1751
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Progress of Envy. A Poem.

The Progress of Envy. A Poem. In imitation of Spenser, occasioned by Lauder's Attack on the Character of Milton. Inscribed to the Right Honourable the Earl of Bath.

Robert Lloyd


30 irregular Spenserians (ababcdcdD) written while Robert Lloyd was still at Westminster School. The object of Lloyd's satire, which probably owes something to the treatment of Theobald in the Dunciad, is the Scottish grammarian William Lauder. In An Essay on Milton's Use and Imitation of the Moderns (1750) Lauder, with much ponderous (and some illicit) scholarship had attempted to demonstrate that Paradise Lost was plagiarized from neo-Latin poetry. This seems to be the first appearance of the "easy" four-rhyme Spenserian stanza later used by Robert Fergusson in "The Farmer's Ingle" (1773).

In Lloyd's canto, Envy and Malice (modelled on Spenser's Envie and Detraction), align themselves with Lauder to attack mount Parnass, where Spenser and Milton entertain Phoebus with their deathless song. The conclusion refers to the refutation of Lauder by John Douglas (1721-1807), afterwards bishop of Salisbury. The slight narrative also derives from Faerie Queene 1.5, where Duessa descends to the Cave of Night. A note informs us that "The Line inclosed within Commas is one of Fairfax's in his Translation of Tasso" p. 5n. The first publication was anonymous; the few verbal changes in the collected edition of Lloyd's works may have been the work of Lloyd's editor, William Kenrick.

Preface: "Mr. DRYDEN, in some Part of his Works, has an Observation hinting at Poetical Genealogy. We have amongst us (says he) our Lines and Descents, in as regular a manner as the noblest Families. In deducing the best English Writers from their Poetick Original, he observes, that MILTON is the first Descendant from SPENSER. This Remark of so great a Judge as Mr. DRYDEN induced me to chuse SPENSER for my Model, and to place him by the Side of APOLLO in my Poem, imagining there was a peculiar Propriety in shielding the Son under the Protection of the Father" pp. ix-x.

Monthly Review: "This, we are told, is the production of a very young author ... and we may add our opinion, that he does not seem at all to have mistaken his genius in attempting the manner of Spencer: which he has certainly hit upon, tho' it would be too much for us to superadd, that he will probably ever be able to rival the excellencies of that venerable bard. However, he has given us a promising specimen of a talent for this species of composition, which may increase by years and practice, and in time rise to no mean rank in the poetical world" 4 (March 1751) 375-76.

Alexander Chalmers: "In 1751, he stood first on the list of Westminster scholars, who went to Trinity College, Cambridge, at the same time that his school-fellow Colman obtained the same rank among those sent to Oxford. In 1755, he took the degree of bachelor, and in 1761 that of master of arts. While at the university he wrote several of his smaller pieces, and acquired the reputation of a lively and promising genius. But his conduct was marked by so many irregularities as to induce his father to wish him more immediately under his eye; and with the hope of reclaiming him to sobriety and study, he procured him the place of usher at Westminster-school" Works of the English Poets (1810) 15:71.

Herbert E. Cory: "Robert Lloyd, wayward debauchee and light-hearted imitator of Mat Prior's Familiar Verse, wrote a Spenserian poem, before he damned the genre, which demands attention because of its literary criticism. In 1751 he published The Progress of Envy, a Spenserian imitation, in which he abused poor Lauder, the Scotch tutor who spent his learning in the endeavour to convict Milton of plagiarism. The poem is cast in a form perhaps a compromise of the Spenserian stanza and Prior's adaptation in his Ode to the Queen. The poem opens with the favorite Augustan imitation of Spenser's moralistic overtures — here a lament at the power of Envy. Mount Parnassus is described. On either side of Phoebus sat 'a peerless wight,' Spenser and Milton. Not far from these Dan Chaucer, with reverend locks silvered with eld, was seated in lofty eminence. Next was Shakespeare, 'irregularly great.' Nearby stood the beautiful maids Fancy and Nature. But Envy, leaving Acheron, went to the gloomy cave of her deformed sister Malice and exhorted her to attack Milton. In a serpent-drawn chariot they went to Caledonian plains, where dwelt the eldest son of Malice (Lauder). Together they attacked Parnassus and the son of Malice overcame Milton by his venom. But the poet recovered when 'Douglas and Truth' appeared. In 1755 Lloyd raised his voice, with Johnson and other dissenters, against this very modish passion of imitation. In To about to Publish a Volume he attacked even those who strove to imitate 'Mat Prior's unaffected ease,' a thing which he himself never ceased doing throughout his career" "Critics of Edmund Spenser" UCPMP (1911) 156.

