Epistle the 1st
To the Editor of the Attic Chest
Justice! Justice!! Justice!!!
Forgive, dear Sir, an injured poet,
Who’s wrong’d — who’d wish the world to know it,
Who, by a dire deceiver’s art
Is wounded in his tenderest part,
If in epistolary song
He cry for Justice! loud and long.
Yes, worthy Sir, success i’ th’ Attic
Chest had waked feelings quite ecstatic,
And all my soul with ardour glow’d
While my kind friend the member show’d
The meed of praise, upon my verse bestow’d:
But Ah! too soon, with altered cheer
And many a dark surmise, I hear
That there was read a second letter
In which I plained me of a debtor
For verses in the way of trade,
Who made me write, but never paid
And tho’ I did not fairly name him
Enclosed the verses, Sir, to shame him.
Now, on my word, this “Lamentation”
(Although it met with commendation)
Was none of mine — for I had spurned
E’en were my verse on hand returned,
To seek revenge for such offence
By one betraying confidence.
No, ’tis the work of angry rival
Who’d wish himself the trade to drive all,
Or jealous damsel — fie upon her —
Who’d steal my only wealth — my honor.
O, aid me all ye sacred Nine!
Fill me with energy divine!
And, as the lion’s lashing tail
To swell his fierceness doth avail,
So let my goose-quill wave in ire,
To fan the flame of fury dire!
But no — to mortal if ’twere given
To dart at will the winged levin
Poetic vengeance frequent hurl’d
Would soon of bards deprive the world.
And so, without a further fuss
I’ll call the gentle Zephyrus
Or fiercer wind of rougher name,
T’extinguish quick the rising flame,
E’er its effects are seen on paper;
Like careful maid, with evening taper.
But, tho’ no vengeance dire I foster,
Against the witty bold impostor,
Who stole a humble poet’s name,
To wound his honour — share his fame;
Yet still I may, without offence
Calmly assert my innocence;
Assure my friends their secret’s kept
By me, as in a tomb I slept;
And Mr Editor, with leave,
Lest rivals should again deceive,
Your critic eyes, I’ll fix some signs
By which you’ll know Scriblerus’ lines.
The first and best, that Pindus’ choir
Fill them with spirit, grace and fire;
Next graphic elegance and skill
With the same pen my page do fill
And nought is mine, in different hand;
Lastly, a signature I’ve planned,
“Which,” like his name whose dross we buy
“To counterfeit is felony.”
Requires aught else of seal or token
To keep my character unbroken,
It shall be done, with zeal most fervent
By your obsequious humble servant