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In grand affairs thy days are spent,
In waging weighty compliment,
With such as monarchs represent.
They, whom such vast fatigues attend,
Want some soft minutes to unbend,
To show the world that now and then
Great ministers are mortal men.
Then Rhenish rummers walk the round ;
In bumpers every king is crown'd;
Besides three holy mitred Hectors,
And the whole college of Electors.
No health of potentate is sunk,
That pays to make his envoy drunk.
These Dutch delights, I mention'd last,
Suit not, I know, your English taste :
For wine to leave a whore or play
Was ne'er your Excellency's way.
Nor need this title give offence,
For here you were your Excellence,
For gaming, writing, speaking, keeping,
His Excellence for all but sleeping.
Now if you tope in form, and treat,
'Tis the sour sauce to the sweet meat,
The fine you pay for being great.
Nay, here's a harder imposition,
Which is indeed the court's petition,
That setting worldly pomp aside,
Which poet has at font denied,
You would be pleas'd in humble way
To write a trifle call’d a Play.
This truly is a degradation
But would oblige the crown and nation
Next to your wise negotiation.
If you pretend, as well you may,
Your high degree, your friends will say,
The duke St. Aignon made a play.
If Gallic wit convince you scarce,
of Bucks has made a farce,
whose comic wit is terse all,
Can hardly fall below Rehearsal.
Then finish what you have began ;
But scribble faster if
For yet no George, to our discerning,
Has writ without a ten years warning.
TO MR. SOUTHERNE, ON HIS COMEDY CALLED THE
SURE there's a fate in plays, and 'tis in vain
To write, while these malignant planets reign.
Some very foolish influence rules the pit,
Not always kind to sense, or just to wit;
* The success of this play was but indifferent; but so high was our author's opinion of its merit, that, on this very account, he bequeathed to this poet the writing of the last act of his Cleomenes; which, Southerne says, 'when it comes into the world, will appear so considerable a trust, that all the town will pardon me for defending this play, that preferred me to it.' D.
And whilst it lasts, let buffoonry succeed,
To make us laugh ; for never was more need.
Farce, in itself, is of a nasty scent;
But the gain smells not of the excrement.
The Spanish nymph, a wit and beauty too,
With all her charms, bore but a single show :
But let a monster Muscovite appear,
He draws a crowded audience round the year.
May be thou hast not pleas’d the box and pit ;
Yet those who blame thy tale applaud thy wit:
So Terence plotted, but so Terence writ.
Like his thy thoughts are true, thy language clean;
E'en lewdness is made moral in thy scene.
for want of Nokes repine ; But rest secure, the readers will be thine. Nor was thy labour'd drama damn'd or hissid, But with a kind civility dismiss'd; With such good manners, as the Wife did use, Who, not accepting, did but just refuse. There was a glance at parting ; such a look, As bids thee not give o'er, for one rebuke. But it thou wouldst be seen, as well as read, Copy one living author, and one dead : The standard of thy style let Etherege be; For wit, the immortal spring of Wycherly; Learn, after both, to draw some just design. And the next age will learn to copy thine.
TO HENRY HIGDEN,* ESQ., ON HIS TRANSLATION OF
THE TENTH SATIRE OF JUVENAL.
The Grecian wits, who Satire first began,
Were pleasant Pasquins on the life of man;
At mighty villains, who the state oppress’d,
They durst not rail, perhaps; they lash'd at least,
And turn'd them out of office with a jest.
No fool could peep abroad, but ready stand
The drolls to clap a bauble in his hand.
Wise legislators never yet could draw
A fop within the reach of common law;
For posture, dress, grimace and affectation,
Though foes to sense, are harmless to the nation.
Our last redress is dint of verse to try,
And satire is our court of Chancery.
took Horace to reform an age,
* This gentleman brought a comedy on the stage in 1693, called the Wary Widow, or Sir Noisy Parrot, which was damned, and he complains hardly of the ill usage; for the Bear-Garden critics treated it with cat-calls. It is printed and dedicated to the courtly Earl of Dorset : Sir Charles Sedley wrote the prologue, and it was ushered into the world with several copies of verses. The audience were dismissed at the end of the third act, the author having contrived so much drinking of punch in the play, that the actors all got drunk, and were unable to finish it. See G. Jucob's Lives of the Poets. D.
Not bad enough to need an author's rage.
But yours, who liv'd in more degenerate times,
Was forc'd to fasten deep, and worry crimes.
Yet you, my friend, have temper'd him so well,
You make him smile in spite of all his zeal :
An art peculiar to yourself alone,
To join the virtues of two styles in one.
Oh! were your author's principle receiv'd,
Half of the lab’ring world would be reliev'd:
For not to wish is not to be deceiv'd.
Revenge would into charity be chang'd,
Because it costs too dear to be reveng'd :
It costs our quiet and content of mind,
And when 'tis compass’d leaves a sting behind.
Suppose I had the better end o'th' staff,
Why should I help the ill natured world to laugh?
'Tis all alike to them, who get the day;
They love the spite and mischief of the fray.
No: I have cured myself of that disease ;
Nor will I be provok’d, but when I please :
But let me half that cure to you restore;
You give the salve, I laid it to the sore.
Our kind relief against a rainy day,
Beyond a tavern, or a tedious play,
We take your book, and laugh our spleen away.
If all your tribe, too studious of debate,
Would cease false hopes and titles to create,
Led by the rare example you begun,
Clients would fail, and lawyers be undone.