1772 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Glocester Ridley

W. H., "To the Rev. J. D., on the Author's returning to him ... Dr. Ridley's three Letters to the Author of the Confessional, and Dr. Dawson's Address to Dr. Ridley" Gentleman's Magazine 42 (August 1772) 383.



The bearer, Sir, a lazy fellow,
Who loves to be a little mellow,
His very soul has firmly found,
To bring your volumes safe and sound.
I thank you kindly for the favour,—
One author has a special flavour, [Dr. R—b—tson]
Is simple, honest, learned, wise,
A very seraph in disguise;
His righteous conduct, by my troth,
Has sham'd the colour of his cloth,
Your starvling curates, vicars, rectors,
Archdeacons, deans, and church directors,
Touch'd by this author's magic wand,
In their own proper figures stand;
And such a pack of scare crow devils,
(Lord shield us from this swarm of evils!)
Are plainly, Sir, to look upon,
Bastards of th' whore of Babylon.

The other, Sir, a desp'rate swain, [Dr. Gl—ster R—dl—y]
An arrant Tartar in the main,
Whips out his whinyard in a fury,
On honest —, I'll assure ye,
With meats unwholesome, chew'd or raw,
Resolv'd to cram the author's maw.
But, thanks to luck, a Trojan trusty, [Dr. B—j—n D—ws—n]
All in a trice, turns wond'rous crusty,
First takes untainted Reason's side,
Then fairly tans the rascal's hide.

Now ponder well, my honest friend,
What's to be done; — the world won't mend.
Be wise, and good, and speak your mind,
Nor veer about with every wind;
Be, as the needle to the pole,
Steady to truth, with all your soul.
What then? — You'll find it to your cost,
You're but a rector at the most.

But, change your play, — and learn the art
To speak point-blank against your heart;
Be all your senses hard and callous,
Fit for a sage, or — for the gallows.
For truth, ne'er mind to search her fountains,
But learn at once to swallow mountains;
Then bluster, rage, and rail at reason,
You'll be a dean in proper season:
Nay more, — a bishop's see you'll huff in,
When once you've got a little stuffing,
Not in your head, — I mean th' belly,
But just sufficient, Sir, to swell ye
To the legal standard of right reverence,
Else who would pay you proper def'rence.
When mounted to this pitch of glory,
With tremor, I'll appear before ye;
A father, by divine permission!
Must be approach'd with due submission:
My Lord, — your slave, with a sacred awe,
Conscious, alas! of many a flaw,
But, knowing well your deeds religious,
Your learning, virtue, skill prodigious,—
A chaplain much I long to shine,
And serve a prelate so divine.