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ment in at your eyes; shut up your mouth, and chew the cud of understanding. So Epictetus advises.
Jer. O Lord! I have heard much of him, when I waited upon a gentleman at Cambridge. Pray what was that Epictetus ?
Val. A very rich man--not worth a groat.
Jer. Humph! and so he has made a very fine feast, where there is nothing to be eaten.
Jer. Sir, you're a gentleman, and probably understand this fine feeding : but, if you please, I had rather be at board-wages. Does your Epictetus, or your Seneca here, or any of these poor rich rogues, teach you how to pay your debts without money? Will they shut up the mouths of your creditors? Will Plato be bail for you ? or Diogenes, because he un. derstands confinement, and lived in a tub, go to prison for you ? 'Slife, sir, what do you mean, to mew yourself up here with three or four musty -books, in commendation of starving and poverty?
Val. Why, sirral, I have no money, you know it; and therefore resolve to rail at all that have : and in that I but follow the examples of the wisest and wit. tiest men in all ages_these poets and philosophers, whom you naturally hate, for just such another reason; because they abound in sense, and you are a fool.
Jer. Ay, sir, I am a fool, I know it: and yet, Heaven help me, I'm poor enough to be a wit. But I was always a fool, when I told you what your expences would bring you to ; your coaches and your liveries; your treats and your balls ; your being in love with a lady that did not care a farthing for you in your prosperity; and keeping company with wits, that cared for nothing but your prosperity, and now when you are poor, hate you as much as they do one another.
Val. Well! and now I am poor, I have an oppor: tunity to be revenged on them all; I'll pursue Ange.. lica with more love than ever, and appear more notoriously her admirer in this restraint, than when I openly rivaled the rich fops that made court to her. So shall my poverty be a mortification to her pride, and perhaps make her compassionate the love, which has principally reduced me to this lowness of fortune. And for the wits, I'm sure I am in a condition to be even with them.
Jer. Nay, your condition is pretty even with theirs, that's the truth on't.
Val. I'll take some of their trade out of their hands.
Jer. Now Heaven of mercy continue the tax upon paper !-You don't mean to write ?
Val. Yes, I do; I'll write a play.
Jer. Hem !-Sir, if you please to give me a small certificate of three lines--only to certify those whom it may concern, That the bearer hereof, Jeremy Fetch by name, has for the space of seven years truly and faithfully served Valentine Legend, Esquire; and that he is not now turned away
but does voluntarily dismiss his master from any future authority over him— Val. No, sirrah; you shall live with me still.
Jer. Sir, it's impossible—I may die with you, slarve with you, or be damned with your works: but to live, even three days, the life of a play, I no more expect it, than to be canonized for a muse after
Val. You are witty, you rogue, I shall want your help-I'll have you learn to make couplets, to tag the ends of acts. D'ye hear? get the maids to crambo in an evening, and learn the knack of rhiming; you may arrive at the height of a song sent by an unknown hand, or a chocolate-house lampoon.
Jer. But, sir, is this the way to recover your fa. ther's favour: Why Sir Sampson will be irreconcileable. If your younger brother should come from sea, he'd never look upon you again. You're undone, sir; you're ruined ; you won't have a friend left in the world, if you turn poet.--Ah, pox confound that Will's coffee - house, it has ruined more young men than the Royal Oak lottery!—Nothing thrives that belongs to it. The man of the house would have been an alderman by this time with half the trade, if he had set up in the city.--For my part, I never sit at the door, that I don't get double the stomach that I do at a horse-race. The air upon Banstead Downs is nothing to it for a whetter; yet I never see it, but the spirit of famine appears to me sometimes like a decayed porter, worn out with pimp,
ing, and carrying billet-doux and songs; not like other porters for hire, but for the jest's sake.—Now like a thin chairman, melted down to half his proportion, with carrying a poet upon tick, to visit some great fortune; and his fare to be paid him, like the wages of sin, either at the day of marriage, or the day of death.
“ Val. Very well, sir; can you proceed? “ Jer. Sometime like a bilked bookseller, with a meagre
terrified countenance, that looks as if he “ had written for himself, or were resolved to turn “ author, and bring the rest of his brethren into the
same condition. And lastly, in the form of a “ worn-out punk, with verses in her hand, which “ her vanity had preferred to settlements, without a «whole tatter to her tail, but as ragged as one of " the muses; or as if she was carrying her linen to “ the paper-mill, to be converted into folio books of " warning to all young maids, not to prefer poetry “ to good sense; or lying in the arms of a needy wit, “ before the embraces of a wealthy fool.”
Val. The rogue has (with all the wit he could musa ter up) been declaiming against wit.
Scand. Ay? Why then I'm afraid Jeremy has wit: for wherever it is, it's always contriving its own ruin. Jer. Why so I have been telling my master, sir.
Mr. Scandal, for Heaven's sake, sir, try if you can dissuade him from turning poet.
Scand. Poet! He shall turn soldier first, and ra, ther depend upon the outside of his head, than the lining! Why, what the devil! has not your poverty made you enemies enough? must you needs shew your wit to get more ?
Jer. Ay, more indeed : for who cares for any body that has more wit than himself?
Scand. Jeremy speaks like an oracle. see how worthless great men and dull rich rogues avoid a witty man of small fortune? Why, he looks like a writ of inquiry into their titles and estates; and seems commissioned by Heaven to seize the better half.
Val. Therefore I would rail in my writings, and be revenged,
Scand. Raill at whom? the whole world ? Impotent and vain! Who would die a martyr to sense, in a country where the religion is folly? You may stand at bay for a while; but, when the full cry is against you, you sha’nt have fair play for
life. can't be fairly run down by the hounds, you will be treacherously shot by the huntsmen.—No, turn pimp, fatterer, quack, lawyer, “ parson, be chaplain to an ~ atheist, or stallion to an old woman,' any thing but puet. A modern poet is worse, more servile, timorous, and fawning, than any I have named : without you could retrieve the ancient honours of the name, recal the stage of Athens, and be allowed the force of open honest satire.