Elegy. A Parody.

Poems on Several Occasions: consisting of Sonnets, Miscellaneous Pieces, Prologues and Epilogues, — Tales, Imitations, &c.

John Taylor Esq.

32 quatrains, a burlesque of Gray's Elegy written in a Country Churchyard ridiculing the radical faction upon the Peace of Amiens. William Taylor, the Tory proprietor of The Sun newspaper (where the verses first appeared), writes in the persona of an English Jacobin who, having crossed the Channel to France, imagines his own death. The parody turns on the idea that the peace will put the radical faction out of work: "Let not the Placeman their distress deride, | Their shifting life, the hardships they endure, | Nor Ministry behold with scornful pride | The hopeless horrors of the patriot Poor." In Taylor's Poems (1827) the poem is reprinted under the title "Elegy. Spoken on a Country Hill-Side. A Parody."

Headnote: "The following Parody was written, and published in The Sun newspaper, during the short interval of the Peace of Amiens, when many distinguished Persons of this Country forgot their own dignity so much as to visit the Consular Court, and pay homage to the most powerful and rancorous foe who ever appeared against the British Empire. It is not revived at present from a motive of hostility towards any individual who may be supposed to be the subject of it, but because the Party who were first dazzled by the glare of the French Revolution have not renounced the principles which occasioned that deplorable event, notwithstanding all the misery which those principles have spread over the world, and their destructive tendency towards all legitimate Establishments. The author cannot deny himself the pleasure of mentioning, on the authority of his friend Mr. Jerningham, who was present, that the late Bishop of London read this Parody to his Company after dinner, and in such a manner, as to make an impression upon his Auditors, more favourable than the Author can presume that it will ever produce on any of its Readers" (1811) 235.

Author's note: "As our Hero is supposed to be in solitary retirement, it is natural to imagine that he might reflect on his career, and presage the opinion likely to be given respecting his political conduct. Upon the same principle, we may account for the contempt with which he speaks in private of those whom he courts in public" (1811) 246n.

The Satirist: "Mr. Taylor has long been known as the author of a variety of Prologues, Jeux d'Esprit, &c. some of which have been deservedly admired. The volume before us is a collection of these poetical effusions, and will not fail to amuse those who are fond of light reading; the author's principles, both moral and political, appear to be sound, and this circumstance, with us, would cover a greater multitude of poetical sins than are to be met with in his pages" 10 (May 1812) 373.

The ruin spread by War is wisely o'er,
The grateful mob a peace receive with glee,
The drooping Party cease their wonted roar,
And leave these shades to silence and to me.

Now sinks the distant ling'ring hope of pow'r,
And all the world our scatter'd Squadron shun,
Save where. some Mongrel turns in lucky hour,
Or needy Genius flies a threat'ning Dun.

Save that among the title-varnish'd tribe,
Some wealthy Dupe, inclin'd to purchase fame,
Our leading Patriots may with banquets bribe,
In fond ambition of a Statesman's name.

Amid our Tavern Crowds, and clubs select,
Who form'd full many a Gallic scheme for pow'r,
Each in his flatt'ring dreams for ever checkt,
The bold Reformers of the Nation low'r.

The specious Creed of rebel-raising France,
The tempting triumphs of her blood-stain'd race,
The Mob's wild clamour, or capricious Chance,
No more shall cheer them with a gleam of place.

For them no more the Tavern-bells shall ring,
Or easy Landlord trust the daily fare,
No Waiters at the sound shall eager spring,
Or lend their vails the Gamester's throw to share.

Oft would the giddy to their doctrines yield,
Their fury oft the bounds of order broke,
How would they bawl in COPENHAGEN field,
How laugh'd the mob at ev'ry vulgar joke.

Let not the Placeman their distress deride,
Their shifting life, the hardships they endure,
Nor Ministry behold with scornful pride
The hopeless horrors of the patriot Poor.

The prop of Cabinets, the Monarch's choice,
And all that Budgets, all that Loans provide,
Depend alike upon the Senate's voice.
The paths of Office lead to t' other side.

