THE RETORT.

BY The AUTHOR.

Cum tua praetereas oculis male lippus inunctis,
Cur in Amicorum vitiis tam cernis acutum,
Quam aut aquila, aut serpens Epidaurius? at tibi contra
Evenit, inquirant vitia ut tua rursus et illi.
HOR.

LONDON: Printed for, and sold by W. FLEXNEY, near GRAY'S-INN-GATE, HOLBORN.

MDCCLXI.

To T. SMOLLET, M.D.

COULD the author, Sir, imagine that you was ac­cessable only by the steps of flattery and panegyrick, he would at once assign to you the united virtues and abilities of a PITT, a JOHNSON *, and a MEAD. But as he cannot conceive any thing more nauseating to a sensible mind, will leave such polluted offerings, and mean artifices to those, who dreading your critic lash, would thereby be­speak your partiality. A method of address this, which may at first perhaps, from its being a little unfashionable, seem to carry with it an air of vanity to some, with a de­gree of pride to others; but as the author is not himself conscious of either, he will be as little affected by such constructions, as he is by the ingenious writings of those, who are said to have lashed the town with great humour and severity ; whose particular freedom, and great illi­berality towards him (the present author) will, he hopes, so far bias you in your opinion, on the one hand, and ex­culpate him, on the other, as to prevent (should curiosity, for want of other inducements, engage your perusal of the following lines) any imputation or impeachment of that sort, however deserving you may think him of the lash in other respects; for though he is sensible their having acted [Page iv]an illiberal part, is by no means a sufficient plea for him, yet he ventures to assert, that there are men in the world, who can be attacked no other way. Who have, nor know any other weapon, and who, if they do not find men guilty, will make them so: Such is the pride, malice and folly of the age we live in; which cannot, he appre­hends, be more strongly exemplified than in the parson C—LL, lawyer C—N, and critic L—YD. Who,

Parties in wit, attend each other's call,
And he who censures one, offends them all.
To various posts their faction they divide,
Those take the players,—these the world deride.

And to whose secret stabs is the present RETORT en­tirely owing; for though it has been advertised under another title, yet the Author never intended it for the pub­lick eye, but was willing to let his silence shew his con­tempt for his accusers, 'till provok'd too far.

'Be candid therefore where you can, nor break a fly upon a wheel.'

I am, Sir, Your very humble servant, The AUTHOR.

ADVERTISEMENT.

THE Author of the subsequent sheets remem­bering somewhere to have met with an anecdote greatly parallel with his own case, humbly begs leave to recite it. And this he is the more desirous of, as he thinks it will sufficiently shew cause why he has mis­employed so much of his Time, on subjects wholly un­worthy his, and the publick's attention. An assertion strongly confirmed by a quaere the author had put to him the other day by a Gentleman conversing with him upon the intended plan of his Retort. Who immediately (and with great justice it must be admitted) interrogated him in the following words from Horace,

Ten' moveat cimex PANTILIUS? (1) aut cruciet, qùod
Vellicet absentem DEMETRIUS? (2) aut quod ineptus
FANNIUS (3) Hermogenis laedat conviva Tigelli?
SAT. X. Lib. 1.

3nhich at first almost biassed the author into a resolution to suppress his intended publication. But at length, like Chal­cas in the second Aeneid of Virgil, Magnis Clamoribus actus, of the Reverend cimex Pantilius and Co. composito rumpit vocem. And now most humbly submits himself and piece to the candor of the ingenuous public; avoiding their censure, being the height of his ambition.

[Page ii]THE anecdote intended to be recited, is as follows—‘When Demetrius was arraigned at Athens for tyranny, Menander was upon the verge of suffering death, on no other account whatever, than from a supposition and report prevailing of his being a friend and intimate of the traitor's.’ Like him has the present author been most illiberally brought under the same lash with a Gen­tleman, whom the NOBLE TRIUMVIRATE have thought proper to censure, vilify, and defame. And like Me­nander too, has he suffered this, on no other apparent ac­count, than from a seeming intimacy and friendship sub­sisting between him and this Gentleman.

