« PreviousContinue »
Pacing in pomp, with cloak of Tyrian dye,
·Chang'd oft a-day for needlefs luxury;
And finding oft occafion to be fann'd,
Ambitious to produce his lady-hand;
Charg'd with light fummer-rings his fingers fweats
Unable to fupport a gem of weight:
Such fulfom objects meeting every where,
'Tis hard to write, but harder to forbear.
To view fo lewd a town, and to refrain,
What hoops of iron could my fpleen contain!
When pleading Matho, borne abroad for air,
With his fat paunch fills his new-fashion'd chair,
And, after him, the wretch in pomp convey'd,
Whose evidence his lord and friend betray'd,
And but the wifh'd occafion does attend,
From the poor nobles the last spoils to rend,
Whom ev'n spies dread as their fuperior fiend,
And bribe with prefents; or, when presents fail,
They fend their prostituted wives for bail :
When night-performance holds the place of merit,
And brawn and back the next of kin disherit;
For fuch good parts are in preferment's way,
The rich old madam never fails to pay
Her legacies, by nature's ftandard given,
One gains an ounce, another gains eleven:
A dear-bought bargain, all things duly weigh'd,
For which their thrice-concocted blood is paid.
With looks as wan, as he who in the brake
At unawares has trode upon a snake;
Or play'd at Lyons a declaiming prize,
For which the vanquish'd rhetorician dies.
What indignation boils within my veins,
When perjur'd guardians, proud with impious
Choak up the streets, too narrow for their trains!
Whofe wards, by want betrey'd, to crimes are led
Too foul to name, too fulfom to be read!
When he who pill'd his province fcapes the laws,
And keeps his money, though he lost his cause:
His fine begg'd off, contemus: his infamy,
Can rife at twelve, and get him drunk ere three:
Enjoys his exile, and, condemn'd in vain,
Leaves thee, prevailing province, to complain?
Such villainies rouz'd Horace into wrath:
And 'tis more noble to purfue his path,
Than an old tale of Diomede repeat,
Or labouring after Hercules to fweat,
Or wandering in the winding maze of Crete;
Or with the winged fmith aloft to fly,
Or fluttering perifh with his foolish boy.
With what impatience must the Muse behold
The wife, by her procuring husband fold!
For though the law makes null th' adulterer's deed
Of lands to her, the cuckold may fucceed;
Who his taught eyes up to the cieling throws,
And fleeps all over but his wakeful nofe.
When he dares hope a colonel's command,
Whofe.courfers kept, ran out his father's land ;
Who yet a ftripling, Nero's chariot drove,
Whirl'd o'er the streets, while his vain mafter ftrove
With boafted art to please his eunuch-love.
Would it not make a modeft author dare
To draw his table-book within the square,
And fill with notes, when, lolling at his cafe,
Mæcenas-like, the happy rogue he sees
Borne by fix weary'd flaves in open view,
Who cancel'd an old will, and forg'd a new:
Made wealthy at the small expence of figning
With a wet feal, and a fresh interlining?
The lady, next, requires a lafhing line,
Who fqueez'd a toad into her husband's wine.
So well the fashionable medicine thrives,
That now 'tis practis'd ev'n by country wives:
Poisoning, without regard of fame or fear :
And spotted corpfe are frequent on the bier.
Would't thou to honours and preferments climb?
Be bold in mischief, dare fome mighty crime,
Which dungeons, death, or banishment deferves:
For virtue is but drily prais'd, and starves.
Great men, to great crimes, owe their plate emboft,
Fair palaces, and furniture of cost;
And high commands: a fneaking fin is loft.
Who can behold that rank old letcher keep
His fon's corrupted wife, and hope to sleep?
Or that male-harlot, or that unfledg'd boy,
Eager to fin, before he can enjoy ?
If nature could not, anger would indite
Such woful ftuff as I or Shadwell write.
Count from the time, fince old Deucalion's boat,
Rais'd by the flood, did on Parnaffus float;
And, fcarcely mooring on the cliff, implor'd
An oracle how man might be restor'd;
When soften'd ftones and vital breath enfued,
And virgins naked were by lovers view'd;
What ever fince that golden age was done,
What human kind defires, and what they fhun,
Rage, paffions, pleasures, impotence of will,
Shall this fatirical collection fill.
fo large a crop of vices bore,
Or when was avarice extended more?
When were the dice with more profufion thrown?
The well-fill'd fob not empty'd now alone,
But gamesters for whole patrimonies play;
The steward brings the deeds which must convey
The loft eftate: what more than madness reigns,
When one short fitting many hundreds drains,
And not enough is left him to fupply
Board-wages, or a footman's livery?
What age fo many fummer-feats did fee?
Or which of our forefathers far'd fo well,
As on feven dishes, at a private meal?
Clients of old were feafted; now a poor
Divided dole is dealt at th' outward door;
Which by the hungry rout is foon dispatch'd:
The paltry largess, too, feverely watch'd,
Ere given; and
face obferv'd with care,
That no intruding guests ufurp a share,
Known, you receive: the crier calls aloud
Our old nobility of Trojan-blood,
Who gape among the crowd for their precarious food.
The prætors, and the tribunes voice is heard;
The freedman juftles, and will be preferr'd;
First come, first ferv'd, he cries; and I, in fpight
Of your great Lordships, will maintain my right.
Though born a slave, though my torn ears are bor'd,
'Tis not the birth, 'tis money makes the Lord.
The rent of five fair noufes I receive ;
What greater honours can the purple give?
The poor patrician is reduc'd to keep,
In melancholy walks, a grazier's fheep:
Not Pallus nor Licinius had my treasure;
Then let the facred tribunes wait my leifure.
Once a poor rogue, 'tis true, I trod the street,
And trudg'd to Rome upon my naked feet:
Gold is the greatest God; though yet we fee
No temples rais'd to money's majesty,
No altars fuming to her power divine,
Such as to valour, peace, and virtue shine,
And faith, and concord: where the fork on high
Seems to falute her infant progeny:
Prefaging pious love with her aufpicious cry.
But fince our knights and fenators account,
That their fordid begging vails amount,
Juuge what a wretched fhare the poor attends,
Whofe whole fubfiftence on thofe alms depends!
Their houshold fire, their raiment, and their food,
Prevented by thofe harpies; when a wood