1764 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Langhorne

Anonymous, "An alliterative Description of a literate, alliterative Bard" St. James's Magazine 4 (April 1764) 121-23.



As in the gutter struts the carrion crow,
So stalks, in sable state, stiff, solemn, slow,
Writhing his wriggling rump from side to side,
In all the pimping pomp of priestly pride,
Pert parson L—gh—ne, poet, pedant, prig,
No bard so bright, no bachelor so big!
Far-fam'd for frippery, frothy, futile fun,
Peerless at puerile repartee and pun;
By nature, niggling, niggardly, and nice;
A simpering sinner, simple-seeming saint;
Queer, quackish, quibbling, querulous, and quaint;
So fine, so finicking, so deft, so feat,
His numbers soft, his style to silver-sweet!
Hence flush'd with fancied gifts from all the graces,
He boasts their favours, tho' unseen their faces;
While, self-sufficient, in fantastick strains,
He vents th' effusions of his barren brains;
Scribbles the senseless, sentimental tale
Of mincing minx in Mes'potamia's vale;
Publickly prostitutes preposterous praise,
In languid, labour'd, lulling, lying lays;
Pens penny-pilfering puffs for paultry pay,
And gives egregious egotisms away;
With bare-fac'd eulogies himself addresses;
Vaunting, each muse the virtuous bard caresses.
Vamping vile verses, vapid, vague, jejune,
He rings his jingling chimes, sans time or tune,
Or decks in plunder'd plumes, and sets to sale,
His green-geese wadling with a peacock's tail;
Poor plagiary! tho' pitiful yet proud,
Scorning to stop till stop-thief's cried aloud.
Friend to the faithful, formal, starch and shy,
He sneers with scepticks, shrewd, severe, and sly,
Or coaxing doubting deists to believe,
Laughs at each credulous christian in his sleeve;
Forges, forsooth, fanatick, fribbling letters,
And plays the critic on the bards, his betters;
In fulminations by bell, book, and taper,
Anath'matizes harmless ink and paper,
And contumeliously, with captious curses,
Damns blund'ring blockheads bawling bell-men's verses;
While thus, to crude caprice a carping tool,
He, spite of scripture, calls his brother, fool:
Power, name and fame, mean time, he knows to prize,
Nor thinks he e'er can stoop to low, to rise;
Subservient hence, to give offence in fear,
He censures nought by prelate wrote, or peer;
But servile, sneaking, trimming, meek and mean,
Veers with each wind and shifts with every scene:
By venal views thus set his virtues blazing,
He says and does what's really most amazing,
Kisses foul J—n—n's breech, and, on like plan,
Calls Gl—st—r's bishop a fine gentleman;
Says lean Lord L—let—n (such lies he'll tell ye)
Keeps all the nine in that lank sheath his belly;
Treats alma mater like a common whore;
Vows B—te's a whig and Scotland is not poor!
Slights Churchill's muse, whilst Ogilvie and Home
With him, excell the bards of Greece and Rome.
But what is he, who thus can act and write?
A coxcomb, sycophant, and hypocrite!
A wretch I'd scourge, and scoff to public scorn,
Were I, what I was not, a poet born.