1752 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Milton

S. S. S., "The Bee and Milton convicted of stealing. To the Rev. Dr. Thomas Newton" Newcastle General Magazine 5 (November 1752) 573.



The Bee, a wand'ring cunning thief,
Has nothing she can call her own,
She roves abroad from leaf to leaf,
And pilfers riches up and down.

This, Sir, I certainly can prove,
I've catch'd her in so many facts;
I saw her rob in yonder grove,
And carry home whole loads of wax.

I saw her sucking yonder flow'r,
And slily searching ev'ry plant;
Yourself may see it any hour,
If further evidence you want.

But to conceal these knavish tricks,
When she has gather'd all her store,
She does with art refine and mix,
That 'tis not like what 'twas before.

Thus, rev'rend Sir, your fav'rite author,
Has rummag'd all the books in print;
Has stole from this, and stole from t' other,
A thought, a simile, a hint.

With Homer, Virgil, (as I'm told),
And many learned men beside,
Nay, with the scriptures he made bold,
Or else he's shamefully bely'd.

Whate'er he glean'd with care or force,
He has work'd up with wondrous skill,
That none but conjurers, or worse,
Would e'er suspect his doing ill.

Then pray, what harm has Lauder done ye?
Your Milton you may justly boast:
For had he not collected honey,
His Paradise would have been lost.