1773 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Steevens

Rigdumfunnidos, "Shakespeare's Bedside, a new Ballad" Craftsman or Says Weekly Journal (13 October 1773).



Old Shakespeare was sick; — for a Doctor he sent;—
But 'twas long before any one came;
Yet, at length, his assistance Nic Rowe did present,
Sure all men have heard of his name.

As he found that the Poet had tumbled his bed,
He smooth'd it as well as he could;
He gave him an Anodyne, comb'd out his head,
But did his complaint little good.

Doctor Pope to incision at once did proceed,
And the Bard for the simples he cut;
For his regular practice was always to bleed,
Ere the fees in his pocket he put.

Next Tibbald advanc'd, who at best was a Quack,
And dealt but in old women's stuff,
Yet he caus'd the Physician of Twick'nam to pack,
And the Patient grew chearful enough.

Next Hanmer, who Fees ne'er descended to crave,
In gloves lily-white did advance;
To the Poet the gentlest of purges he gave,
And, for exercise, taught him to dance.

One Warburton then, tho' allied to the church,
Produc'd his alternative stores;
But his med'cines the case so oft left in the lurch,
That Edwards kick'd him out of Doors.

Next Johnson arriv'd to the patient's relief
And ten years he had him in hand;
But tir'd of his task, 'tis the gen'ral belief,
He left him before he could stand.

Now Capel drew near, — not a Quaker more prim,—
And number'd each hair in his pate;
By styptics, call'd stops, he contracted each limb,
And crippled for ever his gait.

From Gopsal then strutted a formal old goose,
And he'd cure him by inches, he swore;
But when the poor Poet had taken one dose,
He vow'd he would swallow no more.

But Johnson, determin'd to save him or kill,
A second prescription display'd,
And that none might find fault with his drop or his pill,
Fresh Doctors he call'd to his aid.

First Steevens came loaded with black letter books,
Of Fame more desirous than pelf;
Such reading, observers might read in his looks,
As no one e'er read, but himself.

Then Warner, by Plautus and Glossary known,
And Hawkins, Historian of Sound;
Then Warton and Collins together came on,
For Greek, and potatoes renown'd.

With Songs on his Pontificalibus pinn'd,
Next, Percy the great did appear;
And Farmer, who twice in a Pamphlet had sinn'd,
Brought up the empirical rear.

"The Cooks the more num'rous, the worse is the broth,"
Says a Proverb I well can believe;
And yet, to condemn them untry'd, I am loth,
So at present shall laugh in my sleeve.