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EPISTLE TO DR. ARBUTHNOT,
THE PROLOGUE TO THE SATIRES.
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. I 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 al Hampton Court) to attack, in a very 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 informa. tion may be requisite. Being divided between the necessity to say something of myself, and my own lazi. ness 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 laughed at, if they please.
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 advan. tage and honour on my side, that whereas, by their proceeding, any abuse may be directed at any man, 110 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
What walls can guard me, or what shades can hide ?
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?
Nine years !' cries he, who, high in Drury-lane,
Three things another's modest wishes bound,
Pitholeon sends to me; “You know his grace;
Bless me! a packet.-"'Tis a stranger sues :
to the stage.' There (thank my stars) my whole commission ends, The players and I
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: At last he whispers, ‘Do; and we go snacks'
Glad of a quarrel, straight I clap the door,
'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 credture'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 ? His butchers Henly ? his free-masons Moore ? Does not one table Bavius still admit ? Still to one bishop Phillips seem a wit ? Still Sappho-A. Hold; for God's sake-you'll offende No names-he calm-learn prudence of a friend :