1811 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Walter Scott

Leigh Hunt, in Feast of the Poets (1811; 1815); Poems, ed. Milford (1923) 149.



Next came Walter Scott with a fine weighty face,
For as soon as his visage was seen in the place,
The diners and barmaids all crowded to know him,
And thank him with smiles for that sweet pretty poem!
However, he scarcely had got through the door,
When he looked adoration, and bowed to the floor,
For his host was a God, — what a very great thing!
And what was still greater in his eyes, — a King!
Apollo smiled shrewdly, and bade him sit down
With 'Well, Mr. Scott, you have managed the town;
Now pray, copy less, — have a little temerity,—
Try if you can't also manage posterity.
All you add now only lessens your credit;
And how could you think too of taking to edite?
A great deal's endured, where there's measure and rhyme;
But prose such as yours is a pure waste of time,—
A singer of ballads unstrung by a cough,
Who fairly talks on, till his hearers walk off.
Be original, man; study more, scribble less;
Nor mistake present favour for lasting success;
And remember, if laurels are what you would find,
The crown of all triumph is freedom of mind.