1788 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Merry

Crulla Desca, "Della Crusca" Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser (11 March 1788).



Though it is impossible to read the following sublime Essay without being "agitated" by the most "delectable emotions," yet, it would be unjust to the "unparalleled" merits of the "incomparable" Author, not to premise that, in this "animated effusion" of his "amazing genius," he soars infinitely above the PUERILITY, the CHILD'S PLAY, the LABOR INEPTIARUM, the ASSININE DULNESS, the INFANTINE INANITY that we endure, and have been taught to admire in POPE, DRYDEN, GRAY, MILTON, &c. &c.

TO THE REV. MR. —
IN THE WORLD.
If late, O, SOUTH! I dwell upon thy name,
Extoll'd the Critick, and rever'd the Priest:
Sure, fancy now may snatch the trump of fame,
And sing, with bolder note, the praise of EAST.

Lo! where at Wesminster, on Hasting's fate,
Th' assembled Peers in Ermin'd pomp are rang'd,
And he, in native dignity elate,
With breast serene, with countenance unchang'd;

Sees the black page of India's woes unroll'd,
Her blameless Sons by ruffian av'rice slain,
Princes depos'd her heaps of plunder'd gold,
While Burke and Eloquence plead all in vain.

'Tis thine to mark the Pris'ner's gallant mein,
And neatly then, in thy own attick phrase,
Condemn th' Accuser's persecuting spleen,
And thro' the World transmit thy heroe's praise.

What, tho' the truth officious fame disclose,
That you in ORIENT Cash acquittal find;
Is that a reason silence to impose?
Must you be dumb because your master's kind?

As well might Francis urge, at Impey's Bar,
(Prepost'rous logick, sure! to be maintain'd)
That he should spare th' audacious Nund'commar,
For — Hastings by the Bramin was arraign'd.

What various topicks thy vast Pow'rs engage!
Now England shakes in Europe's doubtful scales;
Now hapless Actors tremble at thy rage;
Now Faction yields, while patriot Pitt prevails.

Alike enrich'd with petulance and pride,
Quaint affectation takes the lead of sense,
By cant and — dash, idea is supplied,
And argument gives place to impudence.

If vulgar scrib'lers their broad Meaning shew,
Unskill'd, like thee, to deal in mystick hints;
Still thro' thy WORLD let mazy Nonsense flow,
And leave dull Reason to THE LOWER PRINTS.

Proceed; and with great Johnson's Trick of Speech,
Thy want of brains from vulgar readers shield;
Tho' thou no more his manly Thought can'st reach,
Than might thy hand his Giant Sapling wield.

N. B. These lines were begun with the design to parody an Ode, signed Della Crusca, in a certain print of to-day, but finding nothing remarkable in the Poem itself, which, indeed, is in some parts pretty enough, and certainly as little deserving severity or ridicule as it is of the praises that are lavished on it with such ridiculous hyperbole, all allusion to those verses was discontinued after the second Stanza.