1750 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Gibbons

Anonymous, "An Epistle to the Rev. Mr. Thomas G—bb—ns, on his Juvenilia" London Magazine 18 (September 1750) 424-25.



Dear friend, whose elegiac vein
So oft has made the world complain,
Has bid us join your frequent woe,
For many whom we did not know,
Whose strains have mourn'd each good man's fall,
(The last was still the best of all,)
And who has wrote (by some 'tis said,)
"Hic jacet," e'er the man was dead;
Accept this verse from one who pays
Due honours to your plaintive lays.

I with the rest have oft-times read
Your panegyricks on the dead,
And wept, for how could I refuse,
To weep your sad departed muse?
I griev'd your friends should still supply
Fresh matter for an elegy,
And often wish'd, but wish'd in vain,
They would not die, nor you complain;
So might the world, in mercy, long
Have had the stay, without your song.
Others perhaps might think the same,
And hint that you had tir'd the theme;
If so, the kind advice you took,
And bid the town expect a book.
The title I perus'd, and guess'd,
By specimen adjoin'd, the rest.
I could not think the motto right,
"That fidd'ling was your chief delight;"
But this you alter'd to a jest;
"I've tapt a bottle of my best."
At last to bless the world appears
The labour of a length of years,
With preface to inform the town,
What none will doubt, "that 'twas your own.
That your acquaintance with the Muse
Was early;" that indeed was news.
For who, that e'er had seen your labours,
Would think the Nine and you were neighbours?
Well be it so — the piece I read,
Except the poems on the dead;
With these o'erjoy'd before, I sought
For something that had depth of thought.
Your ode to Philip Farneaux greeting,
I own I found no great conceit in;
And Lovington might well have spar'd
Your notice of his want of beard.

The Royston journey next I read,
And wonder'd at the poet's head;
On "humble steed" at Stamford hill,
In fancy I behold you still,
Surveying half the county round,
And pumping for the thought profound.
I kept your pace a tedious time,
And pity'd you the want of rhyme.
The "rose and crown" your mind reliev'd;
That you thought wit, but was deceiv'd;
For crowns and roses are bestow'd
With liberal hand on ev'ry road,
And in no other sense ally'd,
Than lambs and lions in Cheapside.
To tell what Dutchmen at the bull
At Hodsdon eat, was very dull—
Your dinner and your mingled wine
Were moderate for a sound divine—
The joy to meet your father gave you,
Pleas'd me, for I was glad to leave you.

The WISH, you publish'd long before,
Being here, I thought you wish'd for more,
And wonder'd that you was content
Without some things I think you want;
More — more — but I forbear,
Enough can tell you what they are.

The work by piecemeal thus perus'd,
I thought poor Pegasus abus'd;
Immortal steed! in days of yore,
Wont with the sons of verse to soar,
With Homer, Pindar, Horace fly,
And catch the musick of the sky,
Till time and Grub-street had agreed.
To clip his wings, and check his speed:
Now hackney'd out, (a change how hard!)
And spur-gall'd by each rhyming bard,
By bards whom good advice is lost on,
He limps thro' Puckridge on to Royston.