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Swears every place entail'd for years to come,
In sure succession to the day of doom:
He names the price for every office paid,
And says our wars thrive ill, because delay'd:
Nay hints, 'tis by connivance of the Court,
That Spain robs on, and Dunkirk's still a port.
Not more amazement seized on Circe's guests,
To see themselves fall endlong into beasts,
Than mine to find a subject, staid and wise,
Already half turn'd traitor by surprise.
I felt the infection slide from him to me,
As in the pox, some give it to get free;
And quick to swallow me, methought I saw
One of our giant statutes ope its jaw.
In that nice moment, as another lie
Stood just a-tilt, the minister came by.
To him he flies, and bows, and bows again,
Then, close as Umbra, joins the dirty train.
Not Fannius' self more impudently near,
When half his nose is in his prince's ear.2
I quaked at heart; and still afraid, to see
All the Court fill'd with stranger things than he,
Ran out as fast as one that pays his bail,
And dreads more actions, hurries from a jail.
Bear me, some god! oh quickly bear me hence
To wholesome solitude, the nurse of sense:
Where Contemplation prunes her ruffled wings,3
And the free soul looks down to pity kings!
There sober thought pursued the amusing theme,
Till fancy colour'd it, and form'd a dream.
A vision hermits can to hell transport,
And forced e'en me to see the damn'd at Court.
Not Dante dreaming all the infernal state,
Beheld such scenes of envy, sin, and hate.
Base fear becomes the guilty, not the free;
Suits tyrants, plunderers, but suits not me:
Shall I, the terror of this sinful town,
Care, if a liveried lord or smile or frown?
2 [Lord Fanny, or Hervey, whispering gossip or scandal at Court.]
Who cannot flatter, and detest who can,
Tremble before a noble serving-man?
O my fair mistress, Truth! shall I quit thee
For huffing, braggart, puff'd nobility?
Thou, who since yesterday, hast roll'd o'er all
The busy, idle blockheads of the ball,
Hast thou, oh Sun! beheld an emptier sort,
Than such as swell this bladder of a Court?
Now pox on those who show a Court in wax!4
It ought to bring all courtiers on their backs :
Such painted puppets! such a varnish'd race
Of hollow gewgaws, only dress and face!
Such waxen noses, stately, staring things-
No wonder some folks bow, and think them kings.
See! where the British youth engaged, no more,
At Fig's, at White's, with felons, or a whore,5
Pay their last duty to the Court, and come
All fresh and fragrant, to the drawing-room;
In hues as gay, and odours as divine,
As the fair fields they sold to look so fine.
"That's velvet for a king!" the flatterer swears;
'Tis true, for ten days hence 't will be King Lear's.
Our Court may justly to our stage give rules,
That helps it both to fools' coats and to fools,
And why not players strut in courtiers' clothes?
For these are actors, too, as well as those :
Wants reach all states; they beg, but better dress'd,
And all is splendid poverty at best.
Painted for sight, and essenced for the smell,
Like frigates fraught with spice and cochinell,
Sail in the ladies: how each pirate eyes
So weak a vessel, and so rich a prize!
Top-gallant he, and she in all her trim,
He boarding her, she striking sail to him:
"Dear Countess! you have charms all hearts to hit!" And "Sweet Sir Fopling! you have so much wit!"
4 A famous show of the court of France, in wax-work.
5 White's was a noted gaming-house: Fig's, a prize-fighter's academy, where the young nobility received instruction in those days: it was also customary for the nobility and gentry to visit the condemned criminals in Newgate.
Such wits and beauties are not praised for nought,
For both the beauty and the wit are bought.
'Twould burst e'en Heraclitus with the spleen,
To see those antics, Fopling and Courtin:
The presence seems, with things so richly odd,
The mosque of Mahound, or some queer pagod.
See them survey their limbs by Durer's rules,
Of all beau-kind the best proportion'd fools!
Adjust their clothes, and to confession draw
Those venial sins, an atom, or a straw;
But oh! what terrors must distract the soul,
Convicted of that mortal crime, a hole;
Or should one pound of powder less bespread
Those monkey-tails that wag behind their head.
Thus finish'd, and corrected to a hair,
They march, to prate their hour before the fair.
So first to preach a white-gloved chaplain goes,
With band of lily, and with cheek of rose,
Sweeter than Sharon, in immaculate trim,
Neatness itself impertinent in him.
Let but the ladies smile, and they are blest:
Prodigious! how the things protest, protest:
Peace, fools, or Gonson will for papists seize you,
If once he catch you at your Jesu! Jesu!
Nature made every fop to plague his brother,
Just as one beauty mortifies another.
But here's the captain, that will plague them both,
Whose air cries, Arm! whose very look's an oath:
The captain's honest, sirs, and that's enough,
Though his soul's bullet, and his body buff.
He spits fore-right; his haughty chest before,
Like battering rams, beats open every door:
And with a face as red, and as awry,
As Herod's hangdogs in old tapestry,
Scarecrow to boys, the breeding woman's curse,
Has yet a strange ambition to look worse:
Confounds the civil; keeps the rude in awe ;
Jests like a licensed fool, commands like law.
Frighted, I quit the room; but leave it so
As men from jails to execution go;
For, hung with deadly sins, I see the wall,7
And lined with giants deadlier than 'em all;
Each man an Askapart,8 of strength to toss
For quoits, both Temple-bar and Charing-cross.
Scared at the grisly forms, I sweat, I fly,
And shake all o'er, like a discover'd spy.
Courts are too much for wits so weak as mine:
Charge them with Heaven's artillery, bold divine!
From such alone the great rebukes endure,
Whose satire's sacred, and who rage secure :
'Tis mine to wash a few light stains, but theirs
To deluge sin, and drown a Court in tears.
Howe'er, what's now Apocrypha, my wit,
In time to come, may pass for Holy Writ.
7 The room hung with old tapestry, representing the seven deadly sins. 8 A giant famous in romances.
[And published separately the same year, the first under the title of "One Thousand Seven Hundred and Thirty-eight; a Dialogue something like Horace."]
FR. NOT twice a twelvemonth you appear in print,
And when it comes, the Court see nothing in 't.
You grow correct, that once with rapture writ,
And are, besides, too moral for a wit.
Decay of parts, alas! we all must feel—
Why now, this moment, don't I see you steal?
'Tis all from Horace; Horace long before ye
Said, "Tories call'd him Whig, and Whigs a Tory;"
And taught his Romans, in much better metre,
"To laugh at fools who put their trust in Peter."
But Horace, sir, was delicate, was nice;
Bubo observes, he lash'd no sort of vice: 2
1 These two lines are from Horace: and the only lines that are so in the whole poem; being meant to give a handle to that which follows in the character of an impertinent censurer: ""Tis all from Horace," &c.
After ver. 2 in the MS.
"You don't, I hope, pretend to quit the trade,
Because you think your reputation made:
Like good Sir Paul, of whom so much was said,
That when his name was up, he lay a-bed.
Come, come, refresh us with a livelier song,
Or, like Sir Paul, you'll lie a-bed too long.
P. Sir, what I write, should be correctly writ.
F. Correct! 'tis what no genius can admit.
Besides, you grow too moral for a wit."
2 Some guilty persons very fond of making such an observation. [Bubb Dodington.]