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'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 re'Oh, 'tis the sweetest of all earthly things [plies; 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
I have but one; I hope the fellow's clean.'
'O, 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,
Loath to enrich me with too quick replies,
By little, and by little drops his lies. [shows,
Mere household trash! of birth-nights, balls, and
More than ten Holinsheds, or Halls, or Stows.
When the queen frown'd or smiled he knows, and
A subtle minister may make of that: [what
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 :
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 statues 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.
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 gaol.
Bear, me, some god! Oh quickly bear me hence
To wholesome Solitude, the nurse of Sense,
Where Contemplation prunes her ruffled wings,
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:
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!
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,
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 'twill 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 cochineal, 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!' 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 bless'd;
Prodigious! how the things protest, protest.