Essay on Man
Part 3 out of 4
TO LORD BOLINGBROKE.
St. John, whose love indulged my labours past,
Matures my present, and shall bound my last!
Why will you break the Sabbath of my days?
Now sick alike of envy and of praise.
Public too long, ah let me hide my age!
See, modest Cibber now has left the stage:
Our generals now, retired to their estates,
Hang their old trophies o'er the garden gates,
In life's cool evening satiate of applause,
Nor fond of bleeding, even in Brunswick's cause.
A voice there is, that whispers in my ear,
('Tis Reason's voice, which sometimes one can hear)
"Friend Pope, be prudent, let your muse take breath,
And never gallop Pegasus to death;
Lest stiff and stately, void of fire or force,
You limp, like Blackmore, on a lord mayor's horse."
Farewell then verse, and love, and every toy,
The rhymes and rattles of the man or boy;
What right, what true, what fit we justly call,
Let this be all my care--for this is all.
To lay this harvest up, and hoard with haste
What every day will want, and most, the last.
But ask not, to what doctors I apply?
Sworn to no master, of no sect am I:
As drives the storm, at any door I knock:
And house with Montaigne now, or now with Locke.
Sometimes a patriot, active in debate,
Mix with the world, and battle for the State,
Free as young Lyttelton, her cause pursue,
Still true to virtue, and as warm as true:
Sometimes with Aristippus, or St. Paul,
Indulge my candour, and grow all to all;
Back to my native moderation slide,
And win my way by yielding to the tide.
Long, as to him who works for debt, the day,
Long as the night to her whose love's away,
Long as the year's dull circle seems to run,
When the brisk minor pants for twenty-one:
So slow th' unprofitable moments roll,
That lock up all the functions of my soul;
That keep me from myself; and still delay
Life's instant business to a future day:
That task, which as we follow, or despise,
The eldest is a fool, the youngest wise;
Which done, the poorest can no wants endure;
And which not done, the richest must be poor.
Late as it is, I put myself to school,
And feel some comfort, not to be a fool.
Weak though I am of limb, and short of sight,
Far from a lynx, and not a giant quite;
I'll do what Mead and Cheselden advise,
To keep these limbs, and to preserve these eyes.
Not to go back, is somewhat to advance,
And men must walk at least before they dance.
Say, does thy blood rebel, thy bosom move
With wretched avarice, or as wretched love?
Know, there are words and spells, which can control
Between the fits this fever of the soul:
Know, there are rhymes, which fresh and fresh applied
Will cure the arrant'st puppy of his pride.
Be furious, envious, slothful, mad, or drunk,
Slave to a wife, or vassal to a punk,
A Switz, a High Dutch, or a Low Dutch bear;
All that we ask is but a patient ear.
'Tis the first virtue, vices to abhor;
And the first wisdom, to be fool no more.
But to the world no bugbear is so great,
As want of figure, and a small estate.
To either India see the merchant fly,
Scared at the spectre of pale poverty!
See him, with pains of body, pangs of soul,
Burn through the Tropic, freeze beneath the pole!
Wilt thou do nothing for a nobler end,
Nothing, to make philosophy thy friend?
To stop thy foolish views, thy long desires,
And ease thy heart of all that it admires?
Here, wisdom calls: "Seek virtue first, be bold!
As gold to silver, virtue is to gold."
There, London's voice: "Get money, money still!
And then let virtue follow, if she will."
This, this the saving doctrine, preached to all,
From low St. James's up to high St. Paul;
From him whose quills stand quivered at his ear,
To him who notches sticks at Westminster.
Barnard in spirit, sense, and truth abounds;
"Pray then, what wants he?" fourscore thousand pounds;
A pension, or such harness for a slave
As Bug now has, and Dorimant would have.
Barnard, thou art a Cit, with all thy worth;
But Bug and D * l, their honours, and so forth.
Yet every child another song will sing:
"Virtue, brave boys! 'tis virtue makes a king."
True, conscious honour is to feel no sin,
He's armed without that's innocent within;
Be this thy screen, and this thy wall of brass;
Compared to this, a minister's an ass.
And say, to which shall our applause belong,
This new Court jargon, or the good old song?
The modern language of corrupted peers,
Or what was spoke at Cressy and Poitiers?
Who counsels best? who whispers, "Be but great,
With praise or infamy leave that to fate;
Get place and wealth, if possible, with grace;
If not, by any means get wealth and place--"
For what? to have a box where eunuchs sing,
And foremost in the circle eye a king.
Or he, who bids thee face with steady view )
Proud fortune, and look shallow greatness through: )
And, while he bids thee, sets th' example too? )
If such a doctrine, in St. James's air,
Should chance to make the well-dressed rabble stare;
If honest S * z take scandal at a spark,
That less admires the palace than the park:
Faith I shall give the answer Reynard gave:
"I cannot like, dread sir, your royal cave:
Because I see, by all the tracks about,
Full many a beast goes in, but none come out."
Adieu to virtue, if you're once a slave:
Send her to Court, you send her to her grave.
Well, if a king's a lion, at the least,
The people are a many-headed beast:
Can they direct what measures to pursue,
Who know themselves so little what to do?
Alike in nothing but one lust of gold,
Just half the land would buy, and half be sold:
Their country's wealth our mightier misers drain,
Or cross, to plunder provinces, the main;
The rest, some farm the poor-box, some the pews;
Some keep assemblies, and would keep the stews;
Some with fat bucks on childless dotards fawn;
Some win rich widows by their chine and brawn;
While with the silent growth of ten per cent.
In dirt and darkness, hundreds stink content.
Of all these ways, if each pursues his own,
Satire be kind, and let the wretch alone:
But show me one who has it in his power
To act consistent with himself an hour.
Sir Job sailed forth, the evening bright and still,
"No place on earth," he cried, "like Greenwich Hill!"
Up starts a palace; lo, th' obedient base )
Slopes at its foot, the woods its sides embrace, )
The silver Thames reflects its marble face. )
Now let some whimsy, or that devil within )
Which guides all those who know not what they mean, )
But give the knight (or give his lady) spleen; )
"Away, away! take all your scaffolds down,
For snug's the word: my dear! we'll live in town."
At amorous Flavio is the stocking thrown?
That very night he longs to lie alone.
The fool, whose wife elopes some thrice a quarter,
For matrimonial solace dies a martyr.
Did ever Proteus, Merlin, any witch, )
Transform themselves so strangely as the rich? )
Well, but the poor--the poor have the same itch; )
They change their weekly barber, weekly news,
Prefer a new japanner to their shoes,
Discharge their garrets, move their beds, and run
(They know not whither) in a chaise and one;
They hire their sculler, and when once aboard,
Grow sick, and damn the climate--like a lord.
You laugh, half beau, half sloven if I stand,
My wig all powder, and all snuff my band;
You laugh, if coat and breeches strangely vary,
White gloves, and linen worthy Lady Mary!
But when no prelate's lawn with hair-shirt lined,
Is half so incoherent as my mind,
When (each opinion with the next at strife,
One ebb and flow of follies all my life)
I plant, root up; I build, and then confound;
Turn round to square, and square again to round;
You never change one muscle of your face,
You think this madness but a common case,
Nor once to Chancery, nor to Hale apply;
Yet hang your lip, to see a seam awry!
Careless how ill I with myself agree,
Kind to my dress, my figure, not to me.
Is this my guide, philosopher, and Friend?
This, he who loves me, and who ought to mend?
Who ought to make me (what he can, or none),
That man divine whom wisdom calls her own;
Great without title, without fortune blessed;
Rich even when plundered, honoured while oppressed;
Loved without youth, and followed without power;
At home, though exiled; free, though in the Tower;
In short, that reasoning, high, immortal thing,
Just less than Jove, and much above a king,
Nay, half in heaven--except (what's mighty odd)
A fit of vapours clouds this demi-god.
THE SIXTH EPISTLE OF THE FIRST BOOK OF HORACE.
TO MR. MURRAY.
"Not to admire, is all the art I know,
To make men happy, and to keep them so."
(Plain truth, dear Murray, needs no flowers of speech,
So take it in the very words of Creech.)
This vault of air, this congregated ball,
Self-centred sun, and stars that rise and fall,
There are, my friend! whose philosophic eyes
Look through, and trust the ruler with his skies,
To him commit the hour, the day, the year,
And view this dreadful all without a fear.
Admire we, then, what earth's low entrails hold, )
Arabian shores, or Indian seas infold. )
All the mad trade of fools and slaves for gold? )
Or popularity? or stars and strings?
The mob's applauses, or the gifts of kings?
Say with what eyes we ought at courts to gaze,
And pay the great our homage of amaze?
If weak the pleasure that from these can spring,
The fear to want them is as weak a thing:
Whether we dread, or whether we desire,
In either case, believe me, we admire;
Whether we joy or grieve, the same the curse,
Surprised at better, or surprised at worse.
Thus good or bad, to one extreme betray
Th' unbalanced mind, and snatch the man away;
For virtue's self may too much zeal be had;
The worst of madmen is a saint run mad.
Go then, and if you can, admire the state
Of beaming diamonds, and reflected plate;
Procure a taste to double the surprise,
And gaze on Parian charms with learned eyes:
Be struck with bright brocade, or Tyrian dye,
Our birthday nobles' splendid livery.
If not so pleased, at council-board rejoice,
To see their judgments hang upon thy voice;
From morn to night, at senate, rolls, and hall,
Plead much, read more, dine late, or not at all.
But wherefore all this labour, all this strife?
For fame, for riches, for a noble wife?
Shall one whom nature, learning, birth, conspired
To form not to admire but be admired,
Sigh, while his Chloe blind to wit and worth
Weds the rich dulness of some son of earth?
Yet time ennobles, or degrades each line;
It brightened Craggs's, and may darken thine:
And what is fame? the meanest have their day,
The greatest can but blaze and pass away.
Graced as thou art, with all the power of words,
So known, so honoured, at the House of Lords:
Conspicuous scene! another yet is nigh,
(More silent far) where kings and poets lie;
Where Murray (long enough his country's pride)
Shall be no more than Tully, or than Hyde!
