1777
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Garrulous Man, a Parody upon L'Allegro of Milton.

The Garrulous Man, a Parody upon L'Allegro of Milton. Address'd to Mr. and Mrs. Miller.

Anonymous


A burlesque of Milton's L'Allegro celebrating the high life at fashionable Bath: "Or converse hold with lady bright, | Whose tongue may startle her dull knight, | And turn a deaf ear when he cries, | 'My dear, the dappled dawn doth rise.'" The poem is dedicated to Lady Anne Miller, and may have originated as a contribution to the famous vase at Bath-Easton. The quarto pamphlet, published at Bath, is attributed to Ralph Schomberg (1714-1792) in the Muse's Mirrour (1778).

John Langhorne: "Vive le bagatelle! should this Writer have put on his title-page; for a more empty bagatelle have we no fear of finding" Monthly Review 58 (February 1778) 162.

John Aikin: "CHEERFULNESS, an affection of all the most friendly to the mind, has excited few efforts of the imagination among poets, a race seldom much under her influence" "Personification in Poetry" Monthly Magazine 7 (February 1799) 112.



Hence sheepish diffidence,
Whom Chloe meek to simple Strephon bore
On Albion's western shore
In dull November, nurse of vapours dense,
Find out some secret cell
Where squint suspicion spreads its jealous wings,
And strict Duenna sings.
There safe as in the stocks,
With tawdry aunts and buckram tabbies dwell!

But come thou goddess pert and free,
By vulgars call'd, GARRULITY,
And by belle and macaroni
Heart-easing conversazione,
Thee, on fair Italia's shore
In Arno's vale Tatlanti bore:
Or rather did some Gallic swain
Upon the lively banks of Seine,
One summer eve in gaudy dress
A gay coquet with warm embrace
Fill with thee a daughter fair
Buxom, blithe and debonair.
Before twelve golden suns could run
Their course round heaven's star-spangled zone,
Thou from thy careful mother's side
Didst roam through distant countries wide;
Till wand'ring near the mountains hoar
That rise on Greenland's icy shore,
Thy voice was heard awhile to cheer
The rigour of the stormy year;
When the gaunt giant of the north
Pour'd his frozen legions forth.
The twilight air was hush'd! grim frost
"With glistering icicles imbost,"
Chill'd every breeze, and every sound
In adamantine fetters bound,
And sunk thy tender form below
The light down of the driven snow.
At length (as antient poets sing)
The frolick wind that breathes the spring
Zephyr with young April playing
Near th' antarctic circle straying,
With lenient breath and presence fair
Dispell'd the dim mists of the air,
And with a gentle, genial smile,
Calm'd the bleak horrors of the isle.
'Twas then from icy fetters free
Nature was all Garrulity;
Above, about, or underneath,
In forest brown or barren heath,
Notes of joy and notes of woe
In wild confusion seem'd to flow,
From sheety lakes and spiral flames
Came sounds that syllabel'd men's names,
And every pine and mountain oak
'Tis said, articulately spoke.

Haste thee, nymph, and bring with thee
Smart Bon-Mots and Jeux d'Esprit,
Travell'd fops and men of stile,
Broad grimace and wreathed smile,
Such as hangs on —'s cheek,
And lives in —'s dimple sleek,
Ton, that wrinkled age derides,
And ladies screwing up their sides:
Come, and trip it as you go
On the loosely slipper'd toe,
And in thy right-hand lead with thee
The nymph Familiarity.
And O! sweet maid of sovereign sway
Admit me of thy bal pare,
To laugh and chat with her and thee
In unreproved pleasures free:
Or converse hold with lady bright,
Whose tongue may startle her dull knight,
And turn a deaf ear when he cries,
"My dear, the dappled dawn doth rise."
But come, adieu! "In spite of sorrow
You know we're all to meet to-morrow."
Then hand in hand to the coach door
I proudly strut the nymph before,
And some pretty story tell
'Till she bids the last farewell.
Now to the Pump-room let us haste,
That noble sentry-box of taste,
Where five fiddles and a horn
Rouse the neighbours every morn.
There, while some slender-waisted lass
Drinks the salutary glass,
Let me please her, standing nigh,
With garrulous civility,
Talk of pictures, cards, or walking,
All but for the sake of talking;
Certain ladies painted faces,
Certain artificial graces,
Concerts, plays, and pauper-schemes,
Feathers, strange mysterious dreams,
Where more is meant than meets the ear.
Thus morn oft' see me in thy gay career,
Sometimes walking close between
Two ladies fair through Abbey-green,
Trict and frounct as they were wont
At their country seat to hunt.
We reach the charming South Parade
For health and conversation made,
There trip before my charmed sight
Footmen in thousand liveries dight,
While the chairman near at hand
Whistles ready at his stand,
And the busy housemaids squall,
And the colliers horses sprawl,
And every party drinks its fill
Under the roof with Master Gill.

Sometimes on a Monday night
The upper rooms my steps invite,
Whilst the gigling Belles dance round,
And the jocund fiddles sound
To many a wife and many a maid
Dancing in a chequer'd shade,
While young and old in merry glee
Laugh and prattle o'er their tea.
Strait mine eye hath caught new pleasures
While the Ball-room round it measures.
Hoods of lawn and ringlets grey
Where the nibbling flocks do stray,
Virgins on whose downy breasts
The diamond cross or picture rests,
Parsons trim with waistcoats pied,
Shallow fops and buckles wide,
Little macaroni groups,
Bosom'd high in ladies hoops,
While gorgeous folks of quality
In glittering palls come sweeping by,
With store of ladies, whose bright eyes
On Thursday mornings judge the prize
Of wit and verse, while both contend
To win her grace, whom all commend.
Then to the well-fill'd stage repair,
If *****'s high feather'd head be there,
Or sweetest O—, beauty's child,
Prattle her native chit chat wild;
But if a rural life delight,
In other joys we'll pass the night.
Circling round the blazing hearth
We'll join in sweet domestic mirth,
While coy reserve and caution meek,
And modesty with blushing cheek,
And mauvaise honte with downcast eye
From our thrice happy cottage fly.
Then let the live long night be spent
In quips, and cranks, and merriment,
With stories told of Robinhood,
The little Children of the Wood;
How they by cruel uncle's hate
Were driven from their father's gate,
How little Red-breasts brought them food,
Wild herbs, and fruit, and berries crude,
And o'er their graves when they were dead
The scatter'd leaves of Autumn spread.
There oft', 'tis said, at Curfew sound
The fairies mark the hallow'd ground,
And o'er their rustic tomb at night
The Glow-worm sheds his amber light.
Or talk of him who left i' th' middle
The story of the Bear and Fiddle,
Of Sydrophel and Hudibras,
Of Arthur's board and magic glass;
On that fam'd horse who nobly died
On which great Turpin erst did ride.
This done away to bed we creep
And laugh and chatter in our sleep.
And may I on this spacious stage
Enjoy a narrative old age;
The winter evening hours to cheat
With tales of many a youthful feat.
Thus mixing with society
I'll always live and wish to die.

[The Muse's Mirrour (1778) 2:164-71]