Hinc sibi prima Mali Labes, hinc spargere Voces
In vulgum ambiguas.
VIRG.

But the Author would recommend it to this literary Po­lyphemus and his two nefandi Cyclopes for the future, to be sure they strike a foe, and to act upon more liberal prin­ciples, remembering,

If Maevius scribble in Apollo's spight,
There are who * judge still worse than he can write.
POPE.
The AUTHOR.

THE RETORT.

TALK not of POPE, of ADDISON, or GAY,
Of DRYDEN, CONGREVE, WYCHERLY, or GREY;
Men of contracted principles and worth,
Quite other beings from our present growth;
Mere apes of science in an age of lead,
* "Doom'd to be ever writing, seldom read;"
Who had ('twas thought) a knack at smooth-shod rhyme,
And something knew of unity, place, time.
[Page 4]But long, too long, alas! their works have cloy'd,
A nation BIG with C—LL, C—N, L—YD.
Whose very names have struck as great a damp,
As WOLF or GRANBY in the German camp;
* "And yields to HOMER on no other score,
"Than he had liv'd some thousand years before."
Whose morals it were treason to suspect,
With lives and conduct as their page correct;
Whose full-grown merit may the laurel claim,
And frown contempt on less'ners of their fame;
Whose thoughts HABITUAL INNOCENCE adorns,
And flatt'ry with her oil-steept vassals scorns;
In whose joint works the sweet harmonious line,
All vice suppresses, and makes virtue shime.
'TIS there, and there alone, we read and find,
Wit with good-nature, taste with genius join'd;
SHAKESPEARE'S rich vein, the great ROSCOMMON'S ease,
With ev'ry nervous talent form'd to please;
With manners few can equal, none excel,
And what they dare to think, with candor tell;
From envy, malice, and detraction free,
And all the vip'rous taint of calumny.
[Page 5]'TIS they encourage and with warmth admire,
When genius prompts, and merit fans the fire;
'Tis they the tide of ev'ry vice controul,
And in reforming, harmonize the soul.
THE ONE a second TILLOTTSON appears,
And charms at once our senses and our ears;
In judgment ripe, in stile serene and clear,
Unfolding truths, is pleasingly severe;
Like HORACE trifling with keen satire's dart,
* "Who while he trifled, drove it to the heart."
In softest features deep distress appears,
When virtue meets him begging alms with tears;
Then all the MAN OF ROSS in him revives,
And all his virtue, with Addition lives.
To sick and poor a tender pity shews,
And, babes deserted by their mother, cloaths.
When souls departed wait their wanted rest,
His aid but speaks the temper of his breast;
Obedient to his last sad function's rule,
He flies the Theatre, and would quit his § Poole;
[Page 6]Whose great example is a flame so bright,
Men need but follow to pursue what's right.
NEXT him the critic L—YD, in learning smart,
Stands forth to tell the failings of the Heart;
To guide our senses, and direct our choice,
Inform us where to weep, and where rejoice;
What books young men and maidens best had read,
Who most had labour'd to explain the creed.
Tho' young, mature, and tho' rejected, sought,
By men admiring Roman strength of thought;
Whose choicest numbers who but reads commends,
And wond'ring enemies become his friends;
Desparing rivals loath him, one and all,
As children dread the giants in Guild-Hall.
In whom, blest man, in sweetest union meet,
The various beauties which the bard compleat;
A soul exempt from vanity and pride,
With reason, taste, and judgment for his guide;
And such his elegance and force of wit,
The praise is small, to call him Stagyrite.
[Page 7]Whose other virtues to make justly known,
Demands a genius equal to his own.
ME talents of a smaller growth inspire,
Content to warm at Grey's or Mason's fire.
Here then with him I'll rest the infant quill,
L—YD or LONGINUS, call him which you will.
C—N to him must next in order rise,
And here, as in the easy world, surprize;
Whose comic pow'rs display such wond'rous skill,
