1732 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Alexander Pope

Anonymous, On P[op]e and W[elste]d. Occasion'd by their late Writings (1732) 3-6.



How greatly, by our modern Poets Rage,
Charm'd and instructed is our modern Age?
While, in their smooth and varnish'd Lines, is seen
Nothing — but Partiality and Spleen!
Such are the Motives of thy mighty Mind,
Oh, mighty P—e! with Arrogance combin'd;
And W—d, with the zeal of Gain inspir'd,
(But Zeal of Justice in Pretension fir'd)
In courteous Satire, sparing lofty F—ls,
Pursues with Ardour — profitable Rules;
Rivals he more conveniently may hate,
But Int'rest cries — Beware the Rich, or Great!
These stubborn Truth's hard Course avoid and dread,
Too hard by far — for little Souls to tread;
They strive the World, but more themselves to please;
They court Applause, adoring Wealth and Ease:
Where is, oh Juvenal! Thy Force, or Sense,
Or thy Integrity, or Eloquence?
Thy Art, Oh Horace! — Which in ev'ry View,
Nature so rightly, and compleatly drew?
Thy vernal Measures, like a vernal Breeze,
Serenely move with Gentleness and Ease;
But, harsh and strong is thy satirick Strain,
Like Rocks rough rising o'er the stormy Main;
While of these nice Adventurers for Fame,
What e're the Theme, the Manner is the same;
They Energy, like Truth, avoid — profound
In specious Show, and undulating Sound;
As Lovers 'Plaints, their Satires softly move,
Melodiously they still fill the vocal Grove;
Their Wrath, howe'er invet'rate, never seems
Like torrents Rage — but glides like purling Streams:
Well Suits indeed their Principles, their Strain;
So false! affected! impotent! And vain!
P—e does (exorbitantly fond of Fame)
Pour out the Vengeance of aspersing Blame;
Freedom and Reason are (with W—d) Foes,
The Rich, or Great, no Indecorum knows:

Thus are We (led by Prejudice and Pique)
For real moral Virtue far to seek;
Or, as its Acquisition easy — None
Wou'd, what's so much unfashionable, own.

These modish Times, Oh how polite and wise!
How greatly form'd — Instruction to despise!
What Miracles are now, by Fortune wrought!
The Poor have no Desert! — the Rich, no Fault!
Our Poets first, thro' spleenful Discontent,
Not Love of Truth, satirick Meanings vent;
And afterward (observe the glorious End)
Recant those Meanings — least they shou'd offend:
Yet Truth it self is call'd Abuse — and Satire,
For rightly representing Things — Ill-nature;
For Pride and Folly are so rampant grown,
We must not dare to make Them fairly known;
They must not have their hideous Forms reveal'd,
But must be (to be lov'd and priz'd) conceal'd.