Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

EPISTLE TO DR. ARBUTHNOT.

P.SHUT, shut the door, good John! fatigu'd, I

said;

past a

Tie up the knocker, say I'm sick, I'm dead.
The dog-star rages ! nay,

'tis doubt
All Bedlam, or Parnassus, is let out:
Fire in each eye, and papers in each hand, 5
They rave, recite, and madden round the land.
What walls can guard me, or what shades can

hide ? They pierce my thickets, through my grot they glide, By land, by water, they renew the charge, They stop the chariot, and they board the barge. 10 No place is sacred, not the church is free, Ev’n Sunday shines no sabbath-day to me: Then from the Mint walks forth the man of rhyme, Happy to catch me, just at dinner-time.

Is there a parson, much bemus’d in beer, 15 A maudlin poetess, a rhyming peer, A clerk, foredoom'd his father's soul to cross, Who pens a stanza, when he should engross ? Is there who, lock'd from ink and paper, scrawls With desp'rate charcoal round his darken'd walls ? All fly to Twit’nam, and in humble strain 21 Apply to me, to keep them mad or vain. Arthur, whose giddy son neglects the laws, Imputes to me and my damn'd Works the cause ; Poor Cornus sees his frantic wife elope, And curses wit, and poetry, and Pope.

Friend to my life ! (which, did not you prolong, The world had wanted many an idle song) What drop or nostrum can this plague remove? Or which must end me, a fool's wrath, or love ? 30 A dire dilemma! either way I'm sped; If foes, they write, if friends, they read me dead. Seiz’d, and ty'd down to judge, how wretched I! Who can't be silent, and who will not lie. To laugh were want of goodness and of grace, 35 And to be grave exceeds all pow'r of face. I sit with sad civility, I read With honest anguish, and an aching head, And drop at last, but in unwilling ears,

39 This saving counsel, . Keep your piece nine years.'

Nine years! cries he, who, high in Drury Lane, Lull'd by soft zephyrs through the broken pane, Rhimes ere he wakes, and prints before Term ends, Oblig'd by hunger, and request of friends : 44 • The piece, you think, is incorrect ? why take it, • I'm all submission ; what you'd have it ---make it.'

Three things another's modest wishes bound, My friendship, and a prologue, and ten pound.

Pitholeon sends to me: 'You know his Grace, • I want a patron ; ask him for a place.' 50 Pitholeon libellid me~ But here's a letter • Informs you, Sir, 'twas when he knew no better. Dare you refuse him ? Curl invites to dine, • He'll write a Journal, or he'll turn divine.' Bless me! a packet.--. 'Tis a stranger sues,

55 • A virgin tragedy, an orphan muse.'

If I dislike it, • Furies, death, and rage !
If I approve, ‘Commend it to the stage.'
There (thank my stars) my whole commission ends,
The playʻrs and I are, luckily, no friends. 60
Fir'd that the House reject him, “ 'Sdeath, I'll

print it, • And shame the fools—Your int'rest, Sir, with

· Lintot.' Lintot, dull rogue ! will think your price too much: • Not, Sir, if you revise it, and retouch.' All my

demurs but double his attacks ; 65 At last he whispers, • Do, and we go snacks.' Glad of a quarrel, strait I clap the door ; 'Sir, let me see your works and you no more.'

'Tis sung, when Midas' ears began to spring, (Midas, a sacred person and a king)

70 His very minister who spy'd them first (Some say his queen) was forc'd to speak or burst. And is not mine, my friend, a sorer case, When ev'ry coxcomb perks them in

my

face? A. Good friend ! forbear; you deal in dangérous things;

75 I'd never name queens, ministers, or kings ; Keep close to ears, and those let asses prick, 'Tis nothing.-P. Nothing! if they bite and kick? Out with it, Dunciad ! let the secret pass, That secret to each fool, that he's an ass : 80 The truth once told (and wherefore should we lie?) The Queen of Midas slept, and so may I.

You think this cruel? take it for a rule, No crcature smarts so little as a fool. Let peals of laughter, Codrus, round thee break, 85 Thou unconcern’d canst hear the mighty crack: Pit, box, and gall’ry, in convulsions hurl'd, Thou stand’st unshook amidst a bursting world. Who shames a scribbler? break one cobweb through, He spins the slight self-pleasing thread anew : 90 Destroy his fib, or sophistry, in vain, The creature's at his dirty work again, Thron’d on the centre of his thin designs, Proud of a vast extent of flimsy lines ! Whom have I hurt ? has poet yet, or peer,

95 Lost the arch'd eyebrow, or Parnassian sneer ? And has not Colly still his lord, and whore ? His butchers Henley, his free-masons Moore ? Does not one table Bavius still admit ? Still to one bishop Philips seem a wit ? 100 Still Sappho--A. Hold ! for God's sake you'll

offend, No names- be calm-learn prudence of a friend : I too could write, and I am twice as tall ; But focs like these--P. One flatt'rer's worse than

all. Of all mad creatures, if the learn’d are right, 105 It is the slaver kills and not the bite. A fool quite angry is quite innocent; Alas! ’ris ten times worse when they repent.

One dedicates in high heroic prose, And ridicules beyond a hundred foes ;

110

One from all Grubstreet will my fame defend,
And, more abusive, calls himself

my

friend. This prints my letters, that expects a bribe, And others roar aloud, · Subscribe, subscribe !'

There are who to my person pay their court: I cough like Horace, and, though lean, am short ; Ammon's great son one shoulder had too high, Such Ovid's nose, and, • Sir ! you have an eyeGo on, obliging creatures ! make me see All that disgrac'd my betters, met in me. 120 Say, for my comfort, languishing in bed, • Just so immortal Maro held his head :' And when I die, be sure you let me know Great Homer dy'd three thousand years ago.

Why did I write ? what sin to me unknown, Dipp'd me in ink, my parents’, or my own ? 126 As yet a child, nor yet a fool to fame, I lispid in numbers, for the numbers came. I left no calling for this idle trade, No duty broke, no father disobey'd : 130 The Muse but serv'd to ease some friend, not wife, To help me through this long disease, my life ; To second, Arbuthnot! thy art and care, And teach, the being you preserv'd, to bear. 134

But why then publish ? Granville the polite, And knowing Walsh, would tell me I could write ; Well-natur'd Garth inflam'd with early praise, And Congreve lov’d, and Swift endur'd my lays ; The courtly Talbot, Somers, Sheffield, read, Ev'n mitred Rochester would nød the head, 140

« ZurückWeiter »