1817 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Southey

Impar Sibi, Esq., "Carmen Modestum" Morning Chronicle (5 February 1817).



Come (for ye know me well) your Poet mark;
Come hear my Muse her own sweet self adore;
For I am he who wrote the Maid of Arc;
In my great name three things my Godsires swore;
'Tis well on other worlds they have alighted,
Else might they be for perjury indicted.

For I am he who wrote the Tour in Spain,
And scoff'd "the House of Prayer;" in Druid Grove
Then sought I God, in woodland or on plain,
And worshipp'd Fate beneath inclement Jove—
Now Kings I eulogise, and make my theme
Religion — how ye stare! come listen to my dream.

At Hampton Court, on WILLIAM'S velvet bed
Methought I slept; when lo! a busy Clerk,
A ream of foolscap wreath'd around his head,
Sore troubled him who wrote the Maid of Arc—
When thus the Vision spake — "Thy wild amaze,
Lake dweller, chase — my name is HENRY HASE.

"From that huge edifice my flight I wing,
Sacred to Bullion, cenotaph of SOANE—
That 'dainty dish to set before a King'
PYE, is no more — go mount his vacant throne,
Reign in his stead: notes ten times ten of mine,
Bard, laurel-crown'd, shall ev'ry year be thine.

"Nor notes alone, but eke a generous bowl,
Thou'lt tune thy sackbut for a but of sack;
Go hang a bag-wig to thy wondering poll,
And daub with lace thy unaccustom'd back:
Close to thy hip a sword steel-hilted stick,
A ready spit to roast an heretick!

"That verdant crown which SETTLE, spotless youth,
DRYDEN'S successor, wore — who sternly chaste
Bent not to BAAL the knee; that wreath which truth
Call'd for a court; which modest CIBBER graced,
Is thine! converted Laureat, grasp a ball;
Be born a WHITEHEAD and baptised a PAUL.

"Like lowly CIBBER, vanity discard,
When Courts inspire thee, equal him in song;
Tho' scoffed by FIELDING, tho' by Twickenham's bard
Enthron'd a Monarch o'er the Dunciad throng
His name still blooms on Memory's greenest slope;
But who now reads a page in FIELDING or in POPE?

"Not at one push but by repeated thrust
India's brown Jugglers swallowed the sword,
If Britain, with wide throat and heedless trust
Gorge, at one gulp, thy methodistic hoard,
Nor doubt thy zeal, nor thy conversion question—
POLITO'S ostrich, then, may envy her digestion."