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EPISTLE TO DR. ARBUTHNOT;

BEING

THE PROLOGUE TO THE SATJttES.

ADVERTISEMENT
To the first Publication of this Epistle.

This paper is a sort of bill of complaint, begun many years since, and drawn up by snatches, as the several occasions offered. 1 had no thoughts of publishing it, till it pleased some persons of rank and fortune [the authors of Verses to the Imitator of Horace, and of an Epistle to a Doctor of Divinity from a Nobleman at Hampton Court] to attack, in a \ery extraordinary manner, not only my writings (of which,being public, the public is judge) but my person, morals, and family; whereof, to those who know me not, a truer information may be requisite. Being divided between the necessity to say something of myself, and my own laziness to undertake so awkward 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 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 langhed at, if they please.

1 would have some of them to 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.'QHUT, shut the door, good John !' fattgn'd, I ^ said,

'lie up the knocker, say I'm sick, I'm dead.'
The dog-star rages! nay, 'tis past a doubt,
All Bedlam, or Parnassus, is let out:
Fire in each eye, and papers in each hand.
They rave, recite, and madden round the land.
What walls can guard me, or what shades can
hide?

They pierce my thickets, through my grot they glide.
By land, by water, they renew the charge;
They stop the chariot, and they board the barge.
Uo 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,
A mandlin 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 desperate charcoal round his darken'd walls?
All fly toTwit'nam, and in humble strain
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 canse:
Poor Cornus sees his frantic wife elope,
And curses wit, and poetry, and Pope.

Friend to my life! (which did not you prolong,
The world had wanted many an idle sonir)
What drop of nostrum can this plague remove?
Or which must end me, a fool's wrath or love?
A dire dilemma I either way I'm sped;
If foes, they write; if friends, they read me dead.
Seia'd and tied down to jndge, how wretched I!
Who can't be silent, and who will not lie:
To langh, were want of goodness and of grace;
And to be grave, exceeds all power of face.
I sit with sad civility; I read
With honest anguish, and an aching head;
And drop at last, but in unwilling ears,
This saving counsel,' Keep your piece nine years.'

* Nine years!' cries he, who, high in Drury-iane, Lull'd by soft zephyrs through the broken pane, Rhymes ere he wakes, and prints before term ends, Oblig'd by hunger and request of friends: 'The piece, you think, is incorrect: why take it, I'm all submission; what yon'd have it -make it.'

Three things another's modest wishes bound, My friendship, and a prologue, and ten pound.

Pitholeon sends to me: ' You know his grace: I want a patron; ask him for a place.' Pitholeon libel I'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, A virgin tragedy, an orphan muse.' If I dislike it, * Furies, death, and rage !* If I approve, ' Commend it to the stage.' There (thank my stars) my whole commission ends. The players and I are, luckily, no friends. [it, Fu'd that the house reject him, * 'Sdeath ! I'll print And shame the fools—your interest, sir, with Lintot.* Li i)tot, dull rogue! will think your price too much r

* Not, sir, if you revise it, and retouch.'
All my demurs but double his attacks:

At last he whispers, ' Do; and we go snacks.'
Glad of a quarrel, straight 1 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), His very minister, who spied them first (Some say his queen), was fore'd to speak, or burst. And is not mine, my friend, a sorer case, When every coxcomb perks them in my face?

A. Good friend, forbear! you deal in dangerous things,

I'd never name queens, ministers, or kings;

Keep close to ears, and those let asses prick,

Tis nothing—P. Nothing? if they bite and kick?

Out with it, Dunciad! let the secret pass,

That secret to each fool, that he's an ass:

The truth once told (and wherefore should we lie?)

The queen of Midas slept, and so may I.
You think this cruel: take it for a rule,

No creature smarts so little as a fool.

Let peals of laughter, Codrus! round thee break,
Thou unconcern'd canst hear the mighty crack:

Pit, box, and gallery, in convulsions hurl'd,
Thou stand'st unshook amidst a bursting world.
Who shames a scribbler? Break one cobweb through,
He spins the slight, self-pleasing thread anew:
Destroy his fib or sophistry, in vain,
The creature's at his dirty work again,
Thron'd on the centre of his thin designs.
Proud of a vast extent of flimsy lines!
Whom have I hurt? has poet yet, or peer,
Lost the arch'd eyebrow, or Parnassian sneer?
And has not Colly still his lord and whore?
His batchers Henley? his free-masons Moore?
Does not one table Bavins still admit?
Still to one bishop Philips seems a wit?

Still Sappho—A. Hold; for God's sake—yon'll' offend,

No names—be calm—learn prndence of a friend:
I too could write, and I am twice as tall;
But foes like these—P. One flatterer's worse than
all.

Of all mad creatures, if the learn'd are right,

It is the slaver kills, and not the bite.

A fool quite angry is quite innocent:

Alas! 'tis ten times worse when they repent.

One dedicates in high heroic prose,

And ridicules beyond a hundred foes:

One from all Grub-street will my fame defend,

And, more abusive, calls himself my friend.

This prints my letters, that expects a briber

And others roar alond ' Subscribe, subscribe !*

There are, who to my person pay their court: I cough like Horace, and, though lean, am short. Ammon's great son one shoulder had too high, Such Ovid's nose, and, 'Sir! you have an eye—.' Go on, obliging creatures, make me see All that disgrac'd my betters met in me. Say for my comfort, languishing in bed, * Just so immortal Maro held his head;'

And when I die, be sure you let me know

Great Homer died three thousand years ago.
Why did I write ? what sin to me unknown

Dipp'd me in ink, my parents', or my own?

As yet a child, nor yet a fool to fame,

I lisp'd in numbers, for the numbers came;

X left no calling for this idle trade,

Do duty broke, no father disobey'd:

The muse but serv'd to ease some friend, not wife;

To help me through this long disease, my life;

To second, Arbuthnot! thy art and care,

And teach the being you preserv'd to bear.
But why then publish ? Granville the polite,

And knowing Walsh, would tell me I could write;

Well-natur'd Garth infiam'd with early praisn,

And Congreve lov'd, and Swift endur'd, my lays;

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