1717 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Tickell

Jonathan Smedley, "Cloe to Mr. Tickell, occasioned by his Avignon-Letter" 1717; Smedley, Poems on Several Occasions (1721) 81-85.



When, curious, you peruse this Female Strain,
And read my Letter o'er and o'er again;
Your various Judgment e'er you, hasty, make,
And point out this, and dwell on that Mistake;
In every Page, a Noun or Verb mis-plac'd,
And all the Rules, Grammarians teach, effac'd;
Remember, Sir, my Verses are your Crime,
'Twas he, who made me Loyal, made me rhime.

E'er, yet, my Female Studies I declin'd,
And to the Priest and Post-boy turn'd my Mind;
When Tea at Noon; the Ace of Hearts, at Night,
And Flattery often pleas'd, and often Spight;
My easy Minutes, undisturb'd with Care,
In Indolence I pass'd, 'twixt Play and Pray'r;
Content, with Skill, to patch, or flirt a Fan;
Heedless of News, or thoughtless, ev'n, of Man:
But the broad Doctor, bellowing, from afar,
The spiritual Horrors of a Pulpit-War,
I listed Voluntier, and sought Success
By every Woman's Wile, by Look, by Dress;
I wrote, I read, I sung, I danc'd, I play'd,
And curs'd the Visit, which no Convert made;
In which a Whig I cou'd not, smiling, save,
Or frown a stiff Schismatick to his Grave.

Oh! had not Truth, by thy inchanting Tongue,
Harmonious Poet! been, so sweetly, sung;
Still I had liv'd deceiv'd, inur'd to Lies,
And listen'd still to Priests and Prodigies.
Bless'd! be thy Verse; thy Verse! whose sacred Pow'r,
Alone, a Woman-Bigot cou'd restore;
May all my Sex proclaim thy just Applause!
And praise thy Wit, and aid thy glorious Cause!

How long shall Dulness, dreaming God! sustain
In this fair Island, his inglorious Reign?
Behold! what Pranks he plays; behold him range,
The darling Deity, around the 'Change;
Where Pun-full Misers jest, and cheat, and cant,
And wallow in the Riches, which they want.
See! how his awful Godhead does dispence
At Child's, and Will's, his solid Influence!
How! willy-whisps P—e's Senses quite astray;
And sheds his whole collected Force on G—y!
How puzzles pert Ar—t's Learned Head;
Who, tho' to Recipe's and Pulses bred,
His former Studies, dozing, now reverses,
Writes Madrigals, Crack Puns, and Clubs for Farces.

With Grief! his far extended Power I view;
With Grief behold a fribbling, wittling Crew,
With borrow'd Ribaldry distress the Town,
And teize us, ev'n with Dulness, not their own;
With far-fetch'd Pun, and with Conundrum vile,
They blend the lofty Language of our Isle;
Invert, and strain, and torture harmless Words,
To form a Gibberish, worse, than Neeve's Records;
Pumping for Grubstreet Jokes, in Council sit,
And blast their Mother-Tongue, for want of Mother Wit.

Rise, Ad—n, exert thy Muse's Charms,
Quit the soft Scenes of Love, and War—k's Arms;
Convince the wondring World, that George's Reign
Is not condemn'd to Folly, and to Gain.
Thus each Alloy disclos'd, by thy pure Ore,
Bombast shall pass for Sterling Wit no more.
Nor David's Poetry, inspir'd, sublime,
Obscenely shock in barbarous, doggrel Rhime.

Let generous Garth relax his God-like Care;
Himself, while saving others, let him spare;
That, when good-natur'd Spleen disturbs his Mind,
He a Relief, from Poetry may find.

Let Philips too resume his Rural Strain,
And Congreve (silent long) fresh Laurels gain;
Once more let Vanbrugh write, and Welsted chuse
New Subjects, to inspire his Lyrick Muse.
And thou, O! favour'd Youth, whose tuneful Art
With Love of Verse, cou'd warm a Female Heart,
Urge the great Dictates, which thy Breast inflame,
Consult thy Country, and consult thy Fame.