1785
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Probationary Odes No. XI. By Michael Angelo Taylor, Esq. M.P.

Probationary Odes for the Laureatship: with a Preliminary Discourse, by Sir John Hawkins, Knt. [Richard Tickell? and Joseph Richardson eds.]

William Boscawen


Writing as "Michael Angelo Taylor," William Boscawen offers remarks on imitating Horace in Odes, Epodes, and Carmen Seculare of Horace (1793) iii-iv. Taylor (1757-1834), known as the "Father of the House," began his parliamentary career as a Tory and supporter of Pitt.

Joseph Warton: "The Laureates of our country have ever been, as Falstaff says, 'the occasion of wit in other men;' but never of more wit than was thrown away on Mr. Thomas Warton, who, of all men, felt the least, and least deserved to feel, the force of the Probationary Odes, written on his appointment to his office, and who always heartily joined in the laugh, and applauded the exquisite wit and humour that appeared in many of those original Satires. But I beg to add, that not one of those ingenious Laughers could have produced such pieces of true poetry as the Crusade, the Grave of King Arthur, the Suicide, and Ode on the Approach of Summer, by this very Laureate" Works of Pope (1797) 6:328.

Robert Shelton Mackenzie: "Michael Angelo Taylor was a member of Parliament, wealthy, and with his residences very near the then St. Stephen's Chapel, in which the Commons used to sit. From 4 o'clock every day, until 12 at night, Taylor kept open house for such members of the Opposition as pleased to 'eat, drink, and be merry.' On one occasion, when Lord Durham (then Mr. Lambton) had brought in a bill — either for Catholic Emancipation or Parliamentary Reform — most of the Opposition had retired to take refreshments, at Taylor's, during Lambton's speech, and a tough debate and strong struggle was expected, the Government declined making a speech in reply, forcing on a division, before the other party could be collected from Taylor's 'cutlets and gin-twist,' and negatived the question, for that session, by a sudden vote. This trick was much complained of, by the Liberals, for a long time" Noctes Ambrosianae, ed. Mackenzie (1854) 1:403n.

Samuel Austin Allibone: "William Boscawen, 1752-1811, a barrister, was educated at Eton, and Exeter College, Oxford" Critical Dictionary of English Literature (1858-71; 1882) 1:221.



I.
Hail, all hail, thou natal day,
Hail the very half hour, I say,
On which great GEORGE was born!
Tho' scarcely fledg'd, I'll try my wing—
And tho', alas, I cannot sing,
I'll crow on this illustrious morn!
Sweet bird, that chirp'd the note of folly,
So pleasantly, so drolly!—
Thee oft, the stable yards among,
I woo, and emulate thy song!
Thee, for my emblem still I choose!
Oh! with thy voice inspire a Chicken of the Muse!

II.
And thou, great Earl, ordain'd to sit
High arbiter of verse and wit,
Oh crown my with with fame!
Such as it is, I prithee take it;
Or if thou can'st not find it, make it:
To me 'tis just the same.
Once a white wand, like thine, my father bore:
But now, alas, that white wand is no more!
Yet though his pow'r be fled,
Nor Bailiff wait his Nod nor Gaoler;
Bright honour still adorns the head
Of my Papa; Sir Robert Taylor.
Ah, might that honour on his son alight!
On this auspicious day
How my little heart wou'd glow,
If, as I bend me low,
My gracious King wou'd say,
Arise, Sir MICHAEL ANGELO!
O happiest day, that brings the happiest Knight!

III.
Thee too, my fluttering Muse invokes,
Thy guardian aid I beg,
Thou great ASSESSOR, fam'd for jokes,
For jokes of face and leg!
So may I oft' thy stage-box grace,
(The first in beauty as in place)
And smile, responsive to thy changeful face!
Fro say, renowned mimic say,
Did e'er merrier crowd obey
Thy laugh-provoking summons,
Than with fond glee, enraptur'd fit,
Whene'er with undesigning wit,
I entertain the Commons?
Lo! how I shine St. Stephens boast!
There, first of Chicks, I rule the roast!
There I appear,
Pitt's Chanticleer,
The Bantam Cock to oppositions!
Or like a hen,
With watchful ken,
Sit close and hatch — the Irish propositions!

IV.
Behold, for this great day of pomp and pleasure,
The House adjourns, and I'm at leisure!
If thou art so, come, Muse of sport,
With a few Rhymes,
Delight the times,
And coax the Chamberlain, and charm the Court!
By Heaven she comes! — more swift than prose,
At her command, my metre flows!
Hence ye weak warblers of the rival lays!
Avaunt, ye Wrens, ye Goslings, and ye Pies!
The Chick of Law shall win the prize,
The Chick of law shall peck the bays!
So, when again the State demands our care,
Fierce in my laurel'd pride, I'll take the chair!—
GILBERT, I catch thy bright invention,
With somewhat more of sound retention!
But never, never on thy prose I'll border—
Come, sacred Nine, come, one and all,
Attend your fav'rite Chairman's call!
Oh! if I well have chirp'd your brood among,
Point my keen eye, and tune my brazen tongue!
And hark! with Elegiac graces,
"I beg that gentlemen may take their places!"
Didactic Muse, be thine to state,
The rules that harmonize debate!
THINE, mighty CLIO, to resound from far,
"— The door, the door! — the bar! the bar!"
Stout Pearson damns around, at her dread word;—
"Sit down," cries Clemenson, and grasps his silver sword.

V.
But lo! where Pitt appears to move
Some new resolve of hard digestion!
Wake then, my muse, the gentler notes of love,
And in persuasive numbers, "put the Question."
The question's gain'd! — the Treasury-Bench rejoice!
"All hail, thou least of men" (they cry) with mighty voice!
—Blest sounds! my ravish'd eye surveys
Ideal Ermins, fancied Bays!
Rapt in St. Stephens future scenes,
I sit perpetual Chairman of the Ways and Means.
Cease, cease, ye Bricklayer-Crew, my sire to praise,
His mightier offspring claims immortal lays!
The father climb'd the ladder, with a hod,
The son, like General Jackoo, jumps alone, by God!

[2nd edition, pp. 42-46]