AN EPISTLE TO Dr. ARBUTHNOT.
1 SHUT, shut the door, good John! fatigu'd I said,
2 Tye up the knocker, say I'm sick, I'm dead,
3 The Dog-star rages! nay 'tis past a doubt,
4 All Bedlam, or Parnassus, is let out:
5 Fire in their eye, and Papers in their hand,
6 They rave, recite, and madden round the land.
7 What Walls can guard me, or what Shades can hide?
8 They pierce my Thickets, thro' my Grot they glide,
9 By land, by water, they renew the charge,
10 They stop the Chariot, and they board the Barge. [Page 2]
11 No place is sacred, not the Church is free,
12 Ev'n Sunday shines no Sabbath-day to me:
13 Then from the Mint walks forth the Man of Ryme,
14 Happy! to catch me, just at Dinner-time.
15 Is there a Parson, much be-mus'd in Beer,
16 A maudlin Poetess, a ryming Peer,
17 A Clerk, foredoom'd his Father's soul to cross,
18 Who pens a Stanza when he should engross?
19 Is there, who lock'd from Ink and Paper, scrawls
20 With desp'rate Charcoal round his darken'd walls?
21 All fly to Twit'nam, and in humble strain
22 Apply to me, to keep them mad or vain.
23 Arthur, whose giddy Son neglects the Laws,
24 Imputes to me and my damn'd works the cause:
25 Poor Cornus sees his frantic Wife elope,
26 And curses Wit, and Poetry, and Pope.
27 Friend to my Life, (which did not you prolong,
28 The World had wanted many an idle Song)
29 What Drop or Nostrum can this Plague remove?
30 Or which must end me, a Fool's Wrath or Love?
31 A dire Dilemma! either way I'm sped,
32 If Foes, they write, if Friends, they read me dead. [Page 3]
33 Seiz'd and ty'd down to judge, how wretched I!
34 Who can't be silent, and who will not lye;
35 To laugh, were want of Goodness and of Grace,
36 And to be grave, exceeds all Pow'r of Face.
37 I sit with sad Civility, I read
38 With honest anguish, and an aking head;
39 And drop at last, but in unwilling ears,
40 This saving counsel, "Keep your Piece nine years."
41 Nine years! cries he, who high in Drury-lane
42 Lull'd by soft Zephyrs thro' the broken Pane,
43 Rymes e're he wakes, and prints before Term ends,
44 Oblig'd by hunger and Request of friends:
45 "The Piece you think is incorrect? why take it,
46 "I'm all submission, what you'd have it, make it. "
47 Three things another's modest wishes bound,
48 My Friendship, and a Prologue, and ten Pound.
49 Pitholeon sends to me: "You know his Grace,
50 "I want a Patron; ask him for a Place. "
51 Pitholeon libell'd me —"but here's a Letter
52 "Informs you Sir, 'twas when he knew no better.
53 "Dare you refuse him? Curl invites to dine,
54 "He'll write a Journal, or he'll turn Divine."
55 Bless me! a Packet. — "'Tis a stranger sues,
56 "A Virgin Tragedy, an Orphan Muse. "
57 If I dislike it, "Furies, death and rage!
58 If I approve, "Commend it to the Stage."
59 There (thank my Stars) my whole Commission ends,
60 The Play'rs and I are, luckily, no friends.
61 Fir'd that the House reject him, "'Sdeath I'll print it
62 "And shame the Fools — your Int'rest, Sir, with Lintot. "
63 Lintot, dull rogue! will think your price too much.
64 "Not Sir, if you revise it, and retouch. "
65 All my demurrs but double his attacks,
66 At last he whispers "Do, and we go snacks. "
67 Glad of a quarrel, strait I clap the door,
68 Sir, let me see your works and you no more.
69 'Tis sung, when Midas' Ears began to spring,
70 (Midas, a sacred Person and a King)
71 His very Minister who spy'd them first,
72 (Some say his*
* The Story is told by some of his Barber, but by Chaucer of his Queen. See Wife of Bath's Tale in Dryden's Fables. Queen) was forc'd to speak, or burst.
