1781 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Francis Noel Clarke Mundy

Anonymous, "To F. N. C. M—d—y, of M—n in Derbyshire" Gentleman's Magazine 51 (December 1781) 582.



"Go, languid fops; go, pedants, waste
Your sneers on joys you cannot taste;
And cloak with many a vain pretence
Cold-blooded Fear and Indolence."
Needwood Forest, p. 38.

Nay, good Mr. M—d—y, be not so severe
On others who chace not the fox nor the deer!
There be some, to be sure, are afraid of their bones—
While others love reading — and these are call'd drones.
You double your joys, for, 'tis plain, you delight in
Both reading and writing, and riding and writing:
But others there are who profess not that knack
Must stick to the book, or else stick to the pack.
The object of all is to find something new,
And when they have found, they, like hunters, pursue;
But whether at home, or abroad in excursion,
What matters it so as they have but diversion?
Some give it for cards — well, what of all that?
They have joys in pursuing a fish or a mat.
I grant it is equally dull, if you will,
To talk o'er a chase — or a hand at quadrille;
But during the conflict the sport is the same,
Though tricks be one object — the other is game.
The death of a fox, then, to sum up the whole,
Is a critical pleasure — and so is a vole.

'Tis my fate now and then, from the first of September
To the end of October, sometimes of November,
To hear the sweet accents of sweet country squires
Attuning their pipes, as we bards tune our lyres;
But no conversation I ever find there,
That does not relate to a bird or a hare;
Not a single idea e'er starts in the mind,
That has not a dog, or a horse close behind;
My horse and my dog, and my dog and my horse,
Is the summit of this edifying discourse.
'Tis charming to hear them (with stomachs as keen
For the tale, as before for the chace they had been)
Descant on the merits of Ringwood and Bowman
In the elegant style of a good raree-showman;
Of Ranger and Jowler, and so of the rest,
Like the whole court of France crowded up in a chest.
Unless that, perchance, the dull tale to enrich,
Some Lord tumbled headlong souse into a ditch.
Were it any one else, it were less fun by half,
For the higher the rank, so much greater the laugh.
Then the Curate recounts how he hoisted him out,
Or his Lordship (good lack!) had been smother'd no doubt;
How he dirtied his beaver, a noble reward!—
But he's proud of the dirt that comes off from a Lord.

Go, Nimrods, go on; if it serves to amuse you,
I can have no possible right to accuse you;
But let us alone, who compound for less sport,
Though we find it at home, or we seek it at court;
For believe me, dear sir, there are few, very few,
Can enjoy both the chace and the closet — like YOU.