Essay On Satire

Some other kind of wits must be made known, Whose harmless errors hurt themselves alone; Excess of luxury they think can please, And laziness call loving of their ease: To live dissolved in pleasures still they feign, 170 Though their whole life's but intermitting pain: So much of surfeits, headaches, claps are seen, We scarce perceive the little time between: Well-meaning men who make this gross mistake, And pleasure lose only for pleasure's sake; Each pleasure has its price, and when we pay Too much of pain, we squander life away.

Thus Dorset, purring like a thoughtful cat, Married, but wiser puss ne'er thought of that: And first he worried her with railing rhyme, 180 Like Pembroke's mastives at his kindest time; Then for one night sold all his slavish life, A teeming widow, but a barren wife; Swell'd by contact of such a fulsome toad, He lugg'd about the matrimonial load; Till fortune, blindly kind as well as he, Has ill restored him to his liberty; Which he would use in his old sneaking way, Drinking all night, and dozing all the day; Dull as Ned Howard,[61] whom his brisker times 190 Had famed for dulness in malicious rhymes.

In satire too the wise took different ways, To each deserving its peculiar praise.

Some did all folly with just sharpness blame, Whilst others laugh'd and scorn'd them into shame.

Though satire, nicely writ, with humour stings 140 But those who merit praise in other things; Yet we must needs this one exception make, And break our rules for silly Tropos'[60] sake; Who was too much despised to be accused, And therefore scarce deserves to be abused; Raised only by his mercenary tongue, For railing smoothly, and for reasoning wrong, As boys, on holidays, let loose to play, Lay waggish traps for girls that pass that way; Then shout to see in dirt and deep distress 150 Some silly cit in her flower'd foolish dress: So have I mighty satisfaction found, To see his tinsel reason on the ground: To see the florid fool despised, and know it, By some who scarce have words enough to show it: For sense sits silent, and condemns for weaker The finer, nay sometimes the wittier speaker: But 'tis prodigious so much eloquence Should be acquird by such little sense; For words and wit did anciently agree, 160 And Tully was no fool, though this man be: At bar abusive, on the bench unable, Knave on the woolsack, fop at council-table.

These are the grievances of such fools as would Be rather wise than honest, great than good.

In such a satire all would seek a share, And every fool will fancy he is there.

Old story-tellers too must pine and die, To see their antiquated wit laid by; Like her, who miss'd her name in a lampoon, And grieved to find herself decay'd so soon.

Will any dog that has his teeth and stones, Refinedly leave his bitches and his bones, To turn a wheel, and bark to be employ'd, While Venus is by rival dogs enjoy'd?

Yet this fond man, to get a statesman's name, Forfeits his friends, his freedom, and his fame.


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