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Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux

Virtue alone is the unerring sign of a noble soul.

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No one who cannot limit himself has ever been able to write.

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However big the fool, there is always a bigger fool to admire him.

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Canto III

THE ARGUMENT

An Owl instructed by the Night,
Cunningly counterfeits A Sprite :
In Pulpit close she lies Perdue,
And terrifies the Prelates Crew!
They Routed fly with heavy Clatter,
The Canto tells you, what's the matter ;
But Discord to Retrieve the sport
Rallies them soon in Warlike sort :
All Oppositions overpast,
They set the Pulpit up at last :
But fear not lest the Prelate Preacht in't ;
Alas he has a further reach in't !
To spight his Foes, yet for all's Feating,
The proof of th' Pudding's seen i'th' eating.

But Night in hast with her Dark Canopy,
Shrowding the viny Plains of Burgundy,
Flew back to th' City ; and as suddenly

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poem by Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux from Le LutrinReport problemRelated quotes
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Canto II

ARGUMENT

Forsaken Nancy in this Canto,
Brings 'gainst her John a Quo Warranto,
'Cause he had left her in the Lurch,
To rear a Pulpit in the Church :
And under colour of Religion
Courted another pretty Pigeon.
Now you must know that all the Blame
Was laid upon the Baggage Fame ;
Who rais'd between them the sad Squabble,
By forging of this Idle Fable !
Next you shall see in Sluggish Dress,
That Gallant Lady Idleness ;
Who has more Suitors waiting on her,
Than the most virtuous Maid of Honour ;
But here I almost had forgot
To won the Error of our Plot,
The Poet laid his Scene in France,
But I can't tell by what Mischance,

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Canto IV

THE ARGUMENT

Alas ! The Poëms curious Model
Is Alter’d quite i'th’ Poets Noddle !
So Nature oft, for want of Tools,
Decrees Wise men, produces Fools :
To tell you True, my Muse and I
Design’d at first, the Victory
To Master Dean ; how’t came about
I cannot tell ; but now the Rout
Is His : yet so, The Fancy’s righer
To end in Pot, commence in Pitcher !
Such was the Project ! such th’ Event !
But listen to the Argument !
The Chanter’s Dream : A Chapter called ;
Fine Speeches made ; The Pulpit mawled ;
This Counter-Scuffle, I dare stand in’t,
The Goddess Discord had a hand in’t :
The Prelates foes ; The Changers friends ;
The Canto, and the Poëme ends.

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Canto I

ARGUMENT

The Argument ? what needs a Proëme
To vamp a Three-half-penny Poëme ?
No, Reader, No ; ‘twas never writt
For thy sake, but for little Chitt.
St. George oth’ back-side of the Horn-book,
The Dragon kills, to Humour Scorn-book.
And thus to wheddle in young Fops,
The gilded Sign hangs o’re the Shops :
Miss won’t come in to Buy, before
She spies the Knick-knack at the Dore.
Thus Queasie Madams meat forbear
Until they read, The Bill of Fare.
Instead a Frontispiece, or Babbie,
We plac’t to please some puiney Rabbie,
Who hates an Author that enlarges,
And cons the Index to save charges.
Discord, that Tearing, Hectoring Ranter,
Provokes a Dean and his Arch-chanter,

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