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In cutting capers we shall never please; I 1
Our learning does not lie below our knees.
Shall we procure you symphony and sound,
Then you must each subscribe two hundred pound.
There we should fail too, as to point of voice;
Mistake us not; we’re no Italian boys;
True Britons born from Westminster we come;
And only speak the style of ancient Rome.
We would deserve, not poorly beg, applause;
And stand or fall by Friend's and Busby's laws.' 20
For the distressed, your pity we implore:
If once refused, we’ll trouble you no more,
But leave our Orphan squalling at your door.
H. OH! with what woes am I oppressed!
W. Be still, you senseless calf!
What if the gods should make you blessed?
H. Why then I’d sing and laugh:
But if they wont, I’ll wail and cry.
W. You'll hardly laugh before you die.
TRUTH AND FALSEHOOD.
ONCE on a time, in sunshine weather,
Falsehood and Truth walked out together,
The neighbouring woods and lawns to view,
As opposites will sometimes do.
Through many a blooming mead they past,
And at a brook arrived at last.
The purling stream, the margin green,
With flowers bedecked, a vernal scene,
Invited each itinerant maid, 9
To rest a while beneath the shade.
Under a spreading beech they sat,
And passed the time with female chat;
Whilst each her character maintained;
One spoke her thoughts, the other feigned.
At length, quoth Falsehood, sister Truth,
(For so she called her from her youth)
What if, to shun yon sultry beam,
We bathe in this delightful stream;
The bottom smooth, the water clear,
And there's no prying shepherd near!— 20
With all my heart, the nymph replied,
And threw her snowy robes aside,
Stripped herself naked to the skin,
And with a spring leaped headlong in.
Falsehood more leisurely undressed,
And, laying by her tawdry vest,
Tricked herself out in Truth's array,
And 'cross the meadows tripped away."
From this cursed hour, the fraudful dame,
Of sacred Truth usurps the name, 30
And, with a vile, perfidious mind,
Roams far and near, to cheat mankind;
False sighs suborns, and artful tears,
And starts with vain pretended fears;
In visits, still appears most wise,
And rolls at church her saint-like eyes;
Talks very much, plays idle tricks,
While rising stock” her conscience pricks;
When being, poor thing, extremely gravelled,
She secrets oped, and all unravelled. 40
But on she will, and secrets tell 41
Of John and Joan, and Ned and Nell,
Reviling every one she knows,
As fancy leads, beneath the rose.
Her tongue, so voluble and kind,
It always runs before her mind;
As times do serve, she slily pleads,
And copious tears still show her needs.
With promises as thick as weeds;
Speaks pro and con, is wondrous civil, 50
To-day a saint, to-morrow devil.
Poor Truth she stripped, as has been said,
And naked left the lovely maid,
Who, scorning from her cause to wince,
Has gone stark-naked ever since;
And ever naked will appear,
Beloved by all who Truth revere.
It always has been thought discreet
To know the company you meet;
And sure there may be secret danger
In talking much before a stranger.
‘Agreed: What then?' Then drink your ale;
I’ll pledge you, and repeat my tale.
No matter where the scene is fixed:
The persons were but oddly mixed;
When sober Damon thus began
(And Damon is a clever man), 10
“I now grow old; but still, from youth,
Have held for modesty and truth.
The men, who by these sea-marks steer, 13
In life's great voyage never err;
Upon this point I dare defy
The world. I pause for a reply.”
‘Sir, either is a good assistant,'
Said one who sat a little distant:
“Truth decks our speeches and our books;
And modesty adorns our looks: 20
But farther progress we must take;
Not only born to look and speak,
The man must act. The Stagyrite
Says thus, and says extremely right;
Strict justice is the sovereign guide,
That o'er our actions should preside;
This queen of virtues is confessed
To regulate and bind the rest.
Thrice happy if you once can find
Her equal balance poise your mind; 30
All different graces soon will enter,
Like lines concurrent to their centre.’
'Twas thus, in short, these two went on,
With yea and nay, and pro and con,
Through many points divinely dark,
And Waterland assaulting Clarke;
Till, in theology half lost,
Damon took up the Evening-Post;
Confounded Spain, composed the North,
And deep in politics held forth. 40
‘Methinks we’re in the like condition,
As at the Treaty of Partition;
That stroke, for all King William's care,
Begat another tedious war.
Matthew, who knew the whole intrigue,
Ne'er much approved that mystic league:
In the vile Utrecht Treaty too, 47
Poor man! he found enough to do.
Sometimes to me he did apply;
But Down-right Dunstable was I,
And told him where they were mistaken,
And counselled him to save his bacon.
But (pass his politics and prose)
I never herded with his foes;
Nay, in his verses, as a friend,
I still found something to commend.
Sir, I excused his Nut-brown Maid,
Whate'er severer critics said;
Too far, I own, the girl was tried;
The women all were on my side. 60
For Alma I returned him thanks;
I liked her with her little pranks;
Indeed, poor Solomon in rhyme
Was much too grave to be sublime.”
Pindar and Damon scorn transition,
So on he ran a new division:
Till, out of breath, he turned to spit;
(Chance often helps us more than wit).
T'other that lucky moment took,
Just nicked the time, broke in, and spoke. 70
“Of all the gifts the gods afford
(If we may take old Tully's word)
The greatest is a friend; whose love
Knows how to praise, and when reprove:
From such a treasure never part,
But hang the jewel on your heart:
And, pray, sir, (it delights me) tell;
You know this author mighty well?’
‘Know him! d'ye question it? Odds-fish!
Sir, does a beggar know his dish?