If those who wield the Rod forget,
'Tis truly--Quis custodiet?
A certain Bard (as Bards will do)
Dressed up his Poems for Review.
His Type was plain, his Title clear;
His Frontispiece by FOURDRINIER.
Moreover, he had on the Back
A sort of sheepskin Zodiac;--
A Mask, a Harp, an Owl,--in fine,
A neat and "classical" Design.
But the in-Side?--Well, good or bad,
The Inside was the best he had:
Much Memory,--more Imitation;--
Some Accidents of Inspiration;--
Some Essays in that finer Fashion
Where Fancy takes the place of Passion;--
And some (of course) more roughly wrought
To catch the Advocates of Thought.
In the less-crowded Age of ANNE,
Our Bard had been a favoured Man;
Fortune, more chary with the Sickle,
Had ranked him next to GARTH or TICKELL;--
He might have even dared to hope
A Line's Malignity from POPE!
But now, when Folks are hard to please,
And Poets are as thick as--Peas,
The Fates are not so prone to flatter,
Unless, indeed, a Friend ... No Matter.
The Book, then, had a minor Credit:
The Critics took, and doubtless read it.
Said A.--These little Songs display
No lyric Gift; but still a Ray,--
A Promise. They will do no Harm.
'Twas kindly, if not very warm.
Said B.--The Author may, in Time,
Acquire the Rudiments of Rhyme:
His Efforts now are scarcely Verse.
This, certainly, could not be worse.
Sorely discomfited, our Bard
Worked for another ten Years--hard.
Meanwhile the World, unmoved, went on;
New Stars shot up, shone out, were gone;
Before his second Volume came
His Critics had forgot his Name:
And who, forsooth, is bound to know
Each Laureate in embryo!
They tried and tested him, no less,-
The sworn Assayers of the Press.
Said A.--The Author may, in Time....
Or much what B. had said of Rhyme.
Then B.--These little Songs display....
And so forth, in the sense of A.
Over the Bard I throw a Veil.
There is no MORAL to this Tale.