1785
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Duel.

The Florence Miscellany.

Bertie Greatheed


A Miltonic ode in six blank-verse stanzas. Bertie Greatheed, writing in the famous Della Cruscan anthology, bids defiance to duelling: "Offspring of feudal Anarchy! | Thou ne'er shouldst be without thy gothic Sire." The "avaunt" formula is taken from Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso.

David Macbeth Moir: "The Laura Matildas, the Mrs. Robinsons, and Bertie Greatheads, and Merrys, and Westons, and Parsons, and the rest of the Della Cruscan school, the rough-knuckled Gifford demolished in a twinkling, and pilloried them in the Maeviad and Baviad; while Hookham, Frere, and Canning, in the Anti-Jacobin, did the same good turn to the poetical votaries of science, by The Loves of the Triangles" Poetical Literature of the Past Half-Century (1851; 1852) 10.



Avaunt, thou Fiend accurst!
Back to thy savage ancestors return,
To dwell for ever with intestine discord,
There where fierce Alaric,
Surrounded by his ruthless Chiefs,
Pollutes the barb'rous feast with social gore.

Would thou hadst perish'd then,
When, beckon'd by the frantic Eremite,
Tancred, and Raymond, and the valiant Godfrey,
Led their accoutered Knights
Against the unknown Saracen,
Dispeopling Europe to waste Asia's plains.

But if thou still wilt stay,
Recall Ordeal, with the glowing shares,
And Tournaments, and Champions sheath'd in iron;
Let such compose thy train:
Offspring of feudal Anarchy!
Thou ne'er shouldst be without thy gothic Sire.

Achaia knew thee not:
When Agamemnon claim'd the bright-cheek'd Maid,
And with rash words incens'd the son of Peleus;
The Hero in his wrath,
Let Hector humble the proud King,
But never ting'd his sword with Grecian blood.

Nor didst thou e'er appear
While Tiber's sons gave laws to all the earth;
Yet much they lov'd to desolate, and slaughter;
Carthage, attest my words!
To glut their sanguinary rage,
Not Citizens, but Gladiators fell.

Slav'ry, and Vassalage,
And savage Broils, 'twixt Nobles are no more;
Vanish thou likewise from enlighten'd Europe;
Be thy wild deeds forgot;
Or only noted in the page,
That we may learn the progress of Mankind.

[pp. 103-04]