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That leaves the load of yesterday behind!
How easy every labour it pursues!
How coming to the poet every Muse!
Not but we may exceed, some holy time,
Or tired in search of truth, or search of rhyme;
Ill health some just indulgence may engage;
And more the sickness of long life, old age:
For fainting age what cordial drop remains,
If our intemperate youth the vessel drains?
Our fathers praised rank venison. You suppose,
Perhaps, young men ! our fathers had no nose.
Not so a buck was then a week's repast,
And 'twas their point, I ween to make it last:
More pleased to keep it till their friends could come,
Than eat the sweetest by themselves at home.
Why had not I in those good times my birth,
Ere.coxcomb-pies or coxcombs were on earth?
Unworthy he the voice of fame to hear,
That sweetest music to an honest ear
(For 'faith, lord Fanny: you are in the wrong,
The world's good word is better than a song);
Who has not learn'd, fresh sturgeon and ham-pie
Are no rewards for want and infamy!
When luxury has lick'd up all thy pelf,
Cursed be thy neighbours, thy trustees, thyself;
To friends, to fortune, to mankind a shame,
Think how posterity will treat thy name;
And buy a rope, that future times may tell
Thou hast at least bestow'd one penny well.
'Right,' cries his lordship, for a rogue in need
To have a taste, is insolence indeed.
In me 'tis noble, suits my birth and state,
My wealth unwieldly and my heap too great.
Then, like the sun, let bounty spread her ray,
And shine that superfluity away.
O impudence of wealth! with all thy store
Haw darest thou let one worthy man be poor?
Shall half the new-built churches round thee fall?
Make keys, build bridges, or repair Whitehall:
Or to thy country let that heap be lent,
As M**o's was, but not at five per cent.
Who thinks that fortune cannot change her mind,
Prepares a dreadful jest for all mankind.
And who stands safest ? tell me, is it he
That spreads and swells in puff'd prosperity,
Or bless'd with little, whose preventing care
In peace provides fit arms against a war?
Thus Bethel spoke, who always speaks his thought,
And always thinks the very thing he ought:
His equal mind I copy what I can,
And as I love, would imitate the man.
In South Sea days not happier, when surmised
The lord of thousands, than if now excised;
In forest planted by a father's hand,
Than in five acres now of rented land.
Content with little I can piddle here
On brocoli and mutton, round the year;
But ancient friends (though poor, or out of play)
That touch my bell, I cannot turn away.
'Tis true, no turbots dignify my boards,
But gudgeons, flounders, what my Thames affords!
To Hounslow-heath I point, and Bansted-down,
Thence comes your mutton, and these chicks
From yon old walnut tree a shower shall fall;
And grapes long-lingering on my only wall,
And figs from standards and espálier join;
The devil is in you if you cannot dine:
Then cheerful healths (your mistress shall have place),
And, what's more rare, a poet shall say grace.
Fortune not much of humbling me can boast:
Though double tax'd, how little have I lost!
My life's amusements have been just the same,
Before, and after standing armies came.
My lands are sold, my father's house is gone;
I'll hire another's: is not that my own,
And yours, my friends? through whose free opening
None comes too early, none departs too late; (For I, who hold sage Homer's rule the best, Welcome the coming, speed the going guest).
Pray Heaven it last!' cries Swift, as you go on:
I wish to God this house had been your own:
Pity! to build, without a son or wife;
Why, you'll enjoy it only all your life.'
Well, if the use be mine, can it concern one,
Whether the name belong to Pope or Vernon?
What's property? dear Swift! you see it alter
From you to me, from me to Peter Walter;
Or, in a mortgage, prove a lawyer's share;
Or, in a jointure, vanish from the heir;
Or in pure equity (the case not clear)
The Chancery takes your rents for twenty year:
At best, it falls to some ungracious son,
Who cries, My father's damn'd and all's my own."
Shades, that to Bacon could retreat afford,
Become the portion of a booby lord;
And Hemsley, once proud Buckingham's delight, Slides to a scrivener, or a city knight,
Let lands and houses have what lords they will,
Let us be fix'd, and our own masters still.
ST. JOHN, whose love indulged my labours past,
Matures my present, and shall bound my last!
Why will you break the sabbath of my days?
Now sick alike of envy and of praise.
Public too long, ah, let me hide my age!
See modest Cibber now has left the stage:
Our generals now, retired to their estates,
Hang their old trophies o'er the garden gates,
In life's cool evening satiate of applause,
Nor fond of bleeding, e'en in Brunswick's cause.
A voice there is, that whispers in my ear
('Tis reason's voice, which sometimes one can hear),
'Friend Pope! be prudent, let your muse take breath,
And never gallop Pegasus to death:
Lest stiff and stately, void of fire or force,
You limp, like Blackmore on a lord mayor's horse.'
Farewell then verse, and love, and every toy,
The rhymes and rattles of the mau or boy;
What right, what true, what fit we justly call,
Let this be all my care-for this is all:
To lay this harvest up, and hoard with haste
What every day will want, and most the last.
But ask not, to what doctors I apply?
Sworn to no master, of no sect am I :
As drives the storm, at any door I knock,
And house with Montagne now, or now with Locke. VOL. II.
Sometimes a patriot, active in debate,
Mix with the world, and battle for the state;
Free as young Littleton, her cause pursue,
Still true to virtue, and as warm as true:
Sometimes with Aristippus, or St. Paul,
Indulge my candour, and grow all to all;
Back to my native moderation slide,
And win my way by yielding to the tide.
Long as to him who works for debt the day;
Long as the night to her whose love's away;
Long as the year's dull circle seems to run,
When the brisk minor pants for twenty-one;
So slow the unprofitable moments roll,
That lock up all the functions of my soul;
That keep me from myself; and still delay
Life's instant business to a future day :
That task which as we follow or despise,
The eldest is a fool, the youngest wise:
Which done, the poorest can no wants endure;
And which not done, the richest must be poor.
Late as it is, I put myself to school,
And feel some comfort, not to be a fool.
Weak though I am of limb, and short of sight,
Far from a lynx, and not a giant quite;
I'll do what Mead and Cheselden advise,
To keep these limbs, and to preserve these eyes.
Not to go back, is somewhat to advance,
And men must walk at least before they dance.
Say, does thy blood rebel, thy bosom move
With wretched avarice, or as wretched love?
Know there are words and spells which can control,
Between the fits, the fever of the soul;
Know there are rhymes, which fresh and fresh applied
Will cure the arrant'st puppy of his pride.