73 And is not mine, my Friend, a sorer case,
74 When ev'ry Coxcomb perks them in my face? [Page 5]
75 "Good friend forbear! you deal in dang'rous things,
76 "I'd never name Queens, Ministers, or Kings;
77 "Keep close to Ears, and those let Asses prick,
78 "Tis nothing "— Nothing? if they bite and kick?
79 Out with it, Dunciad! let the secret pass,
80 That Secret to each Fool, that he's an Ass:
81 The truth once told, (and wherefore shou'd we lie?)
82 The Queen of Midas slept, and so may I.
83 You think this cruel? take it for a rule,
84 No creature smarts so little as a Fool.
85 Let Peals of Laughter, Codrus! round thee break,
86 Thou unconcern'd canst hear the mighty Crack.
87 Pit, Box and Gall'ry in convulsions hurl'd,
88 Thou stand'st unshook amidst a bursting World.
89 Who shames a Scribler? break one cobweb thro',
90 He spins the slight, self-pleasing thread anew;
91 Destroy his Fib, or Sophistry; in vain,
92 The Creature's at his dirty work again;
93 Thron'd in the Centre of his thin designs;
94 Proud of a vast Extent of flimzy lines.
95 Whom have I hurt? has Poet yet, or Peer,
96 Lost the arch'd eye-brow, or Parnassian sneer? [Page 6]
97 And has not C—lly still his Lord, and Whore?
98 His Butchers H—ley, his Free-masons M—r?
99 Does not one Table Bavius still admit?
100 Still to one Bishop Ph—ps seem a Wit?
101 Still Sapho — "Hold! nay see you, you'll offend:
102 "No Names — be calm — learn Prudence of a Friend:
103 "I too could write, and I am twice as tall,
104 "But Foes like these! — One Flatt'rer's worse than all;
105 Of all mad Creatures, if the Learn'd are right,
106 It is the Slaver kills, and not the Bite.
107 A Fool quite angry is quite innocent;
108 Trust me, 'tis ten times worse when they repent.
109 One dedicates, in high Heroic prose,
110 And ridicules beyond a hundred foes;
111 One from all Grubstreet will my fame defend,
112 And, more abusive, calls himself my friend.
113 This prints my Letters, that expects a Bribe,
114 And others roar aloud, "Subscribe, subscribe.
115 There are, who to my Person pay their court,
116 I cough like Horace, and tho' lean, am short,[Page 7]
117 Ammon's great Son one shoulder had too high,
118 Such Ovid's nose, and "Sir! you have an Eye —
119 Go on, obliging Creatures, make me see
120 All that disgrac'd my Betters, met in me:
121 Say for my comfort, languishing in bed,
122 "Just so immortal Maro held his head:
123 And when I die, be sure you let me know
124 Great Homer dy'd three thousand years ago.
125 Why did I write? what sin to me unknown
126 Dipt me in Ink, my Parent's, or my own?
127 As yet a Child, nor yet a Fool to Fame,
128 I lisp'd in Numbers, for the Numbers came.
129 I left no Calling for this idle trade,
130 No Duty broke, no Father dis-obey'd.
131 The Muse but serv'd to ease some Friend, not Wife,
132 To help me thro' this long Disease, my Life,
133 To second, ARBURTHNOT! thy Art and Care,
134 And teach, the Being you preserv'd, to bear.
135 But why then publish? Granville the polite,
136 And knowing Walsh, would tell me I could write;[Page 8]
137 Well-natur'd Garth inflam'd with early praise,
138 And Congreve lov'd, and Swift endur'd my Lays;
139 The Courtly Talbot, Somers, Sheffield read,
140 Ev'n mitred Rochester would nod the head,
141 And St. John's self (great Dryden's friends before†
† All these were Patrons or Admirers of Mr. Dryden, tho' a scandalous Libel against him, entituled, Dryden's Satyr to his Muse, has been printed in the Name of the Lord Somers, of which he was wholly ignorant.)
142 With open arms receiv'd one Poet more.
143 Happy my Studies, when by these approv'd!
144 Happier their Author, when by these belov'd!
145 From these the world will judge of Men and Books,
146 Not from the*
* Authors of secret and scandalous History. Burnets, Oldmixons, and Cooks.
