This web edition published by eBooks@Adelaide.
Last updated Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 14:22.
To the best of our knowledge, the text of this
work is in the “Public Domain” in Australia.
HOWEVER, copyright law varies in other countries, and the work may still be under copyright in the country from which you are accessing this website. It is your responsibility to check the applicable copyright laws in your country before downloading this work.
The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005
The combination of a great writer and a small poet, in one and the same person, is not uncommon. With not a few, while other, and severer branches of study are the laborious task of the day, poetry is the slipshod amusement of the evening. Dr Parr calls Johnson probabilis poeta — words which seem to convey the notion that the author of “The Rambler,” who was great on other fields, was in that of poetry only respectable. This term is more applicable to Smollett, whose poems discover only in part those keen, vigorous, and original powers which enabled him to indite “Roderick Random” and “Humphrey Clinker.” Yet the author of “Independence,” and “The Tears of Scotland,” must not be excluded from the list of British poets — an honour to which much even of his prose has richly entitled him.
The incidents in Smollett’s history are not very numerous, and some of them are narrated, under faint disguises, with inimitable vivacity and vraisemblance in his own fictions. Tobias George Smollett was born in Dalquhurn House, near the village of Renton, Dumbartonshire, in 1721. His father, a younger son of Sir James Smollett of Bonhill, having died early, the education of the poet devolved on his grandfather. The scenery of his native place was well calculated to inspire his early genius. It is one of the most beautiful regions in Scotland. A fine hollow vale, pervaded by the river Leven, and surrounded by rich woodlands and bold hills, stretches up from Dumbarton, with its double peaks and ancient castle, to the magnificent Loch Lomond; and in one of the loops of this winding vale was the great novelist born and bred. He called his native region, in “Humphrey Clinker,” the “Arcadia of Scotland,” and has sung the Leven in one of his small poems. He was sent to the Grammar School of Dumbarton, and thence to Glasgow College. He was subsequently placed apprentice to one M. Gordon, a medical practitioner in Glasgow; and from thence, according to some of his biographers, he proceeded to study medicine in Edinburgh. When he was about nineteen years of age, his grandfather expired, without having made any provision for him; and he was compelled, in 1739, to repair to London, carrying with him a tragedy entitled “The Regicide,”— the subject being the assassination of James the First of Scotland — which he had written the year before, and which he in vain sought to get presented at the theatres. He had letters of introduction to some eminent literary characters, who, however, either could not or would not do anything for him; and he found no better situation than that of surgeon’s mate in an eighty-gun ship. He continued in the navy for six or seven years, and was present at the disastrous siege of Carthagena, in 1741, which he has described in a Compendium of Voyages he compiled in 1756, and with still more vigour in “Roderick Random.” His long acquaintance with the sea furnished ample materials for his genius, although it did not improve his opinion of human nature. Disgusted with the service, he quitted it in the West Indies, and lived for some time in Jamaica. Here he became acquainted with Miss Lascelles, a beautiful lady whom he afterwards married. She sat for the portrait of Narcissa, in “Roderick Random.”
In 1746 he returned to England. He found the country ringing with indignation at the cruelties inflicted by Cumberland on the Highland rebels, and he caught and crystalised the prevalent emotion in his spirited lyric, “The Tears of Scotland.” He published the same year his “Advice,”— a satirical poem upon things in general, and the public men of the day in particular. He wrote also an opera entitled “Alceste” for Covent Garden; but owing to a dispute with the manager, it was neither acted nor printed. In 1747 he produced “Reproof,” the second part of “Advice,”— a poem which breathes the same manly indignation at the abuses, evils, and public charlatans of the day. This year also he married Miss Lascelles, by whom he expected a fortune of three thousand pounds. This sum, however, was never fully realised; and his generous housekeeping, and the expenses of a litigation to which he was compelled, in connection with Miss Lascelles’ money, embarrassed his circumstances, and, much to the advantage of the world, drove him to literature. In 1748, he gave to the world his novel of “Roderick Random,”— counted by many the masterpiece of his genius. It brought him in both fame and emolument. In 1749 he published, by subscription, his unfortunate tragedy, “The Regicide.” In 1750 he went to Paris, and shortly after wrote his “Adventures of Peregrine Pickle,” including the memoirs of the notorious Lady Vane — the substance of which he got from herself, and which added greatly to the popularity of the work. Notwithstanding the success he met with as a novelist, he was anxious to prosecute his original profession of medicine; and having procured from a foreign university the degree of M.D., he commenced to practise physic in Chelsea, but without success. He wrote, however, an essay “On the External Use of Water,” in which he seems to have partly anticipated the method of the cold-water cure. In 1753 he published his “Adventures of Count Fathom;” and, two years later, encouraged by a liberal subscription, he issued a translation of “Don Quixote,” in two quarto volumes. While this work was printing, he went down to Scotland, visited his old scenes and old companions, and was received everywhere with enthusiasm. The most striking incident, however, in this journey was his interview with his mother, then residing in Scotston, near Peebles. He was introduced to her as a stranger gentleman from the West Indies; and, in order to retain his incognita, he endeavoured to maintain a serious and frowning countenance. While his mother, however, continued to regard him steadfastly, he could not forbear smiling; and she instantly sprang from her seat, threw her arms round his neck, and cried out, “Ah, my son, I have found you at last! Your old roguish smile has betrayed you.”
Returning to England, he resumed his literary avocations. He became the editor of the Critical Review — an office, of all others, least fitted to his testy and irritable temperament. This was in 1756. He next published the “Compendium of Voyages,” in seven volumes, 12mo. In 1757 he wrote a popular afterpiece, entitled “The Reprisals; or, the Tars of England;” and in 1758 appeared his “Complete History of England,” in four volumes, quarto — a work said to have been compiled in the almost incredibly short time of fourteen months. It became instantly popular, although distinguished by no real historical quality, except a clear and lively style.
An attack on Admiral Knowles in the Critical Review greatly incensed the Admiral; and when he prosecuted the journal, Smollett stepped forward and avowed himself the author. He was sentenced to a fine of £100, and to three months’ imprisonment. During his confinement in King’s Bench, he composed the “Adventures of Sir Lancelot Greaves,” which appeared first in detached numbers of the British Magazine, and was afterwards published separately in 1762. About this time, his busy pen was also occupied with histories of France, Italy, Germany, &c., and a continuation of his English History — all compilations — and some of them exceedingly unworthy of his genius. He became an ardent friend and supporter of Lord Bute, and started The Briton, a weekly paper, in his defence; which gave rise to the North Briton, by Wilkes. In our Life of Churchill, we have recounted his quarrel with that poet, and the chastisement inflicted on Smollett in “The Apology to the Critical Reviewers.”
