1808
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Adieu. Written after Milton's Penseroso.

Port Folio NS 5 (12 March 1808) 175-76.

Sedley


A Miltonic verse character of a law student, signed "Sedley." The poem opens with a sketch of the student as starving poem, dunned for rent and lamenting the failure of his love-life. In this sad condition, he bids farewell to his Muse: "Though we have passed bright hours together, | And this is cursed chilly weather, | Yet tramp you must, before I waver, | Seduced again by your palaver." Instead, he swears fealty to Sir Edward Coke, resolving to follow the legal trade which he proceeds to describe with an abundance of hard words: "Give me to know these wiles of trade, | And then, by Jove, my fortune's made. | Of jointures, gaolers; ipso facto; | Of writs for debt, or parco fracto." While the form of this poem imitates Il Penseroso, the manner owes much to imitations of John Philips Splendid Shilling, several of which were concerned with the legal profession. It is presented as original to Philadelphia's Port Folio.

The Port Folio reprinted this poem in 1817 under the title "Adieu to the Muse. Written after reading Milton's Penseroso" and the addition of some notes signed "Scriblerus": "Here and in other parts of this delectable performance, it seemeth that our author hath laid his scene in one of the southern cities. But since this poem was writ, divers changes have occurred there, at which his heart would greatly rejoice, if he were now living. It is true that at the shop here alluded to, shaving doth continued to be carried on as it was in his time; for there is no lack of beards, whatever may be said of brains, in the said town. The street, however, is no longer adorned with the stately edifice, which was the admiration of all who travelled in those parts; it hath been rased to the very foundation. But it cannot be said now, as it was writ in the days of merry King Charles, 'Undone, undone the lawyers are, | Since Charing-cross hath tumbled down,' sith they have erected another house, under the brow of a hill, lest justice might be stared out of countenance by the monstrous doings of wicked men, of which our author had a perilous experience" S4 4 (July 1817) 85-86n.



Hence, now, the poet's life forlorn,
Of Vanity, and Fancy born—
'Tis but a wild delusive joy,
And shall no more my peace annoy.
Find out, oh! Muse, some garret high,
Where sits the Bard, with haggard eye:
There Poverty his feeling wrings,
And the starved cricket nightly sings;
By dying coals, I see him sit,
With nought to warm, but sparks of wit:
See him, with hunger how perplexed,
Or how, with sonnets, he is vexed—
I hear the girl, by landlord sent,
To dun him for his quarter's rent:
But though he gives a Muse's note,
It will not stop her cursed throat.

No, no, sweet Muse, I quit the train,
No more I sing the tuneful strain.
Without a sigh, I quit the HILL,
The painted mead, the babbling rill;
The rustling trees, the nodding grove,
Where oft in rhyme, I wrote of love;
No more I dream of maidens fair,
With azure eyes, and auburn hair:
Of youthful nymphs, whose sad disdain,
Has waken'd all my bosom's pain,
(Though all the pain was in my pen,
But tell not this, sweet muse again)
No more I'll watch the midnight oil,
Biting my nails in rhyming toil,
Calling on every Muse and Grace,
But for an hour to take my place,
And write a soft and tender sonnet,
On lady's eyebrow, or her bonnet;
Nor call on Love to cast his dart,
And wound some fair one's throbbing heart,
Who so afflicts this breast of mine,
That I can neither sleep, nor dine.
So pretty muse pray take your flight,
—By Jove, you go this very night.
Though we have passed bright hours together,
And this is cursed chilly weather,
Yet tramp you must, before I waver,
Seduced again by your palaver.

But come! thou judge, sedate and sage,
Come and unfold thy learned page.
Oh how shall I thy name invoke?
Chief Justice, or my master Coke?
Whose ancient visage is so rough,
To me it seems quite in a huff.
Thy wig and gown tell what thou art,
And terrour strike within my heart;
Thy firm fix'd eye and scowling frown,
Are quite enough to knock me down;
I do confess I've been a truant,
But, prithee, take a milder view on't.

Thee, COMMON LAW, in days of yore,
To that grave wizard STUDY bore,
In Albion's great Eliza's reign,
"Nor was such mixture held a stain."
Oft in the Pleas, and in the Bench,
With eager feet you sought the wench;
And there her heart you strove to woo,
And did what every judge should do.
And through the realm did spread your names,
Notwithstanding proud King James.

Come, stedfast judge, so wise and grave,
And bring both Butler and Hargrave;
With sheets about the folio size,
And notes, to please the student's eyes:
Black-letter type, and Norman French,
Which erst was used in the Bench:
Come, but keep thy frowning state,
Or I, again in rhyme shall prate.
Give me thy mind, thy piercing look,
That I may understand thy book,
And, kept within my office still,
Study myself "to marble," till
"With a sad, leaden, downward cast,"
I am a limb of law, at last:
Then come again, with, in thy hand,
Ejectments 'gainst my neighbour's land,
And plenteous suits, with good retainers,
'Bout 'states in fee, or in remainders.
Then teach me all the tricks of art,
And from the court I'll ne'er depart;
Give me to know these wiles of trade,
And then, by Jove, my fortune's made.
Of jointures, gaolers; ipso facto;
Of writs for debt, or parco fracto;
Of Habeas corp: ad prosequendum;
Or catch some knave, and respondendum;
Cui in vita, custom, cucking,
(More seemly now 'tis called a ducking.)
Of Nudum pactum, Levant couchant;
Of vagrant beasts, or maidens flippant.
But, chief of all, oh! with thee bring
"Him that soars on eagle wing;"
Let him but hold the tempting fee,
And I'll ne'er plead a double plea:
Thee, CLIENT, oft the crowds among,
I'll seek amid the Exchange's throng.
And missing thee, I'll walk, — or hop
Right straitway to the barber's shop;
There I'll behold thy undrawn purse,
My honorarium to disburse.
Like boys, who by the gutter side,
With lifted hands, and jaws stretch'd wide,
Watch the bright pennies turning round,
And wish, yet fear, them on the ground.
Oft too, as in my office, near,
Our crier's Stentor-voice I'll hear—
"Court met, — oh yes — oh yes — oh yes,"
My client's cause to curse, or bless:
Or, if the judges do not sit,
At home, I'll frame the wily writ:
And teach the knaves to pay their losses,
Or else beware of lawyers' crosses.

Far from the rude resort of men,
Save the rough tipstaff, now and then,
Or the grim gaoler's glad report,
"Defendant, now sir's safe in Court."

And may, at last, my weary age
Find out the Judge's hermitage,"
Where I may sit, and rightly spell,"
Which cause is bad, and which is well,
And where, without the Lawyer's strife,
My income settled is, for life.

These things, Judge Coke, oh! deign to give,
"And I, with thee, will choose to live."

[pp. 175-76]