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AN ALLUSION TO HORACE, THE TENTH SATYR OF THE FIRST BOOK, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: Well, sir, 'tis granted I said dryden's rhymes
Last Line: Approve my sense: I count their censure fame.
Alternate Author Name(s): Rochester, 2d Earl Of
Subject(s): Busby, Richard (1606-1695); Dryden, John (1631-1700); Etherege, Sir George (1635-1692); Godolphin, Sidney (1610-1643); Horace (65-8 B.c.); Otway, Thomas (1652-1685); Scroope, Sir Carr (d. 1680); Sedley, Sir Charles (1639-1701); Settle, Elkanah (1648-1724

Well, sir, 'tis granted I said Dryden's rhymes
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, embroidered up and down
With wit and learning, justly pleased the town
In the same paper I as freely own.
Yet having this allowed, the heavy mass
That stuffs up his loose volumes must not pass;
For by that rule I might as well admit
Crowne'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 crowd
Till the thronged playhouse crack with the dull load;
Though ev'n that talent merits in some sort
That can divert the rabble and the Court,
Which blundering Settle never could attain,
And puzzling Otway labors at in vain.
But within due proportions circumscribe
Whate'er you write, that with a flowing tide
The style may rise, yet in its rise forbear
With useless words t' oppress the wearied ear.
Here be your language lofty, there more light:
Your rhetoric 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 satyr's sting.
Shakespeare and Jonson did herein excel,
And might in this be imitated well;
Whom refined Etherege copies not at all,
But is himself a sheer original;
Nor that slow drudge in swift Pindaric strains,
Flatman, who Cowley imitates with pains,
And rides a jaded muse, whipped with loose reins.
When Lee makes temperate Scipio fret and rave,
And Hannibal a whining amorous slave,
I laugh, and wish the hot-brained fustian fool
In Busby's hands, to be well lashed at school.
Of all our modern wits, none seems to me
Once to have touched upon true comedy
But hasty Shadwell and slow Wycherley.
Shadwell's unfinished works do yet impart
Great proofs of force of nature, none of art:
With just, bold strokes he dashes here and there,
Showing great mastery, with little care,
And scorns to varnish his good touches o'er
To make the fools and women praise 'em more.
But Wycherley earns hard whate'er he gains:
He wants no judgment, nor he spares no pains.
He frequently excels, and at the least
Makes fewer faults than any of the best.
Waller, by nature for the bays designed,
With force and fire and fancy unconfined,
In panegyrics does excel mankind.
He best can turn, enforce, and soften things
To praise great conqu'rors, or to flatter Kings.
For pointed satyrs, I would Buckhurst choose:
The best good man with the worst-natured muse.
For songs and verses mannerly obscene,
That can stir nature up by springs unseen,
And without forcing blushes, warm the Queen --
Sedley has that prevailing gentle art,
That can with a resistless charm impart
The loosest wishes to the chastest heart;
Raise such a conflict, kindle such a fire,
Betwixt declining virtue and desire,
Till the poor vanquished maid dissolves away
In dreams all night, in sighs and tears all day.
Dryden in vain tried 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 his frolic fancy, he'd cry, "Cunt!"
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 temples tear
That laurel which he best deserves to wear.
But does not Dryden find ev'n Jonson dull;
Fletcher and Beaumont uncorrect, and full
Of lewd lines, as he calls 'em; Shakespeare's style
Stiff and affected; to his own the while
Allowing all the justness that his pride
So arrogantly had to these denied?
And may not I have leave impartially
To search and censure Dryden'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 every morning writ
Proves you no more a poet than a wit.
Such scribbling authors have been seen before;
Mustapha, The English Princess, forty more
Were things perhaps composed in half an hour.
To write what may securely stand the test
Of being well read over, thrice at least
Compare each phrase, examine every line,
Weigh every word, and every thought refine.
Scorn all applause the vile rout can bestow,
And be content to please those few who know.
Canst thou be such a vain, mistaken thing
To wish thy works might make a playhouse 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 Betty Morris heretofore,
When a Court lady called her Buckley'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 purblind knight,
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 loathe the rabble; 'tis enough for me
If Sedley, Shadwell, Shepherd, Wycherley,
Godolphin, Butler, Buckhurst, Buckingham,
And some few more, whom I omit to name,
Approve my sense: I count their censure fame.

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