1775 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Dodsley

G. G. M., "To Miss —, with the Oeconomy of Human Life" Universal Magazine 56 (February 1775) 93.



I who to wit can have but small pretence,
Have found this work of greatest consequence
To form the manners, and to guide the sense.

When this small book I did at first peruse,
I laid aside my verses; left the Muse,
And swore of time I'd be no more profuse:

That hours once spent in idleness and rhime,
Shou'd now be deem'd a most atrocious crime
Against the mighty Majesty of Time.

But ah, alas! how faint were those essays!
I fell a victim to the lust of praise,
And murder'd time with poetry and plays.

Whene'er my sonnets saw the face of day,
Fools offer'd praise — what could a scribbler say!
I swallow'd all — for I was young and gay.

But you, whose nature (as your sex's shou'd)
Is soft and gentle as th' unruffl'd flood,
When at the high command it waveless stood;

Ah! let these maxims, fix'd on Nature's base,
Thy soul inspire with love of virtuous praise,
While heav'nly prudence all thy conduct sways.

Then, my fair friend, improve your youthful mind,
With solid sense be useful reason join'd,
To crown the whole, at last, be gentle and be kind.