« PreviousContinue »
Or city heir in mortgage melts away;
Satan himself feels far less joy than they.
Piecemeal they win this acre first, then that,
Glean on, and gather up the whole estate.
Then, strongly fencing ill-got wealth by law,
Indentures, covenants, articles they draw,
Large as the fields themselves, and larger far
Than civil codes, with all their glosses, are;
So vast, our new divines, we must confess,
Are fathers of the church for writing less.
But let them write for you, each rogue impairs
The deeds, and dexterously omits, ses heires:
No commentator can more slily pass
O'er a learn'd, unintelligible place:
Or, in quotation, shrewd divines leave out
Those words, that would against them clear the doubt.
So Luther thought the Pater-noster long,
When doom'd to say his beads and even-song;
But, having cast his cowl, and left those laws,
Adds to Christ's prayer, the power and glory clause.4
The lands are bought; but where are to be found
Those ancient woods, that shaded all the ground?
We see no new-built palaces aspire,
No kitchens emulate the vestal fire.
Where are those troops of poor, that throng'd of yore
The good old landlord's hospitable door?
Well, I could wish, that still in lordly domes
Some beasts were kill'd, though not whole hecatombs;
That both extremes were banish'd from their walls,
Carthusian fasts, and fulsome Bacchanals;
And all mankind might that just mean observe,
In which none e'er could surfeit, none could starve.
These, as good works, 'tis true we all allow,
But oh! these works are not in fashion now:
Like rich old wardrobes, things extremely rare,
Extremely fine, but what no man will wear.
Thus much I've said, I trust, without offence;
Let no court sycophant pervert my sense,
Nor sly informer watch these words to draw
Within the reach of treason, or the law.
[The doxology to the Lord's Prayer, Matthew vi. 13, has been pronounced spurious by biblical critics.]
WELL, if it be my time to quit the stage,
Adieu to all the follies of the age!
I die in charity with fool and knave,
Secure of peace at least beyond the grave.
I've had my purgatory here betimes,
And paid for all my satires, all my rhymes.
The poet's hell, its tortures, fiends, and flames,
To this were trifles, toys, and empty names.
With foolish pride my heart was never fired,
Nor the vain itch to admire, or be admired;
I hoped for no commission from his grace;
I bought no benefice, I begg'd no place:
Had no new verses, nor new suit to show;
Yet went to Court! the devil would have it so.
But, as the fool that in reforming days
Would go to mass in jest (as story says)
Could not but think, to pay his fine was odd,
Since 'twas no form'd design of serving God;
So was I punish'd, as if full as proud,
As prone to ill, as negligent of good,
As deep in debt, without a thought to pay,
As vain, as idle, and as false, as they
Who live at Court, for going once that way!
Scarce was I enter'd, when, behold! there came
A thing which Adam had been posed to name;
Noah had refused it lodging in his ark,
Where all the race of reptiles might embark:
A verier monster than on Afric's shore
The sun e'er got, or slimy Nilus bore,
Or Sloane or Woodward's wondrous shelves contain,
Nay, all that lying travellers can feign.
The watch would hardly let him pass at noon;
At night would swear him dropp'd out of the moon.
One, whom the mob, when next we find or make
A popish plot, shall for a Jesuit take,
And the wise justice starting from his chair
Cry, By your priesthood tell me what you are?
Such was the wight: The apparel on his back,
Though coarse, was reverend, and though bare, was black:
The suit, if by the fashion one might guess,
Was velvet in the youth of good Queen Bess,
But mere tuff-taffety what now remain'd;
So time, that changes all things, had ordain'd!
Our sons shall see it leisurely decay,
First turn plain rash, then vanish quite away.
This thing has travell'd, speaks each language too,
And knows what's fit for every state to do;
Of whose best phrase and courtly accent join'd,
He forms one tongue, exotic and refined.
Talkers I've learn'd to bear; Motteux I knew,
Henley himself I've heard, and Budgell too.
The Doctor's wormwood style, the hash of tongues
A pedant makes, the storm of Gonson's lungs,
The whole artillery of the terms of war,
And (all those plagues in one) the bawling Bar;
These I could bear; but not a rogue so civil,
Whose tongue will compliment you to the devil.
A tongue that can cheat widows, cancel scores,
Make Scots speak treason, cozen subtlest whores,
With royal favourites in flattery vie,
And Oldmixon and Burnet both outlie.
