Слике страница



Occasioned by reading the following

maxim in Rochefoucauld. Dans l'adversité de nos meilleurs amis nous

trouvous toujours quelque choses, qui ne nous deplaist pas.' “In the adversity of our best friends we always

find something that doth not displease

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]


As ROCHEFOUCAULD his maxims drew
From nature, I believe them true:
They argue no corrupted mind
In him ; the fault is in mankind.

I grieve to be outdone by Gay
In my own humorous, biting way.
Arbuthnot is no more my friend,
Who dares to irony pretend,
Which I was born to introduce,
Refined it first, and showed its use.
St. John, * as well as Pulteney,+ knows
That I had some repute for prose;
And, till they drove me out of date,
Could maul a minister of state.
If they have mortified my pride,
And made me throw my pen aside,
If with such talents Heav'n hath blest 'em,
Have I not reason to detest 'em?

To all my foes, dear Fortune, send Thy gifts, but never to my friend; I tamely can endure the first, But this with envy makes me burst.

This maxim, more than all the rest, Is thought too base for human breast :"In all distresses of our friends We first consult our private ends; While nature, kindly bent to ease us, Points out some circumstance to please us." If this, perhaps, your patience move, Let reason and experience prove.

We all behold with envious eyes Our equal raised above our size. I love my friend as well as you ; But why should he obstruct my view ? Then let me have the higher post: Suppose it but an inch at most. If in a battle you should find One, whom you love of all mankind, Had some heroic action done,A champion killed or trophy won ; Rather than thus be overtopt, Would you not wish his laurels cropt? Dear honest Ned is in the gout, Lies racked with pain, and you without; How patiently you hear him groan! How glad the case is not your own!

Thus much may serve by way of proem; Proceed we therefore to our poem.

The time is not remote, when I Must by the course of nature die; When, I foresee my special friends Will try to find their private ends; And, though 'tis hardly understood Which way my death can do them good, Yet thus, methinks, I hear them speak:"See, how the Dean begins to break! Poor gentleman! he droops apace! You plainly find it in his face: That old vertigo in his head Will never leave him till he's dead. Besides, his memory decays; He recollects not what he says; He cannot call his friends to mind; Forgets the place where last he dined ; Plies you with stories o'er and o'er; He told them fifty times before. How does he fancy we can sit To hear his out-of-fashion wit?

What poet would not grieve to see His brother write as well as he ? But, rather than they should excel, Would wish his rivals all in hell?

Her end when emulation misses, She turns to envy, stings, and hisses: The strongest friendship yields to pride, Unless the odds be on our side.

Vain human-kind! fantastic race! Thy various follies who can trace?

* Lord Viscount Bolinbroke. † William Pulteney, Esq. ; now Earl of Bath. Though your prognostics run too fast, They must be verified at last.

But he takes up with younger folks, Who for his wine will bear his jokes, Faith, he must make his stories shorter, Or change his comrades once a quarter ; In half the time he talks them round, There must another set be found.

“For poetry he's past his prime; He takes an hour to find a rhyme; His fire is out, his wit decayed, His fancy sunk, his Muse a jade. I'd have him throw away his penBut there's no talking to some men.'

And then their tenderness appears By adding largely to my years: "He's older than he would be reckoned, And well remembers Charles the Second. He hardly drinks a pint of wine ; And that, I doubt, is no good sign. His stomach, too, begins to fail : Last year we thought him strong and hale; But now he's quite another thingI wish he may hold out till spring." They hug themselves, and reason thus: " It is not yet so bad with us.

Behold the fatal day arrive! " How is the Dean?" "He's just alive." Now the departing prayer is read; He hardly breathes—the Dean is dead.

Before the passing-bell begun, The news through half the town has run. Oh! may we all for death prepare! What has he left? and who's his heir ?" I know no more than what the news is; 'Tis all bequeathed to public uses. “To public uses ! there's a whim ! What had the public done for him? Mere envy, avarice, and pride ; He gave it all—but first he died. And had the Dean, in all the nation No worthy friend, no poor relation ? So ready to do strangers good, Forgetting his own flesh and blood ?"

