1777 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. William Mason

Philo-Musa, "To Apollonius" Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser (9 January 1777).



To me, who write to fill up time,
Whom indolence impels to rhime,
Or shew my knack in prose;
Whether I deal in praise or satire,
What others think I little matter,
Or how opinion goes.

Tho' Bavius I have often hit,
Let others judge him still a wit,
And wash his blackness white;
Tho' I contemn his Gallic stage,
Import French plays ye schemers sage,
And act them every night.

By love of genius led astray,
Tho' I commended Mason's lay,
Let Apollonius hector;
Pretend into my thoughts to pry,
As if he had the piercing eye
Of Argus Lynx, Detector.

I leave Polemics to the schools,
Disputes on taste to critic fools,
Ne'er will I join the fight;
My feelings are the guides to me,
And those who differ, are most free,
E'en what they please to write.

O Truth, inspire my bosom still!
I consecrate my grey goose quill
To thee, and thee alone;
By thee shall I extol, or blame,
Nor heed the whistling of a name,
My sentiments, my own.

By love or hate unprepossest,
Warm flow'd each sentence from my breast,
Uprejudiced I writ;
And still in essay or in song
I'll lash or praise, the scribbling throng,
The blockhead, or the wit.

Bavius shall not unwounded pass,
Tho' arm'd in lead, or plated brass,
The Prince of Grub-street, He!
Him Apollonius lift on high!
For thou who Mason canst decry,
Must his perfections see.

Yet, venture not too nigh the rocks,
Where lies conceal'd the cavern'd Fox,
Henceforth plead no excuse;
Well pleas'd will he the cackling hear,
And issuing forth, without a fear,
Snap up the struggling goose.