1776 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Christopher Anstey

Bat Bath, "On Sir Hercules Metremonger's last Publication" St. James's Chronicle (6 August 1776).



Is there a Man whose fierce vindictive Rage
Tempts him each petty Hero to engage?
Whose Muse, grown headstrong, violent and loose,
Descends to low Invective and Abuse,
Snarls at his Neighbour, ridicules his Friend,
Yet never hop'd their Follies to amend.
If such there is (and who can doubt the least?)
Let me dissect him as he did the Priest.
Yet wherefore when his overflowing Spleen,
Without Dissection is so plainly seen?
We know from whence the Malady has sprung,
Why such foul Venom ever stains his Tongue.
When he assaulted the three-headed Cur,*
With Helmet, pointed Javelin and Spur,
The Creature made so furious an Attack,
He laid Sir Hercules upon his Back;
There held him fast till he had chain'd him down,
The Scorn, Contempt, and Hatred of the Town.
Since his fell Time, the vanquish'd Hero lies
Foaming, he bites the empty Air and cries;
Echo resounds to his incessant Yells,
And Malice aids him from her inmost Cells.
Tho' kind Thalia try her utmost Pow'r,
The Daemon ne'er deserts him for an Hour;
Each Page appears so splenetic and rash,
Her Museship vows she dictates no such Trash;
Her Charge she quits, despairing to reclaim
A Mind so lost to every Sense of Shame;
Consigns him o'er to Somnus and his Train,
And bids Stupidity unrivall'd reign.
Hence the dull God each bright Idea chases,
He dreams of nought but Bouts-Rimees and Vases,
And M[ille]r captivates beyond the Graces:
Hence for himself he made a Scourge and Rod,
When he attack'd the zealous Man of God;
And who denies, that mov'd by Dullness' Call,
He dipt his Pen in the envenom'd Gall,
And forth the Bantling came, stil'd an Election Ball.

* See the Vignette to the Priest dissected.