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Yet then did Gildon draw his venal quill;-
I wished the man a dinner, and sat still.
Yet then did Dennis rave in furious fret;
I never answered—I was not in debt.
If want provoked, or madness made them print,
I waged no war with Bedlam or the Mint.

Did some more sober critic come abroad;
If wrong, I smiled; if right, I kissed the rod.
Pains, reading, study, are their just pretense,
And all they want is spirit, taste, and sense.
Commas and points they set exactly right,
And ’twere a sin to rob them of their mite;
Yet ne'er one sprig of laurel graced these ribalds,
From slashing Bentley down to piddling Tibbalds.
Each wight, who reads not, and but scans and spells,
Each word-catcher, that lives on syllables,
E'en such small critics some regard may claim,
Preserved in Milton's or in Shakespeare's name.
Pretty! in amber to observe the forms
Of hairs, or straws, or dirt, or grubs, or worms!
The things, we know, are neither rich nor rare,
But wonder how the devil they got there.

Were others angry: I excused them too;
Well might they rage, I gave them but their due.
A man's true merit 'tis not hard to find;
But each man's secret standard in his mind,
That casting-weight pride adds to emptiness,—
This, who can gratify? for who can guess?
The bard whom pilfered Pastorals renown,
Who turns a Persian tale for half a crown,
Just writes to make his barrenness appear,
And strains from hard-bound brains, eight lines a year;

prose run mad:

He, who still wanting, though he lives on theft,
Steals much, spends little, yet has nothing left;
And he, who now to sense, now nonsense leaning,
Means not, but blunders round about a meaning;
And he, whose fustian's so sublimely bad,
It is not poetry, but
All these, my modest satire bade translate,
And owned that nine such poets made a Tate.
How did they fume, and stamp, and roar, and chafe!
And swear, not Addison himself was safe.

Peace to all such! but were there one whose fires
True genius kindles, and fair fame inspires;
Blessed with each talent and each art to please,
And born to write, converse, and live with ease:
Should such a man, too fond to rule alone,
Bear, like the Turk, no brother near the throne,
View him with scornful, yet with jealous eyes,
And hate for arts that caused himself to rise;
Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;
Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike;
Alike reserved to blame, or to commend,
A timorous foe, and a suspicious friend;
Dreading e'en fools, by flatterers besieged,
And so obliging, that he ne'er obliged;
Like Cato, give his little senate laws,
And sit attentive to his own applause;
While wits and Templars every sentence raise,
And wonder with a foolish face of praise
Who but must laugh, if such a man there be?
Who would not weep, if Atticus were he! 1

Alexander Pope

a

“Atticus” is Pope's fictitious name for Addison.

28

THE SYRACUSAN GOSSIPS

OR
THE FEAST OF ADONIS 1

Gorgo, Praxinoe: the Gossips

Eunoe: servant of Praxinoe
Phrygia: her housemaid

Little Boy: her son
Old Woman

Two men

Scene: ALEXANDRIA IN EGYPT

GORGE

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ORGO. [At her friend's door.] Praxinoe within?
Eunoe.

Why, Gorgo, dear,
How late you are! Yes, she's within.
Prax. (Appearing.]

What, no! And so you're come at last! A seat here, Eunoe; And set a cushion. Eunoe.

There is one. Prax.

Sit down. Gorgo.

Oh, what a thing's a spirit! Do you know, I've scarcely got alive to you, Praxinoe? 1 Idyll XV, translated by Leigh Hunt. Following is a

part of the translator's introductory commentary: “It is a poem on the Rites of i Adonis; or rather, on a couple of gossips, making holiday to enjoy the festival that formed a part of the rites. Adonis, the favorite of Venus, slain by the boar, and permitted by Jupiter to return to life every hali. year and enjoy her company, was annually commemorated by the heathen world for the space of two days, the first of which was passed in mourning for his death, and the second, in feasting and merriment for his coming to life. Arsinoe, the consort of the poet's patron, Ptolemy Philadelphus, celebrated these rites in the Egyptian capital, Alexandria; and Theo critus, in order to praise his royal friends, and at the same time give picture of his countrywomen, introduces two women who were born in Syracuse and settled in Alexandria, making holiday on the occasion, and going to see the show. The show was that of the second day, and prin cipally consisted of an image of Adonis laid in a bower of leaves and tapestry, and served with all the luxuries of the season, particularly flowers in pots.

