To William John Courthope, March 12, 1903
When Pope came back from Trojan wars once more,
He found a Bard, to meet him on the shore,
And hail his advent with a strain as clear
As e'er was sung by BYRON or by FRERE.
You, SIR, have travelled from no distant clime,
Yet would JOHN GAY could welcome you in rhyme;
And by some fable not too coldly penned,
Teach how with judgment one may praise a Friend.
There is no need that I should tell in words
Your prowess from The Paradise of Birds;
No need to show how surely you have traced
The Life in Poetry, the Law in Taste;
Or mark with what unwearied strength you wear
The weight that WARTON found too great to bear.
There Is no need for this or that. My plan
Is less to laud the Matter than the Man.
This is my brief. We recognise in you
The mind judicial, the untroubled view;
The critic who, without pedantic pose,
Takes his firm foothold on the thing he knows;
Who, free alike from passion or pretence,
Holds the good rule of calm and common sense;
And be the subject or perplexed or plain,--
Clear or confusing,--is throughout urbane,
Patient, persuasive, logical, precise,
And only hard to vanity and vice.
More I could add, but brevity is best;--
These are our claims to honour you as Guest.