Epilogue To The 'Good Natur'D Man'
As puffing quacks some caitiff wretch procure
To swear the pill, or drop, has wrought a cure;
Thus on the stage, our play-wrights still depend
For Epilogues and Prologues on some friend,
Who knows each art of coaxing up the town,
And make full many a bitter pill go down.
Conscious of this, our bard has gone about,
And teas'd each rhyming friend to help him out.
'An Epilogue - things can't go on without it;
It could not fail, would you but set about it.'
'Young man,' cries one - a bard laid up in clover -
'Alas, young man, my writing days are over;
Let boys play tricks, and kick the straw; not I:
Your brother Doctor there, perhaps, may try.'
'What I? dear Sir,' the Doctor interposes
'What plant my thistle, Sir, among his roses!
No, no; I've other contests to maintain;
To-night I head our troops at Warwick Lane:
Go, ask your manager.' 'Who, me? Your pardon;
Those things are not our forte at Covent Garden.'
Our Author's friends, thus plac'd at happy distance,
Give him good words indeed, but no assistance.
As some unhappy wight, at some new play,
At the Pit door stands elbowing a way,
While oft, with many a smile, and many a shrug,
He eyes the centre, where his friends sit snug;
His simp'ring friends, with pleasure in their eyes,
Sink as he sinks, and as he rises rise;
He nods, they nod; he cringes, they grimace;
But not a soul will budge to give him place.
Since then, unhelp'd, our bard must now conform
'To 'bide the pelting of this pitiless storm' -
Blame where you must, be candid where you can;
And be each critic the 'Good Natur'd Man'.
Letter In Prose And Verse To Mrs. Bunbury
I read your letter with all that allowance which critical candour could
require, but after all find so much to object to, and so much to raise
my indignation, that I cannot help giving it a serious answer.
I am not so ignorant, Madam, as not to see there are many sarcasms
contained in it, and solecisms also. (Solecism is a word that comes from
the town of Soleis in Attica, among the Greeks, built by Solon, and
applied as we use the word Kidderminster for curtains, from a town also
of that name; -- but this is learning you have no taste for!) -- I say,
Madam, there are sarcasms in it, and solecisms also. But not to seem an
ill-natured critic, I'll take leave to quote your own words, and give
you my remarks upon them as they occur. You begin as follows:--
'I hope, my good Doctor, you soon will be here,
And your spring-velvet coat very smart will appear,
To open our ball the first day of the year.'
Pray, Madam, where did you ever find the epithet 'good,' applied to the
title of Doctor? Had you called me 'learned Doctor,' or 'grave Doctor,'
or 'noble Doctor,' it might be allowable, because they belong to the
profession. But, not to cavil at trifles, you talk of my 'spring-velvet
coat,' and advise me to wear it the first day in the year, -- that is,
in the middle of winter! -- a spring-velvet in the middle of winter!!!
That would be a solecism indeed! and yet, to increase the inconsistence,
in another part of your letter you call me a beau. Now, on one side or
other, you must be wrong. If I am a beau, I can never think of wearing a
spring-velvet in winter: and if I am not a beau, why then, that explains
itself. But let me go on to your two next strange lines:--
'And bring with you a wig, that is modish and gay,
To dance with the girls that are makers of hay.'
The absurdity of making hay at Christmas, you yourself seem sensible of:
you say your sister will laugh; and so indeed she well may! The Latins
have an expression for a contemptuous sort of laughter, 'Naso contemnere
adunco'; that is, to laugh with a crooked nose. She may laugh at you in
the manner of the ancients if she thinks fit. But now I come to the most
extraordinary of all extraordinary propositions, which is, to take your
and your sister's advice in playing at loo. The presumption of the offer
raises my indignation beyond the bounds of prose; it inspires me at once
with verse and resentment. I take advice! and from whom? You shall hear.
First let me suppose, what may shortly be true,
The company set, and the word to be, Loo;
All smirking, and pleasant, and big with adventure,
And ogling the stake which is fix'd in the centre.
Round and round go the cards, while I inwardly damn
At never once finding a visit from Pam.
I lay down my stake, apparently cool,
While the harpies about me all pocket the pool.
I fret in my gizzard, yet, cautious and sly,
I wish all my friends may be bolder than I:
Yet still they sit snug, not a creature will aim
By losing their money to venture at fame.
'Tis in vain that at niggardly caution I scold,
'Tis in vain that I flatter the brave and the bold:
All play their own way, and they think me an ass, --
'What does Mrs. Bunbury?' 'I, Sir? I pass.'
'Pray what does Miss Horneck? Take courage, come do,' --
'Who, I? let me see, Sir, why I must pass too.'
Mr. Bunbury frets, and I fret like the devil,
To see them so cowardly, lucky, and civil.
Yet still I sit snug, and continue to sigh on,
Till made by my losses as bold as a lion,
I venture at all, -- while my avarice regards
The whole pool as my own -- 'Come, give me five cards.'
'Well done!' cry the ladies; 'Ah, Doctor, that's good!
