1741 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Dodsley

Anonymous, "To the Author of the Publick Register" Publick Register (7 March 1741) 145.



Pray Sir! let me ask, as a Friend, what you mean,
By engaging so late, in a new Magazine.
There is room to suspect from your quaint Dedication
To th' *Empress that rules o'er the Taste of the Nation,
That you flatter yourself, if she wou'd but befriend ye
In this your new Project, Success must attend ye.
But if this be your Hope, there will soon be an End on't;
For in less than twelve Months she'll desert you, depend on't.
Each cunning Contrivance, and sly Artifice,
In order to fix her Imperial Caprice,
Has over and over been try'd by Sylvanus,
Who first undertook in this Way t' entertain us.
News, Journals, and Essays, and grave Disputations,
And dry analytical Investigations,
Theological Questions, Historical Scraps,
Occultation, Eclipses, Plans, Music and Maps,
Lives, Letters, and Tales, and Poetical Fancies,
Dreams, Visions, Preferments, Books, Poems, and Prizes;
By these, and an hundred such crafty Devices,
Has Urban establish'd his Pamphlet, and spread it,
And still makes a shift just to keep up his Credit.
But the Cream of the doughty Performance is, when at
The close of the Year, the Debates of the Senate
Are dealt us by piece-meal, where we may read o'er
How his H—r was mumbled the Session before.

Now, after this hugeous Farrago of Matters,
Forestall'd by Sylvanus, and his Imitators,
What Methods, I pray Sir! have you to pursue?
What Articles left ye, Uncommon or New?
Without which, you know, there can nothing prevail,
Excepting pure Merit, to further a Sale;
And this is so hard, that I venture to ask,
How you came to attempt such a difficult Task?
'Tis true, your Satyrical Wit has been hansel'd;
As appears by the Toy-shop, and Miller of Mansfield.
But a Weekly Performance will certainly drain
In a Quarter or two, the most volatile Brain.
Then doubtless, you've many good Friends by the bye,
On whom you depend for a frequent Supply:
And some, let me tell you, are forward to hope,
That your Work now and then will be season'd by P—pe,
Whose poignant Ingredients will make us excuse
Oftentimes a weak Essay, or faultering Muse;
And think, that whene'er you play off a dull Writer,
He is only design'd as a Foil to a brighter.
Now if this be the Case, you'll be seldom to seek
How to furnish politely th' Expence of the Week:
You may go on with Courage, your Strength will be equal
T' your Task, and you need have no Pain for the Sequel.

Tho' I know there's no want of things wretched and scurvy,
Yet perhaps as a Foil this Epistle may serve ye.
So, Sir, you may print it, or let it alone,
Tis exactly the same to your Servant unknown.

* Novelty.