1763 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Lloyd

George Colman, "The Cobler of Cripplegate's Letter to Robert Lloyd, A.M." St. James's Magazine 2 (April 1763) 113-18.



Unus'd to verse, and tir'd, Heav'n knows,
Of drudging on in heavy prose,
Day after day, year after year,
Which I have sent the GAZETTEER;
Now, for the first time, I essay
To write in your own easy way.
And now, O LLOYD, I wish I had
To go that road your ambling pad,
While you, with all a poet's pride,
On the great horse of verse might ride.
You leave the road that's rough and stoney,
To pace and whistle with your poney;
Sad proof to us you're lazy grown,
And fear to gall your huckle-bone.
For he who rides a nag so small,
Will soon, we fear, ride none at all.

There are, and nought gives more offence,
Who have some fav'rite excellence,
Which evermore they introduce,
And bring it into constant use.
Thus GARRICK still in ev'ry part
Has pause, and attitude, and start:
The pause, I will allow, is good,
And so, perhaps, the attitude;
The start too's fine: but if not scarce,
The tragedy becomes a farce.

I have too, pardon me, some quarrel,
With other branches of your laurel.
I hate the stile, that still defends
Yourself, or praises all your friends,
As if the club of wits was met
To make eulogiums on the Set;
Say, must the town for ever hear,
And no Reviewer dare to sneer,
Of THORNTON'S humour, GARRICK'S nature,
And COLMAN'S wit, and CHURCHILL'S satire?
CHURCHILL, who — let it not offend,
If I make free, tho' he's your friend,
And sure we cannot want excuse,
When CHURCHILL'S nam'd, for smart abuse—
CHURCHILL! who ever loves to raise
On slander's dung his mushroom bays:
The priest, I grant, has something clever,
A something, that will last for ever.
Let him, in part, be made your pattern,
Whose muse, now queen, and now a slattern,
Trick'd out in ROSCIAD rules the roast,
Turns trapes and trollop in the GHOST,
By turns both tickles us, and warms,
And, drunk or sober, has her charms.

GARRICK, to whom with lath and plaister
You try to raise a fine pilaster,
And found on LEAR and MACBETH,
His monument e'en after death,
GARRICK'S a dealer in grimaces,
A haberdasher of wry faces,
A hypocrite, in all his stages,
Who laughs and cries for hire and wages;
As undertaker's men draw grief
From onion in their handkerchief,
Like real mourners cry and sob,
And of their passions make a job.

And COLMAN too, that little sinner,
That essay-weaver, drama-spinner,
Too much the comic Sock will use,
For 'tis the law must find him Shoes.
And tho' he thinks on fame's wide ocean
He swims, and has a pretty motion,
Inform him, LLOYD, for all his grin,
That HARRY FIELDING holds his chin.

Now higher soar, my muse, and higher,
To BONNELL THORNTON, hight Esquire!
The only man to make us laugh,
A very PETER PARAGRAPH,
The grand conductor and adviser
In CHRONICLE and ADVERTISER,
Who still delights to run his rig
On Citizen and Periwig!
Good sense, I know, tho' dash'd with oddity,
In THORNTON is no scarce commodity:
Much learning too I can descry,
Beneath his periwig doth lie.—
—I beg his pardon, I declare,
His grizzle's gone for greasy hair,
Which now the wig with ease can scrue,
With dirty ribband in a queue—
But why neglect (his trade forsaking
For scribbling, and for merrymaking,)
With tye to overshade that brain,
Which might have shone in WARWICK-LANE?
Why not, with spectacles on nose,
In chariot lazily repose,
A formal, pompous, deep physician,
HIMSELF A SIGN-POST EXHIBITION?

Tell me then, LLOYD, what is't you mean
By cobbling up a MAGAZINE?
A MAGAZINE, a wretched Olio
Purloin'd from quarto and from folio,
From Pamphlet, News-paper, and Book;
Which tost up by a monthly cook,
Borrows fine shapes, and titles new,
Of fricasee, and rich ragout,
Which dunces dress, as well as you.

Say, is't for you, your wit to coop,
And tumble thro' this narrow hoop?
The body thrives, and so the mind,
When both are free and unconfin'd;
But harnass'd in like hackney tit,
To run the monthly stage of wit,
The racer stumbles in the shaft,
And shews he was not meant for draft.
Pot-bellied gluttons, slaves of taste,
Who bind in leathern belt their waist,
Who lick their lips at ham or haunch,
But hate to see the strutting paunch,
Full often rue the pain that's felt
From circumscription of the belt.
Thus women too we ideots call,
Who lace their shapes too close and small.
Tight stays, they find, oft end in humps,
And take, too late, alas! to jumps.
The Chinese ladies cramp their feet,
Which seem indeed both small and neat,
While the dear creatures laugh and talk,
And can do ev'ry thing — but walk;
Thus you, "who trip it as you go
On the light fantastic toe,"
And in the Ring are ever seen,
Or Rotten-Row of Magazine,
Will cramp your muse in four-foot verse,
And find at last your ease your curse.
CLIO already humbly begs
You'd give her leave to stretch her legs,
For tho' sometimes she takes a leap,
Yet quadrupeds can only creep.

While Namby-Pamby thus you scribble,
Your manly turns are mere fribble,
Pinn'd down, and sickly, cannot vapour,
Nor dares to spring, or cut a caper.

Rouse then, for shame, your ancient spirit!
Write a great work! a work of merit!
The conduct of your friend examine,
And give a PROPHECY OF FAMINE;
Or like yourself, in days of yore,
Write ACTORS, as you did before:
Write what may pow'rful friends create you,
And make your present friends all hate you.
Learn not a shuffling, shambling, pace,
But go erect with manly grace;
For OVID says, and pr'ythe heed it,
"Os homini sublime dedit."
But if you still waste all your prime
In spinning Lilliputian rhime,
Too long your genius will be fallow,
And ROBERT LLOYD be ROBERT SHALLOW.