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Poem by James Maxwell
10. Urania. To the Human Muse
To please the taste of all mankind, Is this the task by thee design’d? And if thou canst the same perform, Then must thou weather many a storm. Yea, must do what was never done, By any man beneath the fun. The learn’d, judicious, and the wise, Will only sense and judgment prize. Where good ideas are exprest, Such, only such will stand their test: Where sense and reason fair appear, To warm the heart and charm the ear. But by the ignorant and rude, Such things are never understood; Nonsense alone will please them best, No matter how it be exprest. The candid readers will sustain, What captious critics will disdain; To shew their wit they censure all, That under their cognizance fall. Some will approve of flowing rhimet Where sense and numbers sweetly chime; While some the sweetest rhimes despise, And blank verse only they will prize. Others all kinds of verse refuse, And prose is only what they chuse; Nor of the best thereof approve, But to the dullest shew their love. Yea, some to books of ev’ry kind, Shew great aversion in their mind ; Whose taste is all for earthly store, And carnal things, they want no more. While some the Bible only prize, And ev’ry other book despise ; Because they’re by tradition taught, That it alone with truth is fraught: Yet when they take it in their hand. But little of it understand, To them it is a sealed book, Wherein they very seldom look. But if it has a gilt outside, Then will it much exalt their pride, To take it to the church. Why not? To shew what Bible they have got. Yea, worse than these thou yet wilt find, If worse can be among mankind: Who yet in books take great delight, Ev’n such as carnal minds excite. Such books they love which most excel# To shew the surest road to hell: The molt lascivious and profane, Or those of a deistic strain. Such as are found — in David Hume, Or Dudgeon of a hellish gloom. Likewise the forenam’d Poet B—s, Who all reveal’d religion spurns. And Peter Pindar, who can fling His vile reproaches at the King. Or Bolingbroke, and others too, Who hellish wit profusely shew. With many more, in verse and prose, Who all the truths of Heaven oppose. Such are the books now much in vogue, Esteem’d by ev’ry whore and rogue. Now if thou wouldst for money write, Consider how to hit the white: Or if thou writ’st to get a name, Of endless obloquy or fame; Think now which party thou can’st please, Among such votaries as these. To please them all thou art unfit, And so were all that ever writ. Thus spake URANIA to the Bard, Who all these words attentive heard. Then he the boundless task resign’d And hopes of pleasing all mankind. Resolv’d if he could any please, They should be only such as these, The candid and judicious few, Who still to merit gives its due; Yet are not of true judgment blind, But soon a real fault can find; And check an error, when ’tis seen, Without a heart of captious spleen. Such readers he resolv’d to try, If possible, to gratify. But the voluptuous, and profane, Who ev’ry serious truth disdain; With all the stupid and the rude, Who good call evil, evil good: He would regard none of such sort, Howe’er they at his works made sport. And tho’ he should not money gain, Nor yet the world’s applause obtain. If he the plaudit of the Lord Obtain’d, altho’ by fools abhorr’d, Then would he well contented be, Howe’er his readers disagree. O happy Bard, who this obtains, Tho’ he nor wealth nor honour gains; Tho’ he small money should procure, ’Tis no disgrace to say, He’s poor. For that’s a common cant this day, The Poet’s poor, they always say: But if that’s the worst, no matter, To mankind less is he the debtor: And if on him they cast the blame, He can to them return the same. If he writes things of gen’ral use, He needs not fear their vile abuse. But if he writes of things profane Or of a base, lascivious strain; No matter though he suffer scorn, And sink in poverty forlorn. Such jargon it may please a while, And fools on him may fawn and smile, But soon on him they’ll turn the tail, And let his expectations fail. The higher he at first aspire, The deeper shall he sink in mire; And ev’n his readers, that him prais’d, By them shall he be most debas’d. Consider then, ye Poets all, Lest thus you meet a shameful fall; For if on clouds you high ascend, You’ll sink the lower in the end.
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