The auction a poem: a familiar epistle to a friend, ...
Chatterton, Thomas, 1752-1770.
Page  [unnumbered]

THE AUCTION A POEM: A FAMILIAR EPISTLE TO A FRIEND, With the head of HARPOCRATES, the God of Silence amongst the Egyptians, in a Ring.

LONDON: Printed for GEORGE KEARSLY, at No 1, Ludgate-street. MDCCLXX.

Page  iii


THIS Poem consisted originally of no more than about a hundred and fifty lines, and was sent by the Author (with the head of HARPOCRATES, the God of Silence, in a ring) to a particular friend, who suggested to him, that if it were properly enlarged, it might not be unworthy the perusal of the Public; in con|sequence of which he has accordingly enlarged it, and submits it to their Candour and Indulgence.

If the Critic should accuse him of absurdity, for giving language to the god of Silence, he answers, there may be times when the actions of men are so palpably absurd, and so totally Page  iv subversive of Liberty, that even the tongue of Silence may become eloquent in its cause.

If this subterfuge is too flimsey to pass, he flies to the poetica licentia, that extensive field of fiction, where the Poet is allowed to dispose of animation, personification, or elocution, in any manner his fancy directs, uncontrouled by the shackles of common sense.

That part of the Poem where Mr. HOLLAND is mentioned, was printed off before his death, otherwise the Author would in a different man|ner have given his opinion of the goodness of that valuable Actor's heart.


In Page 25, Line 17, for "bleeding blow," read "bleeding brow."

Page  1


WHEN science in her earliest day,
Beam'd forth on man her friendly ray,
Tho' she excursively might roam,
She look'd on Egypt as her home;
There, as the Nile o'erspread the earth,
And gave to vegetation birth,
Page  2 She, fraught with sentiment refin'd,
Diffus'd her influence o'er the mind.
'Twas then, (convinc'd when folly hung
Impatient on the babler's tongue,
How much repose to all 'twould yield,
If by my pow'r his lips were seal'd,)
Her sapient sons my image rear'd,
And I became a God rever'd,
There many an age preserv'd my reign,
A foe to folly and her train.
At length, a mummy-hunting lord,
Whose head Virtù and dullness stor'd,
Who left his country to explore
The trifles of each foreign shore,
Brought me, with other wrecks of time,
To this all variable clime!
Long in his cabinet I lay,
Secluded from the face of day;
For tho' he travell'd far and wide
To gratify his curious pride;
Page  3 Had travers'd Egypt, Greece, and Rome,
And brought a heap of trump'ry home;
It surely must provoke your laughter,
He scarcely ever saw them after.
At length, one night replete with evil,
The dice together with the devil,
Join'd issue with the sons of fraud,
And I appear'd again abroad,
The large estate, a father's care,
Bequeath'd a most ungracious heir,
The hand of usury had seiz'd,
And most unmercifully squeez'd:
From thence no succours could arise,
No pleasing hope of new supplies;
Yet debts of honor all must pay,
Or they again can never play.
Many and artful were the ways
His lordship try'd a sum to raise;
At first, he claim'd the promis'd place
He earn'd by pimping for his grace:
Page  4 But, who misfortunes can resist!
He and his party were dismiss'd.
Then to the next in pow'r apply'd,
So mean his soul, so fall'n his pride!
But, as they did not want his aid,
In vain was each concession made.
When finding all expedients fail,
At last he fix'd on—what? A sale.
To Langford straight, a message sent
Expressive of his full intent;
Who came, his orders to obey,
Bowing and smirking all the way.
A catalogue was quickly made,
Prefac'd with pomp and much parade;
Of urns, from Herculaneum brought
(In fact not worth a single groat)
Of headless trunk and noseless bust,
Tarnish'd by artificial rust;
Of medals brought from Rome and Greece,
Who know to pluck your English geese;
Page  5 Fragments of pyramids from Egypt,
Fossils and shells long time in sea dipt,
With each exotic by the score
Which would a volume fill and more.
Some natives too, by Langford's art,
Made, of the catalogue a part.
The public prints announc'd the day,
When hundreds came who could not pay;
And yet they needs must come to shew
Their veneration for Virtù.
The Seasons by Leticia Br—nd—n
Were bought her cabinet to stand on;
When he, who languish'd to be blest,
Thus artfully the fair address'd,
" The Spring, when all its beauties rise,
I see depicted in your eyes;
See Summer, in its gayest pride,
Attendant ever on your side;
Page  6 Rich Autumn in your bosom see,
And Winter in your chastity:
Tell me Leticia then the reasons
You thus are anxious for the seasons?
She felt the fascinating art,
And freely yielded up her heart.
The modern bards, as yet whose rhyme,
Is not with value stamp'd by time,
Were indiscriminately sold
For nothing, as they were not old.
For Clio, the historic muse,
Two authors bid with equal views;
The one in female vestments clad,
The other wrap'd around with plad;
Long they contended for the field,
Too headstrong both and proud to yield;
At length exclaim'd the bonny Scot,
Suppose, fair lass! we share the lot?
Page  7 When lo! a hollow sound was heard,
And bursting from the floor appear'd,
A rev'rend form, with aspect bland,
Fair Truth and Candor in his hand,
Around his honour'd brow was seen
The laurel ever fresh and green.
" How long, (began the rev'rend Sage,)
O Sm—ll—t, shall thy partial page,
Presumptuously my peace invade,
And draw me from Elysium's shade:
How long shall Clio! honour'd name!
By whom I reach'd immortal fame,
To prejudice and passion bend
To serve a hot-brain'd woman's end?"
The animated muse return'd,
" Long have I with resentment burn'd,
Still hoping some propitious hour,
Would free me from tyrannic pow'r:
Page  8 'Tis come! my soul with rapture warms,
Rapin, O! take me to thy arms,
The floor receiv'd them unadmonish'd,
And left the bidders all astonish'd.
When Phaeton, whose thirst of fame,
Had nearly set the world on flame,
Was by an able statesman bought
Whose soul with rectitude was fraught;
'Twas wonder'd, he, so fond of truth!
Should buy a headstrong brainless youth:
Said he, I buy him to rebuke
The conduct of a certain duke;
And, 'midst the universal stare,
Sent him post haste to Grosvener Square.
A Diomede, who slily bore
From Troy's ill-fated walls of yore
The sacred pledge of freedom giv'n
To her by all indulgent heav'n,
Page  9 Was by an earl of Northern race
Purchas'd his cabinet to grace;
At which a patriot, high inflam'd,
Indignantly and loud exclaim'd;
" No wonder he who basely plan'd
The fall of freedom in this land,
Should with exhilerated soul
Buy him who Troy's palladium stole."
ALCIDES' club, whose pond'rous weight
Seem'd falling on the Hydra's pate,
Was by an enterprizing knight
Beheld with wonder and delight;
" That club, (said he,) with good direction,
" Would make fine work at an election:
" I'll have it, spite of all expence,
" Tho' murder prove the consequence."
He bought, and gave it to MAC'QUIRK,
Who made at Brentford glorious work;
Page  10 Beat out poor CLARK'S ill-fated brains,
And gain'd a pension for his pains.
In bronze the bust of CROMWELL stood,
Anxious alone for England's good,
A noble Lord, of Stewart's race,
Turn'd pale, and trembling left the place,
And, while precipitate he fled,
Look'd round in terror for his head.
" So long as shall exist this land
" May CROMWELL, fraught with terror stand,
" To him who Britain's law defies,"
A Middlesex elector cries.
When antiques made by modern hands,
Were bought by antiquarian S—DS;
When he affected to define
This Grecian, and that Florentine,
O! how it tickled up the fancy,
Of nicely-judging Doctor CH—NC—Y.
Page  11
For NEWTON'S head whose piercing eyes,
Explor'd the wonders of the skies;
Who could with certitude declare
The size and distance of each star.
MARTIN and FERGUSON contended,
And how the contest would have ended
I know not, had not evening come,
And call'd them both to lecture home.
They gone, no bidders could I see,
So light was held philosophy.
Close in a corner SHAKESPEAR'S bust
Neglected stood, defil'd with dust;
When GARRICK saw it, with respect
He bow'd and spake to this effect,
" O! thou who could'st with ease impart,
" The passions of the human heart,
" Who studiously look'd nature through,
" And shew'd her in each point of view.
Page  12 " Shall it be told in future, I
" When thou wert sold, stood tamely by,
" Forbid it all the pow'rs above,
" Duty forbid, forbid it love;"
And thence to shew his high regard,
He to his bosom hug'd the bard.
The ancient poets heads were bought
By men, who would be poets thought.
First FAWKS and COLEMAN made a fuss,
Next, FRANKLIN falling on his knees,
Worshipp'd and bought old SOPHOCLES,
But through so many ages soil'd,
In cleaning, they the features spoil'd.
ANTINOUS, blooming as the dawn,
In Titians glowing colours drawn,
By CH—RL—T H—Y'S was bought with joy,
Who much admir'd the handsome boy.
Page  13 Her keeper smiling at the bull,
Told her his character in full;
She trembled at the horrid tale,
Turn'd pale and red, and red and pale,
Grew quite enrag'd with grief and pain,
Then threw it from her with disdain.
A noble lord, with pitying eye,
Beheld his fav'rite prostrate lie;
And thus his sentiments exprest;
" Come injur'd beauty to my breast,
" To Italy, whose kindly arms
" Shall shield thee from these rude alarms,
" Together safely we'll retreat,
" Nor breath a sigh for T—LN—S seat."
And now a gay resplendent star,
Became the object of their care;
But where shall I description find,
To paint each agitated mind;
Page  14 Charm'd with the lustre of its ray,
All madly bid, and bid away;
At length a patriot whose fame
Was rais'd by popular acclaim,
Who on the shoulders of the croud,
Had bawl'd for liberty aloud;
For the bright gem, his freedom gave,
And down he sunk, a titled slave.
By BARRAT next, a noble view,
Was nobly purchas'd by BUCCLEUGH;
Happy the painter who can find,
A patron of exalted mind;
This to his tints fresh vigour gives,
By this the lifeless canvas lives:
And hence when BARRAT meets our eyes,
We see another BERGHAM rise.
A much esteem'd Jardin d'amour,
Bought by his lordship in his tour,
Page  15 For an original was sold,
And fetch'd its weight in sterling gold:
A Frenchman chuckled at the joke,
And thus in broken accents spoke;
" Mon Dieu, mon Pere! it make me laugh,
" To see de connoisseur, de calf;
" Dat fine original from France,
" Was copied dere, by Englis DANCE,"
To whom with joy, a stander by,
Quickly retorted this reply:
" When ancient Rome in arms was found,
" Superior to the nations round;
" When science rear'd her latent head,
" And all abroad her influence spread:
" When arts beneath her fost'ring wing,
" Luxuriously were seen to spring;
" The great Augustus mildly reign'd,
" His peoples father, patron, friend.
Page  16 " What wonder then, if we behold
" One cause the same effect unfold;
" Behold in Britain! favour'd isle,
" Excited by the royal smile:
" Arts, arms, and science justly claim
" The wreath of universal fame."
FOOTE for the head of Momus try'd,
And so did many a wag beside;
But whether 'twas prophetic fear,
Inspir'd the cautious auctioneer:
Or whether he, as oft the case is,
Had bidders plac'd in diff'rent places;
Because this lot was of the number,
Left on his hands 'mongst former lumber;
Impossible for me to fix,
Who know so little of their tricks;
Thus much is certain, on his tongue,
These words reiterated hung,
Page  17 " A going, going, speak in time,
" The price is nothing, 'tis a crime,
" A crime of most enormous hue,
" To trifle thus with dear Virtù;
" And Sir, believe me, till this hour,
" The ling'ring hammer, void of pow'r,