Racked with sciatics, martyred with the stone,
Will any mortal let himself alone?
See Ward by battered beaux invited over,
And desperate misery lays hold on Dover.
The case is easier in the mind's disease;
There all men may be cured, whene'er they please,
Would ye be blest? despise low joys, low gains; )
Disdain whatever Cornbury disdains; )
Be virtuous and be happy for your pains. )
But art thou one, whom new opinions sway,
One who believes as Tindal leads the way,
Who virtue and a church alike disowns,
Thinks that but words, and this but brick and stones?
Fly then on all the wings of wild desire,
Admire whate'er the maddest can admire.
Is wealth thy passion? Hence! from pole to pole,
Where winds can carry, or where waves can roll,
For Indian spices, for Peruvian gold,
Prevent the greedy, and out-bid the bold:
Advance thy golden mountain to the skies;
On the broad base of fifty thousand rise,
Add one round hundred, and (if that's not fair)
Add fifty more, and bring it to a square.
For, mark th' advantage; just so many score
Will gain a wife with half as many more,
Procure her beauty, make that beauty chaste,
And then such friends--as cannot fail to last.
A man of wealth is dubbed a man of worth,
Venus shall give him form, and Antis birth.
(Believe me, many a German Prince is worse,
Who proud of pedigree, is poor of purse.)
His wealth brave Timon gloriously confounds;
Asked for a groat, he gives a hundred pounds;
Or if three ladies like a luckless play,
Takes the whole house upon the poet's day.
Now, in such exigencies not to need,
Upon my word, you must be rich indeed;
A noble superfluity it craves,
Not for yourself, but for your fools and knaves:
Something, which for your honour they may cheat,
And which it much becomes you to forget.
If wealth alone then make and keep us blest,
Still, still be getting, never, never rest.
But if to power and place your passion lie,
If in the pomp of life consist the joy;
Then hire a slave, or (if you will) a lord
To do the honours, and to give the word;
Tell at your levee, as the crowds approach,
To whom to nod, whom take into your coach,
Whom honour with your hand: to make remarks,
Who rules in Cornwall, or who rules in Berks:
"This may be troublesome, is near the chair;
That makes three members, this can choose a mayor."
Instructed thus, you bow, embrace, protest, )
Adopt him son, or cousin at the least, )
Then turn about, and laugh at your own jest. )
Or if your life be one continued treat,
If to live well means nothing but to eat;
Up, up! cries gluttony, 'tis break of day,
Go drive the deer, and drag the finny prey;
With hounds and horns go hunt an appetite--
So Russel did, but could not eat at night,
Called happy dog! the beggar at his door,
And envied thirst and hunger to the poor.
Or shall we every decency confound,
Through taverns, stews, and bagnios take our round,
Go dine with Chartres, in each vice out-do
K---l's lewd cargo, or Ty---y's crew,
From Latian Syrens, French Circean feasts,
Return well travelled, and transformed to beasts.
If, after all, we must with Wilmot own,
The cordial drop of life is love alone,
And Swift cry wisely, "Vive la Bagatelle!"
The man that loves and laughs, must sure do well.
Adieu--if this advice appear the worst,
E'en take the counsel which I gave you first:
Or better precepts if you can impart,
Why do, I'll follow them with all my heart.
THE FIRST EPISTLE OF THE SECOND BOOK OF HORACE.
The Reflections of Horace, and the Judgments past in his Epistle to
Augustus, seemed so seasonable to the present Times, that I could not help
applying them to the use of my own Country. The Author thought them
considerable enough to address them to his Prince; whom he paints with all
the great and good qualities of a Monarch, upon whom the Romans depended
for the Increase of an Absolute Empire. But to make the Poem entirely
English, I was willing to add one or two of those which contribute to the
Happiness of a Free People, and are more consistent with the Welfare of our
This Epistle will show the learned World to have fallen into Two mistakes:
one, that Augustus was a Patron of Poets in general; whereas he not only
prohibited all but the Best Writers to name him, but recommended that Care
even to the Civil Magistrate: Admonebat Praetores, ne paterentur Nomen
suum obsolefieri, etc. The other, that this Piece was only a general
Discourse of Poetry; whereas it was an Apology for the Poets, in order to
render Augustus more their Patron. Horace here pleads the Cause of his
Contemporaries, first against the Taste of the Town, whose humour it was to
magnify the Authors of the preceding Age; secondly against the Court and
Nobility, who encouraged only the Writers for the Theatre; and lastly
against the Emperor himself, who had conceived them of little Use to the
Government. He shows (by a View of the Progress of Learning, and the
Change of Taste among the Romans) that the Introduction of the Polite Arts
of Greece had given the Writers of his Time great advantages over their
Predecessors; that their Morals were much improved, and the Licence of
those ancient Poets restrained: that Satire and Comedy were become more
just and useful; that, whatever extravagances were left on the Stage, were
owing to the Ill Taste of the Nobility; that Poets, under due Regulations,
were in many respects useful to the State, and concludes, that it was upon
them the Emperor himself must depend for his Fame with Posterity.
We may farther learn from this Epistle, that Horace made his Court to this
great Prince by writing with a decent Freedom toward him, with a just
Contempt of his low Flatterers, and with a manly Regard to his own
While you, great patron of mankind! sustain
The balanced world, and open all the main;
Your country, chief, in arms abroad defend,
At home, with morals, arts, and laws amend;
How shall the muse from such a monarch, steal
An hour, and not defraud the public weal?
Edward and Henry, now the boast of fame,
And virtuous Alfred, a more sacred name,
After a life of generous toils endured,
The Gaul subdued, or property secured,
Ambition humbled, mighty cities stormed,
Our laws established, and the world reformed;
Closed their long glories with a sigh, to find
Th' unwilling gratitude of base mankind!
All human virtue, to its latest breath,
Finds envy never conquered but by death.
The great Alcides, every labour past,
Had still this monster to subdue at last.
Sure fate of all, beneath whose rising ray
Each star of meaner merit fades away!
Oppressed we feel the beam directly beat,
Those suns of glory please not till they set.
To thee, the world its present homage pays,
The harvest early, but mature the praise:
Great friend of liberty! in kings a name
Above all Greek, above all Roman fame:
Whose word is truth, as sacred and revered,
As heaven's own oracles from altars heard.
Wonder of kings! like whom, to mortal eyes
None e'er has risen, and none e'er shall rise.
Just in one instance be it yet confest
Your people, sir, are partial in the rest:
Foes to all living worth except your own,
And advocates for folly dead and gone.
Authors, like coins, grow dear as they grow old;
It is the rust we value, not the gold.
Chaucer's worst ribaldry is learned by rote,
And beastly Skelton heads of houses quote:
One likes no language but the Faery Queen;
A Scot will fight for Christ's Kirk o' the Green:
And each true Briton is to Ben so civil,
He swears the Muses met him at the devil.
Though justly Greece her eldest sons admires,
Why should not we be wiser than our sires?
In every public virtue we excel;
We build, we paint, we sing, we dance as well,
And learned Athens to our art must stoop,
Could she behold us tumbling through a hoop.
If time improve our wit as well as wine,
Say at what age a poet grows divine?
Shall we or shall we not account him so,
Who died, perhaps, a hundred years ago?
End all dispute; and fix the year precise
When British bards begin t' immortalise?
"Who lasts a century can have no flaw,
I hold that wit a classic, good in law."
Suppose he wants a year, will you compound;
And shall we deem him ancient, right and sound,
Or damn to all eternity at once,
At ninety-nine, a modern and a dunce?
"We shall not quarrel for a year or two;
By courtesy of England, he may do."
Then by the rule that made the horse-tail bear,
I pluck out year by year, as hair by hair,
And melt down ancients like a heap of snow:
While you to measure merits, look in Stowe,
And estimating authors by the year
Bestow a garland only on a bier.
Shakespeare (whom you and every play-house bill
Style the divine, the matchless, what you will)
For gain, not glory, winged his roving flight,
And grew immortal in his own despite.
Ben, old and poor, as little seemed to heed
The life to come, in every poet's creed.
Who now reads Cowley? if he pleases yet,
His moral pleases, not his pointed wit;
Forget his epic, nay Pindaric art;
But still I love the language of his heart.
"Yet surely, surely, these were famous men!
What boy but hears the sayings of old Ben?
In all debates where Critics bears a part,
Not one but nods, and talks of Jonson's art,
Of Shakespeare's nature, and of Cowley's wit;
How Beaumont's judgment checked what Fletcher writ;
How Shadwell hasty, Wycherley was slow;
But for the passions, Southern sure and Rowe.
These, only these, support the crowded stage,
From eldest Heywood down to Cibber's age."
All this may be; the people's voice is odd,
It is, and it is not, the voice of God.
To Gammer Gurton if it give the bays,
And yet deny the careless husband praise.
Or say our fathers never broke a rule;
Why then, I say, the public is a fool.
But let them own, that greater faults than we
They had, and greater virtues, I'll agree.
Spenser himself affects the obsolete,
And Sidney's verse halts ill on Roman feet:
Milton's strong pinion now not Heaven can bound,
Now serpent-like, in prose he sweeps the ground,
In quibbles angel and archangel join,
And God the Father turns a school divine.
Not that I'd lop the beauties from his book,
Like slashing Bentley with his desperate hook,
Or damn all Shakespeare, like the affected fool
At court, who hates whate'er he read at school.
But for the wits of either Charles's days,
The mob of gentlemen who wrote with ease;
Sprat, Carew, Sedley, and a hundred more,
(Like twinkling stars the miscellanies o'er)
One simile, that solitary shines
In the dry desert of a thousand lines,
Or lengthened thought that gleams through many a page,
Has sanctified whole poems for an age.
I lose my patience, and I own it too,
When works are censured, not as bad but new;
While if our elders break all reason's laws,
These fools demand not pardon, but applause.
On Avon's bank, where flowers eternal blow,
If I but ask, if any weed can grow;
One tragic sentence if I dare deride
Which Betterton's grave action dignified,
Or well-mouthed Booth with emphasis proclaims,
(Though but, perhaps, a muster-roll of names)
How will our fathers rise up in a rage,
And swear, all shame is lost in George's age!