The Progress of Envy opens with verse characters of Spenser, Milton, Chaucer, and Shakespeare — the new canon of British poetry associated with the Wartons. But Lloyd's mature work was devoted to ridiculing mid-century romanticism for its Miltonic affectations. His best-known poems, the Odes to Obscurity and Oblivion (written in collaboration with George Colman the Elder) parody Gray and Mason.



Ah me! unhappy State of mortal Wight,
Sith ENVY'S sure Attendant upon Fame,
Ne doth she rest from rancorous Despight,
Until she works him mickle Woe and Shame;
Unhappy he whom ENVY thus doth spoil,
Ne doth she check her ever restless Hate,
Until she doth his Reputation foil:
Ah! luckless Imp is he, whose Worth elate,
Forces him pay this heavy Tax for being great.

There stood an ancient Mount, yclept Parnass,
(The fair Domain of sacred Poesy)
Which, with fresh Odours ever-blooming, was
Besprinkled with the Dew of Castaly;
Which now in soothing Murmurs whisp'ring glides,
Wat'ring with genial Waves the fragrant Soil,
Now rolls adown the Mountain's steepy Sides,
Teaching the Vales full beauteously to smile,
Dame NATURE'S handy-work, not form'd by lab'ring Toil.

The MUSES fair these peaceful Shades among,
With skilful Fingers sweep the trembling Strings;
The Air in Silence listens to the Song,
And TIME forgets to ply his lazy Wings;
Pale-visag'd CARE, with foul unhallow'd Feet,
Attempts the Summit of the Hill to gain,
Ne can the Hag arrive the blissful Seat;
Her unavailing Strength is spent in vain,
CONTENT sits on the Top, and mocks her empty Pain.

Oft PHOEBUS self left his divine Abode,
And here enshrouded in a shady Bow'r,
Regardless of his State, lay'd by the God,
And own'd sweet Music's more alluring Pow'r.
On either Side was plac'd a peerless Wight,
Whose Merit long had fill'd the Trump of FAME;
This FANCY'S darling Child was SPENSER hight,
Who pip'd full pleasing on the Banks of Tame,
That no less fam'd than He, and MILTON was his Name.

In these cool Bow'rs they live supinely calm;
Now harmless talk, now emulously sing;
While VIRTUE, pouring round her sacred Balm,
Makes Happiness eternal as the Spring.
Alternately they sung; now SPENSER 'gan,
Of Jousts and Tournaments, and Champions strong;
Now MILTON sung of disobedient Man,
And Eden lost: The Bards around them throng,
Drawn by the wond'rous Magick of their Prince's Song.

Not far from these, Dan CHAUCER, antient Wight,
A lofty Seat on Mount Parnassus held,
Who long had been the MUSE'S chief Delight;
His reverend Locks were silver'd o'er with Eld;
Grave was his Visage, and his Habit plain;
And while he sung, fair Nature he display'd,
In Verse albeit uncouth, and simple Strain;
Ne mote he well be seen, so thick the Shade,
Which Elms and aged Oaks had all around him made.

Next SHAKESPEARE sat, irregularly great,
And in his Hand a magick Rod did hold,
Which visionary Beings did create,
And turn'd the foulest Dross to purest Gold:
Whatever Spirits rove in Earth or Air,
Or bad or good, obey his dread Command;
To his Behests these willingly repair,
Those aw'd by Terrors of his magick Wand,
The which not all their Pow'rs united might withstand.

Beside the Bard there stood a beauteous Maid,
Whose glittering Appearance dimm'd the Eyen;
Her thin-wrought Vesture various Tints display'd.
FANCY her Name, ysprong of Race divine,
Her Mantle wimpled low, her silken Hair,
Which loose adown her well-turn'd Shoulders stray'd,
'She made a Net to catch the wanton Air,'
Whose love-sick Breezes all around her play'd
And seem'd in Whispers soft to court the heav'nly Maid.

And ever and anon she wav'd in Air
A Sceptre, fraught with all-creative Pow'r:
She wav'd it round: Estsoons there did appear
Spirits and Witches, Forms unknown before:
Again she lifts her wonder-working Wand;
Eftsoons upon the flow'ry Plain were seen
The gay Inhabitants of Fairie Land,
And blithe Attendants upon MAB their Queen,
In mystick Circles danc'd along th' inchanted Green.

