.
What further could I wish the fop to do,
But turn a wit, and scribble verses too?
Pierce the soft labyrinth of a lady's ear
With rhyrnes of this per cent, and that per year?
Or court a wife, spread out his wily parts,
Like nets or lime-twigs, for rich widows' hearts;
Call himself barrister to every wench,
And woo in language of the Pleas and Bench?
Language, which Boreas might to Auster hold
More rough than forty Germans when they scold.
Curs'd be the wretch, so veoal and so vain:
Paltry and proud, as drabs in Drury-lane.
'Tis such a bounty as was never known,
If Peter deigns to help you to our own:
Whose strange sins canonists could hardly tell
In which commandment's large receit they dwell.
But these punish themselves. The insolence
Of Coscus, only, breeds my just offence,
Whom time (which rots all, and makes botches pox,
Aud plodding on, must make a calf an ox)
Hath made a lawyer; which (alas) of late;
But scarce a poet: jollier of this state,
Than are new benefic'd ministers, he throws
Like-nets or lime-twigs whereso'er he goes
His title of barrister on every wench,
And wooes in language of the Pleas and Bench, **
* Words, words which would tear The tender labyrinth of a maid's soft ear: More, more than ten Sclavonians scolding, more Than when winds in our ruin'd abbeys roar. Then sick with poetry, and possest with muse Thou wast, and mad I hop'd; but men which chuse
What thanks, what praise, if Peter but supplies!
And what a solemn face, if he denies !
Grave, as when prisoners shake the head and swear
'Twas only suretyship that brought them there.
His office keeps your parchment rates entire,
He starves with cold to save them from the fire;
For you he walks the streets through rain or dust,
For not in chariots Peter puts his trust;
For you he sweats and labours at the laws,
Takes God to witness he affects your cause,
And lies to every lord in every thing,
Like a king's favourite--or like a king.
These are the talents that adorn them all,
From wicked Waters ev'n to godly * *
Not more of simony beneath black gowns,
Not more of bastardy in heirs to crowns.
In shillings and in pence at first they deal;
And steal so little, few perceive they steal;
Till, like the sea, they compass all the land,
From Scots to Wight, from Mount to Dover strand:
Law practice for mere gain: bold soul repute
Worse than imbrotheld strumpets prostitute.
Now like an owl-like watchman he must walk,
His hand still at a bill; now he must talk
Idly, like prisoners, which whole months will swear,
That only suretiship had brought them there,
And to every suitor lye in every thing,
Like a king's favourite-or like a king.
Like a wedge in a block, wring to the barre,
Bearing like asses, and more shameless farre
Than carted whores, lye to the grave judge; for
Bastardy abounds not in king's titles, nor
Simony and sodomy in churchmen's lives,
As these things do in him; by these he thrives.
Shortly (as th' sea) he'll compass all the land,
From Scots to Wight, from Mount to Dover strand,
And spying heirs melting with luxury,
Satan will not joy at their sins as he ;
And when rank widows purchase luscious nights,
Or when a duke to Jansen punts at White's,
Of city heir in mortgage melts away,
Satan himself feels far less joy than they.
Piecemeal they win this acre first, then that,
Glean on, and gather up the whole estate;
Then strongly fencing ill-got wealth by law,
Indentures, covenants, articles they draw
Large as the fields themselves, and larger far
Than civil codes, with all their glosses, are;
So vast, our new divines, we must confess,
Are fathers of the church for writing less.
But let them write for you, each rogue impairs
The deeds, and dext'rously omits ses keires :
No commentator can more slily pass
Over a learn'd unintelligible place:
Or, in quotation, shrewd divines leave out
Those words that would against them clear the doubt.
So Luther thought the pater-noster long,
When doom'd to say his beads and even-song;
For (as a thrifty weneh scrapes kitchen-stuffe,
And barrelling the dropings and the snuffe
Of wasting candles, which in thirty year,
Reliquely kept, perchance buys wedding chear)
Piecemeal he gets lands, and spends as much time
Wringing each acre, as maids pulling prime.
In parchment then, large as the fields he draws
Assurances, big as gloss'd civil laws,
So huge that men (in our times forwardness)
Are fathers of the church for writing less
These he writes not; nor for these written payes,
Therefore spares no length (as in those first dayes
When Luther was profest, he did desire
Short pater-nosters, saying as a fryer
Each day his beads: but having left those laws,
Adds to Christ's prayer, the power and glory clause)
But when he sells or changes land, h’impaires
The writings, and (unwatch'd) leaves out ses heires,