Christopher Anstey

(1724-1805 / England)

Epilogue To The Second Edition


There are who complain that my verse is severe,
And what is much worse--that my Book is too dear:
The Ladies protest that I keep no decorum
In setting such patterns of folly before 'em:
Some cannot conceive what the Guide is about,
With names so unmeaning to make such a rout.
Lady Dorothy Scrawl would engage to bespeak
A hundred such things to be made in a week:
Madam Shuffledumdoo, more provoking than that,
Has sold your poor Guide for two fish and a mat;
A sweet medium paper, a book of fine size,
And a print that I hop'd would have suited her eyes.
And another good lady, of delicate taste,
Cries, ``Fie! Mr. Bookseller, bring me some paste;
``I'll close up this leaf, or my daughter will skim
``The cream of that vile methodistical hymn.''--
Then stuck me down fast--so unfit was my page
To meet the chaste eyes of this virtuous age.

Guide.]
O spare me, good Madam, it goes to my heart
With my sweet methodistical letter to part.
Away with your paste! 'tis exceedingly hard
Thus to torture and cramp an unfortunate bard:
How my Muse will be shock'd, when she's just taking flight,
To find that her pinions are fasten'd so tight!

First Lady.]
Why you know, beyond reason, and decency too,
Beyond all respect to religion that's due,
Your dirty satirical work you pursue.
I very well know whom you meant to affront
In the pictures of Prudence, and Tabitha Runt.--

Guide.]
Indeed my good ladies, religion and virtue
Are things that I never design'd any hurt to.
All poets and painters, as Horace agrees,
May copy from nature what figures they please;
Nor blame the poor poet, or painter, if you
In verse or on canvas your likeness should view.
I hope you don't think I would write a lampoon;
I'd be hang'd at the foot of Parnassus as soon.

Second Lady.]
Prithee don't talk to me of your Horace and Flaccus,
When you come like an impudent wretch to attack us.
What's Parnassus to you? Take away but your rhyme,
And the strains of the bell--man are full as sublime.

Third Lady.]
Dost think that such stuff as thou writ'st upon Tabby,
Will procure thee a busto in Westminster--Abbey?

Guide.]
'Tis true, on Parnassus I never did dream,
Nor e'er did I taste of sweet Helicon's stream;
My share of the fountain I'll freely resign
To those who are better belov'd by the Nine:
Give bustos to poets of higher renown,
I ne'er was ambitious in marble to frown:
Give laurels to those, from the god of the lyre
Who catch the bright spark of etherial fire;
Who, skill'd every passion at will to impart,
Can play round the head while they steal to the heart;
Who, taught by Apollo to guide the bold steed,
Know when to give force, when to temper his speed:
My nerves all forsake me, my voice he disdains,
When he rattles his pinions, no more hears the reins,
But thro' the bright ether sublimely he goes,
Nor earth, air, or ocean, or mountains oppose.--

For me, 'tis enough that my toil I pursue,
Like the bee drinking sweets that exhale from the dew,
Content if Melpomene joins to my lay
One tender soft strain of melodious Gray;
Thrice happy in your approbation alone,
If the following ode for my hymn can atone.

Submitted: Thursday, October 07, 2010

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