An Interlude between Jupiter, Juno, Apollo, and Mercury
PRAY be pacified.
Juno. It is intolerable, insufferable, and I never will submit to it.
Jup. But, my dear —
Juno. Good Mr. Jupiter, leave off that odious word; you know I detest it. Use it to the trollop Venus, and the rest of your sluts. It sounds most agreeable to their ears, but it is nauseous to a goddess of strict virtue.
Jup. Madam, I do not doubt your virtue.
Juno. You don't? That is, I suppose, humbly insinuating that others do: but who are their divinities? I would be glad to know who they are; they are neither Diana nor Minerva, I am well assured; both of whom pity me, for they know your tricks; they can neither of them keep a maid of honour for you. I desire you will treat me with good manners at least. I should have had that, if I had married a mortal, though he had spent iny fortune, and lain with my chambermaids, as you suffer men to do with impunity — highly to your honour be it spoken!
Jup. Faith! Madam, I know but one way to prevent them, which is, by annihilating mankind; and I fancy your friends below, the ladies, would hardly thank you for obtaining that favour at my hands.
Juno. I desire you would not reflect on my friends below; it is very well known, I never shewed any favour, but to those of the purest, unspotted characters. And all my acquaintance, when I have been on the earth, have been of that kind; for I never return a visit to any other.
Jup. Nay, I have no inclination to find fault with the women of the earth; you know I like them very well.
Juno. Yes, the trollops of the earth, such as Venus converses with. You never shew any civility to my favourites, nor make the men do it.
Jup. My dear, give me leave to say, your favourites are such, that man must be new made before he can be brought to give them the preference; for when I moulded up the clay of man, I put not one ingredient in to make him in love with ugliness, which is one of the most glaring qualities in all your favourites, whom I have ever seen; and you must not wonder, while you have such favourites, that the men slight them.
Juno. The men slight them! I'd have you know, Sir, they slight the men; and I can, at this moment, hear not less than a thousand railing at mankind.
Jup. Ay, as I hear at this instant several grave black gentlemen railing at riches, and enjoying them, or at least coveting them, at the same time.
Juno. Very fine! Very civil! I understand your comparison. — Well, Sir, you may go on giving an example of a bad husband, but I will not give the example of a tame wife; and if you will not make men better, I will go down to the earth and make women worse; that every house may be too hot for a husband, as I will shortly make heaven for you.
Jup. That I believe you will — — but if you begin your project of making women worse, I will take Hymen, and hang him; for I will take some care of my votaries, as well as you of yours.
Apol. Mr. Jupiter, good-morrow to you.
Jup. Apollo, how dost thou? — You are a wise deity, Apollo; prithee will you answer me one question?
Apol. To my best ability.
Jup. You have been much conversant with the affairs of men, what dost thou think the foolishest thing a man can do?
Apol. Turn poet.
Jup. That is honest enough, as it comes from the god of poets; but you have missed the mark, for certainly the foolishest thing a man can do, is to marry.
Apol. Fie! What is it then in a god? Who, besides that he ought to be wiser than man, is tied for ever by his immortality, and has not the chance which you have given to man, of getting rid of his wife.
Jup. Apollo, thy reproof is just: but let us talk of something else; for when I am out of the hearing my wife, I beg I may never hear of her.
Apol. Have you read any of those books I brought you, just sent me by my votaries upon earth?
Jup. I have read them all. — The poem is extremely fine, and the similes most beautiful. — There is indeed one little fault in the similes.
Apol. What is that?
Jup. There is not the least resemblance between the things compared together.
Apol. One half of the simile is good, however.
Jup. The dedications please me extremely, and I am glad to find there are such excellent men upon earth. — There is one whom I find two or three authors agree to be much better than any of us in heaven are. This discovery, together with my wife's tongue, has determined me to make a trip to the earth, and spend some time in such godlike company. Apollo, will you go with me?
Apol. I would with all my heart, but I shall be of disservice to you; for when I was last on earth, though I heard of these people, I could not get admission to any of them; you had better take Plutus with you, he is acquainted with them all.
Jup. Hang him, proud rascal, of all the deities he is my aversion; I would have kick'd him out of heaven long ago, but that I am afraid, if he was to take his residence entirely upon the earth, he would foment a rebellion against me.
Apol. Your fear has too just a ground, for the god of riches has more interest there than all the other gods put together: nay, he has supplanted us in all our provinces; he gives wit to men I never heard of, and beauty to women Venus never saw. — Nay, he ventures to make free with Mars himself; and sometimes, they tell me, puts men at the head of military affairs, who never saw an enemy, nor of whom an enemy ever could see any other than the back.
Jup. Faith! it is surprising, that a god whom I sent down to earth when I was angry with mankind, and who has done them more hurt than all the other deities, should ingratiate himself so far into their favour.
Apol. You may thank yourself, you might have made man wiser if you would.
