1762 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Charles Churchill

An Old Westminster, "The Splenetic Lion. A Fable" St. James's Chronicle (20 February 1762).



CHURCHILL was sick, and hung his Head;
The Play'rs and Critics thought him dead:
They thought him, but were sorely bit,
Not dead in Law, but dead in Wit;
A Bankrupt, who, on such a Day,
Had promis'd much, but could not pay.
DULLNESS, his Foe, a potent Queen,
On which his Muse, a mettled Nag,
Slacken'd her Speed, and seem'd to flag;
Which so rejoyc'd the Scribbling Trade,
They call'd his Pegasus a Jade.
Like Punks releas'd, who still are sore,
In noisy Taunts their Joy ran o'er.
Alas, poor Souls! — would I were able!
—I'll try my best — to give a Fable!
A LION once, whose mighty Paw
Kept all the Neighbourhood in awe,
Grew dull, and mop'd, and lov'd his Den—
For Beasts have Whims as well as Men.
An Ass at Distance saw him lying,
And told his Neighbours he was dying:
Ten thousand Freaks their Hearts betraying,
They fell to frisking, bleating, braying!
Hey, cries the Fox, why all this Joy?
—See there! — he's dead. — Huzza, my Boy!
—And is't for this ye bound and skip?
His Majesty has got the Hip:
Which rooted deep, and let alone,
Will waste him to the very Bone:
Be quiet, Fools, and let him doze!
'Tis Poison to him this Repose.
'Tis well for us he likes to house him;
But Woe betide us, if ye rouse him!
Be wise, ye Asses, Wolves, and Sheep!
Sneak off! — and let the LION sleep!