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can justly be expected from no other pen but that of your operose Doctor Bentley.
Let us, therefore, at present acquiesce in the dubiousness of their antiquity, and think the authority of the past and present times a sufficient plea for your patronizing, and my dedicating this poem: especially since in this age Dedications are not only fashionable, but almost necessary; and indeed they are now so much in vogue, that book without one is as seldom seen as a bawdyhouse without a Practice of Piety, or a poet with money. Upon this account, Sir, those who have no friends, dedicate to all good Christians; some to their booksellers; some, for want of a sublunary patron, to the manes of a departed one. There are, that have dedicated to their whores : God help those hen-pecked writers that have been forced to dedicate to their own wives! But while I talk so much of other men's patrons I have forgot my own; and seem rather to make an essay on Dedications, than to write one. However, Sir, I presume you will pardon me for that fault; and perhaps, like me, the better for saying nothing to the purpose.
You, Sir, are a person more tender of other men's reputation than your own, and would hear every body commended but yourself. Should I but mention
your skill in turning, and the compassion you showed to my fingers' ends when you gave me a tobacco-stopper, you would blush, and be confounded with your just praises. How much more would you, should I tell you what a progress you have made in that abstruse and useful language the Saxon? Since, therefore, the
recital of your excellences would prove so trovblesome, I shall offend your modesty no longer. Give me leave to speak a word or two concerning the poem, and I have done. This poem, Sir, if we consider the moral, the newness of the subject, the variety of images, and the exactness of the similitudes that compose it, must be allowed a piece that was never equalled by the moderns or ancients. The subject of the poem is myself, a subject never yet handed by any poet. How fit to be handled by all, we may learn by those few divine commendatory verses written by the admirable Monsieur le Bog.
Yet since I am the subject and the poet too, I shall say no more of it, lest I should seem vainglorious. As for the moral I have taken particular care that it should lie incognity, not like the ancients, who let you know at first sight they design something by their verses. may look a good while, and, perhaps, after all, find that the poet has no aim or design, which must needs be a diverting sùrprise to the reader. What shall I say of the similies, which are so full of geography that you must get a Welshman to understand them ? that so raise our ideas of the things they are applied to? that are so extraordinarily quaint and well chosen, that there is nothing like them? So that I think that I may, without vanity, say, Avia Pieridum peragro loca, &c. Yet, however excellent this poem is, in the reading of it you will find a vast difference between some parts and others; which proceeds not from your humble servant's negligence, but
But here you diet. This poem was begun when he had little victuals, and no money; and was finished when he had the misfortune, at a virtuous lady's house, to meet with both. But I hope, in time, Sir, when hunger and poverty shall once more be my companions, to make amends for the defaults of this poem, by an Essay on Minced Pies, which shall be devoted to you with all submission, by,
HAPPY the man who, void of cares and strife, In silken or in leathern purse
retains A Splendid Shilling! he nor hears with pain New oysters cried, nor sighs for cheerful ale; But with his friends, when nightly mists arise, To Juniper's Magpie, or Town Hall' repairs; Where, mindful of the nymph, whose wanton eye Transfix'd his soul, and kindled amorous flames, Chloe, or Phillis; he each circling glass Wisheth her health, and joy, and equal love. Meanwhile, he smokes, and laughs at merry tale Or pun ambiguous, or conumdrum quaint; But I, whom griping penury surrounds, And hunger, sure attendant upon want, With scanty offals and small acid tiff (Wretched repast!) my meagre corpse sustain, Then solitary walk, or doze at home In garret vile, and with a warming puff Regale chill'd fingers, or from tube as black As winter-chimney or well-polish'd jet Exhale mundungus, ill perfuming scent ! Not blacker tube, nor of a shorter size, Smokes Cambro-Briton (versed in pedigree, Sprung from Cadwallader and Arthur, kings Full famous in romantic tale) when he O’er many a craggy hill and barren cliff,
1 Two noted alehouses at Oxford in 1700.
Upon a cargo of famed Cestrian cheese,
Thus, while my joyless minutes tedious flow,