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Long, Dodington, in debt, I long have sought
To ease the burden of my graceful thought:
And now a poet's gratitude you see:
Grant him two favours, and he'll ask for three:
For whose the present glory, or the gain?
You give protection, I a worthless strain.
You love and feel the poet's sacred flame,
And know the basis of a solid fame;
Though prone to like, yet cautious to commend,
You read with all the malice of a friend;
Nor favour my attempts that way alone,
But, more to raise my verse, conceal your own.
An ill-tim'd modesty! turn ages o'er,
When wanted Britain bright examples more?
Her learning, and her genius too, decays;
And dark and cold are her declining days;
As if men now were of another cast,
They meanly live on alms of ages past,
Men still are men; and they who boldly dare,
Shall triumph o'er the sons of cold despair;
Or, if they fail, they justly still take place
Of such who run in debt for their disgrace;
Who borrow much, then fairly make it known,
And damn it with improvements of their own.
We bring some new materials, and what's old
New cast with care, and in no borrow'd mould;
Late times the verse may read, if these refuse;
And from sour critics vindicate the Muse.
'Your work is long', the critics cry. 'Tis true,
And lengthens still, to take in fools like you:
Shorten my labour, if its length you blame:
For, grow but wise, you rob me of my game;
As haunted hags, who, while the dogs pursue,
Renounce their four legs, and start up on two.
Like the bold bird upon the banks of Nile
That picks the teeth of the dire crocodile,
Will I enjoy (dread feast!) the critic's rage,
And with the fell destroyer feed my page.
For what ambitious fools are more to blame,
Than those who thunder in the critic's name?
Good authors damn'd, have their revenge in this,
To see what wretches gain the praise they miss.
Balbutius, muffled in his sable cloak,
Like an old Druid from his hollow oak,
As ravens solemn, and as boding, cries,
'Ten thousand worlds for the three unities!'
Ye doctors sage, who through Parnassus teach,
Or quit the tub, or practise what you preach.
One judges as the weather dictates; right
The poem is at noon, and wrong at night:
Another judges by a surer gage,
An author's principles, or parentage;
Since his great ancestors in Flanders fell,
The poem doubtless must be written well.
Another judges by the writer's look;
Another judges, for he bought the book:
Some judge, their knack of judging wrong to keep;
Some judge, because it is too soon to sleep.
Thus all will judge, and with one single aim,
To gain themselves, not give the writer, fame.
The very best ambitiously advise,
Half to serve you, and half to pass for wise.
Critics on verse, as squibs on triumphs wait,
Proclaim the glory, and augment the state;
Hot, envious, noisy, proud, the scribbling fry
Burn, hiss, and bounce, waste paper, stink, and die.
Rail on, my friends! what more my verse can crown
Than Compton's smile, and your obliging frown?
Not all on books their criticism waste:
The genius of a dish some justly taste,
And eat their way to fame; with anxious thought
The salmon is refus'd, the turbot bought.
Impatient art rebukes the sun's delay
And bids December yield the fruits of May;
Their various cares in one great point combine
The business of their lives, that is--to dine.
Half of their precious day they give the feast;
And to a kind digestion spare the rest.
Apicius, here, the taster of the town,
Feeds twice a week, to settle their renown.
These worthies of the palate guard with care
The sacred annals of their bills of fare;
In those choice books their panegyrics read,
And scorn the creatures that for hunger feed.
If man by feeding well commences great,
Much more the worm to whom that man is meat.
To glory some advance a lying claim,
Thieves of renown, and pilferers of fame:
Their front supplies what their ambition lacks;
They know a thousand lords, behind their backs.
Cottil is apt to wink upon a peer,
When turn'd away, with a familiar leer;
And Harvey's eyes, unmercifully keen,
Have murdered fops, by whom she ne'er was seen.
Niger adopts stray libels; wisely prone,
To cover shame still greater than his own.
Bathyllus, in the winter of threescore,
Belies his innocence, and keeps a ----.
Absence of mind Brabantio turns to fame,
Learns to mistake, nor knows his brother's name;
Has words and thoughts in nice disorder set,
And takes a memorandum to forget.
Thus vain, not knowing what adorns or bl
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"To The Right Hon. Mr. Dodington" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 24 Oct. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/9926/to-the-right-hon.-mr.-dodington>.