Nor you, ye Rich, impute to these the crime,
If Patronage to them her gifts refuse,
Where, through the long-drawn lapse of heedless Time,
The Perquisites are far beyond the dues.

Can studied speech, or unprepar'd reply,
Rouse all the Commons to a factious ire?
Can Wisdom's voice be baffled by a lie,
Or clamour force our Rulers to retire?

Perchance among our Party's ruin'd Band
Are hearts still zealous with aspiring aim,
Heads that the fall of Empire might have plann'd,
Or rais'd with energy a gen'ral flame.

But Britain, adverse to their golden dreams,
Blind to the light of France oppos'd the storm,
Dull Magistrates repress'd their daring schemes,
And damp'd the noble spirit of Reform.

Full many a hardy Patriot of our gang,
The dark unwholesome cells of Prisons bear,
Full many a Hero Law has doom'd to hang,
A shackled warning in the tainted air.

Some low-born ORLEANS who, if nobly bred,
Would paltry titles of his birth decline,
Some bold ambitious FAIRFAX might have led,
Some BRADSHAW who a Monarch's doom would sign.

Th' abuse of loyal Bigots to disdain,
The slavish code of Britain to despise,
The cause of Gallic Freedom to maintain,
And paint its glories to the Nation's eyes,

Our Party boast — nor do we only boast
Of sounding words, but active measures try,
To stop the needless levies for our coast,
And on the faith of Gallia to rely,

The thoughtless Crowd of abstract rights to tell,
To shew in them true Majesty we find,
To teach a people when they may rebel,
With maxims suited to the vulgar mind.

Lost to the chance of all official sweets,
A casual income some derive from play,
Along obscure and unfrequented streets
Some keep the cautious tenor of their way.

Yet e'en our Band from Bailiffs to protect,
Those fam'd for parts a happier fortune meet,
And, wheedling Peers or People to elect,
Secure the lucky shelter of a seat.

Their names, their jokes, puft in the daily news,
The world with pointed paragraphs surprize,
And many a daring comment they diffuse,
That teach the timid Democrats to rise.

For who, to tame obscurity a prey,
The lively tattle of the town resign'd,
Scorn'd the diverting Columns of the day,
Nor wish'd some notice of himself to find!

On some kind Print the Orator depends
The morning record of his speech to bring,
E'en when at home we tell it to our friends,
E'en in our dreams we make ST. STEPHEN'S ring.

For thee who, feeling for thy Party's fate,
Dost in these mimic lines bemoan their woe,
If chance, long-bury'd in sequester'd state,
Some simple Stranger seek thy course to know,

Haply some angry Trav'ller then may say,
"Oft have we seen him to the THUILLERIES go,
Casting all sense of British pride away,
To fawn upon his Country's deadliest foe.

"There at the foot of Gallia's haughty chief,
Who rears his stern presumptuous head so high,
In abject state he stood, that mocks belief,
To catch each motion of the CONSUL'S eye.

"Grave as if now with studious aims in view,
Searching the musty rolls of former days,
Now rev'lling freely with an exil'd crew,
Or mourn'd their fate, or cheer'd with baneful praise.

"One morn I saw him on the CONSUL wait,
Beside the throne, and with a bended knee,
Another came, and still in cringing state,
With supple joint beside the throne was he.

"The next with censures due he took his way
In praise of Gallia eager to declaim,
Attend and hear (for all should hear) the lay
That still with honest scorn should brand his name."

Here rests his tongue, in this deserted place,
A Wight to Fortune and to Fame well-known,
Kind Nature stor'd his mind with lib'ral grace,
But Dissipation mark'd him for her own.

Wild was his conduct though he fain would teach,
Fortune her favours did as wildly dash,
He gave his Party — all he had — a speech:—
His Party gave — 'twas all he wish'd — their cash.

No farther seek his errors here to tell,
Or e'en his follies to the world proclaim,
(There they, alas! have long been known too well)
The Idol of his faction, and their shame.

[pp. 237-43]