1822 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Leigh Hunt

Anonymous, "Don Juan in the Dumps" Morning Post (22 December 1822).



I would be "liberal," but upon my soul
I find it now in every body's mouth,
The work which we agreed should be so droll,
Is knick-named "Trash and nonsense from the South;"
And I am mocked as author of the whole.
Now this is hard, for though sometimes uncouth
My lines are, people ought not to infer,
I write the rubbish of my "pensioner."

His prittle prattle drivellers may amuse,
He may dress up a pert and priggish flam,
And readily the noble dead abuse,
In pointless, halting, brutal epigram;
But after all to few it will be news,
To hear I think his pen not worth a —,
And rhymes like his for London jades to screech,
I would not suffer in a dying speech.

Though genius never man in him could spy,
He does a maudlin essay well enough;
A weak affected dunce at poetry,
He writes a very tolerable puff.
"But what a horrid bore!" I often sigh,
To see my verse with his infernal stuff;
It makes me wish myself, and wish again,
"Where Shelley's lard is basting Tommy Paine."

'Tis sad to lose a guinea or a groat,
Sad to be twitted for another's trash;
'Tis sad to find last number is not bought,
And sad to lose a friend who saved one's cash.
So I have many a very awkward thought
About a recent melancholy splash;
While Shelley lived, the Cockney family
Could blithely feed on him instead of me.

This I have sped to England, but I hope
My Correspondent will not let it out,
Because, though I must whisper why I mope;
I do not altogether seek about
Such things to be "examined," and to cope
On his own dung-hill, with this Cockney sprout;
But I sincerely wish, upon my life,
That Satan had him with his brats and wife.

For here, they kick up such a cursed racket,
The Lady, and her saucy monkey train,
That bawling out for hat, for shoe, or jacket,
Their everlasting din disturbs my brain.
Their father's brain — this uproar cannot crack it,
His skull can nothing of the kind contain;
And then, with all their noise, 'tis no relief,
To find they eat a devilish deal of beef.

O friend of early life! not thus with thee
Came sorrow and annoyance every day;
But thou alas! once all in all to me,
Art fled for ever, where I cannot say;
O would that thou my present woe could'st see,
Return and send this noisy crew away!
Thou art no more, and nought remaining here
Is to this aching bosom half so dear!

This fine apostrophe was for my Bear
Intended, who when I first look'd for knowledge,
Still watched beside me with a brother's care,
Through all my "hours of idleness" at college.
His love surpassed his manners, which were fair,
Excepting sometimes when he felt his poll itch,
That's a bad rhyme — no matter. — In our prancing
Our feet were equally well made for dancing.

O for those hours when life was young and bright,
And blameless Hope with radiant genius strong,
Might to the Heaven of Heavens have winged its flight,
In all the splendour of immortal song!
I dreamed not then that Fortune in her spite,
Could level me with the degraded throng,
Who earning dirty bread, can but entice
Readers with blasphemy and prurient vice.

But hence reflection — while my frame it thrills,
The locusts who annoy, it will not scare 'em;
To mix — to talk — to write with them, are pills
Most bitter — so I hasten to my harem.
"'Tis hard to give our own consent to ills,"
Says SHAKESPEARE — no 'tis YOUNG, "though we must bear 'em."
I wish ere "number two" had been begun,
That I "had taken care of number one."