You'd think no fools disgraced the former reign,
Did not some grave examples yet remain,
Who scorn a lad should teach his father skill,
And, having once been wrong, will be so still.
He, who to seem more deep than you or I,
Extols old bards, or Merlin's Prophecy,
Mistake him not; he envies, not admires,
And to debase the sons, exalts the sires.
Had ancient times conspired to disallow
What then was new, what had been ancient now?
Or what remained, so worthy to be read
By learned critics, of the mighty dead?
In days of ease, when now the weary sword
Was sheathed, and luxury with Charles restored;
In every taste of foreign courts improved,
"All, by the king's example, lived and loved."
Then peers grew proud in horsemanship t' excel,
Newmarket's glory rose, as Britain's fell;
The soldier breathed the gallantries of France,
And every flowery courtier wrote romance.
Then marble, softened into life, grew warm:
And yielding metal flowed to human form:
Lely on animated canvas stole
The sleepy eye, that spoke the melting soul.
No wonder then, when all was love and sport,
The willing Muses were debauched at court:
On each enervate string they taught the note
To pant, or tremble through an eunuch's throat.
But Britain, changeful as a child at play,
Now calls in princes, and now turns away.
Now Whig, now Tory, what we loved we hate;
Now all for pleasure, now for Church and State;
Now for prerogative, and now for laws;
Effects unhappy from a noble cause.
Time was, a sober Englishman would knock
His servants up, and rise by five o'clock,
Instruct his family in every rule,
And send his wife to church, his son to school.
To worship like his fathers, was his care;
To teach their frugal virtues to his heir;
To prove, that luxury could never hold;
And place, on good security, his gold.
Now times are changed, and one poetic itch
Has seized the court and city, poor and rich:
Sons, sires, and grandsires, all will wear the bays,
Our wives read Milton, and our daughters plays,
To theatres, and to rehearsals throng,
And all our grace at table is a song.
I, who so oft renounce the Muses, lie,
Not ----'s self e'er tells more fibs than I;
When sick of Muse, our follies we deplore,
And promise our best friends to rhyme no more;
We wake next morning in a raging fit,
And call for pen and ink to show our wit.
He served a 'prenticeship, who sets up shop;
Ward tried on puppies, and the poor, his drop;
Even Radcliff's doctors travel first to France,
Nor dare to practise till they've learned to dance.
Who builds a bridge that never drove a pile?
(Should Ripley venture, all the world would smile)
But those who cannot write, and those who can,
All rhyme, and scrawl, and scribble, to a man.
Yet, sir, reflect, the mischief is not great;
These madmen never hurt the Church or State;
Sometimes the folly benefits mankind;
And rarely av'rice taints the tuneful mind.
Allow him but his plaything of a pen,
He ne'er rebels, or plots, like other men:
Flight of cashiers, or mobs, he'll never mind;
And knows no losses while the Muse is kind.
To cheat a friend, or ward, he leaves to Peter;
The good man heaps up nothing but mere metre,
Enjoys his garden and his book in quiet;
And then--a perfect hermit in his diet.
Of little use the man you may suppose,
Who says in verse what others say in prose;
Yet let me show, a poet's of some weight,
And (though no soldier) useful to the State.
What will a child learn sooner than a song?
What better teach a foreigner the tongue?
What's long or short, each accent where to place,
And speak in public with some sort of grace?
I scarce can think him such a worthless thing,
Unless he praise some monster of a king;
Or virtue, or religion turn to sport,
To please a lewd or unbelieving court.
Unhappy Dryden!--In all Charles's days,
Roscommon only boasts unspotted bays;
And in our own (excuse some courtly stains)
No whiter page than Addison remains.
He, from the taste obscene reclaims our youth,
And sets the passions on the side of truth,
Forms the soft bosom with the gentlest art,
And pours each human virtue in the heart.
Let Ireland tell, how wit upheld her cause,
Her trade supported, and supplied her laws;
And leave on Swift this grateful verse engraved:
'The rights a court attacked, a poet saved.'
Behold the hand that wrought a nation's cure,
Stretched to relieve the idiot and the poor,
Proud vice to brand, or injured worth adorn,
And stretch the ray to ages yet unborn.
Not but there are, who merit other palms;
Hopkins and Sternhold glad the heart with psalms:
The boys and girls whom charity maintains,
Implore your help in these pathetic strains:
How could devotion touch the country pews,
Unless the gods bestowed a proper Muse?
Verse cheers their leisure, verse assists their work,
Verse prays for peace, or sings down Pope and Turk.
The silenced preacher yields to potent strain,
And feels that grace his prayer besought in vain;
The blessing thrills through all the lab'ring throng,
And Heaven is won by violence of song.
Our rural ancestors, with little blest,
Patient of labour when the end was rest,
Indulged the day that housed their annual grain,
With feasts, and off'rings, and a thankful strain:
The joy their wives, their sons, and servants share,
Ease of their toil, and partners of their care:
The laugh, the jest, attendants on the bowl,
Smoothed every brow, and opened every soul:
With growing years the pleasing licence grew,
And taunts alternate innocently flew.
But times corrupt, and Nature, ill-inclined,
Produced the point that left a sting behind;
Till friend with friend, and families at strife,
Triumphant malice raged through private life.
Who felt the wrong, or feared it, took th' alarm,
Appealed to law, and justice lent her arm.
At length, by wholesome dread of statutes bound,
The poets learned to please, and not to wound:
Most warped to flatt'ry's side; but some more nice,
Preserved the freedom, and forebore the vice.
Hence satire rose, that just the medium hit,
And heals with morals what it hurts with wit.
We conquered France, but felt our captive's charms;
Her arts victorious triumphed o'er our arms;
Britain to soft refinements less a foe,
Wit grew polite, and numbers learned to flow.
Waller was smooth; but Dryden taught to join )
The varying verse, the full-resounding line, )
The long majestic march, and energy divine. )
Though still some traces of our rustic vein
And splay-foot verse, remained, and will remain.
Late, very late, correctness grew our care,
When the tired nation breathed from civil war.
Exact Racine, and Corneille's noble fire,
Showed us that France had something to admire.
Not but the tragic spirit was our own,
And full in Shakespeare, fair in Otway shone:
But Otway failed to polish or refine,
And fluent Shakespeare scarce effaced a line.
E'en copious Dryden wanted, or forgot
The last and greatest art, the art to blot.
Some doubt, if equal pains, or equal fire
The humbler Muse of comedy require.
But in known images of life, I guess
The labour greater, as th' indulgence less.
Observe how seldom even the best succeed:
Tell me if Congreve's fools are fools indeed?
What pert, low dialogue has Farquhar writ!
How Van wants grace, who never wanted wit!
The stage how loosely does Astraea tread,
Who fairly puts all characters to bed!
And idle Cibber, how he breaks the laws,
To make poor Pinky eat with vast applause!
But fill their purse, our poet's work is done,
Alike to them, by pathos or by pun.
O you! whom vanity's light bark conveys
On fame's mad voyage by the wind of praise,
With what a shifting gale your course you ply,
For ever sunk too low, or borne too high!
Who pants for glory finds but short repose,
A breath revives him, or a breath o'erthrows.
Farewell the stage! if just as thrives the play,
The silly bard grows fat, or falls away.
There still remains, to mortify a wit,
The many-headed monster of the pit;
A senseless, worthless, and unhonoured crowd;
Who, to disturb their betters mighty proud,
Clatt'ring their sticks before ten lines are spoke,
Call for the farce, the bear, or the black-joke.
What dear delight to Britons farce affords!
Ever the taste of mobs, but now of lords;
(Taste, that eternal wanderer, which flies
From heads to ears, and now from ears to eyes).
The play stands still; damn action and discourse,
Back fly the scenes, and enter foot and horse;
Pageants on pageants, in long order drawn,
Peers, Heralds, Bishops, ermine, gold, and lawn;
The champion too! and, to complete the jest,
Old Edward's armour beams on Cibber's breast,
With laughter sure Democritus had died,
Had he beheld an audience gape so wide.
Let bear or elephant be e'er so white,
The people, sure, the people are the sight!
Ah luckless poet! stretch thy lungs and roar,
That bear or elephant shall heed thee more;
While all its throats the gallery extends,
And all the thunder of the pit ascends!
Loud as the wolves, on Orcas' stormy steep,
Howl to the roarings of the Northern deep,
Such is the shout, the long-applauding note,
At Quin's high plume, or Oldfield's petticoat;
Or when from court a birthday suit bestowed,
Sinks the lost actor in the tawdry load.
Booth enters--hark! the universal peal!
"But has he spoken?" Not a syllable.
What shook the stage, and made the people stare?
Cato's long wig, flowered gown, and lacquered chair.
Yet lest you think I rally more than teach,
Or praise malignly arts I cannot reach,
Let me for once presume t' instruct the times,
To know the poet from the man of rhymes:
'Tis he, who gives my breast a thousand pains,
Can make me feel each passion that he feigns;
Enrage, compose, with more than magic art,
With pity, and with terror, tear my heart;
And snatch me, o'er the earth, or through the air,
To Thebes, to Athens, when he will, and where.
But not this part of the poetic state
Alone, deserves the favour of the great;
Think of those authors, sir, who would rely
More on a reader's sense, than gazer's eye.
Or who shall wander where the Muses sing?
Who climb their mountain, or who taste their spring?
How shall we fill a library with wit,
When Merlin's cave is half unfurnished yet?
My liege! why writers little claim your thought,
I guess; and, with their leave, will tell the fault:
We poets are (upon a poet's word)
Of all mankind, the creatures most absurd:
The season, when to come, and when to go,
To sing, or cease to sing, we never know;
And if we will recite nine hours in ten,
You lose your patience, just like other men.
Then too we hurt ourselves, when to defend
A single verse, we quarrel with a friend;
Repeat unasked; lament, the wit's too fine
For vulgar eyes, and point out every line.