On th' other Side stood NATURE, Goddess fair;
A Matron seem'd she, and of Manners staid;
Beauteous her Form, majestick was her Air,
In loose Attire of purest White array'd:
A potent Rod she bore, whose Power was such,
(As from her Darling's Works may well be shown)
That often with its soul-enchanting Touch,
She rais'd or Joy, or caus'd the deep-felt Groan,
And each Man's Passions made subservient to her own.

But lo! thick Fogs from out the Earth arise,
And murky Mists the buxom Air invade,
Which with Contagion dire infect the Skies,
And all around their baleful Influence shed;
Th' infected Sky, which whilom was so fair,
With thick Cimmerian Darkness is o'erspread;
The Sun, which whilom shone without Compare,
Muffles in pitchy Veil his radiant Head,
And fore the Time sore-grieving, seeks his wat'ry Bed.

ENVY, the Daughter of fell Acheron,
(The Flood of deadly Hate and gloomy Night)
Had left precipitate her Stygian Throne,
And thro' the frighted Heavens wing'd her Flight:
With careful Eye each Realm she did explore,
Ne mote she ought of Happiness observe;
For Happiness, alas! was now no more,
Sith ev'ry one from Virtue's Paths did swerve,
And trample on Religion base Designs to serve.

At length, on blest Parnassus seated high,
Their Temples circled with a Laurel Crown,
SPENSER and MILTON met her scowling Eye,
And turn'd her horrid Grin into a Frown.
Full fast unto her Sister did she post,
There to unload the Venom of her Breast,
To tell how all her Happiness was crost,
Sith others were of Happiness possest:
Did never gloomy Hell send forth like ugly Pest.

Within the Covert of a gloomy Wood,
Where fun'ral Cypress star-proof Branches spread,
O'ergrown with tangling Briers a Cavern stood;
Fit Place for Melancholy Dreary-head.
Here a deformed Monster joy'd to won,
Which on fell Rancour ever was ybent,
All from the rising to the setting Sun,
Her Heart pursued Spite with black Intent,
Ne could her iron Mind at human Woes relent.

In flowing sable Stole she was yclad,
Which with her Countenance did well accord;
Forth from her Mouth, like one thro' Grief gone mad,
A frothy Sea of nauseous Foam was pour'd;
A ghastly Grin and Eyes asquint, display
The Rancour which her hellish Thoughts contain,
And how, when Man is blest, she pines away,
Burning to turn his Happiness to pain;
MALICE the Monster's Name, a Foe to God and Man.

Along the Floor black loathsome Toads do crawl,
Their Gullets swell'd with Poison's mortal Bane,
Which ever and anon they spit at all
Whom hapless Fortune leads too near her Den;
Around her Waste, in Place of silken Zone,
A life-devouring Viper rear'd his Head,
Who no Distinction made 'twixt Friend and Foen,
But Death on ev'ry Side fierce brandished,
Fly, reckless Mortals, fly, in vain is Hardy-head.

Impatient ENVY, thro' the aetherial Waste,
With inward Venom fraught, and deadly Spite,
Unto this Cavern steer'd her panting Haste,
Enshrouded in a darksome Veil of Night.
Her inmost Heart burnt with impetuous Ire,
And fell Destruction sparkled in her Look,
Her ferret Eyes flash'd with revengeful Fire,
A while contending Passions Utt'rance choke,
At length the Fiend in furious Tone her Silence broke.

Sister, arise: See how our Pow'r decays,
No more our Empire Thou and I can boast,
Sith mortal Man now gains immortal Praise,
Sith Man is blest, and Thou and I are lost:
See in what State Parnassus' Hill appears;
See PHOEBUS' self two happy Bards atween;
See how the God their Song attentive hears;
This SPENSER hight, that MILTON, well I ween,
Who can behold unmov'd sike heart-tormenting Scene?

Sister, arise; ne let our Courage droop,
Perforce we will compel these Mortals own,
That mortal Force unto our Force shall stoop;
ENVY and MALICE then shall reign alone:
Thou best has known to file thy Tongue with Lies,
And to deceive Mankind with specious Bait;
Like TRUTH accoutred, spreadest Forgeries,
The Fountain of Contention and of Hate:
Arise, unite with me, and be as whilom great.

The Fiend obey'd, and with impatient Voice—
Tremble, ye Bards, within that blissful Seat;
MALICE and ENVY shall o'erthrow your Joys,
Nor PHOEBUS self shall our Designs defeat.
Shall we, who under Friendship's feigned Veil,
Prompted the bold Archangel to rebel;
Shall we, who under Show of sacred Zeal,
Plung'd half the Pow'rs of Heav'n in lowest Hell—
Such vile Disgrace of us no mortal Man shall tell.

