1703 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Edward Bysshe

Anonymous, "A Dialogue, design'd as Preface to The Art of English Poetry, by Edward B. Gent." Poems on Several Occasions: together with some Odes (1703) 36-41.



CELADON.
Strephon, I've most surprizing News; your Ear.

STREPHON.
Some new Amour, or I'll be hang'd; let's hear.

CELADON.
Ned By—e, the Jest of half the World, in Print.

STREPHON.
Fie, fie, you rave, there can be nothing in't.

CELADON.
'Egad 'tis true, and I was told by' by,
That you would Write a Preface.

STREPHON.
—Faith not I,
I Write in's Praise! am I that sneaking Fool,
Pick'd out of all his Friends to be a Tool,
To Usher in a Work so wretched dull?

CELADON.
Nay, prithee why so crusty? You and I
Alternately our Muse's Force must try.

STREPHON.
Suppose we should, what can our Muses say
To recommend his Book?

CELADON.
—Why, we will pray
That they'll excuse this Labour of his Youth.
Then for his Wit,

STREPHON.
—H' has none.

CELADON.
—Hold, you speak Truth,
Let him do that himself; but let us use
Another way to introduce his Muse.
Ladies, to you, who always tender prove
To Men of Wit, the Author's Case we'll move;
Who by a Taste most exquisitely good,
Has rifl'd ev'ry Writer for your Food;
Laid himself out in Midnight Cares and Pains,
(Nor has there been a small Expence of Brains)
To make our Rimes more naturally flow,
That Lovers may more tunefully express our Woe.
The Radiant God, and his fine Daughters too,
May bid the English Hemisphere adieu:
All mounted on their Pegasean Horse,
May, when they please, begin another Course.
For B— alone can English Verse inspire,
Great B— can warm more than the God of Fire.
To him each Versifier shall repair,
Change his Parnassus for an English Air;
By him they shall be dispossess'd
Of their Calliopes, Urania, and the rest
Of those insulting, airy Sprights,
Who Witch-like ride Invention so a-Nights.

STREPHON.
Hold, Celadon, how can'st thou be so mad,
To offer at his Praise who Writes so bad?
Thy Taste will be arraign'd, thy Judgment lost;
To praise a Friend when it so dear must cost,
Argues no common Folly: It is true
I love the Man as well, as much as you,
Yet cannot give him more than is his due.

CELADON.
But how shall I come off? I must go on;
Strephon, contrive some way, or I'm undone.

STREPHON.
Stay, let me think; Friend Cel. do you be gone,
And I'll repair the Follies you have done.

My talking Friend, who but this Moment's gone,
Ladies, you'll think perhaps he's very young;
First to impose his Stuff upon the Town,
As if his Praise could make the Book go down.
He thought to get a Name, because, Forsooth,
Bla—re had said the thing was well enough;
But you'll excuse him; for if he had known
How Bla—re's Judgment was rever'd in Town,
He'd not have been so forward to proclaim,
In such high Lines By—e's Immortal Name.
You see how he's deceiv'd; for most among you
(I would not willingly be thought to wrong you)
Think that like Fame with Elkana he gain'd,
When first the Art of Poetry he feign'd.