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I write what's uppermost, without delay;

This narrative is not meant for narration

But a mere airy and fantastic basis,

To build up common things with common places.

VIII.

You know, or don't know, that great Bacon saith, «Fling up a straw, 'twill show the way the windblows; » And such a straw, borne on by human breath,

Is Poesy, according as the mind glows;

A paper kite which flies 'twixt life and death,

A shadow which the onward Soul behind throws: And mine's a bubble not blown up for praise, But just to play with, as an infant plays.

IX.

The world is all before me-or behind;

For I have seen a portion of that same,
And quite enough for me to keep in mind; -

Of passions too, I have proved enough to blame, To the great pleasure of our friends, mankind, Who like to mix some slight alloy with fame: For I was rather famous in my time,

Until I fairly knock'd it up with rhyme.

X.

I have brought this world about my ears, and eke
The other; that's to say, the Clergy-who
Upon my head have bid their thunders break
In pious libels by no means a few.

And yet I can't help scribbling once a week,

Tiring old readers, nor discovering new. In youth I wrote because my mind was full, And now because I feel it growing dull.

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Of fame or profit, when the world grows weary.

I ask in turn, why do you play at cards?

Why drink? Wky read?—To make some hour less dreary. It occupies me to turn back regards

On what I've seen or ponder'd, sad or cheery;

And what I write I cast upon the stream,
To swim or sink-I have had at least my
XII.

dream.

I think that were I certain of success,
I hardly could compose another line:
So long I've battled either more or less,
That no defeat can drive me from the Nine.
This feeling 'tis not easy to express,
And yet 'tis not affected, I opine.

In play, there are two pleasures for your choosing-
The one is winning, and the other losing.

XIII.

Besides, my Muse by no means deals in fiction:
She gathers a repertory of facts,

Of course with some reserve and slight restriction,
But mostly sings of human things and acts-
And that's one cause she meets with contradiction;
For too much truth, at first sight, ne'er attracts;
And were her object only what's call'd glory,
With more ease too she'd tell a different story.

XIV.

Love, war, a tempest-surely there's variety;
Also a seasoning slight of lucubration;
A bird's eye view too of that wild, Society;

A slight glance thrown on men of every station.

If you have nought else, here's at least satiety
Both in performance and in preparation;

And though these lines should only line pormanteaus,
Trade will be all the better for these Cantos.

XV.

The portion of this world which I at present
Have taken up to fill the following sermon,
Is one of which there's no description recent :
The reason why, is easy to determine:
Although it seems both prominent and pleasant,
There is a sameness in its gems and ermine,
A dull and family likeness through all ages,
Of no great promise for poetic pages.

XVI.

With much to excite, there's little to exalt;
Nothing that speaks to all men and all times,
A sort of varnish over every fault;

A kind of common-place, even in their crimes; Factitious passions, wit without much salt,

A want of that true nature which sublimes Whate'er it shows with truth; a smooth monotony Of character, in those at least who have got any.

XVII.

Sometimes indeed, like soldiers off parade,

They break their ranks and gladly leave the drill; But then the roll-call draws them back afraid, And they must be or seem what they were still Doubtless it is a brilliant masquerade;

But when of the first sight you have had your fill,

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It palls at least it did so upon me,

This Paradise of Pleasure and Ennui.

XVIII.

When we have made our love, and gamed our gaming,
Drest, voted, shone, and, may be, something more;
With dandies dined; heard senators declaiming;
Seen beauties brought to market by the score;
Sad rakes to sadder husbands chastely taming;
There's little left but to be bored or bore.

Witness those « ci-devant jeunes hommes » who stem
The stream, nor leave the world which leaveth them.
XIX.

Tis said indeed a general complaint

That no one has succeeded in describing The Monde, exactly as they ought to paint.

Some say, that Authors only snatch, by bribing The porter, some slight scandals strange and quaint, To furnish matter for their moral gibing;

And that their books have but one style in commonMy lady's prattle, filter'd through her woman.

XX.

But this can't well be true, just now; for writers
Are grown of the Beau Monde a part potential :
I've seen them balance even the scale with fighters,
Especially when young, for that's essential,
Why do their sketches fail them as inditers

Of what they deem themselves most consequential, The real portrait of the highest tribe?

'Tis that, in fact, there's little to describe.

XXI.

«Haud ignara loquor; these are Nuga, « quarum

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« Pars parva fui, » but still Art and part.

Now I could much more easily sketch a harem,
A battle, wreck, or history of the heart,

Than these things; and besides, I wish to spare 'em, For reasons which I choose to keep apart.

« Vetabo Cereris sacrum qui vulgaret »

Which means, that vulgar people must not share it.

XXII.

And therefore what I throw off is ideal

Lower'd, leaven'd, like a history of Freemasons; Which bears the same relation to the real,

As Captain Parry's voyage may do to Jason's. The grand Arcanum's not for men to see all; My music has some mystic diapasons;

And there is much which could not be appreciated In any manner by the uninitiated.

Alas! Worlds fall

XXIII.

and Woman, since she fell'd

The world (as, since that history, less polite Than true, hath been a creed so strictly held) Has not yet given up the practice quite. Poor Thing of Usages! Coerc'd, compell'd,

Victim when wrong, and martyr oft when right, Condemn'd to child-bed, as men for their sins Have shaving too entailed upon their chins,

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XXIV.

A daily plague, which in the aggregate

May average on the whole with parturition. But as to women, who can penetrate

The real sufferings of their she condition? Man's very sympathy with their estate

Has much of selfishness and more suspicion. Their love, their virtue, beauty, education, But form good housekeepers, to breed a nation.

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