147 Soft were my Numbers, who could take offence
148 While pure Description held the place of Sense?
149 Like gentle Damon's was my flow'ry Theme,
150 A painted Mistress, or a purling Stream.
151 Yet then did Gildon draw his venal quill;
152 I wish'd the man a dinner, and sate still:
153 Yet then did Dennis rave in furious fret;
154 I never answer'd, I was not in debt:
155 If want provok'd, or madness made them print,
156 I wag'd no war with Bedlam or the Mint.
157 Did some more sober Critics come abroad?
158 If wrong, I smil'd; if right, I kiss'd the rod.
159 Pains, reading, study, are their just pretence,
160 And all they want is spirit, taste, and sense.
161 Comma's and points they set exactly right,
162 And 'twere a sin to rob them of their Mite.
163 Yet ne'r one sprig of Laurel grac'd these ribalds,
164 From slashing B—ley down to pidling T—ds.
165 The Wight who reads not, and but scans and spells,
166 The Word-catcher that lives on syllables,
167 Such piece-meal Critics some regard may claim,
168 Preserv'd in Milton's or in Shakespear's name.
169 Pretty! in Amber to observe the forms
170 Of hairs, or straws, or dirt, or grubs, or worms;
171 The things, we know, are neither rich nor rare,
172 But wonder how the Devil they got there?
173 Were others angry? I excus'd them too;
174 Well might they rage; I gave them but their due.
175 A man's true merit 'tis not hard to find,
176 But each man's secret standard in his mind,
177 That Casting-weight Pride adds to Emptiness,
178 This, who can gratify? for who can guess? [Page 10]
179 The Bard whom pilf'red Pastorals renown,
180 Who turns a Persian Tale for half a crown,
181 Just writes to make his barrenness appear,
182 And strains from hard-bound brains eight lines a-year:
183 He, who still wanting tho' he lives on theft,
184 Steals much, spends little, yet has nothing left:
185 And he, who now to sense, now nonsense leaning,
186 Means not, but blunders round about a meaning:
187 And he, whose Fustian's so sublimely bad,
188 It is not Poetry, but Prose run mad:
189 All these, my modest Satire bid translate,
190 And own'd, that nine such Poets made a Tate.
191 How did they fume, and stamp, and roar, and chafe?
192 How did they swear, not Addison was safe.
193 Peace to all such! but were there One whose fires
194 True Genius kindles, and fair Fame inspires,
195 Blest with each Talent and each Art to please,
196 And born to write, converse, and live with ease:
197 Shou'd such a man, too fond to rule alone,
198 Bear, like the Turk, no brother near the throne,
199 View him with scornful, yet with jealous eyes,
200 And hate for Arts that caus'd himself to rise;[Page 11]
201 Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
202 And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;
203 Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
204 Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike;
