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and rudeness should be 'equally avoided ; folly and vice should never be spared : and tho’ by acting thus, you may offend many, yet you will please the better few; and the approbation of one virtuous mind is more valuable than all the noisy applause, and uncertain favours of the great and guilty.
Mer. Incomparable Esop! both men and Gods admire thee! we must now prepare to receiie these mortals; and lest the solemnity of the place should strike 'em with too much dread; I'll raise music shall dispel their fears, and embolden them to approach.
re mortals w bom funcies and troubles perplex,
Obey the glad summons, to Leihe repair,
Old maids sball forget what tbey wish for in vain,
Obey then the summons, to Lethe repair,
The wife at one draught may forget all ber wants,
fond fool to forget ber gallants ;
Obey then the summons, to Lethe repair,
Esop. Mercury, Charon has brought over one mortal already, conduct him hither,
[Exit Mercury. Now for a large catalogue of complaints, without the
acknwoledgement of one single vice;-here he comes-if one may guess at his cares by his appearance, he really wants the assistance of Lethe.
Enter Poet. Poet. Sir, your humble servant-your name is EsopI know your person intimately, tho' I never saw you be
and am well acquainted with you, tho' I never had the honour of your conversation.
Esop. You are a dealer in paraduses friend.
Poet. I am a dealer in all parts of speech, and in all the figures of rhetoric I am a poet, Sir—and to be a poet, and not acquainted with the great Esop, is a greater paradox than-İ honour you extremely, Sir; you certainly of all the writers of antiquity, had the greatest, the sublimest genius, the
Esop. Hold, friend, I hate flattery.
Poet. My own taste exactly, I assure you ; Sir, no mani loves flattery less than myself.
Esop. So it appears, by your being so ready to give it away.
Poet. You have hit it, Mr Esop, you have hit it- I have given it away indeed. I did not receive one farthing for
my last dedication, and yet would you believe it?-İ absolutely gave all the virtues in heaven to one of the lowest reptiles upon earth.
Esop. 'Tis hard, indeed, to do dirty work for nothing. Poet. Ay, Sir, to do dirty work, and still be dirty oneself is the stone of Sysiphus, and the thirst of TantalusYou Greek writers, indeed, carried your point by truth and simplicity,
—they won't do now-adays-our patrons must be tickled into generosity you gain’d the greatest favours, by shewing your own merits, we can only gain the smallest, by publishing those of other people
-You flourish'd by truth, we starve by fiction; tempora mutantur.
Esop. Indeed, friend, if we may guess by your present plight, you have prostituted your talents to very little purpose. Poet. To
very little upon my word -but they shall find that I can open another vein Satire is the fashion, and satire they shall have let'em look to it, I can be sharp
as well as sweet-i can scourge as well as tickle, I can bite
Esop. You can do any thing, no doubt; but to the buisiness of this visit, for I expect a great deal of company-what are your troubles, Sir?
Poet. Why, Mr Esop, I am troubled wish an odd kind of disorder_I have a sort of a whistling -a singinga whizzing as it were in my head, which I cannot get rid of
Esop. Our waters give no relief to bodily disorders, they only affect the memory.
Poct. From whence all my disorder proceeds--I'l teil you my case, Sir-You must know, I wrote a Play some tiine ago, presented a dedication of it to a certain young nobleman-he approv'd, and accepted of it; but before I could taste his bounty, my piece was unfortunately damn’d; - lost my benefit, isor could I have recourse to my patron, for I was told that his lordship play'd the best catcall the first night, and was the merriest person in the whole audience.
Esop. Pray what do you call damning a play?
Poet. You cannot possibly be ignorant, what it is to be damn'd, Mr Esop ?
Esop. Indeed I am, Sir,—we had no such thing among the Greeks.
Poet. No, Sir! No wonder then that you Greeks were such fine writers- -It is impossible to be describedor truly felt, but by the author himself-If you could but get a leave of absence from this world for a few hours you might perhaps have an opportunity of seeing it yourself- -There is a sort of a new piece comes upon our stage this very night, and I am pretty sure it will meet with its deserts, at least it shall not want my helping hand, rather than you should be disappointed of satisfying your curiosity.
