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EPISTLE TO DR. ARBUTHNOT,
The firft Publication of this Epiftle.
HIS paper is a fort. of bill of complaint, begun,
many years fince, and drawn up by fnatches, as the feveral occafions offered. I had no thoughts of publishing it, till it pleased fome perfons of Rank and Fortune [the Authors of Verfes to the Imitator of Horace, and of an Epiftle to a Doctor of Divinity from a Nobleman at Hampton-Court] to attack, in a very extraordinary manner, not only my Writings (of which, being public, the Publick is judge) but my Perfon, Morals, and Family, whereof, to those who know me not, a truer information may be requifite. Being divided between the neceffity to say something of myself, and my own lazinefs to undertake fo aukward a task, I thought it the shortest way to put the laft hand to this Epiftle. If it have any thing pleafing,
it will be that by which I am moft defirous to please, the Truth and the Sentiment; and if any thing offenfive, it will be only to those I am leaft forry to offend, the vicious or the ungenerous.
Many will know their own pictures in it, there being not a circumstance but what is true: but I have, for the most part, fpared their Names; and they may efcape being laughed at, if they please.
I would have fome of them know, it was owing to the request of the learned and candid Friend to whom it is infcribed, that I make not as free Ufe of theirs as they have done of mine. However, I fhall have this advantage, and honour, on my fide, that whereas, by their proceeding, any abufe may be directed at any man, no injury can poffibly be done by mine, fince a nameless Character can never be found out, but by its truth and likeness.
SHUT, fhut the door, good John! fatigued I faid,
The Dog-ftar rages! nay, 'tis past a doubt,
All Bedlam, or Parnaffus, is let out:
Fire in each eye, and papers in each hand,
They rave, recite, and madden round the land.
What walls can guard me, or what fhades can hide? They pierce my thickets, through my Grot they glide, By land, by water, they renew the charge, They stop the chariot, and they board the barge. No place is facred, not the Church is free, Ev'n Sunday fhines no Sabbath-day to me;
Then from the Mint walks forth the man of rhyme,
Is there a Parfon, much bemus'd in beer,
A Clerk, foredoom'd his father's foul to cross,
Friend to my Life! (which did not you prolong,
After ver. 20. in the MS.
Is there a Bard in durance? turn them free,
Dear Doctor, tell me, is not this a curfe?
To laugh, were want of goodness and of grace,
With honeft anguifh, and an aching head;
And drop at laft, but in unwilling ears,
This faving counfel," Keep your piece nine years." 40 Nine years! cries he, who high in Drury-lane, Lull'd by foft Zephyrs through the broken pane, Rhymes ere he wakes, and prints before Term ends, Oblig'd by hunger, and request of friends:
"The piece, you think, is incorrect? why take it, 45 ❝ I'm all fubmiffion, what you'd have it, make it.” Three things another's modeft wishes bound, My Friendship, and a Prologue, and ten pound. Pitholeon fends to me: "You know his Grace: "I want a Patron; afk him for a Place." Pitholeon libel'd me-" but here's a letter “Informs you, Sir, 'twas when he knew no better. "Dare you refufe him? Curll invites to dine, "He'll write a Journal, or he'll turn Divine."
Bless me! a packet.-" 'Tis a stranger fues, "A Virgin Tragedy, an Orphan Mufe." If I diflike it, "Furies, death and rage!" If I approve, *" Commend it to the Stage."
If you refufe, he goes, as fates incline,
There (thank my stars) my whole commiffion ends,
Fir'd that the house reject him, "'Sdeath I'll print it, "And fhame the fools-Your intereft, Sir, with Lintot." Lintot, dull rogue! will think your price too much : "Not, Sir, if you revife it, and retouch." All my demurs but double his attacks: At laft he whispers, "Do; and we go fnacks." Glad of a quarrel, ftrait I clap the door, "Sir, let me fee your works and you no more." 'Tis fung, when Midas' ears began to fpring, (Midas, a facred perfon and a King)
His very Minister, who spy'd them first,
(Some fay his Queen) was forc'd to speak, or burft. And is not mine, my friend, a forer cafe,
When every coxcomb perks them in my face?
A. Good friend, forbear! you deal in dangerous things,
The truth once told (and wherefore should we lie?)
You think this cruel? Take it for a rule,
Let peals of laughter, Codrus! round thee break,
Ver. 60. in the former Ed.
Cibber and I are luckily no friends.