1803
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Illegitimate Ode to the Shop of an eminent Bookseller.

The Pleasures of Nature; or, the Charms of Rural Life; with other Poems. By David Carey.

David Carey


A burlesque of Thomas Gray's Eton College Ode in five ababccdede stanzas. Gray's schoolboys become aspiring authors patronizing a bookstore: "Arm'd with the lash, with venom cramm'd, | Ah, show them where, in ambush stand, | To seize their prey, the murd'rous band— | Ah tell them they'll be damn'd!!!" p. 113. Perhaps the chief matter of note is the explicit acknowledgement that aspiring writers may be less concerned with fame or sales than with obtaining a post in the church or the government — a motive that would account for much occasional verse that found its way into print in the early modern era.

Critical Review: "Of the parodies, perhaps, that founded on Gray's Eton College has most novelty and spirit" S3 2 (May 1804) 108.

Monthly Mirror: "The Pleasures of Nature, (notwithstanding some few inaccuracies) are painted with spirit and feeling. The Parodies and Burlesque Elegies, (particularly the Farewell to the Muse, and The Poet's Prayer to Apollo,) are entitled to considerable praise; and if the poems in general seldom rise above mediocrity, they have the almost singular merit of never sinking below it" 17 (February 1804) 110.

Poetical Register for 1803: "Some of the smaller poems are elegant; but we cannot say much in favour of the elegies, which are tame and monotonous. The poems in the burlesque style are not the worst in the volume" (1805) 447.



Ah, books belov'd! ah, pleasing shop!
So form'd to entertain;
Where one so easily may pop
His nose in time of rain.
I feel th' immortal Three-times Three
Inspire, whene'er I think of thee;
As down I set of thee to write,
My grey goose quill they seem to warm,
And, redolent of rapture, charm
Away my senses quite,

Say C—, for thou hast seen
Full many a critic race,
With learned phiz, thy walls within,
The paths of knowledge trace;
Who foremost now, with sapient looks,
Delight to rummage 'mong thy books?
Who into disputations fall?
What idle progeny succeed,
To sit the live-long day and read,
And still find fault with all?

Whilst some, on information bent,
Their deep researches ply,
And, on the tomes of old, intent
Still pore with curious eye;
Some, more advent'rous, seize the pen,
And strain each nerve, and rack their brain,
And dare themselves, to gain a name;
Still as they write, they hither hie,
To gain of strength a new supply,
And snatch a dubious fame.

Theirs are those hopes, by wisdom nam'd,
The day-dreams of the wise,
The wish believ'd as soon as fram'd,
The author's paradise!
Theirs, fortune in idea bright,
Posts, pensions, captivate the sight,
And mitres, and fat benefices;
Her sinecures the state allows,
Already, too, the church bestows
Her flocks and golden fleeces.

Alas! in Learning's, Nature's spite,
They strain the spotless page;
No sense have they of what they write,
Nor of reviewers' rage:
Yet see how all around them wait,
The angry minister's of fate,
Arm'd with the lash, with venom cramm'd,
Ah, show them where, in ambush stand,
To seize their prey, the murd'rous band—
Ah tell them they'll be damn'd!!!

[pp. 111-13]