Esop. You are very obliging, sir ; but to your own misfortunes if you please.
Poet. Envy, malice, and party destroy'd me-You must know, Sir, I was a great damner nyself, before I was damu'd-So the frolicks of my youth were returned to me with double interest, from my brother authors- -But, to say the truth my performance was terribly handled, before it appear'd in public.
Esop. How so, pray?
Poet. Why, Sir, some sqeamish friends of mine prun'd it of all the bawdy and immorality, the actors did not speak a line of the sense or sentiment, and the manager (who writes himself) struck out all the wit and humour, in order to lower my performance to a level with his own.
Esop. Now, Sir, I am acquainted with your case, what have you to propose ?
Poet. Notwithstanding the success of my first play, I am strongly persuaded that my next may defy the severity of critics, the sneer of wits, and the malice of authors.
Esop. What! have you been hardy enough to attempt another?
Poet. I must eat, Sir--I must live but when I set down to write, and am glowing with the heat of my imagination, then this damu'd whistling or whizzing in my head, I told you of, so disorders me, that I grow giddy-In short, Sir, I am haunted as it were, with the ghost of my deceas'd play, and its dying groans are for ever in mine ears -Now, Sir, if you will but give me a draught of Lethe, to forget this unfortunate performance, it will be of more real service to me, than all the waters of Helicon.
Isop. I doubt friend you cannot possibly write better, by merely forgetting that you have written before; besides, if, when you drink to the furgetfulness of your own works, you should unluckily forget those of other people too, your next piece will certainly be the worse for it.
Poet. You are certainly in the right-- What then would yo! ad ise me to?
FSO). Suppose you would prevail upon the audience to drink the Kater; the forgetting your former work might be of no small advantage to your future productions.
Poit. Ah, Sir! if I could but do that..but I'm afraid Lethe will cever go down with the audience.
Esop. Well, since you are bent upon it, I shall indulge you-If you please to walk in that grove, (which will afford you many subjects for your poetical contemplation) tijl I have examined the rest, I will dismiss you in your turn.
Poet. And I in return, Sir, will let the world know, in a preface to my next piece, that your politeness is equal in
your sagacity, and that you are as much the fine gentleman as the philosopher,
[Exit Poet. Esop. Oh! your servant, Sir-In the name of misery and mortality what have we here!
Enter an Old Man, supported by a Servant. Old Man. Oh! la! oh! bless me I shall never recover. the fatigue--Ha! what are you friend ? are you the famous Esop? and are you so kin so very good to give people the waters of forgetfulness for nothing?
Esop. I am that person, Sir; but you seem to have no need of my water ; for you must have already out-liv'd your memory.
Old Man. My memory is indeed impair'd, it is not so good as it was, but still "it is beiter than I wish it, at least in regard to one circumstance; there is one thing which sits very heavy at my heart, and which I would willingly forget.
Esop. What is it pray?
Old Man. Oh la ! -Oh! I am herribly fatigued am an old man, Sir, turn’d of ninety- We are ail mortal you' know, so I would fain forget, if you please that I am to die.
Esop. My good friend, you have mistaken the virtue of the waters; they can cause you to forget only what is past; but if this was in their power, you should surely be your own enemy, in desiring to forget what would be the only comfort of one, so poor and wretched as sou
What! I suppose now, you have left some dear loving wife behind, that you can't bear to think of parting with
Old Man. No, no, no; I have buried my wife and forgot her long ago.
Esop. What, you have children then, whom you are unwilling to leave behind you.
Old Man. No, no, no; I have no children at presenta hugh I don't know what I may
have. Esop. Is there any relation or friend, the loss of whom
Old Man. No, no; I have out-liv'd all my relations ; and as for friends, I have none to lose Esop. What can be the reason then, that in all this ap