Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Poetical Works by Charles Churchill

Part 6 out of 9

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.9 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

However worthy of respect.
Did they not find a certain friend
In Novelty to recommend,
(Such we, by sad experience, find
The wretched folly of mankind) 560
Venus might unattractive shine,
And Hunter fix no eyes but mine.
But Fame, who never cared a jot
Whether she was admired or not,
And never blush'd to show her face
At any time in any place,
In her own shape, without disguise,
And visible to mortal eyes,
On 'Change exact at seven o'clock
Alighted on the weathercock, 570
Which, planted there time out of mind
To note the changes of the wind,
Might no improper emblem be
Of her own mutability.
Thrice did she sound her trump, (the same
Which from the first belong'd to Fame,
An old ill-favour'd instrument,
With which the goddess was content,
Though under a politer race
Bagpipes might well supply its place) 580
And thrice, awaken'd by the sound,
A general din prevail'd around;
Confusion through the city pass'd,
And Fear bestrode the dreadful blast.
Those fragrant currents, which we meet
Distilling soft through every street,
Affrighted from the usual course,
Ran murmuring upwards to their source;
Statues wept tears of blood, as fast
As when a Caesar breathed his last; 590
Horses, which always used to go
A foot-pace in my Lord Mayor's show,
Impetuous from their stable broke,
And aldermen and oxen spoke.
Halls felt the force, towers shook around,
And steeples nodded to the ground;
St Paul himself (strange sight!) was seen
To bow as humbly as the Dean;
The Mansion House, for ever placed
A monument of City taste, 600
Trembled, and seem'd aloud to groan
Through all that hideous weight of stone.
To still the sound, or stop her ears,
Remove the cause or sense of fears,
Physic, in college seated high,
Would anything but medicine try.
No more in Pewterer's Hall[231] was heard
The proper force of every word;
Those seats were desolate become,
A hapless Elocution dumb. 610
Form, city-born and city-bred,
By strict Decorum ever led,
Who threescore years had known the grace
Of one dull, stiff, unvaried pace,
Terror prevailing over Pride,
Was seen to take a larger stride;
Worn to the bone, and clothed in rags,
See Avarice closer hug his bags;
With her own weight unwieldy grown,
See Credit totter on her throne; 620
Virtue alone, had she been there,
The mighty sound, unmoved, could bear.
Up from the gorgeous bed, where Fate
Dooms annual fools to sleep in state,
To sleep so sound that not one gleam
Of Fancy can provoke a dream,
Great Dulman[232] started at the sound,
Gaped, rubb'd his eyes, and stared around.
Much did he wish to know, much fear,
Whence sounds so horrid struck his ear, 630
So much unlike those peaceful notes,
That equal harmony, which floats
On the dull wing of City air,
Grave prelude to a feast or fair:
Much did he inly ruminate
Concerning the decrees of Fate,
Revolving, though to little end,
What this same trumpet might portend.
Could the French--no--that could not be,
Under Bute's active ministry, 640
Too watchful to be so deceived--
Have stolen hither unperceived?
To Newfoundland,[233] indeed, we know
Fleets of war unobserved may go;
Or, if observed, may be supposed,
At intervals when Reason dozed,
No other point in view to bear
But pleasure, health, and change of air;
But Reason ne'er could sleep so sound
To let an enemy be found 650
In our land's heart, ere it was known
They had departed from their own.
Or could his successor, (Ambition
Is ever haunted with suspicion)
His daring successor elect,
All customs, rules, and forms reject,
And aim,[234] regardless of the crime,
To seize the chair before his time?
Or (deeming this the lucky hour,
Seeing his countrymen in power, 660
Those countrymen, who, from the first,
In tumults and rebellion nursed,
Howe'er they wear the mask of art,
Still love a Stuart in their heart)
Could Scottish Charles----
Conjecture thus,
That mental _ignis fatuus_,
Led his poor brains a weary dance
From France to England, hence to France,
Till Information in the shape
Of chaplain learned, good Sir Crape, 670
A lazy, lounging, pamper'd priest,
Well known at every city feast,
For he was seen much oftener there
Than in the house of God at prayer;
Who, always ready in his place,
Ne'er let God's creatures wait for grace,
Though, as the best historians write,
Less famed for faith than appetite;
His disposition to reveal,
The grace was short, and long the meal; 680
Who always would excess admit,
If haunch or turtle came with it,
And ne'er engaged in the defence
Of self-denying Abstinence,
When he could fortunately meet
With anything he liked to eat;
Who knew that wine, on Scripture plan,
Was made to cheer the heart of man;
Knew too, by long experience taught,
That cheerfulness was kill'd by thought; 690
And from those premises collected,
(Which few perhaps would have suspected)
That none who, with due share of sense,
Observed the ways of Providence,
Could with safe conscience leave off drinking
Till they had lost the power of thinking;
With eyes half-closed came waddling in,
And, having stroked his double chin,
(That chin, whose credit to maintain
Against the scoffs of the profane, 700
Had cost him more than ever state
Paid for a poor electorate,[235]
Which, after all the cost and rout
It had been better much without)
Briefly (for breakfast, you must know,
Was waiting all the while below)
Related, bowing to the ground,
The cause of that uncommon sound;
Related, too, that at the door
Pomposo, Plausible, and Moore, 710
Begg'd that Fame might not be allow'd
Their shame to publish to the crowd;
That some new laws he would provide,
(If old could not be misapplied
With as much ease and safety there
As they are misapplied elsewhere)
By which it might be construed treason
In man to exercise his reason;
Which might ingeniously devise
One punishment for truth and lies, 720
And fairly prove, when they had done,
That truth and falsehood were but one;
Which juries must indeed retain,
But their effects should render vain,
Making all real power to rest
In one corrupted rotten breast,
By whose false gloss the very Bible
Might be interpreted a libel.
Moore (who, his reverence to save,
Pleaded the fool to screen the knave, 730
Though all who witness'd on his part
Swore for his head against his heart)
Had taken down, from first to last,
A just account of all that pass'd;
But, since the gracious will of Fate,
Who mark'd the child for wealth and state
E'en in the cradle, had decreed
The mighty Dulman ne'er should read,
That office of disgrace to bear
The smooth-lipp'd Plausible[236] was there; 740
From Holborn e'en to Clerkenwell,
Who knows not smooth-lipp'd Plausible?
A preacher, deem'd of greatest note
For preaching that which others wrote.
Had Dulman now, (and fools, we see,
Seldom want curiosity)
Consented (but the mourning shade
Of Gascoyne hasten'd to his aid,
And in his hand--what could he more--
Triumphant Canning's picture bore) 750
That our three heroes should advance
And read their comical romance,
How rich a feast, what royal fare,
We for our readers might prepare!
So rich and yet so safe a feast,
That no one foreign blatant beast,
Within the purlieus of the law,
Should dare thereon to lay his paw,
And, growling, cry, with surly tone,
'Keep off--this feast is all my own.' 760
Bending to earth the downcast eye,
Or planting it against the sky,
As one immersed in deepest thought,
Or with some holy vision caught,
His hands, to aid the traitor's art,
Devoutly folded o'er his heart;
Here Moore, in fraud well skill'd, should go,
All saint, with solemn step and slow.
Oh, that Religion's sacred name,
Meant to inspire the purest flame, 770
A prostitute should ever be
To that arch-fiend Hypocrisy,
Where we find every other vice
Crown'd with damn'd sneaking cowardice!
Bold sin reclaim'd is often seen,
Past hope that man, who dares be mean.
There, full of flesh, and full of grace,
With that fine round unmeaning face
Which Nature gives to sons of earth
Whom she designs for ease and mirth, 780
Should the prim Plausible be seen,
Observe his stiff, affected mien;
'Gainst Nature, arm'd by Gravity,
His features too in buckle see;
See with what sanctity he reads,
With what devotion tells his beads!
Now, prophet, show me, by thine art,
What's the religion of his heart:
Show there, if truth thou canst unfold,
Religion centred all in gold; 790
Show him, nor fear Correction's rod,
As false to friendship, as to God.
Horrid, unwieldy, without form.
Savage as ocean in a storm,
Of size prodigious, in the rear,
That post of honour, should appear
Pomposo; fame around should tell
How he a slave to Interest fell;
How, for integrity renown'd,
Which booksellers have often found, 800
He for subscribers baits his hook,[237]
And takes their cash--but where's the book?
No matter where--wise fear, we know,
Forbids the robbing of a foe;
But what, to serve our private ends,
Forbids the cheating of our friends?
