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On the first marching of the troops,
The Muses, hopeless of his pardon, Convey'd him underneath their hoops
To a small closet in the garden,
So Rumour says: (Who will believe,)
But that they left the door a-jar, Where, safe and laughing in his sleeve,
He heard the distant din of war.
Short was his joy. He little knew
The power of Magic was no fable ; Out of the window, whisk, they flew,
But left a spell upon the table.
The words too eager to unriddle,
The Poet felt a strange disorder ; Transparent bird-lime form'd the middle,
And chains invisible the border.
So cunning was the Apparatus,
The powerful pot-hooks did so move him, That, will he, nill he, to the Great House
He went, as if the Devil drove him.
Yet on his way (no sign of grace,
For folks in fear are apt to pray) To Phæbus he preferr'd his case,
And begg'd his aid that dreadful day.
The Godhead wou'd have back'd his quarrel ;
But with a blush on recollection, Own'd, that his quiver and his laurel
'Gainst four such eyes were no protection.
The Court was sate, the Culprit there,
Forth from their gloomy mansions creeping The Lady Janes and Joans repair,
And from the gallery stand peeping:
Such as in silence of the night
Come (sweep) along some winding entry, (Styack (n) has often seen the sight)
Or at the chapel-door stand centry:
In peaked hoods and mantles tarnishd,
Sour visages, enough to scare ye, High dames of honour once, that garnish'd
The drawing-room of fierce Queen Mary.
(n) The Housekeeper.
The Peeress comes. The audience stare,
And doff their hats with due submission: She curtsies, as she takes the chair,
To all the people of condition.
The Bard, with many an artful fib,
Had in imagination fenc'd him, Disprov'd the arguments of Squib (o),
And all that Groom (p) could urge against him.
But soon his rhetoric forsook him,
When he the solemn hall had seen; A sudden fit of ague shook him,
He stood as mute as poor Macleane (9).
Yet something he was heard to mutter,
« How in the Park beneath an old tree,
(0) Groom of the Chamber.
“ He once or twice had penn'd a sonnet ;
“ Yet hop'd, that he might save his bacon: “ Numbers would give their oaths upon it,
“ He ne'er was for a conj'rer taken.”
The ghostly prudes with hagged face
Already had condemn'd the sinner. My Lady rose, and with a grace
She smil'd, and bid him come to dinner.
“ Jesu-Maria! Madam Bridget,
Why, what can the Viscountess mean? (Cried the square-hoods in woeful fidget)
“ The times are alter'd quite and clean!
“ Decorum's turn'd to mere civility;
« Her air and all her manners show it. “ Commend me to her affability!
Speak to a Commoner and Poet!"
(Here 500 Stanzas are lost.]