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EPISTLE TO DR. ARBUTHNOT;
ADVERTISEMENT To the first Publication of this Epistle. This paper is a sort of bill of complaint, begun many years since, and drawn up by snatches, as the several occasions of fered. I had no thoughts of publishing it, till it pleased some persons of rank and fortune (the authors of Verses to the Imitator of Horace, and of an Epistle to a Doctor of Divinity from a Nobleman at Hampton Court] to attack, in a very extraordinary manner, not only my writings (of which, being public, the public is judge) but my person, morals, and family : whereof, to those who know me not, a truer information may be requisite. Being divided between the necessity to say something of
myself, and my own laziness to undertake so awkward a task, thought it the shortest way to put the last hand to this Epistle. If it have any thing pleasing, it will be that by which I am most desirous to please, the truth aud the sentiment; and if any thing offensive, it will be only to those I am least sorry to offend, the vicious or the ungenerous.
Many will know their own pictures in it, there being not a circumstance but what is true; but I have, for the most part, spared their names; and they may escape being laughed at, if they please.
I would have some of them to know, it was owing to the re. quest of the learned and candid friend to whom it is inscribed, that I make not as free use of theirs as they have done of mine. However, I shall have this advantage and honour on my side, that whereas, by their proceeding, any abuse may be directed at any man, no injury can possibly be done by mine, since a nameless character can never be found out but by its truth and likeness. P. 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,
! to catch me, just at dinner-time. Is there a parson, much bemused in beer, A maudlin poetess, a rhyming peer,
A clerk foredoom'd his father's soul to cross,
Friend to my life! (which did not you prolong,
' Nine years!' cries he, who, high in Drury-lane, Lull’d 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 libell'd 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 whale commission ends,
Not, sir, if you revise it, and retouch.'
'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?
A. Good friend, forbear! you deal in dangerous things, 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 unconcern'd canst hear the mighty crack : Pit, box, and gallery, 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 apew: Destroy his fib or sophistry, in vain, The creature's at his dirty work again, Throned on the centre of his thin designs, Proud of a vast extent of flimsy lines ! Whom have I hurt? has poet yet, or peer, Lost the arch'd eyebrow, or Parnassian sneer? And has not Colly still his lord and whore? His butchers Henly? his free-masons Moore ? Does not one table Bavius still admit? Still to one bishop Philips seem a wit?
Still Sappho.-A. Hold I for God's sake--you'll offend,
One dedicates in high heroic prose,
There are, who to my person pay their court:
Why did I write? what sin to me unknown
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 friend before) With open arms received one poet more.
Happy my studies, when by these approved !
Soft were my numbers : who could take offence
Did some more sober critic come abroad;
Were others angry: I excused them too: