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A harvest of barren regrets. And
the worm That crawls on in the dust to the
definite term Of its creeping existence, and sees
nothing more Than the path it pursues till its
creeping be o'er, In its limited vision, is happier far Than the Half-Sage, whose course,
fix'd no friendly star Is by each star distracted in turn, and
who knows Each will still be as distant wherever
The banker, well known As wearing the longest philacteried gown
Of all the rich Pharisees England can boast of;
A shrewd Puritan Scot, whose sharp wits made the most of
This world and the next; having largely invested
Not only where treasure is never molested
By thieves, moth, or rust; but on this
earthly ball Where interest was high, and security
Of mankind there was never a theory yet
Not by some individual instance upset:
And so to that sorrowful verse of the Psalm
Which declares that the wicked expand like the palm
In a world where the righteous are stunted and pent,
A cheering exception did Ridley present.
Like the,. worthy of Uz, Heaven prospered his piety.
The leader of every religious society.
Christian knowledge he labored through life to promote
With personal profit, and knew how to quote
Both the stocks and the Scripture,
with equal advantage To himself and admiring friends, in
The poets pour wine; and, when 'tis new, all decry it;
But, once let it be old, every trifler must try it.
And Polonius, who praises no wine that's not Massic,
Complains of my verse, that my verse is not classic.
And Miss Tilburina, who sings, and not badly,
My earlier verses, sighs "Commonplace sadly 1"
As for you, O Poionius, you vex me
but slightly; But you. Tilburina, your eyes beam
so brightly In despite of their languishing looks,
on my word, That to see you look cross I can
scarcely afford. Yes! the silliest woman that smiles
on a bard Better far than Longinus himself can
The appeal to her feelings of which
she approves; And the critics I most care to please
are the Loves.
Alas, friend! what boots it, a stone
at his head And a brass on his breast, — when a
man is once dead? Ay! were fame the sole guerdon, poor
guerdon were then Theirs who, stripping life bare, stand
forth models for men. The reformer's ? — a creed by posterity learnt A century after its author is burnt! The poet's ? — a laurel that hides the
bald brow It hath blighted! The painters? —
ask Raphael now
Which Madonna's authentic! The statesman's — a name
For parties to blacken, or boys to declaim!
The soldier's? — three lines on the cohl Abbey pavement!
Were this all the life of the wise and the brave meant,
All it ends in, thrice better, Neaera, it were
Unregarded to sport with thine odorous hair, [ shade
Untroubled to lie at thy feet in the
And be loved, while the roses yet bloom overhead.
Than to sit by the lone hearth, and think the long thought,
A severe, sad, blind schoolmaster, envied for naught
Save the name of John Milton! For all men, indeed,
Who in some choice edition may graciously read, [note,
With fair illustration, and erudite
The song which the poet in bitterness wrote.
Beat the poet, and notably beat him, in this —
The joy of the genius is theirs, whilst
they miss The grief of the man: Tasso's song —
not his madness!
Dante's dreams — not his waking to
exile and sadness! Milton's music — but not Milton's
blindness! . . .
My Milton, and answer, with those
noble eyes Which the glory of heaven hath
blinded to earth! Say — the life, in the living it, savors
of worth; That the deed, in the doing it, reaches
That the fact has a value apart from
the fame: That a deeper delight, in the mere
labor, pays Scorn of lesser delights, and laborious
And Shakespeare, though all Shakespeare's writings were lost,
And his genius, though never a trace of it crossed
Posterity's path, not the less would have dwelt
In the isle with Miranda, with Hamlet have felt
All that Hamlet hath uttered, and
haply where, pure On its death-bed. wronged Love lay,
have moaned with the Moor!
TO A FRIEND AFRAID OF CRITICS.
Afraid of critics! an unworthy fear:
Great minds must learn their greatness and be bold.
Walk on thy way; bring forth thine own true thought;
Love thy high calling only for itself,
And find in working, recompense for work.
And Envy's shaft shall whiz at thee in vain. [ just;
Despise not censure; — weigh if it be And if it be — amend, whate'er the thought
Of him who cast it. Take the wise
man's praise, And love thyself the more that thou
couldst earn Meed so exalted; but the blame of
Let it blow over like an idle whiff
The critics — let me paint them as they are.
Some few I know, and love them from my soul;
Polished, acute, deep read; of inborn
tasteCultured into a virtue; full of pith And kindly vigor, having won their
In the great rivalry of friendly mind, And generous to others, though unknown,
Who would, having a thought, let all
men know The new discovery. But these are
And if thou find one, take him to
thy heart, And think his unbought praise both
palm and crown, A thing worth living for, were nought
Fear thou no critic, if thou'rt true
thyself; — And look for fame now if the wise
approve, Or from a wiser jury yet unborn. The poetaster may be harmed enough, But criticasters cannot crush a bard.
If to be famous be thy sole intent, And greatness be a mark beyond thy reach,
Manage the critics, and thou'it w in
the game; Invite them to thy board, and give
them feasts, And foster them with unrclaxing
And they will praise thee in their
partial sheets, And quite ignore the worth of better
But if thou wilt not court them, let them go.
