Stanzas to Ill-Nature.

Morning Herald and Daily Advertiser (29 March 1782).


An allegorical ode in nineteen octosyllabic quatrains, after Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso: "Born of Envy, nurs'd by Spleen, | Rear'd in passion's blighting storm, | Sorrow, Anguish, Care, Chagrin, | Mark thy hideous hateful form!" Though the diction is Miltonic, the imagery is not take from Spenser's portraits of Envy and Detraction. The poem, not signed, is "By a Modern Dramatic Writer." Since contemporary dramatists were forced to suffer heaps of abuse from newspapers like the Morning Herald, one may suppose that the author is writing from personal experience.

Fiend abhorr'd! mankind's worst foe!
Hence thy darksome crew among—
Haste — and with thy jaundic'd brow,
Fly the Muse's vengeful song!

Oft the hapless Muse hath borne,
Deep within the wounded heart,
Fell detraction's venom'd thorn,
Pointed by thy treach'rous art.

Born of Envy, nurs'd by Spleen,
Rear'd in passion's blighting storm,
Sorrow, Anguish, Care, Chagrin,
Mark thy hideous hateful form!

Fraud and falshood swell thy train,
Discord is thy sole employ,
Baffled malice all thy pain,
Sated rancour all thy joy.—

Does the Muse with sportive pow'r,
Strive the gloom of life to chear?
Thou'lt arraign the harmless hour,
Stifle peace, and nurture fear:

Does the flow of joy or ease,
Some endearing scenes supply?
Every little wish to please,
Rouses thy malignity.

Humble genius, slender grace,
Small desert may wait the muse;
Yet if any spark we trace,
Thy severest hate ensues.

Blacken'd by thy foul report,
Mirth is mischief, laughter guile;
Snares are seen in ev'ry sport,
Perfidy in every smile.

Still thy arts, malicious fiend,
Still thy hell-born schemes would fail,
Did not oft the valued friend,
Listen to thy specious tale.

Vain were each insidious charge,
(Efforts feeble as unjust)
Did, alas! the world at large
Only hear, and only trust!

Did not oft the secret lye
Break the band of private peace;
Bid domestic comfort fly,
Love subside, and Friendship cease.

Did not oft thy breath destroy,
Fair Contentment's blooming flow'r,
Wither every social joy,
And damp life's choicest, dearest hour.

Did not oft thy poison'd shaft,
Pierce the breast that most we prize,
And on fading faith ingraft
Doubt, constraint, and sad surmise.—

Luckless is that Child of care,
Who beneath thy scourge must live,
Doom'd from early youth to bear
All the torments thou can'st give.

Once thy fatal influence spread,
Candour takes no further part;
Ignorance suspects the head,
Prejudice belies the heart:

Hard and cruel is his lot,
Every merit is denied;
All his virtues are forgot,
All his errors magnified.

Fiend relentless! Tyrant grim!
Yet a while — and all is o'er;
When the lamp of life is dim,
Thou wilt be observ'd no more.

When the sad, the fun'ral knell
Shall his parting breath proclaim,
Faithful mem'ry then shall tell
Whether he deserv'd such blame.

Love perhaps may o'er his tomb
Drop a tender, silent tear,
Friendship too lament a doom,
Enmity may think severe!