A Satire, in Imitation of the Third of Juvenal

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Though much concern'd to leave my dear old friend,I must however his design commendOf fixing in the country: for were IAs free to choose my residence, as he;The Peak, the Fens, the Hundreds, or Land's End,I would prefer to Fleet Street, or the Strand.What place so desert, and so wild is thereWhose inconveniences one would not bear,Rather than the alarms of midnight fire,The falls of houses, knavery of cits,The plots of factions, and the noise of wits,And thousand other plagues, which up and downEach day and hour infest the cursed town? As fate would hav't, on the appointed dayOf parting hence, I met him on the way,Hard by Mile End, the place so fam'd of late,In prose, and verse for the great faction's treat;Here we stood still, and after complimentsOf course, and wishing his good journey henceI ask'd what sudden causes made him flyThe once lov'd town, and his dear company:When, on the hated prospect looking back,Thus with just rage the good old Timon spake. ."Since virtue here in no repute is had,Since worth is scorn'd, learning and sense unpaid,And knavery the only thriving trade;Finding my slender fortune ev'ry dayDwindle, and waste insensibly away,I, like a losing gamester, thus retreat,To manage wiselier my last stake of fate:While I have strength, and want no staff to propMy tott'ring limbs, ere age has made me stoopBeneath its weight, ere all my thread be spun,And life has yet in store some sands to run,'Tis my resolve to quit the nauseous town. Let thriving Morecraft choose his dwelling there,Rich with the spoils of some young spendthrift heir:Let the plot-mongers stay behind, whose artCan truth to sham, and sham to truth convert:Whoever has an house to build, or setHis wife, his conscience, or his oath to let:Whoever has, or hopes for offices,A Navy, Guard, or Custom-house's place:Let sharping courtiers stay, who there are greatBy putting the false dice on King, and state.Where they, who once were grooms, and foot-boys known,Are now to fair estates, and honours grown;Nor need we envy them, or wonder muchAt their fantastic greatness, since they're such,Whom Fortune oft, in her capricious freaks,Is pleas'd to raise from kennels, and the jakes,To wealth, and dignity above the rest,When she is frolic, and dispos'd to jest. "I live in London? What should I do there?I cannot lie, nor flatter, nor forswear:I can't commend a book, or piece of wit,(Though a lord were the author) dully writ:I'm no Sir Sydrophel to read the stars,And cast nativities for longing heirs,When fathers shall drop off: no GadburyTo tell the minute when the King shall die,And you know what-come in: nor can I steer,And tack about my conscience, whensoe'er,To a new point, I see religion veer.Let others pimp to courtiers' lechery,I'll draw no City-cuckold's curse on me:Nor would I do it, though to be made great,And rais'd to the chief ministry of state.Therefore, I think it fit to rid the townOf one, that is an useless member grown. "Besides, who has pretence to favour now,But he, who hidden villainy does know,Whose breast does with some burning secret glow?By none thou shalt preferred, or valued be,That trusts thee with an honest secrecy:He only may to great men's friendship reach,Who great men, when he pleases, can impeach.Let others thus aspire to dignity;For me, I'd not their envied grandeur buyFor all th' Exchange is worth, that Paul's will cost,Or was of late in the Scotch voyage lost.What would it boot, if I, to gain my end,Forego my quiet, and my ease of mind,Still fear'd, at last betray'd, by my dear friend? "Another cause, which I must boldly own,And not the least, for which I quit the town,Is to behold it made the common shore,Where France does all her filth, and ordure pour:What spark of true old English rage can bearThose, who were slaves at home, to lord it here?We've all our fashion, language, compliments,Our music, dances, curing, cooking thence:And we shall have their pois'ning too ere long,If still in the improvement we go on. "What would'st thou say, great Harry, should'st thou viewThy gaudy, flutt'ring race of English now,Their tawdry cloths, pulvilios, essences,Their Chedreux perukes, and those vanities,Which thou, and they of old, did so despise?What would'st thou say to see th' infected townWith the foul spawn of foreigners o'errun?Hither from Paris, and all parts they come,The spew, and vomit of their jails at home;To Court they flock, and to St. James his Square,And wriggle into great men's service there:Footboys at first, till they from wiping shoes,Grow, by degrees, the masters of the house:Ready of wit, harden'd of impudence,Able with ease to put down either Haines,Both the King's player, and king's evidence:Flippant of talk, and voluble of tongue,With words at will, no lawyer better hung:Softer than flattering Court-parasite,Or City trader, when he means to cheat,No calling, or profession comes amiss:A needy Monsieur can be what he please,Groom, page, valet, quack, operator, fencer,Perfumer, pimp, jack-pudding, juggler, dancer:Give