It is addressed to the Authors of the Monthy Review, as to critics of acknowledged merit; an acquaintance with whose labours has afforded the writer of this Epistle a reason for directing it to them in particular, and, he presumes, will yield to others a just and sufficient plea for the preference.
Familiar with disappointment, he shall not be much surprised to find he has mistaken his talent.
However, if not egregiously the dupe of his vanity, he promises to his readers some entertainment, and is assured that however little in the ensuing Poem is worthy of applause, there is yet less that merits contempt.
TO THE AUTHORS OF THE MONTHLY REVIEW.
The pious pilot, whom the gods provide,
Through the rough seas the shatter’d bark to guide,
Trusts not alone his knowledge of the deep,
Its rocks that threaten, and its sands that sleep;
But whilst with nicest skill he steers his way,
The guardian Tritons hear their favourite pray.
Hence borne his vows to Neptune’s coral dome,
The god relents, and shuts each gulfy tomb.
Thus as on fatal floods to fame I steer,
I dread the storm that ever rattles here,
Nor think enough, that long my yielding soul
Has felt the Muse’s soft but strong control,
Nor think enough, that manly strength and ease,
Such as have pleased a friend, will strangers please;
But, suppliant, to the critic’s throne I bow,
Here burn my incense, and here pay my vow;
That censure hush’d, may every blast give o’er,
And the lash’d coxcomb hiss contempt no more.
And ye, whom authors dread or dare in vain,
Affecting modest hopes, or poor disdain,
Receive a bard, who neither mad nor mean,
Despises each extreme, and sails between;
Who fears; but has, amid his fears confess’d,
The conscious virtue of a Muse oppress’d;
A muse in changing times and stations nursed,
By nature honour’d, and by fortune cursed.
No servile strain of abject hope she brings,
Nor soars presumptuous, with unwearied wings,
But, pruned for flight—the future all her care —
Would know her strength, and, if not strong, forbear.
The supple slave to regal pomp bows down,
Prostrate to power, and cringing to a crown;
The bolder villain spurns a decent awe,
Tramples on rule, and breaks through every law;
But he whose soul on honest truth relies,
Nor meanly flatters power, nor madly flies.
Thus timid authors bear an abject mind,
And plead for mercy they but seldom find.
Some, as the desperate, to the halter run,
Boldly deride the fate they cannot shun;
But such there are, whose minds, not taught to stoop,
Yet hope for fame, and dare avow their hope,
Who neither brave the judges of their cause,
Nor beg in soothing strains a brief applause.
And such I’d be;—and ere my fate is past,
Ere clear’d with honour, or with culprits cast,