1809 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joseph Addison

Anonymous, "Addison's Ghost. A Ballad" Gentleman's Magazine 79 (Feburary 1809) 157.



Strange news from Westminster! the Ghosts
Have form'd a Royal coalition,
Determin'd to maintain their posts,
And crush plebeian opposition.

Last night at twelve the Council sate,—
Kings, Princes, Peers, — to stem the dangers
Accruing to their high estate,
By means of interloping strangers.

In person Addison appear'd;
A gentle unassuming Spectre,
As ever Virtue's standard rear'd,
Or read the world a moral lecture.

With measur'd step, and look serene,
Before the Board he took his station;
Some bustle in the Court was seen,—
Surprise, perhaps, or admiration.

"Princes," he said, "I boast no blood;
No rank or title I inherit;
But honour, rightly understood,
Rests on utility and merit.

"'Tis yours in deeds of arms to shine,
To conquer, plunder, and demolish;
To form a Nation's manners — mine,
To cultivate, adorn, and polish.

"'Tis still my more peculiar care,
My pride and boast above all others,
To elevate and guard the Fair,
And make them better wives and mothers.

"Pray what is Woodstock's mighty fame,
How great in fact or in appearance?
Alas! he's only known by name
To Carter, and his queer adherents.

"To distant climes my glory spreads,
The Western world, the Eastern Ganges,
Whatever ground a Briton treads,
Wherever British valour ranges.

"Is there a language known, or speech,
Through Europe's circle of dominions,
In which my precepts do not teach
To combat libertine opinions?

"For my philosophy implies
All that relates to man's condition,
Truth, virtue, morals, decencies,
Religion, purg'd of superstition.

"Then, good my Lords, allow me room
To add an unit to your number;
My image near a Monarch's tomb
Can never break a Monarch's slumber."

The Court was mov'd, or seem'd to be,
Aw'd by the force of Truth and Reason,
And doubtless had allow'd the plea,
But Carter roar'd out, "treason! treason!"

Check'd all at once they chang'd their tone,
(Or else the Moralist had thank'd 'em,)
"The Church," they cried, "is all your own,
But don't encroach upon our Sanctum."

On this decree, John Carter took
Fresh counsel with his friends, the no-wits,
And then — "Poor Ghost, you'll find a nook;
Go take your place among the Poets."