205 Alike reserv'd to blame, or to commend,
206 A tim'rous foe, and a suspicious friend,
207 Dreading ev'n fools, by Flatterers besieg'd,
208 And so obliging that he ne'er oblig'd;
209 Like Cato, give his little Senate laws,
210 And sit attentive to his own applause;
211 While Wits and Templers ev'ry sentence raise,
212 And wonder with a foolish face of praise.
213 Who but must laugh, if such a man there be?
214 Who would not weep, if Atticus were he!
215 What tho' my Name stood rubric on the walls?
216 Or plaister'd posts, with Claps in capitals?
217 Or smoaking forth, a hundred Hawkers load,
218 On Wings of Winds came flying all abroad?
219 I sought no homage from the Race that write;
220 I kept, like Asian Monarchs, from their sight:
221 Poems I heeded (now be-rym'd so long)
222 No more than Thou, great GEORGE! a Birth-day Song. [Page 12]
223 I ne'r with Wits and Witlings past my days,
224 To spread about the Itch of Verse and Praise;
225 Nor like a Puppy daggled thro' the Town,
226 To fetch and carry Sing-song up and down;
227 Nor at Rehearsals sweat, and mouth'd, and cry'd,
228 With Handkerchief and Orange at my side:
229 But sick of Fops, and Poetry, and Prate,
230 To Bufo left the whole Castalian State.
231 Proud, as Apollo on his forked hill,
232 Sate full-blown Bufo, puff'd by ev'ry quill;
233 Fed with soft Dedication all day long,
234 Horace and he went hand in hand in song.
235 His Library, (where Busts of Poets dead
236 And a true Pindar stood without a head)
237 Receiv'd of Wits an undistinguish'd race,
238 Who first his Judgment ask'd, and then a Place:
239 Much they extoll'd the Pictures, much the Seat,
240 And flatter'd ev'ry day, and some days eat:
241 Till grown more frugal in his riper days,
242 He pay'd some Bards with Port, and some with Praise,
243 To some a dry Rehearsal was assign'd,
244 And others (harder still) he pay'd in kind.
245 May some choice Patron bless each gray goose quill!
246 May ev'ry Bavius have his Bufo still!
247 So, when a Statesman wants a Day's defence,
248 Or Envy holds a whole Week's war with Sense,
249 Or simple Pride for Flatt'ry makes demands;
250 May Dunce by Dunce be whistled off my hands!
251 Blest be the Great! for those they take away,
252 And those they leave me — For they left me GAY,
253 Left me to see neglected Genius bloom,
254 Neglected die! and tell it on his Tomb;
255 Of all thy blameless Life the sole Return
256 My Verse, and QUEENSB'RY weeping o'er thy Urn!
257 Give me on Thames's Banks, in honest Ease,
258 To see what Friends, or read what Books I please;
259 There let me live my own, and die so too,
260 "To live and die is all I have to do!"
261 Above a Patron, tho' I condescend
262 Sometimes to call a Minister my Friend:
263 I was not born for Courts or great Affairs,
264 I pay my Debts, believe, and go to Pray'rs,
265 Can sleep without a Poem in my head,
266 Nor know, if Dennis be alive or dead.
267 Why am I ask'd, what next shall see the light?
268 Heav'ns! was I born for nothing but to write? [Page 14]
269 Has Life no Joys for me? or (to be grave)
270 Have I no Friend to serve, no Soul to save?
271 "I found him close with Swift — Indeed? no doubt
272 (Cries prating Balbus) "something will come out. "
273 'Tis all in vain, deny it as I will.
274 "No, such a Genius never can lye still, "
275 And then for mine obligingly mistakes
276 The first Lampoon Sir Will. or Bubo makes.
277 Poor guiltless I! and can I chuse but smile,
278 When ev'ry Coxcomb knows me by my Style?
279 Curst be the Verse, how well soe'er it flow,
280 That tends to make one worthy Man my foe,
281 Give Virtue scandal, Innocence a fear,
282 Or from the soft-ey'd Virgin steal a tear!
283 But he, who hurts a harmless neighbour's peace,
284 Insults fal'n Worth, or Beauty in distress,
285 Who loves a Lye, lame slander helps about,
286 Who writes a Libel, or who copies out:
287 The Fop whose pride affects a Patron's name,
288 Yet absent, wounds an Author's honest fame;
289 Who can your Merit selfishly approve,
290 And show the Sense of it, without the Love;
291 Who has the Vanity to call you Friend,
292 Yet wants the Honour injur'd to defend;[Page 15]
293 Who tells whate'er you think, whate'er you say,
294 And, if he lyes not, must at least betray:
295 Who to the*
* See the Epistle to the Earl of Burlington. Dean and silver Bell can swear,
296 And sees at Cannons what was never there:
297 Who reads but with a Lust to mis-apply,
298 Make Satire a Lampoon, and Fiction, Lye.
299 A Lash like mine no honest man shall dread,
300 But all such babling blockheads in his stead.
301 Let Paris tremble — "What? that Thing of silk,
302 "Paris, that mere white Curd of Ass's milk?
303 "Satire or Shame alas! can Paris feel?
