MR. FOOTE's ADDRESS TO THE PUBLIC,
After a Prosecution against him for a LIBEL.
1 HUSH! let me search before I speak aloud —
2 Is no informer skulking in the croud!
3 With art laconic noting all that's said,
4 Malice at heart, indictments in his head,
5 Prepar'd to levy all the legal war,
6 And rouse the clamorous legions of the bar!
7 Is there none such? — not one? — then entre nous,
8 I will a tale unfold, tho' strange, yet true;
9 The application must be made by you.
10 At Athens once, fair queen of arms and arts,
11 There dwelt a citizen of moderate parts!
12 Precise his manner, and demure his looks,
13 His mind unletter'd, tho' he dealt in books;[Page 124]
14 Amorous, tho' old; tho' dull, lov'd repartee;
15 And penn'd a paragraph most daintily:
16 He aim'd at purity in all he said,
17 And never once omitted eth nor ed;
18 It hath, and doth, was rarely known to fail,
19 Himself the hero of each little tale:
20 With wits and lords this man was much delighted,
21 And once (it has been said) was near being knighted.
22 One Aristophanes (a wicked wit,
23 Who never heeded grace in what he writ)
24 Had mark'd the manner of this Grecian sage,
25 And thinking him a subject for the stage,
26 Had, from the lumber, cull'd with curious care,
27 His voice, his looks, his gesture, gait and air,
28 His affectation, consequence, and mien,
29 And boldly launch'd him on the comic scene;
30 Loud peals of plaudits thro' the circle ran,
31 All felt the satire, for all knew the man.
32 Then Peter — Petros was his classic name,
33 Fearing the loss of dignity and fame,
34 To a grave lawyer in a hurry flies,
35 Opens his purse, and begs his best advice.
36 The fee secur'd, the lawyer strokes his band,
37 "The case you put, I fully understand;
38 "The thing is plain from Cocus's reports,
39 "For rules of poetry an't rules of courts:
40 "A libel this — I'll make the mummer know it. "
41 A Grecian constable took up the poet;
42 Restrain'd the sallies of his laughing muse,
43 Call'd harmless humour scandalous abuse:[Page 125]
44 The bard appeal'd from this severe decree:
45 Th' indulgent public set the pris'ner free;
46 Greece was to him, what Dublin is to me.