'Tis mine to praise him, IRONISE who will.
Strongly he paints the manners of the age, *
And draws life's chequer'd picture on the stage;
Gives words tho' common, (so dext'rous his art)
The air of novelty in ev'ry part;
Such strokes of nature wake the conscious soul,
C—N or nature from each other stole;
Whilst just connexion and arrangement meet,
To make this one, a comedy compleat.
So easy and familiar is each thought,
As seems by SWIFT, and gay PETRONIUS taught;
With all that * ARISTOPHANES e're knew,
MENANDER, PLAUTUS, TERRENCE, or BOILEAU.
Whose fable, diction, raillery and wit,
Receive their imprimatur from the pit;
Whilst peals of laughter stop the busy scene,
Charm'd § at the ringing of the bells within;
Then all is hush'd, and quickly there appears,
A maid suspecting her own want of ears.
BEAUTIES like these croud in so fast, I own,
All comic powers centre here in one;
And tho' to GARRICK as to PRITCHARD due,
Involuntary plaudits do accrue;
From him their greatest merit they receive,
Who to such acting, could such language give;
[Page 9]Where no indecencies throughout appear,
To raise the virgin blush, or hurt the ear;
But modest as the pray'r-book he hath wrote,
And miss from either, decently may quote.
Where quality is known by thoughts refin'd,
And imitating servants lisp their mind;
Where humor with true character unites,
"And boldly censures, as he boldly writes; *
Despising men who pilfer and translate,
From authors in, or authors out of date;
But solely from himself his piece erects,
And dares the world, to shew him his defects;
Well-knowing men of candor must commend,
The theatre's philosopher and friend.
Whose life indulgent Heav'n preserve, and pour
On him the choicest blessings in your store;
For HE all vice and manners will reform,
And give our thoughtless tide a different turn;
By precept teach us what his works inspire,
And make us from destructive paths retire.
WHO then can wonder at my urgent prayer,
Or think this great good man not worth my care?
IN fine, the world must L—d's dominion own,
And prostrate pay due honours to the gown;
Must C—n raise on table, stool, or chair,
Lest in the croud is lost, this comic-ware,
Which feeds at once the Manager and Player.
AND yet I fear too rashly I advance,
In praise, where few, if any countenance.
For oft I've heard th' impartial world proclaim,
'These men the sons of ribaldry and shame.
'Whom virtue wins not, but all follies charm,
'In bold defiance of th' Almighty's arm.
'Whom not one honourable tie controuls,
'But vice ( * as wave on waves) on vices rolls.
'Whom falshood, scandal, treachery and lies,
'Detraction, calumny, and guilt comprize.
'Whose hearts would make men waver in their faith,
'And hold with what the rigid stoic saith .
'Who crimes invent, ambiguous rumors spread,
'As fancy opes the sin-mine of the head.
'Dull, yet conceited, insolent and proud,
'Void of all worth, yet positive and loud;
[Page 11]'Daring all sin to act, exempt from law,
'Whom T—n may, but conscience ne'er did awe.
'Who God's existence doubtfully must own,
'If impious lives require there should be none.
* * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * *
THE Parson quits his pulpit for the stage,
And lives licentious, in a virtuous age;
Whose soul ne'er felt religion's sacred call;
But acts in strict conjunction with Breval *.
Observes each actress, and each actor's walk,
Can tell with whom they lye, with whom but talk;
And strange Reversion from his seat in pews,
Is seen with minors, visiting the st—ws.
Where (as the cash reports) whole nights he'll rest,
Now treat with Wine, now Porter of the best;
With—luxuriously will eat,
On eel or mutton-pye, a glorious treat.
To miss reclining on his downy cheek,
The Rosciad, or apology, will speak ;
[Page 12]Lay strong the emphasis where beauties shine,
And swear POPE breathes, and lives in every line;
