What flocks of critics hover here today,|
As vultures wait on armies for their prey,
All gaping for the carcass of a play!
With croaking notes they bode some dire event,
And follow dying poets by the scent. 5 Ours gives himself for gone; y' have watched your time! He fights this day unarmed -- without his rhyme; --1
And brings a tale which often has been told,
As sad as Dido's; and almost as old.
His hero, whom you wits his bully call, 10 Bates of his mettle, and scarce rants at all:2
He's somewhat lewd; but a well-meaning mind;
Weeps much; fights little; but is wondrous kind.
In short, a pattern, and companion fit,
For all the keeping Tonies3 of the pit. 15
I could name more: a wife, and mistress too;
Both (to be plain) too good for most of you:
The wife well-natured, and the mistress true.
Now, poets, if your fame has been his care,
Allow him all the candor you can spare. 20 A brave man scorns to quarrel once a day; Like Hectors4 in at every petty fray.
Let those find fault whose wit's so very small,
They've need to show that they can think at all:
Errors like straws upon the surface flow; 25 He who would search for pearls must dive below. Fops may have leave to level all they can,
As pigmies would be glad to lop a man.
Half-wits are fleas; so little and so light,
We scarce could know they live, but that they bite. 30 But, as the rich, when tired with daily feasts, For change, become their next poor tenant's guests;
Drink hearty draughts of ale from plain brown bowls,
And snatch the homely rasher from the coals:
So you, retiring from much better cheer, 35 For once, may venture to do penance here. And since that plenteous autumn now is past,
Whose grapes and peaches have indulged your taste,
Take in good part, from our poor poet's board,
Such rivelled5 fruits as winter can afford. 40