1800 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Joseph Warton

Richard Polwhele, in "The Visitation of the Poets" 1800; Biographical Sketches in Cornwall (1831) 3:41-42.



PYE, heartily sick of the strange coalition
Of dullness and wit on the banks of the Exe,
Where he heard of male pangs and of male parturition
To the utter confusion of science and sex,
Flew off to the East, nor stopp'd short, till bewitching
In her musical murmurs, meander'd the Itchin.
There he (and he scarcely had cut capers faster
If escorted by Fellows and Warden and Master)
All unceremoniously scamper'd, just under
The statue of Wykeham, munificent founder;
When struck like a shuttlecock, strait did he dart on—
To the bench of that classical wizard, JOE WARTON!
Alas! Joe no longer could charm with his lay, us—
No longer could pipe like his own Melibaeus!
But ravish'd from earth to effulgence Elysian
He was gliding a shade to poetical vision.
To his mem'ry, lo! busily building a shrine,
Two Poets appear'd; and each call'd on the Nine.
Fantastic the monument rear'd in a trice is;
And its sides are embellish'd with various devices.
His skill the vain Artist endeavour'd to try had
In the figures of Pan and a young Hamadryad:
And his rival in sculpture had carved out a glade
Whither ran from his ravishing godshop the maid.
The poor breathless maid, whether mortal or goddess,
In the hurry of flight had burst open her boddice;
And — (vestments beseeming the pulpit and hassock)
Hoar Pan was trick'd out in a gown and a cassock:
Pan look'd in his cassock, as seiz'd by the cramp;
When, sudden, a wild multitudinous tramp
From the youth whom to feats of agility joy stirs.
Was mingled with many a voice in the cloysters;
And the boys rushing in, without quibble or quirk,
Cried down (in sharp terms of derision) the work,
And, to mark more than words their dislike of the plan,
(Very captious indeed!) flung their caps at "hoar Pan!"
The artists, no other, than Hayley and Rogers,
Tho' smooth were the tongues of the pleasant old codgers,
With oil-of-fool aiming, in vain to cajole
High striplings that breathed the republican soul,
Slank away from a scene of confusion and din,
And rejoic'd at their happy escape in whole skin.

But scarce had sheer'd off the unfortunate couple,
To the Manes of genius and learning so supple,
Ere a poet indeed! to his prototype just,
Appear'd — twas the elegant Bowles — with a bust
And Crowe waved a chaplet deliciously chaste,
The beautiful product of fancy and taste.
On the delicate wreath, like the morn's ruddy break, a ray
Illuming its hyacinths, beam'd from Terpsichore!
Not Flora, in sprinigtime, so pencils the bowers!
'Twas the tint of the rose on the fairest of flowers.