No man alive, who would not swear
All's safe, and therefore honest there;
For, spite of all the learned say,
If we to truth attention pay, 810
The word dishonesty is meant
For nothing else but punishment.
Fame, too, should tell, nor heed the threat
Of rogues, who brother rogues abet,
Nor tremble at the terrors hung
Aloft, to make her hold her tongue,
How to all principles untrue,
Not fix'd to old friends nor to new,
He damns the pension which he takes
And loves the Stuart he forsakes. 820
Nature (who, justly regular,
Is very seldom known to err,
But now and then, in sportive mood,
As some rude wits have understood,
Or through much work required in haste,
Is with a random stroke disgraced)
Pomposo, form'd on doubtful plan,
Not quite a beast, nor quite a man;
Like--God knows what--for never yet
Could the most subtle human wit 830
Find out a monster which might be
The shadow of a simile.
These three, these great, these mighty three,--
Nor can the poet's truth agree,
Howe'er report hath done him wrong,
And warp'd the purpose of his song,
Amongst the refuse of their race,
The sons of Infamy, to place
That open, generous, manly mind,
Which we, with joy, in Aldrich[238] find-- 840
These three, who now are faintly shown,
Just sketch'd, and scarcely to be known,
If Dulman their request had heard,
In stronger colours had appear'd,
And friends, though partial, at first view,
Shuddering, had own'd the picture true.
But had their journal been display'd,
And their whole process open laid,
What a vast unexhausted field
For mirth must such a journal yield! 850
In her own anger strongly charm'd,
'Gainst Hope, 'gainst Fear, by Conscience arm'd,
Then had bold Satire made her way,
Knights, lords, and dukes, her destined prey.
But Prudence--ever sacred name
To those who feel not Virtue's flame,
Or only feel it, at the best,
As the dull dupe of Interest!--
Whisper'd aloud (for this we find
A custom current with mankind, 860
So loud to whisper, that each word
May all around be plainly heard;
And Prudence, sure, would never miss
A custom so contrived as this
Her candour to secure, yet aim
Sure death against another's fame):
'Knights, lords, and dukes!--mad wretch, forbear,
Dangers unthought of ambush there;
Confine thy rage to weaker slaves,
Laugh at small fools, and lash small knaves; 870
But never, helpless, mean, and poor,
Rush on, where laws cannot secure;
Nor think thyself, mistaken youth!
Secure in principles of truth:
Truth! why shall every wretch of letters
Dare to speak truth against his betters!
Let ragged Virtue stand aloof,
Nor mutter accents of reproof;
Let ragged Wit a mute become,
When Wealth and Power would have her dumb; 880
For who the devil doth not know
That titles and estates bestow
An ample stock, where'er they fall,
Of graces which we mental call?
Beggars, in every age and nation,
Are rogues and fools by situation;
The rich and great are understood
To be of course both wise and good.
Consult, then, Interest more than Pride,
Discreetly take the stronger side; 890
Desert, in time, the simple few
Who Virtue's barren path pursue;
Adopt my maxims--follow me--
To Baal bow the prudent knee;
Deny thy God, betray thy friend,
At Baal's altars hourly bend,
So shalt thou rich and great be seen;
To be great now, you must be mean.'
Hence, Tempter, to some weaker soul,
Which fear and interest control; 900
Vainly thy precepts are address'd
Where Virtue steels the steady breast;
Through meanness wade to boasted power,
Through guilt repeated every hour;
What is thy gain, when all is done,
What mighty laurels hast thou won?
Dull crowds, to whom the heart's unknown,
Praise thee for virtues not thine own:
But will, at once man's scourge and friend,
Impartial Conscience too commend? 910
From her reproaches canst thou fly?
Canst thou with worlds her silence buy?
Believe it not--her stings shall find
A passage to thy coward mind:
There shall she fix her sharpest dart;
There show thee truly as thou art,
Unknown to those by whom thou 'rt prized,
Known to thyself to be despised.
The man who weds the sacred Muse,
Disdains all mercenary views, 920
And he, who Virtue's throne would rear
Laughs at the phantoms raised by Fear.
Though Folly, robed in purple, shines,
Though Vice exhausts Peruvian mines,
Yet shall they tremble, and turn pale,
When Satire wields her mighty flail;
Or should they, of rebuke afraid,
With Melcombe[239] seek hell's deepest shade,
Satire, still mindful of her aim,
Shall bring the cowards back to shame. 930
Hated by many, loved by few,
Above each little private view,
Honest, though poor, (and who shall dare
To disappoint my boasting there?)
Hardy and resolute, though weak,
The dictates of my heart to speak,
Willing I bend at Satire's throne;
What power I have be all her own.
Nor shall yon lawyer's specious art,
Conscious of a corrupted heart, 940
Create imaginary fear
To damp us in our bold career.
Why should we fear? and what? The laws?
They all are arm'd in Virtue's cause;
And aiming at the self-same end,
Satire is always Virtue's friend.
Nor shall that Muse, whose honest rage,
In a corrupt degenerate age,
(When, dead to every nicer sense,
Deep sunk in vice and indolence, 950
The spirit of old Rome was broke
Beneath the tyrant fiddler's yoke)
Banish'd the rose from Nero's cheek,
Under a Brunswick fear to speak.
Drawn by Conceit from Reason's plan,
How vain is that poor creature, Man!
How pleased is every paltry elf
To prate about that thing, himself!
After my promise made in rhyme,
And meant in earnest at that time, 960
To jog, according to the mode,
In one dull pace, in one dull road,
What but that curse of heart and head
To this digression could have led?
Where plunged, in vain I look about,
And can't stay in, nor well get out.
Could I, whilst Humour held the quill,
Could I digress with half that skill;
Could I with half that skill return,
Which we so much admire in Sterne, 970
Where each digression, seeming vain,
And only fit to entertain,
Is found, on better recollection,
To have a just and nice connexion,
To help the whole with wondrous art,
Whence it seems idly to depart;
Then should our readers ne'er accuse
These wild excursions of the Muse;
Ne'er backward turn dull pages o'er
To recollect what went before; 980
Deeply impress'd, and ever new,
Each image past should start to view,
And we to Dulman now come in,
As if we ne'er had absent been.
Have you not seen, when danger's near,
The coward cheek turn white with fear?
Have you not seen, when danger's fled,
The self-same cheek with joy turn red?
These are low symptoms which we find,
Fit only for a vulgar mind, 990
Where honest features, void of art,
Betray the feelings of the heart;
Our Dulman with a face was bless'd,
Where no one passion was express'd;
His eye, in a fine stupor caught,
Implied a plenteous lack of thought;
Nor was one line that whole face seen in
Which could be justly charged with meaning.
To Avarice by birth allied,
Debauch'd by marriage into Pride, 1000
In age grown fond of youthful sports,
Of pomps, of vanities, and courts,
And by success too mighty made
To love his country or his trade;
Stiff in opinion, (no rare case
With blockheads in or out of place)
Too weak, and insolent of soul
To suffer Reason's just control,
But bending, of his own accord,
To that trim transient toy, my lord; 1010
The dupe of Scots, (a fatal race,
Whom God in wrath contrived to place
To scourge our crimes, and gall our pride,
A constant thorn in England's side;
Whom first, our greatness to oppose,
He in his vengeance mark'd for foes;
Then, more to serve his wrathful ends,
And more to curse us, mark'd for friends)
Deep in the state, if we give credit
To him, for no one else e'er said it, 1020
Sworn friend of great ones not a few,
Though he their titles only knew,
And those (which, envious of his breeding,
Book-worms have charged to want of reading)
Merely to show himself polite
He never would pronounce aright;
An orator with whom a host
Of those which Rome and Athens boast,
In all their pride might not contend;
Who, with no powers to recommend, 1030
Whilst Jackey Hume, and Billy Whitehead,
And Dicky Glover,[240] sat delighted,
Could speak whole days in Nature's spite,
Just as those able versemen write;
Great Dulman from his bed arose--
Thrice did he spit--thrice wiped his nose--
Thrice strove to smile--thrice strove to frown--
And thrice look'd up--and thrice look'd down--
Then silence broke--'Crape, who am I?'
Crape bow'd, and smiled an arch reply. 1040
'Am I not, Crape? I am, you know,
Above all those who are below.
Hare I not knowledge? and for wit,
Money will always purchase it:
Nor, if it needful should be found,
Will I grudge ten or twenty pound,
For which the whole stock may be bought
Of scoundrel wits, not worth a groat.
