1815 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

William Henry Ireland, in Scribbleomania (1815) 38-42.



Stand forth, playful Burns, that on sweet native reed
Erst pip'd roundelay which of praise claims the meed:
Tho' tarnish'd by failings, such conduct yet prov'd
Thy mind by the Muses was fondly belov'd;
For the race of Apollo have faulty been found,
In mazes performing this life's fitful round.
Forgive, then, his deeds; since the actor we know
To none, save himself, play'd the part of a foe:
And of spirit consign'd to the realms of the dead,
'Twere baseness that aught like reproof should be said.
'Tis the produce of mind, not the labour of man,
I, Sir Scribblecumdash, here endeavour to scan:
So, pleas'd, I must greet our true Bard with applause,
Whose genius, divested of classical laws,
Combin'd sterling wit, vigor, pathos, and ease;
And point, feeling, energy, always must please:
Which attributes potent, I'll dare to engage,
Ne'er shone forth more prominent during our age.
Some scribes who write fast, and are flippant at rhymes,
Think Genius is center'd in tol-de-rol chimes;
A notion, which, aided by dull prosing Bish,
Infuses through all ranks of females a wish
Spick span from the press on wove foolscap to issue,
Of jingle and nonsense an exquisite tissue.
Alas! silly elfs; though a Burns wrote at pleasure,
He charms not alone with mere rhyming and measure;
A flame he possess'd, by Apollo bestow'd,
And the Muses all cherish'd the sacred abode:
In fine, 'twas as easy with Burns to excel,
As for thousands to chime forth stupidity's knell.