1818 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Rogers

Lord Byron, "Lord Byron's Verses on Sam Rogers, in Question and Answer" 1818; Fraser's Magazine 7 (January 1833) 82-84.



QUESTION.
Nose and chin would shame a knocker;
Wrinkles that would puzzle Cocker;
Mouth which marks the envious scorner,
With a scorpion in each corner,
Turning its quick tail to sting you
In the place that most may wring you;
Eyes of lead-like hue, and gummy;
Carcass pick'd out from some mummy;
Bowels (but they were forgotten,
Save the liver, and that's rotten);
Skin all sallow, flesh all sodden,—
Form the devil would frighten God in.
Is't a corpse stuck up for show,
Galvanised at times to go?
With the Scripture in connexion,
New proof of the resurrection?
Vampyre, ghost, or goul, what is it?
I would walk ten miles to miss it.

ANSWER.
Many passengers arrest one,
To demand the same free question.
Shorter's my reply, and franker,—
That's the Bard, the Beau, the Banker.
Yet if you could bring about,
Just to turn him inside out,
Satan's self would seem less sooty,
And his present aspect — Beauty.
Mark that (as he masks the bilious
Air, so softly supercilious)
Chasten'd bow, and mock humility,
Almost sicken'd to servility;
Hear his tone (which is to talking
That which creeping is to walking,
Now on all fours, now on tiptoe);
Hear the tales he lends his lip to;
Little hints of heavy scandals;
Every friend in turn he handles;
All which women, or which men do,
Glides forth in an innuendo,
Clothed in odds and ends of humour—
Herald of each paltry rumour,
From divorces, down to dresses,
Woman's frailties, men's excesses,
All which life presents of evil
Makes for him a constant revel.
You're his foe — for that he fears you,
And in absence blasts and sears you,
You're his friend — for that he hates you,
First caresses, and then baits you—
Darting on the opportunity
When to do it with impunity:
You are neither — then he'll flatter,
Till he finds some trait for satire;
Hunts your weak point out, then shews it
Where it injures to disclose it,
In the mode that's most invidious,
Adding every trait that's hideous—
From the bile, whose blackening river
Rushes through the Stygian liver.

Then he thinks himself a lover—
Why? I really can't discover,
In his mind, age, face, or figure;
Viper broth might give him vigour,—
Let him keep the cauldron steady,
He the venom has already.
For his faults — he has but one,—
'Tis but envy, when all's done,
He but pays the pain he suffers,
Clipping, like a pair of snuffers,
Lights which ought to burn the brighter
For this temporary blighter.
He's the cancer of his species,
And will eat himself to pieces,—
Plague personified, and famine,—
Devil, whose sole delight is damning.

For his merits, would you know 'em?
Once he wrote a pretty Poem.