« PreviousContinue »
ON A CERTAIN LADY AT COURT.1
I KNOW the thing that's most uncommon
(Envy be silent, and attend!)
I know a reasonable woman,
Handsome and witty, yet a friend.
Not warped by passion, awed by rumour,
Not grave through pride, or gay through folly;
An equal mixture of good-humour,
And sensible soft melancholy.
"Has she no faults then, (Envy says,) sir?"
Yes, she has one, I must aver;
When all the world conspires to praise her,
The woman's deaf, and does not hear.
WHO CONGRATULATED HIM ON FINISHING HIS HOUSE AND
Аn, friend! 'tis true-this truth you lovers know—
In vain,my structures rise, my gardens grow,
In vain fair Thames reflects the double scenes
Of hanging mountains and of sloping greens:
Joy lives not here, to happier seats it flies,
And only dwells where WORTLEY casts her eyes.
What are the gay parterre, the checkered shade,
The morning bower, the evening colonnade,
But soft recesses of uneasy minds,
To sigh unheard in, to the passing winds?
So the struck deer in some sequestered part
Lies down to die, the arrow at his heart;
He, stretch'd unseen in coverts hid from day,
Bleeds drop by drop, and pants his life away.
1 Mrs. Howard, bedchamber woman to Queen Caroline. George II. created her Countess of Suffolk.
2 John Gay, born 1688, died 1732. His " Beggar's Opera" was the first ballad opera ever produced. He was the friend of all the poets and wits of the time, and was a most amiable man. His "Fables" are well known.
But your damned poet lives, and writes again.
Th' adventurous lover is successful still,
Who strives to please the fair against her will.
Be kind, and make him in his wishes easy,
Who in your own despite has strove to please ye.
He scorned to borrow from the wits of yore;
But ever writ as none e'er writ before.
You modern wits, should each man bring his claim,
Have desperate debentures on your fame;
And little would be left you, I'm afraid,
If all your debts to Greece and Rome were paid.
From his deep fund our author largely draws;
Nor sinks his credit lower than it was.
Though plays for honour in old time he made,
'Tis now for better reasons-to be paid.
Believe him, he has known the world too long,
And seen the death of much immortal song.
He says, poor poets lost, while players won,
As pimps grow rich, while gallants are undone.
Though Tom the poet writ with ease and pleasure,
The comic Tom abounds in other treasure.
Fame is at best an unperforming cheat;
But 'tis substantial happiness to eat.
Let ease, his last request, be of your giving,
Nor force him to be damned to get his living.
1 Thomas D'Urfey, a comic poet of the time of Charles II., who used to lean on his shoulder, and hum the tunes of his songs. He was born 1628, and died in London in 1723,
TO A PLAY FOR MR. DENNIS'S BENEFIT IN 1733, WHEN HE WAS
OLD, BLIND, AND IN GREAT DISTRESS, A LITTLE
BEFORE HIS DEATH.
As when that nero,' who in each campaign,
Had braved the Goth, and many a Vandal slain.
Lay fortune-struck, a spectacle of woe!
Wept by each friend, forgiv'n by ev'ry fce:
Was there a gen'rous, a reflecting mind,
But pitied Belisarius old and blind?
Was there a chief but melted at the sight?
A common soldier, but who clubbed his mite?
Such, such emotions should in Britons rise,
When pressed by want and weakness Dennis lies;
Dennis, who long had warred with modern Huns,
Their quibbles routed, and defied their puns;
A desp❜rate bulwark, sturdy, firm, and fierce
Against the Gothic sons of frozen verse:
How changed from him who made the boxes groan,
And shook the stage with thunders all his own!
Stood up to dash each vain pretender's hope,
Maul the French tyrant, or pull down the Pope!
If there's a Briton then, true bred and born,
Who holds dragoons and wooden shoes in scorn:
If there's a critic of distinguished rage;
If there's a senior, who contemns this age;
Let him to-night his just assistance lend,
And be the critic's, Briton's, old man's friend.
MACER: A CHARACTER.
WHEN Simple Macer, now of high renown,
First sought a poet's fortune in the town,
'Twas all th' ambition his high soul could feel,
To wear red stockings, and to dine with Steele.
Belisarius, the general of Justinian. In 533 he took Carthage, and made the king of the Vandals prisoner. Being accused afterwards of joining in a conspiracy against the Emperor, his estates were confiscated, and he was reduced to beggary. The tradition that his eyes were put out was not correct.
* Supposed to be James Moore Smyth, author of the "Rival Modes,"
Some ends of verse his betters might afford,
And gave the harmless fellow a good word.
Set up with these he ventured on the town,
And with a borrowed play out-did poor Crown.
There he stopped short, nor since has writ a tittle,
But has the wit to make the most of little;
Like stunted hide-bound trees, that just have got
Sufficient sap at once to bear and rot.
Now he begs verse, and what he gets commends,
Not of the wits his foes, but fools his friends.
So some coarse country wench, almost decayed,
Trudges to town, and first turns chambermaid;
Awkward and supple, each devoir to pay;
She flatters her good lady twice a day;
Thought wondrous honest, though of mean degree,
And strangely liked for her simplicity:
In a translated suit, then tries the town,
With borrowed pins, and patches not her own:
But just endured the winter she began,
And in four months a battered Harridan.
Now nothing left, but withered, pale, and shrunk,
To bawd for others, and go shares with Punk.
TO MR. JOHN MOORE,
AUTHOR OF THE CELEBRATED WORM POWDER.
How much, egregious Moore, are we
Deceived by shows and forms!
Whate'er we think, whate'er we see,
All humankind are worms.
Man is a very worm by birth,
Vile, reptile, weak, and vain!
A while he crawls upon the earth,
Then shrinks to earth again.
That woman is a worm, we find
E'er since our grandam's evil;
She first conversed with her own kind,
That ancient worm, the devil.
see Dunciad. But Bowles thinks it might have been meant for Philips, who was devoted to Steele, and whose "Distressed Mother" was taken from the French of Racine,
The learned themselves we book-worms name,
The blockhead is a slow-worm ;
The nymph whose tail is all on flame,
Is aptly termed a glow-worm :
The fops are painted butterflies,
That flutter for a day;
First from a worm they take their rise,
And in a worm decay.
The flatterer an ear-wig grows;
Thus worms suit all conditions:
Misers are muck-worms, silk-worms beaux,
And death-watches physicians.
That statesmen have the worm, is seen,
By all their winding play;
Their conscience is a worm within,
That gnaws them night and day.
Ah, Moore! thy skill were well employed,
And greater gain would rise,
If thou couldst make the courtier void
The worm that never dies!
O learned friend of Abchurch Lane,
Who settest our entrails free,
Vain is thy art, thy powder vain,
Since worms shall eat ev'n thee.
Our fate thou only canst adjourn
Some few short years, no more!
Even Button's' wits to worms shall turn,
Who maggots were before.
1 The club in Russell Street, Covent Garden, where Swift, Gay, Pope, and Addison, &c., met. Button had been a butler of Lady Warwick's, Addison's wife.