304 "Who breaks a Butterfly upon a Wheel? "
305 Yet let me flap this Bug with gilded wings,
306 This painted Child of Dirt that stinks and stings;
307 Whose Buzz the Witty and the Fair annoys,
308 Yet Wit ne'er tastes, and Beauty ne'er enjoys,
309 So well-bred Spaniels civilly delight
310 In mumbling of the Game they dare not bite.
311 Eternal Smiles his Emptiness betray,
312 As shallow streams run dimpling all the way.
313 Whether in florid Impotence he speaks,
314 And, as the Prompter breathes, the Puppet squeaks;[Page 16]
315 Or at the Ear of*
* In the fourth Book of Milton, the Devil is represented in this Posture. It is but justice to own, that the Hint of Eve and the Serpent was taken from the Verses on the Imitator of Horace. Eve, familiar Toad,
316 Half Froth, half Venom, spits himself abroad,
317 In Puns, or Politicks, or Tales, or Lyes,
318 Or Spite, or Smut, or Rymes, or Blasphemies.
319 Did ever Smock-face act so vile a Part?
320 A trifling Head, and a corrupted Heart!
321 Eve's Tempter thus the Rabbins have exprest,
322 A Cherub's face, a Reptile all the rest;
323 Beauty that shocks you, Parts that none will trust,
324 Wit that can creep, and Pride that licks the dust.
325 Not Fortune's Worshipper, nor Fashion's Fool,
326 Nor Lucre's Madman, nor Ambition's Tool,
327 Nor proud, nor servile, be one Poet's praise
328 That, if he pleas'd, he pleas'd by manly ways;
329 That Flatt'ry, ev'n to Kings, he held a shame,
330 And thought a Lye in Verse or Prose the same:
331 In Fancy's Maze that wand'ring not too long,
332 He stoop'd to Truth, and moraliz'd his song:
333 That not for Fame, but Virtue's better end,
334 He stood the furious Foe, the timid Friend,
335 The damning Critic, half-approving Wit,
336 The Coxcomb hit, or fearing to be hit;[Page 17]
337 Laugh'd at the loss of Friends he never had,
338 The dull, the proud, the wicked, and the mad;
339 The Tales of Vengeance; Lyes so oft o'erthrown;[*]
[*] Lies so oft o'erthrown.] Such as those in relation to Mr. A —, that Mr. P. writ his Character after his death, &c. that he set his Name to Mr. Broom's Verses, that he receiv'd Subscriptions for Shakespear, &c. which tho' publickly disprov'd by the Testimonies prefix'd to the Dunciad, were nevertheless shamelesly repeated in the Libels, and even in the Paper call'd, The Nobleman's Epistle.
340 The imputed Trash,[*]
[*] Th' imputed Trash.] Profane Psalms, Court Poems, and many Libellous Things in his Name, printed by Curl, &c. the Dulness not his own;
341 The Morals blacken'd when the Writings scape;
342 The libel'd Person, and the pictur'd Shape;
343 Th' Abuse on all he lov'd, or lov'd him, spread,[*]
[*] Abuse on all he lov'd, or lov'd him spread.] Namely on the Duke of Buckingham, Earl of Burlington, Bishop Atterbury, Dr. Swift, Mr. Gay, Dr. Arbuthnot, his Friends, his Parents, and his very Nurse, aspers'd in printed Papers.
344 A Friend in Exile, or a Father, dead;
345 The Whisper that to Greatness still too near,
346 Perhaps, yet vibrates on his SOVEREIGN'S Ear —
347 Welcome for thee, fair Virtue! all the past:
348 For thee, fair Virtue! welcome ev'n the last!
349 "But why insult the Poor, affront the Great?"
350 A Knave's a Knave, to me, in ev'ry State,
351 Alike my scorn, if he succeed or fail,
352 Glencus at Court, or Japhet in a Jayl,
353 A hireling Scribler, or a hireling Peer,
354 Knight of the Post corrupt, or of the Shire,
355 If on a Pillory, or near a Throne,
356 He gain his Prince's Ear, or lose his own.
357 Yet soft by Nature, more a Dupe than Wit,
358 Sapho can tell you how this Man was bit:
359 This dreaded Sat'rist Dennis will confess
360 Foe to his Pride, but Friend to his Distress:
361 So humble, he has knock'd at T—b—ld's door,
362 Has drank with C—r, nay has rym'd for M—r.
363 Full ten years slander'd,[*]
[*] Ten Years.] It was so long, before the Author of the Dunciad published that Poem, till when, he never writ a word of the many Scurrilities and False hoods concerning him. did he once reply?
