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J. C. Squire, ed.  A Book of Women’s Verse.  1921.
 
Verses addressed to the Imitator of the First Satire of the Second Book of Horace
By Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689–1762)
 
IN 1 two large columns on thy motley page,
Where Roman wit is strip’d with English rage;
Where ribaldry to satire makes pretence;
And modern scandal rolls with ancient sense:
Whilst on one side we see how Horace thought;        5
And on the other how he never wrote:
Who can believe, who view the bad and good,
That the dull copyist better understood
That Spirit, he pretends to imitate,
Than heretofore that Greek he did translate?        10
 
Thine is just such an image of his pen,
As thou thyself art of the sons of men:
Where our own species in burlesque we trace,
A sign-post likeness of the human race,
That is at once resemblance and disgrace.        15
If he has thorns, they all on roses grow;
Thine like rude thistles, and mean brambles show,
With this exception, that tho’ rank the soil,
Weeds as they are they seem produc’d by toil.
Satire should, like a polish’d razor keen,        20
Wound with a touch, that ’s scarcely felt or seen.
Thine is an oyster-knife that hacks and hews;
The rage but not the talent to abuse;
And is in hate, what love is in the stews.
’Tis the gross lust of hate, that still annoys,        25
Without distinction, as gross love enjoys:
Neither to folly, nor to vice confin’d;
The object of thy spleen is human kind:
It preys on all, who yield or who resist;
To thee ’tis provocation to exist….        30
 
If none do yet return th’ intended blow,
You all your safety to your dullness owe:
But whilst that armour thy poor corps defends,
’Twill make thy readers few, as are thy friends;
Those, who thy nature loath’d, yet lov’d thy art,        35
Who lik’d thy head, and yet abhorr’d thy heart;
Chose thee, to read, but never to converse,
And scorn’d in prose, him whom they priz’d in verse;
Even they shall now their partial error see,
Shall shun thy writings, like thy company,        40
And to thy books shall ope their eyes no more,
Than to thy person they wou’d do their door.
 
Note 1. “Imitator:” Pope, who had libelled her. [back]
 
 
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