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PoET. Oh, tell me not of the tumultuous crowd, My powers desert me in the noisy throng; Hide, hide me from the multitude, whose loud And dizzy whirl would hurry me along Against my will; and lead me to some lone And silent vale some scene in fairy-land, There only will the poet's heart expand, Surrendered to the impulses of song, Lost in delicious visions of its own, Where Love and Friendship o'er the heart at rest Watch through the flowing hours, and we are blest !
Thoughts by the soul conceived in silent joy, Sounds often muttered by the timid voice, Tried by the nice ear, delicate of choice, Till we at last are pleased, or self-deceived, The whole a rabble's madness may destroy ; And this, when, aster toil of many years, Touched and retouched, the perfect piece appears, To challenge praise, or win unconscious tears, As the vain heart too easily believed; Some sparkling, showy thing, got up in haste, Brilliant and light, will catch the passing taste. The truly great, the genuine, the sublime Wins its slow way in silence; and the bard, Unnoticed long, receives from after-time The imperishable wreath, his best, bis sole reward!
Enough of this cold cant of future ages, And men hereafter doting on your pages ; To prattle thus of other times is pleasant, And all the while neglect our own, the present. If on the unborn we squander our exertion, Who will supply the living with diversion ? And, clamour as you
authors may about it, We want amusement, will not go without it; A fashionable group is no small matter, Methinks, a poet's vanity to flatter: He who, profusely lavishing invention, Pleases himself, need feel no apprehension ; The crowd soon share the feelings of the poet, The praise he seeks they liberally bestow it: The more that come, the better for the writer; Each flash of wit is farther felt . seems brighter, And every little point appreciated, , By some one in the circle over-rated, All is above its value estimated : Take courage then,
now for a chefd'ouvre To make a name - to live, and live for ever Call Fancy up, with her attendant troop, Reason and JUDGMENT, Passion, MeLANCHOLY, Wit, Feeling, and be sure among the group Not to forget the little darling, FOLLY!
But above all, give them enough of action ;
He who gives most, will give most satisfaction ;
They come to see a show no work whatever,
Unless it be a show, can win their favour;
Therefore, by this their taste, be thou admonished,
Weave brilliant scenes to captivate their eyes :
Let them but stare and gape, and be astonished,
Soon as a dramatist your fame will rise.
A show is what they want; they love and pay for it;
Spite of its serious parts, sit through a play for it ;
And he who gives one is a certain favourite ;
Would you please many, you must give good mea-
sure; Then each finds something in 't to yield him plea
The more you give, the greater sure your chance is
To please, by varying scenes, such various fancies.
The interest of a piece, no doubt, increases
Divided thus, and broken into pieces.
Such a ragoût is soon prepared, nor shall it
Be otherwise than pleasing to each palate ;
And, for my part, methinks it little matters :
Though you may
work a finished whole, The public soon will tear this whole to tatters, And but on piecemeal parts their praises dole.
You cannot think how very mean
How humbling to a genuine artist's mind,
To furnish such a drama as you ask :
The poor pretender's bungling tricks, I find,
Are now established as the rules of trade, -
Receipts — by which successful plays are made !
Such an objection is of little weight
Against my reasoning. If a person chooses
To work effectively, no doubt he uses
The instrument that's most appropriate.
Your play may—for your audience — be too good ;-
Coarse lumpish logs are they of clumsy wood –
Blocks — with the hatchet only to be hewed !-
One comes to drive away ennui or spleen ;
Another, with o'erloaded paunch from table;
A third, than all the rest less tolerable,
From reading a review or magazine.
Hither all haste, anticipate delight,
As to a Masque, desire each face illuming,
And each, some novel character assuming,
Place for awhile their own half out of sight.
The ladies, too, tricked out in brilliant gear,
Themselves ambitious actresses appear,
And, though unpaid, are still performers here.
What do you dream, in your poetic pride ?
Think you a full house can be satisfied
And every auditor an ardent cheerer?
Pray, only look at them a little nearer ;
One half are cold spectators, inattentive;
The other dead to every fine incentive;
One fellow's thinking of a game of cards ;
One on a wild night of intoxication :
Why court for such a set the kind regards
Of the coy Muse - her highest fascination ?
I tell thee only, give enough — enough ;
Still more and more no matter of what stuff,
You cannot go astray; let all your
Be only for the moment to amuse,
To keep them in amazement or distraction ;
Man is incapable of satisfaction.
Why, what affects you thus - is 't inspiration ?
A reverie? - oh! can it be vexation ?
Go, and elsewhere some fitter servant find;
What ! shall the poet squander then away,
And spend in worthless, worse than idle, play,
The highest gift that ever nature gave,
The inalienable birthright of mankind,
The freedom of the independent mind,
And sink into an humble trading slave?
Whence is his power all human hearts to win,
And why can nothing his proud march oppose,
As through all elements the conqueror goes ?