1788 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Merry

Crulla Desca, "Ode. To the Rev. Mr. —" Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser (18 January 1788).



TO THE PRINTER OF THE MORNING CHRONICLE.
SIR,
Having observed in a daily print of yesterday, a paragraph, in which Mrs. Siddons is reported to have caught new fire of acting from an Ode of Della Crusca's, I became very anxious to peruse those wonder-working lines — and my research was attended with an advantage that I was impatient to communicate through you to the publick — this was another Ode (written as I conjectured from the signature, by some relation of the great Bard.)
I shall make no apology for desiring your acceptance of the Copy, for to doubt its welcome would be to suspect your taste. I assert it to be (excepting only the great Della Crusca's to Mrs. Siddons) the very best effusion of poetick inspiration that adorns our language; and I shall not rest at a pitiful competition with modern Bards, or with those of antiquity, but I will be free to defy all succeeding Poets till "time shall be no more."
I am, Sir,
Your humble servant,
ANONYMOUS.
Cambridge,
Tuesday, 15th Jan. 1788.

ODE.
To the Rev. —.
Prime of Newspaper Criticks thee I hail
Scribbler DIVINE! whether I go
To laugh with Abington, or — oh!
To weep where woes Siddonian, uncontroul'd, assail;

Or view the scenes at Richmond's attick dome
Where Taste Economy o'er rules,
Or neat BIOGRAPHY of SCHOOLS,
Or wheresoe'er at large thy genius wills to roam.

For Shadwell's self in vain might make pretence,
Tho' plac'd sublime in folly's seat
Our rarer Flecknoe once to meet,
In all that lights a dunce — Prate, Pride, and Impudence.

And e'en thy nonsense can our mirth provoke,
While sedulous you daily try
Johnson to impersonify,
With words long-drawn and phrase envelop'd all in smoke.

Lo! while thy shafts at luckless Play'rs are hurl'd,
Each opes, with trembling hand, thy page,
Nor will he read it thro' for rage,
But shrinks, with culprit shame, and damns for you the WORLD.

TO LEARN THE FAILING OF EACH TITLED FAIR;
What hapless Countess pines for love,
Or makes a slip — or drops her glove,
AND, with ingenious haste, THE GREAT EVENT DECLARE.

Neatly to tell how gallant Humphreye fought,
How Pitt grows strong, Fox wastes away;
How Monsieur Calonne lik'd the play,
And to convulsive sobs by Kemble's pow'rs was wrought.

And FANCY too, with antick garb and mien,
What well may want of sense supply,
Nice — cull'd and neat Latinity,
While not a gleam of light thro' dun cloud is seen.

All these are thine — and that rare art besides,
To teach us in decorum's spight
The His'try of ourselves to write,
While Shame averts her head, and Laughter shakes his sides.

Alike the rich COLLOQUIAL GIFT is thine,
POW'RS OF CONVEYING — REPARTEE
MELLIFLUOUS HILARITY—
And all that forms the Thing in bright Bon Ton to shine.

Yet let not ah! abrupt thy modest mind
Check the fond ardour of my lay,
While o'er thy virtues charm'd I stray,
But calmly hear me out and to your bard be kind.

So shall I sound the Reverend name of — South,
As toasts convivially go round,
And echo dwells upon the sound
When joy to midnight hour prolongs the genial feast.

Then will I celebrate thy matchless skill,
That can all-maugre lack of brains,
Draw from quaint nonsense ample gains,
And ravish gaping fools and lead them at thy will.

But should you yet refuse these humble lays,
And truly, Sir, I can't but fear 'em,
"Labour" to be "Ineptarium"
Take from the "LETTER'D WORLD" the triumph of thy praise.
CRULLA DESCA.