Oh! ye, enthroned in presidential awe,
To give the song-smit generation law;
Who wield Apollo's delegated rod,
And shake Parnassus with your sovereign nod;
A pensive Pilgrim, worn with base turmoils,
Plebeian cares, and mercenary toils,
Implores your pity, while with footsteps rude,
He dares within the mountain's pale intrude;
For, oh! enchantment through its empire dwells.
And rules the spirit with Lethëan spells;
By hands unseen aërial harps are hung,
And Spring, like Hebe, ever fair and young,
On her broad bosom rears the laughing Loves,
And breathes bland incense through the warbling groves;
Spontaneous, bids unfading blossoms blow,
And nectar'd streams mellifluously flow.
There, while the Muses wanton unconfined,
And wreaths resplendent round their temples bind,
'Tis yours to strew their steps with votive flowers;
To watch them slumbering 'midst the blissful bowers;
To guard the shades that hide their sacred charms;
And shield their beauties from unhallow'd arms!
Oh! may their suppliant steal a passing kiss?
Alas! he pants not for superior bliss;
Thrice-bless'd his virgin modesty shall be
To snatch an evanescent ecstacy!
The fierce extremes of superhuman love,
For his frail sense too exquisite might prove;
He turns, all blushing, from th' Aönian shade,
To humbler raptures with a mortal maid.
I know 'tis yours, when unscholastic wights
Unloose their fancies in presumptuous flights,
Awaked to vengeance, on such flights to frown,
Clip the wing'd horse, and roll his rider down.
But, if empower'd to strike th' immortal lyre,
The ardent vot'ry glows with genuine fire,
'Tis yours, while care recoils, and envy flies,
Subdued by his resistless energies,
'Tis yours to bid Piërian fountains flow,
And toast his name in Wit's seraglio;
To bind his brows with amaranthine bays,
And bless, with beef and beer, his mundane days!
Alas! nor beef, nor beer, nor bays, are mine,
If by your looks my doom I may divine,
Ye frown so dreadful, and ye swell so big,
Your fateful arms, the goose-quill, and the wig:
The wig, with wisdom's somb'rous seal impress'd,
Mysterious terrors, grim portents, invest;
And shame and honour on the goose-quill perch,
Like doves and ravens on a country church.
As some raw 'Squire, by rustic nymphs admired,
Of vulgar charms, and easy conquests tired,
Resolves new scenes and nobler flights to dare,
Nor "waste his sweetness in the desert air,"
To town repairs, some famed assembly seeks,
With red importance blust'ring in his cheeks;
But when, electric on th' astonish'd wight
Burst the full floods of music and of light,
While levell'd mirrors multiply the rows
Of radiant beauties, and accomplish'd beaus,
At once confounded into sober sense,
He feels his pristine insignificance:
And blinking, blund'ring, from the general quiz
Retreats, "to ponder on the thing he is."
By pride inflated, and by praise allured,
Small Authors thus strut forth, and thus get cured;
But, Critics, hear I an angel pleads for me,
That tongueless, ten-tongued cherub, Modesty.
Sirs! if you damn me, you'll resemble those
That flay'd the Traveller who had lost his clothes;
Are there not foes enough to do my books?
Relentless trunk-makers and pastry-cooks?
Acknowledge not those barbarous allies,
The wooden box-men, and the men of pies:
For Heav'n's sake, let it ne'er be understood
That you, great Censors! coalesce with wood;
Nor let your actions contradict your looks,
That tell the world you ne'er colleague with cooks.
But, if the blithe Muse will indulge a smile,
Why scowls thy brow, O Bookseller! the while?
Thy sunk eyes glisten through eclipsing fears,
Fill'd, like Cassandra's, with prophetic tears:
With such a visage, withering, woe-begone,
Shrinks the pale poet from the damning dun.
Come, let us teach each other's tears to flow,
Like fasting bards, in fellowship of woe,
When the coy Muse puts on coquettish airs,
Nor deigns one line to their voracious prayers!
Thy spirit, groaning like th' encumber'd block
Which bears my works, deplores them as dead stock.
Doom'd by these undiscriminating times
To endless sleep, with Delia Cruscan rhymes;
Yes, Critics whisper thee, litigious wretches!
Oblivion's hand shall finish all my sketches.
But see, my soul, such bug-bears has repell'd
With magnanimity unparallel'd!
Take up the volume, every care dismiss,
And smile, gruff Gorgon! while I tell thee this:
Not one shall lie neglected on the shelf,
All shall be sold--I'll buy them in myself!