1819
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode on a Distant Prospect of the Treasury Benches.

The Examiner (16 May 1819) 316.

Aretin Junior


A parody of Gray's Eton College Ode, signed "Aretin Junior." The poem directs its satire on the Tory government of Canning, Croker, and Castlereagh, presented as a continuation of the political machine assembled by the younger Pitt: "The smiles which gild the foremost row | A calm official joy bestow, | As beaming bright on treasury men, | They seem to bid PITT'S days return, | DUNDAS to burst his funeral urn, | And ROSE to bloom again." Aretin contributed several political satires to Leigh Hunt's Examiner.



Ye Benches, fraught with Treasury lore,
Which VAN and BATHURST hear,
Where LEY and DYSON still adore
The Speaker's gilded chair;
And ye, that from the massive brow
Of gallery vast, the expanse below
Of leather, oak, and mat, survey:
Where Placemen, Courtiers, rats among,
Wanders sly CASTLEREAGH along
His snuff-box sparkling way.

Ah! Benches snug! ah! pillar shade!
Ah! seats beloved in vain!
Where once a young M.P. I strayed,
A stranger yet to gain.
The smiles which gild the foremost row
A calm official joy bestow,
As beaming bright on treasury men,
They seem to bid PITT'S days return,
DUNDAS to burst his funeral urn,
And ROSE to bloom again.

Say, father LEY, for thou hast seen
Full many a simple race,
Disporting on those cushions green,
The paths of error trace;—
Who now is foremost to deceive?
Whose hands the webs of falsehood weave?
The County Members who enthral?
What jobbing progeny succomb
To bid a dull Committee speed,
Or loud for papers call?

Whilst some on Home-ward business bent
Assume the garb of spy,
More Gagging Bills, which bring constraint
To banish Liberty;
Some few, like MABERLEY, disdain
The limits of VAN'S little reign,
And dare financial projects try:
Still as they speak they look behind,
They hear PAT HOLMES in every wind,
And snatch a Whiggish joy.

Yet bills are theirs at Whitehall paid,
How pleasing when possest!
The contract broken soon as made,
The plunder of the chest.
Their's bales of cloth of every hue,
Canvas and blankets old and new,
And Treasury love of Boroughs born;
The jobbing day, the venal night,
The spirit mean, the virtue light,
That laves a levee morn.

Alas! unconscious of their doom
The unfledged Members play,
Heedless of contests yet to come,
They sell their votes to-day.
And see how in yon passage wait
The knaves and pandars of the state,
And rank corruption's baleful train;—
Ah! shew them where the Treasury band
Stretch o'er their prey a grasping hand,
And point to future gain!

These shall the Home Department buy,
The men of leaden mind—
BRAGGE, the strange dog, with sheepish eye,
And CLIVE who lurks behind;
Or saintly GRANT shall gull their youth,
Or WARRENDER, with rat-like tooth,
That gnaws all patriot ties apart,—
Or WHARTON wan, or chattering POLE,
Grim-visaged HOLMES, who jobs by rule,
Or CROKER vain and pert.

VANSITART this shall tempt to rise,
Then drop the wretch from high,
To JEKYLL'S wit a sacrifice,
Or quizzing ALVANLEY.
The Foreign Office those shall try,
Whence CASTLEREAGH'S uncertain eye
Has seen the wealth of England flow;
Dukes empty heads with laurels pil'd,
And heartless CANNING laughing wild
Amidst severest woe.

Lo! in the vale of future years
A dissolution's seen,
And Britain's patriot band appears
To guard the island Queen.
This moves the North, this fires the West,
Those shall the Cornish seats contest,
These in the midland counties rage:
The LOWTHERS fly from Westmoreland,
Whilst every voice on Erin's strand
Hails GRATTAN'S patriot age.

To each his sufferings; all are men,
Condemned alike to groan,
Poor BEAUFORT for his WORCESTER'S pain,
Poor ODELL for his own!
Yet, ah! why should they know their fate,
Elections never come too late,
And purchased Fowey from LUCY flies,—
Reason would mar the worldly race:
No more — when dulness leads to place,
'Tis folly to be wise!

[p. 316]