Now Grub Streets wits are all employed ; With elegies the town is cloyed ; Some paragraph in every paper To curse the Dean or bless the Drapier. The doctors, tender of their fame, Wisely on me lay all the blame: “We must confess his case was nice, But he would never take advice. Had he been ruled, for aught appears, He might have lived those twenty years; For, when we opened him, we found That all his vital parts were sound. From Dublin soon to London spread, 'Tis told at court, the Dean is dead. And Lady Suffolk* in the spleen Runs laughing up to tell Queen. The queen, so gracious, mild, and good, Cries, “Is he gone? 'tis time he should."

[ocr errors]

In such a case they talk in tropes, And by their fears express their hopes. Some great misfortune to portend No enemy can match a friend. With all the kindness they profess, The merit of a lucky guess (When daily how-d'-ye's come of course, And servants answer, “Worseand worse!") Would please them better, than to tell That, God be praised! the Dean is well. Then he, who prophesied the best, Approyes his foresight to the rest: “You know I always feared the worst, And often told you so at first." He'd rather chose that I should die Than his prediction prove a lie. Not one foretells I shall recover; But all agree to give me over.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Yet, should some neighbour feel a pain Just in the parts where I complain, How many a message would he send ? What hearty prayers that I should mend? Inquire what regimen I kept; What gave me ease, and how I slept? And more lament when I was dead, Than all the sniv'llers round my bed.

My good companions, never fear; For though you may mistake a year,

Now Chartres t, at Sir Robert's I levee, Tells with a sneer the tidings heavy: Why, if he died without his shoes," (Cries Bob) “I'm sorry for the news;

* Mrs. Howard, then Countess of Suffolk, and of the bedchamber to the late Queen.

Colonel Francis Chartres.

Sir Robert Walpole, then First Minister of State, afterwards Earl of Orford.

[ocr errors]

Oh, were the wretch but living still,
And in his place my good friend Will,
Or had a mitre on his head,
Provided Bolingbroke was dead!"

Now Curlt his shop from rubbish drains:
Three genuine tomes of Swift's Remains !
And then, to make them pass the glibber,
Revised by Tibbalds, Moore, and Cibber.
He 'll treat me, as he does my betters,
Publish my will, my life, my letters ;*
Revive the libels born to die;
Which Pope must bear as well as I.

My Lady Club will take it ill
If he should fail her at quadrille.
He loved the Dean-(I lead a heart);
But dearest friends, they say, must part.
His time is come; he ran his race;
We hope he's in a better place."
Why do we grieve that friends should

No loss more easy to supply.
One year is past; a different scene!
No further mention of the Dean,
Who now, alas! is no more missed,
Than if he never did exist.
Where's now the fav'rite of Apollo ?
Departed, -and his works must follow,
Must undergo the common fate;
His kind of wit is out of date.

Here shift the scene, to represent
How those I love my death lament.
Poor Pope will grieve a month, and Gay
A week, and Arbuthnot a day.

St. John himself will scarce forbear
To bite his pen and drop a tear.
The rest will give a shrug, and cry,
I'm sorry-but we all must die !"

Indifference clad in wisdom's guise All fortitude of mind supplies ; For how can stony bowels melt In those who never pity felt ? When we were lashed, they kiss the rod, Resigning to the will of God.

The fools my juniors by a year Are tortured with suspense and fear; Who wisely thought my age a screen, When death approached, to stand between; The screen removed, their hearts are trem

bling; They mourn for me without dissembling.

My female friends, whose tender hearts Have better learned to act their parts, Receive the news in doleful dumps : "The Dean is dead (pray, what is trumps?) Then, “Lord have mercy on his soul ! (Ladies, I 'll venture for the vole). Six deans, they say, must bear the pall (I wish I knew what king to call). Madam, your husband will attend The funeral of so good a friend?" “No, madam, 'tis a shocking sight; And he's engaged to-morrow night;

* William Pulteney, Earl of Bath.

