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Merc. O yes,
0 yes. Mom. Hold. You are no longer to say, 0 yes, but hear ye, it being determined, the crier shall speak sense for the future.
Merc. I have been crier ever since the reign of Inachus, and was never obliged to speak sense, unless in the days of Homer. Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye, all ye gods and goddesses, great and small; double and single ; semi and demi; good, bad, and indifferent; wherever ye are, or howsoever employed; whether in drinking or fighting, or rhyming, or herding cattle, or courting, &c. &c. &c. make your appearance in court forthwith, only onions and garlic stay away.
Mom. Well said, Mercury! you had no need to summon the gods employed in cheating and filching, since you was here already. See how they troop through the snows of mount Olympus, like so many idle fellows tracing hares !
Merc. May I be so bold, Jupiter, as to ask the occasion of this assembly. I take it for granted, it must be a business of great importance, since, for some ages, the gods have been very seldom convened.
Jup. A poet in Dublin, intending to make a complimentary copy of verses on the son and heir, shortly to be born to a great man, is willing to content himself with sixteen lines; but, being at a loss for invention, must have a piece of machinery, and pitches on an assembly of the gods for that purpose, with a resolution to make every one of us bestow his distinguishing attribute on the young grandee, that is to be. Besides, he is much straitened for rhymes, and we must lay our heads together to help him out.
Mom. A worthy cause of convocation truly! Bacchus, Venus, and Mercury, without going farther, if they had imparted their attributes, might have sufficiently fitted the boy to fill his title.
Jup. Is Apollo come? and the muses, where are they?
Mom. Put on your spectacles, and you will see them right before you, seated on that cloud, fringed with gold, a just emblem of poetical wealth.- Don't you see their symbols ? On my word the assembly looks very thin. Those confounded praters about cons and demons, who ascribe mortality to the gods, have demolished one half of us, and made all the rest, but Apollo and Bacchus, look plaguy old.
Jup. We are called together, Oye gods and goddesses, this day, by a Dublin poet, who is about to celebrate the birthday of his patron's son. But whereas he wants sixteen lines in verse for the purpose, he desires, as the midwife is already sent for, we may, with all convenient speed, meet and confer on the young gentleman our prime qualities of all sorts, and furnish the rbymes beside. Wherefore, do you, A pollo, and the muses, form a committee apart for this purpose, while I, and the other gods, consult about ways and means for the recovery of our dignity, which, of a long time, hath so run to decay, that both we and it are in danger of total annihilation.- Apollo, retire, and get the lines ready for the poet, and, do you hear? throw him one in to furnish out a triplet at the end. We must keep well with the poets, who are almost the only professed votaries we have.
Mars. I bestow my prowess on the young gentleman, to make him a hero.
Venus. And I my beauty, that he may shine at balls and ridottos.
Cupid. And I my arrows, to give him success in his amours.
Mom. Peace, you blind wasp, and I my knack of sneering at religion and the gods.
Apollo. Come, my daughters, we shall soon rig out this younker to some purpose.
Mom. Do you hear how the beardless booby calls them daughters, who are every one of them old enough to be his mother? Alack! alack! what are we come to? we may well consult about the retrieval of our dignity, when every puppy of a rhymster can trapes us hither for a sorry epigram. Is Jupiter the cloud compeller and thunder-thumper, is Mars the roisterer and warrior, is Apollo the charioteer of the day, and all this glorious assembly, to be employed in cooking up eight distichs of verses for a senseless rascal of a poetaster? Is the largest engine of Archimedes required to heave a pebble? or is Lucina to be called to deliver, not a mountain of its mouse, but a bug of a mite? If you will listen to me, I will shew you how to prevent the indignity of these assemblies for the future. The britch of a boy is the true Parnassus with two tops, and birch, not bays, the true plant of the muses : now, all you have to do, is to order the pedagogues, those literary gardeners, to be more careful hereafter in cultivating that mountain with the slips of this tree; so may the dabblers in verse know how to make their own compositions clink without us.--Asfor this blockhead, it is now too late to mend him, and therefore I advise you to send Vulcan with the largest sledge in his forge, to crack the fellow's skull; if this is done, perhaps some pretty conceit, like Minerva there, may start out; or let Pegasus do it with his heel, and try to open another Hippocrene in this dunderhead. I bail the success, provided Vulcan will new shoe the poetical palfry, though the skull he is to work on be as thick and hard as Helicon itself.
Jup. There is a good deal, Momus, in what you say, but such is your manner of saying it, that unless you learn to deliver your sentiments in a style more respectful, know, I shall be obliged to banish you from mount Olympus.
