1733 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Alexander Pope

Anonymous, "On Good and Ill-Nature. To Mr. Pope" Grub-Street Journal (10 May 1733).



In virtue's cause, to draw a daring pen
Defend the good, encounter wicked men:
Freely to praise the virtues of the few;
And boldly censure the degen'rate crew:
Scorning, with equal justice, to deride
The poor man's worth, or sooth the great one's pride:
All this was once good-nature thought, not ill:
Nay, some there are so odd to think so still.
Old-fashion'd souls! — Your men of modern taste
Are with new virtue, new politeness, grac'd.
Good-nature now has chang'd her honest face,
For smiling flatt'ry, compliment, grimace:
Fool grins at fool, each coxcomb owns his brother,
And thieves and sharpers compliment each other.
To such extent good-nature now is spred,
To be sincere is monstrously ill-bred:
An equal brow to all is now the vogue;
And complaisance goes round from rogue to rogue.
If this be good — 'tis gloriously true,
The most ill-natur'd man alive — is You.