Here, take away. I'll walk a turn and digest what I have
You'll grow devilish fat upon this paper diet. [Aside, and
taking away the books.]
And d'ye hear, go you to breakfast. There's a page doubled
down in Epictetus, that is a feast for an emperor.
Was Epictetus a real cook, or did he only write receipts?
Read, read, sirrah, and refine your appetite; learn to live
upon instruction; feast your mind and mortify your flesh; read, and
take your nourishment in at your eyes; shut up your mouth, and chew
the cud of understanding. So Epictetus advises.
O Lord! I have heard much of him, when I waited upon a
gentleman at Cambridge. Pray what was that Epictetus?
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 understands 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?
Why, sirrah, 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 wittiest 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.
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 expenses 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.
Well, and now I am poor I have an opportunity to be revenged
on them all. I'll pursue Angelica with more love than ever, and
appear more notoriously her admirer in this restraint, than when I
openly rivalled 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.
Nay, your condition is pretty even with theirs, that's the
I'll take some of their trade out of their hands.
Now heaven of mercy continue the tax upon paper. You don't
mean to write?
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, Esq., and that
he is not now turned away for any misdemeanour, but does voluntarily
dismiss his master from any future authority over him -
No, sirrah; you shall live with me still.
Sir, it's impossible. I may die with you, starve 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 canonised for a muse
after my decease.
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 rhyming:
you may arrive at the height of a song sent by an unknown hand, or a
But, sir, is this the way to recover your father's favour?
Why, Sir Sampson will be irreconcilable. 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't. 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 pimping, and carrying billet doux and songs: not like other
porters, for hire, but for the jests' 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
Sometimes 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 were 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.