The Dispensary (7th ed)/Canto 5

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WHEN the still Night, with peaceful Poppies crown'd,
Had spread her shady Pinions o'er the Ground;
And slumb'ring Chiefs of painted Triumphs dream,
While Groves and Streams are the soft Virgin's Theme,
The Surges gently dash against the Shoar,
Flocks quit the Plains, and Gally-Slaves the Oar.
Sleep shakes its downy Wings o'er mortal Eyes,
Mirmillo is the only Wretch it flies.
He finds no Respite from his anxious Grief,
Then seeks, from this Soliloquy, Relief.

Long have I reign'd unrival'd in the Town,
Oppress'd with Fees and deafen'd with Renown.

None e'er cou'd die with due Solemnity,
Unless his Pass-port first was sign'd by Me.
My arbitrary Bounty's undeny'd;
I give Reversions, and for Heirs provide.
None cou'd the tedious Nuptial State support;
But I, to make it easie, make it short.
I set the discontented Matrons free,
And ransom Husbands from Captivity.
Shall one of such Importance then engage
In noisie Riot, and in Civil Rage?
No. I'll endeavour strait a Peace, and so
Preserve my Character, and Person too.

But Discord, that still haunts with hideous Mien
Those dire Abodes where Hymen once has been,
O'er-heard Mirmillo's Anguish, then begun
In peevish Accents to express her own.

Have I so often banish'd lazy Peace
From her dark Solitude, and lov'd Recess?
Have I made S———th and Sh———ck disagree,
And puzzle Truth with learn'd Obscurity?
And does my faithful F———son profess
His Ardour still for Animosities?
Have I, Britannia's Safety to insure,
Expos'd her naked, to be more secure?
Have I made Parties opposite, unite,
In monstrous Leagues of amicable Spight
To curse their Country, whilst the common Cry
Is Freedom, but their Aim, the Ministry?
And shall a Dastard's Cowardise prevent
The War, so long I've labour'd to foment?

No, 'tis resolv'd, he either shall comply,
Or I'll renounce my wan Divinity.

With that the Hag approach'd Mirmillo's Bed,
And taking Querpo's meager Shape, She said;

At Noon of Night I hasten, to dispel
Those Tumults in your pensive Bosom dwell.
I dreamt but now I heard your heaving Sighs,
Nay, saw the Tears debating in your Eyes.
O that 'twere but a Dream! But Threats I find
Low'r in your Looks, and rankle in your Mind.
Speak, whence it is this late Disorder flows,
That shakes your Soul, and troubles your Repose.
Mistakes in Practice scarce cou'd give you Pain,
Too well you know the Dead will ne'er complain.

What Looks discover, said the Homicide,
Wou'd be a fruitless Industry to hide.
My Safety first I must consult, and then
I'll serve our suff'ring Party with my Pen.

All shou'd, reply'd the Hag, their Talent learn;
The most attempting oft the least discern.
Let P—— speak, and V———k write,
Soft Acon court, and rough Cæcinna fight:
Such must succeed; but when th' Enervate aim
Beyond their Force, they still contend for Shame,
Had C—— printed nothing of his own.
He had not been the S———fold o' the Town.
Asses and Owls, unseen, their Kind betray,
If these attempt to Hoot, or those to Bray.

Had W—— never aim'd in Verse to please,
We had not rank'd him with our Ogilbys.
Still Censures will on dull Pretenders fall,
A Codrus shou'd expect a Juvenal,
Ill Lines, but like ill Paintings, are allow'd,
To set off, and to recommend the good.
So Diamonds take a Lustre from their Foyle;
And to a B———ly 'tis, we owe a B———le.

Consider well the Talent you possess,
To strive to make it more would make it less;
And recollect what Gratitude is due,
To those whose Party you abandon now.
To them you owe your odd Magnificence
But to your Stars your Magazine of Sense.
Haspt in a Tombril, aukward have you shin'd
With one fat Slave before, and none behind.
Then haste and join your true intrepid Friends,
Success on Vigour and Dispatch depends.

Lab'ring in Doubts Mirmillo stood, then said,
'Tis hard to undertake, if Gain disswade;
What Fool for noysie Feuds large Fees wou'd leave?
Ten Harvests more wou'd all I wish for give.

True Man, reply'd the Elf; by Choice diseas'd,
Ever contriving Pain, and never pleas'd.
A present Good they slight, an absent chuse,
And what they have, for what they have not, lose.
False Prospects all their true Delights destroy,
Resolv'd to want, yet lab'ring to enjoy.

In restless Hurries thoughtlessly they live,
At Substance oft unmov'd, for Shadows grieve.
Children at Toys, as Men at Titles aim;
And in effect both covet but the same.
This Philip's Son prov'd in revolving Years;
And first for Rattles, then for Worlds shed Tears.

The Fury spoke, then in a moment fir'd
The Horoe's Breast with Tempests, and retir'd.

In boding Dreams Mirmillo spent the Night,
And frightful Phantoms danc'd before his Sight,
Till the pale Pleiads clos'd their Eyes of Light.
At length gay Morn glows in the Eastern Skies,
The Larks in Raptures thro' the Æther rise,
The Azure Mists feud o'er the dewy Lawns,
The Chaunter at his early Matins yawns,
The Amaranth opes its Leaves, the Lys its Bells,
And Progue her Complaint of Tereus tells.

As bold Mirmillo the gray Dawn descries,
Arm'd Cap-a-pe, where Honour calls, he flies,
And finds the Legions planted at their Post;
Where mighty Querpo fill'd the Eye the most.
His Arms were made, if we may credit Fame,
By [1]Mulciber, the Mayor of Bromingham.
Of temper'd Stibium the bright Shield was cast,
[2]And yet the Work the Metal far surpass'd.

A Foliage of the Vulnerary Leaves,
Grav'd round the Brim, the wond'ring Sight deceives.
Around the Center Fate's bright Trophies lay,
Probes, Saws, Incision Knives, and Tools to slay.
Embost upon the Field, a Battel stood
Of Leeches spouting Hemorrhoidal Blood.
The Artist too exprss'd the solemn State
Of grave Physicians at a Consult met;
About each Symptom how they disagree,
But how unanimous in case of Fee.
Whilst each Assassin his learn'd Colleague tires
With learn'd Impertinence, the Sick expires.

Beneath this Blazing Orb bright Querpo shone,
Himself an Atlas, and his Shield a Moon.
A Pestle for his Truncheon led the Van,
And his high Helmet was a Close-stool Pan.
His Crest an [3]Ibis, brandishing her Beak,
And winding in loose Folds her spiral Neck.
This, when the Young [4]Querpoides beheld,
His Face in Nurse's Breast the Boy conceal'd;
Then peept, and with th' effulgent Helm wou'd play,
And as the Monster gap'd wou'd shrink away.
Thus sometimes Joy prevail'd, and sometimes Fear;
And Tears and Smiles alternate Passions were.

As Querpo tow'ring stood in Martial Might,
Pacifick Carus sparkled on the Right.

An [5]Oran Outang o'er his Shoulders hung,
His Plume confess'd the Capon whence it sprung.
His motly Mail scarce cou'd the Heroe bear,
Haranguing thus the Tribunes of the War.

Fam'd Chiefs,
For present Triumphs born, design'd for more,
Your Virtue I admire, your Valour more.
If Battel be resolv'd. you'll find this Hand
Can deal out Destiny, and Fate command.
Our Foes in Throngs shall hide the Crimson Plain,
And their Apollo interpose in vain.
Tho' Gods themselves engage, a [6]Diamed
With Ease cou'd show a Deity can bleed.

But War's rough Trade shou'd be by Fools profest,
The truest Rubbish fills a Trench the best.
Let Quinsies throttle, and the Quartan shake,
Or Dropsies drown, and Gout and Colicks rack;
Let Sword and Pestilence lay waste, whilst we
Wage bloodless Wars, and fight in Theory.
Who wants not Merit needs not arm for Fame;
The Dead I raise my Chivalry proclaim,
Diseases baffled, and lost Health restor'd,
In Fame's bright List my Victories record.
More Lives from me their Preservation own,
Than Lovers lose if Fair Cornelia frown.

Your Cures, shrill Querpo cry'd, aloud you tell,
But wisely your Miscarriages conceal.

Zeno, a Priest, in Samothrace of old,
Thus reason'd with Philopidas the bold;
Immortal Gods you own, but think 'em blind
To what concerns the State of Human Kind.
Either they hear not, or regard not Pray'r,
That argues want of Pow'r, and This of Care.
Allow that Wisdom infinite must know;
Pow'r infinite must act. I grant it so.
Haste strait to Neptune's Fane, survey with Zeal
The Walls. What then? reply'd the Infidel.
Observe those num'rous Throngs in Effigy.
The Gods have fav'd from the devouring Sea.
'Tis true, their Figures that escap'd you keep,
But where are Theirs that perish'd in the Deep?

Vaunt now no more the Triumph of your Skill,
But, tho' unfeed, exert your Arm, and kill.
Our Scouts have learn'd the Posture of the Foe;
In War, Surprizes surest Conduct show.

But Fame, that neither good nor bad conceals,
That P———k's Worth, and O——'s Valour tells,
How Truth in B——, how in C———sh reigns
Varro's Magnificence with Maro's Strains;
But how at Church and Bar all gape and stretch
If W—— plead, or S—— or O———ly preach,
On nimble Wings to Warwick-Lane repairs,
And what the Enemy intends, declares.
Confusion in each Countenance appear'd,
A Council's call'd, and Stentor first was heard;
His lab'ring Lungs the throng'd Prætorium rent,
Addressing thus the passive President.

Machaon, whose Experience we adore,
Great as your matchless Merits, is your Pow'r,
At your Approach, the baffled Tyrant Death
Breaks his keen Shafts, and grinds his clashing Teeth,
To you we leave the Conduct of the Day;
What you command, your Vassals must obey.
If this dread Enterprise you wou'd decline,
We'll lend to treat, and stifle the Design.
But if my Arguments had force, we'd try
To humble our audacious Foes, or die.
Our Spight, they'll find, to their Advantage leans,
The End is good, no matter for the Means.
So modern Casuists their Talents try,
Uprightly for the sake of Truth to lye.

He had not finish'd, 'till th'Out-guards descry'd
Bright Columns move in formidable Pride.
The passing Pomp so dazzled from afar,
It seem'd a Triumph, rather than a War.
Tho' wide the Front, tho' gross the Phalanx grew,
It look'd less dreadful as it nearer drew.

The adverse Host for Action strait prepare;
All eager to unviel the Face of War.
Their Chiefs lace on their Helms, and take the Field,
And to their trusty Squires resign their Shield:
To paint each Knight, their Ardour and Alarms,
Wou'd ask the Muse that sung the Frogs in Arms.

And now the Signal summons to the Fray;
Mock Falchions flash, and paltry Ensigns play.

Their Patron God his silver Bow-string twangs;
Tough Harness ruthless, and bold Armour clangs
The piercing Causticks ply their spightful Pow'r;
Emeticks ranch, and keen Catharticks scour.
The deadly Drugs in double Doses fly;
And Pestles peal a martial Symphony.

Now from their levell'd Syringes they pour
The liquid Volly of a missive Show'r.
Not Storms of Sleet, which o'er the Baltick drive,
Push'd on by Northern Gusts, such Horror give.
Like Spouts in Southern Seas the Deluge broke,
And Numbers sunk beneath th'impetuous Stroke.

So when Leviathans dispute the Reign
And uncontroll'd Dominion of the Main;
From the rent Rocks whole Coral Groves are torn,
And Isles of Sea-weed on the Waves are born.
Such watry Stores from their spread Nostrils fly,
'Tis doubtful which is Sea, and which is Sky.

And now the stagg'ring Braves, led by Despair,
Advance, and to return the Charge, prepare.
Each seizes for his Shield a spacious Scale,
And the Brass Weights fly thick as Show'rs of Hail.
Whole Heaps of Warriors welter on the Ground,
With Gally-Pots, and broken Phials crown'd;
Whilst empty Jarrs the dire Defeat resound.

Thus when some Storm its Crystal Quarry rends,
And Jove in ratling Show'rs of Ice descends;

Mount Athos shakes the Forests on his Brow,
Whilst down his wounded Sides fresh Torrents flow,
And Leaves and Limbs of Trees o'er spread the Vale below.

But now, all Order lost, promiscuous Blows
Confus'dly fall; perplex'd the Battel grows.
From Stentor's Arm a massy Opiat flyes,
And strait a deadly Sleep clos'd Carus' Eyes.
At Colon great Sertorius Buckthorn flung,
Who with fierce Gripes, like thole of Death, was stung.
But with a dauntless and disdainful Mien
Hurl'd back Steel Pills and hit him on the Spleen.
Chiron attack'd Talthibius with such Might,
One Pass had paunch'd the huge hydropick Knight,
Who strait retreated to evade the Wound,
But in a Flood of Apozem was drown'd.
This Psylas saw, and to the Victor said.
Thou shalt not long survive th' unwieldy Dead,
Thy Fate shall follow; to confirm it, swore
By th'Image of Priapus, which he bore;
And rais'd an [7]Eagle-stone, invoking loud
On Cynthia, leaning o'er a Silver Cloud.

Great Queen of Night, and Empress of the Seas,
If faithful to thy Midnight Mysteries,
If still observant of my early Vows,
These Hands have eas'd the mourning Matron's Throws
Direct this rais'd avenging Arm aright,
So may loud Cymbals aid thy lab ring Light.
He said, and let the pond'rous Fragment fly
At Chiron, but learn'd Hermes put it by.

Tho' the haranguing God survey'd the War,
That Day the Muses Sons were not his Care.
Two Friends, Adepts, the Trismegists by Name,
Alike their Features, and alike their Flame.
As simpling ne'er fair Tweed each sung by turn,
The list'ning River wou'd neglect his Urn.
Those Lives they fail'd to rescue by their Skill,
Their [8]Muse cou'd make immortal with her Quill.
But learn'd Enquiries after Nature's State
Dissolv'd the League and kindled a Debate.
The One, for lofty Labours fruitful known,
Fill'd Magazines with Volumes of his own.
At his once-favour'd Friend a Tome he threw
That from its Birth had slept unseen 'till now.
Stunn'd with the Blow the batter'd Bard retir'd,
Sunk down, and in a Simile expir'd.

And now the Cohorts shake, the Legions ply,
The yielding Flanks confess the Victory.
Stentor undaunted still, with noble Rage
Sprung thro' the Battel, Querpo to engage.
Fierce was the Onset, the Dispute was great,
Both cou'd not vanquish, Neither would retreat;
Each Combatant his Adversary mauls.
With batter'd Bed-pans, and stav'd Urinals.
On Stentor's Crest the useful Chrystal breaks,
And Tears of Amber gutter'd down his Cheeks.
But whilst the Champion, as late Rumours tell,
Design'd a sure decisive Stroke, he fell:
And as the Victor hov'ring o'er him stood,
With Arms extended, thus the Suppliant su'd.

When Honour's lost 'tis a Relief to die;
Death's but a sure Retreat from Infamy.
But to the lost, if Pity might be shown,
Reflect on young Querpoïdes thy Son;
Then pity mine, for such an Infant-Grace
Smiles in his Eyes, and flatters in his Face.
If he was near, Compassion he'd create,
Or else lament his wretched Parent's Fate.
Thine is the Glory, and the Field is thine;
To thee the lov'd [9]Dispens'ry I resign.

At this the Victors own such Extasies,
As Memphian Priests if their Osiris sneeze;
Or Champions with Olympick Clangour fir'd;
Or simpring Prudes with sprightly Nantz inspir'd;
Or Sultans rais'd from Dungeons to a Crown;
Or fasting Zealots when the Sermon's done.

A while the Chief the deadly Stroak declin'd,
And found Compassion pleading in his Mind,
But whilst he view'd with Pity the Distress'd,
He spy'd [10]Signetur writ upon his Breast.
Then tow'rds the Skies he toss'd his threatning Head,
And fir'd with more than mortal Fury, said

Sooner than I'll from vow'd Revenge desist,
His Holiness shall turn a Quietist,
Jansenius and the Jesuits agree,
The Inquisition wink at Heresie,

Warm Convocations own the Church secure,
And more consult her Doctrine than her Pow'r.

With that he drew a Lancet in his Rage,
To puncture the still supplicating Sage.
But while his Thoughts that fatal Stroke decree,
Apollo interpos'd in form of Fee.
The Chief great Pæan's golden Tresses knew,
He own'd the God, and his rais'd Arm withdrew.

Thus often at the Temple-Stairs we've seen
Two Tritons of a rough Athletick Mien,
Sourly dispute some Quarrel of the Flood,
With Knuckles bruis'd, and Face besmear'd in Blood;
But at the first Appearance of a Fare,
Both quit the Fray, and to their Oars repair.

The Heroe so his Enterprize recalls,
His Fist unclenches, and the Weapon falls.

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  1. See the Allusion Hom. Il. B. 18, Virg. Æn. B. 8.
  2. See Ov. Met. B. 2.
  3. This Bird, according to the Ancients, gives it self a clyster with its Beak.
  4. Alluding to Astyanax. See Hom. Il.
  5. The Skin of a dissected Baboon call'd so.
  6. See Hom. Il. B. 5.
  7. See Plin.
  8. See Tass
  9. See the Allusion. Virg. Æn.
  10. Those Members of the College that observe a late Statute, are call'd by the Apothecaries Signetur Men.