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I ne'er with wits or witlings pass'd my days,
To spread about the itch of verse and praise;
Nor like a puppy, daggled through the town,
To fetch and carry sing-song up and down;
Nor at rehearsals sweat, and mouth'd and cried,
With handkerchief and orange at my side:
But sick of fops, and poetry, and prate,
To Bufo left the whole Castalian state.
Proud as Apollo on his forked bill,
Sat full-blown Bufo, puff'd by every quill;
Fed with soft dedication all day long,
Horace and he went hand and hand in song.
His library (where busts of poets dead,
And a true Pindar stood without a head)
Received of wits an undistinguish'd race,
Who first his judgment ask'd and then a place;
Much they extoll'd his pictures, much his seat,
And flatter'd every day, and some days eat;
Till, grown more frugal in his riper days,
He paid some bards with port, and some with praise;
To some a dry rehearsal was assign'd,
And others (harder still) he paid in kind.
Dryden alone (what wonder?) came not nigh;
Dryden alone escaped his judging eye:
But still the great have kindness in reserve,
He help'd to bury whom he help'd to starve.
May some choice patron bless each grey goose quill, May every Bavius have his Bufo still!
So when a statesman wants a day's defence,
envy holds a whole week's war with sense, Or simple pride for flattery makes demands, May dunce by dunce be whistled off my hands! Bless'd be the great! for those they take away,
And those they left me for they left me Gay:
Left me to see neglected genius bloom,
Neglected die, and tell it on his tomb:
Of all thy blameless life the sole return
My verse, and Queensberry weeping o'er thy urn!
Oh, let me live my own, and die so too!
(To live and die is all I have to do):
Maintain a poet's dignity and ease,
And see what friends, and read what books I please;
Above a patron, though I condesend
Sometimes to call a minister my friend.
I was not born for courts or great affairs:
I pay my debts, believe, and say my prayers;
Can sleep wihout a poem in my head,
Nor know if Dennis be alive or dead.
Why am I ask'd what next shall see the light? Heavens! was I born for nothing but to write? Has life no joys for me? or (to be grave) Have I no friend to serve, no soul to save?
I found him close with Swift,- Indeed? no doubt,' Cries prating Baibus, 'something will come out.' "Tis all in vain, deny it as I will,
No, such a genius never can lie still:"
And then for mine obligingly mistakes
The first lampoon sir Will or Bubo makes.
Poor guiltless I! and can I choose but smile,
When every coxcomb knows me by my style
Cursed be the verse, how well soe'er it flow,
That tends to make one worthy man my foe,
Give virtue scandal, innocence a fear,
Or from the soft-eyed virgin steal a tear!
But he who hurt a harmless neighbour's peace,
Insults fallen worth, or beauty in distress.
Who loves a lie, lame slander helps about,
Who writes a libel, or who copies out;
That fop, whose pride affects a patron's name,
Yet absent, wounds an author's honest fame:
Who can your merit selfishly approve,
And show the sense of it without the love;
Who has the vanity to call you friend,
Yet wants the honour, injured, to defend;
Who tells whate'er you think, whate'er you say,
And, if he lie not, must at least betray :
Who to the dean and silver bell can swear,
And sees at Canons what was never there;
Who reads but with a lust to misapply,
Makes satire a lampoon, and a fiction lie ;*
A lash like mine no honest man shall dread,
But all such babbling blockheads in his stead,
Let Sporus tremble-.A. What? that thing of silk,
Sporus, that mere white curd of ass's milk?
Satire or sense, alas! can Spores feel?
Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?
P. Yet let me flap this bug with gilded wings,
This painted child of dirt, that sticks and stings;
Whose buzz the witty and the fair annoys,
Yet wit ne'er tastes and beauty ne'er enjoys:
So well-bred spaniels civilly delight
In mumbling of the game they dare not bite.
Eternal smiles his emptiness betray,
As shallow streams run dimpling all the way:
Whether in florid impotence he speaks,
And as the prompter breathes, the puppet squeaks;
Or at the ear of Eve, familiar toad,
Half froth, half venom, spits himself abroad,
In puns, or politics, or tales, or lies,
Or spite, or smut, or rhymes or blasphemies:
His wit all see-saw, between that and this,
Now high, now low, now master up, now miss,
And he himself one vile antithesis.
Amphibious thing! that, acting either part,
The triling head, or the corrupted heart;
Fop at the toilet, flatterer at the board,
Now trips a lady, and now struts a lord.
Eve's tempter thus the rabbins have express'd,
A cherub's face, and reptile all the reast:
Beauty that shocks you, parts that none will trust,
Wit that can creep, and pride that licks the dust.
Not fortune's worshipper, nor fashion's fool,
Not lucre's madman, nor ambition's tool,
Not proud, nor servile: be one poet's praise,
That, if he pleased, he pleased by manly ways;
'That flattery, e'en to kings, he held a shame,
And thought a lie in verse or prose
That not in fancy's maze he wander'd long,
But stoop'd to truth, and moralized his song;
That not for fame, but virtue's better end,
He stood the furious foe, the timid friend,
The damning critic, half-approving wit,
The coxcomb hit, or fearing to be hit:
Laugh'd at the loss of friends he never had,
The dull, the proud, the wicked, and the mad;
The distant threats of vengeance on his head,
The blow unfelt, the tear he never shed;
The tale revived, the lie so oft o'erthrown,
The imputed trash, and dulness not his own;
The morals blacken'd when the writings 'scape,
The libell'd person, and the pictured shape;
Abuse, on all he loved, or loved him, spread,
A friend in exile, or a father dead;
The whisper, that, to greatness still too near,
Perhaps yet vibrates on his sovereign's ear-
Welcome for thee, fair virtue! all the past;
For thee, fair virtue! welcome e'en the last!
A. But why insult the poor, affront the great?
P. A knave's a knave to me, in every state;
Alike my scorn, if he succeed or fail,
Sporus at court, or Japhet in a jail :
A hireling scribbler, or a hireling peer,
Knight of the post corrupt, or of the shire ;
If on a pillar or near a throne,
He gain his prince's ear, or lose his own.
Yet soft by nature, more a dupe than wit,
Sappho can tell you how this man was bit,
This dreaded satirist Dennis will confess
Foe to his pride, but friend to his distress!
So humble, he has knock'd at Tibbald's door,
Has drunk with Cibber, nay, has rhymed for Moore.
Full ten years slander'd, did he once reply?
Three thousand suns went down on Welsted's lie
To please a mistress one aspersed his life:
He lash'd him not, but let her be his wife:
Let Budgell charge low Grub-street on his quill,
And write whate'er he pleased, except his will;
Let the two Curlls of town and court abuse
His father, mother, body, soul, and muse.
Yet why! that father held it for a rule,
It was a sin to call our neighbour fool:
That harmless mother thought no wife a whore :
Hear this and spare his family, James Moore!
Unspotted names, and memorable long!
If there be force in virtue or in song.