And now, more hideous render'd to the Sight,
By reason of her raging Cruelty,
She burnt to go, equipt in dreadful Plight,
And find fit Engine for her Forgery.
Her Eyes inflam'd did cast their Rays askance,
While hellish Imps prepare the Monster's Car,
In which she might cut thro' the wide Expanse,
And find out Nations that extended far,
When all was pitchy dark, ne twinkled one bright Star.

Black was her Chariot, drawn by Dragons dire,
And each fell Serpent had a double Tongue,
Which ever and anon spit flaming Fire,
The Regions of the tainted Air emong;
A lofty Seat the Sister-monsters bore,
In deadly Machinations close combin'd,
Dull FOLLY drove with terrible Uproar,
And cruel DISCORD follow'd fast behind;
God help the Man 'gainst whom such Caitiff Foes are join'd.

Aloft in Air the rattling Chariot flies,
While Thunder harshly grates upon its Wheels;
Black pointed Spires of Smoke around them rise,
The Air depress'd unusual Burthen feels;
Detested Sight! in terrible Array,
They spur their fiery Dragons on amain,
Ne mote their Anger suffer cold Delay,
Until the wish'd-for Region they obtain,
And land their dingy Car on Caledonian Plain.

Here elder Son of MALICE long had dwelt
A Wretch of all the Joys of Life forlorn;
His Fame on double Falsities was built:
(Ah! worthless Son, of worthless Parent born!)
Under the Shew of Semblance fair he veil'd
The black Intentions of his hellish Breast;
And by these guileful Means he more prevail'd
Than had he open Enmity profest;
The Wolf more safely wounds when in Sheep's Cloathing drest.

Him then themselves atween they joyful place,
(Sure Signs of Woe when such are pleas'd, alas!)
Then measure back the Air with swifter Pace,
Until they reach the Foot of Mount Parnass.
Hither in evil Hour the Monsters came,
And with their new Companion did alight,
Who long had lost all Sense of virtuous Shame,
Beholding worth with poisonous Despight;
On his Success depends their impious delight.

Long burnt he sore the Summit to obtain,
And spread his Venom o'er the blissful Seat;
Long burnt he sore, but still he burnt in vain;
Mote none come there, who come with impious Feet.
At length, at unawares he out doth spit
That Spite, which else had to himself been Bane;
The Venom on the Breast of MILTON lit,
And spread benumbing Death thro' every Vein;
The Bard, of life bereft, fell senseless on the Plain.

As at the Banquet of Thyestes old,
The Sun is said t' have shut his radiant Eye,
So did he now thro' Grief his Beams with-hold,
And Darkness to be felt o'erwhelm'd the Sky;
Forth issued from their dismal dark Abodes
The Birds attendant upon hideous Night,
Shriek-owls and Ravens, whose fell croaking bodes
Approaching Death to miserable Wight:
Did never Mind of Man behold sike dreadful Sight?

APOLLO wails his Darling, done to die
By foul Attempt of ENVY'S fatal Bane;
The MUSES sprinkle him with Dew of Castaly,
And crown his Death with many a living Strain;
Hoary PARNASSUS beats his aged Breast,
Aged, yet ne'er before did Sorrow know;
The Flowers drooping their Despair attest,
Th' aggrieved Rivers querulously flow;
All Nature sudden groan'd with sympathetick Woe.

But, lo! the Sky a gayer Livery wears,
The melting Clouds begin to fade apace,
And now the Cloak of Darkness disappears,
(May Darkness ever thus to Light give Place!)
Erst griev'd APOLLO jocund Looks resumes,
The Nine renew their whilom chearful Song,
No Grief PARNASSUS' aged Breast consumes,
Forth from the teeming Earth new Flowers sprong,
The plenteous Rivers flow'd full peacefully along.

The stricken Bard fresh vital Heat renews,
Whose Blood, erst stagnate, rushes thro' his Veins;
Life thro' each Pore her Spirit doth infuse,
And FAME, by MALICE inexpulsive, reigns:
And see, a female Form, all heav'nly bright,
Upheld by one of mortal Progeny,
A female Form, yclad in snowy White,
Ne half so fair at Distance seems as nigh;
DOUGLAS and TRUTH appear, ENVY and LAUDER die.

[pp. 1-16]