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1 How much of paper's spoil'd what floods of ink!
2 And yet how few, how very few can think!
3 The knack of writing is an easy trade;
4 But to think well requires at least a Head.
5 Once in an age, one Genius may arise,
6 With wit well-cultur'd, and with learning wise.
7 Like some tall oak, behold his branches shoot!
8 No tender scions springing at the root.
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9 Whilst lofty Pope erects his laurell'd head,
10 No lays, like mine, can live beneath his shade.
11 Nothing but weeds, and moss, and shrubs are found.
12 Cut, cut them down, why cumber they the ground?
13 And yet you'd have me write! For what? for whom?
14 To curl a Fav'rite in a dressing-room?
15 To mend a candle when the snuff's too short?
16 Or save rappee for chamber-maids at Court?
17 Glorious ambition! noble thirst of same!
18 No, but you'd have me write to get a name.
19 Alas! I'd live unknown, unenvy'd too;
20 'Tis more than Pope, with all his wit can do.
21 'Tis more than You, with wit and beauty join'd,
22 A pleasing from, and a discerning mind.
23 The world and I are no such cordial friends;
24 I have my purpose, they their various ends.
25 I say my pray'rs, and lead a sober life,
26 Nor laugh at Cornus, or at Cornus 'wife.
27 What's fame to me, who pray, and pay my rent?
28 I my friends know me honest, I'm content.
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29 Well, but the joy to see my works in print!
30 My self too pictur'd in a Mezzo-Tint!
31 The Preface done, the Dedication fram'd,
32 With lies enough to make a Lord asham'd!
33 Thus I step forth; an Auth'ress in some sort.
34 My Patron's name? "O choose some Lord at Court.
35 " One that has money which he does not use,
36 One you may flatter much, that is, abuse.
37 For if you're nice, and cannot change your note,
38 Regardless of the trimm'd, or untrimm'd coat;
39 Believe me, friend, you'll ne'er beworth a groat. "
40 Well then, to cut this mighty matter short,
41 I've neither friend, nor interest at Court.
42 Quite from St. James's to thy stairs, Whitehall,
43 I hardly know a creature, great or small,
44 Except one Maid of Honour,
* Honourable Miss Lovelace.
worth 'em all.
45 I have no bus'ness there. Let those attend
46 The courtly Levee, or the courtly Friend,
47 Who more than fate allows them, dare to spend.
48 Or those whose avarice, with much, craves more,
49 The pension'd Beggar, or the titled Poor.
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50 These are the thriving Breed, the tiny Great!
51 Slaves! wretched Slaves! the Journeymen of State!
52 Philosophers! who calmly bear disgrace,
53 Patriots! who sell their country for a place.
54 Shall I for these disturb my brains with rhyme?
55 For these, like Bavius creep, or Glencus climb?
56 Shall I go late to rest, and early rise,
57 To be the very creature I despise?
58 With face unmov'd, my poem in my hand,
59 Cringe to the porter, with the footman stand?
60 Perhaps my lady's maid, if not too proud,
61 Will stoop, you'll say, to wink me from the croud.
62 Will entertain me, till his lordship's drest,
63 With what my lady eats, and how she rests:
64 How much she gave for such a birth-day gown,
65 And how she trampt to ev'ry shop in town.
66 Sick at the news, impatient for my lord,
67 I'm forc'd to hear, nay smile at ev'ry word.
68 Tom raps at last, "His lordship begs to know
69 Your name? your bus'ness?" Sir, I'm not a foe.
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70 I come to charm his lordship's list'ning ears
71 With verses, soft as music of the spheres.
72 "Verses! Alas! his lordship seldom reads:
73 Pedants indeed with learning stuff their heads;
74 But my good lord, as all the world can tell,
75 Reads not ev'n tradesmen's bills, and scorns to spell.
76 But trust your lays with me. Some things I'veread,
77 Was born a poet, tho' no poet bred:
78 And if I find they'll bear my nicer view,
79 I'll recommend your poetry and you."
80 Shock'd at his civil impudence, I start,
81 Pocket my poem, and in haste depart;
82 Resolv'd no more to offer up my wit,
83 Where footmen in the seat of critics sit.
84 Is there a Lord
* Right Hon. Nevil Lord Lovelace, who dy'd soon after, in the 28 th year of his age.
whose great unspotted soul,
85 Not places, pensions, ribbons can control;
86 Unlac'd, unpowder'd, almost unobserv'd,
87 Eats not on silver, while his train are starv'd;
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88 Who tho' to nobles, or to kings ally'd,
89 Dares walk on foot, while slaves in coaches ride;
90 With merit humble, and with greatness free,
91 Has bow'd to Freeman, and has din'd with Me;
92 Who bred in foreign courts, and early known,
93 Has yet to learn the cunning of his own;
94 To titles born, yet heir to no estate,
95 And, harder still, to honest to be great;
96 If such an one there be, well-bred, polite?
97 To Him I'll dedicate, for Him I'll write.
98 Peace to the rest. I can be no man's slave;
99 I ask for nothing, tho' I nothing have.
100 By Fortune humbled, yet not sunk so low
101 To shame a friend, or fear to meet a foe.
102 Meanness, in ribbons or in rags, I hate;
103 And have not learnt to flatter, ev'n the Great.
104 Few friends I ask, and those who love me well;
105 What more remains, these artless lines shall tell.
106 Of honest parents, not of great, I came;
107 Not known to fortune, quite unknown to fame.
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108 Frugal and plain, at no man's cost they eat,
109 Nor knew a baker's, or a butcher's debt.
110 O be their precepts ever in my eye!
111 For one has learnt to live, and one to die.
112 Long may her widow'd age by heav'n be lent
113 Among my blessings! and I'm well content.
114 I ask no more, but in some calm retreat,
115 To sleep in quiet, and in quiet eat.
116 No noisy slaves attending round my room;
117 My viands wholesome, and my waiters dumb.
118 No orphans cheated, and no widow's curse,
119 No houshold lord, for better or for worse.
120 No monstrous sums to tempt my soul to sin,
121 But just enough to keep me plain, and clean.
122 And if sometimes, to smooth the rugged way,
123 Charlot should smile, or You approve my lay,
124 Enough for me. I cannot put my trust
125 In lords; smile lies, eat toads, or lick the dust.
126 Fortune her favours much too dear may hold:
127 An honest heart is worth its weight in gold.


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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): An EPISTLE to Lady BOWYER.
Author: Mary Jones
Themes: friendship
Genres: heroic couplet; epistle

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Source edition

Miscellanies in Prose and Verse. By Mary Jones Oxford: Printed; and delivered by Mr. Dodsley in Pall-Mall, Mr. Clements in Oxford, and Mr. Frederick in Bath, MDCCL., 1750, pp. 1-7. vi,[1],xlv,[1],405p. (ESTC T115196)

Editorial principles

The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.

Other works by Mary Jones