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But with the friends of vice, the foes of SATIRE, All truth is spleen; all just reproof, ill-nature.
Well may they dread the Muse's fatal skill; Well may they tremble when she draws her quill; Her magic quill, that like ITHURIEL'S spear, 135 Reveals the cloven hoof, or lengthen'd ear; Bids Vice and Folly take their natural shapes, Turns duchesses to strumpets, beaux to apes; Drags the vile whisperer from his dark abode, Till all the demon starts up from the toad. 140 O sordid maxim, form'd to screen the vile, That true good-nature still must wear a smile! In frowns array'd her beauties stronger rise, When love of virtue makes her scorn of vice: Where justice calls, 'tis cruelty to save; And 'tis the law's good-nature hangs the knave. Who combats virtue's foe is virtue's friend: Then judge of SATIRE'S merit by her end: To Guilt alone her vengeance stands confined, The object of her love is all mankind. 150 Scarce more the friend of Man, the wise must own, Even ALLEN's bounteous hand, than SATIRE's frown: This to chastise, as that to bless, was given; Alike the faithful ministers of Heaven.
Oft in unfeeling hearts the shaft is spent : 155 Though strong th' example, weak the punishment. They least are pain'd, who merit Satire most; Folly the Laureat's, vice was Chartres' boast:. Then where's the wrong, to gibbet high the name Of fools and knaves already dead to shame? 160
Oft SATIRE acts the faithful surgeon's part; Generous and kind, though painful is her art: With caution bold, she only strikes to heal; Though folly raves to break the friendly steel. Then sure no fault impartial SATIRE knows, 165 Kind even in vengeance, kind to Virtue's foes. Whose is the crime, the scandal too be theirs: The knave and fool are their own libellers.
DARE nobly then: but conscious of
But chief, be steady in a noble end,
And shew mankind that truth has yet a friend.
Or madly blaze unknown defects, is vile:
With caution next, the dangerous power apply; An eagle's talon asks an eagle's eye:
Let SATIRE then her proper object know,
And courts the spruce freethinker and the beau. Dadalian arguments but few can trace,
But all can read the language of grimace.
Truth's sacred fort th' exploded laugh shall win, And coxcombs vanquish BERKLEY by a grin.
But you, more sage, reject th' inverted rule, 225 That truth is e'er explored by ridicule : On truth, on falsehood let her colours fall, She throws a dazzling glare alike on all; As the gay prism but mocks the flatter'd eye, And gives to every object every dye. Beware the mad adventurer: bold and blind She hoists her sail, and drives with every wind; Deaf as the storm to sinking virtue's groan, Nor heeds a friend's destruction, or her own. Let clear-eyed reason at the helm preside, Bear to the wind, or stem the furious tide; Then mirth may urge, when reason can explore, This point the way, that waft us glad to shore. Though distant times may rise in SATIRE's page, Yet chief 'tis hers to draw the present age; With wisdom's lustre, folly's shade contrast, And judge the reigning manners by the past; Bid Britain's heroes (awful shades!) arise, And ancient honour beam on modern vice; Point back to minds ingenuous, actions fair, 245 Till the sons blush at what their fathers were, Ere yet 'twas beggary the great to trust; Ere yet 'twas quite a folly to be just; When low-born sharpers only dared a lie, Or falsified the card, or cogg'd the die; Ere lewdness the stain'd garb of honour wore, Or chastity was carted for the whore;