But lest I should proceed too far,
I'll feel my friend the Minister, 1050
(Great men, Crape, must not be neglected)
How he in this point is affected;
For, as I stand a magistrate,
To serve him first, and next the state,
Perhaps he may not think it fit
To let his magistrates have wit.
Boast I not, at this very hour,
Those large effects which troop with power?
Am I not mighty in the land?
Do not I sit whilst others stand? 1060
Am I not with rich garments graced,
In seat of honour always placed?
And do not cits of chief degree,
Though proud to others, bend to me?
Have I not, as a Justice ought,
The laws such wholesome rigour taught,
That Fornication, in disgrace,
Is now afraid to show her face,
And not one whore these walls approaches
Unless they ride in their own coaches? 1070
And shall this Fame, an old poor strumpet,
Without our licence sound her trumpet,
And, envious of our city's quiet,
In broad daylight blow up a riot?
If insolence like this we bear,
Where is our state? our office where?
Farewell, all honours of our reign;
Farewell, the neck-ennobling chain,
Freedom's known badge o'er all the globe;
Farewell, the solemn-spreading robe; 1080
Farewell, the sword; farewell, the mace;
Farewell, all title, pomp, and place,
Removed from men of high degree,
(A loss to them, Crape, not to me)
Banish'd to Chippenham or to Frome,
Dulman once more shall ply the loom.'
Crape, lifting up his hands and eyes,
'Dulman!--the loom!--at Chippenham!'--cries;
'If there be powers which greatness love,
Which rule below, but dwell above, 1090
Those powers united all shall join
To contradict the rash design.
Sooner shall stubborn Will[241] lay down
His opposition with his gown;
Sooner shall Temple leave the road
Which leads to Virtue's mean abode;
Sooner shall Scots this country quit,
And England's foes be friends to Pitt,
Than Dulman, from his grandeur thrown,
Shall wander outcast and unknown. 1100
Sure as that cane,' (a cane there stood
Near to a table made of wood,
Of dry fine wood a table made,
By some rare artist in the trade,
Who had enjoy'd immortal praise
If he had lived in Homer's days)
'Sure as that cane, which once was seen
In pride of life all fresh and green,
The banks of Indus to adorn,
Then, of its leafy honours shorn, 1110
According to exactest rule,
Was fashion'd by the workman's tool,
And which at present we behold
Curiously polish'd, crown'd with gold,
With gold well wrought; sure as that cane
Shall never on its native plain
Strike root afresh, shall never more
Flourish in tawny India's shore,
So sure shall Dulman and his race
To latest times this station grace.' 1120
Dulman, who all this while had kept
His eyelids closed as if he slept,
Now looking steadfastly on Crape,
As at some god in human shape:
'Crape, I protest, you seem to me
To have discharged a prophecy:
Yes--from the first it doth appear
Planted by Fate, the Dulmans here
Have always held a quiet reign,
And here shall to the last remain. 1130
'Crape, they're all wrong about this ghost--
Quite on the wrong side of the post--
Blockheads! to take it in their head
To be a message from the dead,
For that by mission they design,
A word not half so good as mine.
Crape--here it is--start not one doubt--
A plot--a plot--I've found it out.'
'O God!' cries Crape, 'how bless'd the nation,
Where one son boasts such penetration!' 1140
'Crape, I've not time to tell you now
When I discover'd this, or how;
To Stentor[242] go--if he's not there,
His place let Bully Norton bear--
Our citizens to council call--
Let all meet--'tis the cause of all:
Let the three witnesses attend,
With allegations to befriend,
To swear just so much, and no more,
As we instruct them in before. 1150
'Stay, Crape, come back--what! don't you see
The effects of this discovery?
Dulman all care and toil endures--
The profit, Crape, will all be yours.
A mitre, (for, this arduous task
Perform'd, they'll grant whate'er I ask)
A mitre (and perhaps the best)
Shall, through my interest, make thee blest:
And at this time, when gracious Fate
Dooms to the Scot the reins of state, 1160
Who is more fit (and for your use
We could some instances produce)
Of England's Church to be the head,
Than you, a Presbyterian bred?
But when thus mighty you are made,
Unlike the brethren of thy trade,
Be grateful, Crape, and let me not,
Like old Newcastle,[243] be forgot.
But an affair, Crape, of this size
Will ask from Conduct vast supplies; 1170
It must not, as the vulgar say,
Be done in hugger-mugger way:
Traitors, indeed (and that's discreet)
Who hatch the plot, in private meet;
They should in public go, no doubt,
Whose business is to find it out.
To-morrow--if the day appear
Likely to turn out fair and clear--
Proclaim a grand processionade[244]--
Be all the city-pomp display'd, 1180
Let the Train-bands'--Crape shook his head--
They heard the trumpet, and were fled--
'Well,' cries the Knight, 'if that's the case,
My servants shall supply their place--
My servants--mine alone--no more
Than what my servants did before--
Dost not remember, Crape, that day,
When, Dulman's grandeur to display,
As all too simple and too low,
Our city friends were thrust below, 1190
Whilst, as more worthy of our love,
Courtiers were entertain'd above?
Tell me, who waited then? and how?
My servants-mine: and why not now?--
In haste then, Crape, to Stentor go--
But send up Hart, who waits below;
With him, till you return again,
(Reach me my spectacles and cane)
I'll make a proof how I advance in
My new accomplishment of dancing.' 1200
Not quite so fast as lightning flies,
Wing'd with red anger, through the skies;
Not quite so fast as, sent by Jove,
Iris descends on wings of love;
Not quite so fast as Terror rides
When he the chasing winds bestrides,
Crape hobbled; but his mind was good--
Could he go faster than he could?
Near to that tower, which, as we're told,
The mighty Julius raised of old, 1210
Where, to the block by Justice led,
The rebel Scot hath often bled;
Where arms are kept so clean, so bright,
'Twere sin they should be soil'd in fight;
Where brutes of foreign race are shown
By brutes much greater of our own;
Fast by the crowded Thames, is found
An ample square of sacred ground,
Where artless Eloquence presides,
And Nature every sentence guides. 1220
Here female parliaments debate
About religion, trade, and state;
Here every Naiad's patriot soul,
Disdaining foreign base control,
Despising French, despising Erse,
Pours forth the plain old English curse,
And bears aloft, with terrors hung,
The honours of the vulgar tongue.
Here Stentor, always heard with awe,
In thundering accents deals out law: 1230
Twelve furlongs off each dreadful word
Was plainly and distinctly heard,
And every neighbour hill around
Return'd and swell'd the mighty sound;
The loudest virgin of the stream,
Compared with him would silent seem;
Thames, (who, enraged to find his course
Opposed, rolls down with double force,
Against the bridge indignant roars,
And lashes the resounding shores) 1240
Compared with him, at lowest tide,
In softest whispers seems to glide.
Hither, directed by the noise,
Swell'd with the hope of future joys,
Through too much zeal and haste made lame,
The reverend slave of Dulman came.
'Stentor'--with such a serious air,
With such a face of solemn care,
As might import him to contain
A nation's welfare in his brain-- 1250
'Stentor,' cries Crape. 'I'm hither sent
On business of most high intent,
Great Dulman's orders to convey;
Dulman commands, and I obey;
Big with those throes which patriots feel,
And labouring for the commonweal,
Some secret, which forbids him rest,
Tumbles and tosses in his breast;
Tumbles and tosses to get free,
And thus the Chief commands by me: 1260
'To-morrow, if the day appear
Likely to turn out fair and clear,
Proclaim a grand processionade--
Be all the city pomp display'd--
Our citizens to council call--
Let all meet--'tis the cause of all!'


Coxcombs, who vainly make pretence
To something of exalted sense
'Bove other men, and, gravely wise,
Affect those pleasures to despise,
Which, merely to the eye confined,
Bring no improvement to the mind,
Rail at all pomp; they would not go
For millions to a puppet-show,
Nor can forgive the mighty crime
Of countenancing pantomime; 10
No, not at Covent Garden, where,
Without a head for play or player,
Or, could a head be found most fit,
Without one player to second it,
They must, obeying Folly's call,
Thrive by mere show, or not at all
With these grave fops, who, (bless their brains!)
