Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

I 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. 'Shut, shut the door, good John,' fatigued, I

said, ' Tie 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. No place is sacred, not the church is free, E'en 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 bemused in beer, 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 desperate charcoal round his darken'd walls ; All fly to Twit'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 cause : 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 song)

What drop or nostrum can this plague remove?
Or which raust end me, a fool's wrath or love?
A dire dilemma! either way I'm sped;
If foes, they write ; if friends, they read me dead.
Seized and tied down to judge, how wretched I!
Who can't be silent, and who will not lie:
To laugh, were want of goodness and of grace ;
And to be grave, exceeds all power of fuce.
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-lane,
Lull'd by soft zephyrs through the broken pane,
Rhymes ere he wakes, and prints before term ends,
Obliged 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; “You know his grace; I want a patron; ask him for a place.' 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 : 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. Fired that the house reject him, ''Sdeath! I'll print it, And shame the fools-your interest, sir, with Lintot.' * Lintot, dull rogue! will think your price too much : • Not, sir, if you revise it, and retouch.' All my demurs but double his attacks : Al lagt he whispers,"

and we go snacks

Do;

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,) His very minister, who spied them first, (Some say his queen) was forced 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, Throned 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? Ilis butchers Henly? his free-masons Moore? Does not one table Bavius still admit? Sull to one bishop Phillips seem a wit ? Still Sappho-A. Hold; for God's sake-you'll offend, No names-be calm-learn prudence 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 bribe,
And others roar aloud '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 disgraced 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,
O lisp'd in numbers, for the numbers came ;
I left no calling for this idle trade,
No duty broke, no father disobey'd :
The muse but served 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 preserved to bear.

But why then publish ? Granville the polite, And knowing Walsh, would tell me I could write ; Well-natured Garth inflamed with early praise, And Congreve loved, and Swift endured, my lays, The courtly Talbot, Somers, Sheffield read, E'en mitred Rochester would nod the head,

2

And St. John's self (great Dryden's friend before)
With open arms received one poet more.
Happy my studies, when by these approved !
Happier their author, when by these beloved !
From these the world will judge of men and books,
Not from the Burnets, Oldmixons, and Cooks.

Soft were my numbers : who could take offence
While pure description held the place of sense ?
Like gentle Fanny's was my flowery theme,
• A painted mistress, or a purling stream.'
Yet then did Gildon draw his venal quill;
I wish'd the man a dinner, and sat still:
Yet then did Dennis rave in furious fret;
I never answer'd; I was not in debt;
If want provoked, or madness made them print,
I waged no war with Bedlam or the Mint.

Did some more sober critic come abroad?
If wrong, I smiled ; if right, I kiss'd the rod:
Pains, reading, study, are their just pretence,
And all they want is spirit, taste, and sense.
Commas and points they set exactly right,
And 'twere a sin to rob them of their mite.
Yet ne'er one sprig of laurel graced these ribalds,
From slashing Bently down to piddling Tibbalds :
Each wight, who reads not, and but scans and spells,
Each word-catcher, that lives on syllables,
E'en such small critics some regard may claim,
Preserved in Milton's or in Shakspeare's name.
Pretty! in amber to observe the forms
Of hairs, or straws, or dirt, or grubs, or worms !
The things we know are neither rich nor rare,
But wonder how the devil they got there.

Were others angry? I excused them too;.
Weh might they rage : I gave them but their due.
A man's true merit 'tis not hard to find;
But each man's secret standard in his mind,
That casting-weight pride adds to emptiness,
This, who can gratify ? for who can guesa ?

« ZurückWeiter »