« PreviousContinue »
which carries your loyalty no farther than your liking. When a vote of the House of Commons goes on your side, you are as ready to observe it as if it were passed into a law; but when you are pinched with any former and yet unrepealed act of parliament, you declare that, in some cases, you will not be obliged by it. The passage is in the same third part of the "No-protestant Plot," and is too plain to be denied. The late copy of your intended Association you neither wholly justify nor condemn; but as the Papists, when they are unopposed, fly out into all the pageantries of worship, but, in times of war, when they are hard pressed by arguments, lie close intrenched behind the council of Trent; so now, when your affairs are in a low condition, you dare not pretend that to be a legal combination; but whensoever you are afloat, I doubt not but it will be maintained and justified to purpose for indeed there is nothing to defend it but the sword. "Tis the proper time to say any thing, when men have all things in their power.
In the mean time you would fain be nibbling at a parallel betwixt this Association and that in the time of Queen Elizabeth:* but there is this small difference betwixt them, that the ends of the one are directly opposite to the other; one with the Queen's approbation and conjunction, as head of it, the other without either the consent or knowledge of the King, against whose authority it is manifestly designed. Therefore you do well to have recourse to your last evasion, that it was contrived by your enemies, and shuffled into the papers
* In 1584. See Camden's History of Elizabeth.
that were seized; which yet you see the nation is not so easy to believe as your own jury. But the matter is not difficult, to find twelve men in Newgate who would acquit a malefactor.
I have one only favour to desire of you at parting; that, when you think of answering this Poem, you would employ the same pens against it who have combated, with so much success, against " Absalom and Achitophel;" for then you may assure yourselves of a clear victory, without the least reply. Rail at me abundantly; and, not to break a custom, do it without wit: by this method you will gain a considerable point, which is, wholly to wave the answer of my arguments. Never own the bottom of your principles, for fear they should be treason. Fall severely on the miscarriages of government; for if scandal be not allowed, you are no free-born subjects. If God has not blessed you with the talent of rhyming, make use of my poor stock, and welcome; let your verses run upon my feet; and, for the utmost refuge of notorious blockheads, reduced to the last extremity of sense, turn my own lines upon me, and, in utter despair of your own satire, make me satirize myself. Some of you have been driven to this bay already: but, above all the rest, commend me to the non-conformist parson who writ the "Whip and Key." I am afraid it is not read so much as the piece deserves, because the bookseller is every week crying help, at the end of his Gazette, to get it off. You see I am charitable enough to do him a kindness, that it may be published as well as printed; and that so much skill in Hebrew derivations may not lie for waste paper in the shop. Yet, I half suspect he went no farther
for his learning, than the index of Hebrew names and etymologies, which is printed at the end of some English Bibles. If Achitophel* signify the Brother of a Fool,' the author of that poem will pass with his readers for the next of kin; and, perhaps, it is the relation which makes the kindness. Whatever the verses are, buy them up, I beseech you, out of pity: for I hear the Conventicle is shut up, and the brother of Achitophel out of service.
Now footmen, you know, have the generosity to make a purse for a member of their society who has had his livery pulled over his ears; and even Protestant socks are bought up among you, out of vẻneration to the name. A dissenter in poetry from sense and English, will make as good a Protestant rhymer, as a dissenter from the church of England a Protestant parson: besides, if you encourage a young beginner, who knows but he may elevate his style a little above the vulgar epithets of "Profane and Saucy Jack," and "Atheistic Scribbler," with which he treats me, when the fit of enthusiasm is strong upon him? by which well-mannered and charitable expressions, I was certain of his sect before I knew his name. What would you have more of a man? He has damned me in your cause from Genesis to the Revelations; and has half the texts of both the Testaments against me, if you will be so civil to yourselves as to take him for your interpreter, and not to take them for Irish witnesses. After all, perhaps, you will tell me that you retained
*The anonymous author of two scurrilous poems, called "A Whip," and "A Key," thus expounded the derivation of Achito. phel: Achi, my brother; and tophel, a fool.
him only for the opening of your cause, and that your main lawyer is yet behind: now, if it so happen he meet with no more reply than his predecessors, you may either conclude that I trust to the goodness of my cause, or fear my adversary, or disdain him, or what you please; for the short on't is, it is indifferent to your humble servant, whatever your party says or thinks of him.
A SATIRE AGAINST SEDITION.
Per Graium populos, mediæque per Elidis urbem,
Of all our antic sights and pageantry,
So like the man, so golden to the sight,
The day, month, year, to the great act are join'd,
Five days he sat, for every cast and look,
* Mr. Malone describes this medal as bearing on one side the head of Shaftesbury; on the reverse, a view of the city of London with a rising sun; and in the exergue the word Latamur, with the date, 24 Nov. 1681. Mr. Scott, in his edition of Dryden's Works, has inserted an engraved representation of the medal.