Mom. Nay, for that matter, I was going to banish myself, if you call it banishment to be at a distance from company so low in their credit, and from a place where there is so little good cheer a stirring.–Who would be buffoon to a set of beggarly gods, that have nothing to eat or drink, but like broken gentry, equally proud and poor, are forced to subsist on the hungry remembrance of what they were ? Don't you hear them crying out where is the ambrosia ? when will the nectar come in ? are there no sacrifices?
Jup. His unmannerly flout puts me in mind of that which I intended, now the poet hath brought us together, to make the subject of inquiry on this occasion, namely, how we may recover our credit with the world. We are now, O ye gods, seldom heard of, but in the grammar-schools, and that not to our honour; for there every snivelling boy takes the liberty to curse us, even with Homer or Virgil in his hand, for all his floggings. The present set of poets, who can hardly get strong butter to their mouldy bread, are no longer able to feast us with ambrosia; nor can they afford to furnish us with more than two or three pints of nectar (mere taplash too) at a time.- What is worse, we have no priests to regale us with incense, and the savoury steams of sacrifices.
In this exigence, we have, for many ages, been forced to spunge on the barbarian gods, Foe, Ixora,
&c. and these, you know, live so nastily, that their best fare is enough to turn the stomach of a Grecian god, bred up to better things.-0 the jolly times! when we rioted every day with the generous Greeks and Romans, on whole hecatombs. These hearty friends, never took a morsel to themselves, without giving us a share, nor a glass, without throwing us a sup by way of libation. And then, there were the blameless Etbiopians! How happy a Jupiter was I, when I used to make holyday with those merry Africans ! But now I am forced to pass them by, and sneak all the way to the gods of the Hottentots, who are so overrun with vermin and tallow, that I was almost poisoned among them the other day.
Mom. Don't affect so much delicacy, Jupiter.-It does not become us, who, as you say, are but hangers-on to other gods, to set up for nicety of nose and palate.-Besides, it is better for you, and many others present, to live low, and keep the flesh under, than so to pamper your carcases with hecatombs, as to be obliged, every now and then, to run to the Danaes, the Semeles, the Ledas, the Latonas of the times, in the uncouth shapes of guineas, swans, bulls, and I know not what.
Jup. Impudent varlet! Are you not afraid I shall transfix you with a chain of red-hot thunderbolts to the very bottom of the river Styx?
Mom. Oh! your humble servant, Mr. Transfixer, are you there with your chains ? No, no, old boy, Styx is run dry; your old thunders are extinct, and Vulcan, who supplied you, hath shut up shop for want of trade.--Alas! It is but a folly to knit those beetlebrows of yours in that manner.-They no longer strike terror, nor does that nod now shake the poles.-And, now you talk of chains, wbat is become of your golden chain, wherewith you once threatened to make a bilboquet of us all, and whirl us about your head ? Did you coin it for Danae ? O improvident Jupiter ! had you kept it, you might have pawned it to-day for a dinner.—But since you have proposed a deliberation on ways and means, let us all be on a level, that wemay, as in a popular assembly, each of us have his word about, and speak his sentiments freely, for state and distinction in our circumstances, I take it, is but a mere farce.
Jup. Well, be it so for this time; and now hear me without interruption.
All the Gods. Hear him, hear Jupiter.
Jup. You may remember, that as the sect among Christians, called Romanists, or Papists, turned our temples into churches, so they were within a little of making us amends, by turning their own religion into ours. They did not only adopt an infinite number of our ceremonies, and of those arts, wherewith our priests had so long supported our credit and their own; but, what was more, having converted a large catalogue of saints, male and female, into petty divinities, they filled the churches with their images, to which they burnt incense, and prayed with such devotion, that they seemed, in a great measure, to have forgot their chief God. To these new powers their prayers gave a kind of omnipresence and omniscience. Had it not been for the cursed reformation, which checked a little the progress of this growing polytheism, all these saints had, by this time, been styled gods and goddesses; and their devotees, as usual, might have cooled to such sneaking objects of worship, and taken us, as gods of more eclat, into favour; for fashious in religion, as well as in clothes and other things, sink, and revive, by turns, according to the varying humours of mankind. From this prospect, thus rendered doubtful, my attention hath, within these fifty years, been agreeably diverted to another, that seems to promise better, insomuch, that now I have a piece of news to communicate, from whence I apprehend we may hope, if we manage our matters rightly, and strike in properly, to reap great advantages. Christianity, you know, was that which ruined us all. You may remember also, how from time to time, our philosophers, prompted by Pluto, sowed among the Christians what that abominable people called heresies; and how, by these same heresies we did their cause a great deal more mischief, than by all the persecutions which we stirred up against it. Among the heresies, none was so likely to serve our purpose, as that of the Arians, not so much because it set the Christians one against the other, more violently than any former cause of difference, and spread farther, but because, as it consisted of a certain jumble or mixture of Platonism and Christianity, it bid fairer for the restoration of polytheism, than any