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When, by the rarest luck, we ran
At the next turn against the man
Who had the lawsuit with my bore.
“Ha, knave!” he cried, with loud uproar,
“Where are you off to? Will
present my ear.
To court he hustles him along;
High words are bandied, high and strong,
A mob collects, the fray to see:
So did Apollo rescue me.
EPISTLE TO DR. ARBUTHNOT1
ОРЕ. . Shut, shut the door, good John! fatigued, I said,
Tie up the knocker, say I'm sick, I'm dead.
The Dog-star rages! nay, 'tis past a doubt,
All Bedlam, or Parnassus, is let out:
Fire in each eye, and papers in each hand,
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.
No place is sacred, not the church is free;
E’en 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 bemused in beer,
A maudlin poetess, a rhyming peer,
A clerk, foredoomed his father's soul to cross,
Who pens a stanza, when he should engross?
1 Approximately the first half of the poem.
Is there, who, locked from ink and paper, scrawls
With desperate charcoal round his darkened walls?
All fly to Twit'nam, and in humble strain
Apply to me, to keep them mad or vain.
Arthur, whose giddy son neglects the laws,
Imputes to me and my damned 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?
A dire dilemma! either way I'm sped:
If foes, they write, if friends, they read me dead.
Seized and tied 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,
And to be grave, exceeds all power of face.
I sit with sad civility, I read
With honest anguish, and an aching head;
And drop at last, but in unwilling ears,
This saving counsel, "Keep your piece nine years."
“Nine years!” cries he, who high in Drury Lane, Lulled by soft zephyrs through the broken pane, Rhymes ere he wakes, and prints before term ends, Obliged by hunger, and request of friends: “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.” “Pitholeon libeled me”—“But here's a letter Informs you, sir, 'twas when he knew no better.
Dare you refuse him? Curll invites to dine,
He'll write a journal, or he'll turn divine.”
Bless me! a packet.—“ 'Tis a stranger sues,
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 players and I are, luckily, no friends.
Fired that the house reject him, “ 'Sdeath l’ll print it,
And shame the fools-Your interest, 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;
At last he whispers, "Do; and we go snacks."
Glad of a quarrel, straight 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) His very minister who spied them first, (Some
say his queen) was forced to speak, or burst.
And is not mine, my friend, a sorer case,
When every coxcomb perks them in my face?
Arbuthnot. Good friend, forbear! you deal in dangerous
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:
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 creature smarts so little as a fool.
Let peals of laughter, Codrus! round thee break,
Thou unconcerned canst hear the mighty crack:
Pit, box, and gallery in convulsions hurled,
Thou stand'st unshook amidst a bursting world.
Who shames a scribbler? break one cobweb through,
He spins the slight, self-pleasing thread anew:
Destroy his fib or sophistry, in vain,
The creature's at his dirty work again,
Throned in the center of his thin designs,
Proud of a vast extent of Aimsy lines!
Whom have I hurt? has poet yet, or peer,
Lost the arched eyebrow, or Parnassian sneer? 1
Does not one table Bavius still admit?
Still to one bishop Philips seem a wit?
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 foes like these- -P. One flatterer's worse than all.
Of all mad creatures, if the learned are right,
It is the slaver kills, and not the bite.
A fool quite angry is quite innocent:
Alas! 'tis ten times worse when they repent.
One dedicates in high heroic prose,
And ridicules beyond a hundred foes;
One from all Grub Street 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 eye”—
Go on, obliging creatures, make me see
All that disgraced my betters, met in me.
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 died three thousand years ago.
Why did I write? what sin to me unknown
Dipped me in ink, my parents', or my own?
As yet a child, nor yet a fool to fame,
I lisped in numbers, for the numbers came.
I left no calling for this idle trade,
No duty broke, no father disobeyed.
The Muse but served 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 preserved, to bear.
But why then publish? Granville the polite,
And knowing Walsh, would tell me I could write;
Well-natured Garth inflamed with early praise;
And Congreve loved, and Swift endured my lays;
The courtly Talbot, Somers, Sheffield, read;
E’en mitred Rochester would nod the head,
And St. John's self (great Dryden's friends before)
With open arms received one poet more.
Happy my studies, when by these approved!
Happier their author, when by these beloved!
From these the world will judge of men and books,
Not from the Burnets, Oldmixons, and Cookes.
Soft were my numbers; who could take offense
While pure description held the place of sense?
Like gentle Fanny's was my flowery theme,
A painted mistress, or a purling stream.