But most, when straining with too weak a wing,
We needs will write epistles to the King;
And from the moment we oblige the town,
Expect a place, or pension from the Crown;
Or dubbed historians, by express command,
T' enrol your triumphs o'er the seas and land,
Be called to Court to plan some work divine,
As once for Louis, Boileau and Racine.
Yet think, great sir! (so many virtues shown)
Ah think, what poet best may make them known?
Or choose at least some minister of grace,
Fit to bestow the laureate's weighty place.
Charles, to late times to be transmitted fair,
Assigned his figure to Bernini's care;
And great Nassau to Kneller's hand decreed
To fix him graceful on the bounding steed;
So well in paint and stone they judged of merit:
But kings in wit may want discerning spirit.
The hero William and the martyr Charles,
One knighted Blackmore, and one pensioned Quarles;
Which made old Ben, and surly Dennis swear,
"No Lord's anointed, but a Russian bear."
Not with such majesty, such bold relief,
The forms august, of king, or conquering chief,
E'er swelled on marble; as in verse have shined
(In polished verse) the manners and the mind.
Oh! could I mount on the Maeonian wing,
Your arms, your actions, your repose to sing!
What seas you traversed, and what fields you fought!
Your country's peace, how oft, how dearly bought!
How barb'rous rage subsided at your word,
And nations wondered while they dropped the sword!
How, when you nodded, o'er the land and deep,
Peace stole her wing, and wrapped the world in sleep;
Till earth's extremes your mediation own,
And Asia's tyrants tremble at your throne--
But verse, alas! your majesty disdains;
And I'm not used to panegyric strains:
The zeal of fools offends at any time,
But most of all, the zeal of fools in rhyme.
Besides, a fate attends on all I write,
That when I aim at praise, they say I bite.
A vile encomium doubly ridicules:
There's nothing blackens like the ink of fools.
If true, a woeful likeness; and if lies,
"Praise undeserved is scandal in disguise:"
Well may he blush, who gives it, or receives;
And when I flatter, let my dirty leaves
(Like journals, odes, and such forgotten things
As Eusden, Philips, Settle, writ of kings)
Clothe spice, line trunks, or, flutt'ring in a row,
Befringe the rails of Bedlam and Soho.
THE SECOND EPISTLE OF THE SECOND BOOK OF HORACE.
"Ludentis speciem dabit, et torquebitur." HOR. (v.124.)
Dear Colonel, Cobham's and your country's friend!
You love a verse, take such as I can send.
A Frenchman comes, presents you with his boy,
Bows and begins--"This lad, sir, is of Blois:
Observe his shape how clean! his locks how curled!
My only son, I'd have him see the world:
His French is pure; his voice too--you shall hear.
Sir, he's your slave for twenty pound a year.
Mere wax as yet, you fashion him with ease,
Your barber, cook, upholsterer, what you please:
A perfect genius at an opera song--
To say too much might do my honour wrong.
Take him with all his virtues, on my word;
His whole ambition was to serve a lord:
But, sir, to you, with what would I not part?
Though faith, I fear 'twill break his mother's heart.
Once (and but once) I caught him in a lie,
And then, unwhipped, he had the grace to cry:
The fault he has I fairly shall reveal,
(Could you o'erlook but that) it is to steal."
If, after this, you took the graceless lad,
Could you complain, my friend, he proved so bad?
Faith, in such case, if you should prosecute,
I think Sir Godfrey should decide the suit:
Who sent the thief that stole the cash away,
And punished him that put it in his way.
Consider then, and judge me in this light;
I told you when I went, I could not write;
You said the same; and are you discontent
With laws to which you gave your own assent?
Nay worse, to ask for verse at such a time!
D'ye think me good for nothing but to rhyme?
In Anna's wars, a soldier poor and old
Had dearly earned a little purse of gold;
Tired with a tedious march, one luckless night,
He slept, poor dog! and lost it to a doit.
This put the man in such a desperate mind, )
Between revenge, and grief, and hunger joined )
Against the foe, himself, and all mankind, )
He leaped the trenches, scaled a castle wall,
Tore down a standard, took the fort and all.
"Prodigious well," his great commander cried,
Gave him much praise and some reward beside.
Next pleased his excellence a town to batter:
(Its name I know not, and it's no great matter).
"Go on, my friend," he cried, "see yonder walls,
Advance and conquer! go where glory calls!
More honours, more rewards attend the brave."
Don't you remember what reply he gave?
"D'ye think me, noble general, such a sot?
Let him take castles who has ne'er a groat."
Bred up at home, full early I begun
To read in Greek the wrath of Peleus' son.
Besides, my father taught me from a lad,
The better art to know the good from bad:
(And little sure imported to remove,
To hunt for truth in Maudlin's learned grove).
But knottier points we knew not half so well,
Deprived us soon of our paternal cell;
And certain laws, by sufferers thought unjust,
Denied all posts of profit or of trust:
Hopes after hopes of pious Papists failed,
While mighty William's thundering arm prevailed,
For right hereditary taxed and fined,
He stuck to poverty with peace of mind;
And me, the Muses helped to undergo it;
Convict a Papist he, and I a poet.
But (thanks to Homer) since I live and thrive,
Indebted to no prince or peer alive,
Sure I should want the care of ten Monroes,
If I would scribble rather than repose.
Years following years, steal something every day,
At last they steal us from ourselves away;
In one our frolics, one amusements end,
In one a mistress drops, in one a friend:
This subtle thief of life, this paltry time,
What will it leave me, if it snatch my rhyme?
If every wheel of that unwearied mill,
That turned ten thousand verses, now stands still?
But after all, what would you have me do?
When out of twenty I can please not two;
When this heroics only deigns to praise,
Sharp satire that, and that Pindaric lays?
One likes the pheasant's wing, and one the leg;
The vulgar boil, the learned roast an egg;
Hard task! to hit the palate of such guests,
When Oldfield loves what Dartineuf detests.
But grant I may relapse, for want of grace,
Again to rhyme, can London be the place?
Who there his Muse, or self, or soul attends,
In crowds, and courts, law, business, feasts, and friends?
My counsel sends to execute a deed;
A poet begs me I will hear him read;
'In Palace Yard at nine you'll find me there--'
'At ten for certain, sir, in Bloomsbury Square--'
'Before the Lords at twelve my cause comes on--'
'There's a rehearsal, sir, exact at one.--'
"Oh, but a wit can study in the streets,
And raise his mind above the mob he meets."
Not quite so well, however, as one ought;
A hackney coach may chance to spoil a thought;
And then a nodding beam or pig of lead,
God knows, may hurt the very ablest head.
Have you not seen, at Guildhall's narrow pass,
Two aldermen dispute it with an ass?
And peers give way, exalted as they are,
Even to their own s-r-v-ance in a car?
Go, lofty poet! and in such a crowd,
Sing thy sonorous verse--but not aloud.
Alas! to grottoes and to groves we run,
To ease and silence, every Muse's son:
Blackmore himself, for any grand effort,
Would drink and doze at Tooting or Earl's Court.
How shall I rhyme in this eternal roar?
How match the bards whom none e'er matched before?
The man, who, stretched in Isis' calm retreat,
To books and study gives seven years complete,
See! strewed with learned dust, his night-cap on,
He walks, an object new beneath the sun!
The boys flock round him, and the people stare: )
So stiff, so mute! some statue you would swear, )
Stepped from its pedestal to take the air! )
And here, while town, and court, and city roars,
With mobs, and duns, and soldiers at their doors;
Shall I, in London, act this idle part?
Composing songs for fools to get by heart?
The Temple late two brother sergeants saw,
Who deemed each other oracles of law;
With equal talents these congenial souls,
One lulled th' Exchequer, and one stunned the Rolls;
Each had a gravity would make you split,
And shook his head at Murray as a wit.
"'Twas, sir, your law"--and "Sir, your eloquence--"
"Yours, Cowper's manner"--and "yours, Talbot's sense."
Thus we dispose of all poetic merit,
Yours Milton's genius, and mine Homer's spirit.
Call Tibbald Shakespeare, and he'll swear the nine,
Dear Cibber! never matched one ode of thine.
Lord! how we strut through Merlin's cave, to see
No poets there, but Stephen, you, and me.
Walk with respect behind, while we at ease
Weave laurel crowns, and take what names we please.
"My dear Tibullus!" if that will not do,
"Let me be Horace, and be Ovid you:
Or, I'm content, allow me Dryden's strains,
And you shall rise up Otway for your pains."
Much do I suffer, much, to keep in peace
This jealous, waspish, wrong-head, rhyming race;
And much must flatter, if the whim should bite
To court applause by printing what I write:
But let the fit pass o'er, I'm wise enough,
To stop my ears to their confounded stuff.
In vain bad rhymers all mankind reject,
They treat themselves with most profound respect;
'Tis to small purpose that you hold your tongue:
Each praised within, is happy all day long;
But how severely with themselves proceed
The men, who write such verse as we can read?
Their own strict judges, not a word they spare
That wants, or force, or light, or weight, or care,
Howe'er unwillingly it quits its place,
Nay though at Court, perhaps, it may find grace:
Such they'll degrade; and sometimes, in its stead,
In downright charity revive the dead;
Mark where a bold expressive phrase appears,
Bright through the rubbish of some hundred years;
Command old words that long have slept, to wake,
Words that wise Bacon or brave Raleigh spake;
Or bid the new be English, ages hence,
(For use will farther what's begot by sense)
Pour the full tide of eloquence along, )
Serenely pure, and yet divinely strong, )
Rich with the treasures of each foreign tongue; )
Prune the luxuriant, the uncouth refine,
But show no mercy to an empty line:
Then polish all, with so much life and ease,
You think 'tis nature, and a knack to please:
"But ease in writing flows from art, not chance;
As those move easiest who have learned to dance."
If such the plague and pains to write by rule,
Better, say I, be pleased and play the fool;
Call, if you will, bad rhyming a disease,
It gives men happiness, or leaves them ease.
There lived in primo Georgii, they record,
A worthy member, no small fool, a lord;
Who, though the House was up, delighted sate,
Heard, noted, answered, as in full debate:
In all but this, a man of sober life,
Fond of his friend, and civil to his wife;
Not quite a madman, though a pasty fell,
And much too wise to walk into a well.
