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Friend to my life! (which, did not you prolong, The world had wanted many an idle song) What drop or nostrum can this plague remove? Or which must end me, a fool's wrath, or love ? 30 A dire dilemma! either way I'm sped; If foes, they write, if friends, they read me dead. Seiz'd, and ty'd down to judge, how wretched I! Who can't be silent, and who will not lie. To laugh were want of goodness and of grace, 35 And to be grave exceeds all pow'r of face. I sit with sad civility, I read With honest anguish, and an aching head, And drop at last, but in unwilling ears, This saving counsel, . Keep your piece nine years.'
Nine years! cries he, who, high in Drury Lane, Lulld by soft zephyrs through the broken pane, Rhimes ere he wakes, and prints before Term ends, Oblig'd by hunger, and request of friends : 44 • The piece, you think, is incorrect ? why take it, • I'm all submission ; what you'd have it make it.'
Three things another's modest wishes bound, My friendship, and a prologue, and ten pound.
Pitholeon sends to me: “You know his Grace, • I want a patron ; ask him for a place. 50 Pitholeon libell'd me~ But here's a letter • Informs you, Sir, 'twas when he knew no better. • Dare you refuse him ? Curl invites to dine, • He'll write a Journal, or he'll turn divine.' Bless me! a packet.---'Tis a stranger sues, 55 • A virgin tragedy, an orphan muse.".
If I dislike it, • Furies, death, and rage !
• print it, * And shame the fools—Your intrest, Sir, with
Lintot.' Lintot, dull rogue ! will think your price too much: • Not, Sir, if you revise it, and retouch. All my demurs but double his attacks ; 65 At last he whispers, Do, and we go snacks.' Glad of a quarrel, strait I clap the door ; 'Sir, let me see your works and you no more.'
'Tis sung, when Midas' ears began to spring, (Midas, a sacred person and a king)
70 His very minister who spy'd them first (Some say his queen) was forc'd to speak or burst. And is not mine, my friend, a sorer case, When ev'ry coxcomb perks them in my face? A. Good friend ! forbear; you deal in dang'rous
things; I'd never name queens, ministers, or kings ; Keep close to ears, and those let asses prick, 'Tis nothing.-P. Nothing ! if they bite and kick ? Out with it, Dunciad ! let the secret pass, That secret to each fool, that he's an ass : 80 The truth once told (and wherefore should we lie?) The Queen of Midas slept, and so may I.
You think this cruel ? take it for a rule, No creature smarts so little as a fool. Let peals of laughter, Codrus, round thee break, 85 Thou unconcern'd canst hear the mighty crack: Pit, box, and gall’ry, in convulsions hurl'd, Thou stand'st unshook amidst a bursting world. Who shames a scribbler? break one cobweb through, He spins the slight self-pleasing thread anew : 90 Destroy his fib, or sophistry, in vain, The creature's at his dirty work again, Thron’d on the centre of his thin designs, Proud of a vast extent of flimsy lines ! Whom have I hurt ? has poet yet, or peer, 95 Lost the arch'd eyebrow, or Parnassian sneer? And has not Colly still his lord, and whore ? His butchers Henley, his free-masons Moore ? Does not one table Bavius still admit? Still to one bishop Philips seem a wit ? 100 Still Sappho--A. Hold ! for God's sake you'll
offend, No names--be calm-learn prudence of a friend : I too could write, and I am twice as tall; But focs like these P. One flatt'rer's worse than
all. Of all mad creatures, if the learn’d are right, 105 It is the slaver kills and not the bite. A fool quite angry is quite innocent; Alas ! 'tis ten times worse when they repent.
One dedicates in high heroic prose, And ridicules beyond a hundred foes ;
One from all Grubstreet will my fame defend,
There are who to my person pay their court :
Why did I write ? what sin to me unknown, Dipp'd me in ink, my parents', or my own? 126 As yet a child, nor yet a fool to fame, I lisp'd in numbers, for the numbers came. I left no calling for this idle trade, No duty broke, no father disobey'd : 130 The Muse but serv'd to ease some friend, not wife, To help me through this long disease, my life; To second, Arbuthnot ! thy art and care, And teach, the being you preserv'd, to bear. 134
But why then publish ? Granville the polite, And knowing Walsh, would tell me I could write ; Well-natur’d Garth inflam'd with early praise, And Congreve lov’d, and Swift endur'd my lays ; The courtly Talbot, Somers, Sheffield, read, Evin mitred Rochester would nod the head, 14°
And St. John's self (great Dryden's friends before)
Soft were my numbers; who could take offence
· Did some more sober critic come abroad; If wrong, I smild ; if right, I kiss'd the rod. Pains, reading, study, are their just pretence, And all they want is spirit, taste, and sense. 160 Commas and points they set exactly right, And 'twere a sin to rob them of their mite. Yer ne'er one sprig of laurel grac'd these ribalds, From slashing Bentley, down to piddling Tibalds : Each wight, who reads not, and but scans and spells, Each word-catcher, that lives on syllables, 166 Ev'n such small critics, some regard may claim, Preserv'd in Milton's, or in Shakespeare's name. Pretty! in amber to observe the forms 169 Of hairs, or straws, or dirt, or grubs, or worms!