Most cruel to themselves, take pains
For wretchedness, and would be thought
Much wiser than a wise man ought, 20
For his own happiness, to be;
Who what they hear, and what they see,
And what they smell, and taste, and feel,
Distrust, till Reason sets her seal,
And, by long trains of consequences
Insured, gives sanction to the senses;
Who would not (Heaven forbid it!) waste
One hour in what the world calls Taste,
Nor fondly deign to laugh or cry,
Unless they know some reason why; 30
With these grave fops, whose system seems
To give up certainty for dreams,
The eye of man is understood
As for no other purpose good
Than as a door, through which, of course,
Their passage crowding, objects force,
A downright usher, to admit
New-comers to the court of Wit:
(Good Gravity! forbear thy spleen;
When I say Wit, I Wisdom mean) 40
Where (such the practice of the court,
Which legal precedents support)
Not one idea is allow'd
To pass unquestion'd in the crowd,
But ere it can obtain the grace
Of holding in the brain a place,
Before the chief in congregation
Must stand a strict examination.
Not such as those, who physic twirl,
Full fraught with death, from every curl; 50
Who prove, with all becoming state,
Their voice to be the voice of Fate;
Prepared with essence, drop, and pill,
To be another Ward or Hill,[245]
Before they can obtain their ends,
To sign death-warrants for their friends,
And talents vast as theirs employ,
_Secundum artem_ to destroy,
Must pass (or laws their rage restrain)
Before the chiefs of Warwick Lane:[246] 60
Thrice happy Lane! where, uncontroll'd,
In power and lethargy grown old,
Most fit to take, in this bless'd land,
The reins--which fell from Wyndham's hand,[247]
Her lawful throne great Dulness rears,
Still more herself, as more in years;
Where she, (and who shall dare deny
Her right, when Reeves[248] and Chauncy's[249] by?)
Calling to mind, in ancient time,
One Garth,[250] who err'd in wit and rhyme, 70
Ordains, from henceforth, to admit
None of the rebel sons of Wit,
And makes it her peculiar care
That Schomberg[251] never shall be there.
Not such as those, whom Polly trains
To letters, though unbless'd with brains,
Who, destitute of power and will
To learn, are kept to learning still;
Whose heads, when other methods fail,
Receive instruction from the tail, 80
Because their sires,--a common case
Which brings the children to disgrace,--
Imagine it a certain rule
They never could beget a fool,
Must pass, or must compound for, ere
The chaplain, full of beef and prayer,
Will give his reverend permit,
Announcing them for orders fit;
So that the prelate (what's a name?
All prelates now are much the same) 90
May, with a conscience safe and quiet,
With holy hands lay on that fiat
Which doth all faculties dispense,
All sanctity, all faith, all sense;
Makes Madan[252] quite a saint appear,
And makes an oracle of Cheere.
Not such as in that solemn seat,
Where the Nine Ladies hold retreat,--
The Ladies Nine, who, as we're told,
Scorning those haunts they loved of old, 100
The banks of Isis now prefer,
Nor will one hour from Oxford stir,--
Are held for form, which Balaam's ass
As well as Balaam's self might pass,
And with his master take degrees,
Could he contrive to pay the fees.
Men of sound parts, who, deeply read,
O'erload the storehouse of the head
With furniture they ne'er can use,
Cannot forgive our rambling Muse 110
This wild excursion; cannot see
Why Physic and Divinity,
To the surprise of all beholders,
Are lugg'd in by the head and shoulders;
Or how, in any point of view,
Oxford hath any thing to do.
But men of nice and subtle learning,
Remarkable for quick discerning,
Through spectacles of critic mould,
Without instruction, will behold 120
That we a method here have got
To show what is, by what is not;
And that our drift (parenthesis
For once apart) is briefly this:
Within the brain's most secret cells
A certain Lord Chief-Justice dwells,
Of sovereign power, whom, one and all,
With common voice, we Reason call;
Though, for the purposes of satire,
A name, in truth, is no great matter; 130
Jefferies or Mansfield, which you will--
It means a Lord Chief-Justice still.
Here, so our great projectors say,
The Senses all must homage pay;
Hither they all must tribute bring,
And prostrate fall before their king;
Whatever unto them is brought,
Is carried on the wings of Thought
Before his throne, where, in full state,
He on their merits holds debate, 140
Examines, cross-examines, weighs
Their right to censure or to praise:
Nor doth his equal voice depend
On narrow views of foe and friend,
Nor can, or flattery, or force
Divert him from his steady course;
The channel of Inquiry's clear,
No sham examination's here.
He, upright justicer, no doubt,
_Ad libitum_ puts in and out, 150
Adjusts and settles in a trice
What virtue is, and what is vice;
What is perfection, what defect;
What we must choose, and what reject;
He takes upon him to explain
What pleasure is, and what is pain;
Whilst we, obedient to the whim,
And resting all our faith on him,
True members of the Stoic Weal,
Must learn to think, and cease to feel. 160
This glorious system, form'd for man
To practise when and how he can,
If the five Senses, in alliance,
To Reason hurl a proud defiance,
And, though oft conquer'd, yet unbroke,
Endeavour to throw off that yoke,
Which they a greater slavery hold
Than Jewish bondage was of old;
Or if they, something touch'd with shame,
Allow him to retain the name 170
Of Royalty, and, as in sport,
To hold a mimic formal court;
Permitted--no uncommon thing--
To be a kind of puppet king,
And suffer'd, by the way of toy,
To hold a globe, but not employ;
Our system-mongers, struck with fear,
Prognosticate destruction near;
All things to anarchy must run;
The little world of man's undone. 180
Nay, should the Eye, that nicest sense,
Neglect to send intelligence
Unto the Brain, distinct and clear,
Of all that passes in her sphere;
Should she, presumptuous, joy receive
Without the Understanding's leave,
They deem it rank and daring treason
Against the monarchy of Reason,
Not thinking, though they're wondrous wise,
That few have reason, most have eyes; 190
So that the pleasures of the mind
To a small circle are confined,
Whilst those which to the senses fall
Become the property of all.
Besides, (and this is sure a case
Not much at present out of place)
Where Nature reason doth deny,
No art can that defect supply;
But if (for it is our intent
Fairly to state the argument) 200
A man should want an eye or two,
The remedy is sure, though new:
The cure's at hand--no need of fear--
For proof--behold the Chevalier![253]--
As well prepared, beyond all doubt,
To put eyes in, as put them out.
But, argument apart, which tends
To embitter foes and separate friends,
(Nor, turn'd apostate from the Nine,
Would I, though bred up a divine, 210
And foe, of course, to Reason's Weal,
Widen that breach I cannot heal)
By his own sense and feelings taught,
In speech as liberal as in thought,
Let every man enjoy his whim;
What's he to me, or I to him?
Might I, though never robed in ermine,
A matter of this weight determine,
No penalties should settled be
To force men to hypocrisy, 220
To make them ape an awkward zeal,
And, feeling not, pretend to feel.
I would not have, might sentence rest
Finally fix'd within my breast,
E'en Annet[254] censured and confined,
Because we're of a different mind.
Nature, who, in her act most free,
Herself delights in liberty,
Profuse in love, and without bound,
Pours joy on every creature round; 230
Whom yet, was every bounty shed
In double portions on our head,
We could not truly bounteous call,
If Freedom did not crown them all.
By Providence forbid to stray,
Brutes never can mistake their way;
Determined still, they plod along
By instinct, neither right nor wrong;
But man, had he the heart to use
His freedom, hath a right to choose; 240
Whether he acts, or well, or ill,
Depends entirely on his will.
To her last work, her favourite Man,
Is given, on Nature's better plan,
A privilege in power to err.
Nor let this phrase resentment stir
Amongst the grave ones, since indeed
The little merit man can plead
In doing well, dependeth still
Upon his power of doing ill. 250
Opinions should be free as air;
No man, whate'er his rank, whate'er
His qualities, a claim can found
That my opinion must be bound,
And square with his; such slavish chains
From foes the liberal soul disdains;
Nor can, though true to friendship, bend
To wear them even from a friend.
Let those, who rigid judgment own,
Submissive bow at Judgment's throne, 260
And if they of no value hold
Pleasure, till pleasure is grown cold,
Pall'd and insipid, forced to wait
For Judgment's regular debate
To give it warrant, let them find
Dull subjects suited to their mind.
Theirs be slow wisdom; be my plan,
To live as merry as I can,
Regardless, as the fashions go,
Whether there's reason for't or no: 270
Be my employment here on earth
To give a liberal scope to mirth,
Life's barren vale with flowers to adorn,
And pluck a rose from every thorn.
But if, by Error led astray,
I chance to wander from my way,
Let no blind guide observe, in spite,
I'm wrong, who cannot set me right.
