The Monk, by Matthew Lewis



Methinks, Oh! vain ill-judging Book,

I see thee cast a wishful look,

Where reputations won and lost are

In famous row called Paternoster.

Incensed to find your precious olio

Buried in unexplored port-folio,

You scorn the prudent lock and key,

And pant well bound and gilt to see

Your Volume in the window set

Of Stockdale, Hookham, or Debrett.

Go then, and pass that dangerous bourn

Whence never Book can back return:

And when you find, condemned, despised,

Neglected, blamed, and criticised,

Abuse from All who read you fall,

(If haply you be read at all

Sorely will you your folly sigh at,

And wish for me, and home, and quiet.

Assuming now a conjuror’s office, I

Thus on your future Fortune prophesy:—

Soon as your novelty is o’er,

And you are young and new no more,

In some dark dirty corner thrown,

Mouldy with damps, with cobwebs strown,

Your leaves shall be the Book-worm’s prey;

Or sent to Chandler–Shop away,

And doomed to suffer public scandal,

Shall line the trunk, or wrap the candle!

But should you meet with approbation,

And some one find an inclination

To ask, by natural transition

Respecting me and my condition;

That I am one, the enquirer teach,

Nor very poor, nor very rich;

Of passions strong, of hasty nature,

Of graceless form and dwarfish stature;

By few approved, and few approving;

Extreme in hating and in loving;

Abhorring all whom I dislike,

Adoring who my fancy strike;

In forming judgements never long,

And for the most part judging wrong;

In friendship firm, but still believing

Others are treacherous and deceiving,

And thinking in the present aera

That Friendship is a pure chimaera:

More passionate no creature living,

Proud, obstinate, and unforgiving,

But yet for those who kindness show,

Ready through fire and smoke to go.

Again, should it be asked your page,

‘Pray, what may be the author’s age?’

Your faults, no doubt, will make it clear,

I scarce have seen my twentieth year,

Which passed, kind Reader, on my word,

While England’s Throne held George the Third.

Now then your venturous course pursue:

Go, my delight! Dear Book, adieu!

Oct. 28, 1794.
M. G. L.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:57