1766 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. James Scott

Anonymous, "Perils of Poetry" Gazetteer and Daily Advertiser (26 March 1766).



Perils of Poetry! but why, friend S—tt,
Why were the perils of the Bard forgot?
The Perils thou hast suffer'd, make them known;
Tell all the world what thy base foes have done,
How thou hast been abus'd; you cannot fail
To move their pity, by thy moving tale;
Begin thy story where thy life began,
Thy riper life, where you commenc'd a man;
And journey onward in the plaintive strain,
Call all thy sorrows to thy mind again;
Tell what you suffer'd 'mongst St. Catherin's sons,
From cruel tutors, and more cruel duns,
When kick'd by Game-keeper, or cuff'd by Squire,
Spite of protection from thy wealthy Sire;
At Edmondton recount thy foul disgrace,
Ta'en by the nose; what an unhappy case!
Thence trace thy perils to a later day,
That happy period when you wrote M.A.
When thou the muse's prize-fighter appear'd,
To prove the pow'rs poetic, and ne'er fear'd
To face the ablest heroes in the field;
To thee what numbers then were forc'd to yield!
What wicked slanders then were hourly coin'd,
You then were plagiarist, and had purloin'd
Whate'er was good from others; for the rest,
Some horrid stuff! and very bad the best!
No wonder, grumbling Poetasters hate
Those precious lays they cannot imitate.
The Seaton Race, they cried was all your own,
When for the prize you started all alone.
But spite of such dull wights you kept your round,
And fairly gained Parnassus topmost ground;
Nor fear'd that post with honour to maintain,
While their poor Pegasus was spur'd in vain.
Sated with vict'ry here, you wisely chose
To prove thy talents were as great in prose.
The cause was noble, nobler was thy spirit!
Who cou'd refuse a nobleman of merit?
"He took the lead, you kept within his girth,
He made the way, you both threw up the dirt;"
Thus may a jockey talk, but never mind him,
There's many of that tribe have rode behind him;
Your brethren too may scoff; but they, alas!
How happy would they be in NASO'S case!
Whate'er they'd said they'd gladly have recanted,
To bless his Lordship's table, were it wanted.
Write on regardless of their envious prate,
"Next to the praise of good men, is the hate
Of bad men to be wish'd for." Prosper still,
And study to perform thy master's will.
Whate'er they're pleas'd to call thee, heed it not,
Anti-Sejanus, Scrutator, or S—tt.