1777 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Whitehead

Philo-Musa, "A Comment on the New Year's Ode" Morning Chronicle (14 January 1777).



The year begins — well, "Mr. Printer,"
And so our Laureat comes abroad,
And calls again on "Emperor Winter,"
And "earth" and "air," to grace his Ode.

On "icy lakes" he keeps his court,
In curious mood "this Emperor" reigns,
He "tosses iron bars" for sport,
And "hangs the rage of war in chains."

What! hung in chains "before 'tis dead"!
Ho — ho —'twill "start to life" next season.
While rhimes fill up our Laureat's head,
Where, in the Devil's name, is reason?

The "just"! the "virtuous"! and the "brave"!
Why what hast thou with them to do?
The "wise"! will they thy lyrics "save"?
Or think them worth attending to?

The "sons of Jest" will have their laugh,
Tho' for their excellence you battle,
They see that every line is chaff,
And every Ode a baby's rattle.

Are "children of a distant clime"
The "near relations of a groan"?
Courage! 'tis noble Irish rhime,
Bulls, are bulls, "my dear Mahone."

What! are they "Parricides" confest?
No doubt then they have kill'd their mother;
Or did they kill her but in jest?
Or have they lately found another?

Yes, bid them "hear their parents dear,"
Whose "bowels yield," God bless her;
Who "longs" t' embrace her stubborn race,
And yet they'll not caress her.

What "changes" do they ask? — I'll tell ye,
Some "changes" of clean linen;
Cloaths for their back, and eke their belly,
But not of "Fancy's" spinning.

O "fond enthusiast," scratch your pate;
Your "mental eye" there's mud in;
Talk you of Britain's "well-mixt" state?
Shew them a "well-mixt" pudding.

"True Liberty's" a precious thing,
Can "law, without mankind," bear rule?
'Tis true, we have not "many a King,"
Tho' "freedom" gives us many a fool.

The God of nature "meant" mankind—
That phrase is prettily exprest;
Let us "unite" the sense to find—
Or is it "error ill-addrest"?

Their "passions ill-represt" I think
Have made each "wicked" wench "conceive,"
For "Folly's heedless sons" will drink,
And easy woman will believe.

Yet, we'll not "bury" them alive,
Or plunge them headlong in the "flood,"
'Gainst nature's "cement" wherefore strive?
When bastards are a "public good."