A Familiar Epistle

A poem by Henry Austin Dobson

To * * Esq. of * * with a Life of the late Ingenious Mr. W M. Hogarth.


Dear Cosmopolitan,--I know
I should address you a Rondeau,
Or else announce what I've to say
At least en Ballade fratrisée;
But No: for once I leave Gymnasticks,
And take to simple Hudibrasticks;
Why should I choose another Way,
When this was good enough for GAY?

You love, my FRIEND, with me, I think,
That Age of Lustre and of Link;
Of Chelsea China and long "s"es,
Of Bag-wigs and of flowered Dresses;
That Age of Folly and of Cards,
Of Hackney Chairs and Hackney Bards;
--No H--LTS, no K--G--N P--LS were then
Dispensing Competence to Men;
The gentle Trade was left to Churls,
Your frowsy TONSONS and your CURLLS;
Mere Wolves in Ambush to attack
The AUTHOR in a Sheep-skin Back;
Then SAVAGE and his Brother-Sinners
In Porridge-Island div'd for Dinners;
Or doz'd on Covent Garden Bulks,
And liken'd Letters to the Hulks;--
You know that by-gone Time, I say,
That aimless easy-moral'd Day,
When rosy Morn found MADAM still
Wrangling at Ombre or Quadrille,
When good Sir JOHN reel'd Home to Bed,
From Pontack's or the Shakespear's Head;
When TRIP convey'd his Master's Cloaths,
And took his Titles and his Oaths;
While BETTY, in a cast Brocade,
Ogled MY LORD at Masquerade;
When GARRICK play'd the guilty Richard,
Or mouth'd Macbeth with Mrs. PRITCHARD;
When FOOTE grimac'd his snarling Wit;
When CHURCHILL bullied in the Pit;
When the CUZZONI sang--
But there!
The further Catalogue I spare,
Having no Purpose to eclipse
That tedious Tale of HOMER'S Ships;--
This is the MAN that drew it all
From Pannier Alley to the Mall,
Then turn'd and drew it once again
From Bird-Cage Walk to Lewknor's Lane;--
Its Rakes and Fools, its Rogues and Sots;
Its brawling Quacks, its starveling Scots;
Its Ups and Downs, its Rags and Garters,
Its HENLEYS, LOVATS, MALCOLMS, CHARTRES;
Its Splendour, Squalor, Shame, Disease;
Its quicquid agunt Homines;--
Nor yet omitted to pourtray
Furens quid possit Foemina;--
In short, held up to ev'ry Class
NATURE'S unflatt'ring looking-Glass;
And, from his Canvass, spoke to All
The Message of a JUVENAL.

Take Him. His Merits most aver:
His weak Point is--his Chronicler!

Nov^r. 1, 1879.

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