1762 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Whitehead

Charles Churchill, in The Ghost Book III (1762); Poetical Works of Charles Churchill, ed. William Tooke (1804) 2:82-86.



Come, Method, come in all thy pride,
Dulness and Whitehead by thy side;
Dulness and Method still are one,
And Whitehead is their darling son:
Not he [Paul Whitehead] whose pen, above control,
Struck terror to the guilty soul...
But he — who measures, as he goes,
A mongrel kind of tinkling prose,
And is too frugal to dispense,
At once, both poetry and sense;
Who, from amidst his slumbering guards,
Deals out a charge to subject bards,
Where couplets after couplets creep
Propitious to the reign of sleep;
Yet every word imprints an awe,
And all his dictates pass for law
With beaus, who simper all around,
And belles, who die in every sound:
For in all things of this relation,
Men mostly judge from situation,
Nor in a thousand find we one
Who really weighs what's said or done;
They deal out censure, or give credit,
Merely from him who did or said it.

But he — who, happily serene,
Means nothing, yet would seem to mean,
Who rules and cautions can dispense
With all that humble insolence
Which impudence in vain would teach,
And none but modest men can reach;
Who adds to sentiments the grace
Of always being out of place,
And drawls out morals with an air
A gentleman would blush to wear;
Who, on the chastest, simplest plan,
As chaste, as simple, as the man
Without or character, or plot,
Nature unknown, and art forgot,
Can, with much raking of the brains,
And years consum'd in letter'd pains,
A heap of words together lay,
And, smirking, call the thing a Play;
Who, champion sworn in virtue's cause,
'Gainst vice his tiny bodkin draws,
But to no part of prudence stranger,
First blunts the point for fear of danger.
So nurses sage, as caution works,
When children first use knives and forks,
For fear of mischief, it is known,
To others' fingers or their own,
To take the edge off wisely chuse,
Though the same stroke takes off the use.

Thee, Whitehead, thee I now invoke,
Sworn foe to Satire's gen'rous stroke,
Which makes unwilling conscience feel,
And wounds, but only wounds to heal.
Good-natur'd, easy creature, mild
And gentle as a new-born child,
Thy heart would never once admit
Ev'n wholesome rigour to thy wit;
Thy head, if conscience should comply,
Its kind assurance would deny,
And lend thee neither force, nor art
To drive it onward to the heart.
O may thy sacred pow'r controul
Each fiercer working of my soul,
Damp ev'ry spark of genuine fire,
And langours, like thine own inspire!
Trite be each thought, and ev'ry line
As moral, and as dull as thine!