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AN EPISTLE TO MR. COLMAN.
WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1756.

You know, dear George, I'm none of those
That condescend to write in prose;
Inspir'd with pathos and sublime,
I always soar-in doggrel rhyme,
And scarce can ask you how you do,
Without a jingling line or two.
Besides, I always took delight in
What bears the name of easy writing:
Perhaps the reason makes it please
Is, that I find it's writ with ease.

I vent a notion here in private,

Which public taste can ne'er connive at,
Which thinks no wit or judgment greater
Than Addison and his Spectator,
Who says (it is no matter where,
But that he says it, I can swear)

With easy verse most bards are smitten,
Because they think it's easy written;
Whereas the easier it appears,
The greater marks of care it wears;
Of which, to give an explanation,
Take this by way of illustration:
The fam'd Mat. Prior, it is said,

Oft bit his nails, and scratch'd his head,
And chang'd a thought a hundred times,
Because he did not like the rhymes.

To make my meaning clear, and please ye,
In short, he labour'd to write easy.
And yet no critic e'er defines
His poems into labour'd lines.

I have a simile will hit him;

His verse, like clothes, was made to fit him,
Which (as no taylor e'er denied)
The better fit, the more they're tried.

Though I have mentioned Prior's name, Think not I aim at Prior's fame.

'Tis the result of admiration

To spend itself in imitation;

If imitation may be said,

Which is in me by nature bred,

And you have better proofs than these,
That I'm idolater of case.

Who, but a madman, would engage
A poet in the present age?

Write what we will, our works bespeak us

Imitatores, servum pecus.

Tale, elegy, or lofty ode,

We travel in the beaten road:
The proverb still sticks closely by us,
Nil dictum, quod non dictum prius.
The only confort that I know
Is, that 't was said an age ago,
Ere Milton soar'd in thought sublime,
Ere Pope refiu'd the chink of rhyme,
Ere Colman wrote in style so pure,
Or the great 'Two the Connoisseur;
Ere I burlesqu'd the rural cit,

Proud to hedge in my scraps of wit,
And happy in the close connection,

T' acquire some name from their reflection;
So (the similitude is trite)

The Moon still shines with borrow'd light,
And, like the race of modern beaux,
Ticks with the Sun for her lac'd clothes.
Methinks there is no better time
To show the use I make of rhyme,
Than now, when I, who from beginning
Was always fond of couplet-sinning,
Presuming on good-nature's score,
Thus lay my bantling at your door.

The first advantage which I see,
Is, that I ramble loose and free:
The bard indeed full oft complains,
That rhymes are fetters, links, and chains,
And when he wants to leap the fence,
Still keep him pris'ner to the sense.
Howe'er in common-place he rage,
Rhyme's like your fetters on the stage,
Which when the player once hath wore,
It makes him only strut the more,
While, raving in pathetic strains,
He shakes his legs to clank his chains.
From rhyme, as from a handsome face,
Nonsense acquires a kind of grace;
I therefore give it all its scope,
That sense may unperceiv'd elope:
So ministers of basest tricks

(I love a fling at politics)

Amuse the nation, court, and king,
With breaking Fowke, and hanging Byng;
And make each puny rogue a prey,
While they, the greater, slink away.
This simile perhaps would strike,
If match'd with something more alike;
Then take it dress'd a second time
In Prior's ease, and my sublime.
Say, did you never chance to meet
A mob of people in the street,
Ready to give the robb'd relief,
And all in haste to catch a thief,
While the sly rogue, who filch'd the prey,
Too close beset to run away,

"Stop thief! stop thief!" exclaims aloud,
And so escapes among the crowd?
So ministers, &c.

O England, how I mourn thy fate! For sure thy losses now are great; Two such, what Briton can endure, Minorca and the Connoisseur!

To day, before the Sun goes down,
Will die the censor, Mr. Town!

He dies, whoe'er takes pains to con him,
With blushing honours thick upon him;
O may his name these verses save,
Be these inscrib'd upon his grave!

Know, reader, that on Thursday died
The Connoisseur, a suicide!
Yet think not that his soul is fled,
Nor rank him 'mongst the vulgar dead.
Howe'er defunct you set him down,
He's only going out of Town.

THE PUFF.

A DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE BOOKSELLER AND

AUTHOR.

PREFIXED TO THE ST. JAMES'S MAGAZINE, SEPTEMBER, 1762.

BOOKSELLER.

MUSEUM, sir! that's not enough.
New works, we know, require a puff;
A title to entrap the eyes,
And catch the reader by surprise:
As gaudy signs, which hang before
The tavern or the alehouse door,
Hitch every passer's observation,
Magnetic in their invitation.
-That Shakspeare is prodigious fine!
Shall we step in, and taste the wine?
Men, women, houses, horses, books,
All borrow credit from their looks,
Externals have the gift of striking,
And lure the fancy into liking.