That doctor could I ne'er endure
Who found disease, and not a cure; 280
Nor can I hold that man a friend
Whose zeal a helping hand shall lend
To open happy Folly's eyes,
And, making wretched, make me wise:
For next (a truth which can't admit
Reproof from Wisdom or from Wit)
To being happy here below,
Is to believe that we are so.
Some few in knowledge find relief;
I place my comfort in belief. 290
Some for reality may call;
Fancy to me is all in all.
Imagination, through the trick
Of doctors, often makes us sick;
And why, let any sophist tell,
May it not likewise make us well?
This I am sure, whate'er our view,
Whatever shadows we pursue,
For our pursuits, be what they will,
Are little more than shadows still; 300
Too swift they fly, too swift and strong,
For man to catch or hold them long;
But joys which in the fancy live,
Each moment to each man may give:
True to himself, and true to ease,
He softens Fate's severe decrees,
And (can a mortal wish for more?)
Creates, and makes himself new o'er,
Mocks boasted vain reality,
And is, whate'er he wants to be. 310
Hail, Fancy!--to thy power I owe
Deliverance from the gripe of Woe;
To thee I owe a mighty debt,
Which Gratitude shall ne'er forget,
Whilst Memory can her force employ,
A large increase of every joy.
When at my doors, too strongly barr'd,
Authority had placed a guard,[255]
A knavish guard, ordain'd by law
To keep poor Honesty in awe; 320
Authority, severe and stern,
To intercept my wish'd return;
When foes grew proud, and friends grew cool,
And laughter seized each sober fool;
When Candour started in amaze,
And, meaning censure, hinted praise;
When Prudence, lifting up her eyes
And hands, thank'd Heaven that she was wise;
When all around me, with an air
Of hopeless sorrow, look'd despair; 330
When they, or said, or seem'd to say,
There is but one, one only way
Better, and be advised by us,
Not be at all, than to be thus;
When Virtue shunn'd the shock, and Pride,
Disabled, lay by Virtue's side,
Too weak my ruffled soul to cheer,
Which could not hope, yet would not fear;
Health in her motion, the wild grace
Of pleasure speaking in her face, 340
Dull regularity thrown by,
And comfort beaming from her eye,
Fancy, in richest robes array'd,
Came smiling forth, and brought me aid;
Came smiling o'er that dreadful time,
And, more to bless me, came in rhyme.
Nor is her power to me confined;
It spreads, it comprehends mankind.
When (to the spirit-stirring sound
Of trumpets breathing courage round, 350
And fifes well-mingled, to restrain
And bring that courage down again;
Or to the melancholy knell
Of the dull, deep, and doleful bell,
Such as of late the good Saint Bride[256]
Muffled, to mortify the pride
Of those who, England quite forgot,
Paid their vile homage to the Scot;
Where Asgill held the foremost place,
Whilst my lord figured at a race) 360
Processions ('tis not worth debate
Whether they are of stage or state)
Move on, so very, very slow,
Tis doubtful if they move, or no;
When the performers all the while
Mechanically frown or smile,
Or, with a dull and stupid stare,
A vacancy of sense declare,
Or, with down-bending eye, seem wrought
Into a labyrinth of thought, 370
Where Reason wanders still in doubt,
And, once got in, cannot get out;
What cause sufficient can we find,
To satisfy a thinking mind,
Why, duped by such vain farces, man
Descends to act on such a plan?
Why they, who hold themselves divine,
Can in such wretched follies join,
Strutting like peacocks, or like crows,
Themselves and Nature to expose? 380
What cause, but that (you'll understand
We have our remedy at hand,
That if perchance we start a doubt,
Ere it is fix'd, we wipe it out;
As surgeons, when they lop a limb,
Whether for profit, fame, or whim,
Or mere experiment to try,
Must always have a styptic by)
Fancy steps in, and stamps that real,
Which, _ipso facto_, is ideal. 390
Can none remember?--yes, I know,
All must remember that rare show
When to the country Sense went down,
And fools came flocking up to town;
When knights (a work which all admit
To be for knighthood much unfit)
Built booths for hire; when parsons play'd,
In robes canonical array'd,
And, fiddling, join'd the Smithfield dance,
The price of tickets to advance: 400
Or, unto tapsters turn'd, dealt out,
Running from booth to booth about,
To every scoundrel, by retail,
True pennyworths of beef and ale,
Then first prepared, by bringing beer in,
For present grand electioneering;
When heralds, running all about
To bring in Order, turn'd it out;
When, by the prudent Marshal's care,
Lest the rude populace should stare, 410
And with unhallow'd eyes profane
Gay puppets of Patrician strain,
The whole procession, as in spite,
Unheard, unseen, stole off by night;
When our loved monarch, nothing both,
Solemnly took that sacred oath,
Whence mutual firm agreements spring
Betwixt the subject and the king,
By which, in usual manner crown'd,
His head, his heart, his hands, he bound, 420
Against himself, should passion stir
The least propensity to err,
Against all slaves, who might prepare,
Or open force, or hidden snare,
That glorious Charter to maintain,
By which we serve, and he must reign;
Then Fancy, with unbounded sway,
Revell'd sole mistress of the day,
And wrought such wonders, as might make
Egyptian sorcerers forsake 430
Their baffled mockeries, and own
The palm of magic hers alone.
A knight, (who, in the silken lap
Of lazy Peace, had lived on pap;
Who never yet had dared to roam
'Bove ten or twenty miles from home,
Nor even that, unless a guide
Was placed to amble by his side,
And troops of slaves were spread around
To keep his Honour safe and sound; 440
Who could not suffer, for his life,
A point to sword, or edge to knife;
And always fainted at the sight
Of blood, though 'twas not shed in fight;
Who disinherited one son
For firing off an alder gun,
And whipt another, six years old,
Because the boy, presumptuous, bold
To madness, likely to become
A very Swiss, had beat a drum, 450
Though it appear'd an instrument
Most peaceable and innocent,
Having, from first, been in the hands
And service of the City bands)
Graced with those ensigns, which were meant
To further Honour's dread intent,
The minds of warriors to inflame,
And spur them on to deeds of fame;
With little sword, large spurs, high feather,
Fearless of every thing but weather, 460
(And all must own, who pay regard
To charity, it had been hard
That in his very first campaign
His honours should be soil'd with rain)
A hero all at once became,
And (seeing others much the same
In point of valour as himself,
Who leave their courage on a shelf
From year to year, till some such rout
In proper season calls it out) 470
Strutted, look'd big, and swagger'd more
Than ever hero did before;
Look'd up, look'd down, look'd all around,
Like Mavors, grimly smiled and frown'd;
Seem'd Heaven, and Earth, and Hell to call
To fight, that he might rout them all,
And personated Valour's style
So long, spectators to beguile,
That, passing strange, and wondrous true,
Himself at last believed it too; 480
Nor for a time could he discern,
Till Truth and Darkness took their turn,
So well did Fancy play her part,
That coward still was at the heart.
Whiffle (who knows not Whiffle's name,
By the impartial voice of Fame
Recorded first through all this land
In Vanity's illustrious band?)
Who, by all-bounteous Nature meant
For offices of hardiment, 490
A modern Hercules at least,
To rid the world of each wild beast,
Of each wild beast which came in view,
Whether on four legs or on two,
Degenerate, delights to prove
His force on the parade of Love,
Disclaims the joys which camps afford,
And for the distaff quits the sword;
Who fond of women would appear
To public eye and public ear, 500
But, when in private, lets them know
How little they can trust to show;
Who sports a woman, as of course,
Just as a jockey shows a horse,
And then returns her to the stable,
Or vainly plants her at his table,
Where he would rather Venus find
(So pall'd, and so depraved his mind)
Than, by some great occasion led,
To seize her panting in her bed, 510
Burning with more than mortal fires,
And melting in her own desires;
Who, ripe in years, is yet a child,
Through fashion, not through feeling, wild;
Whate'er in others, who proceed
As Sense and Nature have decreed,
From real passion flows, in him
Is mere effect of mode and whim;
Who laughs, a very common way,
Because he nothing has to say, 520
As your choice spirits oaths dispense
To fill up vacancies of sense;
Who, having some small sense, defies it,
Or, using, always misapplies it;
Who now and then brings something forth
Which seems indeed of sterling worth;
Something, by sudden start and fit,
Which at a distance looks like wit,
But, on examination near,
To his confusion will appear, 530
By Truth's fair glass, to be at best
A threadbare jester's threadbare jest;
Who frisks and dances through the street,
Sings without voice, rides without seat,
Plays o'er his tricks, like Aesop's ass,
A gratis fool to all who pass;
Who riots, though he loves not waste,
Whores without lust, drinks without taste,
Acts without sense, talks without thought,
Does every thing but what he ought; 540
Who, led by forms, without the power
Of vice, is vicious; who one hour,
Proud without pride, the next will be
Humble without humility:
Whose vanity we all discern,
The spring on which his actions turn;
Whose aim in erring, is to err,
So that he may be singular,
And all his utmost wishes mean
Is, though he's laugh'd at, to be seen: 550
Such, (for when Flattery's soothing strain
Had robb'd the Muse of her disdain,
And found a method to persuade
Her art to soften every shade,
Justice, enraged, the pencil snatch'd
From her degenerate hand, and scratch'd
Out every trace; then, quick as thought,
From life this striking likeness caught)
In mind, in manners, and in mien,
Such Whiffle came, and such was seen 560
In the world's eye; but (strange to tell!)
