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CHARACTER OF ATOSSA
FROM EPISTLE II. OF THE CHARACTERS OF WOMEN
But what are these to great Atossa's mind? Scarce once herself, by turns all womenkind ! Who, with herself, or others, from her birth Finds all her life one warfare upon earth:
Shines, in exposing knaves, and painting fools, 120 Yet is, whate'er she hates and ridicules.
No thought advances, but her eddy brain
The wisest fool much time has ever made. 125 From loveless youth to unrespected age,
No passion gratified, except her rage,
Who breaks with her, provokes revenge from hell, 130 But he's a bolder man who dares be well.
Her every turn with violence pursued,
Love, if it makes her yield, must make her hate: 135 Superiors ? death! and equals? what a curse !
But an inferior not dependent? worse.
Offend her, and she knows not to forgive;
EPISTLE TO DR. ARBUTHNOT
P. Shut, shut the door, good John! fatigued I said:
What walls can guard me, or what shades can hide?
No place is sacred, not the church is free,
Happy! to catch me just at dinner-time.
A maudlin poetess, a rhyming peer,
Is there, who, locked from ink and paper, scrawls 20 With desperate charcoal round his darkened walls ?
All fly to Twit'nam, and in humble strain
Imputes to me and my damned works the cause: 25 Poor Cornus sees his frantic wife elope, And curses wit, and poetry, and Pope.
Friend to my life! (which did not you prolong, The world had wanted many an idle song),
What drop or nostrum can this plague remove? 30 Or which must end me, a fool's wrath or love?
A dire dilemma! either way I'm sped,
Who can't be silent, and who will not lie:
And to be grave, exceeds all power of face.
And drop at last, but in unwilling ears,
“Nine years !” cries he, who, high in Drury Lane,
“The piece, you think, is incorrect? why take it; I'm all submission; what you'd have it, make it."
Three things another's modest wishes bound, My friendship, and a prologue, and ten pound.
Pitholeon sends to me: “You know his Grace, I want a patron; ask him for a place.”
50 Pitholeon libelled me -“but here's a letter Informs you, sir, 'twas when he knew no better. Dare you refuse him? Curll invites to dine; He'll write a journal, or he'll turn divine." Bless me! a packet. "'Tis a stranger sues,
55 A virgin tragedy, an orphan Muse.” If I dislike it, “Furies, death and rage !" If I approve, “Commend it to the stage.” There (thank my stars) my whole commission ends, The players and I are, luckily, no friends. Fired that the house reject him, “'Sdeath I'll print it, And shame the fools – Your interest, sir, with Lintot.” Lintot, dull rogue, will think your price too much: “Not, sir, if you revise it, and retouch." All my demurs but double his attacks:
65 At last he whispers, “Do; and we go snacks."
Glad of a quarrel, straight I clap the door:
One dedicates in high heroic prose, 110 And ridicules beyond a hundred foes:
One from all Grub Street will my fame defend,
There are who to my person pay their court:
Go on, obliging creatures, make me see 120 All that disgraced my betters met in me.
Say, for my comfort, languishing in bed,
Great Homer died three thousand years ago. 125 Why did I write? what sin to me unknown
Dipped me in ink? my parents', or my own?
I left no calling for this idle trade, 130 No duty broke, no father disobeyed :
The Muse but served to ease some friend, not wife,