In 1763 he lost his only daughter, a girl of fifteen. This event threw him into deep despondency, and seriously affected his health. He went to France and Italy for two years; and on his return, in 1766, published two volumes of Travels — full of querulous and captious remarks — for which Sterne satirised him, under the name of Smelfungus. The same year he again visited Scotland. In 1767 he published his “Adventures of an Atom,”— a political romance, displaying, under Japanese names, the different parties of Great Britain. A recurrence of ill health drove him back to Italy in 1770. At Monte Nuovo, near Leghorn, he wrote his delightful “Humphrey Clinker.” This was his last work. He died at Leghorn on the 21st October 1771, in the fifty-first year of his age. His widow erected a plain monument to his memory, with an inscription by Dr Armstrong. In 1774 a Tuscan monument was erected on the banks of the Leven by his cousin, James Smollett, Esq., of Bonhill. As his wife was left in poor circumstances, the tragedy of “Venice Preserved” was acted at Edinburgh for her benefit, and the money remitted to Italy.
Smollett, for variety of powers, and indefatigable industry, has seldom been surpassed. He was a politician, a poet, a physician, a historian, a translator, a writer of travels, a dramatist, a novelist, a writer on medical subjects, and a miscellaneous author. It is only, however, as a novelist and a poet that he has any claims to the admiration of posterity. His history survives solely because it is usually bound up with Hume’s. His translation of “Don Quixote” has been eclipsed by after and more accurate versions. His “Tour to Italy” is a succession of asthmatic gasps and groans. His “Regicide”, and other plays, are entirely forgotten. So also are his critical, medical, political, and miscellaneous effusions.
In fiction he is undoubtedly a great original. He had no model, and has had no imitator. His qualities as a novel-writer are rapidity of narrative, variety of incident, ease of style, graphic description, and an exquisite eye for the humours, peculiarities, and absurdities of character and life. In language he is generally careless, but whenever a great occasion occurs, he rises to meet it, and writes with dignity, correctness, and power. His sea-characters, such as Bowling, and his characters of low-life, such as Strap, have never been excelled. His tone of morals is always low, and often offensively coarse. In wit, constructiveness, and general style, he is inferior to Fielding; but surpasses him in interest, ease, variety, and humour, “Roderick Random” is the most popular and bustling of his tales. “Peregrine Pickle” is the filthiest and least agreeable; its humours are forced and exaggerated, and the sea-characters seem caricatures of those in “Roderick Random;” just as Norna of the Fitful Head, and Magdalene Graeme, are caricatures of Meg Merriless. “Sir Lancelot Greaves” is a tissue of trash, redeemed only here and there by traits of humour. “The Adventures of an Atom” we never read. “Humphrey Clinker” is the most delightful novel, with the exception of the Waverley series, in the English language. “Ferdinand, Count Fathom,” contains much that is disgusting, but parts of it surpass all the rest in originality and profundity. We refer especially to the description of the pretended English Squire in Paris, who bubbles the great bubbler of the tale; to Count Fathom’s address to Britain, when he reaches her shores — a piece of exquisite mock-heroic irony; to the narrative of the seduction in the west of England; and to the matchless robber-scene in the forest — a passage in which one knows not whether more to admire the thrilling interest of the incidents, or the eloquence and power of the language. It is a scene which Scott has never surpassed, nor, except in the cliff-scene in the “Antiquary,” and, perhaps, the barn-scene in the “Heart of Midlothian,” ever equalled.
Smollett’s poetry need not detain us long. In his twin satires, “Advice” and “Reproof,” you see rather the will to wound than the power to strike. There are neither the burnished compression, and polished, pointed malice of Pope, nor the gigantic force and vehement fury of Churchill. His “Tears of Scotland” is not thoroughly finished, but has some delicate and beautiful strokes. “Leven Water” is sweet and murmuring as that stream itself. His “Ode to Independence,” as we have said elsewhere, “should have been written by Burns. How that poet’s lips must have watered, as he repeated the line —
‘Lord of the lion-heart and eagle-eye,’
and remembered he was not their author! He said he would have given ten pounds to have written ‘Donochthead’— he would have given ten times ten, if, poor fellow! he had had them, to have written the ‘Ode to Independence’— although, in his ‘Vision of Liberty,’ he has matched Smollett on his own ground.” Grander lines than the one we have quoted above, and than the following —
“A goddess violated brought thee forth,”
are not to be found in literature. Round this last one, the whole ode seems to turn as on a pivot, and it alone had been sufficient to stamp Smollett a man of lofty poetic genius.
—— Sed podice levi
Caeduntur tumidæ, medico ridente, mariscæ.
O proceres! censore opus est, an haruspice nobis?
—— Nam quis
Peccandi finem posuit sibi? quando recepit
Ejectum semel atteritâ de fronte ruborem?
Enough, enough; all this we knew before;
’Tis infamous, I grant it, to be poor:
And who, so much to sense and glory lost,
Will hug the curse that not one joy can boast?
From the pale hag, oh! could I once break loose,
Divorced, all hell should not re-tie the noose!
Not with more care shall H— avoid his wife,
Nor Cope1 fly swifter, lashing for his life,
Than I to leave the meagre fiend behind.
Exert your talents; Nature, ever kind, 10
Enough for happiness bestows on all;
’Tis Sloth or Pride that finds her gifts too small.
Why sleeps the Muse? — is there no room for praise,
When such bright constellations blaze?
When sage Newcastle2, abstinently great,
Neglects his food to cater for the state;
And Grafton3, towering Atlas of the throne,
So well rewards a genius like his own:
Granville and Bath4 illustrious, need I name,
For sober dignity, and spotless fame; 20
Or Pitt, the unshaken Abdiel yet unsung:
Thy candour, Chomdeley! and thy truth, O Younge!
The advice is good; the question only, whether
These names and virtues ever dwelt together?
But what of that? the more the bard shall claim,
Who can create as well as cherish fame.
But one thing more — how loud must I repeat,
To rouse the engaged attention of the
great — Amused, perhaps, with C—‘s prolific hum5,
Or rapt amidst the transports of a drum;6 30
While the grim porter watches every door,
Stern foe to tradesmen, poets, and the poor,
The Hesperian dragon not more fierce and fell,
Nor the gaunt growling janitor of Hell?
Even Atticus (so wills the voice of Fate)
Enshrines in clouded majesty his state;
Nor to the adoring crowd vouchsafes regard,
Though priests adore, and every priest a bard.
Shall I then follow with the venal tribe,
And on the threshold the base mongrel bribe? 40
Bribe him to feast my mute imploring eye
With some proud lord, who smiles a gracious lie!
A lie to captivate my heedless youth,
Degrade my talents, and debauch my truth;
While, fool’d with hope, revolves my joyless day,
And friends, and fame, and fortune, fleet away;
Till, scandal, indigence, and scorn my lot,
The dreary jail entombs me, where I rot!
Is there, ye varnish’d ruffians of the state!
Not one among the millions whom ye cheat, 50
Who, while he totters on the brink of woe,
Dares, ere he falls, attempt the avenging
blow — A steady blow, his languid soul to feast,
And rid his country of one curse at least?
What! turn assassin?
Let the assassin bleed:
My fearless verse shall justify the deed.
’Tis he who lures the unpractised mind astray,
Then leaves the wretch, to misery a prey;
Perverts the race of Virtue just begun,
And stabs the Public in her ruin’d son. 60
Heavens! how you rail; the man’s consumed by spite!
If Lockman’s fate7 attends you when you write,
Let prudence more propitious arts inspire;
The lower still you crawl, you’ll climb the higher.
Go then, with every supple virtue stored,
And thrive, the favour’d valet of my lord.
Is that denied? a boon more humble crave.
And minister to him who serves a slave;
Be sure you fasten on promotion’s scale,
Even if you seize some footman by the tail: 70
The ascent is easy, and the prospect clear,
From the smirch’d scullion to the embroider’d peer.
The ambitious drudge preferr’d, postilion rides,
Advanced again, the chair benighted guides;
Here doom’d, if Nature strung his sinewy frame,
The slave, perhaps, of some insatiate dame;
But if, exempted from the Herculean toil,
A fairer field awaits him, rich with spoil,
There shall he shine, with mingling honours bright,
His master’s pathic, pimp, and parasite; 80
Then strut a captain, if his wish be war,
And grasp, in hope, a truncheon and a star:
Or if the sweets of peace his soul allure,
Bask at his ease, in some warm sinecure;
His fate in consul, clerk, or agent vary,
Or cross the seas, an envoy’s secretary;
Composed of falsehood, ignorance, and pride,
A prostrate sycophant shall rise a Lloyd;
And, won from kennels to the impure embrace,
Accomplish’d Warren triumph o’er disgrace. 90
Eternal infamy his name surround,
Who planted first that vice on British ground!
A vice that, spite of sense and nature, reigns,
And poisons genial love, and manhood stains!
Pollio! the pride of science and its shame,
The Muse weeps o’er thee, while she brands thy name!
Abhorrent views that prostituted groom,
The indecent grotto, or polluted dome!
There only may the spurious passion glow,
Where not one laurel decks the caitiff’s brow, 100
Obscene with crimes avow’d, of every dye,
Corruption, lust, oppression, perjury.
Let Chardin8, with a chaplet round his head,
The taste of Maro and Anacreon plead,
‘Sir, Flaccus knew to live as well as write,
And kept, like me, two boys array’d in white;’
Worthy to feel that appetence of fame
Which rivals Horace only in his shame!
Let Isis9 wail in murmurs as she runs,
Her tempting fathers, and her yielding sons; 110
While dulness screens the failings of the Church,
Nor leaves one sliding Rabbi in the lurch:
Far other raptures let the breast contain,
Where heaven-born taste and emulation reign.
Shall not a thousand virtues, then, atone us
In thy strict censure for the breach of one?
If Bubo keeps a catamite or whore,
His bounty feeds the beggar at his door:
And though no mortal credits Curio’s word,
A score of lacqueys fatten at his board: 120
To Christian meekness sacrifice thy spleen,
And strive thy neighbour’s weaknesses to screen.
Scorn’d be the bard, and wither’d all his fame,
Who wounds a brother weeping o’er his shame!
But if an impious wretch, with frantic pride,
Throws honour, truth, and decency aside;
If not by reason awed, nor check’d by fears,
He counts his glories from the stains he bears,
The indignant Muse to Virtue’s aid shall rise,
And fix the brand of infamy on vice. 130
What if, aroused at his imperious call,
An hundred footsteps echo through his hall,
And, on high columns rear’d, his lofty dome
Proclaims the united art of Greece and Rome.
What though whole hecatombs his crew regale,
And each dependant slumbers o’er his ale,
While the remains, through mouths unnumber’d pass’d,
Indulge the beggar and the dogs at last:
Say, friend, is it benevolence of soul,
Or pompous vanity, that prompts the whole? 140
These sons of sloth, who by profusion thrive,
His pride inveigled from the public hive:
And numbers pine in solitary woe,
Who furnish’d out this phantasy of show.
When silent misery assail’d his eyes,
Did e’er his throbbing bosom sympathise?
Or his extensive charity pervade
To those who languish in the barren shade,
Where oft, by want and modesty suppress’d,
The bootless talent warms the lonely breast? 150
No! petrified by dulness and disdain,
Beyond the feeling of another’s pain,
The tear of pity ne’er bedew d his eye,
Nor his lewd bosom felt the social sigh!
Alike to thee his virtue or his vice,
If his hand liberal owns thy merit’s price.
Sooner in hopeless anguish would I mourn,
Than owe my fortune to the man I scorn!
What new resource?
A thousand yet remain,
That bloom with honours, or that teem with gain: 160
These arts — are they beneath — beyond thy care?
Devote thy studies to the auspicious fair:
Of truth divested, let thy tongue supply
The hinted slander, and the whisper’d lie;
All merit mock, all qualities depress,
Save those that grace the excelling patroness;
Trophies to her on others’ follies raise,
And, heard with joy, by defamation praise;
To this collect each faculty of face,
And every feat perform of sly grimace; 170
Let the grave sneer sarcastic speak thee shrewd;
The smutty joke ridiculously lewd;
And the loud laugh, through all its changes rung,
Applaud the abortive sallies of her tongue;
Enroll’d a member in the sacred list,
Soon shalt thou sharp in company at whist;
Her midnight rites and revels regulate,
Priest of her love, and demon of her hate.
But say, what recompense for all this waste
Of honour, truth, attention, time, and taste? 180
To shine, confess’d, her zany and her tool,
And fall by what I rose — low ridicule?
Again shall Handel raise his laurell’d brow,
Again shall harmony with rapture glow;
The spells dissolve, the combination breaks,
And Punch no longer Frasi’s rival squeaks:
Lo! Russell10 falls a sacrifice to whim,
And starts amazed, in Newgate, from his dream:
With trembling hands implores their promised aid,
And sees their favour like a vision fade! 190
Is this, ye faithless Syrens! — this the joy
To which your smiles the unwary wretch decoy?
Naked and shackled, on the pavement prone,
His mangled flesh devouring from the bone;
Rage in his heart, distraction in his eye,
Behold, inhuman hags! your minion lie!
Behold his gay career to ruin run,
By you seduced, abandon’d, and undone!
Rather in garret pent, secure from harm,
My Muse with murders shall the town alarm; 200
Or plunge in politics with patriot zeal,
And snarl like Guthrie11 for the public weal,
Than crawl an insect in a beldame’s power,
And dread the crush of caprice every hour!
’Tis well; enjoy that petulance of style,
And, like the envious adder, lick the file:
What, though success will not attend on all?
Who bravely dares must sometimes risk a fall.
Behold the bounteous board of Fortune spread;
Each weakness, vice, and folly yields thee bread, 210
Would’st thou with prudent condescension strive
On the long settled terms of life to thrive.
What! join the crew that pilfer one another,
Betray my friend, and persecute my brother;
Turn usurer, o’er cent. per cent. to brood,
Or quack, to feed like fleas on human blood?
Or if thy soul can brook the gilded curse,
Some changeling heiress steal —
Why not a purse?
Two things I dread — my conscience and the law.
How? dread a mumbling bear without a claw? 220
Nor this, nor that, is standard right or wrong,
Till minted by the mercenary tongue;
And what is conscience but a fiend of strife,
That chills the joys, and damps the scenes of life,
The wayward child of Vanity and Fear,
The peevish dam of Poverty and Care?
Unnumber’d woes engender in the breast
That entertains the rude, ungrateful guest.
Hail, sacred power! my glory and my guide!
Fair source of mental peace, whate’er betide! 230
Safe in thy shelter, let disaster roll
Eternal hurricanes around my soul:
My soul serene amidst the storms shall reign,
And smile to see their fury burst in vain!
Too coy to flatter, and too proud to serve,
Thine be the joyless dignity to starve.
No; — thanks to discord, war shall be my friend;
And mortal rage heroic courage lend
To pierce the gleaming squadron of the foe,
And win renown by some distinguish’d blow. 240
Renown! ay, do — unkennel the whole pack
Of military cowards on thy back.
What difference, say, ‘twixt him who bravely stood,
And him who sought the bosom of the wood?12
Envenom’d calumny the first shall brand;
The last enjoy a ribbon and command.
If such be life, its wretches I deplore,
And long to quit the inhospitable shore.
1 ‘Cope’: a general famous for an expeditious retreat, though not quite so deliberate as that of the ten thousand Greeks from Persia; having unfortunately forgot to bring his army along with him.]
2 ‘Newcastle:’ alluding to the philosophical contempt which this great personage manifested for the sensual delights of the stomach.]
3 ‘Grafton’: this noble peer, remarkable for sublimity of parts, by virtue of his office (Lord Chamberlain) conferred the laureate on Colley Cibber, Esq., a delectable bard, whose character has already employed, together with his own, the greatest pens of the age.]
4 ‘Granville and Bath’: two noblemen famous in their day for nothing more than their fortitude in bearing the scorn and reproach of their country.]
5 ‘Prolific hum’: this alludes to a phenomenon, not more strange than true — the person here meant having actually laid upwards of forty eggs, as several physicians and fellows of the Royal Society can attest: one of whom, we hear, has undertaken the incubation, and will no doubt favour the world with an account of his success.]
6 ‘Drum’: this is a riotous assembly of fashionable people, of both sexes, at a private house, consisting of some hundreds: not unaptly styled a drum, from the noise and emptiness of the entertainment. There are also drum-major, rout, tempest, and hurricane, differing only in degrees of multitude and uproar, as the significant name of each declares.]
7 ‘Lockman’s fate’: to be little read, and less approved.]
8 ‘Chardin’: this genial knight wore at his own banquet a garland of flowers, in imitation of the ancients; and kept two rosy boys robed in white, for the entertainment of his guests.]
9 ‘Isis’: in allusion to the unnatural orgies said to be solemnised on the banks of this river; particularly at one place, where a much greater sanctity of morals and taste might be expected.]
10 ‘Russell:’ a famous mimic and singer, ruined by the patronage of certain ladies of quality.]
11 ‘Guthrie:’ a scribbler of all work in that age.]
12 ‘Bosom of the wood:’ this last line relates to the behaviour of the Hanoverian general in the battle of Dettingen.]
Howe’er I turn, or wheresoe’er I tread,
This giddy world still rattles round my head!
I pant for silence e’en in this retreat —
Good Heaven! what demon thunders at the gate?
In vain you strive, in this sequester’d nook,
To shroud you from an injured friend’s rebuke.
An injured friend! who challenges the name?
If you, what title justifies the claim?
Did e’er your heart o’er my affliction grieve,
Your interest prop me, or your praise relieve? 10
Or could my wants my soul so far subdue,
That in distress she crawl’d for aid to you?
But let us grant the indulgence e’er so strong;
Display without reserve the imagined wrong:
Among your kindred have I kindled strife,
Deflower’d your daughter, or debauch’d your wife;
Traduced your credit, bubbled you at game;
Or soil’d with infamous reproach your name?
No: but your cynic vanity (you’ll own)
Exposed my private counsel to the town. 20
Such fair advice ’twere pity sure to lose:
I grant I printed it for public use.
Yes, season’d with your own remarks between,
Inflamed with so much virulence of spleen
That the mild town (to give the devil his due)
Ascribed the whole performance to a Jew.
Jews, Turks, or Pagans — hallow’d be the mouth
That teems with moral zeal and dauntless truth!
Prove that my partial strain adopts one lie,
No penitent more mortified than I; 30
Not e’en the wretch in shackles doom’d to groan,
Beneath the inhuman scoffs of Williamson.13
Hold — let us see this boasted self-denial —
The vanquish’d knight14 has triumph’d in his trial.
Your own sarcastic verse unsay,
That brands him as a trembling runaway.
With all my soul; — the imputed charge rehearse;
I’ll own my error and expunge my verse.
Come, come, howe’er the day was lost or won,
The world allows the race was fairly run. 40
But, lest the truth too naked should appear,
A robe of fable shall the goddess wear:
When sheep were subject to the lion’s reign,
E’er man acquired dominion o’er the plain,
Voracious wolves, fierce rushing from the rocks,
Devour’d without control the unguarded flocks;
The sufferers, crowding round the royal cave,
Their monarch’s pity and protection crave:
Not that they wanted valour, force, or arms,
To shield their lambs from danger and alarms; 50
A thousand rams, the champions of the fold,
In strength of horn and patriot virtue bold,
Engaged in firm association stood,
Their lives devoted to the public good:
A warlike chieftain was their sole request,
To marshal, guide, instruct, and rule the rest.
