1819 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. John Wolcot

John Taylor Esq., "Peter Pindar's Annuity. — An Imitation" Morning Post (13 February 1819).



"I sought for FORTUNE'S smiles," said PETER PINDAR,
When running free, and scarcely worth a cinder,
In Europe, Africa, and Western Ind;
My Muse accompanied me all the way,
And willing brought forth many a pleasant lay,
But, ah! Dame Fortune I could never find.

"At length one morning 'twas my fate to go
To a fam'd shop in Paternoster row—
I saw the Goddess eye a Book with glee;
Vent'ring to peep at what the Dame was reading,
No proof, I must acknowledge, of good-breeding,
I found with rapture she was reading ME.

"Still more to prop my vanity and pride,
I saw she could not lay the Book aside;
Feasting delighted on each page, no doubt,
She read and laughed, and laughed and read, again,
Wondering, amidst, at my prolific vein,
Nor closed the Volume till she saw it out.

"Turning her giggling visage then around,
The modest Bard she in a corner found,
For I was always deemed a bashful Wight;
Ah! hah, thought I, I'm here in lucky time.
She'll tell THE TRADE I'm sportive and sublime,
And bid them buy at once my Copy-right.

"So it fell out — THE TRADE with transport glow,
And strait the WALKERS, ROBINSONS and Co.—
Agreed to make the purchase firm and clear;
They gave, for what the Bard so sweetly sings
In praise of MINISTERS, and QUEENS and KINGS,
Two hundred — aye — and fifty pounds a-year.

"But this provision first they wisely made,
For none can doubt the offspring of THE TRADE,
Viz. that all future offspring of my Muse
Should not be left to me to guide their fate,
And rear by parent puffs to Man's estate,
But left to them to cherish or refuse.

"'Twas granted, for I knew my tuneful brats,
Like Kittens trusted to maternal Cats,
Fostered by Booksellers would best succeed;
Besides, I knew my Muse, a thriving Dame,
Would fan with fondness my poetic flame,
And, when I pleased, Parnassian bantling breed.

"Fortune then told them they had wisely done,
Such treasures to secure of wit and fun,
With praise I'm much too delicate to mention;
O'erjoyed they gave, rich boon! and Fame shall noise it,
My Works, to charm the Goddess in her closet,
And thus I tell the story of my Pension."

The late Dr. Walcot, a few days before his death, related to the Author of the foregoing lines the origin of his connexion with the Booksellers, in the following manner: — "I was poor, and hunted in vain for Fortune, in Europe, Africa, and the West Indies, but at last found her at a shop in Paternoster-row, laughing over my works, and advising the Booksellers to buy the copy-right;" and this whimsical statement has since suggested the present Imitation.