The pool's very rich -- ah! the Doctor is loo'd!'
Thus foil'd in my courage, on all sides perplex'd,
I ask for advice from the lady that's next:
'Pray, Ma'am, be so good as to give your advice;
Don't you think the best way is to venture for 't twice?'
'I advise,' cries the lady, 'to try it, I own. --
Ah! the Doctor is loo'd! Come, Doctor, put down.'
Thus, playing, and playing, I still grow more eager,
And so bold, and so bold, I'm at last a bold beggar.
Now, ladies, I ask, if law-matters you're skill'd in,
Whether crimes such as yours should not come before Fielding?
For giving advice that is not worth a straw,
May well be call'd picking of pockets in law;
And picking of pockets, with which I now charge ye,
Is, by quinto Elizabeth, Death without Clergy.
What justice, when both to the Old Bailey brought!
By the gods, I'll enjoy it; though 'tis but in thought!
Both are plac'd at the bar, with all proper decorum,
With bunches of fennel, and nosegays before 'em;
Both cover their faces with mobs and all that;
But the judge bids them, angrily, take off their hat.
When uncover'd, a buzz of enquiry runs round, --
'Pray what are their crimes?' -- 'They've been pilfering found.'
'But, pray, whom have they pilfer'd?' -- 'A Doctor, I hear.'
'What, yon solemn-faced, odd-looking man that stands near!'
'The same.' -- 'What a pity! how does it surprise one!
Two handsomer culprits I never set eyes on!'
Then their friends all come round me with cringing and leering,
To melt me to pity, and soften my swearing.
First Sir Charles advances with phrases well strung,
'Consider, dear Doctor, the girls are but young.'
'The younger the worse,' I return him again,
'It shows that their habits are all dyed in grain.'
'But then they're so handsome, one's bosom it grieves.'
'What signifies 'handsome', when people are thieves?'
'But where is your justice? their cases are hard.'
'What signifies 'justice'? I want the 'reward'.
There's the parish of Edmonton offers forty pounds; there's the
parish of St. Leonard, Shoreditch, offers forty pounds; there's
the parish of Tyburn, from the Hog-in-the-Pound to St. Giles's
watchhouse, offers forty pounds, -- I shall have all that if I
convict them!' --
'But consider their case, -- it may yet be your own!
And see how they kneel! Is your heart made of stone?'
This moves:-- so at last I agree to relent,
For ten pounds in hand, and ten pounds to be spent.
I challenge you all to answer this: I tell you, you cannot. It
cuts deep; -- but now for the rest of the letter: and next --
but I want room -- so I believe I shall battle the rest out at
Barton some day next week.
I don't value you all!
Retaliation: A Poem
1 Of old, when Scarron his companions invited,
2 Each guest brought his dish, and the feast was united;
3 If our landlord supplies us with beef, and with fish,
4 Let each guest bring himself, and he brings the best dish:
5 Our Dean shall be venison, just fresh from the plains;
6 Our Burke shall be tongue, with a garnish of brains;
7 Our Will shall be wild fowl, of excellent flavour,
8 Our Cumberland's sweet-bread its place shall obtain,
9 And Douglas is pudding, substantial and plain:
10 Our Garrick's a salad, for in him we see
11 Oil, vinegar, sugar, and saltness agree:
12 To make out the dinner, full certain I am,
13 That Ridge is an anchovy, and Reynolds is lamb;
14 That Hickey's a capon, and by the same rule,
15 Magnanimous Goldsmith, a gooseberry fool:
16 At a dinner so various, at such a repast,
17 Who'd not be a glutton, and stick to the last:
18 Here, waiter, more wine, let me sit while I'm able,
19 'Till all my companions sink under the table;
20 Then with chaos and blunders encircling my head,
21 Let me ponder, and tell what I think of the dead.
22 Here lies the good Dean, re-united with earth,
23 Who mixt reason with pleasure, and wisdom with mirth:
24 If he had any faults, he has left us in doubt,
25 At least, in six weeks, I could not find 'em out;
26 Yet some have declar'd, and it can't be denied 'em,
27 That sly-boots was cursedly cunning to hide 'em.
28 Here lies our good Edmund, whose genius was such,
29 We scarcely can praise it, or blame it too much;
30 Who, born for the Universe, narrow'd his mind,
31 And to party gave up, what was meant for mankind.
32 Tho' fraught with all learning, yet straining his throat,
33 To persuade Tommy Townsend to lend him a vote;
34 Who, too deep for his hearers, still went on refining,
35 And thought of convincing, while they thought of dining;
36 Tho' equal to all things, for all things unfit,
37 Too nice for a statesman, too proud for a wit:
38 For a patriot too cool; for a drudge, disobedient,
39 And too fond of the right to pursue the expedient.
40 In short, 'twas his fate, unemploy'd, or in place, sir,
41 To eat mutton cold, and cut blocks with a razor.
42 Here lies honest William, whose heart was a mint,
43 While the owner ne'er knew half the good that was in't;
44 The pupil of impulse, it forc'd him along,
45 His conduct still right, with his argument wrong;
46 Still aiming at honour, yet fearing to roam,
47 The coachman was tipsy, the chariot drove home;
48 Would you ask for his merits, alas! he had none,
49 What was good was spontaneous, his faults were his own.
50 Here lies honest Richard, whose fate I must sigh at,
51 Alas, that such frolic should now be so quiet!
52 What spirits were his, what wit and what whim,
53 Now breaking a jest, and now breaking a limb;
54 Now wrangling and grumbling to keep up the ball,
55 Now teazing and vexing, yet laughing at all?
56 In short so provoking a devil was Dick,
57 That we wish'd him full ten times a day at Old Nick.
58 But missing his mirth and agreeable vein,
59 As often we wish'd to have Dick back again.
60 Here Cumberland lies having acted his parts,
61 The Terence of England, the mender of hearts;
62 A flattering painter, who made it his care
63 To draw men as they ought to be, not as they are.
64 His gallants were all faultless, his women divine,
65 And comedy wonders at being so fine;
66 Like a tragedy queen he has dizen'd her out,
67 Or rather like tragedy giving a rout.
68 His fools have their follies so lost in a crowd
69 Of virtues and feelings, that folly grows proud
70 And coxcombs alike in their failings alone,
71 Adopting his portraits are pleas'd with their own.
72 Say, where has our poet this malady caught,
73 Or wherefore his characters thus without fault?
74 Say was it that vainly directing his view,
75 To find out men's virtues and finding them few,
76 Quite sick of pursuing each troublesome elf,
77 He grew lazy at last and drew from himself?
78 Here Douglas retires from his toils to relax,
79 The scourge of impostors, the terror of quacks:
80 Come all ye quack bards, and ye quacking divines,
81 Come and dance on the spot where your tyrant reclines,
82 When Satire and Censure encircl'd his throne,
83 I fear'd for your safety, I fear'd for my own;
84 But now he is gone, and we want a detector,
85 Our Dodds shall be pious, our Kenricks shall lecture;
86 Macpherson write bombast, and call it a style,
87 Our Townshend make speeches, and I shall compile;
88 New Lauders and Bowers the Tweed shall cross over,
89 No countryman living their tricks to discover;
90 Detection her taper shall quench to a spark,
91 And Scotchman meet Scotchman and cheat in the dark.
92 Here lies David Garrick, describe me who can,
93 An abridgment of all that was pleasant in man;
94 As an actor, confest without rival to shine,
95 As a wit, if not first, in the very first line,
96 Yet with talents like these, and an excellent heart,
97 The man had his failings, a dupe to his art;
98 Like an ill-judging beauty, his colours he spread,
99 And beplaister'd, with rouge, his own natural red.
100 On the stage he was natural, simple, affecting,
101 'Twas only that, when he was off, he was acting:
102 With no reason on earth to go out of his way,
103 He turn'd and he varied full ten times a-day;
104 Tho' secure of our hearts, yet confoundedly sick,
105 If they were not his own by finessing and trick;
106 He cast off his friends, as a huntsman his pack,
107 For he knew when he pleas'd he could whistle them back.
108 Of praise a mere glutton, he swallow'd what came,
109 And the puff of a dunce, he mistook it for fame;
110 'Till his relish grown callous, almost to disease,
111 Who pepper'd the highest, was surest to please.
112 But let us be candid, and speak out our mind,
113 If dunces applauded, he paid them in kind.
114 Ye Kenricks, ye Kellys, and Woodfalls so grave,
115 What a commerce was yours, while you got and you gave?
116 How did Grub-street re-echo the shouts that you rais'd,
117 While he was beroscius'd, and you were beprais'd?
118 But peace to his spirit, wherever it flies,
119 To act as an angel, and mix it with skies:
120 Those poets, who owe their best fame to his skill,
121 Shall still be his flatterers, go where he will.
122 Old Shakespeare, receive him, with praise and with love,
123 And Beaumonts and Bens be his Kellys above.
124 Here Hickey reclines, a most blunt, pleasant creature,
125 And slander itself must allow him good-nature:
126 He cherish'd his friend, and he relish'd a bumper;
127 Yet one fault he had, and that one was a thumper:
128 Perhaps you may ask if the man was a miser?
129 I answer, no, no, for he always was wiser;
130 Too courteous, perhaps, or obligingly flat;
131 His very worst foe can't accuse him of that.
132 Perhaps he confided in men as they go,
133 And so was too foolishly honest; ah no!
134 Then what was his failing? come tell it, and burn ye,
135 He was, could he help it? a special attorney.
136 Here Reynolds is laid, and, to tell you my mind,
137 He has not left a wiser or better behind;
138 His pencil was striking, resistless and grand,
139 His manners were gentle, complying and bland;
140 Still born to improve us in every part,
141 His pencil our faces, his manners our heart:
142 To coxcombs averse, yet most civilly steering,
143 When they judg'd without skill he was still hard of hearing:
144 When they talk'd of their Raphaels, Corregios and stuff,
145 He shifted his trumpet, and only took snuff.