At parting, whispers,— tell it o'er the town,
For here are beauties, worthy to be known.
IT'S come, it's come, the Rosciad's come, to mow,
And massacre whole legions at a blow,
'Makes Sancho tremble and Don Quixote see,
'His single arm more dreadful is than he.' *
Through five editions run within a year,
His printer paid, himself an hundred clear.
Proud with success, and of a dauntless form,
Rides in the whirlwind, and directs the storm;
Sworn foe to men who win unborrow'd praise,
Himself and vassal adjutant to raise.
* * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * *
L—YD answers the salute with C—LL'S name,
And makes epistles ladders up to fame;
Weaves for his master's head, the laurel crown,
Nor cares what shrine he plunders or pulls down;
[Page 13]Whilst names big sounding captivate our ears,
A Mucius this, a Gracchus that appears *;
And dead to sense of candor as to truth,
Stabs rising merit in its earliest youth;
Calls this man scribler, that a letter'd rogue,
And C—ll is the only bard in vogue.
Whilst he, the—of that lib'ler's shade,
Lives on the prospect of men's future aid.
And foot-bard like, close lacqueys at the heel,
With plans, much-wanted charity to steel.
Won by distress, his friends subscribe the pence,
To read next year a bastard common sense.
Whilst life rolls on in one unvaried scene,
Of all that's base, contemptible and mean.
The Lyon, Rose, Bob Derry's harmless rhyme,
Divide the Gemman's and the Poet's time.
Where pupils oft have list'ned to his wit,
So long as he could talk, or they could sit;
And all within, and all without the bar,
Have thought there's none with Bobby could compare;
[Page 14]His smutty joke so nat'ral and so fine.
Each w—e cry'd charming! and each youth divine *.
But now (so fickle is all human praise)
They first do censure, who were first to raise:
And from th' epistle's dull, insipid line,
No w—e cries charming, and no youth divine.
But thro' the silken veil, discern the test,
Of ignorance disguis'd in learning's vest.
With all that flimsy arrogance and pride,
Which stamps the dunce, and is the pedant's guide.
* * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * *
Caetera desunt.
THEIR friend and sworn ally, a modern squire,
Whom emptiness and dulness can inspire;
Whom vanity and malice can excite,
And beauties not his own have brought to light.
Who to the world mankind will guilty shew,
And those he does not find, will construe so.
True to no duty, but a mistress' cause §,
And last, as least in honor or applause.
[Page 15]Who basely for some vile clandestine end,
Would sacrifice his dearest bosom friend;
Would follow, fetch and carry, cringe and stoop,
Now P—Y'S spaniel, and now G—K'S dupe;
And dare most impudently false assert,
(Such reverence pays he to his mother dirt;)
The man, who judges him impartially,
'A coxcomb, scribler, noted debauchée.
'A Master Matthew, a Jacky Dapper *,
'A green-room wit, a skip, an understrapp'r.
'Whose follies, shame, nor age, will e'er destroy;
'With vices would an hundred pens employ;
'By gilded speeches, and by terms of art,
'Conceals the imperfections of his heart.'
* * * * * * *
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
* * * * * * * *
* * * * * * *
Caetera desunt.
Who is himself to all so near ally'd,
That thin partitions do the bounds divide.
THUS have I heard the world's impartial sense,
Of those who awe mankind by insolence.
Who bear the names and dignities of men,
* As Buckhorse in the masonary scene.
Who link'd in wit, attend each other's call,
And he who censures one, offends them all.
To various posts their faction they divide,
This takes the stage, and those the world deride.
FROM whom I've felt the malice of the times,
Accus'd and censur'd for unpractis'd crimes:
Obliquely touch'd on in the smooth essay,
Penn'd by some knave, or genius of a day.
Or if my name, a spondee of two feet,
