1725 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Richard Bentley

Anonymous, "The Session of the Criticks" The British Journal (24 July 1725).



Old Zoilus, the sowrest Dame Critice bore,
The pedantick dull Spawn of a Billingsgate Whore,
Was now by his Mother deputed to settle,
Who should wear the long-scolded-for Chaplet of Nettle.

Down he flew to Trin. Coll. and the Library sought,
To be near his own B-ntl-y was ever his Thought;
With a Snarl of Disdain, left the Chapel behind him,
For that was a Place where he ne'er hop'd to find him.

With his Chaps full of Wormwood, he mounted his Throne
Of worm-eaten Parchments, illegible grown;
A tough Crabtree Cudgel for a Scepter he waves,
And hollows, heus, horsum, adeste, ye Slaves.

B-ntl-y first was expected, but did not appear,
For he ordered his Delegate Frog to declare,
That to work up Dean H-re was his present Employ,
And he vow'd he'd ne'er mix with the Scrub [Greek characters].

From his Garret, where long he had rusted, came down,
Toby Th-rl-y, cock-sure the Prize was his own;
Crying Z—nds, where's this B-ntl-y? I'll give him no Quarter,
And held up the Preface to his fam'd Justin Martyr.

His Disciples came next, C-l-b soar'd at the Sight,
(As he thought) of Tom Tr-st-m, ran away in a Fright.
An Embryo Claudian was J-rt-n's Pretence,
Which, alas! prov'd abortive for want of the Pence.

The Censor view'd Toby, with a Smile of Applause,
And was almost inclin'd to have granted his Cause;
But bad him retire to his Snarling Vexation,
He'd insure him the Nettle for the next Dedication.

But as for Friend J-rt-n, he only was fit,
To coax his Preceptor, and cry up his Wit.
And since C-l-b to publish was not very forward,
Let him drink his Subscriptions with R-st-t and N-rw-d.

With his Guts and his Rusticks in roll'd J-ry N-dh-m,
And roar'd for the Prize — But the Judge would not heed him.
"With dry Thinking, old Fumbler, ne'er trouble thy Brains
Go, spunge with the Ninnys at Bennet and Queen's."

The Master of Q—n's, with his Coach full of Tully,
Came into the Court, and endeavour'd to bully,
Crying, "I've no Occasion to preach up my Merit,
I'm a hopeful young Lad — You've B-ntl-y's Word for it."

"Friend John (quoth the Judge) thou'st no Share in the Matter,
To much Dullness a Critick should add some ill Nature;
In thy Tail, and thy Notes, we like Impotence find,
For a Critick and Husband thou ne'er wert design'd."

Tom B-ntl-y next bustled to prefer his Petition,
But was jostled aside by the St-mf-rd Physician;
In his Hand he the Text of Euripides brought,
Pipe hot from the Press — But the Notes he forgot.

The Court humbly begg'd, he'd not trouble their Patience,
Paracelsus and Zoilus ne'er were Relations:
So off brush'd the Quack to his Pills and his Boxes,
From patching up Authors, to the curing of Poxes.

Up H-nn-b-rt starts, and cry's, "Look you here,
Use Nouvelle Traduction that cuts down Dacier;
For the Metre let B-ntl-y and H-re fight de Quarrel,
De Frenchman, begar Sir, must shew you de Moral."

"What? Morals, you Dog? Cry'd the Court in a Pet,
Did ever a Critick turn Moralist yet?
O'er vanquish'd Librarians, we challenge our Praise,
Let L-n-y write Morals, or the Master of Cai's."

With that they untruss'd the bold Critick of Paris,
And gave him the Nettle — But over his bare Arse;
The Smart of that Discipline damp'd his Preventions,
So he scowl'd back to Whisk with his Cully Petrencians.

At length the Vice Can. with his three Pseudo-Squires,
Stalks in, and the Cause of the Tumult requires,
"For Men of the Gown such Deportment's not fitting,
Nor find I a Statute for any such Meeting."

The Judge smil'd at the Joke, and the Squable to settle,
Said, Faith let's decree the stern Cato the Nettle,
He, alone, the true Critical Notion has hit,
For his Edicts declare, much Spite, and no Wit.