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Can there be wanting, to defend her cause,
Lights of the church, or guardians of the laws?
Could pension'd Boileau lash in honest strain
Flatterers and bigots e'en in Louis' reign ?
Could laureat Dryden pimp and friar engage,
Yet neither Charles nor James be in a rage?
And I not strip the gilding off the knave
Unplaced, unpension'd, no man's heir or slave?
I will, or perish in the generous cause :
Hear this, and tremble! you who 'scape the laws.
Yes, while I live, no rich or noble knave
Shall walk the world in credit to his grave:
To Virtue only and her friends a friend,
The world beside may murmur or commend.
Know, all the distant din that world can keep,
Rolls o'er my grotto, and but soothes my sleep.
There, my retreat the best companions grace,
Chiefs out of war, and statesmen out of place.
There St. John mingles with my friendly bowl
The feast of reason and the flow of soul:
And he, whose lightning pierced th' Iberian lines,
Now forms my quincunx, and now ranks my vines ;
Or tames the genius of the stubborn plain,
Almost as quickly as he conquer'd Spain.
Envy must own, I live among the great,
No pimp of pleasure, and no spy of state;
With eyes that pry not, tongue that ne'er repeats;
Fond to spread friendships, but to cover heats;
To help who want, to forward who excel;.
This, all who know me, know; who love me, tell;
And who unknown defame me, let them be
Scribblers or peers, alike are mub to me.
This is my plea, on this I rest my cause
What saith my counsel, learned in the laws?
F. Your plea is good ; but still I say, Beware!
Laws are explain'd by men--so have a care.
It stands on record, that in Richard's times
A man was hang'd for very honest rhymes;
Consult the statute, quart. I think, it is,
Edwardi sext, or prim. et quint. Eliz.
See libels, satires-here you have it-read.
P. Libels and satires! lawless things indeed!
But grave epistles, bringing vice to light,
Such as a king might read, a bishop write,
Such as Sir Robert would approve-
The case is alter'd-you may then proceed ;
In such a case the plaintiff will be hiss'd,
My lords the judges laugh, and you 're dismissod.
TO MR. BETHEL. WHAT,
and how great, the virtue and the art To live on little with a cheerful heart (A doctrine sage, but truly none of mine); Let's talk, my friends, but talk before we dine. Not when a gilt buffet's reflected pride Turns you from sound philosophy aside : Not when from plate to plate your eye-balls roll, And the brain dances to the mantling bowl.
Hear Bethel's sermon, one not versed in schools, But strong in sense, and wise without the rules.
Go work, hunt, exercise,' he thus began,
' Then scorn a homely dinner if you can.
Your wine lock'd up, your butler stroll'd abroad, -
Or fish denied (the river yet unthaw'd),
If then plain bread and milk will do the feat,
The pleasure lies in you, and not the meat.'
Preach as I please, I doubt our curious men
Will choose a pheasant still before a hen;
Yet hens of Guinea full as good I hold,
Except you eat the feathers green and gold.
Of carps and mullets why prefer the great
(Though cut in pieces ere my lord can eat),
Yet for small turbots such esteem profess?
Because God made these large, the other less.
Oldfield, with more than harpy throat endued,
Cries, ' Send me, gods! a whole hog barbecued !?
O blast it, south-winds! till a stench exhale
Rank as the ripeness of a rabbit's tail,
By what criterion do you eat, d’ye think,
If this is prized for sweetness, that for stink?
When the tired glutton labours through a treat,
He finds no relish in the sweetest meat;
He calls for something bitter, something sour,
And the rich feast concludes extremely poor;
Cheap eggs, and herbs, and olives, still we see ;
Thus much is left of old simplicity!
The robin-red-breast till of late had rest,
And children sacred held a martin's nest,
Till beccaficos sold so dev'lish dear
To one that was, or would have been a peer.
Let me extol a cat on oysters fed,
I'll have a party at the Bedford-head;
Or e'en to crack live crawfish recommend,
I'd never doubt at court to make a friend.
'Tis yet in vain, I own, to keep a pother
About one vice, and fall into the other :
Between excess and famine lies a mean;
Plain, but not sordid ; though not splendid, clean.
Avidien, or his wife (no matter which,
For him you'll call a dog, and her a bitch),
Sell their presented partridges and fruits,
And humbly live on rabbits and on roots :
One half-pint bottle serves them both to dine;
And is at once their vinegar and wine.
