La muse de cavalier, or, An apology for such gentlemen as make poetry their diversion, not their business : in a letter from a scholar of Mars to one of Apollo.

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La muse de cavalier, or, An apology for such gentlemen as make poetry their diversion, not their business : in a letter from a scholar of Mars to one of Apollo.
Cutts, John Cutts, Baron, 1661-1707.
London :: Printed for Tho. Fox ...,

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"La muse de cavalier, or, An apology for such gentlemen as make poetry their diversion, not their business : in a letter from a scholar of Mars to one of Apollo." In the digital collection Early English Books Online. University of Michigan Library Digital Collections. Accessed June 20, 2024.


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DAMON, I'm told the Poets take it ill That I am call'd a Brother of the Quill; To end their Jealousie, I quit the Name, And tho' I honour a true Poet's Fame, Yet, since my Genius points out other Ways, And bids me strive for Laurels, not for Bays, I'll keep my Heart for Great Bellonas Charms, If e're she takes me to her Glorious Arms, She shall Command my Fortune and my Life, My Muse is but my Mistress, not my Wife.

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Sometimes, to pass my idle Hours away, Or ease at Night the Troubles of the Day, Her pleasing Company diverts my Mind, And helps my weary Temples to unbind.
The painful Tiller whistles to his Plow, And as the rural Virgin milks her Cow, Without offence to more accomplish'd Art, An untaught Melody revives her Heart: So I, who labour in Life's painful Field, With harmless Pleasure strive my Cares to gild; Whilst, in wild Notes, my heedless Thoughts I sing, And make the Neighb'ring Groves and Eccho's ring.
Like those, who paint for Pastime, not for Gain, I sit me down upon the spacious Plain, And, looking here and there among'st the Throng, I take rough sketches, as they pass along;

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Nor Do I follow any other Rules, But drawing Knaves like Knaves, and Fools like Fools.
I grant you, 'tis a Method out of Use, But 'tis the best for my unpolish'd Muse; She has not learn'd to flatter for Applause, Or laugh at any Man without a Cause; To injure Virtuous Women for a Jest, That none may pass for better than the rest: Or do like some, who, when they are refus'd, And, for their fond Impertinence, abus'd, Vent their weak Malice in a lewd Lampoon, And blast the Ladys Fame to save their own; A Fault the Sparks are much addicted to, They do't themselves, or pay for those that do. My Muse has no Mecenas to admire In Raptures high as Thought, and sometimes higher;

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Nor, if she had one, cou'd she make him pass For witty, if his Lordship were an Ass; Or gild his darnish'd Name with, Good and Just, If he liv'd loosely, or betray'd his Trust: Nor can she, to oblige a sottish Town, Bribe their lewd Fancies for a false Renown, By praising Vice, and crying Virtue down.
This makes some little Criticks fume and rage, And, in a League, against my Lines engage; They are not so concern'd for Wit, or Art, But 'tis the Truth that slabs e'm to the Heart. If stripping Folly of that gay Attire, Which Knaves invent, and Fools so much admire, I shew her naked to the World, that so Men by the Aspect, may the Demon know; Some more notorious Fool, that thinks he's hit, Cry's Z—ds, do's he pretend to be a Wit?

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D—me, if e're I heard such silly stuff, There he breaks off: And speaks the rest in Snuff.
And who is this, so pithy and so short? A Countrey-Blockhead, or a Fop at Court? Some Heir, whose Father (snatch'd away by Fate) Left the young Spark less Judgment than Estate, With nothing: but a modern Education, To Hunt, and Hawk, and Whore, for Recreation, And Drink, in Honour of his Prince and Nation; A Bubble, that has nothing in't but Air, Is driv'n, by every Blast, it knows not where: Just such an empty Thing is this young Sot, Who talks by Rote, and thinks he knows not what. Such Criticks I may possibly forgive, Because (poor Things) they speak as they believe.

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Or is't a Milksop, that has liv'd at Court, That Glorious School, tho' ne'r the better for't? Bred up in fruitless Luxury and Ease, Wash'd and perfum'd into a soft Disease, That makes him fear the Wind, the Rain, or Sun, As bad as some raw Captains do a Gun; Who can no Bus'ness, but the Ladys, do, And that sometimes, I doubt but weakly too: The Censure of so visible an Ass Won't hurt me much: And therefore let it pass.
Is it a feeble Scribler, that pursues His own Disgrace by fooling with a Muse? Who, in her forc'd Embraces, vainly strives, Like some old Citizens with brisk young Wives. But hold—At this (methinks) he cocks his Hat, And smiling, says, I love you, Sir, for that,

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You laugh at Faults, which You (Your self) commit, Unless y'are lately set up for a Wit. No, Child. But what I write is Sense and True, And that is more than can be said of you. Besides, if I've a Mind to play the Fool, (Because, you know, 'tis Modish, and looks cool,) You'll own, I may; And so, you'll say, may you, By the same Rule. No doubt on't: Prithee do. Let me be quiet, and do what you will; Write Essays, say fine Things, and Rhyme your fill; Make Prologues, Epilogues, Love-Songs, and Satyr; And, at low Ebb of Fancy, turn Translator; Disgrace the Theater with Senseless Farce, Or stately Nonsense in Heroick Verse, With Plays, that thwart the meaning of the Stage, And help not to instruct, but spoil, the Age, In which, to turn true Virtue out o' Doors, The Hero's all are Sots, the Ladys Whores:

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The Times will bear it, and it is no more Than many such as you have done before. But meddle not with me; Or, if you must, Be sure the Faults you find are very just, For if I parry ye, expect a Thrust,
But if a Satyrist in Masquerade, Who hides himself, becuse he is affraid, Like Murderers, attacks me in the Dark, I know not how to deal with such a Spark: Yet, if I catch him, I'll his Crimes rehearse, And have the Rogue hang'd up in Chains of Verse.
As for the rambling injudicious Wits, Who talk all Weathers, and speak Sense by Fits; If they should, in my Absence, run me down, And to expose my Weakness, shew their own:

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Let 'em be quiet, and enjoy their Way; They answer to the full, what e're they say; Satyr upon themselves; They save my Writing; And every Thing they say is Devilish biting.
In short, Each partial Censurer is free To play the Fool himself, and laugh at me; Let him contrive to carp at what he will; Sense will be Sense, and he a Block-head still.
And, Damon, since I make this Declaration That Poetry's my Pleasure, not Vocation, You and your Breth'ren ought not to refuse Such Pastime to an unpretending Muse. The War, you say, 's my Calling. And what then? You use a Sword; Why may not I a Pen? You give a Souldier leave to eat and drink; And, prithee, why not give him leave to think?

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You may indulge with safety all that do, There are not many like to trouble you.
Then let each Party lay their Quarrels by, Mind their own Trade, and live in Charity. We for an Iron-Harvest will prepare, And plow for Honour in the Fields of War: While you are taught more safe and gentle ways, To purchase an Inheritance of Praise: But now and then, to vary for Delight, Fight you like Poets, we'll like Souldiers write.
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