† An infamous bookseller, who published things in the Dean's name, which he never

Some country squire to Lintot $ goes, Inquires for Swift in verse and prose. Says Lintot, “ I have heard the name; He died a year ago."

"The same. He searches all the shop in vain. “Sir, you may find them in Duck Lane;l! I sent them, with a load of books, Last Monday to the pastrycook's. To fancy they could live a year! I find you 're but a stranger here. The Dean was famous in his time, And had a kind of knack at rhyme. His way of writing now is past: The town has got a better taste. I keep no antiquated stuff, But spick-and-span I have enough. Pray, do but give me leave to show 'em: Here's Colley Cibber's birthday poem. This ode you never yet have seen By Stephen Duck upon the Queen. Then here's a letter finely penned Against the Craftsman and his friend: It clearly shows that all reflection On ministers is disaffection. Next, here's Sir Robert's vindication, And Mr. Henley's last oration. The hawkers have not got them yet: Your honour please to have a set?"

Suppose me dead; and then suppose A club assembled at the Rose, Where, from discourse of this and that, I grow the subject of their chat.

$ Bernard Lintot, a bookseller. See Pope's “ Ďunciad" and letters.

|| A place were old books were sold.

Commonly called Orator Henley, whose rhapsodies burlesqued religion and disgraced his country.


1 For some of these practices he was brought before the House of Lords.


The Dean, if we believe report, Was never ill received at court. Although ironically grave, He shamed the fool, and lashed the knave.

And scorn the tools with stars and garters So often seen caressing Chartres.

“Sir, I have heard another story: He was a most confounded Tory, And grew, or he is much belied, Extremely dull before he died?"

He kept with princes due decorum, Yet never stood in awe before 'em. He followed David's lesson just, In princes never put his trust; And, would you make him truly sour, Provoke him with a slave in power.

[ocr errors]

Can we the Drapier then forget? Is not our nation in his debt? 'Twas he that writ the Drapier's Letters ! “ He should have left them for his

We had a hundred abler men,
Nor need depend upon his pen.-
Say what you will about his reading,
You never can defend his breeding;
Who, in his satires running riot,
Could never leave the world in quiet;
Attacking, when he took the whim,
Court, city, camp,-all one to him.

'Alas, poor Dean! his only scope
Was to be held a misanthrope.
This into gen'ral odium drew him,
Which if he liked, much good may't do

His zeal was not to lash our crimes,
But discontent against the times;
For, had we made him timely offers
To raise his post or fill his coffers,
Perhaps he might have truckled down,
Like other brethren of his gown.
For party he would scarce have bled :
I say no more,–because he's dead.–

'What writings has he left behind ?
I hear they're of a different kind :
A few in verse, but most in prose;
Some high-flown pamphlets, I suppose, –
All scribbled in the worst of times,
To palliate his friend Oxford's crimes,
To praise Queen Anne, nay more, defend

As never fav'ring the Pretender ;-
Or libels yet concealed from sight,
Against the court to show his spite ;
Perhaps his Travels, Part the Third ;
A lie at ev'ry second word-
Offensive to a loyal ear,--
But-not one sermon, you may swear.

“But why would he, except he slob

bered, Offend our patriot, great Sir Robert, Whose counsels aid the sovereign power To save the nation every hour? What scenes of evil he unravels In satires, libels, lying travels ! Not sparing his own clergy-cloth, But eats into it like a moth."