But on some lucky day (as when they found
A lost Bank bill, or heard their son was drown'd),
At such a feast, old vinegar to spare,
Is what two souls so generous cannot bear :
Oil, though it stink, they drop by drop impart,
But souse the cabbage with a bounteous heart.
He knows to live, who keeps the middle state,
And neither leans on this side nor on that;
Nor stops, for one bad cork, his butler's pay,
Swears, like Albutius, a good cook away;
Nor lets, like Nævins, every error pass,
The musty wine, foul cloth, or greasy glass.
Now hear what blessings temperance can bring :
(Thus said our friend, and what he said I sing)
First health : the stomach (cramm'd from every dish,
A tomb of boil'd and roast, and flesh and fish,
WŁere bile, and wind, and phlegm, and acid jar,
And all the man is one intestine war)
Remembers oft the schoolboy's simple fare,
The temperate sleeps, and spirits light as air.
How pale each worshipful and reverend guest
Rise from a clergy or a city feast !
What life in all that ample body? say,
What heavenly particle inspires the clay?
The soul subsides, and wickedly inclines
Tu seem but mortal e'en in sound divines.
On morning wings how active springs the mind
That leaves the load of yesterday behind !
How easy every labour it pursues !
How coming to the poet every Muse!
Not but we may exceed, some holy time,
Or tired in search of truth, or search of rhyme ;
Ill health some just indulgence may engage ;
And more the sickness of long life, old age :
For fainting age what cordial drop remains,
If our intemperate youth the vessel drains?
Our fathers praised rank venison. You suppose,
Perhaps, young men ! our fathers had no nose.
Not so: a buck was then a week's repast,
And 'twas their point, I ween, to make it last;
More pleased to keep it till their friends could come,
Than eat the sweetest by themselves at home.
Why had not I in those good times my birth,
Ere coxcomb-pies or coxcombs were on earth?
Unworthy he the voice of fame to hear,
That sweetest music to an honest ear
(For 'faith, Lord Fanny! you are in the wrong,
The world's good word is better than a song),
Who has not learn'd, fresh sturgeon and ham-pie
Are no rewards for want and infamy !
When luxury has lick'd up all thy pelf,
Cursed be thy neighbours, thy trustees, thyself;
To friends, to fortune, to mankind a shame,
Think how posterity will treat thy name :
And buy a rope, that future times may tell
Thou hast at least bestow'd one penny well.
• Right,' cries his lordship, for a rogue in need
To have a taste, is insolence indeed:
In me 'tis noble, suits my birth and state,
My wealth unwieldy, and my heap too great."
Then, like the sun, let bounty spread her ray,
And shine that superfluity away.
O impudence of wealth! with all thy store,
How dar'st thou let one worthy man be poor?
Shall half the new-built churches round thee fall ?
Make quays, build bridges, or repair Whitehall:
Or to thy country let that heap be lent,
As M**i's was, but not at five per cent.
Who thinks that fortune cannot change her mind,
Prepares a dreadful jest for all mankind.
And who stands safest ? tell me, is it be
That spreads and swells in puff d prosperity,
Or bless'd with little, whose preventing care
In peace provides fit arms against a war?
Thus Bethel spoke, who always speaks his thought,
And always thinks the very thing he ought :
His equal mind I copy what I can,
And as I love, would imitate the man,
In South-Sea days not happier, when surmised
The lord of thousands, than if now excised ;
In forest planted by a father's hand,
Than in five acres now of rented land.
Content with little, I can piddle here
On brocoli and mutton, round the year;
But ancient friends (though poor, or out of play)
That touch my bell, I cannot turn away.
'Tis true, no turbots dignify my boards,
But gudgeons, flounders, what my Thames affords:
To Hounslow-heath I point, and Bansted-down,
Thence comes your mutton, and these chicks my own:
From yon old walnut-tree, a shower shall fall :
And grapes long-lingering on my only wall;
And figs from standard and espalier join ;
The devil is in you if you cannot dine:
Then cheerful healths, (your mistress shall have place)
And, what's more rare, a poet shall say grace.
Fortune not much of humbling me can boast :
Though double tax'd, how little have I lost!
My life's amusements have been just the same,
Before, and after standing armies came.
My lands are sold, my father's house is gone;
I'll hire another's: is not that my own,