He was attended by flying Cupids, and eulogized by singers in hymns, much in the manner of saints and angels in a modern Catholic fesye tival; and on the following morning, the image, with its flowers, was taken in procession to the seaside, and committed to the waters on its war to the other world. The whole proceeding is intimated in the poem, by n'eans of verses put into the mouth of the public singer, the Grisi o Malibran of the day; but the chief portion of it is assigned to the humon of the two gossips, who are precisely such as would be drawn at this moment on a similar occasion in any crowded city.”

There's such a crowd-such heaps of carriages,
And horses, and fine soldiers, all full dressed;
And then you live such an immense way off!

Prax. Why, 'twas his shabby doing. He would take
This hole that he calls house, at the world's end.
'Twas all to spite me, and to part us two.
Gorgo. [Speaking lower.] Don't talk so of your husband,

there's a dear, Before the little one.

See how he looks at you. Prax. [To the little boy.] There, don't look grave, child;

cheer up, Zopy, sweet; It isn't your papa we're talking of.

Gorgo. [Aside.] He thinks it is, though.

Prax. Oh no—nice papa!
[To Gorgo.] Well, this strange body once (let us say once,
And then he won't know who we're telling of),
Going to buy some washes and saltpeter,
Comes bringing salt! the great big simpleton!

Gorgo. And there's my precious ninny, Dioclede:
He gave for five old ragged fleeces, yesterday,
Ten drachmas!—for mere dirt! trash upon trash!
But come; put on your things; button away,
Or we shall miss the show. It's the king's own;
And I am told the queen has made of it
A wonderful fine thing.
Prax.

Ay, luck has luck.
Well, tell us all about it; for we hear
Nothing in this vile place.
Gorgo.

We haven't time.
Workers can't throw away their holidays.

Prax. Some water, Eunoe; and then, my fine one,
To take your rest again. Puss loves good lying.
Come; move, girl, move; some water—water first.

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Look how she brings it! Now, then;-hold, hold, careless;
Not quite so fast; you're wetting all my gown.
There; that'll do. Now, please the gods, I'm washed.
The key of the great chest—where's that? Go fetch it.

[Exit Eunoe. Gorgo. Praxinoe, that gown with the full skirts Becomes you mightily. What did it cost you?

Prax. Oh, don't remind me of it. More than one
Or two good minas, besides time and trouble.

Gorgo. All of which you had forgotten.
Prax.

Ah, ha! True; That's good. You're quite right.

Re-enter Eunoe.

Come; my cloak, my cloak; And parasol. There—help it on now, properly. [To the little boy.] Child, child, you cannot go. The horse

will bite it; The Horrid Woman's coming. Well, well, simpleton, Cry, if you will; but you must not get lamed. Come, Gorgo.-Phrygia, take the child, and play with him; And call the dog indoors, and lock the gate. [They go out. Powers, what a crowd! how shall we get along? Why, they're like ants! countless! innumerable! Well, Ptolemy, you've done fine things, that's certain, Since the gods took your father. No one nowadays Does harm to trav'lers as they used to do, After the Egyptian fashion, lying in wait,Masters of nothing but detestable tricks; And all alike,-a set of cheats and brawlers. Gorgo, sweet friend, what will become of us? Here are the king's horse-guards! Pray, my good man, Don't tread upon us so. See the bay horse! Look how it rears! It's like a great mad dog. How you stand, Eunoe! It will throw him certainly.

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