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TO MR. SOUTHERN,

ON HIS

COMEDY CALLED

THE WIVES' EXCUSE.'

1692.

SURE there's a fate in plays, and 'tis in vain
To write, while these malignant planets reign.
Some very foolish influence rules the pit,
Not always kind to sense, or just to wit;
And whilst it lasts, let buffoonry succeed
To make us laugh; for never was more need.
Farce, in itself, is of a nasty scent,
But the gain smells not of the excrement.
The Spanish Nymph, a wit and beauty too,
With all her charms, bore but a single show;
But let a monster Muscovite appear,
He draws a crowded audience round the year.
May be, thou hast not pleased the box and pit;
Yet those who blame thy tale applaud thy wit:
So Terence plotted, but so Terence writ.
Like his thy thoughts are true, thy language clean;
E'en lewdness is made moral in thy scene.
The hearers may for want of Nokes repine,
But rest secure the readers will be thine.
Nor was thy labour'd drama damn'd or hiss'd,
But with a kind civility dismiss'd;
With such good manners as the wife did use,
Who, not accepting, did but just refuse.
There was a glance at parting; such a look,
As bids thee not give o'er for one rebuke.
But if thou wouldst be seen as well as read,
Copy one living author and one dead:

The standard of thy style let Etherege be;
For wit, the' immortal spring of Wycherley;
Learn, after both, to draw some just design,
And the next age will learn to copy

thine.

TO HENRY HIGDEN, ESQ.

ON HIS

TRANSLATION OF THE TENTH SATIRE OF JUVENAL.

The Grecian wits, who satire first began,
Were pleasant Pasquins on the life of man;
At mighty villains, who the state oppress’d,
They durst not rail; perhaps they lash'd, at least,
And turn’d them out of office with a jest.
No fool could peep abroad, but ready stand
The drolls to clap a bauble in his hand.
Wise legislators never yet could draw
A fop within the reach of Common law;
For posture, dress, grimace, and affectation,
Though foes to sense, are harmless to the nation.
Our last redress is dint of verse to try,
And satire is our court of Chancery.
This
way

took Horace to reform an age,
Not bad enough to need an author's rage.
But yours, who lived in more degenerate times,
Was forced to fasten deep, and worry crimes.
Yet you, my friend, have temper'd him so well,
You make him smile in spite of all his zeal;
An art peculiar to yourself alone,
To join the virtues of two styles in one.

Oh! were your author's principle received, Half of the labouring world would be relieved ! For not to wish, is not to be deceived.

Revenge would into charity be changed,
Because it costs too dear to be revenged:
It costs our quiet and content of mind,
And when ’tis compass'd, leaves a sting behind.
Suppose I had the better end o' the staff,
Why should I help the’ill-natured world to laugh?
"Tis all alike to them who get the day;
They love the spite and mischief of the fray.
No; I have cured myself of that disease,
Nor will I be provoked but when I please;
But let me half that cure to you restore,
You
gave

the salve, I laid it to the sore.
Our kind relief against a rainy day,
Beyond a tavern or a tedious play,
We take your book, and laugh our spleen away.
If all your tribe, too studious of debate,
Would cease false hopes and titles to create,
Led by the rare example you begun,
Clients would fail, and lawyers be undone.

TO MY

DEAR FRIEND MR. CONGREVE,

ON

HIS COMEDY CALLED "THE DOUBLE DEALER.'

1694.

WELL then, the promised hour is come at last,
The present age of wit obscures the past:
Strong were our sires, and as they fought they writ,
Conquering with force of arms and dint of wit:
Theirs was the giant race before the flood;
And thus, when Charles return’d, our empire stood.
Like Janus he the stubborn soil manured,
With rules of husbandry the rankness cared ;
Tamed us to manners when the stage was rude,
And boisterous English wit with art endued.
Our age was cultivated thus at length,
But what we gain'd in skill, we lost in strength.
Our builders were with want of genius cursed;
The second temple was not like the first :
Till you, the best Vitruvius, come at length,
Our beauties equal, but excel our strength.
Firm Doric pillars found your solid base,
The fair Corinthian crowns the higher space;
Thus all below is strength, and all above is

grace.
In easy dialogue is Fletcher's praise;
He moved the mind, but had not power to raise.
Great Jonson did by strength of judgment please;
Yet, doubling Fletcher's force, he wants his ease.
In differing talents both adorn’d their age;
One for the study, the' other for the stage;
But both to Congreve justly shall submit,
One match'd in judgment, both o'ermatch'd in wit.
In him all beauties of this age we see,
Etherege's courtship, Southern's purity,
The satire, wit, and strength of manly Wycherly.
All this in blooming youth you have achieved ;
Nor are your foil'd contemporaries grieved.
So much the sweetness of your manners move
We cannot envy you, because we love.
Fabius might joy in Scipio, when he saw
A beardless consul made against the law,
And join his suffrage to the votes of Rome,
Though he with Hannibal was overcome.
Thus old Romano bow'd to Raphael's fame,
And scholar to the youth he taught became.

brows my

O that your

laurel had sustain'd!
Well had I been deposed, if you had reign'd:
The father had descended for the son,
For only you are lineal to the throne.
Thus when the state one Edward did depose,
A greater Edward in his room arose.
But now, not I, but Poetry is cursed;
For Tom the Second reigns like Tom the First.
But let them not mistake my patron's part,
Nor call his charity their own desert.
Yet this I prophesy; Thou shalt be seen
(Though with some short parenthesis between)
High on the throne of Wit, and, seated there,
Not mine, (that's little) but thy laurel wear.
Thy first attempt an early promise made;
That early promise this has more than paid.
So bold, yet so judiciously you dare,
That your least praise is to be regular.
Time, place, and action, may with pains be wrought,
But genius must be born, and never can be taught.
This is your portion, this your native store;
Heaven, that but once was prodigal before,
To Shakspeare gave as much: she could not give

him more.
Maintain your post, that's all the fame

you

need; For 'tis impossible you should proceed. Already I am worn with cares and age, And just abandoning the' ungrateful stage. Unprofitably kept at Heaven's expense, I live a rent-charge on his Providence: But you, whom every

Muse and Grace adorn, Whom I foresee to better fortune born, Be kind to my Remains; and O defend, Against your judgment, your departed friend!

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