ECLOGUE THE SECOND.
An apartment in the House of LADY BLUEBOTTLE. - A Table
SIR RICHARD BLUEBOTTLE solus.
Was there ever a man who was married so sorry?
Like a fool, I must needs do the thing in a hurry.
My life is reversed, and my quiet destroy'd;
My days, which once pass'd in so gentle a void,
Must now, every hour of the twelve, be employ'd;
The twelve, do I say? --- of the whole twenty-four.
Is there one which I dare call my own any more?
What with driving and visiting, dancing and dining,
What with learning, and teaching, and scribling and shining
In science and art, I'll be cursed if I know
Myself from my wife; for although we are two,
Yet she somehow contrives that all things shall be done
In a style which proclaims us eternally one.
But the thing of all things which distresses me more
Than the bills of the week ( though they trouble me sore )
Is the numerous, humorous, backbiting crew
Of scribblers, wits, lecturers, white, black, and blue,
Who are brought to my house as an inn, to my cost ---
For the bill here, it seems, is defray'd by the host ---
No pleasure ! No leisure ! No thought for my pains,
But to hear a vile jargon which addles my brains;
A smatter and chatter, glean'd out of reviews,
By the rag, tag, and bobtail, of those they call "BLUES;"
A rabble who know not --- But soft, here they come !
Would to God I were deaf ! As I'm not, I'll be dumb.
Enter LADY BLUEBOTTLE, MISS LILAC, LADY BLUEMOUNT, MR. BOTHERBY,
INKEL, TRACY, Miss MAZARINE, and others, with SCAMP the
Lecturer, &c. &c.
Ah ! Sir Richard, good morning: I've brought
you some friends.
Sir Rich. ( Bows, and afterwards aside ).
If friends, they're the first.
But the luncheon attends.
I pray ye be seated. "Sans cérémonie."
Mr. Scamp, you're fatigued; take your chair there next to me.
[They all sit.
Sir Rich. ( aside ).
If he does, his fatigue is to come.
Mr. Tracy ---
Lady Bluemount --- Miss Lilac --- be please, pray, to place ye;
And you, Mr. Botherby ---
Oh, my dear Lady,
Mr. Inkel, I ought to upbraid ye:
You were not at the lecture.
Excuse me, I was:
But the heat forced me out in the best part --- alas !
And when -----
To be sure it was broiling; but then
You have lost such a lecture !
The best of the ten.
How can you know that? there are two more,
I defy him to beat this day's wondrous applause.
The very walls shook.
Oh, if that be the test,
I allow our friend Scamp has this day done his best.
Miss Lilac, permit me to help you; --- a wing?
No more, sir, I thank you. Who lectures next spring?
That is if he lives.
And why not?
No reason whatever, save that he's a sot
Lady Bluemount ! a glass of Madeira?
How does your friend Wordswords, that Windermere treasure?
Does he stick to his lakes, like the leeches he sings,
And their gatherers, as Homer sung warriors and kings?
He has just got a place.
As a footman?
For shame !
Nor profane with your sneers so poetic a name.
Nay, I meant him no evil, but pitied his master;
For the poet of pedlars 't were sure, no disaster
To wear a new livery; the more, as 't is not
The first time he has turn'd both his creed and his coat.
For shame! I repeat. If Sir George could but hear
Never mind our friend Inkel; we all know, my dear,
'Tis his way.
But this place -----
Is perhaps like friend Scamp's,
Excue me --- 't is one in the "Stamps:"
He is made a collector.
I shall think of him oft when I buy a new hat:
There his works will appear -----
Sir, they reach to the Ganges.
I shan't go so far --- I can have them at Grange's.
Oh fie !
And for shame !
You're too bad.
Very good !
He means nought --- 't is his phrase.
He grows rude.
He means nothing; nay, ask him.
Pray, Sir! Did you mean
What you say?
Never mind if he did; 't will be seen
That whatever he means won't alloy what he says.
Pray be content with your portion of praise;
'T was in your defence.
If you please, with submission,
I can make out my own.
It would be your perdition.
While you live, my dear Botherby, never defend
Yourself or your works; but leave both to a friend.
Apropos --- Is your play then accepted at last?
Why I thought --- that's to say --- there had pass'd
A few green-room whispers, which hinted, --- you know
That the taste of the actors at best is so so.
Sir, the green-room's in rapture, and so's the Committee.