but the word, the cur will fetch and bring,Come over to the Emperor, or King:Or, if you please, fly o'er the pyramid,Which Aston and the rest in vain have tried. "Can I have patience, and endure to seeThe paltry foreign wretch take place of me,Whom the same wind, and vessel brought ashore,That brought prohibited goods, and dildoes o'er?Then, pray, what mighty privilege is thereFor me, that at my birth drew English air?And where's the benefit to have my veinsRun British blood, if there's no difference'Twixt me, and him, the statute freedom gave,And made a subject of a true-born slave? "But nothing shocks, and is more loath'd by me,Than the vile rascal's fulsome flattery:By help of this false magnifying glass,A louse, or flea, shall for a camel pass:Produce an hideous wight, more ugly farThan those ill shapes, which in old hangings are,He'll make him straight a beau garçon appear:Commend his voice, and singing, though he brayWorse than Sir Martin Mar-all in the play:And if he rhyme, shall praise for standard wit,More scurvy sense than Prynne, and Vickars writ. "And here's the mischief, though we say the same,He is believ'd, and we are thought to sham:Do you but smile, immediately the beastLaughs out aloud, though he ne'er heard the jest;Pretend you're sad, he's presently in tears,Yet grieves no more than marble, when it wearsSorrow in metaphor: but speak of heat;'O God! How sultry 'tis!' he'll cry, and sweatIn depth of winter: strait, if you complainOf cold; the weather-glass is sunk again:Then he'll call for his frieze-campaign, and swear,'Tis beyond eighty, he's in Greenland here,Thus he shifts scenes, and oft'ner in a dayCan change his face, than actors at a play,There's nought so mean can 'scape the flatt'ring sot,Not his Lord's snuff-box, nor his powder-spot:If he but spit, or pick his teeth; he'll cry,'How every thing becomes you! let me die,Your Lordship does it most judiciously:'And swear, 'tis fashionable, if he sneeze,Extremely taking, and it needs must please. "Besides, there's nothing sacred, nothing freeFrom the hot satyr's rampant lechery;Nor wife, not virgin-daughter can escape,Scarce thou thy self, or son avoid a rape:All must go padlock'd: if nought else there be,Suspect thy very stable's chastity.By this the vermin into secrets creep,Thus, families in awe they strive to keep,What living for an Englishman, is there,Where such as these get head, and domineer,Whose use, and custom 'tis, never to shareA friend, but love to reign, without dispute,Without a rival, full and absolute?Soon as the insect gets his honour's ear,And fly-blows some of 's pois'nous malice there,Strait I'm turn'd off, kick'd out of doors, discarded,And all my former service disregarded. "But leaving these Messieurs, for fear that IBe thought of the silk-weavers' mutiny,From the loath'd subject let us hasten on,To mention other grievances in town:And further, what respect at all is hadOf poor men here? and how's their service paid,Though they be ne'er so diligent to wait,To sneak, and dance attendance on the great?No mark of favour is to be obtain'dBy one, that sues, and brings an empty hand:And all his merit is but made a sport,Unless he glut some cormorant at Court. "'Tis now a common thing, and usual here,To see the son of some rich usurerTake place of nobles, keep his first-rate whore,And for a vaulting-bout or two give moreThan a Guard-captain's pay: meanwhile the breedOf peers, reduced to poverty, and need,Are fain to trudge to the Bankside, and thereTake up with porter's leavings, suburb-ware,There spend that blood, which their great ancestorSo nobly shed at Cressy heretofore,At brothel-fights in some foul common shore. "Produce an evidence, though just he be,As righteous Job, or Abraham, or he,Whom Heaven, when whole nature shipwreck'd was,Thought worth the saving, of all human race;Or t'other, who the flaming deluge scap'd,When Sodom's lechers angels would have rap'd;'How rich he is,' must the first question be,Next, for his manners and integrity:They'll ask, 'what equipage he keeps, and whatHe's reckon'd worth, in money, and estate,For Shrieve how oft he has been known to fine,And with how many dishes he does dine?'You look what cash a person has in store,Just so much credit has he, and no more:Should I upon a thousand Bibles swear,And call each saint throughout the calendarTo vouch my oath, it won't be taken here;The poor slight Heav'n, and thunderbolts (they think),And Heav'n itself does at such trifles wink. "Besides, what store of gibing scoffs are thrownOn one, that's poor, and meanly clad in town;If his apparel seem but overworn,His stockings out at heel, or breeches torn?One takes occasion his ripp'd shoe to flout,And swears 't has been at prison-grates hung out:Another shrewdly jeers his coarse cravat,Because himself wears point: a third, his hat,And most unmercifully shows his wit,If it be old, and does not cock aright:Nothing in poverty so ill is borne,As its exposing men to grinning scorn,To be by tawdry coxcombs piss'd uponAnd made the jesting-stock of each buffoon,'Turn out there, friend! (cries