AUTHOR.

Oh! I perceive the thing you meanCall it St. James's Magazine.

BOOKSELLER.

Or the New British

AUTHOR.

Oh! no more.

One name's as good as half a score.
And titles oft give nothing less
Than what they staringly profess.
Puffing, I grant, is all the mode;
The common hackney turnpike road:
But custom is the blockhead's guide,
And such low arts disgust my pride.
Success on merit's force depends,
Not on the partial voice of friends;
Not on the seems, that bully sin;
But that which passeth show within:
Which bids the warmth of friendship glow,
And wrings conviction from a foe.-
Deserve success, and proudly claim,
Not steal a passage into fame.

BOOKSELLER.

Your method, sir, will never do; You're right in theory, it's true. But then, experience in our trade Says, there's no harm in some parade.

Suppose we said, by Mr. Lloyd?

AUTHOR.

The very thing I would avoid;
And would be rather pleas'd to own
Myself unknowing, and unknown:
What could th' unknowing Muse expect,
But information or neglect?
Unknown-perhaps her reputation
Escapes the tax of defamation,

And wrapt in darkness, laughs unhurt,
While critic blockheads throw their dirt:
But he who madly prints his name,
Invites his foe to take sure aim.
BOOKSELLER.

True-but a name will always bring A better sanction to the thing: And all your scribbling foes are such, Their censure cannot hurt you much; And, take the matter ne'er so ill, If you don't print it, sir, they will.

AUTHOR.

Well, be it so-that struggle's o'er→→→→ Nay, this shall prove one spur the more. Pleas'd if success attends, if not,

I've writ my name, and made a blot.

BOOKSELLER.

But a good print.

AUTHOR.

The print? why there

I trust to honest Leach's' care.
What is't to me? in verse or prose,
I find the stuff, you make the clothes:
Add paper, print, and all such dress,
Will lose no credit from his press.

BOOKSELLER.

You quite mistake the thing I mean, -I' fetch you, sir, a magazine; You see that picture there-the queen.

AUTHOR.

A dedication to her too!
What will not folly dare to do?
O days of art! when happy skill
Can raise a likeness whence it will;
When portraits ask no Reynolds' aid,
And queens and kings are ready made.

No, no, my friend, by helps like these,
I cannot wish my work should please;
No pictures taken from the life,
Where all proportions are at strife;
No humming-bird, no painted flower,
No beast just landed in the Tower,
No wooden notes, no colour'd map,
No country-dance shall stop a gap;
O Philomath, be not severe,
If not one problem meets you here;
Where gossip A, and neighbour B,
Pair, like good friends with C and D;
And E F G, HIK join;

And curve and incidental line

Fall out, fall in, and cross each other,
Just like a sister and a brother.

Ye tiny poets, tiny wits,

Who frisk about on tiny tits,

1 Dryden Leach, a printer of note at that time. C.

Who words disjoin, and sweetly sing,
Take one third part, and take the thing;
Then close the joints again, to frame
Some lady's or some city's name,
Enjoy your own, your proper Phoebus;
We neither make, nor print a rebus.
No crambo, no acrostic fine,

Great letters lacing down each line;
No strange conundrum, no invention
Beyond the reach of comprehension,
No riddle, which whoe'er unties,
Claims twelve Museums for the prize,
Shall strive to please you, at th' expense
Of simple taste, and common sense.

BOOKSELLER.

But would not ornament produce Some real grace and proper use? A frontispiece would have its weight, Neatly engrav'd on copper-plate.

AUTHOR.

Plain letter-press shall do the feat, What need of foppery to be neat? The paste-board Guard delights me more, That stands to watch a bun-house door 2, Than such a mockery of grace, And ornament so out of place.

BOOKSELLER.

But one word more, and I have doneA patent might ensure its run.

AUTHOR.

Patent! for what! can patents give A genius? or make blockheads live? If so, O hail the glorious plan! And buy it at what price you can. But what, alas! will that avail, Beyond the property of sale? A property of little worth, If weak our produce at its birth. For fame, for honest fame we strive, But not to struggle half alive, And drag a miserable being, Its end still fearing and foreseeing. Oh! may the flame of genius blaze, Enkindled with the breath of praise! But far be ev'ry fruitless puff, To blow to light a dying snuff.

BOOKSELLER.

But should not something, sir, be said, Particular on ev'ry head?

What your originals will be,

What infinite variety,

Multum in parvo, as they say,

And something neat in every way?

AUTHOR.

I wish there could-but that depends Not on myself, so much as friends. I but set up a new machine,

With harness tight, and furnish'd clean;

This paste-board Guard might have been seen, until within these few years, at various bun-houses and tea-gardens in the vicinity of the metropolis. C.

Where such, who think it no disgrace, To send in time, and take a place, The book-keeper shall minute down, And I with pleasure drive to town.

BOOKSELLER.

Ay, tell them that, sir, and then say, What letters come in every day; And what great wits your care procures, To join their social hands with yours.

AUTHOR.

What! must I huge proposals print,
Merely to drop some saucy hint,
That real folks of real fame

Will give their works, and not their name?
-This puff's of use, you зay-why let it,
We'll boast such friendship when we get it.

BOOKSELLER.

Get it! Ay, sir, you do but jest, You'll have assistance, and the best. There's Churchill-will not Churchill lend Assistance?

AUTHOR

Surely-to his friend.

BOOKSELLER.

And then your interest might procure Something from either Connoisseur. Colman and Thornton, both will join Their social hand to strengthen thine: And when your name appears in print, Will Garrick never drop a hint?

AUTHOR.

True, I've indulg'd such hopes before,
From those you name, and many more;
And they, perhaps, again will join
Their hand, if not asham'd of mine.
Bold is the task we undertake,

The friends we wish, the work must make
For wits, like adjectives, are known
To cling to that which stands alone.

BOOKSELLER.

Perhaps, too, in our way of trade, We might procure some useful aid: Could we engage some able pen, To furnish matter now and then; There's what's his name, sir? would compile, And methodize the news in style.

AUTHOR.

Take back your newsman whence he came, Carry your crutches to the lame.

BOOKSELLER.

You must enrich your book, indeed! Bare merit never will succeed; Which readers are not now a-days, By half so apt to buy, as praise; And praise is hardly worth pursuing, Which tickles authors to their ruin. Books shift about like ladies' dress, And there's a fashion in success. But could not we, like little Bayes, Armies imaginary raise?

And bid our generals take the field, To head the troops that lie conceal'd?

Bid general Essay lead the van,
By-Oh! the style will show the man:
Eid major Science bold appear,
With all his pot-hooks in the rear.

AUTHOR.

True, true, our news, our prose, our rhymes, Shall show the colour of the times;

For which most salutary ends,

We're fellow-soldiers, fellow-friends.
For city, and for court affairs,

My lord duke's butler, and the mayor's.

For politics-eternal talkers,
Profound observers, and park-walkers.
For plays, great actors of renown,
(Lately or just arriv'd in town)
Or some, in state of abdication,
Of oratorial reputation;

Or those who live on scraps and bits,

Mere green-room wasps, and Temple wits;
Shall teach you, in a page or two,
What Garrick should, or should not do.
Trim poets from the city desk,

Deep vers'd in rural picturesque,

Who minute down with wond'rous pains,
What Rider's Almanac contains

On flow'r and seed, and wind, and weather,
And bind them in an ode together;
Shall through the seasons monthly sing
Sweet Winter, Autumn, Summer, Spring.

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My good man, too-Lord bless us! wives Are born to lead unhappy lives, Although his profits bring him clear Almost two hundred pounds a year, Keeps me of cash so short and bare, That I have not a gown to wear; Except my robe, and yellow sack, And this old lutestring on my back. -But we've no time, my dear, to waste. Come, where's your cardinal, make haste. The king, God bless his majesty, I say, Goes to the house of lords to day, In a fine painted coach and eight, And rides along in all his state. And then the queen

MRS. SCOT.

Aye, aye, you know, Great folks can always make a show.

But tell me, do-I've never seen Her present majesty, the queen,

MRS. BROWN.

Lard! we've no time for talking now, Hark! one-two-three-'tis twelve I vow.

MRS. SCOT.

Kitty, my things,-I'll soon have done, It's time enough, you know, at one. -Why, girl! see how the creature stands! Some water here to wash my hands. -Be quick-why sure the gipsey sleeps! Look how the drawling daudle creeps. That bason there-why don't you pour, Go on, I say-stop, stop-no moreLud! I could beat the hussey down, She's pour'd it all upon my gown. -Bring me my ruffles-can'st not mind? And pin my handkerchief behind. Sure thou hast awkwardness enough, Go-fetch my gloves, and fan, and muff. -Well, Heav'n be prais'd-this work is done, I'm ready now, my dear-let's run. Girl,-put that bottle on the shelf, And bring me back the key yourself.

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I'm glad you think so,-Kitty, here,
Bring me my cardinal, my dear.
Jacky, my love, nay don't you cry,
Take you abroad!-Indeed not I;
For all the bugaboes to fright ye-
Besides the naughty horse will bite ye;
With such a mob about the street,
Bless me, they'll tread you under feet.
Whine as you please, I'll have no blame,
You'd better blubber, than be lame.
The more you cry, the less you'll

-Come, come then, give mamma a kiss,
Kitty, I say, here take the boy,
And fetch him down the last new toy,
Make him as merry as you can,

-There, go to Kitty-there's a man,

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