1777 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Hannah More

Anonymous, "Ode, by Dragon, the House-Dog at Hampton, in answer to his new Correspondent" Morning Chronicle (10 May 1777).



I Dragon, House-Dog to the Squire,
Have heard the tinkling of your lyre;
We both are well agreed;
For as nor you or I can write,
Our odes, no doubt will give delight
To all who cannot read.

For writing (I suppose in Greek)
Is but in aptest time to speak,
And speaking is to whistle:
You argue well — And yet I doat,
Or howling, is the proper note
For your and my epistle.

But wherefore should we Horace twit?
Is a Great Shade a workman fit
To mend the British fiddle?
The muse's fire, let who will quench,
We in the dark can find each wench,
And seize them by the middle.

'Tis true I Dragon rule the yard,
Tho' I no fruits Hesperian guard,
I watch a hoarded treasure;
'Tis mine my master's cash to keep,
'Tis yours to rhime him fast asleep,
Criterion of his pleasure.

I change my station! — No such matter—
And would you really fawn and flatter?
And learn to wag your tail?
Oh, no — you'll only think — not feed—
A puppy of celestial breed,
Ambrosia is your meal.

True — Turtle is a rich reagle,
But as for your diluting ale,
E'en in the ocean sink it:
Whate'er strange flights some folks have seen,
I, who have but a Hampton been,
Well know that dogs ne'er drink it.

And why tempt me with venison's smoke?
Surely my jingling friend you joke,
'Tis you that long to tear it:
But Roscius tells a different tale;
He never kept it new or stale
For toad-eaters to share it.

Well, we'll suppose your curship here,
(For oft such two-legg'd curs appear)
My master's crums to catch;
His tinsel wit, his frolic vein,
His mimic looks, and rhiming strain,
With prick'd-up ears to watch.

Oh, how 'twould crown with joy my life,
If Bowden, or if Bowden's wife
Brought them their daily pickings!
If (emblem of her master's soul)
She dealt the scanty vital dole
To such poor geese and chickens!

Tho' your ambition is to quibble,
A punster, a rhetoric fribble,
Burke's flowers you'll scarce produce;
Bowden well knows a certain twig
To make such school-boys dance a jig,
And well he knows it's use.

You'll get my master's ways by rote—
Tho' I the solecism quote,
My master's tricks you mean;
What tricks has he, O Dog of merit?
The stage he quits with broken spirit,
And tricks would now be vain.

A Dog, his blue-ey'd wife to ape!
A very Pallas in her shape!
Such rhimesters should be carted.
If Pallas fain will have to do
With Venus, and her Cestus too,
Why should the three be parted?

You'd fly with haste their coach to meet—
Yet start and never move your feet,
Hibernian contradition!
My friend, you wear a mental chain;
And while for compliments you strain,
We see 'tis all a fiction.

If Roscius loves his sylvan shades,
And eke the nine melodious maids,
Our teeth may howl for ever;
He'll hear the witling jade, and cry,
"O witling from my presence fly!"
For Roscius still is clever.

But if your boobies hope or fear
To see him some six times a year
Display his charms of age,
Admir'd he would no longer be,
And this he in his streams can see,
So farewell to the stage.

Peace, Howler! to his seat he bears
The full-cramm'd purse of thirty years,
A nation's solid praise:
This gives a polish to the mind;
'Tis worth, 'tis wit, 'tis sense refin'd,
The life, the soul, of Bayes.

Two stanzas more, and then I've done;
You make my master out a sun,
And I'll make you a moon:
"Upon you hangs a drop profound,
I'll catch it e'er it comes to ground,"
A true poetic boon.

So Orb, for Orbit, I'll mistake
So Memory's eye shall never wake
To read our rhimes to-morrow.
'Tis a fine Sun that never sets—
O, Moon, when will you pay your debts
For all the light you'll borrow?