1810 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Wilson Croker

Anonymous, "A Prayer attributed to the new S-cr-t-y of the Adm-lt-y, J-n W-ls-n C-k-r, Esq." The Morning Chronicle (16 March 1810).



Thou Goddess Impudence! my frontless fair!
'Till now, propitious to thy votary's pray'r,
Say, what new object, what more gifted toy,
Averts my Goddess from her favourite boy?
Has she sought Erin's shore in vain to find
Another C—K—R suited to her mind,
And idly search to swell her brazen store,
With one such pranksome, tittering booby more?
Or seeks she in Duneddin's keener air,
What Knight of iron features walls her there?
Return, my daring guide! Let nought detain
My constant charmer from her sinking swain—
Whether you teach smooth CASTLEREAGH the art
To play the rough-hewn, stubborn Patriot's part,
Or sing soft lullabies in CANNING'S ear,
Of England's murmurs for her last premier;
Or pause with Epidourion eye, to trace
The bridegroom blush of DUIGENAN'S dubious face,
And tell, like MILTON, through superior light,
"Of things invisible to mortal sight?"
Or archly hint to floundering DENNIS BROWNE,
The House applaud him, while they cough him down?
Or whisper COLERIDGE, how sublime he goes,
Stalking on stilts of too poetic prose,
Yoking his Alexandrines at command,
To speed a slightless Courier through the land?
Or grating jargon harsh, bid Northern BOYLE
Grind English in the Lismahago style?
Or bid vain OWENSON in nature's spite,
Some tinsel tale of tawdry bombast write,
And murd'ring grammar, sense, and truth, lay claim,
To all the splendour of an EDGEWORTH'S fame?
By whom, or what engaged, I claim your ear,—
Hear my solemn prayer, and answer what you hear.
Say then, O Goddess! what more favoured name
Than mine, has wider spread thy spurious fame?
Of all thy chosen followers is there one
Has done for impudence what I have done?
Ev'n I, who palm'd upon my natal town
Wild SOUTHEY'S soaring fancies for my own!
Tore from its airy steep, his mountain rose
To waste its sweetness in my rhyming prose!
Broke his sweet wild briar over NELSON'S grave,
And stole his "sea bird" from her native wave!
Ev'n I, who in a flood of Vandal rage
Let loose my tuneless lampoons 'gainst the stage,
In Irish rhymes, as how, "Miss WALSTEIN plays ill"
The arduous character "of Lady Teazle."
E'en I —but let me pause and prostrate bend,
And own the bounties of my earliest friend.
Heav'ns! to look back upon that humble day
When I and father walk'd the Dublin Quay!
Myself his scribe, and all my scribeship then
To note how many casks were gauged, and when;
What kegs held twenty gallons, what held ten.
Then, doom'd to crawl unknown o'er life's low stage, or
Like father, be an honest growling gauger;
Now! kegs, casks, hogsheads, puncheons, pipes forgot,
What am I? Impudence, what am I not?
Then let the fools who envy genius, scoff,
And, since they can't reply, affect to cough—
A trick resorted to by all my foes,
To drown the eloquence they can't oppose.
They laugh too, when I mean no joke. But why,
If wit can raise their laughter, may not I?
Besides, my Goddess swears, the noise, I hear,
Arises from the rapture of their cheer!
My Bon Mots, not my blunders, raise the noise,
And fill the House with vehement applause!
—And yet, methought, when late upon the floor
I stood, a Minister, and gabbled o'er
Th' unmeaning, nameless nothings meant for points,
Shame clos'd my periods — tremor shook my joints—
Wandering, I flounder'd on the Noble Lord,
And spoke of modesty, (ah! luckless word!)
Then burst the instant laugh — while I essay'd
To gain a hearing, begg'd, explain'd, and pray'd—
"I trust the House so candidly inclin'd,
Will kindly hear me out, and — only mind
Not what I say, but what I should have said,
And overlook the lapses I have made."
Sudden an alien hue suffus'd my face,
To thine, O Impudence! and my disgrace.
Where was my Goddess then? In that sad hour
Where was her changeless shield's protecting power?
Gods! o'er my face indignant torrents rush,
To think — that I've been guilty of a blush.
Come, then my ONLY genius! Come, restore
Coy CR—K—R to himself — he needs no more.
And, oh! remember where'er you fly,
The swain you found so low and rais'd so high;
Still let me dream, that though to others flown,
My harlot Goddess still is all my own;
Tho' with a fearless glance she loves to bare
Her zoneless bosom to the stranger's stare,
Tho' others slumber on that seat of joy,
It throbs alone for her wild Irish boy;
Tho' that fair bosom woos variety,
It holds an heart that only pants — for me.
Then hail the friend! who saves from ev'ry foe,
Who found me impudent and keeps me so;
And crowns her bounties with the finished grace,
Of changeful intrepidity of face!