Misled by Fancy's magic spell,
Deceived, not dreaming of deceit,
Cheated, but happy in the cheat,
Was more than human in his own.
Oh, bow, bow all at Fancy's throne,
Whose power could make so vile an elf
With patience bear that thing, himself.
But, mistress of each art to please,
Creative Fancy, what are these, 570
These pageants of a trifler's pen,
To what thy power effected then?
Familiar with the human mind,
And swift and subtle as the wind,
Which we all feel, yet no one knows,
Or whence it comes, or where it goes,
Fancy at once in every part
Possess'd the eye, the head, the heart,
And in a thousand forms array'd,
A thousand various gambols play'd. 580
Here, in a face which well might ask
The privilege to wear a mask
In spite of law, and Justice teach
For public good to excuse the breach,
Within the furrow of a wrinkle
'Twixt eyes, which could not shine but twinkle,
Like sentinels i' th' starry way,
Who wait for the return of day,
Almost burnt out, and seem to keep
Their watch, like soldiers, in their sleep; 590
Or like those lamps, which, by the power
Of law,[257] must burn from hour to hour,
(Else they, without redemption, fall
Under the terrors of that Hall,[258]
Which, once notorious for a hop,
Is now become a justice shop)
Which are so managed, to go out
Just when the time comes round about,
Which yet, through emulation, strive
To keep their dying light alive, 600
And (not uncommon, as we find,
Amongst the children of mankind)
As they grow weaker, would seem stronger,
And burn a little, little longer:
Fancy, betwixt such eyes enshrined,
No brush to daub, no mill to grind,
Thrice waved her wand around, whose force
Changed in an instant Nature's course,
And, hardly credible in rhyme,
Not only stopp'd, but call'd back Time; 610
The face of every wrinkle clear'd,
Smooth as the floating stream appear'd,
Down the neck ringlets spread their flame,
The neck admiring whence they came;
On the arch'd brow the Graces play'd;
On the full bosom Cupid laid;
Suns, from their proper orbits sent,
Became for eyes a supplement;
Teeth, white as ever teeth were seen,
Deliver'd from the hand of Green, 620
Started, in regular array,
Like train-bands on a grand field day,
Into the gums, which would have fled,
But, wondering, turn'd from white to red;
Quite alter'd was the whole machine,
And Lady ---- ---- was fifteen.
Here she made lordly temples rise
Before the pious Dashwood's eyes,
Temples which, built aloft in air,
May serve for show, if not for prayer; 630
In solemn form herself, before,
Array'd like Faith, the Bible bore.
There over Melcombe's feather'd head--
Who, quite a man of gingerbread,
Savour'd in talk, in dress, and phiz,
More of another world than this,
To a dwarf Muse a giant page,
The last grave fop of the last age--
In a superb and feather'd hearse,
Bescutcheon'd and betagg'd with verse, 640
Which, to beholders from afar,
Appear'd like a triumphal car,
She rode, in a cast rainbow clad;
There, throwing off the hallow'd plaid,
Naked, as when (in those drear cells
Where, self-bless'd, self-cursed, Madness dwells)
Pleasure, on whom, in Laughter's shape,
Frenzy had perfected a rape,
First brought her forth, before her time,
Wild witness of her shame and crime, 650
Driving before an idol band
Of drivelling Stuarts, hand in hand;
Some who, to curse mankind, had wore
A crown they ne'er must think of more;
Others, whose baby brows were graced
With paper crowns, and toys of paste,
She jigg'd, and, playing on the flute,
Spread raptures o'er the soul of Bute.
Big with vast hopes, some mighty plan,
Which wrought the busy soul of man 660
To her full bent; the Civil Law,
Fit code to keep a world in awe,
Bound o'er his brows, fair to behold,
As Jewish frontlets were of old;
The famous Charter of our land
Defaced, and mangled in his hand;
As one whom deepest thoughts employ,
But deepest thoughts of truest joy,
Serious and slow he strode, he stalk'd;
Before him troops of heroes walk'd, 670
Whom best he loved, of heroes crown'd,
By Tories guarded all around;
Dull solemn pleasure in his face,
He saw the honours of his race,
He saw their lineal glories rise,
And touch'd, or seem'd to touch, the skies:
Not the most distant mark of fear,
No sign of axe or scaffold near,
Not one cursed thought to cross his will
Of such a place as Tower Hill. 680
Curse on this Muse, a flippant jade,
A shrew, like every other maid
Who turns the corner of nineteen,
Devour'd with peevishness and spleen;
Her tongue (for as, when bound for life,
The husband suffers for the wife,
So if in any works of rhyme
Perchance there blunders out a crime,
Poor culprit bards must always rue it,
Although 'tis plain the Muses do it) 690
Sooner or later cannot fail
To send me headlong to a jail.
Whate'er my theme, (our themes we choose,
In modern days, without a Muse;
Just as a father will provide
To join a bridegroom and a bride,
As if, though they must be the players,
The game was wholly his, not theirs)
Whate'er my theme, the Muse, who still
Owns no direction but her will, 700
Plies off, and ere I could expect,
By ways oblique and indirect,
At once quite over head and ears
In fatal politics appears.
Time was, and, if I aught discern
Of fate, that time shall soon return,
When, decent and demure at least,
As grave and dull as any priest,
I could see Vice in robes array'd,
Could see the game of Folly play'd 710
Successfully in Fortune's school,
Without exclaiming rogue or fool.
Time was, when, nothing both or proud,
I lackey'd with the fawning crowd,
Scoundrels in office, and would bow
To cyphers great in place; but now
Upright I stand, as if wise Fate,
To compliment a shatter'd state,
Had me, like Atlas, hither sent
To shoulder up the firmament, 720
And if I stoop'd, with general crack,
The heavens would tumble from my back.
Time was, when rank and situation
Secured the great ones of the nation
From all control; satire and law
Kept only little knaves in awe;
But now, Decorum lost, I stand
Bemused, a pencil in my hand,
And, dead to every sense of shame,
Careless of safety and of fame, 730
The names of scoundrels minute down,
And libel more than half the town.
How can a statesman be secure
In all his villanies, if poor
And dirty authors thus shall dare
To lay his rotten bosom bare?
Muses should pass away their time
In dressing out the poet's rhyme
With bills, and ribands, and array
Each line in harmless taste, though gay; 740
When the hot burning fit is on,
They should regale their restless son
With something to allay his rage,
Some cool Castalian beverage,
Or some such draught (though they, 'tis plain,
Taking the Muse's name in vain,
Know nothing of their real court,
And only fable from report)
As makes a Whitehead's Ode go down,
Or slakes the Feverette of Brown:[259] 750
But who would in his senses think,
Of Muses giving gall to drink,
Or that their folly should afford
To raving poets gun or sword?
Poets were ne'er designed by Fate
To meddle with affairs of state,
Nor should (if we may speak our thought
Truly as men of honour ought)
Sound policy their rage admit,
To launch the thunderbolts of Wit 760
About those heads, which, when they're shot,
Can't tell if 'twas by Wit or not.
These things well known, what devil, in spite,
Can have seduced me thus to write
Out of that road, which must have led
To riches, without heart or head,
Into that road, which, had I more
Than ever poet had before
Of wit and virtue, in disgrace
Would keep me still, and out of place; 770
Which, if some judge (you'll understand
One famous, famous through the land
For making law[260]) should stand my friend,
At last may in a pillory end;
And all this, I myself admit,
Without one cause to lead to it?