Jup. What, to laugh at? No, Apollo, believe me, man far outdoes my intention; and when I read in those little histories, called dedications, how excellent he is grown, I am eager to be with him, that I may make another promotion to the stars; and here comes my son of fortune to accompany us.
MERCURY, JUPITER, APOLLO.
Mer. Pray, father Jupiter, be pleased to bless me.
Jup. I do, my boy. What part of heaven, pray, have you been spending your time in?
Mer. With some ladies of your acquaintance, Apollo. I have been at blind-man's buff with the nine muses; but before we began to play, we had charming sport between Miss Thally and one of the poets; such a scene of courtship or invocation as you call it. Say, O Thalia. cries the bard; and then he scratches his head; and then, Say, O Thalia, again; and repeated it a hundred times over; but the devil a word would she say.
Apol. She's a humorsome little jade, and if she takes it into her head to hold her tongue, not all the poets on earth can open her lips.
Jup. I wish Juno had some of her frolics, with all my heart.
Mer. No, my mother-in-law is of a humour quite contrary —
Jup. Ay; for which reason I intend to make an elopement from her, and pay a short visit to our friends on earth. Son Mercury, you shall along with me.
Mer. Sir, I am at your disposal: but pray what is the reason of this visit?
Jup. Partly my wife's temper and partly some informations I have lately received of the prodigious virtue of mankind; which, if I find as great as represented, I believe I shall leave Madam Juno for good-and-all, and live entirely amongst men.
Mer. I shall be glad to be introduced by you into the company of these virtuous men; for I am quite weary of the little rogues you put me at the head of. The last time I was on the earth, I believe I had three sets of my acquaintance hang'd in one year's revolution, and not one man of any reputable condition among them; there were indeed one or two condemned, but, I don't know how, they were found to be honest at last. And I must tell you, Sir, I will be god of rogues no longer, if you suffer it to be an established maxim, that no rich man can be a rogue.
Jup. We'll talk of that hereafter. I'll now go put on my travelling clothes, order my charger, and be ready for you in half an hour.
Mer. Do you know the true reason of this expedition?
Apol. The great virtue of mankind, he tells us.
Mer. The little virtue of womankind rather — Do you know him no better, than to think he would budge a step after human virtue; besides, where the devil should he find it, if he would?
Apol. You have not read the late dedications of my votaries.
Mer. Of my votaries, you mean: I hope you will not dispute my title to the dedications, as the god of thieves. You make no distinction, I hope, between robbing with a pistol and with a pen.
Apol. My votaries robbers! Mr. Mercury?
Mer. Yes, Mr. Apollo; did not my Lord Chancellor Midas decree me the lawyers for the same reason. Would not he be a rogue who should take a man's money for persuading him he was a lord or a baronet, when he knew he was no such thing? Is not he equally such, who picks his pocket by heaping virtues on him which he knows he has no title to? These fellows prevent the very use of praise, which, while only the reward of virtue, will always invite men to it; but when it is to be bought, will be despised by the true deserving, equally with a ribbon or a feather, which may be bought by any one in a milliner's or a minister's shop.
Apol. Very well! at this rate you will rob me of all my panegyrical writers.
Mer. Ay, and of your satirical writers too, at least a great many of 'em; for unjust satire is as bad as unjust panegyric.
Apol. If it is unjust indeed — But, Sir, I hope you have no claim to my writers of plays, poems which have neither satire nor panegyric in 'em.
Mer. Yes, Sir, to all who are thieves, and steal from one another.
Apol. Methinks, Sir, you should not reflect thus on wits to me, who am the god of wit.
Mer. Heyday, Sir, nor you on thieves, to me who am the god of thieves. We have no such reason to quarrel about our votaries, they are much of the same kind; for as it is a proverb, That all poets are poor; so it is a maxim, That all poor men are rogues.
Apol. Sir, Sir, I have men of quality that write.
Mer. Yes, Sir, and I have men of quality that rob; but neither are the one poets, or the other rogues; for as the one can write without wit, so can the other rob without roguery. They call it privilege, I think: Jupiter I suppose gave it them; and instead of quarrelling with one another, I think it would be wiser in us to unite in a petition to my father, that he would revoke it, and put them on a footing with our other votaries.
Apol. It is in vain to petition him any thing against mankind at present, he is in such good humour with them; if they should sour his temper, at his return perhaps he may be willing to do us justice.
Mer. It shall be my fault if he is not in a worse humour with them; at least I will take care he shall not be deceived; and that might happen; for men are such hypocrites, that the greatest part deceive even themselves, and are much worse than they think themselves to be.
Apol. And Jupiter, you know, though he is the greatest, is far from being the wisest of the gods.
Mer. His own honesty makes him the less suspicious of others; for, except in regard to women, he is as honest a fellow as any deity in all the Elysian Fields; but I shall make him wait for me. — Dear Mr. Apollo, I am your humble servant.
Apol. My dear Mercury, a good journey to you; at your return, I shall be glad to drink a bottle of nectar with you.
Mer. I shall be proud to kiss your hands.