one at church) 'the pewIs not for such mean scoundrel curs, as you:'Tis for your betters kept:' belike some sotThat knew no father, was on bulks begot:But now is rais'd to an estate, and pride,By having the kind proverb on his side:Let Gripe and Cheatwell take their places there,And Dash the scriv'ner's gaudy sparkish heir,That wears three ruin'd orphans on his back:Meanwhile you in the alley stand, and sneak:And you therewith must rest contented, sinceAlmighty wealth does put such difference.What citizen a son-in-law will take,Bred ne'er so well, that can't a jointure make?What man of sense, that's poor, e'er summon'd isAmong the Common Council to advise?At vestry-consults, when he does he appearFor choosing of some parish officer,Or making leather-buckets for the choir? "'Tis hard for any man to rise, that feelsHis virtue clogg'd with poverty at heels:But harder 'tis by much in London, whereA sorry lodging, coarse, and slender fare,Fire, water, breathing, every thing is dear:Yet such as these an earthen dish disdain,With which their ancestors, in Edgar's reign,Were serv'd, and thought it no disgrace to dine,Though they were rich, had store of leather-coin.Low as their fortune is, yet they despiseA man that walks the streets in homely frieze:To speak the truth, great part of England nowIn their own cloth, will scarce vouchsafe to go:Only the statute's penalty to save,Some few perhaps wear woollen in the grave.Here all go gaily dress'd, although it beAbove their means, their rank, and quality:The most in borrow'd gallantry, are clad,For which the tradesman's books are still unpaid:This fault is common in the meaner sort,That they must needs affect to bear the portOf gentlemen, though they want income for't. "Sir, to be short, in this expensive townThere's nothing without money to be done:What will you give to be admitted there,And brought to speech of some Court-minister?What will you give to have the quarter-face,The squint and nodding and go-by of his Grace?His porter, groom, and steward, must have fees,And you may see the tombs, the Tow'r for less:Hard fate of suitors! who must pay, and prayTo livery-slaves, yet oft go scorn'd away. "Whoe'er at Barnet, or St. Albans fearsTo have his lodging drop about his ears,Unless a sudden hurricane befall,Or such a wind as blew old Noll to Hell?Here we build slight, what scarce outlasts the lease,Without the help of props, and buttresses:And houses nowadays as much requireTo be insur'd from falling, as from fire.There buildings are substantial, though less neat,And kept with care both wind-, and water-tight:There you in safe security are blest,And nought, but conscience to disturb your rest. "I am for living where no fires affright,No bells rung backward break my sleep at night:I scarce lie down, and draw my curtains here,But strait I'm rous'd by the next house on fire:Pale, and half dead with fear, myself I raise,And find my room all over in a blaze;By this 't has seiz'd on the third stairs, and ICan now discern no other remedy,But leaping out at window to get free:For if the mischief from the cellar came,Be sure the garret is the last, takes flame. "The moveables of Pordage were a bedFor him, and 's wife: a piss-pot by its side,A looking-glass upon the cupboard's head,A comb-case, candlestick, and pewter-spoon,For want of plate, with desk to write upon:A box without a lid serv'd to containFew authors, which made up his Vatican:And there his own immortal works were laid,On which the barb'rous mice for hunger prey'd:Pordage had nothing, all the world does know;And yet should he have lost this nothing too,No one the wretched bard would have suppliedWith lodging, house-room, or a crust of bread. "But if the fire burn down some great man's houseAll strait are interested in the loss:The Court is strait in mourning sure enough,The Act, Commencement, and the Term put off:Then we mischances of the town lament,And fasts are kept, like judgments to prevent.Out comes a brief immediately, with speedTo gather charity as far as Tweed.Nay, while 'tis burning, some will send him inTimber, and stone to build his house again:Others choice furniture: here some rare pieceOf Rubens, or Vandyke presented is:There a rich suit of Mortlack tapestry,A bed of damask, or embroidery:One gives a fine scritoire, or cabinet,Another a huge massy dish of plate,Or bag of gold; thus he, at length, gets moreBy kind misfortune than he had before:And all suspect it for a laid design,As if he did himself the fire begin. "Could you but be advis'd to leave the town,And from dear plays, and drinking friends be drawn,An handsome dwelling might be had in Kent,Surrey, or Essex, at a cheaper rentThan what you're forc'd to give for one half-yearTo lie, like lumber, in a garret here:A garden there, and well, that needs no rope,Engine, or pains to crane its waters up:Water is there, through nature's pipes convey'd,For which, no custom, nor excise is paid:Had I the smallest spot of ground, which scarceWould summer half-a-dozen grasshoppers,Not larger than my grave, though hence remote,Far as St. Michael's Mount, I