And scorn the praise that sells itself
for w ine, Or tacks itself upon success alone, Hanging like spittle on a rich man's
One, if thou'rt great, will cite from thy new book The tames; passage,— something that thy soul
Revolts at. now the inspiration's o'er, And would give all thou hast to blot from print
And sink into oblivion; — and will vaunt
The thing as beautiful, transcendent, rare —
The best thing thou hast done! Another friend. With finer sense, will praise thy
greatest thought, Yet cavil at it; putting in his "huts" And "yets," and little obvious hints. That though 'tis good, the critic could
have made A work superior in its every part.
Another, in a pert and savage mood, Without a reason, will condemn thee quite,
And strive to quench thee in a paragraph.
Another, with dishonest waggery, Will twist, misquote, and utterly pervert
Thy thoughts and words; and hug
himself meanwhile In the delusion, pleasant to his soul, That thou art crushed, and he a gentleman.
Another, with a specious fair pretence,
Immaculately wise, will skim thy book,
And, self-sufficient, from his desk
look down With undisguised contempt on thee
and thine; And sneer and snarl thee, from his
weekly court, From an idea, spawn of his conceit, That the best means to gain a great
For wisdom is to sneer at all the world,
With strong denial that a good exists;—
That all is bad, imperfect, feeble, stale.
Except this critic, who outshines mankind.
Another, with a foolish zeal, will prate
Of thy great excellence, and on thy head
Heap epithet on epithet of praise In terms preposterous, that thou wilt blush
To be so smothered with such fulsome lies.
Another, calmer, with laudations thin,
Unsavory and weak, will make it seem
That his good-nature, not thy merit, prompts
The baseless adulation of his pen. Another, with a bulldog's bark, will bay
Foul names against thee for some
fancied slight Which thou ne'er dream'dst of, and
will damn thy work For spite against the worker; while
Who thinks thy faith or politics a crime,
Will brav displeasure from his monthly stall,
And prove thee dunce, that disagre'st with him.
And, last of all, some solemn sage, whose nod Trimestral awes a world of little
Will carefully avoid to name thy name,
Although thy words are in the mouths of men,
And thy ideas in their inmost hearts, Moulding events, and fashioning thy time
To nobler efforts. Little matters it!
Whate'er thou art, thy value will appea r.
If thou art bad, no praise will buoy thee up;
If thou art good, no censure weigh
thee down, Nor silence nor neglect prevent thy
So fear not thou the critical Speak thy thought;
And, if thou'it worthy, in the people's love
Thy name shall live, while lasts thy mother tongue!
AT A CLUB-DINXBR.
Wk merry three
Old fogies be; The crow's-foot crawls, the wrinkle comes,
Our heads grow bare
Of the bonnie brown hair, Our teeth grow shaky in our gums. Gone are the joys that once we knew, Over the green, and under the blue. Our blood runs calm, as calm can be, And we're old fogies — fogies three.
Yet if we be
Old fogies three
And if the heart
Be dulled in part, There's sober wisdom in our brains. We may have heard that Hope's a knave,
And Fame a breath beyond the grave, But what of that — if wiser grown, We make the passing day our own, And find true joy where joy can be, And live our lives, though fogies three?
Ay — though we be
Old fogies three. We're not so dulled as not to dine;
And not so old
As to be cold To wit, to beauty, and to wine. Our hope is less, our memory more; Our sunshine brilliant as of yore. At four o'clock, 'twixt noon and
'Tis warm as morning, and as bright. And every age bears blessings free, Though we're old fogies — fogies three.
THB JOLLY COMPANIONS.
Jolly companions! three times three!
We drink our passage to early graves, And fill, and swill, till our foreheads burst,
For sake of the wine, and not of the thirst.
Jolly companions! three times three,
We toil and moil from morn to night,
Or else we leave our warm fireside, Friends and comrades, bairns and bride,
To mingle in the world's affairs,
I've drunk good wine
From Rhone and Rhine,
And filled the glass
To friend or lass
Mid jest and song.
The gay night long,
And found the bowl
Inspired the soul, With neither wit nor wisdom richer Than comes from water in the pitcher.
I've ridden far In coach and car, Sped four-in-hand across the land; On gallant steed Have measured speed, With the summer wind That lagged behind; But found more joy for days together
In tramping o'er the mountain heather.
I've dined, long since,
And wished I might
Take space flight
And dine alone,
Unseen, unknown, On a mutton chop and a hot potato, reading my Homer, or my Plato.
It comes to this, The truest bliss For great or small Is free to all; Like the fresh air, Like flowerets fair, Like night or day, Like work or play; And books that charm or make us wiser.
Are better comrades than a Kaiser.
THE GP.EAT critics.
0 Whom shall we praise?
Let's praise the dead!
Nor strive for bread
We'll praise the dead I
Dare but to claim
Their meed of fame,
BE QUIET, DO —I'LL CALL MY
As I was sitting in a wood.
Musing in pleasant solitude,