1807
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Charity. In Imitation of Spenser.

Mirth and Metre consisting of Poems, Serious, Humorous, and Satirical; Songs, Sonnets, Ballads & Bagatelles. Written by C. Dibdin, Jun. of Sadler's Wells.

Charles Dibdin


A burlesque ode in nine irregular Spenserians (ababcc): A petite allegory: "Ah! may ne Self-security my way | With mists too surely fatal e'er obscure; | But gentle Charity my bosom sway." On this theme compare William Hamilton Reid's "Stanzas, for the Festival of Christmas" (1790). Most of the volume consists of burlesques and parodies taken from Charles Dibdin's pantomimes.

Poetical Register for 1806-07: "Mr. C. Dibdin, like his father, has a happy knack at song-writing. Many of his songs have a large portion of humour and pleasantry. Almost every body has been excited to laughter by his 'Abraham Newland.' Had, however, a few of the songs been omitted the volume would have gained by the omission. In serious composition Mr. Dibdin is not quite so much at home as in a lighter kind; yet many parts of his 'Age, a Satire' have point and vigour" (1811) 550.

John Britton: "Partial to comedy and farce, and disposed to the vis-comica, I chose for singing and recitation those writings of Peter Pindar, George Colman, jun., George Alexander Stevens, Charles Dibdin, and others, which seemed best calculated to amuse mixed and miscellaneous assemblies of persons, who preferred mirth to melancholy, and smiles to sighs. Hence I was generally greeted with plaudits, and my efforts to please were always cheerfully received, by numerous crowded assemblies of persons" Autobiography (1850) 1:78.

Oliver Elton: "The songs of Charles Dibdin (1745-1833) need, no doubt, to be heard, and will hardly bear being read, but as songs the best of them live all the same. He wrote many hundreds, indeed more than a thousand, and inserted many of them in his comic operas and nondescript boisterous entertainments. The sea-songs, numbering close on a hundred, are the best though by no means the only good ones. 'Tom Bowling' and 'Poor Jack' and 'Twas in the good ship Rover' are well enough known. Dibdin's skill and facility as a composer told well upon his management of words and syllables, and though he does not aim at or attain style he has an instinctive cunning in his treament of burden, and quantity, and pause" Survey of English Literature 1780-1830 (1912) 2:305.



In Virtue's plain, where many a stream doth glide,
Full richly fed, from Pleasure, fountain fair!
Doth ev'ry spring of happiness abide;
And many a fane its head exalteth there,
Where virtues dwell; of Virtue children all,
And as the parent we the offspring call.

There doth Contentment greet the wand'ring eye;
Unspotted Chastity, of modest mien;
And sober Temp'rance; meek Humility;
And many mo, whose titles fair, I ween,
And goodly deeds, in Virtue's page, with care,
For imitation, all enrolled are.

But, chief of all, there dwelleth Charity;
Withouten whom none Virtue's presence find;
Who else attempt them Self-security
Still intercepteth; he a power unkind!
And near the fane he skulks to seize on all
Who turn a deafen'd ear when Charity doth call.

And woe betide all whom he seizeth on!
From Virtue's plain he them conveyeth far;
Before their eyes impervious mists are thrown;
And haughty Pride conducteth them to where,
Destruction hight, a horrid pit there been;
And down they fall, and never mo are seen!

In other's good doth Charity rejoice;
Supporting hapless offspring not her own;
Prompt at the call of Misery's falt'ring voice;
And ever trying to allay the moan
Of guilty breast; by ev'ry soothing art,
Instilling hope to heal the broken heart.

If Envy ever, with base Scandal join'd,
Doth try her gen'rous actions to bewray,
She smileth pardon; conscious that her mind
To deeds unseemly never did give way;
And then in tender pity doth she sigh,
That such there are who deal thus spitefully.

If, by a pow'r superior e'er oppress'd,
Her deadliest foe in thraldom chance to fall,
Again doth pity actuate her breast,
And his unkindness she forgetteth all;
His sad condition causeth her much pain,
Nor doth she rest till she his freedom gain.

If when she, forc'd, contendeth with a foe—
And foes, Heaven knoweth, she hath not a few—
She him o'ercome, and all his arts o'erthrow,
Her 'vantage ne'er to farthest doth pursue;
But kindly spareth; holding it to be
A crime to crush a fallen enemy.

Ah! may ne Self-security my way
With mists too surely fatal e'er obscure;
But gentle Charity my bosom sway;
That I in Virtue's palace may secure
A fair reception; and avoid the fate
Which all her foes doth, certes, aye, await!

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