1790 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Warton

John Wolcot, "A New Probationary Ode for the vacant Laureatship" Newcastle Chronicle (13 June 1790).



Since that old boney rascal Death,
Has stopp'd TOM WARTON'S breath,
And vacant left his post:
Oh! stately Peer of Salisbury,
Assign the gold and sack to me,
—If that thou rul'st the roost.

Perhaps thou deem'st me too unfit,
To be enroll'd a Palace Wit,
Who could the King so hack;
But faith, reward me with the pelf,
I'll be as courtly as thyself,
And bend as low my back.

Besides, folks quite mistake the thing,
I never meant t' abuse the King;
No, I'd a nobler aim:
I but assum'd th' Historian's plan—
Took the best actions of the man,
And gave to Madam Fame.

But she, a pert and froward jilt,
Made loyalty seem rebel guilt,
With subtle sneer ironic;
I simply sung of George the Great,
And of his lovely prudent Mate,
With gravity Bubonic.

Nay, so outrageous was my zeal,
I could his slightest merits feel,
And with due rev'rence hail.
I followed him to Windsor's town,
Glean'd his bon mots to every clown,
In many a loyal tale.

And when in spite of vulgar sport,
He mov'd to Whitbread's with his Court,
To learn the art to brew,
When England all to Chiswell-street,
Its curious Sov'reign rush'd to meet,
Lo! I was with him too.

Did I not tell what butts of beer
The Brewer gave the King to cheer;
And of his feast so fine:
Did I not tell how George so keen,
Saw ev'ry thing that could be seen,
And then sat down to dine.

Did I not memorandum make,
In lasting verse for George's sake,
Of all he wisely said
On malt and hops, and beer and ale,
On tub and barrel, hoop and pail,
And Whitbread's glorious trade.

Did I not paint, in puncheons creeping,
Thro' bung-holes loyal draymen peeping,
To see their Monarch pass;
Where each in wond'ring silence stood,
To know if Kings were flesh and blood,
Like ev'ry common ass.

Did I not tell how George so gracious,
For feeling Whitbread's vats so spacious,
Offer'd to knight the Brewer.
While he, to dazzling honours dead,
Declin'd the boon with lowly head,
Content with rank obscure.

A thousand royal deeds beside,
My Muse has sung with eager pride,
That to remotest times
Great George's actions should be shewn,
And genuine character be known,
In my impartial rhymes.

Indeed I never said the King
Took Genius to his shelt'ring wing,
Because I hate to flatter;
And though the thing no doubt is clear,
It never was my fate to hear
One word about the matter.

Since thus my zeal, and TOM no more
Can chaunt of GEORGE in lofty lore,
And thund'ring strain so proud,
The vacant post assign to PETER,
And he in still sublimer meter,
Shall be as just and loud.