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All these things will be specified in time,
With strict regard to Aristotle's rules, The vade mecum of the true sublime,
Which makes so many poets, and some fools : Prose poets like blank verse, I 'm fond of rhyme,
Good workmen never quarrel with their tools ; I've got new mythological machinery, And very handsome supernatural scenery.
There's only one slight difference between
Me and my epic brethren gone before, And here the advantage is my own, I ween;
(Not that I have not several merits more, But this will more peculiarly be seen)
They so embellish, that 't is quite a bore Their labyrinth of fables to thread through, Whereas this story 's actually true.
If any person doubt it, I appeal
To history, tradition, and to facts, To newspapers, whose truth all know and feel,
To plays in five, and operas in three acts; All these confirm my statement a good deal,
But that which more completely faith exacts Is, that myself, and several now in Seville, Saw Juan's last elopement with the devil.
If ever I should condescend to prose,
I'll write poetical commandments, which Shall supersede beyond all doubt all those
That went before; in these I shall enrich My text with many things that no one knows, And
carry precept to the highest pitch; I'll call the work « Longinus o'er a Bottle; Or, Every Poet his own Aristotle. »
Thou shalt believe in Milton, Dryden, Pope;
Thou shalt not set up Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey, Because the first is crazed beyond all hope,
The second drunk, the third so quaint and mouthey; With Csabbe it may be difficult to cope,
And Campbell's Hippocrene is somewhat drouthy: Thou shalt not steal from Samuel Rogers, nor Commit flirtation with the muse of Moore.
Thou shalt not covet Mr Sotheby's muse,
His Pegasus, nor any thing that's his;
(There's one, at least, is very fond of this ;) Thou shalt not write, in short, but what I choose:
This is true criticism, and you may kiss-
If any person should presume to assert
This story is not moral, first, I pray
Then that they'll read it o'er again, and say (But, doubtless, nobody will be so pert)
That this is not a moral tale, though gay; Besides, in canto twelfth, I mean to show, The very place where wicked people go.
If, after all, there should be some so blind
To their own good, this warning to despise,
and their own eyes, And cry that they « the moral cannot find, »
I tell him, if a clergyman, he lies;
The public approbation I expect,
And beg they'll take my word about the moral, Which I with their amusement will connect,
(So children cutting teeth receive a coral;) Meantime, they'll doubtless please to recollect
My epical pretensions to the laurel: For fear some prudish readers should grow skittish,
I've bribed my grandmother's review—the British.
I sent it in a letter to the editor,
Who thank'd me duly by return of postI'm for a handsome article his creditor;
Yet, if my gentle muse he please to roast,
Denying the receipt of what it cost,
I think that with this holy new alliance
I may ensure the public, and defy All other magazines of art or science,
Daily, or monthly, or three monthly; I Have not essay'd to multiply their clients,
Because they tell me 't were in vain to try, And that the Edinburgh Review, and Quarterly, Treat a dissenting author very martyrly.
Non ego ferrem calidâ juventâ
Consule Planco, Horace said, and so
Hint that some six or seven good years ago
I was most ready to return a blow, And would not brook at all this sort of thing In my hot youth—when George the Third was king.
But now at thirty years my hair is gray
(I wonder what it will be like at forty? I thought of a peruke the other day)
My heart is not much greener; and, in short, I
And feel no more the spirit to retort; I
No more—no more- Oh! never more on me
The freshness of the heart can fall like dew, Which out of all the lovely things we see
Extracts emotions beautiful and new,
Think'st thou the honey with those objects grew ?
No more--no more—Oh! never more, my heart,
Canst thou be my sole world, my universe! Once all in all, but now a thing apart,
Thou canst not be my blessing or my curse : The illusion's gone for ever, and thou art
Insensible, I trust, but none the worse, And in thy stead I've got a deal of judgment, Though Heaven knows how it ever found a lodgement.