Page images

F. They too may be corrupted, you'll allow?

P. I only call those knaves who are so now. Is that to little ? come then, I'll complySpirit of Arnall ! aid me while I lie. Cobham's a coward, Polwarth is a slave, 130 And Lyttleton a dark designing knave; St. John has ever been a wealthy fool But let me add, Sir Robert's mighty dull, Has never made a friend in private life, And was, besides, a tyrant to his wife.

135 But pray, when others praise him do I blame? Call Verres, Wolsey, any odious name? Why rail they then if but a wreath of mine, Oh all accomplish'd St. John! deck thy shrine?

What! shall each spurr-gall’d hackney of the day, When Paxton gives him double pots and pay,

141 Or each new-pension'd sycophant pretend To break my windows if I treat a friend, Then wisely plead to me they meant no hurt, But 'twas my guest at whom they threw the dirt ? Sure if I spare the minister, no rules

146 Of honour bind me not to maul his tools ; Sure if they cannot cut, it may be said, His saws are toothless, and his hatchets lead. It anger'd Turrene, once upon a day,

150 To see a footman kick'd that took his pay;


[ocr errors]

But when he heard th' affront the fellow gave,
Knew one a man of honour, one a knave,
The prudent gen’ral turn'd it to a jest,
And begg'd he'd take the pains to kick the rest ;
Which not at present having time to do 156

F. Hold, Sir! for God's sake; where's th'affront to
Against your Worship when had Smk writ? [you?
Or P-ge pour’d forth the torrent of his wit?
Or grant the bard whose distich all commend 160
(In pow'r a servant, out of pow'r a friend)
To W-le guilty of some venial sin,
What's that to you, who ne'er was out nor in?

The priest whose flattery bedropp'd the crown
How hurt he you? he only stain'd the gown. 165
And how did, pray, the florid youth offend,
Whose speech you took, and gave it to a friend?

P. Faith it imports not much from whom it came;
Whoever borrow'd could not be to blame,
Since the whole House did afterwards the same.
Let courtly wits to wits afford supply,

As hog to hog in huts of Westphaly :
If one, thro’ Nature's bounty or his lord's,
Has what the frugal dirty soil affords,
From him the next receives it, thick or thin, 175
As pure a mess almost as it came in ;
The blessed benefit, not there confin'd,
Drops to the third, who nuzzles close behind;

From tail to mouth they feed and they carouse;
The last full fairly gives it to the House.

F. This filthy simile, this beastly line,
Quite turns my stomach-P. So does flatt'ry mine;
And all your courtly civet-cats can vent,
Perfunie to you, to me is excrement.
But hear me further-Japhet, 'tis agreed, 185
Writ not, and Chatres scarce could write or read ;
In all the courts of Pindus guiltless quite ;
But pens can forge, my friend, that cannot write;
And must no egg in Japhet's face be thrown,
Because the deed he forg'd was not my own?

Must never patriot then declaim at gin,
Unless, good man! he has been fairly in ?
No zealous pastor blame a failing spouse
Without a staring reas'ning on his brows?
And each blasphemer quite escape the rod,

195 Because the insult's not on man, but God?

Ask you what provocation I have had ?
The strong antipathy of good to bad.
When truth or virtue an affront endures,
Th' affront is mine, my friend, and should be your's.
Mine as a foe profess’d to false pretence, 201
Who think a coxcomb's honour like his sense ;
Mine as a friend to ev'ry worthy mind;
And mine as man, who feel for all mankind.

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

T H A T T F A (

F. You're strangely proud.

P. So proud, I am no slave;
So impudent, I own myself no knave;
So odd my country's ruin makes me grave.
Yes, I am proud ; I must be proud to see
Men not afraid of God, afraid of me;
Safe from the bar, the pulpit, and the throne, 210
Yet touch'd and sham'd by ridicule alone.

O sacred weapon ! left for truth's defence,
Sole dread of folly, vice, and insolence !
To all but heav'n directed hands deny'd,
The Muse may give thee, but the gods must guide :
Rev'rent I touch thee! but with honest zeal, 216
To rouse the watchmen of the public weal,
To Virtue's work provoke the tardy hall,
And goad the prelate slumb'ring in his stall.
Ye tinsel insects! whom a court maintains, 220
That counts your beauties only by your stains,
Spin all your cobwebs o'er the eye of Day,
The Muse's wing shall brush you
All his Grace preaches, all his Lordship sings, 224
All that makes saints of queens, and gods of kings;
All, all but truth, drops dead-born from the

press, Like the last Gazette or the last Address.

When black Ambition stains a public cause,
A monarch's sword when mad vain glory draws,

[ocr errors][merged small]

all away :

No Waller's wreath can hide the Nation's scar, 230 Not Boileau turn the feather to a star.

Not so when diadem'd with rays divine, Touch'd with the flame that breaks from Virtue's Her priestess Muse forbids the good to die, [shrine, And opes the temple of Eternity.

235 There other trophies deck the truly brave Than such as Anstis casts into the grave; Far other stars then * and * *

wear, And may descend to Mordington from Stair ! (Such as on Hough's unsully'd mitre shine, 240 Or beam, good Digby! from a heart like thine.) Let envy howl, while heav'ns whole chorus sings, And bark at honour not conferr'd by kings; Let Flatt'ry sick’ning see the incense rise, Sweet to the world, and grateful to the skies: 245 Truth guards the poet, sanctifies the line, And makes immortal verse as mean as mine.

Yes, the last pen for freedom let me draw, When truth stands trembling on the edge of law, Here, last of Britons ! let your names be read : Are none, none living ? let me praise the dead; And for that cause which made your fathers shine, Fall by the votes of their degen’rate line.

F. Alas! alas ! pray end what you began, And write next winter more Essays on Man.



« PreviousContinue »