Atticus - Part of Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot

Atticus

The bard whom pilf'red pastorals renown,

Who turns a Persian tale for half a crown,

Just writes to make his barrenness appear,

And strains from hard-bound brains eight lines a year:

He, who still wanting though he lives on theft,

Steals much, spends little, yet has nothing left:

And he, who now to sense, now nonsense leaning,

Means not, but blunders round about a meaning:

And he, whose fustian's so sublimely bad,

It is not poetry, but prose run mad:

All these my modest satire bad translate,

And owned that nine such poets made a Tate.

How did they fume, and stamp, and roar, and chafe!

And swear, not Addison himself was safe.

Peace to all such! but were there one whose fires

True genius kindles, and fair fame inspires,

Blest with each talent and each art to please,

And born to write, converse, and live with ease:

Should such a man, too fond to rule alone,

Bear, like the Turk, no brother near the throne,

View him with scornful, yet with jealous eyes,

And hate for arts that caused himself to rise,

Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,

And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;

Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,

Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike;

Alike reserved to blame, or to commend,

A tim'rous foe, and a suspicious friend,

Dreading ev'n fools, by flatterers besieged,

And so obliging that he ne'er obliged;

Like Cato, give his little senate laws,

And sit attentive to his own applause;

While wits and Templars ev'ry sentence raise,

And wonder with a foolish face of praise.

Who but must laugh, if such a man there be?

Who would not weep, if Atticus were he!

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