1780 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Colman

Anonymous, "On seeing the portrait of little Coleman by Sir Joshua Reynolds, with other Portraits by the same Hand" London Courant (21 January 1780).



When Coly's picture I discern'd
Thrust in among the wise and learn'd,
With Johnson, Robertson, confounded,
By Garrick, Goldsmith, Burke, surrounded,
I know (said I) that sneaking air,
But what the deuce brought Coly there?
Reynolds, beneath, to crown the whim
Should write, "see how we apples swim."
Crito perceiving my surprize
Step'd up, and smiling thus replies,
"I see you wonder, so did I,
At Coly in such company,
But think, and moderate your rage,
Ours is a strange promiscuous age,
Observe the senate, Bob the waiter
Sits there like any grave debater,
And when the question's put, goes forth
For ay or no like Fox or North,
Each wight in Scotland who retails
Three farthings worth of pins or nails,
By courtesy of northern fashion
Is styl'd a merchant thro' the nation.
Thus piddling Coly, who by fate
Seem'd born but humbly to translate,
Tho' destitute of all pretence
To genius, fancy, parts, or sense,
By fathering scenes which Garrick writ,
Now takes his place with men of wit:
And as the bardling first was known
To fame, by labours not his own,
Now may the touch of Reynolds save
The mungrel's likeness from the grave:
Drawn by a hand of such deserving,
Even frogs and toads are worth preserving."