He spies me out; I whisper, Gracious God!
What sin of mine could merit such a rod?
That all the shot of dulness now must be
From this thy blunderbuss discharged on me!
Permit (he cries) no stranger to your fame
To crave your sentiment, if 's your name.
What speech esteem you most? "The King's," said I.
But the best words? "O, sir, the Dictionary."
You miss my aim; I mean the most acute
And perfect speaker? "Onslow, past dispute."
But, sir, of writers? "Swift, for closer style;
"But Ho✶ ✶ y for a period of a mile.”1
Why yes, 'tis granted, these indeed may pass :
Good common linguists, and so Panurge was;
1 [Bishop Hoadley.]
Nay troth, the apostles (though perhaps too rough)
Had once a pretty gift of tongues enough:
Yet these were all poor gentlemen! I dare
Affirm, 'twas travel made them what they were.
Thus others' talents having nicely shown,
He came, by sure transition, to his own:
Till I cried out, You prove yourself so able,
Pity you was not druggerman at Babel;
For had they found a linguist half so good,
I make no question but the tower had stood.
'Obliging sir! for Courts you sure were made:
Why then for ever buried in the shade?
Spirits like you should see and should be seen,
The king would smile on you-at least the queen."
Ah, gentle Sir! you courtiers so cajole us—
But Tully has it, Nunquam minus solus :
And as for Courts, forgive me, if I say
No lessons now are taught the Spartan way:
Though in his pictures lust be full display'd,
Few are the converts Aretine has made;
And though the Court show vice exceeding clear,
None should, by my advice, learn virtue there.
At this, entranced, he lifts his hands and eyes,
Squeaks, like a high-stretch'd lutestring, and replies;
"Oh, 'tis the sweetest of all earthly things
To gaze on princes, and to talk of kings!"
Then, happy man, who shows the tombs! said I,
He dwells amidst the royal family;
He every day from king to king can walk,
Of all our Harries, all our Edwards talk.
And get, by speaking truth of monarchs dead,
What few can of the living, ease and bread.
"Lord, sir, a mere mechanic! strangely low,
And coarse of phrase, your English all are so.
"How elegant your Frenchmen!" Mine, d'ye mean? 110
I have but one, I hope the fellow's clean.
"Oh, sir, politely so! nay, let me die:
Your only wearing is your paduasoy."
Not, sir, my only, I have better still,
And this, you see, is but my dishabille.-
Wild to get loose, his patience I provoke,
Mistake, confound, object at all he spoke.
But as coarse iron, sharpen'd, mangles more,
And itch most hurts when anger'd to a sore:
So when you plague a fool, 'tis still the curse,
You only make the matter worse and worse.
He pass'd it o'er; affects an easy smile
At all my peevishness, and turns his style.
He asks, “What news?" I tell him of new plays,
New eunuchs, harlequins, and operas.
He hears, and as a still with simples in it,
Between each drop it gives, stays half a minute,
Loth to enrich me with too quick replies,
By little, and by little, drops his lies.
Mere household trash! of birthnights, balls, and shows, 130 More than ten Hollinsheds, or Halls, or Stowes.
When the queen frown'd, or smiled, he knows; and what
A subtle minister may make of that:
Who sins with whom: who got his pension rug,
Or quicken'd a reversion by a drug:
Whose place is quarter'd out, three parts in four,
And whether to a bishop, or a whore:
Who, having lost his credit, pawn'd his rent,
Is therefore fit to have a government:
Who, in the secret, deals in stocks secure,
And cheats the unknowing widow and the poor:
Who makes a trust of charity a job,
And gets an act of parliament to rob:
Why turnpikes rise, and now no cit nor clown
Can gratis see the country or the town:
Shortly no lad shall chuck, or lady vole,
But some excising courtier will have toll.
He tells what strumpet places sells for life,
What 'squire his lands, what citizen his wife :
At last (which proves him wiser still than all)
What lady's face is not a whited wall.
As one of Woodward's patients, sick and sore,
I puke, I nauseate,-yet he thrusts in more:
Trims Europe's balance, tops the statesman's part,
And talks Gazettes and Postboys o'er by heart.
Like a big wife at sight of loathsome meat
Ready to cast, I yawn, I sigh, and sweat.
Then, as a licensed spy, whom nothing can
Silence or hurt, he libels the great man;