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Trims Europe's balance, tops the statesman's part,
And talks gazettes and postboys o'er by heart.
Like a big wife at sight of loathsome meat
Ready to cast, I yawn, I sigh, and sweat.
Then as a licensed spy, whom nothing can
Silence or hurt, he libels the great man :
Swears every place entail'd for years to come
In sure succession to the day of doom:
He names the price for every office paid,
And says our wars thrive ill, because delay'd:
Nay hints 'tis by connivance of the court
That Spain robs on, and Dunkirk's still a port.
Not more amazement seized on Circe's guests
To see themselves fall endlong into beasts,
Than mine, to find a subject staid and wise
Already half-turn'd traitor by surprise.
I felt the' infection slide from him to me,
As in the pox some give it to get free;
And quick to swallow me, methought I saw
One of our giant statues ope its jaw.
In that nice moment, as another lie
Stood just a-tilt, the minister came by:
To him he flies, and bows, and bows again,
Then, close as Umbra, joins the dirty train.
Not Fannius' self more impudently near,
When half his nose is in his prince's ear.
I quaked at heart; and, still afraid to see
All the court fill'd with stranger things than he,
Ran out as fast as one that pays his bail,
And dreads more actions, hurries from a gaol.
Bear, me, some god! Oh quickly bear me hence To wholesome Solitude, the nurse of Sense, Where Contemplation prunes her ruffled wings, And the free soul looks down, to pity kings!
There sober thought pursued the' amusing theme,
Till fancy colour'd it, and form'd a dream.
A vision hermits can to Hell transport,
And forced e'en me to see the damn'd at court.
Not Dante, dreaming all the' infernal state,
Beheld such scenes of envy, sin, and hate.
Base fear becomes the guilty, not the free,
Suits tyrants, plunderers, but suits not me;
Shall I, the terror of this sinful town,
Care if a liveried lord or smile or frown:
Who cannot flatter, and detest who can,
Tremble before a noble serving man?
O my fair mistress, Truth! shall I quit thee
For huffing, braggart, puff'd nobility?
Thou who, since yesterday, hast roll'd o'er all
The busy idle blockheads of the ball,
Hast thou, oh Sun! beheld an emptier sort
Than such as swell this bladder of a court?
Now pox on those who show a court in wax!
It ought to bring all courtiers on their backs;
Such painted puppets! such a varnish'd race
Of hollow gewgaws, only dress and face!
Such waxen noses, stately staring things-
No wonder some folks bow, and think them kings.
See! where the British youth, engaged no more
At Fig's, at White's, with felons, or a whore,
Pay their last duty to the court, and come
All fresh and fragrant to the drawing-room;
In hues as gay, and odours as divine,
As the fair fields they sold to look so fine.
'That's velvet for a king!' the flatterer swears;
'Tis true, for ten days hence 'twill be King Lear's.
Our court may justly to our stage give rules,
That helps it both to fools' coats and to fools.
And why not players strut in courtiers' clothes? For these are actors too as well as those.
Wants reach all states; they beg but better dress'd, And all is splendid poverty at best.
Painted for sight, and essenced for the smell, Like frigates fraught with spice and cochineal, Sail in the ladies: how each pirate eyes So weak a vessel and so rich a prize! Top-gallant he, and she in all her trim; He boarding her, she striking sail to him. 'Dear countess! you have charms all hearts to hit!' And, 'Sweet Sir Fopling! you have so much wit!' Such wits and beauties are not praised for nought, For both the beauty and the wit are bought. "Twould burst e'en Heraclitus with the spleen To see those antics, Fopling and Courtin; The presence seems, with things so richly odd, The mosque of Mahound, or some queer pagod, See them survey their limbs by Durer's rules, Of all beau-kind the best proportion'd fools! Adjust their clothes, and to confession draw Those venial sins, an atom, or a straw: But, oh! what terrors must distract the soul Convicted of that mortal crime, a hole; Or should one pound of powder less bespread Those monkey-tails that wag behind their head! Thus finish'd, and corrected to a hair,
They march, to prate their hour before the fair.
So first to preach a white-gloved chaplain goes,
With band of lily, and with cheek of rose,
Sweeter than Sharon, in immaculate trim,
Neatness itself impertinent in him,
Let but the ladies smile and they are bless'd;
Prodigious! how the things protest, protest.
Peace, fools! or Gonson will for papists seize you, If once he catch you at your Jesu! Jesu!
Nature made every fop to plague his brother, Just as one beauty mortifies another.
But here's the captain that will plague them both;
Whose air cries, arm! whose very look's an oath.
The captain's honest, sirs, and that's enough,
Though his soul's bullet, and his body buff.
He spits fore-right; his haughty chest before,
Like battering rams, beats open every door;
And with a face as red, and as awry,
As Herod's hang-dogs in old tapestry,
Scarecrow to boys, the breeding woman's curse,
Has yet a strange ambition to look worse:
Confounds the civil, keeps the rude in awe,
Jests like a licensed fool, commands like law.
Frighted, I quit the room, but leave it so
As men from gaols to execution go;
For hung with deadly sins I see the wall,
And lined with giants deadlier than them all:
Each man an Askapart, of strength to toss,
For quoits, both Temple Bar and Charing Cross.
Scared at the grisly forms, I sweat, I fly,
And shake all o'er, like a discover'd spy.
Courts are too much for wits so weak as mine:
Charge them with Heaven's artillery, bold divine!
From such alone the great rebukes endure,
Whose satire's sacred, and whose rage secure :
'Tis mine to wash a few light stains, but theirs
To deluge sin, and drown a court in tears.
Howe'er, what's now apocrypha, my wit,
In time to come, may pass for holy writ.
F. Nor twice a twelvemonth you appear in print,
And when it comes, the court see nothing in't:
You grow correct, that once with rapture writ,
And are, besides, too moral for a wit.
Decay of parts, alas! we all must feel—
Why now, this moment, do n't I see you steal?
'Tis all from Horace; Horace long before ye
Said Tories call'd him Whig, and Whigs a Tory;'
And taught his Romans, in much better metre,
To laugh at fools who put their trust in Peter.'
But Horace, sir, was delicate, was nice;
Bubo observes, he lash'd no sort of vice:
Horace would say, Sir Billy served the crown,
Blunt could do business, Higgins knew the town;
In Sappho touch the failings of the sex,
In reverend bishops note some small neglects,
And own the Spaniard did a waggish thing,
Who cropp'd our ears, and sent them to the king.
His sly, polite, insinuating style
Could please at court, and make Augustus smile:
An artful manager, that crept between
His friend and shame, and was a kind of screen.