1773 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Percival Stockdale

Publicola, "The Poet: addressed to the Rev. Percival Stockdale, Author of a Poem under the same Title" Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser (9 September 1773).



—"Cui mens divinior atque os
Magna sonaturum; des nominis hujus honorem.
HOR.

From natal moment by the Muse inspir'd,
With all her rapture, all her frenzy fir'd!
To nature's voice attun'd his soothing lay,
At which the fiercest rage dissolves away.
With magic pow'r whose soft enchanting strains,
Lead captive passions in poetic chains:
Or in whose verse you Hear the arms resound,
Behold the hero fight, Feel every wound,
Or else in tragic lore, whose subtile art,
Wakes all the feelings of the human heart;
Draws forth the sigh profound, for fabled woe,
And bids the generous flood of pity flow!
Of fell revenge displays the direful fate,
To social love transmutes vindictive hate:
Bids conscious guilt the shock of terror feel;
And from th' assassin wrests the fatal steel;
Or does the Muse, at war with tepid spleen,
Direct his genius to the Comic Scene.
Vice, of whatever form, whatever hue,
He drags, unshelter'd, forth to public view;
Strips the gay mask from off his Gorgon face,
And gives him to the rack of keen disgrace.
When crimes polite, or fav'rite follies rise,
Which tyrant-custom deigns to patronize;
Crimes of high rank, on noble pinions borne,
Look down on law, and decency with scorn,
And plead the sanction of an impious age,
But fall the victims of the Comic Stage!
And, made by art, not nature, every fool
Is doom'd a sacrifice to ridicule.
In short, with zealous and devoted mind,
He labours for the good of human kind!

Such be the mortal whose ambitious aim,
Assumes the honours of a Poet's name!
And say, ye criticks! 'mongst th' illustrious few,
Is not a laurel wreath to Stockdale due?
Aug. 23, 1773.