F. G. Waldron, actor and antiquary, makes the occasion of praising his friend Harley (a regular contributor to the Bath Herald) the pretext for a catalogue of poets who praise poets — in the case of Ben Jonson, grudgingly (Waldron, however, had produced an edition of Jonson's Sad Shepherd). The nature of the catalogue bears witness to Waldron's knowledge of earlier poetry, which would come into play in his edition of Spenser's uncollected verse. The poem is signed "F. G. Waldron, Oct. 1799." William Cowper would die a few months after Waldron paid him this tribute.
In elder times, one Poet prais'd
Another's lines, nor envy felt:
And, by that Candour, oft-times rais'd
A fame himself, so justly dealt:
SPENCER prais'd many, tho' above
All praise himself — sweet DRAYTON too,
Spoke in his rhimes a Poet's love
For other Bards — gave each his due:
Stern JOHNSON, tho' his praise came hard,
As thinking he could fame confer,
To BEAUMONT shew'd most dear regard,
And was his Muse's harbinger—
Nay tho' 'twas thought he somewhat grudg'd
That fame, 'bove all great SHAKESPEAR gain'd,
Yet, in his praise BEN toil'd and drudg'd,
Nor can we think such praises feign'd!
Why should not modern Poets, then,
Give to their thoughts like honest vent?
Why be denied — like rough old BEN,
To strive repay the pleasure lent!
Thy verses HARLEY, are so sweet,
Thy thoughts so tender, Tales so rare;
Thy turns, thy points, so terse, so neat,
With COWPER thou may'st well compare:
Oh! hapless Bard! may his sad lot
Ne'er be my HARLEY'S luckless fate!
Whether in palace or in cot,
Be thy life happy — thy death late!