1751 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Man of Taste.

The Poetical Works of the Rev. Samuel Bishop, ... To which are prefixed, Memoirs of the Life of the Author, by the Rev. Thomas Clare.

Rev. Samuel Bishop


After Milton's L'Allegro: The Man of Taste is undergraduate verse by Samuel Bishop, student at St. John's College, Oxford, and future master of Merchant Taylors' School. Bishop allegorizes Taste as the offspring of Genius and Sense. The poem was first published in 1796 in a volume that received more critical attention than one might suppose.

Thomas Clare: "Besides several poetical pieces, with which he supplied his friends, he wrote also a great number of college exercises, hymns, paraphrases of scripture, translations from the ancients, and imitations of the moderns" 1:xviii.

Monthly Review: "Although we cannot, consistently with our duty to the public, speak in the highest terms of Mr. Bishop's genius or poetical taste, — yet we are willing to believe every thing that his biographer says in favour of his moral and religious character; and we think too highly of his good sense, to suppose that the greater part of the poems contained in these two large volumes were intended by him for publication. A selection from them, in a small volume, under the title of Poetic Trifles, would have amused the reader, and have secured to the writer his proper place among the votaries of the Muses: but now the kernel is concealed in a thick shell, that the purchaser may not have good-humour enough left to acknowledge the flavour, after he has undergone the toil of seeking it" NS 22 (April 1797) 385.

Samuel Austin Allibone: "Rev. Samuel Bishop, 1731-1795, Master of Merchant Taylor School, London; and a poet. Essays and Poems, 1763. Feriae Poeticae, 1764. 4to. Poetical Works, with Mem. of his Life by Rev. T. Clare, Lon., 1796, 2 vols, 4to, Sermons, Lon., 1798, 8vo. The Farce of High Life Below Stairs, ascribed to Garrick, is said to have been the production of Mr. Bishop" Critical Dictionary of English Literature (1858-71; 1882) 1:194.



Hence! Phantom! weak, and vain,
FASHION! of Indolence and Folly born!
Nurs'd by Conceit and Scorn!
And cradled in the wild, distemper'd brain!
Go! Hoyden, as thou art,
A full-grown Baby! skittish! prone to range!
Chang'd, evermore to change!
Find out some high tower's pinnacle! and watch
The shifting vane to catch,
That veers with every blast, to every part!
But come! thou sober Influence,
Whom GENIUS bore of old to SENSE!
TASTE, thy Name! — Beneath a shade,
By arched oaks, embowering, made,
SENSE his stand, deep-musing, took;
With fixed foot, and stedfast look,
Nature's handy-work surveying;—
Where fruit and flower the meads arraying,
Lavish of hues, that might outvie
The many-tinged rainbow's die,
Show'd heavenly pencilling! — What time
GENIUS, the Wood-nymph, in her prime
Of bloom and spirit past along;
Light of heart; and frank of song;
Vagrant, on a fleet Zephyr's wing,
Plundering the magazines of Spring;
Vermil tints, and perfum'd air,
Gathering here; and scattering there!

HER the thought-rapt Being espied
Glancing comely by his side;
And, with sudden passion fir'd,
Follow'd still, as She retir'd:
Soon won, with ardent vows, her mind,
And in meet Espousal join'd,
In happiest hour the Bride embrac'd!
—Hence th' auspicious Birth of TASTE!

Come! decent Nymph! in ample vest;
Of seemly-suited colours drest!
Come thou, Taste! and bring with thee,
The Maiden, meek Simplicity!
Come! and give mine eye to stray,
Where thou deignest to display
Thy doedal pow'r, such grace to teach,
As Nature loves, but cannot reach!

Let us oft our visit pay,
(In the pure matin prime of day,
E'er the high sun hath drank the dews,)
To where the Poet courts the Muse!
Him, I mean, who bows the knee,
In homage still submiss to Thee!
Whom thy steady rule hath taught
To form the Plan, and point the Thought;
To Passion all it's voice to give;
And bid the warm Description live!
Him, who ne'er in evil hour,
Mistaking strong desire for pow'r,
Couples ideas, vague and rude,
Match'd, without similitude!
Where, wedg'd in heterogeneous rank,
Tall Metaphors each other flank;
And seem in such confusion set,
As if they wonder'd how they met:
Or under an huge pile of Phrase,
Which idly-grouped Figures raise
With blank and alien Epithets,
The dull drudge Affectation sweats!

Nor let my foot the spot forbear,
Where Judgment takes the critic chair;
Commanding at her side to stand,
Candor, and Spirit, hand in hand;
Bidding mine eye some canvas trace,
Where the bold Outline's soft'ned grace,
Expression rich, and chaste Design,
With delicate Neglect combine;
Till rapt attention, fairly caught,
Fill me with all the Painter's thought!

Haply, some rising Dome shall claim
My glad observance; where the Dame
Propriety, throughout presiding,
Plan, Measure, Execution, guiding,
Blends neat Convenience with Expence,
Proportion with Magnificence:
While Attic Elegance and Ease
Help Roman Grandeur more to please;
And Roman Grandeur doth advance
The Attic Ease and Elegance!
My soul, meanwhile, with rapture ranging
O'er parts in aptest order changing,
Sees every Art of every Coast
Become my Country's gradual boast.

Or if domestic objects wake
Mine inclination; let me take
Beside the Family Hearth, my stand,
Where, Good-nature, blithe and bland,
Calls, with more than magic force,
Every Grace and Joy of course;
Speeding the buxom hours along,
With converse sweet, free jest, prompt song;
Teaching each excellence to find
The inmost bosom, where inshrin'd
Sits chaste Decorum; holding still
In bands of silk the truant Will;
While Mirth and Virtue walk at ease;
Prone to be pleas'd; and glad to please.

Sometime, wand'ring, let me meet,
Seldom found, the blissful Seat,
Where Discretion, mildly sage,
Watches o'er the rising age;
Warning still the parent's care
To snatch from Folly's gripe, his heir;
Lessoning the virgin ears of youth
In that most glorious science — Truth —
Truth of Thought; — due praise to give!
Truth of Heart; — to act and live!
Or training for the public scene,
The social consciousness serene;
Which founds (un-dup'd by popular names)
On general duties, private claims;
And general claims, where'er they rise,
By private duty's standard tries:
Convinc'd that, in dominion's scale
Whatever civil plans prevail,
The Almighty word, which form'd this ball,
Made Man for Man; and ALL for ALL.

TASTE! — if with me thou deign to dwell,
Let signs like these, thy influence tell;
Mode, Whim, Expence, and awkward Pain,
Usurp thy semblance, all in vain;
Invention, with Proportion join'd,
Ardor corrected, Strength refin'd,
Announce (in spite of crude pretence)
The Child of GENIUS and of SENSE!

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