1798 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Ellis

Anonymous, "Epistle to the Editors of the Anti-Jacobin" The Morning Chronicle (17 January 1798).



To tell what Gen'rals did or Statesmen spoke,
To teach the world by truths, or please by Joke,
To make mankind grow bold as they peruse,
Judge on exciting things, and — weigh the News;
For this a PAPER first display'd its page,
Commanding Tears and Smiles thro' ev'ry age!

Hail, justly famous! who in modern days
With nobler flight aspire to higher praise;
Hail, justly famous! whose discerning eyes
At once detect mistakes, mis-statements, lies;
Hail, justly famous! who, with fancy blest,
Use fiend-like Virulence for sportive Jest;
Who only bark to serve your private ends—
Patrons of Prejudice, Corruption's friends!
Who hurl your venom'd darts at well-earn'd Fame—
Virtue your hate, and Calumny your aim!

Whoe'er ye are, all hail! —Whether the skill
Of youthful C—G guides the ranc'rous quill;
With powers mechanic far above his age
Adapts the paragraph and fills the page,
Measures the column, mends whate'er's amiss,
Rejects THAT Letter, and accepts of THIS;
Or H—MM—D, leaving his official toil,
O'er this great Work consume the midnight oil—
Bills, Passports, Letters, for the Muses quit,
And change dull Business for amusing Wit:—
His life of Labour at one gasp is o'er,
His books forgot — his Desk belov'd no more!
Proceed to prop the Ministerial cause;
See consequential M—RP—TH nods applause;
In ev'ry Fair One's ear at Balls and Plays
The gentle GR—NV—LE L—V—S—N whispers praise:—
Well-judging Patrons, whom such Works can please;
Great Works, well worthy Patrons such as these!

Who heard not, raptur'd, the poetic Sage
Who sung of GALLIA in a headlong rage,
And blandly drew with no uncourtly grace
The simple manners of our English race—
Extoll'd great DUNCAN, and, supremely brave,
Whelm'd BUONAPARTE'S pride beneath the wave?
I swear by all the youths that M—LMSB—RY chose,
By E—LL—S sapient prominence of nose,
By M—RP—TH'S gait important, proud, and big—
By L—V—S—N G—W—R'S crop-imitating Wig,
That, could the powers which in those numbers shine,
Could that warm spirit animate the Line,
Your glorious deeds which humbly I rehearse—
Your deeds should live immortal as my Verse;
And, while they wonder'd whence I caught my flame,
Your Sons should blush to read their Father's shame!

Proceed, great men! — your office is not done;
Proceed with what you have so well begun:
Load FOX (if you by PITT would be preferr'd)
With ev'ry guilt that KENYON ever heard—
Adult'rer, Gamester, Drunkard, Cheat, and Knave,
A factious Demagogue and pension'd Slave!
Loose, loose your cry — with ire fantastic flash;
Let all the Opposition feel your lash,
And prove them to these hot and partial times
A combination of the worst of crimes!

But softer numbers softer subjects fit:—
In liquid phrases thrill the praise of PITT;
Extol in eulogies of candid truth
The Virgin Minister — the Heav'n-born Youth;
The greatest gift that Fate to England gave,
Created to support and born to save;
Prompt to supply whate'er his Country lacks—
Skilful to GAG, and knowing how to TAX!
With him Companions meet in order stand—
A firm, compact, and well-appointed band:
Skill'd to advance or to retreat DUNDAS,
And bear thick battle on his front of brass;
GRENVILLE with pond'rous head, which match'd we find
By equal ponderosity behind—

But, hold, my Muse; nor farther these pursue!—
Great Editors, we have digressed from you;
From you to whom our trivial Lays belong,
From you the sole Inspirers of our Song!
Proceed: — urge on the same vindictive strain,
To gain th' applause of great M—LM—SB—RY'S train;
With jaundic'd eyes the noblest Patriot scan;
Proceed — be more opprobrious if you can;
Proceed — be more abusive ev'ry hour!—
To be more stupid is beyond your power.