Their prayer was heard, and, by consent of all,
A courtier ape appointed general.
He went, he led; arranged the battle stood,
The savage foe came pouring like a flood; 60
Then Pug, aghast, fled swifter than the wind,
Nor deign’d in threescore miles to look behind,
While every band fled orders bleat in vain,
And fall in slaughter’d heaps upon the plain.
The scared baboon, (to cut the matter short)
With all his speed, could not outrun report;
And, to appease the clamours of the nation,
’Twas fit his case should stand examination.
The board was named — each worthy took his place,
All senior members of the horned race; 70
The wedder, goat, ram, elk, and ox were there,
And a grave hoary stag possess’d the chair.
The inquiry past, each in his turn began
The culprit’s conduct variously to scan.
At length the sage uprear’d his awful crest,
And, pausing, thus his fellow chiefs address’d:
‘If age, that from this head its honours stole,
Hath not impair’d the functions of my soul,
But sacred wisdom, with experience bought,
While this weak frame decays, matures my thought, 80
The important issue of this grand debate
May furnish precedent for your own fate,
Should ever fortune call you to repel
The shaggy foe, so desperate and fell.
’Tis plain, you say, his excellence Sir Ape
From the dire field accomplish’d an escape;
Alas! our fellow subjects ne’er had bled,
If every ram that fell like him had fled;
Certes, those sheep were rather mad than brave,
Which scorn’d the example their wise leader gave. 90
Let us then every vulgar hint disdain,
And from our brother’s laurel wash the stain.’
The admiring court applauds the president,
And Pug was clear’d by general consent.
There needs no magic to divine your scope,
Mark’d, as you are, a flagrant misanthrope:
Sworn foe to good and bad, to great and small,
Thy rankling pen produces nought but gall:
Let virtue struggle, or let glory shine,
Thy verse affords not one approving line. 100
Hail, sacred themes! the Muse’s chief delight!
Oh, bring the darling objects to my sight!
My breast with elevated thought shall glow,
My fancy brighten, and my numbers flow!
The Aonian grove with rapture would I tread,
To crop unfading wreaths for William’s head,
But that my strain, unheard amidst the throng,
Must yield to Lockman’s ode, and Hambury’s song.
Nor would the enamour’d Muse neglect to pay
To Stanhope’s15 worth the tributary lay, 110
The soul unstain’d, the sense sublime to paint,
A people’s patron, pride, and ornament,
Did not his virtues eternised remain
The boasted theme of Pope’s immortal strain.
Not e’en the pleasing task is left to raise
A grateful monument to Barnard’s praise,
Else should the venerable patriot stand
The unshaken pillar of a sinking land.
The gladdening prospect let me still pursue,
And bring fair Virtue’s triumph to the view; 120
Alike to me, by fortune blest or not,
From soaring Cobham to the melting Scot.16
But, lo! a swarm of harpies intervene,
To ravage, mangle, and pollute the scene!
Gorged with our plunder, yet still gaunt for spoil,
Rapacious Gideon fastens on our isle;
Insatiate Lascelles, and the fiend Vaneck,
Rise on our ruins, and enjoy the wreck;
While griping Jasper glories in his prize,
Wrung from the widow’s tears and orphan’s cries. 130
Relapsed again! strange tendency to rail!
I fear’d this meekness would not long prevail.
You deem it rancour, then? Look round and see
What vices flourish still unpruned by me:
Corruption, roll’d in a triumphant car,
Displays his burnish’d front and glittering star,
Nor heeds the public scorn, or transient curse,
Unknown alike to honour and remorse.
Behold the leering belle, caress’d by all,
Adorn each private feast and public ball, 140
Where peers attentive listen and adore,
And not one matron shuns the titled whore.
At Peter’s obsequies17 I sung no dirge;
Nor has my satire yet supplied a scourge
For the vile tribes of usurers and bites,
Who sneak at Jonathan’s, and swear at White’s.
Each low pursuit, and slighter folly, bred
Within the selfish heart and hollow head,
Thrives uncontroll’d, and blossoms o’er the land,
Nor feels the rigour of my chastening hand. 150
While Codrus shivers o’er his bags of gold,
By famine wither’d, and benumb’d by cold,
I mark his haggard eyes with frenzy roll,
And feast upon the terrors of his soul;
The wrecks of war, the perils of the deep,
That curse with hideous dreams the caitiff’s sleep;
Insolvent debtors, thieves, and civil strife,
Which daily persecute his wretched life,
With all the horrors of prophetic dread,
That rack his bosom while the mail is read. 160
Safe from the road, untainted by the school,
A judge by birth, by destiny a fool,
While the young lordling struts in native pride,
His party-colour’d tutor by his side,
Pleased, let me own the pious mother’s care,
Who to the brawny sire commits her heir.
Fraught with the spirit of a Gothic monk,
Let Rich, with dulness and devotion drunk,
Enjoy the peal so barbarous and loud,
While his brain spews new monsters to the crowd; 170
I see with joy the vaticide deplore
A hell-denouncing priest and . . . whore;
Let every polish’d dame and genial lord,
Employ the social chair and venal board;
Debauch’d from sense, let doubtful meanings run,
The vague conundrum, and the prurient pun,
While the vain fop, with apish grin, regards
The giggling minx half-choked behind her cards:
These, and a thousand idle pranks, I deem
The motley spawn of Ignorance and Whim. 180
Let Pride conceive, and Folly propagate,
The fashion still adopts the spurious brat:
Nothing so strange that fashion cannot tame;
By this, dishonour ceases to be shame:
This weans from blushes lewd Tyrawley’s face,
Gives Hawley18 praise, and Ingoldsby disgrace,
From Mead to Thomson shifts the palm at once,
A meddling, prating, blundering, busy dunce!
And may, should taste a little more decline,
Transform the nation to a herd of swine. 190
The fatal period hastens on apace.
Nor will thy verse the obscene event disgrace;
Thy flowers of poetry, that smell so strong,
The keenest appetites have loathed the song,
Condemn’d by Clark, Banks, Barrowby, and Chitty,
And all the crop-ear’d critics of the city:
While sagely neutral sits thy silent friend,
Alike averse to censure or commend.