Him, the damned doctors and his friends immured,
They bled, they cupped, they purged; in short, they cured.
Whereat the gentleman began to stare--
"My friends!" he cried, "plague take you for your care!
That from a patriot of distinguished note,
Have bled and purged me to a simple vote."
Well, on the whole, plain prose must be my fate:
Wisdom (curse on it) will come soon or late.
There is a time when poets will grow dull:
I'll e'en leave verses to the boys at school:
To rules of poetry no more confined,
I learn to smooth and harmonise my mind,
Teach every thought within its bounds to roll,
And keep the equal measure of the soul.
Soon as I enter at my country door
My mind resumes the thread it dropt before;
Thoughts, which at Hyde Park Corner I forgot,
Meet and rejoin me, in the pensive grot.
There all alone, and compliments apart,
I ask these sober questions of my heart.
If, when the more you drink, the more you crave,
You tell the doctor; when the more you have,
The more you want; why not with equal ease
Confess as well your folly, as disease?
The heart resolves this matter in a thrice,
"Men only feel the smart but not the vice."
When golden angels cease to cure the evil,
You give all royal witchcraft to the devil;
When servile chaplains cry, that birth and place
Endure a peer with honour, truth, and grace,
Look in that breast, most dirty D----! be fair,
Say, can you find out one such lodger there?
Yet still, not heeding what your heart can teach,
You go to church to hear these flatterers preach.
Indeed, could wealth bestow or wit or merit,
A grain of courage, or a spark of spirit,
The wisest man might blush, I must agree,
If D*** loved sixpence more than he.
If there be truth in law, and use can give
A property, that's yours on which you life.
Delightful Abs Court, if its fields afford
Their fruits to you, confesses you its lord;
All Worldly's hens, nay partridge, sold to town:
His venison too, a guinea makes your own:
He bought at thousands, what with better wit
You purchase as you want, and bit by bit;
Now, or long since, what difference will be found?
You pay a penny, and he paid a pound.
Heathcote himself, and such large-acred men,
Lords of fat E'sham, or of Lincoln fen,
Buy every stick of wood that lends them heat,
Buy every pullet they afford to eat.
Yet these are wights, who fondly call their own
Half that the Devil o'erlooks from Lincoln town.
The laws of God, as well as of the land,
Abhor, a perpetuity should stand:
Estates have wings and hang in fortune's power
Loose on the point of every wavering hour,
Ready, by force, or of your own accord,
By sale, at least by death, to change their lord.
Man? and for ever? wretch! what wouldst thou have?
Heir urges heir, like wave impelling wave.
All vast possessions (just the same the case
Whether you call them villa, park, or chase).
Alas, my Bathurst! what will they avail?
Join Cotswold hills to Saperton's fair dale,
Let rising granaries and temples here,
There mingled farms and pyramids appear,
Link towns to towns with avenues of oak,
Enclose whole downs in walls, 'tis all a joke!
Inexorable death shall level all,
And trees, and stones, and farms, and farmer fall.
Gold, silver, ivory, vases sculptured high,
Paint, marble, gems, and robes of Persian dye,
There are who have not--and thank heaven there are,
Who, if they have not, think not worth their care,
Talk what you will of taste, my friend, you'll find,
Two of a face, as soon as of a mind.
Why, of two brothers, rich and restless one
Ploughs, burns, manures, and toils from sun to sun;
The other slights, for women, sports, and wines,
All Townshend's turnips, and all Grosvenor's mines;
Why one like Bu--- with pay and scorn content,
Bows and votes on, in Court and Parliament;
One, driven by strong benevolence of soul,
Shall fly, like Oglethorpe, from pole to pole;
Is known alone to that directing power,
Who forms the genius in the natal hour;
That God of Nature, who, within us still,
Inclines our action, not constrains our will:
Various of temper, as of face or frame.
Each individual: His great end the same.
Yes, sir, how small soever be my heap,
A part I will enjoy, as well as keep.
My heir may sigh, and think it want of grace
A man so poor would live without a place;
But sure no statute in his favour says
How free, or frugal, I shall pass my days:
I, who at some times spend, at others spare,
Divided between carelessness and care.
'Tis one thing madly to disperse my store;
Another, not to heed to treasure more!
Glad, like a boy, to snatch the first good day,
And pleased, if sordid want be far away.
What is't to me (a passenger, God wot)
Whether my vessel be first-rate or not?
The ship itself may make a better figure,
But I that sail, am neither less nor bigger,
I neither strut with every favouring breath,
Nor strive with all the tempest in my teeth.
In power, wit, figure, virtue, fortune, placed
Behind the foremost and before the last.
"But why all this of avarice? I have none."
I wish you joy, sir, of a tyrant gone;
But does no other lord it at this hour,
As wild and mad: the avarice of power?
Does neither rage inflame, nor fear appal?
Not the black fear of death, that saddens all?
With terrors round, can Reason hold her throne,
Despise the known, nor tremble at the unknown?
Survey both worlds, intrepid and entire,
In spite of witches, devils, dreams, and fire?
Pleased to look forward, pleased to look behind,
And count each birthday with a grateful mind?
Has life no sourness, drawn so near its end?
Canst thou endure a foe, forgive a friend?
Has age but melted the rough parts away,
As winter fruits grow mild ere they decay?
Or will you think, my friend, your business done,
When, of a hundred thorns, you pull out one?
Learn to live well, or fairly make your will;
You've played, and loved, and ate, and drank your fill:
Walk sober off; before a sprightlier age
Comes tittering on, and shoves you from the stage;
Leave such to trifle with more grace and ease,
Where folly pleases, and whose follies please.
THE SATIRES OF DR. JOHN DONNE, DEAN OF ST. PAUL'S.
"Quid vetat et nosmet Lucili scripta legentes
Quaerere, num illius, num rerum dura negarit
Versiculos natura magis factos, et euntes
Mollius?" HOR. (Sat. LX. 56-9).
Yes; thank my stars! as early as I knew
This town, I had the sense to hate it too;
Yet here; as even in hell, there must be still
One giant-vice, so excellently ill,
That all beside, one pities, not abhors;
As who knows Sappho, smiles at other whores.
I grant that poetry's a crying sin;
It brought (no doubt) the excise and army in:
Catched like the plague, or love, the Lord knows how,
But that the cure is starving, all allow.
Yet like the Papist's, is the poet's state,
Poor and disarmed, and hardly worth your hate!
Here a lean bard, whose wit could never give
Himself a dinner, makes an actor live:
The thief condemned, in law already dead,
So prompts, and saves a rogue who cannot read.
Thus, as the pipes of some carved organ move,
The gilded puppets dance and mount above.
Heaved by the breath the inspiring bellows blow:
The inspiring bellows lie and pant below.
One sings the fair; but songs no longer move;
No rat is rhymed to death, nor maid to love:
In love's, in nature's spite, the siege they hold,
And scorn the flesh, the devil, and all but gold.
These write to lords, some mean reward to get,
As needy beggars sing at doors for meat.
Those write because all write, and so have still
Excuse for writing, and for writing ill.
Wretched, indeed! but far more wretched yet
Is he who makes his meal on others' wit:
'Tis changed, no doubt, from what it was before;
His rank digestion makes it wit no more:
Sense, past through him, no longer is the same;
For food digested takes another name.
I pass o'er all those confessors and martyrs
Who live like S-tt-n, or who die like Chartres,
Out-cant old Esdras, or out-drink his heir,
Out-usure Jews, or Irishmen out-swear;
Wicked as pages, who in early years
Act sins which Prisca's confessor scarce hears.
Even those I pardon, for whose sinful sake
Schoolmen new tenements in hell must make;
Of whose strange crimes no canonist can tell
In what Commandment's large contents they dwell.
One, one man only breeds my just offence;
Whom crimes gave wealth, and wealth gave impudence:
Time brings all natural events to pass,
And made him an attorney of an ass.
No young divine, new beneficed, can be
More pert, more proud, more positive than he.
What further could I wish the fop to do,
But turn a wit, and scribble verses too;
Pierce the soft labyrinth of a lady's ear
With rhymes of this per cent. and that per year?
Or court a wife, spread out his wily parts,
Like nets or lime-twigs, for rich widows' hearts;
Call himself barrister to every wench,
And woo in language of the pleas and bench?
Language, which Boreas might to Auster hold
More rough than forty Germans when they scold.
Cursed be the wretch, so venal and so vain:
Paltry and proud, as drabs in Drury Lane.
'Tis such a bounty as was never known,
If Peter deigns to help you to your own:
What thanks, what praise, if Peter but supplies,
And what a solemn face if he denies!
Grave, as when prisoners shake the head and swear
'Twas only suretyship that brought 'em there.
His office keeps your parchment fates entire,
He starves with cold to save them from the fire;
For you he walks the streets through rain or dust,
For not in chariots Peter puts his trust;
For you he sweats and labours at the laws,
Takes God to witness he affects your cause,
And lies to every lord in every thing,
Like a king's favourite--or like a king.
These are the talents that adorn them all,
From wicked waters even to godly * *
Not more of simony beneath black gowns,
Nor more of bastardy in heirs to crowns.
In shillings and in pence at first they deal;
And steal so little, few perceive they steal;
Till, like the sea, they compass all the land,
From Scots to Wight, from mount to Dover strand:
And when rank widows purchase luscious nights,
Or when a duke to Jansen punts at White's,
Or City-heir in mortgage melts away;
Satan himself feels far less joy than they.
Piecemeal they win this acre first, then that,
Glean on, and gather up the whole estate.
Then strongly fencing ill-got wealth by law,
Indentures, covenants, articles thy draw,
Large as the fields themselves, and larger far
Than civil codes, with all their glosses, are;
So vast, our new divines, we must confess,
Are fathers of the Church for writing less.
But let them write for you, each rogue impairs
The deeds, and dexterously omits, ses heires;
No commentator can more slily pass
O'er a learned, unintelligible place;
Or, in quotation, shrewd divines leave out
Those words, that would against them clear the doubt.
