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Is it for Bond or Peter (paltry things)
To pay their debts, or keep their faith, like kings?
If Blount dispatch'd himself, he play'd the man,
And so mayst thou, illustrious Passeran!
But shall a printer, weary of his life,
Learn from their books to hang himself and wife?
This, this, my friend, I cannot, must not bear;
Vice thus abused demands a nation's care:
This calls the church to deprecate our sin,
And hurls the thunder of the laws on gin.
Let modest Foster, if he will, excel
Ten metropolitans in preaching well;
A simple Quaker, or a Quaker's wife,
Outdo Landaff in doctrine-yea, in life:
Let humble Allen, with an awkward shame,
Do good by stealth, and blush to find it fame.
Virtue may choose the high or low degree,
"Tis just alike to Virtue and to me;
Dwell in a monk, or light upon a king,
She's still the same, beloved, contented thing.
Vice is undone, if she forgets her birth,
And stoops from angels to the dregs of earth;
But 'tis the fall degrades her to a whore;
Let greatness own her, and she's mean no more:
Her birth, her beauty, crowds and courts confess,
Chaste matrons praise her, and grave bishops bless;
In golden chains the willing world she draws,
And hers the gospel is, and hers the laws;
Mounts the tribunal, lifts her scarlet head,
And sees pale Virtue carted in her stead.
Lo! at the wheels of her triumphal car
Old England's genius, rough with many a scar,
Dragg'd in the dust! his arms hang idly round,
His flag inverted trails along the ground!
Our youth, all liveried o'er with foreign gold,
Before her dance: behind her crawl the old!
See thronging millions to the pagod run,.
And offer country, parent, wife, or son!
Hear her black trumpet through the land proclaim,
That not to be corrupted is the shame.
In soldier, churchman, patriot, man in power,
'Tis avarice all, ambition is no more!
See all our nobles begging to be slaves!
See all our fools aspiring to be knaves!
The wit of cheats, the courage of a whore,
Are what ten thousand envy and adore:
All, all look up, with reverential awe,
At crimes that scape, or triumph o'er the law:
While truth, worth, wisdom, daily they decry
Nothing is sacred now but villany.'
Yet may this verse (if such a verse remain)
Show there was one who held it in disdain.
F. "TIs all a libel-Paxton 1, sir, will say.
P. Not yet, my friend! to-morrow 'faith it may;
And for that very cause I print to-day.
How should I fret to mangle every line
In reverence to the sins of thirty-nine ?
Vice with such giant strides comes on amain,
Invention strives to be before in vain;
Feign what I will, and paint it o'er so strong,
Some rising genius sins up to my song.
F. Yet none but you by name the guilty lash; E'en Guthry saves half Newgate by a dash.
1 Solicitor to the Treasury.
Spare then the person, and expose the vice.
P. How, sir! not damn the sharper, but the dice? Come on then, satire! general, unconfined, Spread thy broad wing, and souse on all the kind. Ye statesmen, priests, of one religion all!
Ye tradesmen, vile, in army, court, or hall! Ye reverend atheists! F. Scandal! name them, who?
P. Why that's the thing you bid me not to do. Who starved a sister, who forswore a debt, I never named; the town's inquiring yet. The poisoning dame-F. You mean-P. I do n't. -F. You do.
P. See, now I keep the secret, and not you! The bribing statesman-F. Hold, too high you go. P. The bribed elector-F. There you stoop too
P. I fain would please you, if I knew with what. Tell me; which knave is lawful game, which not? Must great offenders, once escaped the crown, Like royal harts, be never more run down? Admit your law to spare the knight requires, As beasts of nature may we hunt the squires? Suppose I censure-you know what I meanTo save a bishop, may I name a dean?
F. A dean, sir? no: his fortune is not made; You hurt a man that's rising in the trade.
P. If not the tradesman who set up to-day, Much less the prentice who to-morrow may. Down, down, proud satire! though a realm be spoil'd, Arraign no mightier thief than wretched Wild; Or, if a court or country's made a job,
Go drench a pickpocket, and join the mob.
But, sir, I beg you (for the love of vice!) The matter's weighty, pray consider twice: Have you less pity for the needy cheat,
The poor and friendless villain, than the great? Alas! the small discredit of a bribe
Scarce hurts the lawyer, but undoes the scribe. Then better sure it charity becomes
To tax directors, who (thank God!) have plums;
Still better ministers, or if the thing
May pinch e'en there-why lay it on a king.
F. Stop! stop!
P. Must Satire then nor rise nor fall?
Speak out, and bid me blame no rogues at all.
F. Yes, strike that Wild, I'll justify the blow.
P. Strike? why the man was hang'd ten years
Who now that obsolete example fears?
E'en Peter trembles only for his ears.
F. What, always Peter? Peter thinks you mad; You make men desperate, if they once are bad, Else might he take to virtue some years henceP. As S**k, if he lives, will love the prince. F. Strange spleen to S**k!
P. Do I wrong the man?
God knows I praise a courtier where I can.
When I confess there is who feels for fame,
And melts to goodness, need I Scarborough name?
Pleased let me own, in Esher's peaceful grove,
(Where Kent and Nature vie for Pelham's love)
The scene, the master, opening to my view,
I sit and dream I see my Craggs anew.
E'en in a bishop I can spy desert;
Secker is decent, Rundel has a heart;
Manners with candour are to Benson given,
To Berkeley every virtue under Heaven.
But does the court a worthy man remove
That instant, I declare, he has my love:
I shun his zenith, court his mild decline;
Thus Somers once and Halifax were mine.
Oft in the clear still mirror of retreat
I studied Shrewsbury, the wise and great:
Carleton's calm sense and Stanhope's noble flame
Compared, and knew their generous end the same:
How pleasing Atterbury's softer hour!
How shined the soul, unconquer'd, in the Tower!
How can I Pulteney, Chesterfield, forget,
While Roman spirit charms, and Attic wit?
Argyle, the state's whole thunder born to wield,
And shake alike the senate and the field?
Or Wyndham, just to Freedom and the throne,
The master of our passions and his own?
Names which I long have loved, nor loved in vain,
Rank'd with their friends, not number'd with their
And if yet higher the proud list should end,
Still let me say,-no follower but a friend.
Yet think not friendship only prompts my lays;
I follow Virtue; where she shines I praise,
Point she to priest or elder, Whig or Tory,
Or round a Quaker's beaver cast a glory.
I never (to my sorrow I declare)
Dined with the Man of Ross or my Lord Mayor.
Some in their choice of friends (nay, look not grave)
Have still a secret bias to a knave:
To find an honest man I beat about,
And love him, court him, praise him in or out. F. Then why so few commended?
Find you the virtue, and I'll find the verse.