1742 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Laurence Eusden

Alexander Pope, in The Dunciad (1728; 1742); Works, ed. Warton (1796-97) 5:91-93 & n.



She saw, with joy, the line immortal run,
Each sire imprest and glaring in his son;
So watchful Bruin forms, with plastic care,
Each growing lump, and brings it to a Bear.
She saw old Pryn in restless Daniel shine,
And Eusden eke out Blackmore's endless line;
She saw slow Philips creep like Tate's poor page,
And all the Mighty Mad in Dennis rage.

And Eusden eke out, &c.] Laurence Eusden Poet Laureate. Mr. Jacob give a catalogue of some few only of his works, which were very numerous. Mr. Cook, in his Battle of Poets, saith of him,

Eusden, a laurel'd Bard, by fortune rais'd,
By very few was read, by fewer prais'd.

Mr. Oldmixon, in his Arts of Logic and Rhetoric, p. 413, 414, affirms, "That of all the Galimatia's he ever met with, none comes up to some verses of this poet, which have as much of the Ridiculum and the Fustian in them as can well be jumbled together, and are of that sort of nonsense, which so perfectly confounds all ideas, that there is no distinct one left in the mind." Further he says of him, "That he hath prophecied his own poetry shall be sweeter than Catullus, Ovid, and Tibullus; but we have little hope of the accomplishment of it, from what he hath lately published." Upon which Mr. Oldmixon has not spared a reflection, "That the putting the Laurel on the head of one who writ such verses, will give futurity a very lively idea of the judgment and justice of those who bestow'd it." Ibid. p. 417. But the well-known learning of that noble Person, who was then Lord Chamberlain, might have screen'd him from this unmannerly reflection. Nor ought Mr. Oldmixon to complain, so long after, that the Laurel would have better become his own brows, or any others: It were more decent to acquiesce in the opinion of the Duke of Buckingham upon this matter:

—In rush'd Eusden, and cry'd, Who shall have it,
But I, the true Laureate, to whom the King gave it?
Apollo begg'd pardon, and granted his claim,
But vow'd that till then he ne'er heard of his name.
Session of Poets.

The same plea might also serve for his successor, Mr. Cibber; and is further strengthened in the following Epigram, made on that occasion:

In merry Old England it once was a rule,
The King had his Poet, and also his Fool:
But now we're so frugal, I'd have you to know it,
That Cibber can serve both for Fool and for Poet.

Warburton.