For instance, now--this book--the Ghost--
Methinks I hear some critic Post
Remark most gravely--'The first word
Which we about the Ghost have heard.' 780
Peace, my good sir!--not quite so fast--
What is the first, may be the last,
Which is a point, all must agree,
Cannot depend on you or me.
Fanny, no ghost of common mould,
Is not by forms to be controll'd;
To keep her state, and show her skill,
She never comes but when she will.
I wrote and wrote, (perhaps you doubt,
And shrewdly, what I wrote about; 790
Believe me, much to my disgrace,
I, too, am in the self-same case;)
But still I wrote, till Fanny came
Impatient, nor could any shame
On me with equal justice fall
If she had never come at all.
An underling, I could not stir
Without the cue thrown out by her,
Nor from the subject aid receive
Until she came and gave me leave. 800
So that, (ye sons of Erudition
Mark, this is but a supposition,
Nor would I to so wise a nation
Suggest it as a revelation)
If henceforth, dully turning o'er
Page after page, ye read no more
Of Fanny, who, in sea or air,
May be departed God knows where,
Rail at jilt Fortune; but agree
No censure can be laid on me; 810
For sure (the cause let Mansfield try)
Fanny is in the fault, not I.
But, to return--and this I hold
A secret worth its weight in gold
To those who write, as I write now,
Not to mind where they go, or how,
Through ditch, through bog, o'er hedge and stile,
Make it but worth the reader's while,
And keep a passage fair and plain
Always to bring him back again. 820
Through dirt, who scruples to approach,
At Pleasure's call, to take a coach?
But we should think the man a clown,
Who in the dirt should set us down.
But to return--if Wit, who ne'er
The shackles of restraint could bear,
In wayward humour should refuse
Her timely succour to the Muse,
And, to no rules and orders tied,
Roughly deny to be her guide, 830
She must renounce Decorum's plan,
And get back when, and how she can;
As parsons, who, without pretext,
As soon as mention'd, quit their text,
And, to promote sleep's genial power,
Grope in the dark for half an hour,
Give no more reason (for we know
Reason is vulgar, mean, and low)
Why they come back (should it befall
That ever they come back at all) 840
Into the road, to end their rout,
Than they can give why they went out.
But to return--this book--the Ghost--
A mere amusement at the most;
A trifle, fit to wear away
The horrors of a rainy day;
A slight shot-silk, for summer wear,
Just as our modern statesmen are,
If rigid honesty permit
That I for once purloin the wit 850
Of him, who, were we all to steal,
Is much too rich the theft to feel:
Yet in this book, where Base should join
With Mirth to sugar every line;
Where it should all be mere chit-chat,
Lively, good-humour'd, and all that;
Where honest Satire, in disgrace,
Should not so much as show her face,
The shrew, o'erleaping all due bounds,
Breaks into Laughter's sacred grounds, 860
And, in contempt, plays o'er her tricks
In science, trade, and politics.
By why should the distemper'd scold
Attempt to blacken men enroll'd
In Power's dread book, whose mighty skill
Can twist an empire to their will;
Whose voice is fate, and on their tongue
Law, liberty, and life are hung;
Whom, on inquiry, Truth shall find
With Stuarts link'd, time out of mind, 870
Superior to their country's laws,
Defenders of a tyrant's cause;
Men, who the same damn'd maxims hold
Darkly, which they avow'd of old;
Who, though by different means, pursue
The end which they had first in view,
And, force found vain, now play their part
With much less honour, much more art?
Why, at the corners of the streets,
To every patriot drudge she meets, 880
Known or unknown, with furious cry
Should she wild clamours vent? or why,
The minds of groundlings to inflame,
A Dashwood, Bute, and Wyndham name?
Why, having not, to our surprise,
The fear of death before her eyes,
Bearing, and that but now and then,
No other weapon but her pen,
Should she an argument afford
For blood to men who wear a sword? 890
Men, who can nicely trim and pare
A point of honour to a hair--
(Honour!--a word of nice import,
A pretty trinket in a court,
Which my lord, quite in rapture, feels
Dangling and rattling with his seals--
Honour!--a word which all the Nine
Would be much puzzled to define--
Honour!--a word which torture mocks,
And might confound a thousand Lockes-- 900
Which--for I leave to wiser heads,
Who fields of death prefer to beds
Of down, to find out, if they can,
What honour is, on their wild plan--
Is not, to take it in their way,
And this we sure may dare to say
Without incurring an offence,
Courage, law, honesty, or sense):
Men, who, all spirit, life, and soul
Neat butchers of a button-hole, 910
Having more skill, believe it true
That they must have more courage too:
Men who, without a place or name,
Their fortunes speechless as their fame,
Would by the sword new fortunes carve,
And rather die in fight than starve
At coronations, a vast field,
Which food of every kind might yield;
Of good sound food, at once most fit
For purposes of health and wit, 920
Could not ambitious Satire rest,
Content with what she might digest?
Could she not feast on things of course,
A champion, or a champion's horse?
A champion's horse--no, better say,
Though better figured on that day,[261]
A horse, which might appear to us,
Who deal in rhyme, a Pegasus;
A rider, who, when once got on,
Might pass for a Bellerophon, 930
Dropt on a sudden from the skies,
To catch and fix our wondering eyes,
To witch, with wand instead of whip,
The world with noble horsemanship,
To twist and twine, both horse and man,
On such a well-concerted plan,
That, Centaur-like, when all was done,
We scarce could think they were not one?
Could she not to our itching ears
Bring the new names of new-coin'd peers, 940
Who walk'd, nobility forgot,
With shoulders fitter for a knot
Than robes of honour; for whose sake
Heralds in form were forced to make,
To make, because they could not find,
Great predecessors to their mind?
Could she not (though 'tis doubtful since
Whether he plumber is, or prince)
Tell of a simple knight's advance
To be a doughty peer of France? 950
Tell how he did a dukedom gain,
And Robinson was Aquitain?
Tell how her city chiefs, disgraced,
Were at an empty table placed,--
A gross neglect, which, whilst they live,
They can't forget, and won't forgive;
A gross neglect of all those rights
Which march with city appetites,
Of all those canons, which we find
By Gluttony, time out of mind, 960
Established, which they ever hold
Dearer than any thing but gold?
Thanks to my stars--I now see shore--
Of courtiers, and of courts no more--
Thus stumbling on my city friends,
Blind Chance my guide, my purpose bends
In line direct, and shall pursue
The point which I had first in view,
Nor more shall with the reader sport
Till I have seen him safe in port. 970
Hush'd be each fear--no more I bear
Through the wide regions of the air
The reader terrified, no more
Wild ocean's horrid paths explore.
Be the plain track from henceforth mine--
Cross roads to Allen I resign;
Allen, the honor of this nation;
Allen, himself a corporation;
Allen, of late notorious grown
For writings, none, or all, his own; 980
Allen, the first of letter'd men,
Since the good Bishop[262] holds his pen,
And at his elbow takes his stand,
To mend his head, and guide his hand.
But hold--once more, Digression hence--
Let us return to Common Sense;
The car of Phoebus I discharge,
My carriage now a Lord Mayor's barge.
Suppose we now--we may suppose
In verse, what would be sin in prose-- 990
The sky with darkness overspread,
And every star retired to bed;
The gewgaw robes of Pomp and Pride
In some dark corner thrown aside;
Great lords and ladies giving way
To what they seem to scorn by day,
The real feelings of the heart,
And Nature taking place of Art;
Desire triumphant through the night,
And Beauty panting with delight; 1000
Chastity, woman's fairest crown,
Till the return of morn laid down.
Then to be worn again as bright
As if not sullied in the night;
Dull Ceremony, business o'er,
Dreaming in form at Cottrell's[263] door;
Precaution trudging all about
To see the candles safely out,
Bearing a mighty master-key,
Habited like Economy, 1010
Stamping each lock with triple seals;
Mean Avarice creeping at her heels.
Suppose we too, like sheep in pen,
The Mayor and Court of Aldermen
Within their barge, which through the deep,
The rowers more than half asleep,
Moved slow, as overcharged with state;
Thames groan'd beneath the mighty weight,
And felt that bauble heavier far
Than a whole fleet of men of war. 1020
Sleep o'er each well-known faithful head
With liberal hand his poppies shed;
Each head, by Dulness render'd fit
Sleep and his empire to admit.
Through the whole passage not a word,
Not one faint, weak half-sound was heard;
Sleep had prevail'd to overwhelm
The steersman nodding o'er the helm;
The rowers, without force or skill,
Left the dull barge to drive at will; 1030
The sluggish oars suspended hung,
And even Beardmore held his tongue.