Peace to the gentle soul that could deny
His invocated voice to fill the cry! 200
And let me still the sentiment disdain
Of him who never speaks but to arraign,
The sneering son of Calumny and Scorn,
Whom neither arts, nor sense, nor soul adorn;
Or his, who, to maintain a critic’s rank,
Though conscious of his own internal blank,
His want of taste unwilling to betray,
‘Twixt sense and nonsense hesitates all day,
With brow contracted hears each passage read,
And often hums, and shakes his empty head, 210
Until some oracle adored pronounce
The passive bard a poet or a dunce;
Then in loud clamour echoes back the word,
’Tis bold, insipid — soaring, or absurd.
These, and the unnumber’d shoals of smaller fry,
That nibble round, I pity and defy.
WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1746.
1 Mourn, hapless Caledonia! mourn
Thy banish’d peace, thy laurels torn!
Thy sons, for valour long renown’d,
Lie slaughter’d on their native ground;
Thy hospitable roofs no more
Invite the stranger to the door;
In smoky ruins sunk they lie,
The monuments of cruelty.
2 The wretched owner sees afar
His all become the prey of war;
Bethinks him of his babes and wife,
Then smites his breast, and curses life.
Thy swains are famish’d on the rocks,
Where once they fed their wanton flocks:
Thy ravish’d virgins shriek in vain;
Thy infants perish on the plain.
3 What boots it, then, in every clime,
Through the wide-spreading waste of Time,
Thy martial glory, crown’d with praise,
Still shone with undiminish’d blaze?
Thy towering spirit now is broke,
Thy neck is bended to the yoke.
What foreign arms could never quell,
By civil rage and rancour fell.
4 The rural pipe and merry lay
No more shall cheer the happy day:
No social scenes of gay delight
Beguile the dreary winter night.
No strains but those of sorrow flow,
And nought be heard but sounds of woe,
While the pale phantoms of the slain
Glide nightly o’er the silent plain.
5 Oh! baneful cause, oh! fatal morn,
Accursed to ages yet unborn!
The sons against their father stood,
The parent shed his children’s blood.
Yet, when the rage of battle ceased,
The victor’s soul was not appeased:
The naked and forlorn must feel
Devouring flames, and murdering steel!
6 The pious mother, doom’d to death,
Forsaken wanders o’er the heath,
The bleak wind whistles round her head,
Her helpless orphans cry for bread;
Bereft of shelter, food, and friend,
She views the shades of night descend,
And, stretch’d beneath the inclement skies,
Weeps o’er her tender babes, and dies.
7 While the warm blood bedews my veins,
And unimpair’d remembrance reigns,
Resentment of my country’s fate,
Within my filial breast shall beat;
And, spite of her insulting foe,
My sympathising verse shall flow:
Mourn, hapless Caledonia! mourn
Thy banish’d peace, thy laurels torn!
1 When Sappho struck the quivering wire,
The throbbing breast was all on fire;
And when she raised the vocal lay,
The captive soul was charm’d away!
2 But had the nymph possess’d with these
Thy softer, chaster power to please,
Thy beauteous air of sprightly youth,
Thy native smiles of artless truth —
3 The worm of grief had never prey’d
On the forsaken love-sick maid;
Nor had she mourn’d a hapless flame,
Nor dash’d on rocks her tender frame.
1 Where now are all my flattering dreams of joy?
Monimia, give my soul her wonted rest;
Since first thy beauty fix’d my roving eye,
Heart-gnawing cares corrode my pensive breast.
2 Let happy lovers fly where pleasures call,
With festive songs beguile the fleeting hour;
Lead beauty through the mazes of the ball,
Or press her, wanton, in Love’s roseate bower.
3 For me, no more I’ll range the empurpled mead,
Where shepherds pipe, and virgins dance around,
Nor wander through the woodbine’s fragrant shade,
To hear the music of the grove resound.
4 I’ll seek some lonely church, or dreary hall,
Where fancy paints the glimmering taper blue,
Where damps hang mouldering on the ivied wall,
And sheeted ghosts drink up the midnight dew:
5 There, leagued with hopeless anguish and despair,
A while in silence o’er my fate repine:
Then with a long farewell to love and care,
To kindred dust my weary limbs consign.
6 Wilt thou, Monimia, shed a gracious tear
On the cold grave where all my sorrows rest?
Strew vernal flowers, applaud my love sincere,
And bid the turf lie easy on my breast?
Where wast thou, wittol Ward, when hapless fate
From these weak arms mine aged grannam tore?
These pious arms essay’d too late
To drive the dismal phantom from the door.
Could not thy healing drop, illustrious quack,
Could not thy salutary pill prolong her days,
For whom so oft to Marybone, alack!
Thy sorrels dragg’d thee, through the worst of ways?
Oil-dropping Twickenham did not then detain
Thy steps, though tended by the Cambrian maids; 10
Nor the sweet environs of Drury Lane;
Nor dusty Pimlico’s embowering shades;
Nor Whitehall, by the river’s bank,
Beset with rowers dank;
Nor where the Exchange pours forth its tawny sons;
Nor where, to mix with offal, soil, and blood,
Steep Snowhill rolls the sable flood;
Nor where the Mint’s contamined kennel runs:
Ill doth it now beseem,
That thou should’st doze and dream, 20
When Death in mortal armour came,
And struck with ruthless dart the gentle dame.
Her liberal hand and sympathising breast
The brute creation kindly bless’d;
Where’er she trod, grimalkin purr’d around,
The squeaking pigs her bounty own’d;
Nor to the waddling duck or gabbling goose
Did she glad sustenance refuse;
The strutting cock she daily fed,
And turkey with his snout so red; 30
Of chickens careful as the pious hen,
Nor did she overlook the tom-tit or the wren,
While red-breast hopp’d before her in the hall,
As if she common mother were of all.
For my distracted mind,
What comfort can I find;
O best of grannams! thou art dead and gone,
And I am left behind to weep and moan,
To sing thy dirge in sad and funeral lay,
Oh! woe is me! alack! and well a-day! 40
19 Smollett, imagining himself ill-treated by Lord Lyttelton, wrote the above burlesque on that nobleman’s Monody on the death of his lady.]
Parent of joy! heart-easing Mirth!
Whether of Venus or Aurora born,
Yet Goddess sure of heavenly birth,
Visit benign a son of grief forlorn:
Thy glittering colours gay,
Around him, Mirth, display,
And o’er his raptured sense
Diffuse thy living influence:
So shall each hill, in purer green array’d,
And flower adorn’d in new-born beauty glow, 10
The grove shall smooth the horrors of the shade,
And streams in murmurs shall forget to flow.
Shine, Goddess! shine with unremitted ray,
And gild (a second sun) with brighter beam our day.
