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And justly Cæsar scorns the poet's lays ;
It is to history he trusts for praise.
F. Better be Cibber, I'll maintain it still,
Than ridicule all taste, blaspheme quadrille,
Abuse the city's best good men in metre,
And laugh at peers that put their trust in Peter.
E'en those you touch not hate you.
P. What should ail 'em? F. A hundred smart in Timon and in Balaam: The fewer still you name, you wound the more ; Bond is but one, but Harpax is a score.
P. Each mortal has his pleasure: none deny Scarsdale his bottle, Darty his ham-pie: Ridotta sips and dances till she see
The doubling lustres dance as fast as she:
F-loves the senate, Hockley-hole his brother,
Like in all else, as one egg to another.
I love to pour out all myself as plain
As downright Shippen, or as old Montaigne:
In them, as certain to be loved as seen,
The soul stood forth, nor kept a thought within;
In me what spots (for spots I have) appear,
Will prove at least the medium must be clear.
In this impartial glass my Muse intends
Fair to expose myself, my foes, my friends;
Publish the present age; but where my text
Is vice too high, reserve it for the next;
My foes shall wish my life a longer date,
And every friend the less lament my fate.
My head and heart thus flowing through my quill,
Verse-man or prose-man, term me which
Papist or Protestant, or both between,
Like good Erasmus, in an honest mean,
In moderation placing all my glory,
While Tories call me Whig, and Whigs a Tory.
Satire's my weapon, but I'm too discreet
To run a-muck, and tilt at all I meet;
I only wear it in a land of Hectors,
Thieves, supercargoes, sharpers, and directors.
Save but our army!, and let Jove incrust
Swords, pikes, and guns, with everlasting rust!
Peace is my dear delight—not Fleury's more;
But touch me, and no minister so sore.
Whoe'er offends, at some unlucky time
Slides into verse, and hitches in a rhyme,
Sacred to ridicule his whole life long,
And the sad burden of some merry song.
Slander or poison dread from Delia's rage;
Hard words or hanging if your judge be Page:
From furious Sappho scarce a milder fate,
Pox'd by her love, or libell'd by her hate.
Its proper power to hurt each creature feels;
Bulls aim their horns, and asses lift their heels ;
'Tis a bear's talent not to kick, but hug;
And no man wonders he's not stung by pug.
So drink with Walters, or with Chartres eat,
They'll never poison you, they'll only cheat.
Then, learned sir! (to cut the matter short)
Whate'er my fate, or well or ill at court,
Whether old age, with faint but cheerful ray,
Attends to gild the evening of my day,
Or death's black wing already be display'd,
To wrap me in the universal shade;
Whether the darken'd room to muse invite,
Or whiten❜d wall provoke the skewer to write;
In durance, exile, Bedlam, or the Mint,
Like Lee or Budgell, I will rhyme and print.
F. Alas, young man, your days can ne'er be long;
In flower of age you perish for a song!
Plums and directors, Shylock and his wife,
Will club their testers now to take your life.
P. What? arm'd for virtue when I point the Brand the bold front of shameless guilty men, Dash the proud gamester in his gilded car, Bare the mean heart that lurks beneath a star; 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 a 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 the' 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 mob 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,
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-F. Indeed!
The case is alter'd-you may then proceed:
In such a cause the plaintiff will be hiss'd,
My lords the judges laugh, and you're dismiss'd.
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 eyeballs 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 redbreast till of late had rest,
And children sacred held a martin's nest,
Till becaficos sold so devilish 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: