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A POETICAL EPISTLE TO LORD CLARE.
THANKS, my lord, for your ven'son, for finer or fatter
Ne'er ranged in a forest, or smoked on a platter:
The haunch was a picture for painters to study,
The white was so white, and the red was so ruddy;
Though my stomach was sharp, I could scarce help regretting
To spoil such a delicate picture by eating.
I had thoughts, in my chamber to place it in view,
To be shown to my friends as a piece of virtû:
As in some Irish houses, where things are so so,
One gammon of bacon hangs up for a show;
But, for eating a rasher of what they take pride in,
They'd as soon think of eating the pan it is fried in.
But hold let me pause-don't I hear you pronounce
This tale of the bacon a damnable bounce?
Well, suppose it a bounce-sure a poet may try,
By a bounce now and then, to get courage to fly.
But, my lord, it's no bounce-I protest, in my turn,
It's a truth, and your lordship may ask Mr. Burne1.
To go on with my tale-as I gazed on the haunch,
I thought of a friend that was trusty and staunch;
So I cut it, and sent it to Reynolds undrest,
To paint it, or eat it, just as he liked best:
Of the neck and the breast I had next to dispose-
'Twas a neck and a breast that might rival Monroe's:
But in parting with these, I was puzzled again
With the how, and the who, and the where, and the when.
There's Coley, and Williams, and Howard, and Hiff,
I think they love ven'son-I know they love beef;
There's my countryman Higgins-oh! let him alone
For making a blunder, or picking a bone:
But hang it-to poets that seldom can eat,
Your very good mutton's a very good treat;
Such dainties to them, it would look like a flirt,
Like sending them ruffles when wanting a shirt.
While thus I debated, in reverie centered,
An acquaintance, a friend (as he called himself) entered;
An under-bred, fine-spoken fellow was he,
Who smiled as he gazed at the ven'son and me.
"What have we got here? Why this is good eating!-
Your own, I suppose-or is it in waiting?"
"Why whose should it be, sir?" cried I with a flounce;
"I get these things often"-but that was a bounce:
"Some lords, my acquaintance, that settle the nation,
Are pleased to be kind-but I hate ostentation."
"If that be the case, then," cried he, very gay, "I'm glad I have taken this house in my way: To-morrow you take a poor dinner with meNo words-I insist on't-precisely at three: We'll have Johnson, and Burke-all the wits will be there: My acquaintance is slight, or I'd ask my Lord Clare.
And, now that I think on't, as I am sinner!
We wanted this ven'son to make out a dinner.
I'll take no denial:—it shall, and it must,
And my wife, little Kitty, is famous for crust.
Here, porter-this ven'son with me to Mile-End:
No words, my dear Goldsmith, my friend-my dear friend!”
Thus snatching his hat, he brushed off like the wind,
And the porter and eatables followed behind.
Left alone to reflect, having emptied my shelf,
And "nobody with me at sea but myself;”l
Though I could not help thinking my gentleman hasty,
Yet Johnson, and Burke, and a good ven'son pasty,
Were things that I never disliked in my life,
Though clogged with a coxcomb, and Kitty his wife:
So next day, in due splendour to make my approach,
I drove to his door in my own hackney-coach.
When come to the place where we all were to dine-
A chair-lumbered closet, just twelve feet by nine-
My friend bade me welcome, but struck me quite dumb
With tidings that Johnson and Burke would not come:
"And I knew it," he cried, "both eternally fail--
The one at the House, and the other with Thrale:
But no matter, I'll warrant we'll make up the party
With two, full as clever, and ten times as hearty :
The one is a Scotchman, the other a Jew,
Who dabble and write in the papers, like you:
The one writes the Snarler, the other the Scourge;
Some think he writes Cinna-he owns to Panurge."
While thus he described them by trade and by name,
They entered, and dinner was served as they came.
1 See the letters that passed between his Royal Highness Henry Duke of Cumberland and Lady Grosvenor.
At the top a fried liver and bacon were seen,
At the bottom was tripe, in a swinging tureen;
At the sides there were spinage and pudding made hot;
In the middle a place where the pasty-was not.
Now, my lord, as for tripe, it's my utter aversion,
And your bacon I hate like a Turk or a Persian;
So there I sat stuck like a horse in a pound,
While the bacon and liver went merrily round.
But what vexed me most was that dd Scottish rogue,
With his long-winded speeches, his smiles, and his brogue;
And, "Madam," quoth he, "may this bit be my poison,
If a prettier dinner I ever set eyes on:
Pray, a slice of your liver, though may I be curst
But I've eat of your tripe till I'm ready to burst."
"The tripe," quoth the Jew, "if the truth I may speak,
I could eat of this tripe seven days in a week;
I like these here dinners so pretty and small,
But your friend there, the doctor, eats nothing at all."
"O-ho!" quoth my friend, "he'll come on in a trice,
He's keeping a corner for something that's nice.
There's a pasty"— "A pasty!" repeated the Jew,
"I don't care if I keep a corner for't too."
"What the deil, mon, a pasty!" re-echoed the Scot,
"Though splitting, I'll still keep a corner for thot."
"We'll all keep a corner," the lady cried out;
"We'll all keep a corner," was echoed about.
While thus we resolved, and the pasty delayed,
With looks that quite petrified, entered the maid:
A visage so sad, and so pale with affright,
Waked Priam, in drawing his curtains by night.
But we quickly found out-for who could mistake her?-
That she came with some terrible news from the baker:
And so it fell out; for that negligent sloven
Had shut out the pasty on shutting his oven.
Sad Philomel thus-but let similies drop;
And now that I think on't, the story may stop.
To be plain, my good lord, it's but labour misplaced,
To send such good verses to one of your taste:
You've got an odd something—a kind of discerning➡
A relish-a taste-sickened over by learning;
At least it's your temper, as very well known,
That you think very slightly of all that's your own:
So, perhaps, in your habits of thinking amiss,
You may make a mistake, and think slightly of this.
FIRST PRINTED IN THE YEAR 1774.
[Dr. Goldsmith and some of his friends occasionally dined at the St. James's coffee-house. One day it was proposed to write epitaphs on him. His country, dialect, and person, furnished subjects of witticism. He was called on for Retaliation, and, at their next meeting, produced the following poem.]
Or old, when Scarron his companions invited,
Each guest brought his dish, and the feast was united.
If our landlord' supplies us with beef, and with fish,
Let each guest bring himself, and he brings the best dish:
1 The master of St. James's coffee-house, where the Doctor, and the friends he has characterized in this poem, Occasionally dined.