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Alexander Pope (1688–1744). Complete Poetical Works. 1903.


Satires, Epistles, and Odes of Horace Imitated. The Seventh Epistle of the First Book of Horace

In the Manner of Dr. Swift

’T IS true, my Lord, I gave my word

I would be with you June the third;

Changed it to August, and (in short)

Have kept it—as you do at Court.

You humour me when I am sick,

Why not when I am splenetic?

In Town what objects could I meet?

The shops shut up in every street,

And funerals black’ning all the doors,

And yet more-melancholy whores:

And what a dust in every place!

And a thin Court that wants your face,

And fevers raging up and down,

And W[ard] and H[enley] both in town!

‘The dogdays are no more the case.’

’T is true, but winter comes apace:

Then southward let your bard retire,

Hold out some months ’twixt sun and fire,

And you shall see the first warm weather

Me and the butterflies together.

My Lord, your favours well I know;

’T is with distinction you bestow,

And not to every one that comes,

Just as a Scotchman does his plums.

‘Pray take them, Sir—enough ’s a feast:

Eat some, and pocket up the rest:’

What, rob your boys? those pretty rogues!

‘No, Sir, you ’ll leave them to the hogs.’

Thus fools with compliments besiege ye,

Contriving never to oblige ye.

Scatter your favours on a Fop,

Ingratitude ’s the certain crop;

And ’t is but just, I ’ll tell ye wherefore,

You give the things you never care for.

A wise man always is, or should,

Be mighty ready to be good,

But makes a diff’rence in his thought

Betwixt a guinea and a groat.

Now this I ’ll say, you ’ll find in me

A safe companion, and a free;

But if you ’d have me always near,

A word, pray, in Your Honour’s ear:

I hope it is your resolution

To give me back my constitution,

The sprightly wit, the lively eye,

Th’ engaging smile, the gayety

That laugh’d down many a summer sun,

And kept you up so oft till one;

And all that voluntary vein,

As when Belinda rais’d my strain.

A Weasel once made shift to slink

In at a corn-loft thro’ a chink,

But having amply stuff’d his skin,

Could not get out as he got in;

Which one belonging to the house

(’T was not a man, it was a mouse)

Observing, cried, ‘You ’scape not so;

Lean as you came, Sir, you must go.’

Sir, you may spare your application;

I ’m no such beast, nor his relation,

Nor one that Temperance advance,

Cramm’d to the throat with ortolans;

Extremely ready to resign

All that may make me none of mine.

South-Sea subscriptions take who please,

Leave me but liberty and ease:

’T was what I said to Craggs and Child,

Who praised my modesty, and smil’d.

‘Give me,’ I cried (enough for me)

‘My bread and independency!’

So bought an annual rent or two,

And lived—just as you see I do;

Near fifty, and without a wife,

I trust that sinking fund, my life.

Can I retrench? Yes, mighty well,

Shrink back to my paternal cell,

A little house, with trees a row,

And, like its master, very low;

There died my father, no man’s debtor,

And there I ’ll die, nor worse nor better.

To set this matter full before ye,

Our old friend Swift will tell his story.

‘Harley, the nation’s great support’—

But you may read it, I stop short.