would go to 't,Dwell there content, and thank the fates to boot. "Here, want of rest a-nights more people killsThan all the College, and the weekly bills:Where none have privilege to sleep, but those,Whose purses can compound for their repose:In vain I go to bed, or close my eyes,Methinks the place the middle region is,Where I lie down in storms, in thunder rise:The restless bells such din in steeples keep,That scarce the dead can in their churchyards sleep:Huzza's of drunkards, bellmen's midnight rhymes,The noise of shops, with hawkers' early screams,Besides the brawls of coachmen, when they meet,And stop in turnings of a narrow street,Such a loud medley of confusion makes,As drowsy Archer on the bench would wake. "If you walk out in bus'ness ne'er so great,Ten thousand stops you must expect to meet:Thick crowds in ev'ry place you must charge throughAnd storm your passage, wheresoe'er you go:While tides of followers behind you throng,And pressing on your heels, shove you along:One, with a board, or rafter hits your head,Another, with his elbow bores your side;Some tread upon your corns, perhaps in sport,Meanwhile your legs are cas'd all o'er with dirt.Here you the march of a slow funeral wait,Advancing to the church with solemn state:There a sedan, and lackeys stop your way,That bears some punk of honour to the play:Now you some mighty piece of timber meet,Which tott'ring threatens ruin to the street:Next a huge Portland stone, for building Paul's,Itself almost a rock, on carriage rolls:Which, if it fall, would cause a massacre,And serve at once to murder and inter.If what I've said can't from the town affright,Consider other dangers of the night:When brickbats are from upper stories thrown,And emptied chamber pots come pouring downFrom garret windows: you have cause to blessThe gentle stars, if you come off with piss:So many fates attend, a man had needNe'er walk without a surgeon by his side:And he can hardly now discreet be thought,That does not make his will, ere he go out. "If this you 'scape, twenty to one, you meetSome of the drunken scourers of the street,Flush'd with success of warlike deeds perform'd,Or constables subdu'd, and brothels storm'd:These, if a quarrel, or a fray be miss'd,Are ill at ease a-nights, and want their rest;For mischief is a lechery to some,And serves to make them sleep like laudanum.Yet heated, as they are, with youth, and wine,If they discern a train of flambeaus shine,If a great man with his gilt coach appear,And a strong guard of footboys in the rear,The rascals sneak, and shrink their heads for fear.Poor me, who use no light to walk about,Save what the parish, or the skies hang out,They value not: 'tis worth your while to hearThe scuffle, if that be a scuffle, whereAnother gives the blows, I only bear:He bids me stand: of force I must give way,For 'twere a senseless thing to disobey,And struggle here, where I'd as good opposeMyself to Preston and his mastiffs loose. ."'Who's there?' he cries, and takes you by the throat,'Dog! Are you dumb? Speak quickly, else my footShall march about your buttocks: whence d' ye come,From what bulk-ridden strumpet reeking home?Saving your rev'rend pimpship, where d' ye ply?How may one have a job of lechery?'If you say anything, or hold your peace,And silently go off, 'tis all a case:Still he lays on: nay well, if you scape so:Perhaps he'll clap an action on you tooOf battery, nor need he fear to meetA jury to his turn, shall do him right,And bring him in large damage for a shoeWorn out, besides the pains, in kicking you.But patience: his best way in such a caseIs to be thankful for the drubs, and begThat they would mercifully spare one leg,Or arm unbroke, and let him go awayWith teeth enough to eat his meat next day. "Nor is this all, which you have cause to fear,Oft we encounter midnight padders here:When the exchanges, and the shops are close,And the rich tradesman in his counting houseTo view the profits of the day, withdraws.Hither in flocks from Shooter's Hill they come,To seek their prize, and booty nearer home:'Your purse!' they cry; 'tis madness to resist,Or strive with a cock'd pistol at your breast:And these each day so strong and num'rous grow,The town can scarce afford them jail-room now.Happy the times of the old Heptarchy,Ere London knew so much of villainy:Then fatal carts through Holborn seldom went,And Tyburn with few pilgrims was content:A less, and single prison then would do,And serv'd the city, and the county too. "These are the reasons, sir, that drive me hence,To which I might add more, would time dispense,To hold you longer, but the sun draws low,The coach is hard at hand, and I must go:Therefore, dear sir, farewell; and when the town,From better company can spare you down,To make the country with your presence blest,Then visit your old friend amongst the rest:There I'll find leisure to unlade my mindOf what remarks I now must leave behind:The fruits of dear experience, which, with theseImprov'd will serve for hints, and notices;And when you write again, may be of useTo furnish satire for your daring muse."

© John Oldham