A Satire on Satirists, and Admonition to Detractors

For eaters of goose-liver there is drest
This part alone; the cats divide the rest;
The fire that plumps it, leaves the creature dry,
So too with poets does the poetry;
This is their liver, trufled, tender, sweet,
And all beside is sad unchristian meat.

Let thou the Muse's spangled tissue play
About thy head and bosom, night and day,
But throw the bone 'twas workt upon, away.

Thinly by Nature is our honey spread
On very coarse and very bitter bread.
And from our corners we descry asquint
A prettier book than ours, a sharper print;
And in this school-room call the cleverest lad
If sober, stupid, and if fiery, mad.

Who in hard stems and clotted leaves would rout,
When the whole essence he may have without?
Who to the husks of poets would sit down,
When Murray sells the kernels for a crown?
Grant me, propitious Fate! to meet our best
Only on Pindus, and in heaven the rest;
Leaving, to walk beside me while I stay,
The kind companion of an earlier day,
Whom genius, virtue, manly grief, endear,
And bonds draw closer every circling year.

In fashionable squares and new-built streets
Suburban Muses take their several beats;
And whoso passes their select purlieus
Is thief or strumpet, anything but Muse.
Sooner shall Tuscan Vallombrosa lack wood
Than Britain Grub-street, Billingsgate, and Blackwood.
Slave-merchants, scalpers, cannibals, agree . . .
In Letter-land no brotherhood must be.
If there were living upon earth but twain,
One would be Abel and the other Cain.
Here, be our cause the wrong one or the right,
Better to pay than play, to run than fight.
Foul are the boxers, seconds, ring, and green . . .
And we wear gloves, and much prefer the clean.
The strife of letters will allow no peace,
No Truce of God , no sabbath's armistice.
" Down with your money! down with it, newcomer!
" And rise Sir Sotheby, and stand by Homer.
" O'er Pope, o'er Cowper, lift thy licensed head,
" Beat all the living, challenge all the dead.
" He who refuses us our fare, forgets
" Our junction-magazines and branch-gazettes;
" Our rail-ways running into every town,
" And our facilities for setting down .
" Precaution taken, each may find his friend,
" Who makes the limberest thread-case stand on end.
" Few are the authors here with lives uncharm'd,
" And thinnest ghosts march through their moonlight, arm'd."

There never squatted a more sordid brood
Beneath the battlements of Holyrood,
Than that which now across the clotted perch
Crookens the claw and screams for court and church.
What is the church to them? or what the court?
Think ye they care one grain of millet for't?
But they have ken'd the swell of looser crop,
And round about the midden hop and hop.
The field they would have flown into, is clear,
Pickt every horse-fall, empty every ear.

To such the trembling verse-boy brings his task,
Of such the one-spurr'd critick begs to ask,
Hath Sheffield's glorious son the genuine vein?
Did Paracelsus spring from poet's brain?
When all expect it, yes will never do,
The cautious and the business-like say no .
Criticks and maidens should not smile too fast;
A yes , though drawl'd out faintly, comes at last.

Well; you have seen our Prosperos, at whose beck
Our ship, with all her royalty, is wreck.
From sire to son descends the wizard book
That works such marvels.
Look behind you! look!
There issue from the Treasury, dull and dry as
The leaves in winter, Gifford and Matthias.
Brighter and braver Peter Pindar started,
And ranged around him all the lighter-hearted.
When Peter Pindar sank into decline,
Him W . . son followed, of congenial quill,
As near the dirt, and no less prone to ill.
Walcot, of English heart, had English pen,
Buffoon he might be, but for hire was none;
Nor, plumed and mounted on Professor's chair,
Offer'd to grin for wagers at a fair.
Who would not join the joke when hands like these
Lead proudly forward Alcibiades,
Train'd up to fashion by the Nymphs of Leith,
And whiffing his cigar through cheesy teeth.

Honester men and wiser, you will say,
Were satirists,
Unhurt? for spite? for pay?
Their courteous soldiership, outshining ours,
Mounted the engine, and took aim from tow'rs.
From putrid ditches we more safely fight,
And push our zig-zag parallels by night.
Dryden's rich numbers rattle terse and round,
Profuse, and nothing plattery in the sound.
And, here almost his equal, if but here,
Pope pleas'd alike the playful and severe.
The slimmer cur at growler Johnson snarls,
But cowers beneath his bugle-blast for Charles.
From Vanity and London far removed,
With that pure Spirit his pure spirit loved,
In thorny paths the pensive Cowper trod,
But angels prompted, and the word was God.

