1 YOU'VE read, Sir, in poetic strain,
2 How Varus and the Mantuan swain
3 Have on my birth-day been invited
4 (But I was forc'd in verse to write it)
5 Upon a plain repast to dine,
6 And taste my old Campanian wine;
7 But I, who all punctilio's hate,
8 Tho' long familiar with the great,
9 Nor glory in my reputation,
10 Am come without an invitation,
11 And tho' I'm us'd to right Falernian,
12 I'll deign for once to taste Iernian;
13 But fearing that you might dispute
14 (Had I put on a common suit,)
15 My breeding and my politesse,
16 I visit in a birth-day dress;[Page 190]
17 My coat of purest Turkey-red,
18 With gold embroid'ry richly spread;
19 To which, I've sure as good pretensions,
20 As Irish lords who starve on pensions.
21 What tho' proud ministers of state
22 Did at your antichamber wait;
23 What tho' your Oxfords, and your St. Johns,
24 Have at your Levee paid attendance;
25 And Peterborough and great Ormond,
26 With many chiefs who now are dormant,
27 Have laid aside the general's staff
28 And public cares, with you to laugh;
29 Yet I some friends as good can name,
30 Nor less the darling sons of fame;
31 For sure my Pollio and Mecaenas
32 Were as good statesman, Mr. Dean, as
33 Either your Bolingbroke or Harley,
34 Tho' they made Lewis beg a parley:
35 And as for Mordaunt your lov'd hero,
36 I'll match him with my Drusus Nero.
37 You'll boast perhaps your fav'rite Pope,
38 But Virgil is as good I hope.
39 I own indeed I can't get any
40 To equal Helsham and Delany;
41 Since, Athens brought forth Socrates,
42 A Grecian Isle Hippocrates;
43 Since, Tully liv'd before my time,
44 And Galen bless'd another clime.
45 You'll plead perhaps to my request,
46 To be admitted as a guest,
47 Your hearing's bad — but why such fears?
48 I speak to eyes, and not to ears;
49 And for that reason, wisely took
50 The form you see me in, a book.
51 Attack'd, by slow-devouring moths,
52 By rage of barb'rous Huns and Goths:
53 By Bentley's notes, my deadliest foes,
54 By Creech's rhimes and Dunster's prose;
55 I found my boasted wit and fire
56 In their rude hands almost expire:
57 Yet still they but in vain assail'd,
58 For had their violence prevail'd,
59 And in a blast destroy'd my fame,
60 They wou'd have partly miss'd their aim;
61 Since all my spirit in thy page
62 Defies the Vandals of this age.
63 'Tis yours to save these small remains
64 From future pedants muddy brains,
65 And fix my long-uncertain fate,
66 You best know how, — which way? — translate.