1793 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Gifford

Anonymous, in "The Literary Assassin" The Oracle (9 August 1793).



Shame to the Bard, if any Bard there be,
Impell'd by hunger and necessity,
Who pens his libels witty but untrue,
To mock the labours of the tuneful few;
Who gluts on errors as he spins his line,
And winks where BEAUTIES in profusion shine!
Whose cruel baseness even laughs to scorn
The painful fate by patient woman born,
Nor feels the sovereign virtue of that smile
That might seduce him from his poisonous guile,
Better to starve than weave, devoid of shame,
A wreath of bays for such inglorious fame!

Oft' have I seen thee with malignant frown
Sculking in every corner of the town,
Prowling for prey as poachers lurk for game,
To pamper malice with a murder'd name.
Oft' have I seen thee, minister of spite,
Hideous as spectres that abhor the light,
Jaundic'd with envy and deform'd by spleen,
Thy face the index of thy soul within—
On artless numbers turn thy lynx's gaze,
And half approve, and damn with civil praise.
But learn, proud wretch! before you lash mankind,
To chase the vapours that obscure your mind;
And, taught that nature is to error prone,
Forgive another's failings as your own.