1735 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Dennis

Anonymous, "An Epistle from Mr. Dennis's Ghost, to the Author of his Life, lately published" The Prompter (25 April 1735).



There was publish'd last Year, soon after the Death of Mr. John Dennis the Critick, a very silly and malicious Pamphlet, under Title of THE LIFE of that unfortunate Gentleman — The Author of this Pamphlet deserves to be publickly detected: but, I will conceal him, to prevent a Suspicion, which might justly arise from a Comparison of his Conduct with his Pretensions, that All Human Virtues are but Shadows, and Deception.

It can be no News to the Writer of that ungenerous Libel, that the Sneer of a Friend is a less pardonable, because a meaner, Abuse, than the Open Assault of an Enemy. — HE will understand me, Sir Lionel, and be glad (tho' He will not have the Generosity to thank me for the Forbearance) that He reads not His NAME, at the Head of the following Verses.

By Want made peevish, and provok'd by Scorn,
By Spleen distemper'd, and by Passion torn,
Half my sad Life I pass'd, 'twixt Rage, and Pain,
'Till slighted Judgment took an envious Stain.

For this, of late, when Age dismiss'd my Breath,
My hov'ring Spirit forc'd a Pause, in Death;
With strong Reluctance shunn'd the opening WAY;
And cast repentant Longings back at Day:
Fill'd with your Friendship, by your Pity charm'd,
And Life's last Moments by your Comfort warm'd,
Fast clung my Mind to the departing View;
And made no Haste, to HEAV'N, — with-held by YOU.

But — e'er my Soul, quite lost to worldly Care,
Flow'd formless — and dissolv'd itself, in Air;
Your LIFE OF DENNIS shook the unbodied Frame,
Absolv'd my Malice past, and freed my Name.—

Come, cry'd a Cherub, with a smiling Brow,—
Such is the World thou leav'st! — thou KNOW'ST him, NOW!
Pride is his Pity — Artifice his Praise,
A Masque his Virtue, and His Fame a Blaze;
Insult his Charity — His Friendship FEAR;
And nothing, but his VANITY, sincere.