Perhaps I may allow, the Dean

I Had too much satire in his vein, And seemed determined not to starve it, Because no age could more deserve it. Vice, if it e'er can be abashed, Must be or ridiculed or lashed. If you resent it, who's to blame? He neither knew you, nor your name: Should vice expect to 'scape rebuke, Because its owner is a duke? His friendships, still to few confined, Were always of the middling kind; No fools of rank or mongrel breed, Who fain would pass for lords indeed, Where titles give no right or power, And peerage is a withered flower. He would have deemed it a disgrace, If such a wretch had known his face. He never thought an honour done him Because a peer was proud to own him; Would rather slip aside, and choose To talk with wits in dirty shoes,

As for his works in verse or prose, I own myself no judge of those. Nor can I tell what critics thought 'em; But this I know, all people bought 'em, As with a moral view designed, To please and to reform mankind; And if he often missed his aim, The world must own it, to their shame, The praise is his, and theirs the blame. He gave the little wealth he had To build a house for fools and mad; To show, by one satiric touch, No nation wanted it so much. And, since you dread no further lashes, Methinks you may forgive his ashes.





I've often wished that I had clear,
For life, six hundred pounds a year,
A handsome house to lodge a friend,
A river at my garden's end,
A terrace walk, and half a rood
Of land set out to plant a wood.

And find his Honour in a pound,
Hemmed by a triple circle round,
Chequered with ribbons blue and green:
How should I thrust myself between?
Some wag observes me thus perplexed,
And, smiling, whispers to the next,
"I thought the Dean had been too

To jostle here among the crowd !"
Another in a surly fit
Tells me I have more zeal than wit:

“So eager to express your love,
You ne'er consider whom you shove,

But rudely press before a duke."
I own I'm pleased with this rebuke,
And take it kindly meant to show
What I desire the world should know.


I get a whisper, and withdraw; When twenty fools I never saw Come with petitions fairly penned, Desiring I would stand their friend.

Well, now I have all this and more,
I ask not to increase my store;

“But here a grievance seems to lie, -
All this is mine but till I die;
I can't but think 'twould sound more

To me and to my heirs for ever.
If I ne'er got or lost a groat,

By any trick, or any fault;
And if I pray by reason's rules,
And not like forty other fools;
As thus, Vouchsafe, O gracious Maker!
To grant me this and t'other acre;
Or, if it be Thy will and pleasure,
Direct my plough to find a treasure !'
But only what my station fits,
And to be kept in my right wits,
Preserve, Almighty Providence !
Just what you gave me, competence !
And let me in these shades compose
Something in verse as true as prose;
Removed from all the ambitious scene,
Nor puffed by pride, nor sunk by spleen."

In short, I'm perfectly content, Let me but live on this side Trent; Nor cross the channel twice a year, To spend six months with statesmen here.

I must by all means come to town, "Tis for the service of the Crown.

Lewis, the Dean will be of use;
Send for him up, take no excuse.'
The toil, the danger of the seas,
Great ministers ne'er think of these ;
Or let it cost five hundred pound,
No matter where the money's found,
It is but so much more in debt,
And that they ne'er considered yet.

"Good Mr. Dean, go change your gown, Let my lord know you're come to town.”

I hurry me in haste away, Not thinking it is levée day;

This humbly offers me his case
That begs my interest for a place.
A hundred other men's aftairs,
Like bees are humming in my ears.

“To-morrow my appeal comes on; Without your help the cause is gone""The duke expects my lord and you, About some great affair or two

Put my Lord Bolingbroke in mind, To get my warrant quickly signed: Consider, 'tis my first request." “Be satisfied, I'll do my best." Then presently he falls to tease,

“You may for certain, if you please: I doubt not, if his lordship knewAnd, Mr. Dean, one word from you"

[ocr errors]

'Tis (let me see) three years and more

(October next it will be four) Since Harley bid me first attend, And chose me for an humble friend; Would take me in his coach to chat, And question me of this and that ; As “What's o'clock?" and How's the

wind?" Whose chariot's that we left behind ?" Or gravely try to read the lines Writ underneath the country signs ; Or, "Have you nothing new to-day From Pope, from Parnell, or from Gay?" Such tattle often entertains My lord and me as far as Staines, As once a week we travel down To Windsor, and again to town,

« ПретходнаНастави »