The rogue has (with all the wit he could muster up) been
declaiming against wit.
Ay? Why, then, I'm afraid Jeremy has wit: for wherever it
is, it's always contriving its own ruin.
Why, so I have been telling my master, sir: Mr Scandal, for
heaven's sake, sir, try if you can dissuade him from turning poet.
Poet! He shall turn soldier first, and rather depend upon
the outside of his head than the lining. Why, what the devil, has
not your poverty made you enemies enough? Must you needs shew your
wit to get more?
Ay, more indeed: for who cares for anybody that has more wit
Jeremy speaks like an oracle. Don't you see how worthless
great men and dull rich rogues avoid a witty man of small fortune?
Why, he looks like a writ of enquiry into their titles and estates,
and seems commissioned by heaven to seize hte better half.
Therefore I would rail in my writings, and be revenged.
Rail? At whom? The whole world? Impotent and vain! Who
would die a martyr to sense in a country where the religion is
folly? You may stand at bay for a while; but when the full cry is
against you, you shan't have fair play for your life. If you can't
be fairly run down by the hounds, you will be treacherously shot by
the huntsmen. No, turn pimp, flatterer, quack, lawyer, parson, be
chaplain to an atheist, or stallion to an old woman, anything but
poet. A modern poet is worse, more servile, timorous, and fawning,
than any I have named: without you could retrieve the ancient
honours of the name, recall the stage of Athens, and be allowed the
force of open honest satire.
You are as inveterate against our poets as if your character
had been lately exposed upon the stage. Nay, I am not violently
bent upon the trade. [One knocks.] Jeremy, see who's there.
[JEREMY. goes to the door.] But tell me what you would have me do?
What do the world say of me, and my forced confinement?
The world behaves itself as it uses to do on such occasions;
some pity you, and condemn your father; others excuse him, and blame
you; only the ladies are merciful, and wish you well, since love and
pleasurable expense have been your greatest faults.
And how the devil do you mean to keep your word?
Keep it? Not at all; it has been so very much stretched that
I reckon it will break of course by to-morrow, and nobody be
surprised at the matter. [Knocking.] Again! Sir, if you don't
like my negotiation, will you be pleased to answer these yourself?