1814
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Fashion: a Paraphrase of L'Allegro, a Poem, by John Milton.

Posthumous Parodies and other Pieces, composed by several of our most celebrated Poets, but not published in any former Edition of their Works.

Horace Twiss


After Milton's L'Allegro: a description of the social round of high society in its all its glittering follies. Posthumous Parodies, anonymously published, sends up its various subjects in the manners of Addison, Shakespeare, Dryden, Pope, Thomson, Collins, Johnson, Gray and Cowper. In this volume the source texts are printed at the bottom of the page to permit line-by-line comparisons. Horace Twiss, a nephew of the actress Sarah Siddons, had previously published several volumes and would go on to a distinguished career in public service. The Posthumous Parodies was not, like the Rejected Addresses of James and Horace Smith (1812), much of a success, garnering but only one review. A number of similar collections had appeared since.

Samuel Austin Allibone: "a nephew of the celebrated Mrs. Siddons, born 1786, was called to the Bar by the Hon. Society for the Inner Temple, 1811; K. C., 1827; elected M.P. for Wooton Bassett, 1820 and 1826, for Newport, 1830, and for Bridport, 1835; Counsel for the Admiralty and Judge-Advocate of the Fleet under Lord Liverpool; Under-Secretary for the Colonies, 1828; Vice-Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, 1844; died May 4, 1849. For many years he supplied the Parliamentary Summary for the London Times, and contributed to other periodicals" Critical Dictionary of English Literature (1858-71; 1882) 3:2487.



Hence, loath'd vulgarity,
Of ignorance and native dullness bred,
In low unwholesome shed,
'Mongst thieves and drabs, and street-sweeps asking charity:
Find some suburban haunt,
Where the spruce 'prentice treats his flashy mate,
And smoking cits debate:
Or at a dowdy rout, or ticket-ball,
Giv'n at Freemason's hall,
With tawdry clothes and liveries ever flaunt.
But come, thou nymph of slender waist,
Known early by the name of Taste,
And now denominated Fashion,
Whom erst, by no unlawful passion,
Pleasure's fair nymph, on Britain's shore,
To radiant-ey'd Apollo bore:
Or Hermes, (so the grave dispute is)
The frolic god of chemist beauties,
Found Lady — — in the dark,
As once they met at — — Park,
There, on a couch of damask blue,
And squabs, and cushions, damask too,
Fill'd her with thee, thou white-arm'd fair,
So delicate and de bon air.
Haste thee, nymph, and bring with thee
Steed, and light-hung Tilbury,
Undiscoverable rouge,
Polish'd boots, and neckcloth huge,
(Such as might deck a Dandy's cheek,
And draw the gazers for a week.)
M-ck-nt-sh's racy phrase,
And wit, that peerless W-rd might praise.
Come, and let your steps be bent
With a lively measurement,
And bring the proper airs and graces,
That make their way in certain places:
And, if I give thee honour due,
Fashion, enroll me with the few,
With Sp-nc-r, S-dn-y Sm-th, and thee,
In a select society:
To ride when many a lade fair, in
Her morning veil begins her airing,
And with the nurse and children stow'd,
Drives down the Park, or Chelsea road:
Then to stop in spite of sorrow,
And through the window bid good morrow
Of vis-a-vis, or barouchette,
Or half-open landaulet:
While little B-rke, with lively din,
Scatters his stock of trifles thin,
And at the Bridge, or Grosvenor Gate,
Briskly bids his horses wait;
Oft listening how the Catalini
Rouses at night th' applauding many,
In some opera of Mozart,
Winning the eye, the ear, the heart,
Then in the round-room not unseen,
Attending the dames of noble mien,
Right to the door in Market-lane,
Where chairmen range their jostling train,
And footmen stand with torch alight,
In their thousand liveries dight,
While the doorkeeper on the stairs,
Bawls for the Marchionesses' chairs,
And young dragoons enjoy the crowd,
And dowagers inveigh aloud,
And lovers write a hasty scrawl,
Upon the ticket of a shawl.
Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasures,
As the circling crowd it measures;
Virgins old with tresses gray,
That in corkscrew curls do stray;
Ladies, on whose softer breast,
Gallants receive a hope of rest;
Little feet with sandals tied,
Shallow heads and shoulders wide;
Necks and throats of lovely form,
Bosom'd high in tippet warm,
Where some beauty spreads her snare,
The envy of surrounding fair.
Hard by, the Op'ra being past,
To some small supper let me haste,
Where ladies, wits, and poets met,
Are at their various banquet set,
Of fifty little tempting messes,
Which the neat-handed Gunter dresses:
And there with satisfaction see
The pullet and the early pea,
Or, if the sultry dog-star reign,
The melon ice and cool champagne.
Sometimes, to a late delight
Argyll advertisements invite,
Where the wreathed waltz goes round,
Or English tunes more briskly sound,
To twice a hundred feet or more,
Dancing on the chalky floor:
And wise mama, well pleased to see
Her daughter paired with high degree,
Stays till the daylight glares amain:
Then in the carriage home again,
With stories told, of many a bow,
And civil speech from so and so.
She was ask'd to dance, she said,
But scarcely down the middle led,
Because his Lordship only thought,
How soonest to find out a spot,
Where, seated by her side, unheard,
He whisper'd many a pretty word,
Such as no poet could excel!
Then, having paid his court so well,
Most manifestly meaning marriage,
He fetch'd the shawls and call'd the carriage,
Handed her from the crowded door,
And watch'd till she was seen no more.
Thus done the tales, the flutt'ring fair
Go up to bed, and curl their hair.
Country houses please me too,
And the jocund Christmas crew,
Where chiefs of adverse politics
Awhile in social circle mix,
And tenants come, whose country franchise
Connects them with the higher branches,
Since all the great alike contend
For votes, on which they all depend.
Let affability be there,
With cordial hand and friendly air,
And private play and glittering fete,
To make the rustic gentry prate,—
Such joys as fill young ladies heads,
Who judge from books of masquerades.
Then will I to St. Stephens stray,
If aught be moved by C-stl-r-gh,
Or matchless C-nn-g mean to roll,
His thunders o'er the subject soul.
And sometimes, to divert my cares,
Give me some flirt, with joyous airs,
Married a girl, a widow now,
Such as will hear each playful vow,
Too young to lay upon the shelf:
Meaning — as little as myself:—
Still speaking, singing, walking, running,
With wanton heed and giddy cunning,
With a good mien to testify
Her converse with good company,
That Chesterfield might lift his eyes
From the dark Tartarus where he lies,
Beholding, in her air and gait,
Graces that almost compensate
The blunders of his awkward son,
And half the harm his book has done.
These delights if thou canst give,
Fashion, with thee I wish to live.

[pp. 3-12]