1741 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Alexander Pope

Anonymous, "To Alexander Pope, Esq; The Muse's Complaint" The Craftsman (24 October 1741).



SIR,
The following Lines, though dated from Parnassus had their Birth at Cambridge, where the Silence of that great Man, to whom they are address'd, is much lamented, and as I doubt not but the Publick will join with Me, and the Muses, in this their proper and seasonable Request, I should be glad, if when Politicks do not ingross your whole Paper, You will give them a Place in it.
I am, SIR, &c.

The Nine, assembled in full Meeting,
To Alex. Pope, of Twitn'am, Greeting.

Whereas Petitions have been sent
To Phoebus and his Parliament,
From certain Malcontents below,
Which said Petitions humbly shew,
That You, our Son, who now so long
Have reign'd o'er the Poetick Throng;
Though loth to yield the Laurel Crown,
Or lay the Regal Sceptre down,
In pompous State still idly sit,
And think the World beneath your Wit,
And since it owns, and dreads your Pow'r,
You proudly say You'll write no more.
Bless Us! 'tis strange, three tedious Years,
They say, and not a Line appears;
Not one Poetick Cobweb spun,
From Thirty-eight to Forty-one;
Besides, there's not a Poem made,
You have quite spoil'd the Critick's Trade;
The minor Poets, till You dye,
Must grovel in Obscurity;
For till the Sun is gone to Bed,
Poor Bats and Owls must hide their Head.

This will admit of no Excuses,
You must not thus affront the Muses;
Hast Thou so soon, ingrate, forgot
Our tender Love; say, have We not
These forty Years gone Hand in Hand,
Despised the Women, left the Men,
To guide thy Hand and hold thy Pen;
Another Horace giv'n in Thee,
Blest Thee with Homer's Majesty;
With Ovid's Art, and Virgil's Fire,
All thy fond Wishes cou'd desire;
And truly now We've serv'd your Ends,
'Tis thus that You reward your Friends.
Some Folks have made a tedious Fuss,
And laid forsooth the Fault on Us,
And then, because They know your Worth,
Your Parts, your Merit, and so forth,
Have from your Silence ta'en Occasion,
To hint with vile Insinuation
That We've withdrawn our Inspiration.
"Ay, fickle fair Ones they, cries One,
They're here to Day, to Morrow gone."
"Those Ladies, ('tis their Sex's Way)"
Another Witling's pleas'd to say.
"Have left Him now; They'll come no more;
The Reason's plain, the Man's three-score."

Now, Sir, to set our Honour clear,
(And sure You hold our Honour dear)
We by Apollo's own Desire,
Do by these Presents here require
Quickly, on Pain of our Displeasure,
Some Fruits of this long learned Leisure,
Ethicks, Epistles, Odes, or Satires,
Or any such Poetick Matters,
Which You, Sir Bard, We know 'twixt Friends,
Have always at your Finger's Ends,
Things that We're sure will please the Nation,
And save besides our Reputation;
Then will the World with Pleasure say,
That We command, and You obey,
And Friends will praise, and Foes admire,
What You shall write, and We inspire.
Parnassus,
Oct. 17, 1741.