Il Penseroso. By a Q-rt-ly R-iew-r.

The Morning Chronicle (26 December 1817).


A Miltonic politial burlesque, not signed. The poem is composed as the verse character of a Quarterly Reviewer who takes a stroll from Smithfield to Paternoster Row, and from Whitehall to Parliament, concluding with the Reviewer's resolve to win a place and a pension. The Morning Chronicle aslo takes swipes at the Castlereagh administration and at the rival Morning Post, as well as at four Tory poets: Robert Southey (a regular target) Walter Scott, and Wordsworth and Coleridge: "But O sad virgin, if thy power | Could wake dull Wordsworth in his bower, | Or bid the soul of Coleridge frame | Lays that set loyal souls on flame, | And write "Lay sermons" for the meek, | Which shall to after ages speak, | Or call up him that told so well, | What 'wond'rous Michael Scott' befel." The verse character does not seem intended for a particular person.

Hence vain deluding witticisms,
The brood of folly without foresight bred
How little you bested,
Or fill an author's purse like spiteful criticisms!
Dwell in some idle page,
Add "Postbags twopenny" with squibs possess,
(Which S—TH should suppress)
Such as delight all superficial readers,
Or punning Irish pleaders,
The disaffected lawyers of the age.

But hail! thou Ministers' best anchor—
Hail! critical court-pensioned Rancour,
Whose visage 'twould be quite unlawful
To have exposed — it is so awful;
And therefore, clad in sober hue,
Thou'rt called "THE QUARTERLY REVIEW;"
Throughout the land (as it would seem)
By Placemen held in high esteem;
Or that starr'd Ch—c—r who strove
To set his Colleagues' praise above
The people's, and their powers offended
By which the Income Tax was ended.

Thee dark Intolerance of yore
To an old Spanish friar bore;
His daughter she, (in monkish time
Such mixture was not held a crime),
Oft in cloisters and in cells
He met her (as the legend tells),
And in the convent's lonely tower,
Nor fear'd the Inquisition's power.

Come, BLUE-STOCKING, prim and pure,
Envious, cunning, sly, demure;
All in a robe of darkest grain,
For fear the world might think thee vain,
And sable stole of Bishop's lawn
Over thy stiff starch'd shoulders drawn.
Come, but keep thy wonted state,
With pompous, proud, pedantic gait,
And looks "commercing" with "the trade"
By whom thou'rt every quarter paid;
There held in gainful drudgery still,
Forget that thou hast any will;
But fix thy eyes, with greedy cast,
To see the Bank notes coming fast;
And join with thee most princely diet,
That often loves to glut and riot;
And hears the Nobles in a ring
Ay round great —'s table sing;
And add to these retired leisure,
That near to Putney takes his pleasure;
But first and chiefest with thee bring
Him that you try to soar and sing,
Goading his jaded courser on,
The Laureate to the British Throne;
And the mute silence hist along,
Lest Mr. H—t will deign a song,
In his silliest, saddest plight,
When his raving's at its height,
While the "POST" deals out sad stuff
Gently in th' accustom'd puff;
Poor bard! that shew'st the world thy folly,
Not musical, though melancholy;
Thou scribbler, oft old news among,
I laugh to read thy serious song;
And missing thee I change the scene,
To Smithfield, when the streets are clean,
To behold the famous place,
Where Wat Tyler, face to face,
Like one that had deserv'd to swing,
Dared to hold converse with a King,
Till the King's men of high renown,
For this, broke Walter Tyler's crown.

Oft, when I wish to know the time,
I hear St. Paul's clock solemn chime,
Over Paternoster-row,
Where my bus'ness makes me go.
Or if the Row will not permit,
Some comfortable place will fit,
Where the furniture around,
Cost the public many a pound;
Far from all attacks of wit,
Near the bust of Billy Pitt,
Where no factious rude alarm
Can dissolve taxation's charm.

Or let my face, at midnight hour,
Be seen along with those in power,
Where I may oft outwatch the RAT,
And see what they would all be at,
And take a hint from all my masters,
To be improv'd by poetasters,
And publish'd, on the following day,
In rhymes, or in some other way;
And of those daemons which are found
Near printing presses to abound,
Whose power hath a true consent
Sometime let gorgeous Poesy
In laurell'd pall come "sweeping" by,
Presenting warlike "Joan of Arc,"
Or "Thalaba," that ruffian dark,
Or (what's more rare at Southey's age)
"WAT TYLER" fitted for the stage!

But O sad virgin, if thy power
Could wake dull Wordsworth in his bower,
Or bid the soul of Coleridge frame
Lays that set loyal souls on flame,
And write "Lay sermons" for the meek,
Which shall to after ages speak,
Or call up him that told so well,
What "wond'rous Michael Scott" befel,
"Sought meat, but gat nane,"
How Mic employ'd young devils, and worse,
Rode the old devil for a horse!
And of that imp the "goblin page,"
Who put Wat Tynlinn in a rage,
And if ought else great bards have sung,
Of turnkeys, and of prisons strong,
Of dong'ons deep, and caverns drear,
Where if you call, no soul will hear.

Thus Night oft see me in thy pale career,
Till civil-suited morn appear,
Not trick'd and frounc'd with jewels gay,
As if it were the Queen's birth-day,
But just as on a general fast,
When clergy walk sedately past,
Or, just as clergy would appear,
If on fast days they got no cheer,
For then they would look pale and wan,
And growl and grumble to a man.
And when the sung begins to fling
His flaring beams, me Goddess bring,
To my snug study, where I sit,
And war with talent, sense, and wit,
And cut and slash "with desp'rate hook,"
Full many a most unlucky book;
And stab, with keen envenom'd pen,
The well-earn'd fame of abler men.
There in "close covert," by some work
In which, to Placemen, dangers lurk,
Hide me from the public eye,
Whilst I rail, and bite, and lie.
Or in doggrel nonsense sing
The praise of every Prince and King,
With such consorts as they keep,
Till I scrawl myself to sleep,
And let some ministerial dream
Wave at his wings in golden stream
Of places lucrative display'd,
Softly on my eyelids laid.
And as I wake rich music breathe,
And may I find a golden wreathe,
Sent by my patrons for my writing,
My lies, and all my paper fighting.

But let my due feet never fail
To walk ST. STEPHEN'S chapel pale,
And love the mace upon the table,
With workmanship so admirable;
And chandeliers so richly dight,
Casting on every question light;
There let the mighty C—LE—GH
Say all that he has got to say,
In language rich, and cadence clear,
Such as must charm all ears to hear;
Dissolve me into extacies,
And bring a Peerage to mine eyes!

And may at last my pension'd age
Find out some handsome hermitage,
The morning gown, the coffee hot,
Heated in silver coffee-poet;
Where I may read the daily news,
And snugly all the Whigs abuse;
Till old experience do attain
To something like G—RGE R—'S strain.

Such pleasures if the Court can give,
Give me a place, and there I'll live.