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To the First Publication of this Epistle.
paper is a sort of bill of complaint, begun
which being public, the public is judge,) but my pera son, morals and family, whereof, of those who know
me not, a truer information may be requisite. Being
a task, I thought it the shortest way to put the last hand to this Epistle. If it have any thing pleasing it will be that by which I am the most desirous to please, the truth and the sentiment; and if any thing offensive, it will be only to those I am least sorry to offend, the vicious or the ungenerous.
Many will know their own pictures in it, there being not a circumstance but what is true: but I have, for the most part, spared their names, and they may escape being laughed at if they please.
I would have some of them know it was owing to the request of the learned and candid friend to whom it is inscribed, that I make not as free use of theirs as they have done of mine. However, I shall have this advantage and honour on my side, that whereas, by their proceeding, any abuse may be directed at any man, no injury can possibly be done by mine, since a nameless character can never be found out but by its truth and likeness, P.
P. SHUT, shut the door, good John! fatigu’d, I
Tie up the knocker; say I'm sick, I'm dead.
5 They rave, recite, and madden round the land.
What walls can guard me, or what shades can hide? They pierce my thickets, thro’my grot they glide, By land, by water, they renew the charge, They stop the chariot, and they board the barge. 10 | No place is sacred, not the church is free ; Ev’n Sunday shines no sabbath day to me: Then from the Mint walks forth the man of rhyme, Happy to catch me just at dinner-time.
Is there a parson much bemus'd in beer, 15 A maudlin poetess, a rhyming peer, A clerk foredoom'd his father's soul to cross, Who pens a stanza when he should engross ? Is there who lock'd from ink and paper, scrawls With desp'rate charcoal round his darken'd walls?
All fly to Twit'nam, and in humble strain
21 Apply to me to keep them mad or vain. Arthur, whose giddy son neglects the laws, Imputes to me and my damn'd Works the cause : Poor Cornus sees his frantic wife elope,
25 And curses wit, and poetry, and Pope, Friend to my life! (which, did not you prolong, The world had wanted many an idle song,) What drop or nostrum can this plague remove? Or which must end me, a fool's wrath or love? 30 A dire dilemma ! either way I'm sped; If foes they write; if friends they read me dead. Seiz'd and ty'd down to judge, how wreched I! Who can't be silent, and who will not lie. To laugh were want of goodness and of grace, 35 And to be grave exceeds all pow'r of face. I sit with sad civility, I read With honest anguish, and an aching head, And drop at last, but in unwilling ears,
39 This saving counsel, “Keep your piece nine years.”
Nine years! cries he who, high in Drury-Lane, Lull'd by soft zephyrs thro' the broken pane, Rhymes ere he, wakes, and prints before Term ends, Obrig'd by hunger and request of friends : « The piece, you think, is incorrect? why take it ; & I'm all submission ; what you'd have it--make it.”
Three things another's modest wishes bound, My friendship, and a prologue, and ten pound.
Pitholeon sends to me; 6 You know his Grace; “I want a patron ; ask him for a place.”
50 Pitholeon libell'd me- But here's a letter “ Informs you, Sir, 'twas when he knew no better.
Dare you refuse him ? Curll invites to dine ; “ He'll write a Journal, or he'll turn divine.” Bless me! a packet.—“'Tis a stranger sues, 55 “A virgin tragedy, an orphan muse.” If I dislike it, “ Furies, death and rage
!" If I approve, 6 Commend it to the stage." There (thank my stars) my whole commission ends, The play’rs and I are, luckily, no friends. Fir'd that the House rejects him, “Sdeath, I'll print it, “ And shame the fools-Your int'rest, Sir, with Lin
tot.” Lintot, dull rogue! will think your price too much: “ Not, Sir, if you revise it, and retouch.” All my demurs but double his attacks;
65 At last he whispers, “ Do, and we go snacks." Glad of a quarrel, straight I clap the door; Sir, let me see your works and you no more."
'Tis sung, when Midas' ears began to spring, (Midas, a sacred person and a king,)