Churchmen have chaunted satire, and the pews
Heard good sound doctrine from the sable Muse.
Frost-bitten, and lumbaginous, when Donne,
With verses gnarl'd and knotted, hobbled on,
Thro listening palaces did rhymeless South
Pour sparkling waters from his golden mouth.
Prim, in spruce party-colours Mason shone,
His Muse lookt well in gall-dyed crape alone.
Beneath the starry sky, mid garden glooms,
In meditation deep, and dense perfumes,
Young's cassock was flounced round with plaintive pun . . .
And pithier Churchill swore he would have none.
He bared his own broad vices, but the knots
Of the loud scourge fell sorest upon Scots.
Yet, when the cassock he had thrown aside,
No better man his godless lips belied:
He pelted no shy poet thro' the streets,
No Lamb he vilified, he stabb'd no Keats:
His cleanlier fingers in no combat close
To scratch the pimples upon Hazlit's nose:
Hunt's Cold-bath-field may bloom with bowers, for him,
And Coleridge may be sound in wind and limb.
On bell-hung drays all coarser parcels find
The way to Blackwood; rings, and records kind,
A thoughtless book-keeper detains behind.

The Gentleman's , the Lady's , we have seen,
Now blusters forth the Blackguard's Magazine:
And (Heaven from joint-stock companies protect us!)
Dustman and nightman issue their Prospectus .
If, as we pass, a splash is all we feel,
Thanks to the blue brigade enroll'd by Peel.
While from the south such knaves are carted forth,
Gildons and Curls stil flourish in the north;
And others, baser in degree and mind,
Tenant the outhouse Burke with life resign'd.
See the shrewd curriers, knife in mouth, deride
Now the flay'd victim, now the price divide . .
No; rather see, while Satyrs dance around,
Yon little man with vine and ivy crown'd,
Raising his easy arm, secure to hit
The scope of pleasure with the shafts of wit.

Satire! I never call'd thee very fair,
But if thou art inclined to hear my pray'r,
Grant the bright surface that our form reflects,
The healthy font that braces our defects:
But O! to fulminate with forked line
Another's fame or fortune, ne'er be mine!
Against the wretch who dares it, high or low,
Against him only, I direct my blow.

When Byron by the borderers was assail'd,
Tho Byron then was only silken-mail'd,
The squad of Brougham and Jeffrey fared but ill,
And on the lordling's split the lawyer's quill.
This chief came smirking onward, that lookt arch,
But both retreated to the old Rogue's March:
And if, with broken head and bagpipe lost,
It should be stil the tune they like the most,
There is a reason, were it safe to tell . . .
Some who fight poorly, plunder pretty well.
Byron was not all Byron; one small part
Bore the impression of a human heart.
Guided by no clear love-star's panting light
Thro the sharp surges of a northern night,
In Satire's narrow strait he swam the best,
Scattering the foam that hist about his breast.
He, who might else have been more tender, first
From Scottish saltness caught his rabid thirst.
Praise Keats . .
" I think I've heard of him ."
" With you
Shelley stands foremost."
. . And his lip was blue.
" I hear with pleasure any one commend
So good a soul; for Shelley is my friend."
One leaf from Southey's laurel made explode
All his combustibles . .
" An ass! by God! "
Who yet surmounted in romantick Spain
Highths our brisk courser never could attain.

I lagged; he call'd me; urgent to prolong
My matin chirpings into mellower song.
Mournfuller tones came then . . O ne'er be they
Drown'd in night howlings from the Forth and Spey!

Twice is almighty Homer far above
Troy and her towers, Olympus and his Jove.
First, when the God-led Priam bends before
Him sprung from Thetis, dark with Hector's gore:
A second time, when both alike have bled,
And Agamemnon speaks among the dead.
Call'd up by Genius in an after-age,
That awful spectre shook the Athenian stage.
From eve to morn, from morn to parting night,
Father and daughter stood before my sight.
I felt the looks they gave, the words they said,
And reconducted each serener shade.
Ever shall these to me be well-spent days,
Sweet fell the tears upon them, sweet the praise.
Far from the footstool of the tragick throne,
I am tragedian in this scene alone.
Station the Greek and Briton side by side,
And, if derision is deserv'd, deride.
Shew me a genuine poet of our times
Unwrung with strictures or ungall'd with rhymes.
The strong are rowell'd, while the dull stand still,
And those who feed on thistles feed their fill.

On our wide downs there have been, and there are,
Such as indignant Justice should not spare.
Under my wrist ne'er shall her whip be crackt
Where poet leaves a poet's fame intact.
When from their rocks and mountains they descend
To tear the stranger or to pluck the friend,
I spring between them and their hoped-for-prey
And whoop them from the fiendish feast away.
Come, if you hate tame vultures, if you shun
The hencoop daws that never see the sun,
Come into purer air, where lake and hill
With wholesome breath the heaving bosom fill.
Whom seek we there? alas! we seek in vain
The gentle breast amid the gentle strain.

Ion may knock where Self hath most to do,
Knock at the freshman's in his first Review,
At under-secretary Stanley's too . .
Ion came forth, the generous, brave, and wise,
And tears stood tingling in unwonted eyes.
The proud policeman strain'd each harden'd ball
Round as a fishes, lest a drop should fall.
The exciseman from Gravesend, the steamer's clerk,
The usurer, the bencher, cried out " Hark! "
Dundas had fear'd his brazen brow might melt,
Pitt almost fainted, Melbourne almost felt . .
Amid the mighty storm that swell'd around,
Wordsworth was calm, and bravely stood his ground.
No more on daisies and on pilewort fed,
By weary Duddon's ever tumbled bed,
The Grasmere cuckoo leaves those sylvan scenes,
And, percht on shovel hats and dandy deans,
And prickt with spicy cheer, at Philpot's nod
Devoutly fathers Slaughter upon God.
Might we not wish some wiser seer had said
Where lurks the mother of that hopeful maid?