364 Three thousand Suns went down on Welsted's Lye:[*]
Welsted's Lye.] This Man had the Impudence to tell in print, that Mr. P. had occasion'd a Lady's death, and to name a person he never heard of. He also publish'd that he had libell'd the Duke of Chandos; with whom (it was added) that he had liv'd in familiarity, and receiv'd from him a Present of five hundred pounds: The Falsehood of which is known to his Grace, whom Mr. P. never had the honour to see but twice, and never receiv'd any Present farther than the Subscription for Homer, from him, or from Any Great Man whatsoever.
Budgel in a Weekly Pamphlet call'd the Bee, bestow'd much abuse on him, in the imagination that he writ some things about the Last Will of Dr. Tindal, in the Grubstreet Journal; a Paper wherein he never had the least Hand, Direction, or Supervisal, nor the least knowledge of its Authors. He took no notice of so frantick an Abuse; and expected that any man who knew himself Author of what he was slander'd for, would have justify'd him on that Article.
365 To please a Mistress, One aspers'd his life;
366 He lash'd him not, but let her be his Wife:
367 Let Budgel charge low Grubstreet on his quill,
368 And write whate'er he pleas'd, except his Will;
369 Let the Two Curls of Town and Court, abuse
370 His Father, Mother, Body, Soul, and Muse .[*][Page 19] [*] His Father, Mother, &c.] In some of Curl's and other Pamphlets, Mr. Pope's Father was said to be a Mechanic, a Hatter, a Farmer, nay a Bankrupt. But, what is stranger, a Nobleman (if such a Reflection can be thought to come from a Nobleman) has dropt an Allusion to this pitiful Untruth, in his Epistle to a Doctor of Divinity: And the following Line,
had fallen from a like Courtly pen, in the Verses to the Imitator of Horace. Mr. Pope's Father was of a Gentleman's Family in Oxfordshire, the Head of which was the Earl of Downe, whose sole Heiress married the Earl of Lind sey. — His Mother was the Daughter of William Turnor, Esq; of York: She had three Brothers, one of whom was kill'd, another died in the Service of King Charles, the eldest following his Fortunes, and becoming a General Of ficer in Spain, left her what Estate remain'd after the Sequestrations and For feitures of her Family — Mr. Pope died in 1717, aged 75; She in 1733, aged 93, a very few Weeks after this Poem was finished.
Hard as thy Heart, and as thy Birth Obscure,
371 Yet why? that Father held it for a rule
372 It was a Sin to call our Neighbour Fool,
373 That harmless Mother thought no Wife a Whore, —
374 Hear this! and spare his Family, James M*
375 Unspotted Names! and memorable long,
376 If there be Force in Virtue, or in Song.
377 Of gentle Blood (part shed in Honour's Cause,
378 While yet in Britain Honour had Applause)
379 Each Parent sprung — "What Fortune, pray? — Their own,
380 And better got than Bestia's from a Throne.
381 Born to no Pride, inheriting no Strife,
382 Nor marrying Discord in a Noble Wife,
383 Stranger to Civil and Religious Rage,
384 The good Man walk'd innoxious thro' his Age.
385 No Courts he saw, no Suits would ever try,
386 Nor dar'd an Oath, nor hazarded a Lye:
387 Un-learn'd, he knew no Schoolman's subtle Art,
388 No Language, but the Language of the Heart. [Page 30]
389 By Nature honest, by Experience wise,
390 Healthy by Temp'rance and by Exercise:
391 His Life, tho' long, to sickness past unknown,
392 His Death was instant, and without a groan.
393 Oh grant me thus to live, and thus to die!
394 Who sprung from Kings shall know less joy than I.
395 O Friend! may each Domestick Bliss be thine!
396 Be no unpleasing Melancholy mine:
397 Me, let the tender Office long engage
398 To rock the Cradle of reposing Age,
399 With lenient Arts extend a Mother's breath,
400 Make Languor smile, and smooth the Bed of Death,
401 Explore the Thought, explain the asking Eye,
402 And keep a while one Parent from the Sky!
403 On Cares like these if Length of days attend,
404 May Heav'n, to bless those days, preserve my Friend,
405 Preserve him social, chearful, and serene,
406 And just as rich as when he serv'd a QUEEN!
407 Whether that Blessing be deny'd, or giv'n,
408 Thus far was right, the rest belongs to Heav'n.