Labour with thee forgets his pain,
And aged Poverty can smile with thee;
If thou be nigh, Grief’s hate is vain,
And weak the uplifted arm of Tyranny.
The morning opes on high
His universal eye, 20
And on the world doth pour
His glories in a golden shower;
Lo! Darkness trembling ‘fore the hostile ray,
Shrinks to the cavern deep and wood forlorn:
The brood obscene that own her gloomy sway
Troop in her rear, and fly the approaching morn;
Pale shivering ghosts that dread the all-cheering light,
Quick as the lightning’s flash glide to sepulchral night.
But whence the gladdening beam
That pours his purple stream 30
Soft Sleep, profoundly pleasing power,
Sweet patron of the peaceful hour!
Oh, listen from thy calm abode,
And hither wave thy magic rod;
Extend thy silent, soothing sway,
And charm the canker care away:
Whether thou lov’st to glide along,
Attended by an airy throng
Of gentle dreams and smiles of joy,
Such as adorn the wanton boy; 10
Or to the monarch’s fancy bring
Delights that better suit a king,
The glittering host, the groaning plain,
The clang of arms, and victor’s train;
Or should a milder vision please,
Present the happy scenes of peace,
Plump Autumn, blushing all around,
Rich Industry, with toil embrown’d,
Content, with brow serenely gay,
And genial Art’s refulgent ray. 20
On Leven’s banks, while free to rove,
And tune the rural pipe to love,
I envied not the happiest swain
That ever trod the Arcadian plain.
Pure stream, in whose transparent wave
My youthful limbs I wont to lave,
No torrents stain thy limpid source;
No rocks impede thy dimpling course,
That sweetly warbles o’er its bed,
With white, round, polish’d pebbles spread; 10
While, lightly poised, the scaly brood
In myriads cleave thy crystal flood;
The springing trout, in speckled pride,
The salmon, monarch of the tide,
The ruthless pike, intent on war,
The silver eel, and mottled par.
Devolving from thy parent lake,
A charming maze thy waters make,
By bowers of birch, and groves of pine,
And edges flower’d with eglantine. 20
Still on thy banks, so gaily green,
May numerous herds and flocks be seen,
And lasses, chanting o’er the pail,
And shepherds, piping in the dale,
And ancient faith, that knows no guile,
And Industry, embrown’d with toil,
And hearts resolved, and hands prepared,
The blessings they enjoy to guard.
1 When the rough north forgets to howl,
And ocean’s billows cease to roll;
When Lybian sands are bound in frost,
And cold to Nova-Zembla’s lost;
When heavenly bodies cease to move,
My blue-eyed Ann I’ll cease to love!
2 No more shall flowers the meads adorn,
Nor sweetness deck the rosy thorn,
Nor swelling buds proclaim the spring,
Nor parching heats the dog-star bring,
Nor laughing lilies paint the grove,
When blue-eyed Ann I cease to love.
3 No more shall joy in hope be found,
Nor pleasures dance their frolic round,
Nor love’s light god inhabit earth,
Nor beauty give the passion birth,
Nor heat to summer sunshine cleave,
When blue-eyed Nanny I deceive.
4 When rolling seasons cease to change,
Inconstancy forgets to range;
When lavish May no more shall bloom,
Nor gardens yield a rich perfume;
When Nature from her sphere shall start,
I’ll tear my Nanny from my heart.
Thy spirit, Independence! let me share,
Lord of the lion-heart and eagle-eye;
Thy steps I follow with my bosom bare,
Nor heed the storm that howls along the sky.
Deep in the frozen regions of the north,
A goddess violated brought thee forth,
Immortal Liberty, whose look sublime,
Hath bleach’d the tyrant’s cheek in every varying clime.
What time the iron-hearted Gaul,
With frantic Superstition for his guide, 10
Arm’d with the dagger and the pall,
The sons of Woden to the field defied;
The ruthless hag, by Weser’s flood,
In Heaven’s name urged the infernal blow,
And red the stream began to flow:
The vanquished were baptised with blood!20
The Saxon prince in horror fled
From altars stain’d with human gore;
And Liberty his routed legions led
In safety to the bleak Norwegian shore. 20
There in a cave asleep she lay,
Lull’d by the hoarse resounding main;
When a bold savage pass’d that way,
Impell’d by destiny, his name Disdain.
Of ample front the portly chief appear’d:
The hunted bear supplied a shaggy vest;
The drifted snow hung on his yellow beard,
And his broad shoulders braved the furious blast.
He stopp’d; he gazed; his bosom glow’d,
And deeply felt the impression of her charms; 30
He seized the advantage Fate allow’d,
And straight compress’d her in his vigorous arms.
The curlew scream’d, the Tritons blew
Their shells to celebrate the ravish’d rite;
Old Time exulted as he flew,
And Independence saw the light;
The light he saw in Albion’s happy plains,
Where, under cover of a flowering thorn,
While Philomel renew’d her warbled strains,
The auspicious fruit of stolen embrace was born. 40
The mountain Dyriads seized with joy
The smiling infant to their charge consign’d;
The Doric Muse caress’d the favourite boy;
The hermit Wisdom stored his opening mind:
As rolling years matured his age,
He flourish’d bold and sinewy as his sire;
While the mild passions in his breast assuage
The fiercer flames of his maternal fire.
Accomplish’d thus he wing’d his way,
And zealous roved from pole to pole, 50
The rolls of right eternal to display,
And warm with patriot thoughts the aspiring soul;
On desert isles ’twas he that raised
Those spires that gild the Adriatic wave,21
Where Tyranny beheld, amazed,
Fair Freedom’s temple where he mark’d her grave:
He steel’d the blunt Batavian’s arms
To burst the Iberian’s double chain;
And cities rear’d, and planted farms,
Won from the skirts of Neptune’s wide domain.22 60
He with the generous rustics sate
On Uri’s rocks23 in close divan;
And wing’d that arrow sure as fate,
Which ascertain’d the sacred rights of man.
Arabia’s scorching sands he cross’d,
Where blasted Nature pants supine,
Conductor of her tribes adust
To Freedom’s adamantine shrine;
And many a Tartar horde forlorn, aghast,
He snatch’d from under fell Oppression’s wing, 70
And taught amidst the dreary waste
The all-cheering hymns of liberty to sing.
He virtue finds, like precious ore,
Diffused through every baser mould;
E’en now he stands on Calvi’s rocky shore,24
And turns the dross of Corsica to gold.
