1765 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Brown

R. X., "A Simile. Addressed to the Rev. Dr. B." Public Advertiser (27 November 1765).



While torpid sleeps the Bird of Night,
In solemn Gloom, conceal'd from Sight,
Nor does with Day-light interfere,
But rests within his own dull Sphere;
In stupid Ease his Hours pass on,
Unenvy'd by the tuneful Throng.

But when, with wild Ambition fir'd,
Of native Darkness now grown tir'd,
He rashly ventures into Day;
And courts the Sun's resplendent Ray;
See with what Malice he's pursu'd,
By all the angry feather'd Brood;
Not one so weak but vents its Spite
Against the hated Bird of Night.

Thus, Rev'rend Friend, it fares with thee,
Who still might live from Envy free,
Could'st thou with Prudence but controul
The headstrong Passions of the Soul;
And try for once to lay aside
Thy Rancour, Self-conceit, and Pride.
But not content at Ease to stray,
In thy old, dull, pedantic Way;
Composing, like a solemn Dunce,
Insipid Sermons, costive Puns;
"Vain, haughty, factious, fierce, and loud,
With Spleen, more than with Grace endow'd."
Thou need'st must deal in ticklish Matters,
And write, instead of Sermons, Satyrs.
Say, does the sainted Lawyer Paul,
Crude Estimates, instruct to scrawl?
Or hadst thou, from thy Friend St. Peter,
The Art of tagging flimsy Meter?
Or from what Page of Holy Bible,
Learnst thou 'gainst Liberty to scribble?

Whatever Title please thine Ear,
Priest, Poet, Playwright, Pamphleteer,
Pedant, or Preacher, pray attend,
And listen to a candid Friend:
Wouldst thou in Peace, from Year to Year,
Thy Course with Ease and Pleasure steer;
And free from Faction, Noise, and Strife,
Lead the calm Tenor of thy Life,
This Maxim hold in Mem'ry fast,
Let Cobblers till keep to their Last.