Samuel Johnson 1709 (Lichfield) – 1784 (London)
Tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus ut teneat se?' ~ Juv.
Though grief and fondness in my breast rebel,
When injured Thales bids the town farewell;
Yet still my calmer thoughts his choice commend,
I praise the hermit, but regret the friend,
Who now resolves, from vice and London far,
To breathe in distant fields a purer air,
And, fix'd on Cambria's solitary shore,
Give to St. David one true Briton more.
For who would leave, unbribed, Hibernia's land,
Or change the rocks of Scotland for the Strand?
There none are swept by sudden fate away,
But all, whom hunger spares, with age decay:
Here malice, rapine, accident, conspire,
And now a rabble rages, now a fire;
Their ambush here relentless ruffians lay,
And here the fell attorney prowls for prey;
Here falling houses thunder on your head,
And here a female atheist talks you dead.
While Thales waits the wherry that contains
Of dissipated wealth the small remains,
On Thames's banks, in silent thought we stood
Where Greenwich smiles upon the silver flood
Struck with the seat that gave Eliza birth,
We kneel, and kiss the consecrated earth;
In pleasing dreams the blissful age renew;
And call Britannia's glories back to view;
Behold her cross triumphant on the main,
The guard of commerce, and the dread of Spain,
Ere masquerades debauch'd, excise oppress'd,
Or English honour grew a standing jest.
A transient calm the happy scenes bestow,
And for a moment lull the sense of woe.
At length awakening with contemptuous frown,
Indignant Thales eyes the neighbouring town.
'Since worth (he cries) in these degenerate days,
Wants e'en the cheap reward of empty praise;
In those curs'd walls, devote to vice and gain,
Since unrewarded science toils in vain;
Since hope but soothes to double my distress,
And every moment leaves my little less;
While yet my steady steps no staff sustains,
And life still vigorous revels in my veins;
Grant me, kind Heaven, to find some happier place,
Where honesty and sense are no disgrace;
Some pleasing bank where verdant osiers play,
Some peaceful vale with Nature's painting gay:
Where once the harrass'd Briton found repose,
And safe in poverty defied his foes;
Some secret cell, ye powers! indulgent give,
Let -- live here, for -- has learn'd to live,
Here let those reign, whom pensions can incite
To vote a patriot black, a courtier white;
Explain their country's dear-bought rights away,
And plead for pirates in the face of day;
With slavish tenets taint our poison'd youth,
And lend a lie the confidence of truth
Let such raise palaces, and manors buy,
Collect a tax, or farm a lottery;
With warbling eunuchs fill a licensed stage,
And lull to servitude a thoughtless age.
Heroes, proceed! what bounds your pride shall hold?
What check restrain your thirst of power and gold?
Behold rebellious Virtue quite o'erthrown,
Behold your fame, our wealth, our lives your own.
To such a groaning nation's spoils are given,
When public crimes inflame the wrath of Heaven:
But what, my friend, what hope remains for me,
Who start at theft and blush at perjury?
Who scarce forbear, though Britain's court he sing
To pluck a titled poet's borrowed wing;
A statesman's logic unconvinc'd can hear,
And dare to slumber o'er the
Despise a fool in half his pension dress'd,
And strive in vain to laugh at H--y's jest.
'Others with softer smiles, and subtler art,
Can sap the principles, or taint the heart;
With more address, a lover's note convey,
Or bribe a virgin's innocence away.
Well may they rise, while I, whose rustic tongue
Ne'er knew to puzzle right, or varnish wrong,
Spurn'd as a beggar, dreaded as a spy,
Live unregarded, unlamented die.
'For what but social guilt the friend endears?
Who shares Orgilio's crimes, his fortune shares.
But thou, should tempting villainy present
All Marlborough hoarded, or all Villiers spent,
Turn from the glittering bribe thy scornful eye,
Nor sell for gold, what gold could never buy,
The peaceful slumber, self-approving day,
Unsullied fame, and conscience ever gay.
'The cheated nation's happy favourites, see!
Mark whom the great caress, who frown on me!
London! the needy villain's general home,
The common sewer of Paris and of Rome;
With eager thirst, by folly or by fate,
Sucks in the dregs of each corrupted state.
Forgive my transports on a theme like this,
I cannot bear a French metropolis.
'Illustrious Edward! from the realms of day
The land of heroes and of saints survey;
Nor hope the British lineamen
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"London - in Imitation of the Third Satire of Juvenal" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 25 Sep. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/34185/london---in-imitation-of-the-third-satire-of-juvenal>.