1763 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Tobias Smollett

A. S., "Queries to the Critical Reviewers" St. James's Chronicle (15 February 1763).



Ye judging Caledonian Pedlars,
That to a scribbling World give Law,
Laid up engarretted, like Medlars,
Ripening Asperity in Straw!

Ye Guardians of the Tree of Folly,
The Coco-Tree, whose Leaves are clad
With Green eternal, like the Holly,
Variegated like a Plaid.

On which a Flower perennial grows,
Worn at the Cocobittick Games,
Between a Lily and a Rose,
Inscrib'd with silly Royal Names.

I come with no felonious Hand
To steal one Blossom from your Tree;
Right well I know, and understand,
It was not planted there for me.

I come to ask you a few Questions:
Why should a Hodge-podge make you queasy,
You that for Crowdys have Digestions,
On whom e'en Haggesses sit easy?

I come to ask why the Sublime
Delights to dwell under Scotch Bonnets?
Why Humour, Wit, poetick Rhyme,
Be only found in Scottish Sonnets?

Suppose in Scotland they are found,
If any Person please to shew them,
Either above or under Ground,
To lay you Odds you will not know them.

Also to ask you one Word more:
What makes the Tories, your good Masters,
As restless, feverish, and sore,
As People wrapt in Blistering Plasters?

Whether 'tis true that they're so tender,
And apt of late to take Things ill,
Because their Friend, the Old Pretender,
Has left them nothing in his Will?

Whether 'tis true, or a Whig Fiction,
That Shoals of Exiles now at Calais,
Will fill up the Whig Dereliction,
And fill up all St. James's Palace?

If you will tell me this sincerely,
The cordial Preacher and Adviser
Will make you understand him clearly,
And tho' no better, make you wiser.

P.S. My Compliments to Doctor S.
Thom this Postscript I address.

Physician, Critic, and Reformer,
Expounder both of Dream and Riddle,
Historian and chief Performer
Upon the Caledonian Fiddle!

You are so us'd to a Northern Trammel
You cannot enter into any Fable,
One might as well expect to see a Camel
Pass through a Needle's Eye into a Stable:

And therefore I am forc'd to study
To find out something you can understand,
Pleasant and fresh, tho' somewhat muddy;
Just like the Mug of Porter in your Hand;
And yet, when all is said and done,
This Something's nothing but a Pun.

A PUN.
You are so very good at Smelling,
For we have often heard you say it,
I wonder you don't change your Spelling,
And wish yourself Professor Smellit.