1768
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode on a Distant Prospect of Almack's Assembly Rooms.

London Magazine 37 (April 1768) 213.

Gen. Richard Fitzpatrick


A parody of Thomas Gray's Eton College Ode, originally unsigned, but republished in 1817 in the Literary Gazette under the signature "General Fitzpatrick." The schoolboys of Gray's poem are here a group of dancers at an assembly: "Some bold adventurers despise | The joys that home-bred Misses prize, | And unknown dances dare to try; | Still as they dance, they look behind, | Admiring crowds with pleasure find, | And snatch an envied joy!" The "griesly Troop" of Gray's orginal here becomes a frightful group of old maids. Fitzpatrick died in 1813. I have been unable to identify the violinist Rose.

In 1787 this poem appeared without signature in Philadelphia's Columbian Magazine as "never before published." It is divided into stanzas and has textual variations ("Mr. Scrape" for "Mr. Rose") suggesting that the poem had been circulating in manuscript.



Ye spacious rooms, ye folding doors,
Eternal foes to rest,
Where grateful pleasure still adores
Her Almack's much lov'd taste;
Ah! happy mansions, sweet resorts
Of Britain's matchless fair,
Where many a thoughtless miss disports
A stranger yet to care;
I feel the gales that from ye come
Afford a soft and sweet perfume:
Say, Mr. Rose, for thou hast seen
Full many a sprightly race,
Obedient to thy violin,
The paths of pleasure trace;
Who foremost now delight to shine,
With pliant arms and pace divine?
The captive lover which enthrall?
How the coquette exerts her art
To win some Macaroni heart,
Yet flirts in vain with all?
Some bold adventurers despise
The joys that homebred misses prize,
And unknown dances dare descry,
Still as they dance, they look behind,
Admiring crowds with pleasure find,
And snatch an envied joy:
Alas! regardless of their doom,
No grief their mind affects:
They neither dread old age to come,
Nor see their own defects.
Not onethroughout the happy place
Is conscious of an ugly face;
Yet see on every bench around
What numbers of them may be found,
Ridiculous, unseemly sights:
Ah! tell them, that in spite of dress,
They still are preys to ugliness;
Ah! tell them they are frights.
Beauty in this begins to fade,
(Here nature's been uncivil)
And these the fell small pox has made
As ugly as the devil.
The endless nose, projecting chin,
The mouth from ear to ear,
The shape deform'd, and yellow skin,
Are all assembled here.
But, lo! in charms of youthful bloom,
A heav'nly troop is seen,
Fair beauty's daughters deck the room,
More lovely than their queen.
To each their joys, thro' different ways
To admiration prone;
The handsome pleas'd with others' praise,
The ugly with their own:
And wherefore should they know their fate,
Since sorrow never comes too late,
And should destroy their paradise;—
No more; where ignorance is bliss
'Tis folly to be wise.

[p. 213]