1809 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Colman the Younger

Anonymous, "Horace Book II, Ode 16. To George Colman the Younger" The Ordeal [Boston] (8 June 1809) 337-40.



The youth, from his indentures freed,
Who mourns astride the flying steed,
The Muses' hunt to follow,
With terror eyes the yawning pit,
And for a modicum of wit
Petitions for Apollo.

For wit the quarto-building wight
Invokes the Gods; the jilt in spite
Eludes the man of letters—
Wit through the wire-wove margin glides,
And all the gilded pomp derides
Of red Morocco fetters.

Vain is the smart port-folio set,
The costly inkstand, black as jet,
The desk of polish'd level;
The well shorn pens to use at will;
'Tis no great task to cut a quill—
To cut a joke's the devil!

Happy, for rural business fit,
Who merely tells his mother wit,
In rural life he settles:
Unskill'd in repartee to shine,
He ne'er exclaims — "descend, ye nine,"
But when he plays at skettles.

They who neglect their proper home
To dig for ore in Greece or Rome,
Are poor Quixotick Vandals;
Europe was overrun by Goths,
But why should we, like foolish moths,
Buzz round the Roman candles?

Care swarms in rivers, roads, and bogs,
Unfricaseed, like Pharaoh's frogs;
We cannot all be merry.
It roams thro' London streets at large,
And now bestrides a Lord Mayor's barge,
And now a Vauxhall wherry.

The man who no vertigo feels,
When borne aloft on Fortune's wheels,
But at their motion titters;
Emerging from a sea of strife,
Enjoys the present sweets of life,
Nor heeds its future bitters.

Poor Tobin died, alas! too soon,
Ere with chaste ray his Honey Moon
Had shone to glad the nation:
Others, I will not mention who,
For many a year may, (entre nous)
Outlive — their own damnation.

Who creep in prose, or soar in rhyme,
Alike must bow the knee to time,
From Massinger to Murphy,
And all who flit on Lethe's brink,
Too weak to swim, alas! must sink—
Tom Dibdin to Tom Durfey.

Fortune to thee too Muses gave,
One debonnair, the other grave;
You hospitably screen 'em;
For still, O man of virtue rare,
Altho' the love of both you share,
You never sleep between 'em.

She gave thee to a summer stage,
'Gainst opera chiefs the war to wage
With bodies lean and taper.
I list beneath thy Muse's wing,
Who should not rather hear her sing,
Than see her sister caper?

My Muse is of the ostrich sort,
Her eggs, of fortune's gale the sport,
She in the sand conceals 'em;
By no instructive wanderer found,
Till watchman Phoebus walks his round,
And with his ray reveals 'em.

But should the god's far-darting ray,
Destroy her feeble lines to day,
She'll breed again to-morrow:
These trifles ne'er her mind annoy,
Who never knew a parent's joy,
Ne'er felt a parent's sorrow.