So Luther thought the Paternoster long,
When doomed to say his beads and even-song;
But having cast his cowl, and left those laws,
Adds to Christ's prayer, the Power and Glory clause.
The lands are bought; but where are to be found
Those ancient woods, that shaded all the ground?
We see no new-built palaces aspire,
No kitchens emulate the vestal fire.
Where are those troops of poor, that thronged of yore
The good old landlord's hospitable door?
Well, I could wish, that still in lordly domes
Some beasts were killed, though not whole hecatombs;
That both extremes were banished from their walls,
Carthusian fasts, and fulsome bacchanals;
And all mankind might that just mean observe,
In which none e'er could surfeit, none could starve.
These as good works, 'tis true, we all allow;
But oh! these works are not in fashion now:
Like rich old wardrobes, things extremely rare,
Extremely fine, but what no man will wear.
Thus much I've said, I trust, without offence;
Let no Court sycophant pervert my sense,
Nor sly informer watch these words to draw
Within the reach of treason, or the law.
Well, if it be my time to quit the stage,
Adieu to all the follies of the age!
I die in charity with fool and knave,
Secure of peace at least beyond the grave.
I've had my purgatory here betimes,
And paid for all my satires, all my rhymes.
The poet's hell, its tortures, fiends, and flames,
To this were trifles, toys, and empty names.
With foolish pride my heart was never fired,
Nor the vain itch to admire, or be admired;
I hoped for no commission from his Grace;
I bought no benefice, I begged no place;
Had no new verses, nor new suit to show;
Yet went to Court!--the Devil would have it so.
But, as the fool that in reforming days
Would go to Mass in jest (as story says)
Could not but think, to pay his fine was odd,
Since 'twas no formed design of serving God;
So was I punished, as if full as proud
As prone to ill, as negligent of good,
As deep in debt, without a thought to pay, )
As vain, as idle, and as false, as they )
Who live at Court, for going once that way! )
Scarce was I entered, when, behold! there came
A thing which Adam had been posed to name;
Noah had refused it lodging in his Ark,
Where all the race of reptiles might embark:
A verier monster, that on Afric's shore
The sun e'er got, or slimy Nilus bore,
Or Sloane or Woodward's wondrous shelves contain,
Nay, all that lying travellers can feign.
The watch would hardly let him pass at noon,
At night, would swear him dropped out of the moon.
One whom the mob, when next we find or make
A Popish plot, shall for a Jesuit take,
And the wise Justice starting from his chair
Cry: "By your priesthood tell me what you are?"
Such was the wight; the apparel on his back
Though coarse, was reverend, and though bare, was black:
The suit, if by the fashion one might guess,
Was velvet in the youth of good Queen Bess,
But mere tuff-taffety what now remained;
So time, that changes all things, had ordained!
Our sons shall see it leisurely decay,
First turn plain rash, then vanish quite away.
This thing has travelled, speaks each language too,
And know what's fit for very state to do;
Of whose best phrase and courtly accent joined,
He forms one tongue, exotic and refined,
Talkers I've learned to bear; Motteux I knew,
Henley himself I've heard, and Budgel too.
The doctor's wormwood style, the hash of tongues
A pedant makes, the storm of Gonson's lungs,
The whole artillery of the terms of war,
And (all those plagues in one) the bawling bar:
These I could bear; but not a rogue so civil,
Whose tongue will compliment you to the devil.
A tongue that can cheat widows, cancel scores,
Make Scots speak treason, cozen subtlest w***es,
With royal favourites in flattery vie,
And Oldmixon and Burnet both outlie.
He spies me out, I whisper: "Gracious God!
What sin of mine could merit such a rod?
That all the shot of dulness now must be
From this thy blunderbuss discharged on me!"
"Permit" (he cries) "no stranger to your fame
To crave your sentiment, if ----'s your name.
What speech esteem you most?" "The King's," said I
"But the best words?"--"O, sir, the dictionary."
"You miss my aim; I mean the most acute
And perfect speaker?"--"Onslow, past dispute."
"But, sir, of writers?" "Swift, for closer style,
But Ho**y for a period of a mile."
"Why, yes, 'tis granted, these indeed may pass:
Good common linguists, and so Panurge was;
Nay troth the Apostles (though perhaps too rough)
Had once a pretty gift of tongues enough:
Yet these were all poor gentlemen! I dare
Affirm, 'twas travel made them what they were."
Thus others' talents having nicely shown,
He came by sure transition to his own:
Till I cried out: "You prove yourself so able,
Pity! you was not Druggerman at Babel;
For had they found a linguist half so good
I make no question but the tower had stood."
"Obliging sir! for courts you sure were made:
Why then for ever buried in the shade?
Spirits like you should see and should be seen,
The King would smile on you--at least the Queen."
"Ah, gentle sir! you courtiers so cajole us--
But Tully has it, Nunquam minus solus:
And as for courts, forgive me, if I say
No lessons now are taught the Spartan way:
Though in his pictures lust be full displayed,
Few are the converts Aretine has made;
And though the Court show vice exceeding clear,
None should, by my advice, learn virtue there."
At this entranced, he lifts his hands and eyes,
Squeaks like a high-stretched lutestring, and replies:
"Oh, 'tis the sweetest of all earthly things
To gaze on princes, and to talk of kings!"
"Then, happy man who shows the tombs!" said I,
"He dwells amidst the Royal Family;
He every day, from king to king can walk,
Of all our Harries, all our Edwards talk,
And get by speaking truth of monarchs dead,
What few can of the living, ease and bread."
"Lord, sir, a mere mechanic! strangely low,
And coarse of phrase--your English all are so.
How elegant your Frenchmen?" "Mine, d'ye mean?
I have but one, I hope the fellow's clean."
"Oh! sir, politely so! nay, let me die,
Your only wearing is your Paduasoy."
"Not, sir, my only, I have better still,
And this you see is but my dishabille--."
Wild to get loose, his patience I provoke,
Mistake, confound, object at all he spoke.
But as coarse iron, sharpened, mangles more,
And itch most hurts when angered to a sore;
So when you plague a fool, 'tis still the curse,
You only make the matter worse and worse.
He past it o'er; affects an easy smile
At all my peevishness, and turns his style.
He asks, "What news?" I tell him of new plays,
New eunuchs, harlequins, and operas.
He hears, and as a still with simples in it
Between each drop it gives, stays half a minute,
Loth to enrich me with too quick replies,
By little and by little drops his lies.
Mere household trash! of birth-nights, balls, and shows,
More than ten Holinsheds, or Halls, or Stowes.
When the Queen frowned, or smiled, he knows; and what
A subtle minister may make of that;
Who sins with whom: who got his pension rug,
Or quickened a reversion by a drug;
Whose place is quartered out, three parts in four,
And whether to a bishop, or a w***e;
Who having lost his credit, pawned his rent,
Is therefore fit to have a Government;
Who in the secret, deals in stocks secure,
And cheats the unknowing widow and the poor;
Who makes a trust or charity a job,
And gets an Act of Parliament to rob;
Why turnpikes rise, and now no cit nor clown
Can gratis see the country, or the town;
Shortly no lad shall chuck, or lady vole,
But some excising courtier will have toll.
He tells what strumpet places sells for life,
What 'squire his lands, what citizen his wife:
And last (which proves him wiser still than all)
What lady's face is not a whited wall.
As one of Woodward's patients, sick, and sore,
I puke, I nauseate--yet he thrusts in more:
Trims Europe's balance, tops the statesman's part,
And talks gazettes and post-boys o'er by heart.
Like a big wife at sight of loathsome meat
Ready to cast, I yawn, I sigh and sweat.
Then as a licensed spy, whom nothing can
Silence or hurt, he libels the great man;
Swears every place entailed for years to come,
In sure succession to the day of doom;
He names the price for every office paid,
And says our wars thrive ill, because delayed;
Nay hints, 'tis by connivance of the Court,
That Spain robs on, and Dunkirk's still a port.
Not more amazement seized on Circe's guests,
To see themselves fall endlong into beasts,
Than mine, to find a subject staid and wise
Already half turned traitor by surprise.
I felt the infection slide from him to me,
As in the ---- some give it to get free;
And quick to swallow me, methought I saw
One of our giant statutes ope its jaw.
In that nice moment, as another lie
Stood just a-tilt, the minister came by.
To him he flies, and bows, and bows again,
Then, close as Umbra, joins the dirty train.
Not Fannius' self more impudently near,
When half his nose is in his Prince's ear.
I quaked at heart; and still afraid, to see
All the Court filled with stranger things than he,
Ran out as fast as one that pays his bail
And dreads more actions, hurries from a jail.
Bear me, some god! oh, quickly bear me hence
To wholesome solitude, the nurse of sense:
Where Contemplation plumes her ruffled wings,
And the free soul looks down to pity kings!
There sober thought pursued the amusing theme,
Till fancy coloured it, and formed a dream.
A vision hermits can to hell transport,
And forced even me to see the damned at Court.
Not Dante dreaming all the infernal state,
Beheld such scenes of envy, sin, and hate.
Base fear becomes the guilty, not the free;
Suits tyrants, plunderers, but suits not me:
Shall I, the terror of this sinful town,
Care, if a liveried lord or smile or frown?
Who cannot flatter, and detest who can,
Tremble before a noble serving-man?
O, my fair mistress, Truth! shall I quit thee
For huffing, braggart, puffed nobility?
Thou, who since yesterday hast rolled o'er all
The busy, idle blockheads of the ball,
Hast thou, oh, sun! beheld an emptier fort,
Than such who swell this bladder of a Court?
Now plague on those who show a Court in wax!
It ought to bring all courtiers on their backs:
Such painted puppets! such a varnished race
Of hollow gewgaws, only dress and face!
Such waxen noses, stately staring things--
No wonder some folks bow, and think them kings.
See! where the British youth, engaged no more
At Fig's, at White's, with felons, or a bore,
Pay their last duty to the Court and come
All fresh and fragrant, to the drawing-room;
In hues as gay, and odours as divine,
As the fair fields they sold to look so fine.
"That's velvet for a king!" the flatterer swears
'Tis true, for ten days hence 'twill be King Lear's.
