1722 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joseph Addison

Alexander Pope, ["Fragment of a Satire"] St. James's Journal (15 December 1722).



Button's, 12 Decemb. 1722.
SIR,
I hear several People thought fit to quarrel with me for my Opinion of Philaster, which I shall take an Opportunity to justify as to the Fable, Sentiments, and Diction, when I have nothing better to entertain you with. I take notice, that several of my gloomy Brethren of this Coffee-House, are not able to comprehend whether I am a Friend or an Enemy; whether I am heartily in the Interests of the Theatre, or else am secretly growling over some old Grudge, which I don't care to own. At present I shall only declare that a Dramatick Piece finely written, and justly represented, is, in my opinion, a most reasonable Entertainment, and is capable of being made a very useful one; but that the Reputation of my Understanding ought to rise or fall at Button's Coffee-House, just as my Subject happens to lead me to censure or commend the Transactions of the Neighbouring Stage, is certainly very unjust Usage of your Humble Servant,
DORIMANT.
P. S. The following Lines have been in good Reputation here, and are now submitted to Publick Censure.

If meaner Gil—n draws his venal Quill,
I wish the Man a Dinner, and sit still;
If Den—s rails and raves in furious Pet,
I'll answer Den—s when I am in Debt:
'Tis Hunger, and not Malice makes them print;
And who'd wage War with Bedlam or the Mint?
But were there one whom better Stars conspire,
To form a Bard, or raise his Genius higher;
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 reign alone,
Bear, like the Turk, no Brother near the Throne;
View him with scornful, yet with jealous Eyes,
And hate for Arts which caus'd 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 Affront, and hesitate Dislike;
Alike reserv'd to blame, or to commend,
A tim'rous Foe, and a suspicious Friend?
Fearing ev'n Fools, by Flatterers beseig'd,
And so obliging, that he ne'er oblig'd;
Who, when two Wits on Rival Themes contest,
Approves of each, but likes the worst the best;
Like Cato gives his little Senate Laws,
And sits attentive to his own Applause;
Whilst Wits and Templers every Sentence raise,
And wonder with a foolish Face of Praise:
Who but must grieve, if such a Man there be?
Who would not weep if Ad—n were he!