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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,
P-x'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 pen,
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 laureate 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 beware! Laws are explain'd by men---so have a care,
It stands on record, that in Richard's times
A man was hanged 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-
The case is alter'd-you may then proceed;
In such a case 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 eye-balls 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 e'er 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 ye 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-red-breast till of late had rest,
And children sacred held a martin's nest,
Till beccaficos sold so develish 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;
Or e'en to crack live crawfish recommend,
I'd never doubt at court to make a friend.
Tis yet in vain, I own, to keep a pother
About one vice, and fall into the other:
Between excess and famine lies a mean:
Plain, but not sordid; though not splendid, clean.
Avidien, or his wife (no matter which
For him you'll call a dog, and her a bitch)
Sell their presented partridges and fruits,
And humbly live on rabbits and on roots:
One half-pint bottle serves them both to dine;
And is at once their vinegar and wine.
But on some lucky day (as when they found
A lost bank bill, or heard their son was drown'd),
At such a feast, old vinegar to spare,
Is what two souls so generous cannot bear :
Oil, though it stink, they drop by drop impart,
But souse the cabbage with a bounteous heart.
He knows to live, who keeps the middle state,
And neither leans on this side nor on that;
Nor stops, for one bad cork, his butler's pay,
Swears, like Albutius, a good cook away;
Nor lets like Nævius, every error pass,
The musty wine, foul cloth, or greasy glass.
Now hear what blessings temperance can bring:
(Thus said our friend, and what he said I sing)
First health the stomach cramm'd from every dish,
A tomb of boil'd and roast, and flesh and fish,
Where bile, and wind, and phlegm, and acid jar,
And all the man is one intestine war)
Remembers oft the schoolboy's simple fare,
The temperate sleeps, and spirits light as air.
How pale each worshipful and reverend guest
Rise from a clergy or a city feast!
What life in all that ample body? say,
What heavenly particle inspires the clay ?
The soul subsides, and wickedly inclines
To seem but mortal e'en in sound divines.
On morning wings how active springs the mind