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"So eager to express your love,
You ne'er consider whom you shove.
But rudely press before a duke."
I own I'm pleas'd 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 penn'd,
Desiring I would stand their friend.
This humbly offers me his case-
That begs my interest for a place-
A hundred other men's affairs,
Like bees, are humming in my ears.
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,
Where all that passes inter nos
Might be proclaim'd at Charing-cross.
Yet some I know with envy swell
Because they see me us'd so well:
"How think you of our friend the Dean?
I wonder what some people mean?
My lord and he are grown so great,
Always together tête-à-tête;
What! they admire him for his jokes!-
See but the fortune of some folks!"
There flies about a strange report
Of some express arriv'd at court;
I'm stopp'd by all the fools I meet,
And catechis'd in every street.
"You, Mr. Dean, frequent the great;
Inform us, will the Emperor treat?
Or do the prints and papers lie?"
Faith, Sir, you know as much as I.
Ah, Doctor, how you love to jest!
"Tis now no secret."-I protest
"Tis one to me-" Then tell us, pray,
When are the troops to have their pay?"
And, though I solemnly declare
I know no more than my lord mayor,
They stand amaz'd, and think me grown
The closest mortal ever known.
Thus in a sea of folly tost,
My choicest hours of life are lost;
Yet always wishing to retreat,
Oh, could I see my country-seat!
There leaning near a gentle brook,
Sleep, or peruse some ancient book;
And there in sweet oblivion drown
Those cares that haunt the court and town.
O charming noons! and nights divine!
Or when I sup, or when I dine,
My friends above, my folks below,
Chatting and laughing all-a-row,
The beans and bacon set before 'em,
The grace-cup serv'd with all decorum :
Each willing to be pleas'd and please,
And even the very dogs at ease!
Here no man prates of idle things,
How this or that Italian sings,
A neighbour's madness, or his spouse's,
Or what's in either of the houses:
But something much more our concern,
And quite a scandal not to learn :
Which is the happier, or the wiser,
A man of merit, or a miser?
Whether we ought to choose our friends,
For their own worth, or our own ends?
What good, or better, we may call,
And what, the very best of all?
Our friend Dan Prior told (you know)
A tale extremely "à propos: "
Name a town life, and in a trice
He had a story of two mice.
Once on a time (so runs the fable)
A country mouse, right hospitable,
Receiv'd a town mouse at his board,
Just as a farmer might a lord.
A frugal mouse, upon the whole,
Yet lov'd his friend, and had a soul,
Knew what was handsome, and would do 't,
On just occasion, "coûte qui coûte."
He brought him bacon (nothing lean);
Pudding, that might have pleas'd a dean;
Cheese, such as men in Suffolk make,
But wish'd it Stilton for his sake;
Yet, to his guest though no way sparing,
He eat himself the rind and paring.
Our courtier scarce could touch a bit,
But show'd his breeding and his wit;
He did his best to seem to eat,
And cry'd, “I vow you 're mighty neat.
But lord, my friend, this savage scene!
For God's sake, come, and live with men:
Consider mice, like men, must die,
Both small and great, both you and I:
Then spend your life in joy and sport,
(This doctrine, friend, I learn'd at court.")
The veriest hermit in the nation
May yield, God knows, to strong temptation.
Away they came, through thick and thin,
To a tall house near Lincoln's-Inn:
('Twas on the night of a debate,
When all their lordships had sat late).
Behold the place, where, if a poet
Shin'd in description, he might show it:
Tell how the moon-beam trembling falls,
And tips with silver all the walls;
Palladian walls, Venetian doors,
Grotesco roofs, and stucco floors:
But let it (in a word) be said,
The moon was up, and men abed,
The napkin 's white, the carpet red:
The guests withdrawn, had left the treat,
And down the mice sat, " tête-à-tête."
Our courtier walks from dish to dish,
Tastes for his friend of fowl and fish;
Tells all their names, lays down the law,
I have a thousand thanks to give-
My lord alone knows how to live."
No sooner said, but from the hall
Rush chaplain, butler, dogs and all:
"A rat, a rat! clap to the door "-
The cat comes bouncing on the floor.
O for the heart of Homer's mice,
Or Gods to save them in a trice!
(It was by providence they think,
For your damn'd stucco has no chink).
"An 't please your honour, quoth the peasant,
This same dessert is not so pleasant:
Give me again my hollow tree,
A crust of bread and liberty!"
GUESS, Reader, where I once saw a full-sized figure of Fame, erect, tip-toe, in the act of springing to take flight and soar aloft, her neck extended, her head raised, the trumpet at her lips, and her cheeks inflated, as if about to send forth a blast which the whole city of London was to hear? Perhaps thou mayest have seen this very figure thyself, and surely if thou hast, thou wilt not have forgotten it. It was in the Borough Road, placed above a shop-board which announced that Mr. Somebody fitted up water-closets upon a new and improved principle.
But it would be well for mankind if Fame were never employed in trumpeting anything worse. There is a certain stage of depravity in which men derive an unnatural satisfaction from the notoriety of their wickedness, and seek for celebrity ob magnitudinem infamiæ, cujus apud prodigos novissima voluptas est*. Ils veulent faire parler d'eux, says Bayle, et leur vanité ne serait pas satisfaite s'il n'y avait quelque * Tacitus. "On account of the extent of their infamy, from which prodigals derive the greatest pleasure.”