Ye Bards in all your thousand dens,
Great souls with fewer pence than pens,
Sublime adorers of Apollo,
With folios full, and purses hollow;
Whose very souls with rapture glisten,
When you can find a fool to listen;
Who, if a debt were paid by pun,
Would never be completely done.
Ye bright inhabitants of garrets,
Whose dreams are rich in ports and clarets,
Who, in your lofty paradise,
See aldermanic banquets rise—
And though the duns around you troop,
Still float in seas of turtle soup.
I here forsake the tuneful trade,
Where none but lordlings now are paid,
Or where some northern rogue sits puling,
(The curse of universal schooling)—
A ploughman to his country lost,
An author to his printer’s cost—
A slave to every man who’ll buy him,
A knave to every man who’ll try him—
Yet let him take the pen, at once
The laurel gathers round his sconce!
On every subject superseded,
My favorite topics all invaded,
I scarcely dip my pen in praise,
When fifty bardlings grasp my bays;
Or let me touch a drop of satire,
(I once knew something of the matter),
Just fifty bardlings take the trouble,
To be my tuneful worship’s double.
Fine similies that nothing fit,
Joe Miller’s, that must pass for wit;
The dull, dry, brain-besieging jokes,
The humour that no laugh provokes—
The nameless, worthless, witless rancours,
The rage that souls of scribblers cankers—
(Administer’d in gall go thick,
It makes even Sunday critic’s sick!)
Disgust my passion, fill my place,
And snatch my prize before my face.
If then I take the “brilliant” pen.
And “scorning measures” talk of men—
There Luttrel steps ‘twixt me and fame—
So like, egad, we’re just the same;
I never half squeeze out a thought,
But jumps its fellow on the spot—
My tenderest dreams, my fondest touch,
Are victims to his ready clutch;
The whirling waltz, the gay costume,
The porcelain tooth, the gallic bloom;
The vapid smiles, the lisping loves
Of turtles (never meant for doves)—
The dreary stuff that fills the ears,
Where all the orators are peers—
The hides reveal’d through ball-room dresses,
Where all the parties are peer-esses;
The dulness of the toujours gai,
The yawning night, the sleepy day,
The visages of cheese and chalk,
The drowsy, dreamy, languid talk;
The fifty other horrid things,
That strip old Time of both his wings!
There’s not a topic of them all
But comes, hey presto! at his call.
Or when I turn my pen to love,
A theme that fits me like my glove,
A pang I’ve borne these twenty years
With ten-times twenty several dears,
Each glance a dart, each smile a quiver,
Stinging their bard from lungs to liver—
To work my ruin, or my cure,
Up starts thy pen, Anacreon Moore!
In vain I pour my shower of roses,
On which the matchless fair one dozes,
And plant around her conch the graces,
While jealous Venus breaks her laces,
To see a younger face promoted,
To see her own old face out-voted;
And myrtle branches twisting o’er her,
Bow down, each turn’d a true adorer.
Up starts the Irish Bard—in vain
I write, ’tis all against the grain:
In vain I talk of smiles or sighs,
The girls all have him in their eyes;
And not a soul—mamma, or miss—
But vows he’s the sole Bard of Bliss!
Since first I dipp’d in the romantic,
A hundred thousand have run frantic—
There’s not a hideous highland spot,
(Long fallowed to the core by Scott)—
No rill, through rack and thistle dribbling,
But has its deadlier crop of scribbling.
Each fen, and flat, and flood, and fell,
Gives birth to verses by the ell—
There Wordsworth, for his muse’s sallies,
Claims all the ponds, the lanes, and alleys—
There Coleridge swears none else shall tune
A bag-pipe to the list’ning moon;
On come in clouds the scribbling columns,
Each prowling for his next three volumes.
I scorn the rascal tribe, and spurn all
The yearly, monthly, and diurnal.
I write the finest things that ever
Made duchess fond, or marquiss clever—
(Although I’d rather half turn Turk,
The thing’s such monstrous up-hill work).
My ton’s the very cream of fashion,
My passion the sublimest passion,
My rage satanic, love the same,
Of all blue flames, the bluest flame—
My piety perpetual matins,
A quaker propp’d on double pattens;
My lovely girls the most precocious,
My beaus delightfully atrocious!
Yet scarcely have I play’d my card,
When up comes politician Ward,
Before my face he trumps my trump,
Sweeps off my honours in the lump,
And never asking my permission,
Talks sermons to the third edition.
Or Boulogne, Highway Byeway, Grattan,
(The Pyrenees begin to flatten,
A feast denied to storm and shower,
The pen’s the wonder-working power);
Or Smith, the master of “Addresses,”
Carves history out in modern messes:—
Tells how gay Charles cook’d up his collops,
How fleeced his friends, how paid his trollops—
How pledged his soul, and pawn’d his oath,
’Till none would give a straw for both;
And touching paupers for the Evil,
Touch’d England half way to the devil
Or Hook, picks up my favorite hits,
For when was friendship between wits?
Or Lyster, doubly dandyfied,
Fidgets his donkey by my side;
Or Bulwer rambles back from Greece,
Woolgathering from the Golden fleece—
Or forty volumes, piping hot,
Come blazing from volcano Scott;
When pens like their’s play all my game.
The tasteless world must bear the blame.
I had a budget, full of fan,
But here again, I’m lost, undone!
I’m so forestall’d—that faith, I could
Half quarrel with—my lively Hood:
For odd it is, my “Oddities,”
Are even all the same with his;
Would Sherwood (him of Paternoster),
Assist my pilferings to foster,
I’d turn free-booter—nay, I would
E’en play the part of robbing Hood—
But brother Wits should never quarrel,
Nor try to “pluck each other’s laurel,”
And tho’ my income’s scarce enough
To find friend Petersham with snuff,
Here’s peace to all! and kind regards!
And Brother Hood among the Bards.
So all, friends, countrymen, and lovers,
With one, or one and twenty covers,
Farewell to all;—my glories past,
I pen my lay, my sweetest, last!
Another Phoenix, build my nest
Of spices, Phoebus’ very best,
Concentrating in these gay pages,
Wit, worth the wit of all the stages;
Love, tender as the midnight talk,
In softest summer’s midnight walk,
With leave to all earth’s fools to spurn ’em,
Nay (if they first will buy) to burn ’em.