He, guardian Genius! taught my youth
Pomp’s tinsel livery to despise;
My lips, by him chastised to truth,
Ne’er paid that homage which my heart denies. 80
Those sculptured halls my feet shall never tread,
Where varnish’d Vice and Vanity, combined
To dazzle and seduce, their banners spread,
And forge vile shackles for the freeborn mind;
While Insolence his wrinkled front uprears,
And all the flowers of spurious Fancy blow;
And Title his ill-woven chaplet wears,
Full often wreath’d around the miscreant’s brow;
Where ever-dimpling Falsehood, pert and vain,
Presents her cup of stale Profession’s froth; 90
And pale Disease, with all his bloated train,
Torments the sons of gluttony and sloth.
In Fortune’s car behold that minion ride,
With either India’s glittering spoils oppress’d;
So moves the sumpter-mule in harness’d pride,
That bears the treasure which he cannot taste.
For him let venal bards disgrace the bay,
And hireling minstrels wake the tinkling string;
Her sensual snares let faithless Pleasure lay;
And jingling bells fantastic Folly ring; 100
Disquiet, doubt, and dread shall intervene,
And Nature, still to all her feelings just,
In vengeance hang a damp on every scene,
Shook from the baneful pinions of Disgust.
Nature I’ll court in her sequester’d haunts,
By mountain, meadow, streamlet, grove, or cell,
Where the poised lark his evening ditty chaunts,
And Health, and Peace, and Contemplation dwell.
There Study shall with Solitude recline,
And Friendship pledge me to his fellow swains, 110
And Toil and Temperance sedately twine
The slender cord that fluttering life sustains;
And fearless Poverty shall guard the door,
And Taste unspoil’d the frugal table spread,
And Industry supply the humble store,
And Sleep unbribed his dews refreshing shed;
White-mantled Innocence, ethereal sprite!
Shall chase far off the goblins of the night,
And Independence o’er the day preside,
Propitious power! my patron and my pride! 120
20 ‘Baptised with blood:’ Charlemagne obliged four thousand Saxon prisoners to embrace the Christian religion, and immediately after they were baptized, ordered their throats to be cut. Their prince, Vitikind, fled for shelter to Gotrick, king of Denmark.]
21 ‘Adriatic wave:’ although Venice was built a considerable time before the era here assigned for the birth of Independence, the republic had not yet attained to any great degree of power and splendour.]
22 ‘Neptune’s wide domain:’ the Low Countries, and their revolt from Spain, are here alluded to.]
23 ‘Uri’s rocks:’ alluding to the known story of William Tell and his associates.]
24 ‘Calvi’s rocky shore:’ the noble stand made by Paschal Paoli, and his associates, against the usurpations of the French king.]
1 While with fond rapture and amaze,
On thy transcendent charms I gaze,
My cautious soul essays in vain
Her peace and freedom to maintain:
Yet let that blooming form divine,
Where grace and harmony combine,
Those eyes, like genial orbs that move,
Dispensing gladness, joy, and love,
In all their pomp assail my view,
Intent my bosom to subdue,
My breast, by wary maxims steel’d,
Not all those charms shall force to yield.
2 But when, invoked to Beauty’s aid,
I see the enlighten’d soul display’d;
That soul so sensibly sedate
Amid the storms of froward fate,
Thy genius active, strong, and clear,
Thy wit sublime, though not severe,
The social ardour, void of art,
That glows within thy candid heart;
My spirits, sense, and strength decay,
My resolution dies away,
And, every faculty oppress’d,
Almighty Love invades my breast!
1 To fix her! —’twere a task as vain
To count the April drops of rain,
To sow in Afric’s barren soil,
Or tempests hold within a toil.
2 I know it, friend, she’s light as air,
False as the fowler’s artful snare,
Inconstant as the passing wind,
As winter’s dreary frost unkind.
3 She’s such a miser, too, in love,
Its joys she’ll neither share nor prove,
Though hundreds of gallants await
From her victorious eyes their fate.
4 Blushing at such inglorious reign,
I sometimes strive to break her chain,
My reason summon to my aid,
Resolved no more to be betray’d.
5 Ah! friend, ’tis but a short-lived trance,
Dispell’d by one enchanting glance;
She need but look, and, I confess,
Those looks completely curse or bless.
6 So soft, so elegant, so fair,
Sure something more than human’s there;
I must submit, for strife is vain,
’Twas Destiny that forged the chain.
1 Let the nymph still avoid and be deaf to the swain,
Who in transports of passion affects to complain;
For his rage, not his love, in that frenzy is shown,
And the blast that blows loudest is soon overblown.
2 But the shepherd whom Cupid has pierced to the heart,
Will submissive adore, and rejoice in the smart;
Or in plaintive, soft murmurs his bosom-felt woe,
Like the smooth-gliding current of rivers, will flow.
3 Though silent his tongue, he will plead with his eyes,
And his heart own your sway in a tribute of sighs:
But when he accosts you in meadow or grove,
His tale is all tenderness, rapture, and love.
1 From the man whom I love though my heart I disguise,
I will freely describe the wretch I despise;
And if he has sense but to balance a straw,
He will sure take the hint from the picture I draw.
2 A wit without sense, without fancy a beau,
Like a parrot he chatters, and struts like a crow;
A peacock in pride, in grimace a baboon,
In courage a hind, in conceit a Gascon.
3 As a vulture rapacious, in falsehood a fox,
Inconstant as waves, and unfeeling as rocks;
As a tiger ferocious, perverse as a hog,
In mischief an ape, and in fawning a dog.
4 In a word, to sum up all his talents together,
His heart is of lead, and his brain is of feather;
Yet, if he has sense but to balance a straw,
He will sure take the hint from the picture I draw.
1 Come listen, ye students of every degree;
I sing of a wit and a tutor perdie,
A statesman profound, a critic immense,
In short, a mere jumble of learning and sense;
And yet of his talents though laudably vain,
His own family arts he could never attain.
2 His father, intending his fortune to build,
In his youth would have taught him the trowel to wield.
But the mortar of discipline never would stick,
For his skull was secured by a facing of brick;
And with all his endeavours of patience and pain,
The skill of his sire he could never attain.
3 His mother, a housewife, neat, artful, and wise,
Renown’d for her delicate biscuit and pies,
Soon alter’d his studies, by flattering his taste,
From the raising of wall to the rearing of paste;
But all her instructions were fruitless and vain,
The pye-making mystery he could ne’er attain.
4 Yet, true to his race, in his labours were seen
A jumble of both their professions, I ween;
For when his own genius he ventured to trust,
His pies seem’d of brick, and his houses of crust;
Then, good Mr Tutor, pray be not so vain,
Since your family arts you could never attain.
This web edition published by:
The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005