The Character of Atticus

…from the quills of the dead white poets

 Alexander Pope (1688 – 1744)

 Peace to all such! but were there One whose fires

True Genius kindles, and fair Fame inspires;

Blest with each talent and each art to please,

And born to write, converse, and live with ease:

Should such a man, too fond to rule alone,

Bear, like the Turk, no brother near the throne,

View him with scornful, yet with jealous eyes,

And hate for arts that caus’d himself to rise;

Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,

And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;

Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,

Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike;

Alike reserv’d to blame, or to commend,

A tim’rous foe, and a suspicious friend;

Dreading ev’n fools, by flatterers besieg’d,

And so, obliging, that he ne’er oblig’d;

Like Cato, give his little Senate laws,

And sit attentive to his own applause;

While Wits and Templars ev’ry sentence raise,

And wonder with a foolish face of praise –

Who but must laugh, if such a man there be?

Who would not weep, if Atticus were he!

[From The Prologue to the Satires]

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