1775 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Richard Cumberland

Anonymous, "To Mr. Cumberland, the Dramatic Cook" Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser (17 January 1775).



Dost thou not blush, vain, upstart wight,
To call thyself a classic cook;
And of old authors speak and write
As if thou had'st e'en read each book?

Presumptuous wretch, vain, riggling thing,
To talk of those thou dost not know!
So owls will hoot that cannot sing,
And turkey-cocks pretend to crow.

Keep to thy station, empty wag,
Nor prattle of dramatic rules:
Write on — but never dare to brag,
Or call thy brother poets fools.

Thou'st heard of Terence and Menander,
Euripides and Plautus:
There stop, nor, Cumbee, futher wander,
For these old bards have taught us.

Wert thou to write till thou wert blue,
We'll end as we began;
Prove that thou art a blockhead too,
A waspish, Chol'ric Man.

Write, then, no more of bards of yore,
But use their names with freedom:
As impotents will talk of whore,
When they no longer need 'em.

Learn from our gluttons when they stuff,
In names they all agree;
If all have but green fat enough,
No matter — whence came callopee.