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This maxim more than all the rest Is thought too base for human breast : “ In all distresses of our friends, We first consult our private ends; i While nature, kindly bent to ease us, Points out some circumstance to please us."
If this perhaps your patience move,
Let reason and experience prove.
We all behold with envious eyes
Our equals rais'd above our size.
Who would not at a crowded show
Stand high himself, keep others low?
I love my friend as well as you:
But why should be obstruct my view?
Then let me have the higher post;
Suppose it but an inch at most.
If in a battle you should find
One, whom you love of all mankind,
Had some heroic action done,
A champion kill'd, or trophy won;
Rather than thus be over-topt,
Would you not wish his laurels cropt?
Dear honest Ned is in the gout,
Lies rack'd with pain, and you without:
How patiently you hear him groan !
How glad the case is not your own!
What poet would not grieve to see
His brother write as well as he ?
But, rather than they should excel,
Would wish his rivals all in hell ?
Her end when emulation misses,
She turns to envy, stings, and hisses ;
The strongest friendship yields to pride,
Unless the odds be on our side.
Vain human-kind! fantastic race !
Thy various follies who can trace ?
Self-love, ambition, envy, pride,
Their empire in our heart divide.
Give others riches, power, and station,
'Tis all to me an usurpation.
I have no title to aspire ;
Yet, when you sink, I seem the higher,
In Pope I cannot read a line,
But with a sigh I wish it mine :
When he can in one couplet fix
More sense than I can do in six ;
It gives me such a jealous fit,
I cry, “ Pox take him and his wit!"
I grieve to be outdone by Gay
In my own humorous biting way.
Arbuthnot is no more my friend,
Who dares to irony pretend,
Which I was born to introduce,
Refin'd at first, and show'd its use,
St. John, as well as Pulteney, knows
That I had some repute for prose;
And, till they drove me out of date,
Could maul a minister of state.
If they have mortified my pride,
And made me throw my pen aside ;
If with such talents Heaven hath bless'd 'em,
Have I not reason to detest 'em ?
To all my foes, dear Fortune, send
Thy gifts; but never to my friend :
I tamely can endure the first;
But this with envy makes me burst.
Thus much may serve by way of proem ; Proceed we therefore to our poem.
The time is not remote when I
Must by the course of nature die;
When, I foresee, my special friends
Will try to find their private ends :
And, though 'tis hardly understood
Which way my death can do them good,
Yet thus, methinks, I hear them speak :
“ See how the Dean begins to break !
Poor gentleman, he droops apace!
You plainly find it in his face.
That old vertigo in his head
Will never leave him till he's dead.
Besides, his memory decays :
He recollects not what he says;
He cannot call his friends to mind;
Forgets the place where last he din'd;
Plies you with stories o'er and o'er ;
He told them fifty times before,
How does he fancy we can sit
To bear his out-of-fashion wit?
But he takes up with younger folks,
Who for his wine will bear his jokes.
Faith! he must make his stories shorter,
Or change his comrades once a quarter;
In half the time he talks them round,
There must another set be founde
“ For poetry, he's past his prime: He takes an hour to find a rhyme;
His fire is out, his wit decay'd,
His fancy sunk, his Muse a jade.
I'd have him throw away his pen;
But there 's no talking to some men !"
And then their tenderness appears
By adding largely to my years :
“ He's older than he would be reckon'd,
And well remembers Charles the Second.
He hardly drinks a pint of wine;
And that, I doubt, is no good sign.
His stomach too begins to fail ;
Last year we thought him strong and hale ;
But now he's quite another thing :
I wish he may hold out till spring !"
They hug themselves and reason thus :
“ It is not yet so bad with us !”
In such a case they talk in tropes, And by their fears express their hopes. Some great misfortune to portend, No enemy can match a friend. With all the kindness they profess, The merit of a lucky guess (When daily how-d'ye's coine of course, And servants answer, “ Worse and worse !") Would please them better, than to tell, That, “God be prais'd, the Dean is well.” Then he who prophesy'd the best, Approves his foresight to the rest: “ You know I always fear'd the worst, And often told you so at first." He 'd rather choose that I should die, Than his predictions prove a lie.
Not one foretells I shall recover ;
But, all agree to give me over.
Yet should some neighbour feel a pain
Just in the parts where I complain ;
How many a message would he send !
What hearty prayers that I should mend!
Inquire what regimen I kept?
What gave me ease, and how I slept ?
And more lament when I was dead,
Than all the snivellers round my bed.
My good companions, never fear;
For, though you may mistake a year,
Though your prognostics run too fast,
They must be verify'd at laste
Behold the fatal day arrive! “ How is the Dean?” -“ He's just alive." Now the departing prayer is read; He hardly breathes – the Dean is deada
Before the passing-bell begun, The news through half the town is run. “ Oh! may we all for death prepare! What has he left ? and who 's his heir ?". “ I know no more than what the news is; 'Tis all bequeath'd to public uses.” “ To public uses ! there's a whim! What had the public done for him? Mere envy, avarice, and pride : He gave it all — but first he dy'd. And had the Dean, in all the nation, No worthy friend, no poor relation? So ready to do strangers good, Forgetting his own flesh and blood !”