1822 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Walter Scott

James Harley, in The Press, or Literary Chit-Chat. A Satire (1822) 6-9.



HOCUS.
—A truce, friend Pocus, to thy sneers at Scott,
Let him enjoy in peace his happy lot,
Acting the part of marechal-volunteer,
When British kings would taste of Scottish cheer,
Planting his larches on Tweed's past'ral shore,
Or pilfering lintels from one ruin more,
To deck his Abbotsford: what though his play
Scarce was the town-talk for a short-lived day—
(Sad falling-off from happier times of eld
When the Last Lay or Marmion we beheld!)
Yet still his novels—

POCUS.
His perhaps they be,
But why thus clothe them all in mystery?

HOCUS.
I'm not behind the scenes, or I might tell
Of other reasons; 'tis to make them sell;
The mystic halo that around them floats
Enters the pockets of ten thousand coats,
Thick tomes are written on th' important theme;
And some one chuckles at the happy scheme.

POCUS.
'Tis not the first — for instance, Junius once
Addled the brains of many a learned dunce.
Think you his Letters have not gain'd a share
Of fame, because their author is but air?
Francis and Wilmot—

J0CUS.
Ay, the fair Olive
Hath conn'd but ill her lesson to deceive.

HOCUS.
As men will argue on a hair, each tongue
With doubts and answers to them quickly rung,
Then to contend with others in dispute
Each bought the book unwilling to be mute.
This he yclept the "great unknown" perceived,
The trick was tried, and wonders hath achieved.
Besides, he's Scotch, and well each northern chield
Knows how to bear a brother through the field.
Though 'mongst themselves they wrangle, yet, to us,
When their worst witling writes they make a fuss,
The magic name of countryman at once
Transforms into a wit the happy dunce.
Yet Scott hath merit that should make him shun
Laurels by such low, cunning conduct won.

JOCUS.
Why who can blame him? if men will be tools,
Let whoso can make money of the fools!