1792 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. John Aikin

Pylades, "To Dr. Aiken, occasioned by seeing a Publication upon Public Worship, dedicated to the Doctor" Gentleman's Magazine 62 (April 1792) 365.



Aikin! thy Attic Muse, with Milton's fire!
To the good Price once swept her deep-ton'd lyre;
With Priestly, Washington, he grac'd thy page,
Those giant offspring of a pigmy age!
All friendship could, thy manly genius gave,
And bade his modest worth survive the grave.

Canst thou peruse with an indulgent eye
Sarcastic —'s low-bred ribaldry?
Art thou so tickled with a prickly thorn?
So proud, to prop the palsied hand of scorn?
Canst thou be hostile to fair Freedom's band,
Aid worthless priests, and hurl fell riot's brand,
When persecution maddens thro' the land!
If thou art form'd on such a wretched plan,
I spurn the poet, and detest the man.

I know thee better, and suspicion blame,
That hints one blot on thy unsullied fame.

Favour'd by ev'ry Muse, my Aikin, rise!
A good man injur'd interests the skies.
Heav'n-arm'd advance, with Flatt'ry's voice unmov'd,
And guard the relicks of the man you lov'd.
Indignant rise! nor be thy rage represt,
While foul detraction reigns in —'s breast,
Poisons his peace, and with a felon's art
Steals the mild virtues that would cheer his heart.

Oh, letter'd pride! what follies you commit!
Sworn foe to genius, yet no match for wit;
See giant Bentley, mark'd with many a scar,
From wit's light troops in the Phalarian war;
What boots it now, to boast that he could soil,
In dull research, the playful stripling Boyle?
Pope's page Horatian will admir'd be read,
When verbal critics 'mongst the damn'd are dead;
Gloster's proud prelate, form'd to awe a school,
Felt the keen shafts of Oxford's ridicule;
Athletic Churchill curried Johnson's skin,
'Till the man-monster deeply groan'd within;
St. David's Bishop, tho' in faith so sound,
The wit of Priestly level'd with the ground;
Mutt'ring false Greek, the wounded bigot lies,
[Greek characters] hiccup'd, and then clos'd his eyes.

Learning's republick will no monarch own!
Maugre his threats, his fasces, and his frown;
The pedant pride, that towers above the rest,
Meets detestation, or becomes a jest.

To frank good-humour may my altar blaze!
So shall I get, by freely giving, praise;
Yet sometimes sternly I'd maintain the right,
To shew vain school-men that my verse can bite;
But, always ready, boldly I'll defend
A weak, an injur'd, or an absent friend.