Our Court may justly to our stage give rules,
That helps it both to fools-coats and to fools.
And why not players strut in courtiers' clothes?
For these are actors too, as well as those:
Wants reach all states; they beg but better drest,
And all is splended poverty at best.
Painted for sight, and essenced for the smell,
Like frigates fraught with spice and cochinel,
Sail in the ladies: how each pirate eyes
So weak a vessel, and so rich a prize!
Top-gallant he, and she in all her trim,
He boarding her, she striking sail to him:
"Dear Countess! you have charms all hearts to hit!"
And "Sweet Sir Fopling! you have so much wit!"
Such wits and beauties are not praised for nought,
For both the beauty and the wit are bought.
'Twould burst even Heraclitus with the spleen
To see those antics, Fopling and Courtin:
The presence seems, with things so richly odd,
The mosque of Mahound, or some queer Pagod.
See them survey their limbs by Durer's rules,
Of all beau-kind the best proportioned fools!
Adjust their clothes, and to confession draw
Those venial sins, an atom, or a straw;
But oh! what terrors must distract the soul
Convicted of that mortal crime, a hole;
Or should one pound of powder less bespread
Those monkey tails that wag behind their head.
Thus finished, and corrected to a hair,
They march, to prate their hour before the fair.
So first to preach a white-gloved chaplain goes,
With band of lily, and with cheek of rose,
Sweeter than Sharon, in immaculate trim,
Neatness itself impertinent in him.
Let but the ladies smile, and they are blest:
Prodigious! how the things protest, protest:
Peace, fools, or Gonson will for Papists seize you,
If once he catch you at your Jesu! Jesu!
Nature made every fop to plague his brother,
Just as one beauty mortifies another.
But here's the captain that will plague them both,
Whose air cries Arm! whose very look's an oath:
The captain's honest, Sirs, and that's enough,
Though his soul's bullet, and his body buff.
He spits fore-right; his haughty chest before,
Like battering rams, beats open every door:
And with a face as red, and as awry,
As Herod's hangdogs in old tapestry,
Scarecrow to boys, the breeding woman's curse,
Has yet a strange ambition to look worse;
Confounds the civil, keeps the rude in awe,
Jests like a licensed fool, commands like law.
Frighted, I quit the room, but leave it so
As men from jails to execution go;
For hung with deadly sins I see the wall,
And lined with giants deadlier than 'em all:
Each man an Askapart, of strength to toss
For quoits, both Temple Bar and Charing Cross.
Scared at the grizzly forms, I sweat, I fly,
And shake all o'er, like a discovered spy.
Courts are too much for wits so weak as mine:
Charge them with Heaven's artillery, bold divine!
From such alone the great rebukes endure
Whose satire's sacred, and whose rage secure:
'Tis mine to wash a few light stains, but theirs
To deluge sin, and drown a Court in tears.
However, what's now Apocrypha, my wit,
In time to come, may pass for holy writ.
EPILOGUE TO THE SATIRES.
IN TWO DIALOGUES.
WRITTEN IN MDCCXXXVIII.
Fr. Not twice a twelvemonth you appear in print,
And when it comes, the Court see nothing in't.
You grow correct, that once with rapture writ,
And are, besides, too moral for a wit.
Decay of parts, alas! we all must feel--
Why now, this moment, don't I see you steal?
'Tis all from Horace; Horace long before ye
Said, "Tories called him Whig, and Whigs a Tory;"
And taught his Romans, in much better metre,
"To laugh at fools who put their trust in Peter."
But Horace, sir, was delicate, was nice;
Bubo observes, he lashed no sort of vice;
Horace would say, Sir Billy served the crown,
Blunt could do business, H-ggins knew the town;
In Sappho touch the failings of the sex,
In reverend bishops note some small neglects,
And own, the Spaniard did a waggish thing,
Who cropped our ears, and sent them to the king.
His sly, polite, insinuating style
Could please at Court, and make Augustus smile:
An artful manager, that crept between
His friend and shame, and was a kind of screen.
But 'faith, your friends will soon be sore;
Patriots there are, who wish you'd jest no more--
And where's the glory? 'twill be only thought
The Great Man never offered you a groat.
Go, see Sir Robert-- P. See Sir Robert!--hum--
And never laugh--for all my life to come?
Seen him I have, but in his happier hour
Of social pleasure, ill-exchanged for power;
Seen him, unencumbered with the venal tribe,
Smile without art, and win without a bribe.
Would he oblige me? let me only find
He does not think me what he thinks mankind.
Come, come, at all I laugh he laughs, no doubt;
The only difference is I dare laugh out.
F. Why, yes: with Scripture still you may be free;
A horse-laugh, if you please, at honesty:
A joke on Jekyl, or some odd old Whig
Who never changed his principle, or wig:
A patriot is a fool in every age,
Whom all Lord Chamberlains allow the stage:
These nothing hurts; they keep their fashion still,
And wear their strange old virtue, as they will.
If any ask you, "Who's the man, so near
His prince, that writes in verse, and has his ear?"
Why, answer, Lyttelton, and I'll engage
The worthy youth shall ne'er be in a rage;
But were his verses vile, his whisper base,
You'd quickly find him in Lord Fanny's case.
Sejanus, Wolsey, hurt not honest Fleury,
But well may put some statesmen in a fury.
Laugh, then, at any, but at fools or foes;
These you but anger, and you mend not those.
Laugh at your friends, and, if your friends are sore,
So much the better, you may laugh the more.
To vice and folly to confine the jest,
Sets half the world, God knows, against the rest;
Did not the sneer of more impartial men
At sense and virtue, balance all again.
Judicious wits spread wide the ridicule,
And charitably comfort knave and fool.
P. Dear sir, forgive the prejudice of youth;
Adieu distinction, satire, warmth, and truth!
Come, harmless characters, that no one hit;
Come, Henley's oratory, Osborne's wit!
The honey dropping from Favonio's tongue,
The flowers of Bubo, and the flow of Y--ng!
The gracious dew of pulpit eloquence,
And all the well-whipped cream of courtly sense,
That first was H--vy's, F---'s next, and then
The S---te's, and then H--vy's once again.
O, come, that easy Ciceronian style,
So Latin, yet so English all the while,
As, though the pride of Middleton and Bland,
All boys may read, and girls may understand!
Then might I sing, without the least offence,
And all I sung should be the nation's sense;
Or teach the melancholy muse to mourn,
Hang the sad verse on Carolina's urn,
And hail her passage to the realms of rest,
All parts performed, and all her children blessed!
So--satire is no more--I feel it die--
No Gazetteer more innocent than I--
And let, a' God's name, every fool and knave
Be graced through life, and flattered in his grave.
F. Why so? if satire knows its time and place
You still may lash the greatest--in disgrace:
For merit will by turns forsake them all;
Would you know when? exactly when they fall.
But let all satire in all changes spare
Immortal S--k, and grave De--re.
Silent and soft, as saints remove to heaven,
All ties dissolved and every sin forgiven,
These may some gentle ministerial wing
Receive, and place for ever near a king!
There, where no passion, pride, or shame transport,
Lulled with the sweet nepenthe of a Court;
There, where no father's, brother's, friend's disgrace
Once break their rest, or stir them from their place:
But past the sense of human miseries,
All tears are wiped for ever from all eyes;
No cheek is known to blush, no heart to throb,
Save when they lose a question, or a job.
P. Good Heaven forbid, that I should blast their glory,
Who know how like Whig ministers to Tory,
And, when three sovereigns died, could scarce be vexed,
Considering what a gracious prince was next.
Have I, in silent wonder, seen such things
As pride in slaves, and avarice in kings;
And at a peer, or peeress, shall I fret,
Who starves a sister, or forswears a debt?
Virtue, I grant you, is an empty boast;
But shall the dignity of vice be lost?
Ye gods! shall Cibber's son, without rebuke,
Swear like a lord, or rich out-rake a duke?
A favourite's porter with his master vie,
Be bribed as often, and as often lie?
Shall Ward draw contracts with a statesman's skill?
Or Japhet pocket, like his grace, a will?
Is it for Bond or Peter (paltry things)
To pay their debts, or keep their faith, like kings?
If Blount despatched himself, he played the man,
And so may'st thou, illustrious Passeran!
But shall a printer, weary of his life,
Learn, from their books, to hang himself and wife?
This, this, my friend, I cannot, must not bear;
Vice thus abused, demands a nation's care;
This calls the Church to deprecate our sin,
And hurls the thunder of the laws on gin.
Let modest Foster, if he will, excel
Ten Metropolitans in preaching well;
A simple Quaker, or a Quaker's wife,
Outdo Llandaff in doctrine--yea in life:
Let humble Allen, with an awkward shame,
Do good by stealth, and blush to find it fame.
Virtue may choose the high or low degree,
'Tis just alike to virtue, and to me;
Dwell in a monk, or light upon a king,
She's still the same, beloved, contented thing.
Vice is undone, if she forgets her birth,
And stoops from angels to the dregs of earth:
But 'tis the Fall degrades her to a w***e;
Let greatness own her, and she's mean no more;
Her birth, her beauty, crowds and courts confess;
Chaste matrons praise her, and grave bishops bless;
In golden chains the willing world she draws,
And hers the Gospel is, and hers the laws,
Mounts the tribunal, lifts her scarlet head,
And sees pale Virtue carted in her stead.
Lo! at the wheels of her triumphal car
Old England's genius, rough with many a scar,
Dragged in the dust! his arms hang idly round,
His flag inverted trails along the ground!
Our youth, all liveried o'er with foreign gold,
Before her dance: behind her crawl the old!
See thronging millions to the Pagod run,
And offer country, parent, wife, or son;
Hear her black trumpet through the land proclaim
That not to be corrupted is the shame.
In soldier, Churchman, patriot, man in power,
'Tis avarice all, ambition is no more!
See, all our nobles begging to be slaves!
See, all our fools aspiring to be knaves!
The wit of cheats, the courage of a w***e,
Are what ten thousand envy and adore;
All, all look up, with reverential awe,
At crimes that 'scape, or triumph o'er the law;
While truth, worth, wisdom, daily they decry--
"Nothing is sacred now but villainy."