Ay --- yours are the plays for exciting our "pity
And fear," as the Greek says' for "purging the mind,"
I doubt if you'll leave us an equal behind.
I have written the prologue and meant to have pray'd
For a spice of your wit in an epilogue's aid.
Well, time enough yet, when the play's to be play'd.
Is it cast yet?
The actors are fighting for parts,
As is usual in that most litigious of arts.
We'll all make a party, and go the first night.
And you promised the epilogue, Inkel.
However, to save my friend Botherby trouble,
I'll do what I can, though my pains must be double.
To do justice to what goes before.
Sir, I'm happy to say, I've no fears on that score.
Your parts, Mr. Inkel, are -----
Never mind mine;
Stick to those of your play, which is quite your own line.
You're a fugitive writer, I think, sir, of rhymes?
Yes, ma'am; and a fugitive reader sometimes.
On Wordswords, for instance, I seldom alight,
Or on Mouthey, his friend, without taking to flight.
Sir, your taste is too common; but time and posterity
Will right these great men, and this age's severity
Become its reproach.
I've no sort of objection,
So I'm not of the party to take the infection.
Perhaps you have doubts that they ever will take?
Not at all; on the contrary, those of the lake
Have taken already, and still will continue
To take --- what they can, from a groat to a guinea,
Of pension or place; --- but the subject's a bore.
Well, sir, the time's coming.
Scamp! don't you feel sore?
What say you to this?
They have merit, I own;
Though their system's absurdity keeps it unknown.
Then why not unearth it in one of your lectures?
It is only time past which comes under my strictures.
Come, a truce with all tartness; --- the joy of my heart
Is to see Nature's triumph o'er all that is art.
Wild Nature ! Grand Shakspeare !
And down Aristotle !
Sir George thinks exactly with Lady Bluebottle;
And my Lord Seventy-four, who protects our dear Bard,
And who gave him his place, has the greatest regard
For the poet, who, singing of pedlars and asses,
Has found out the way to dispense with Parnassus.
And you, Scamp ! ---
I needs must confess I'm embarrass'd.
Don't call upon Scamp, who's already so harass'd
With old schools, and new schools, and no schools,
and all schools.
Well, one thing is certain, that some must be fools.
I should like to know who.
And I should not be sorry
To know who are not: --- it would save us some worry.
A truce with remark, and let nothing control
This "feast of our reason, and flow of the soul."
Oh ! my dear Mr. Botherby ! sympathise ! --- I
Now feel such a raputre, I'm ready to fly,
I feel so elastic --- "so buoyant --- so buoyant ! "
Tracy! open the window.
I wish her much joy on 't.
For God's sake, my Lady Bluebottle, check not
This gentle emotion, so seldom our lot
Upon earth. Give it way: 't is an impulse which lifts
Our spirits from earth; the sublimest of gifts;
For which poor Prometheus was chain'd to his mountain:
"Tis the source of all sentiment --- feeling's true fountain;
'T is the Vision of Heaven upon Earth: 't is the gas
Of the soul; 't is the seizing of shades as they pass,
And making them substance: 't is something divine: ---
Shall I help you, my friend, to a little more wine?
I thank you; not any more, sir, till I dine.
Apropos --- Do you dine with Sir Humphry to-day?
I should think with Duke Humphry was more in your way.
It might be of yore; but we authors now look
To the Knight, as a landlord, much more than the Duke.
The truth is, each writer now quite at his ease is,
And ( except with his publisher ) dines where he pleases.
But 'tis now nearly five, and I must to the Park.
And I'll take a turn with you there till 't is dark.
And you, Scamp ----
Excuse me ! I must to my notes,
For my lecture next week.
He must mind whom he quotes
Out of "Elegant Extracts."
Well, now we break up;
But remember Miss Diddle invites us to sup.
Then at two hours past midnight we all meet again,
For the sciences, sandwiches, hock, and champagne !
And the sweet lobster salad !
I honour that meal;
For 't is then that our feelings must genuinely --- feel.
True; feeling is truest then; far beyond question
I wish to the gods 't was the same with digestion !
Pshaw ! --- never mind that; for one moment of feeling
Is worth --- God knows what.
'Tis at least worth concealing
For itself, or what follows ----- But here comes your
Sir. Rich. ( aside ).
I wish all these people were d ---- d with my marriage !