1805
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Paraphrase of Spring, the first of Pope's Pastorals.

Universal Magazine NS 4 (October 1805) 350-51.

Q in the Corner


A burlesque pastoral signed "Q in the Corner," making a late contribution to the quarrel between Ambrose Philips and Alexander Pope a century earlier. The satire appears to be directed at both parties.

Headnote: "Sir, The poet seldom conjures up scenes more offensive to simplicity and taste than those which are denominated pastoral. Flocks, crooks, and purling streams are found with too little labour to afford images either elegant or pleasing. On surveying the manners of the peasantry, in a late ramble through Windsor forest, I could not avoid observing how preposterously different are the beings of reality from those amiable and intelligent personages with whom Pope has peopled this picturesque district. Allow me to present you with such a pastoral as a faithful transcript of local habits affords. You will perceive that I copy our great harmonist in my modes of conducting my essay. Theocritus and Virgil would, perhaps, contend that my subject is not truly pastoral. Be it so; I wish they could, with equal success, content that it is not natural. I forbear to speak farther, lest, while I am smiling at others, I should grow ridiculous myself; and am, Sir, Your constant reader, Q in the Corner" p. 350.



SCENE — WINDSOR FOREST.

First in these scenes I echo Nature's strain,
And paint the real manners of the swain.
Ye poets list, from aramanthine bow'rs,
And mark what nettles mock the blushing flow'rs!
Each streamlet soft pursues its gentle course,
Tho' no prompt fable deify the source.

You chosen patron of the fertile scene,
(The nodding squire that lives beside the green,)
Who, all the world illustriously above,
Ne'er left the shelter of your natal grove;
O! let my muse her faithful pen inspire,
Till quarter-sessions rouse your classic fire.

So, when no meeting wakes the courser's soul,
With tedious trot, the roadster seeks the goal!
But once proclaim'd the signal for the chace,
The shouting jockies scorn its humble pace.

Soon as the morn, with fresh and hungry airs
Awoke each mortal to his lot of cares,
Two hinds along the dale their foldings led,
Of South-Down breed, on Windsor plains, tho' fed.
The sun fast climbing up the eastern sky,
Thus Jobson spoke, thus Simkin made reply.

JOBSON.
Hark from the village what a thundering shout,
The alehouse, sure, must hold a jolly rout!
Wickets and skittles make a gallant shew,
But for these sheep, (the d—ls) we'd thither go;
Our clerk, be sure, and all the singers brave,
Are met at Johnson's tap to try a stave!

SIMKIN.
'Tis like enough, and shall we idle stand,
Nor to the mug nor metre lend a hand?
What time the moon disclos'd her tim'rous head,
Our master drank, and now lies safe a bed.
Hold Jobson, on this coin of snowy hue,
Some wond'rous face, "(not Pan's)" an artist drew;
With mystic words, the L—d knows what they mean,
The wond'rous face all dotted round is seen.
This coin so rare, I'll stake upon a song,
Who gains the prize first tastes the can of strong.

JOBSON.
Agreed; and see of gems a costly pair,
Which on these nervous wrists I faithful wear!
Of Bet the gift, a nymph of yonder shade,
Who drives in Windsor's grove a rural trade.
Grav'd on each stud, two wounded hearts are viewd,
With magic pow'r as seers affirm, endued;
Shou'd Simkin's strain superior prove to mine,
These mystic emblems, Simkin, straight are thine.

SIMKIN.
But who shall duly judge the rustic lay?
The shepherd's idol! See, he comes this way.
On Will, who doctors cows, shall we agree?

JOBSON.
Yes, Will who doctors cows, the umpire be.

In ancient boots with rural mud emboss'd,
Will featly spurr'd the donkey that he cross'd.
A pipe the hoary swain was wont to bear,
Whose fumes salubrious woo the morning air.
"Proceed!" he cry'd, "while ravens stay their note,
And each pert mag restrains his brazen throat!"

SIMKIN.
When rays autumnal bless'd the lab'rer's pain,
A neigh'bring fair entic'd each ardent swain.
Punch tried his tricks; intent on higher game,
I dare the throng at back-sword's noble game.
A youth of Hampshire mocks my swelling rage,
And free from favour equal we engage.
No more he sees the folks, the sun, the shews,
A stream of blood bedews his aching nose.

JOBSON.
When pensive evening thew her mantle grey
O'er the proud feats of that important day,
Three Hampshire swains, three Berkshire men oppose,
To prove whose eyes strong liquor first would close;
The Hampshire newsman led the glorious strife,
And held three summer's days a merry life,
While luckless Hampshire, doom'd it's cause to lose,
In silent wonder went without the news!

SIMKIN.
Let Hampshire vaunt her hogs of greasy fame,
Her streams, and forests, bless'd with regal name,
Those forest shades the peasant holds more dear,
Whose streams resolve to honest Berkshire beer.

JOBSON.
When day exhausted yields the sway to night,
And quiv'ring moon-beams shed insidious light,
The Hampshire smuggler lands his precious load,
While dripping Hollands marks his devious road.
No King we rob to fill a beggar's dish,
Whose nights but empty London of its fish.

SIMKIN.
Where early vi'lets weep the morning dew,
See trembling hares their silly course pursue!
Three, e'er the sun uprose his pond'rous head,
Within my wires, with cry disastrous bled.
A joke, I thought, would make them taste the higher,
So, his own game I sold our simple 'squire!

JOBSON.
And, doctor, see, stray'd from its bleating dam,
'Mid budding cowslips treads the tender lamb!
His mate I choak'd, beneath yon spreading tree,
The cheated farmer gave his flesh to me.

WILL.
Cease to contend; so equal is your song,
To neither party shall the palm belong.
You, Jobson, still, your mystic studs retain,
(The only heart of Bet's you'll ever gain!)
But Simkin's medal in the tap-wall shine,
Where the first draft, as umpire, must be mine.

[pp. 350-51]