1834 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Herman Merivale

Richard Polwhele to John Herman Merivale, 1834; Polwhele, Reminiscences in Prose and Verse (1836) 2:57.



Polwhele House, 1834.

Dear Sir,

Your Anthologia has been a classical feast to me, more gratifying to my taste than any I have ever partaken of since the days of my youth; and happy should I have been in paying my personal respects to you at this house, had you found leisure to call upon me, as our friend Captain Jenkins informs me you had intended. I shall be more fortunate, I trust, on your next visit to Truro.

I the mean time, I beg leave to submit to your perusal some pro re nata productions, epigrams and levities in verse, — mere doggrel verse I fear, — which I am almost ashamed to lay before you, as they have no pretensions to the old Greek simplicity. Of those which I have picked out from my little fasciculus epigrammatum, the first comes nearest to the character of the Anthology.

On a watch reminding the author (then in bed) of his misspent time:—

Alas! such idle hours are fled
As leave my spirit ill at ease!
The watch suspended o'er my head
Hangs like the sword of Damocles!

To which I added afterwards:

His perilous state if not resembling,
Still his disquietude I share;
And feel in every tick with trembling
The menace of the single hair!