Yet may this verse (if such a verse remain)
Show there was one who held it in disdain.
Fr. 'Tis all a libel--Paxton (sir) will say. )
P. Not yet, my friend! to-morrow 'faith it may )
And for that very cause I print to-day. )
How should I fret to mangle every line,
In reverence to the sins of thirty-nine!
Vice with such giant strides comes on amain,
Invention strives to be before in vain;
Feign what I will, and paint it e'er so strong,
Some rising genius sins up to my song.
F. Yet none but you by name the guilty lash;
Even Guthry saves half Newgate by a dash.
Spare, then, the person, and expose the vice.
P. How, sir? not damn the sharper, but the dice?
Come on, then, satire! general, unconfined,
Spread thy broad wing, and souse on all the kind.
Ye statesmen, priests, of one religion all!
Ye tradesmen vile, in army, court, or hall,
Ye reverend atheists--
F. Scandal! name them! who?
P. Why that's the thing you bid me not to do.
Who starved a sister, who forswore a debt,
I never named; the town's inquiring yet.
The poisoning dame---
F. You mean--
P. I don't.
F. You do!
P. See, now I keep the secret, and not you!
The bribing statesman--
F. Hold, too high you go.
P. The bribed elector--
F. There you stoop too low.
P. I fain would please you, if I knew with what;
Tell me, which knave is lawful game, which not?
Must great offenders, once escaped the Crown,
Like royal harts, be never more run down?
Admit your law to spare the knight requires,
As beasts of nature may we hunt the squires?
Suppose I censure--you know what I mean--
To save a bishop, may I name a dean?
F. A dean, sir? no: his fortune is not made;
You hurt a man that's rising in the trade.
P. If not the tradesman who set up to-day,
Much less the 'prentice who to-morrow may.
Down, down, proud satire! though a realm be spoiled,
Arraign no mightier thief than wretched Wild;
Or, if a court or country's made a job,
Go drench a pickpocket, and join the mob.
But, sir, I beg you (for the love of vice!)
The matter's weighty, pray consider twice;
Have you less pity for the needy cheat,
The poor and friendless villain, than the great?
Alas! the small discredit of a bribe
Scarce hurts the lawyer, but undoes the scribe.
Then better, sure, it charity becomes
To tax directors, who (thank God!) have plums;
Still better, ministers; or, if the thing
May pinch even there--why lay it on a king.
F. Stop! stop!
P. Must satire, then, nor rise nor fall?
Speak out, and bid me blame no rogues at all.
F. Yes, strike that Wild, I'll justify the blow.
P. Strike? why the man was hanged ten year ago:
Who now that obsolete example fears?
Even Peter trembles only for his ears.
F. What? always Peter? Peter thinks you mad;
You make men desperate if they once are bad:
Else might he take to virtue some years hence--
P. As S---k, if he lives, will love the prince.
F. Strange spleen to S---k!
P. Do I wrong the man?
God knows, I praise a courtier where I can.
When I confess, there is who feels for fame,
And melts to goodness, need I Scarb'row name?
Please let me own, in Esher's peaceful grove
(Where Kent and Nature vie for Pelham's love),
The scene, the master, opening to my view,
I sit and dream I see my Craggs anew!
Even in a bishop I can spy desert;
Secker is decent, Rundel has a heart,
Manners with candour are to Benson given,
To Berkeley, every virtue under Heaven.
But does the Court a worthy man remove?
That instant, I declare, he has my love:
I shun his zenith, court his mild decline;
Thus Somers once, and Halifax, were mine.
Oft, in the clear, still mirror of retreat,
I studied Shrewsbury, the wise and great:
Carleton's calm sense, and Stanhope's noble flame,
Compared, and knew their generous end the same;
How pleasing Atterbury's softer hour!
How shined the soul, unconquered in the tower!
How can I Pulteney, Chesterfield forget,
While Roman spirit charms, and attic wit:
Argyll, the state's whole thunder born to wield,
And shake alike the senate and the field:
Or Wyndham, just to freedom and the throne,
The master of our passions, and his own?
Names, which I long have loved, nor loved in vain,
Ranked with their friends, not numbered with their train;
And if yet higher the proud list should end,
Still let me say: No follower, but a friend.
Yet think not, friendship only prompts my lays;
I follow Virtue: where she shines, I praise:
Point she to priest or elder, Whig or Tory,
Or round a Quaker's beaver cast a glory.
I never (to my sorrow, I declare)
Dined with the Man of Ross, or my Lord Mayor.
Some in their choice of friends (nay, look not grave)
Have still a secret bias to a knave:
To find an honest man I beat about,
And love him, court him, praise him, in or out.
F. Then why so few commended?
P. Not so fierce!
Find you the virtue, and I'll find the verse.
But random praise--the task can ne'er be done;
Each mother asks it for her booby son,
Each widow asks it for the best of men,
For him she weeps, and him she weds again.
Praise cannot stoop, like satire, to the ground;
The number may be hanged, but not be crowned.
Enough for half the greatest of these days
To 'scape my censure, not expect my praise.
And they not rich? what more can they pretend?
Dare they to hope a poet for their friend?
What Richelieu wanted, Louis scarce could gain,
And what young Ammon wished, but wished in vain.
No power the muse's friendship can command;
No power when virtue claims it, can withstand:
To Cato, Virgil paid one honest line;
O let my country's friends illumine mine!
What are you thinking?
F. 'Faith, the thought's no sin:
I think your friends are out, and would be in.
P. If merely to come in, sir, they go out,
The way they take is strangely round about.
F. They too may be corrupted, you'll allow?
P. I only call those knaves who are so now.
Is that too little? Come, then, I'll comply--
Spirit of Arnall! aid me while I lie.
Cobham's a coward, Polwarth is a slave,
And Littelton a dark, designing knave,
St. John has ever been a wealthy fool--
But let me add, Sir Robert's mighty dull,
Has never made a friend in private life,
And was, besides, a tyrant to his wife.
But pray, when others praise him, do I blame?
Call Verres, Wolsey, any odious name?
Why rail they, then, if but a wreath of mine,
Oh, all-accomplished St. John! deck thy shrine?
What? shall each spur-galled hackney of the day,
When Paxton gives him double pots and pay,
Or each new-pensioned sycophant, pretend
To break my windows, if I treat a friend?
Then wisely plead, to me they meant no hurt,
But 'twas my guest at whom they threw the dirt?
Sure, if I spare the minister, no rules
Of honour bind me, not to maul his tools;
Some, if they cannot cut, it may be said
His saws are toothless, and his hatchet's lead.
If angered Turenne, once upon a day,
To see a footman kicked that took his pay:
But when he heard the affront the fellow gave,
Knew one a man of honour, one a knave;
The prudent general turned it to a jest,
And begged, he'd take the pains to kick the rest:
Which not at present having time to do--
F. Hold, sir! for God's sake where's the affront to you?
Against your worship when had S---k writ?
Or P---ge poured forth the torrent of his wit?
Or grant the bard whose distich all commend
(In power a servant, out of power a friend)
To W---le guilty of some venial sin;
What's that to you who ne'er was out nor in?
The priest whose flattery be-dropt the Crown,
How hurt he you? he only stained the gown.
And how did, pray, the florid youth offend,
Whose speech you took, and gave it to a friend?
P. 'Faith, it imports not much from whom it came; )
Whoever borrowed, could not be to blame, )
Since the whole house did afterwards the same. )
Let courtly wits to wits afford supply,
As hog to hog in huts of Westphaly;
If one, through Nature's bounty, or his Lord's,
Has what the frugal, dirty soil affords,
From him the next receives it, thick or thin,
As pure a mess almost as it came in;
The blessed benefit, not there confined,
Drops to the third, who nuzzles close behind;
From tail to mouth, they feed and they carouse:
The last full fairly gives it to the House.
F. This filthy simile, this beastly line,
Quite turns my stomach--
P. So does flattery mine;
And all your courtly civet-cats can vent,
Perfume to you, to me is excrement.
But hear me further--Japhet, 'tis agreed,
Writ not, and Chartres scarce could write or read,
In all the courts of Pindus guiltless quite;
But pens can forge, my friend, that cannot write;
And must no egg in Japhet's face be thrown
Because the deed he forged was not my own?
Must never patriot, then, declaim at gin,
Unless, good man! he has been fairly in?
No zealous pastor blame a failing spouse
Without a staring reason on his brows?
And each blasphemer quite escape the rod
Because the insult's not on man, but God?
Ask you what provocation I have had?
The strong antipathy of good to bad.
When truth or virtue an affront endures,
The affront is mine, my friend, and should be yours.
Mine, as a foe professed to false pretence,
Who think a coxcomb's honour like his sense;
Mine, as a friend to every worthy mind
And mine as man, who feel for all mankind.
F. You're strangely proud.
P. So proud, I am no slave: )
So impudent I own myself no knave: )
So odd, my country's ruin makes me grave. )
Yes, I am proud; I must be proud to see
Men not afraid of God afraid of me:
Safe from the Bar, the Pulpit, and the Throne,
Yet touched and shamed by ridicule alone.
O, sacred weapon left for truth's defence,
Sole dread of folly, vice, and insolence!
To all but heaven-directed hands denied
The muse may give thee, but the gods must guide:
Reverent I touch thee! but with honest zeal,
To rouse the watchmen of the public weal;
To virtue's work provoke the tardy hall,
And goad the prelate slumbering in his stall.
Ye tinsel insects whom a Court maintains
That counts your beauties only by your stains,
Spin all your cobwebs o'er the eye of day!
The muse's wing shall brush you all away;
All his Grace preaches, all his Lordship sings,
All that makes saints of queens, and gods of kings.
All, all but truth, drops dead-born from the press,
Like the last gazette or the last address.
When black ambition stains a public cause,
A monarch's sword when mad vain-glory draws,
Not Waller's wreath can hide the nation's scar
Nor Boileau turn the feather to a star.
Not so, when diademed with rays divine,
Touched with the flame that breaks from Virtue's shrine,
Her priestless muse forbids the good to die,
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