For language was in Peter’s hand
Like clay while he was yet a potter;
And he made songs for all the land, 445
Sweet both to feel and understand,
As pipkins late to mountain Cotter.
And Mr. —, the bookseller,
Gave twenty pounds for some;—then scorning
A footman’s yellow coat to wear, 450
Peter, too proud of heart, I fear,
Instantly gave the Devil warning.
Whereat the Devil took offence,
And swore in his soul a great oath then,
’That for his damned impertinence 455
He’d bring him to a proper sense
Of what was due to gentlemen!’
’O that mine enemy had written
A book!’—cried Job:—a fearful curse,
If to the Arab, as the Briton, 460
’Twas galling to be critic-bitten:—
The Devil to Peter wished no worse.
When Peter’s next new book found vent,
The Devil to all the first Reviews
A copy of it slyly sent, 465
With five-pound note as compliment,
And this short notice—’Pray abuse.’
Then seriatim, month and quarter,
Appeared such mad tirades.—One said—
’Peter seduced Mrs. Foy’s daughter, 470
Then drowned the mother in Ullswater,
The last thing as he went to bed.’
Another—’Let him shave his head!
Where’s Dr. Willis?—Or is he joking?
What does the rascal mean or hope, 475
No longer imitating Pope,
In that barbarian Shakespeare poking?’
One more, ’Is incest not enough?
And must there be adultery too?
Grace after meat? Miscreant and Liar! 480
Thief! Blackguard! Scoundrel! Fool! hell-fire
Is twenty times too good for you.
’By that last book of yours WE think
You’ve double damned yourself to scorn;
We warned you whilst yet on the brink 485
You stood. From your black name will shrink
The babe that is unborn.’
All these Reviews the Devil made
Up in a parcel, which he had
Safely to Peter’s house conveyed. 490
For carriage, tenpence Peter paid—
Untied them—read them—went half mad.
‘What!’ cried he, ’this is my reward
For nights of thought, and days, of toil?
Do poets, but to be abhorred 495
By men of whom they never heard,
Consume their spirits’ oil?
’What have I done to them?—and who
IS Mrs. Foy? ’Tis very cruel
To speak of me and Betty so! 500
Adultery! God defend me! Oh!
I’ve half a mind to fight a duel.