Would make the hobling prose a verse compleat,
'Twas done—and in I went—nor car'd the wit ,
So it but eas'd his visionary fit.
Who Fiz-Gigg like, inglorious and unknown,
Assassins names, to varnish o'er his own.
Attempts my muse in leading-strings to crush,
And at my morals makes a daring push;
Then my small learning, and still smaller wit,
Gives scope to fancy—, and here makes an hit.
[Page 17]From V—n or Dapper makes whole vollies fly,
Of all that envious scandal can supply.
And Rossius' self and merit has describ'd,
Constant alone to avarice and pride;
Whose life as actor, manager and man,
Gives calumny the lie, say all it can.
* LONG in my troubled breast, like Aetna's fire,
Burnt deep and silent my imprison'd ire:
Cursing the author of my wounded name,
Who forg'd the treason, and then dar'd proclaim.
But now, thank Heaven, the abusive croud,
May write whole rheams, and publish them aloud;
I've learnt themselves and scandal to despise,
And hence shall think 'em worthless as their lies.
Tho' vengeance rouse the titled son of God ,
And persecution wave her iron rod.
With all the little reptile's arts to wound
The honest heart, impenetrably sound.
Still will I read, unhurt, the guilty line,
Where all that Grub-street can suggest, may join;
Where indigent abuse shall pass for wit,
And truth and falshood wonder how they met.
[Page 18]Where faction with her self-sufficient train,
Shall brooding sit, illiter ately vain;
Detraction with sedition join the band *.
Of fools, who tax-free madden round the land.
Where rack'd invention shall a portrait draw,
And call the piece a wit, design'd for law;
Whose fame-led genius took another flight,
And soar'd aloft like any paper-kite.
This, and ten thousand things beside, may add,
Suspect my courage, or pronounce me mad;
Still I'll convert to mirth, or Br—ches's use ,
What e'er the fam'd Triumvirate produce;
Make them digest the venom of their spleen,
And envy with her snakes shall hiss in vain;
In vain shall malice rear her speckled crest,
No longer to be made the muse's jest.
But leave the paltry croud who rhyme for bread,
By hunger drove, and not by genius led.
Champing their froth, as dogs disturb the night,
With fruitless howlings at fair Cynthia's light.
Forget that e'er my weak attention hung
On C—ll's, L—d's, or C—n's impious tongue.
Whose Hydra faction, and unclassick rage,
Too long have sullied my Prosaic page.
HERE then the wish'd-for FINIS I'll embrace,
For competition is itself disgrace.
And those best friends enjoy, and with them live,
Who can those follies which I have forgive *.
Yet, yet a moment more, indulge a Ward,
Whilst he reports the station of a bard.
ON rugged billows, and a dang'rous sea,
Sails the Adventurer in poetry;
Round whose small bark tremendous critics press,
Like hungry monsters from the deep's recess;
With looks of rapine, guilt, and tyranny,
At once the world's, and muse's Cerberi;
Such as shock'd nature scarce believes her own,
Who stab in secret, as they write unknown;
Quitting their law, their scripture and their schools,
To pass for wits, whom nature meant for fools;
Judging with rigour ev'ry small offence,
Which shews less want of candor, than of sense.
To these give life, to those immediate death,
As bribes or flattery corrupt their breath:
Yet bribes and flattery I alike despise,
Nor thus would break my fall, or creep to rise.
[Page 20]But to myself a friend, have dar'd to shew,
In turn, the errors of each self-made soe;
Hoisted my sail, tho' fell ABORTIVES howl,
And Vulcan C—LL condescends to prowl.
Whose self and Co. the first aggressors were,
Steel'd against nature, and averse to spare.
So blood-nurs'd lions from the mountain's brow,
Oft rush unseen on peaceful flocks below;
Till caught at length within some hidden snare,
Bite at the chaffing toils, — they're made to bear.
FINIS.

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