Commerce, regardful of a freight
On which depended half her state,
Stepp'd to the helm; with ready hand
She safely clear'd that bank of sand,
Where, stranded, our west-country fleet
Delay and danger often meet,
Till Neptune, anxious for the trade,
Comes in full tides, and brings them aid. 1040
Next (for the Muses can survey
Objects by night as well as day;
Nothing prevents their taking aim,
Darkness and light to them the same)
They pass'd that building[264] which of old
Queen-mothers was design'd to hold;
At present a mere lodging-pen,
A palace turn'd into a den;
To barracks turn'd, and soldiers tread
Where dowagers have laid their head. 1050
Why should we mention Surrey Street,
Where every week grave judges meet
All fitted out with hum and ha,
In proper form to drawl out law,
To see all causes duly tried
'Twixt knaves who drive, and fools who ride?
Why at the Temple should we stay?
What of the Temple dare we say?
A dangerous ground we tread on there,
And words perhaps may actions bear; 1060
Where, as the brethren of the seas
For fares, the lawyers ply for fees.
What of that Bridge,[265] most wisely made
To serve the purposes of trade,
In the great mart of all this nation,
By stopping up the navigation,
And to that sand bank adding weight,
Which is already much too great?
What of that Bridge, which, void of sense
But well supplied with impudence, 1070
Englishmen, knowing not the Guild,
Thought they might have a claim to build,
Till Paterson, as white as milk,
As smooth as oil, as soft as silk,
In solemn manner had decreed
That on the other side the Tweed
Art, born and bred, and fully grown,
Was with one Mylne, a man unknown,
But grace, preferment, and renown
Deserving, just arrived in town: 1080
One Mylne, an artist perfect quite
Both in his own and country's right,
As fit to make a bridge as he,
With glorious Patavinity,[266]
To build inscriptions worthy found
To lie for ever under ground.
Much more worth observation too,
Was this a season to pursue
The theme, our Muse might tell in rhyme:
The will she hath, but not the time; 1090
For, swift as shaft from Indian bow,
(And when a goddess comes, we know,
Surpassing Nature acts prevail.
And boats want neither oar nor sail)
The vessel pass'd, and reach'd the shore
So quick, that Thought was scarce before.
Suppose we now our City court
Safely delivered at the port.
And, of their state regardless quite,
Landed, like smuggled goods, by night, 1100
The solemn magistrate laid down,
The dignity of robe and gown,
With every other ensign gone,
Suppose the woollen nightcap on;
The flesh-brush used, with decent state,
To make the spirits circulate,
(A form which, to the senses true,
The lickerish chaplain uses too,
Though, something to improve the plan,
He takes the maid instead of man) 1110
Swathed, and with flannel cover'd o'er,
To show the vigour of threescore,
The vigour of threescore and ten,
Above the proof of younger men,
Suppose, the mighty Dulman led
Betwixt two slaves, and put to bed;
Suppose, the moment he lies down,
No miracle in this great town,
The drone as fast asleep as he
Must in the course of nature be, 1120
Who, truth for our foundation take,
When up, is never half awake.
There let him sleep, whilst we survey
The preparations for the day;
That day on which was to be shown
Court pride by City pride outdone.
The jealous mother sends away,
As only fit for childish play,
That daughter who, to gall her pride,
Shoots up too forward by her side. 1130
The wretch, of God and man accursed,
Of all Hell's instruments the worst,
Draws forth his pawns, and for the day
Struts in some spendthrift's vain array;
Around his awkward doxy shine
The treasures of Golconda's mine;
Each neighbour, with a jealous glare,
Beholds her folly publish'd there.
Garments well saved, (an anecdote
Which we can prove, or would not quote) 1140
Garments well saved, which first were made
When tailors, to promote their trade,
Against the Picts in arms arose,
And drove them out, or made them clothes;
Garments immortal, without end,
Like names and titles, which descend
Successively from sire to son;
Garments, unless some work is done
Of note, not suffer'd to appear
'Bove once at most in every year, 1150
Were now, in solemn form, laid bare,
To take the benefit of air,
And, ere they came to be employ'd
On this solemnity, to void
That scent which Russia's leather gave,
From vile and impious moth to save.
Each head was busy, and each heart
In preparation bore a part;
Running together all about
The servants put each other out, 1160
Till the grave master had decreed,
The more haste ever the worse speed.
Miss, with her little eyes half-closed,
Over a smuggled toilette dosed;
The waiting-maid, whom story notes
A very Scrub in petticoats,
Hired for one work, but doing all,
In slumbers lean'd against the wall.
Milliners, summon'd from afar,
Arrived in shoals at Temple Bar, 1170
Strictly commanded to import
Cart loads of foppery from Court;
With labour'd visible design,
Art strove to be superbly fine;
Nature, more pleasing, though more wild,
Taught otherwise her darling child,
And cried, with spirited disdain,
Be Hunter elegant and plain!
Lo! from the chambers of the East,
A welcome prelude to the feast, 1180
In saffron-colour'd robe array'd,
High in a car, by Vulcan made,
Who work'd for Jove himself, each steed,
High-mettled, of celestial breed,
Pawing and pacing all the way,
Aurora brought the wish'd-for day,
And held her empire, till out-run
By that brave jolly groom, the Sun.
The trumpet--hark! it speaks--it swells
The loud full harmony; it tells 1190
The time at hand when Dulman, led
By Form, his citizens must head,
And march those troops, which at his call
Were now assembled, to Guildhall,
On matters of importance great,
To court and city, church and state.
From end to end the sound makes way,
All hear the signal and obey;
But Dulman, who, his charge forgot,
By Morpheus fetter'd, heard it not; 1200
Nor could, so sound he slept and fast,
Hear any trumpet, but the last.
Crape, ever true and trusty known,
Stole from the maid's bed to his own,
Then in the spirituals of pride,
Planted himself at Dulman's side.
Thrice did the ever-faithful slave,
With voice which might have reach'd the grave,
And broke Death's adamantine chain,
On Dulman call, but call'd in vain. 1210
Thrice with an arm, which might have made
The Theban boxer curse his trade,
The drone he shook, who rear'd the head,
And thrice fell backward on his bed.
What could be done? Where force hath fail'd,
Policy often hath prevail'd;
And what--an inference most plain--
Had been, Crape thought might be again.
Under his pillow (still in mind
The proverb kept, 'fast bind, fast find') 1220
Each blessed night the keys were laid,
Which Crape to draw away assay'd.
What not the power of voice or arm
Could do, this did, and broke the charm;
Quick started he with stupid stare,
For all his little soul was there.
Behold him, taken up, rubb'd down,
In elbow-chair, and morning-gown;
Behold him, in his latter bloom,
Stripp'd, wash'd, and sprinkled with perfume; 1230
Behold him bending with the weight
Of robes, and trumpery of state;
Behold him (for the maxim's true,
Whate'er we by another do,
We do ourselves; and chaplain paid,
Like slaves in every other trade,
Had mutter'd over God knows what,
Something which he by heart had got)
Having, as usual, said his prayers,
Go titter, totter to the stairs: 1240
Behold him for descent prepare,
With one foot trembling in the air;
He starts, he pauses on the brink,
And, hard to credit, seems to think;
Through his whole train (the chaplain gave
The proper cue to every slave)
At once, as with infection caught,
Each started, paused, and aim'd at thought;
He turns, and they turn; big with care,
He waddles to his elbow-chair, 1250
Squats down, and, silent for a season,
At last with Crape begins to reason:
But first of all he made a sign,
That every soul, but the divine,
Should quit the room; in him, he knows,
He may all confidence repose.
'Crape--though I'm yet not quite awake--
Before this awful step I take,
On which my future all depends,
I ought to know my foes and friends. 1260
My foes and friends--observe me still--
I mean not those who well or ill
Perhaps may wish me, but those who
Have't in their power to do it too.
Now if, attentive to the state,
In too much hurry to be great,
Or through much zeal,--a motive, Crape,
Deserving praise,--into a scrape
I, like a fool, am got, no doubt
I, like a wise man, should get out: 1270
Note that remark without replies;
I say that to get out is wise,
Or, by the very self-same rule,
That to get in was like a fool.
The marrow of this argument
Must wholly rest on the event,
And therefore, which is really hard,
Against events too I must guard.
Should things continue as they stand,
And Bute prevail through all the land 1280
Without a rival, by his aid
My fortunes in a trice are made;
Nay, honours on my zeal may smile,

Book of the day: