1774 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Whitehead

The Bellman, "Old New-Year's-Day. An irregular Burlesque Ode" Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser (12 January 1774).



Attend me now, ye virgin choir,
Whether ye're warbling to the lyre,
On Parnassus top — or higher.
Say, will ye bear a bob, or strike a jarring string,
Such as your Laureat's Odes require,
Which chear us like a sea-coal fire,
And give eternity unto a British —
A modern Solomon, the Muse, tho' hoarse, will sing.

Haste away each wrong, or right head,
Join ev'ry heavy, or light head,
To assist good Master Wh—d:
Be ready ev'ry pension'd, ev'ry minor bard,
Swell high your strains with true bombast,
Such as shall strike the world aghast!
Let nothing your impetuous loyalty retard,
But rack your addle brains with impositions hard.

For why, observe, 'tis New-Year's-Day!
Then loudly sound a Monarch's sway,
Whom all the elements obey;
Greater by far than Canute, Lord of sea and land,
On whom the ocean rolling fleet,
Dar'd once to wet his royal feet;
As in his chair he sat, Old Southampton's strand,
The tide rebellious proving to his high command.

The Patagonians tall,
And Lilliputians small,
With ev'ry Indian squall,
Smit to the soul, on hearing G—'s name
With adoration fall,
And most obsequious sprawl;
With ev'ry servile nation fierce and tame,
Together headlong run to do the same.

Thus Wh—d, and his wond'rous Odes,
Of men, meer animated clods,
Twice ev'ry year can make 'em gods.
The antient poets thus did Daemons deify;
Say, can a single butt of sack
Inspire such a curious knack
Of sighing so, of fibbing so confoundedly,
While ev'ry honest fellow cries, "'Tis all my eye."

O never more abuse,
Or cramp with wooden shoes,
The free-born British Muse.
In time repent, nor dare to prostitute,
Or thus rudely teise her,
By harping on Caesar;
Ye fawning things, ye'd better far be mute,
Or dedicate your ragged rhimes to B—e.