Now Wordsworth! lest we never meet again,
Write, on the prose-side tablet of thy brain,
A worldly counsel to a worldly mind,
And grow less captious if thou grow less kind.
Leave Moore, sad torturer of the virgin breast,
One lyre for beauty, one for the opprest:
Leave Campbell Wyoming's deserted farms
And Hohenlinden's trumpet-tongued alarms.
Permit us to be pleas'd, or even to please,
And try at other strains than such as these . . .

" I do assert it boldly, 'tis a shame
" To honor Dryden with a poet's name.
" What in the name of goodness can we hope
" When criticks praise the tinkling tin of Pope?
" They are, no doubt, exceedingly good men,
" Pity, they flirt so flippant with the pen!
" In Scott there is, we must admit, one line
" Far better than the rest, and almost fine.
" Hear what I wrote upon the subject! now!
" This is the way to write, you will allow.
" As for your Germans, petty pismire hosts,
" Nathans, Iphigeneias, Meisters, Fausts,
" Any two stanzas here are worth 'em all . .
" So let your Privy Council give the wall.
" Goethe may be a baron or a graf,
" Call him a poet, and you make me laugh:
" Either my judgement is entirely lost or
" Never was there so cursed an impostor."
Peace to the soother of Orestes! peace
To the first Spirit that awoke on Greece!
Spare even Byron, who spared none himself,
And lay him gently on the lady's shelf.
Ah surely 'tis enough if Lamartine
Sticks his crisp winter-cabbage ever-green
To those gilt bays! and Chateaubriant's sand,
Hot, sterile, gusty, sweeps that slimy land;
The land of squashy fruits, in puddles set,
The land of poppies and of minionette,
But massier things and loftier here and there
Surprise us . . losing base and point in air.

Tho' Southey's poetry to thee should seem
Not worth five shillings (such thy phrase) the ream,
Courage! good wary Wordsworth! and disburse
The whole amount from that prudential purse.
Here, take my word, 'tis neither shame nor sin
To venture boldly, all thy own thrown in,
With purest incense to the Eternal Mind
That spacious urn, his heart, lights half mankind.
Batter it, bruize it, blacken it at will,
It hath its weight and precious substance still.
We, who love order, yield our betters place
With duteous zeal, and, if we can, with grace.
Roderick, Kehama, Thalaba , belong
To mightier movers of majestick song.
To such as these we give, by just controul,
Not our five shillings, but our heart and soul.
Try what it is to pierce the mails of men
In their proud moods . . kings, patriots, heroes . . then
Back wilt thou run as if on Kalgarth-flat
A shower had caught thee in thy Sunday hat.
Are there no duodecimos of mind
Stitcht to tear up? wherein 'tis hard to find
One happy fancy, one affection kind.
Why every author on thy hearthstone burn?
Why every neighbour twitcht and shov'd in turn?
Rather than thus eternally cry hang 'em ,
I'd almost praise the workmanship of Wrangham.
But, O true poet of the country! why
With goatskin glove an ancient friend defy?
Should Gifford lead thee? should Matthias? they
Were only fit to flap the flies away,
Leave 'em their night, for they have had their day.
What would they give to drive a Collins wild,
Or taunt a Spenser on his burning child!
What would they give to drag a Milton back
From heaven, or cord a Shakspeare to the rack.
These, and their corporal Canning, are forgotten,
Since fruits soon perish when the core is rotten.
Throw, throw the marching-guinea back, 'tis solely
For poets under standard highth, like Croly.
Alas! to strike with little chance to hit
Proves how much longer-winded wrath than wit.
The frequent stroke, the plunge, the puffing, show
A hapless swimmer going fast below.
Verses (and thine are such) undoom'd to die,
From gentle thoughts should raise the willing sigh.
If youth had starts of jealousy, let age
Rest with composure on another's page.
Take by the hand the timid, rear the young,
Shun the malignant, and respect the strong.
Censure's coarse bar, corroded, crusts away,
And the unwasted captive starts on day.
Another date hath Praise's golden key.
With that alone men reach Eternity.
He who hath lent it, tho' awhile he wait,
Yet Genius shall restore it at the gate.
Think timely, for our coming years are few,
Their worst diseases mortals may subdue;
Which, if they grow around the loftier mind,
Death, when ourselves are gathered, leaves behind.
Our frowardness, our malice, our distrust,
Cling to our name and sink not with our dust.
Like prince and pauper in our flesh and blood,
Perish like them we cannot, if we wou'd.
Is not our sofa softer when one end
Sinks to the welcome pressure of a friend?
If he hath rais'd us in our low estate,
Are we not happier when they call him great?
Some who sate round us while the grass was green
Fear the chill air and quit the duller scene:
Some, unreturning, thro' our doors have past,
And haply we may live to see the last.
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