" Had hung but that the gen'ral frown,
" Brought it precipitately down;"
FOOTE gain'd the head, his foes defeated,
Quick to the theatre retreated,
And close in league with Momun join'd,
At LANGFORD laugh'd, and all mankind.
Poor POWELL's patent next appears,
To pay off all his old arrears;
Blasted and swore, and said as how,
'Twas the advice of all their friends,
That they should join their odds and ends;
Page  18 That injur'd merit long kept down,
Might rise to entertain the town;
DAGGER says TOM, how stands your purse?
Ah me, says DAGGER! there's the curse;
Which to our rising fame I fear
Will prove a permanent barrier:
He drew it forth, and wrap'd around
In dirty rag, a shilling found;
This might have done in FLEETWOOD's days,
Said TOM, when puppet shews and plays,
An equal share of fame possest,
The puppet shew, in gen'ral best;
But now by g—were I to join,
My hoarded grunter's gig* to thine,
The patent's such a blasted price,
We should not get a single slice.
TOM loung'd, and MARR with tragic port,
Stalk'd swearing onward to Duke's Court,
Page  19 Where drench'd in beer 'till morning dawn,
Their future hopes, their money gone;
And quite with want of oaths opprest,
They sunk insensibly to rest.
Now KING or HOLLAND 'twas agreed,
Were fittest POWELL to succeed;
But HOLLAND, when his friend was nam'd,
Supprest the tear, and thus declaim'd;
" Say, can I think, e're well the tomb
" Is clos'd upon his manly bloom;
" While grief yet triumphs on the face,
" Of all his little orphan race;
" Say, can I think at their expence,
" To raise myself to eminence:
" No, rather let one greatly try,
" The patent for their use to buy:"
KING, who of generous mold is made,
And feels for all who want his aid;
Page  20 Turns suddenly about, and cries,
Why? "what the devil ails my eyes."
Others there were who eyed askance,
The parchment with a longing glance;
Whose hearts obdurate never felt,
Whose eyes unpitying never melt:
To human nature a disgrace,
Who curst their stars, and left the place:
While things in this uncertain state,
Hung wav'ring on the thread of fate:
A messenger arriv'd express,
And thus deliver'd his address;
" The noble friend, the gods be prais'd,
" Who POWELL to the patent rais'd,
" Hath seen the hapless widow's tear,
" All copious streaming on his bier;
" And touch'd with pity at the sight,
" Transfers to her, her husband's right:"
Page  21 A gen'ral plaudit shook the room,
And joy dispel'd the recent gloom.
A medal which no semblance bore,
To those by artists made of yore,
But smooth as one some years ago,
Invented, drawn, and grav'd by YEO;
And lately bought on Stratford's plain,
Was for a dinner sold again:
Pox of the jubilee, said one,
Another, in sarcastick tone,
Swore 'twas a farce, a fair take in,
The whole not worth a single pin;
The ode no poetry could boast,
The musick was in discord lost,
The temple to the first of bards,
Was like a tott'ring house of cards.
Thus he affected to despise,
What he had seen with envious eyes;
Page  22 And swelling heard with conscious pride,
Loud peals of laughter on his side.
When from among the croud, a youth,
Thus boldly spake, impell'd by truth;
" When culprit reason truant plays,
" And wanders forth in fancy's maze,
" Thy random shafts may please a-while,
" And raise the unreflecting smile,
" But soon as absent sense returns,
" Our cheek with indignation burns,
" We feel the folly and disgrace,
" Of being cheated by grimace.
" I too this institution saw,
" Which struck each feeling breast with awe;
" Saw all the human powers combin'd,
" In GARRICK's animated mind;
" Saw filial love his soul engage,
" To the great father of the stage:
Page  23 " And felt, what thou canst ne'er impart,
" The bliss of reason round my heart."
At which Contempt in Laughter's place,
Possession took of every face;
So truth for ever with her frown,
Shall bear the bauble folly down.
A curious bust of Indian clay,
Which bore the marks of regal sway,
Brought in the Plassy from Bengal,
Was sent to Merchant Taylor's hall;
'T was by an Eastern artist wrought,
Beyond the reach of common thought.
A spring no mortal could suspect,
If touch'd, produc'd this strange effect;
The head would shake, the eyes would roll,
And seeming life possest the whole.
Page  24
To know its history and fame,
The universal wish became;
When one, in Eastern learning skill'd,
The universal wish fulfill'd.
" In ancient times, when the rude north,
" Pour'd her rapacious children forth,
" When like a widely spreading flood,
" They delug'd all the East with blood;
" They seiz'd that hapless prince's throne,
" And deem'd his revenues their own;
" Some say, it still recorded stands,
" He fell untimely by their hands:
" But in these days, when justice reigns,
" The horrid tale, no credit gains."
While he proceeded to relate
This prince's, and his country's fate;
The messenger the busto bearing,
Return'd, and begg'd a patient hearing.
Page  25 " Soon as (said he) the spot I gain'd,
" Where truth and elocution reign'd,
" Fronting the chair I took my stand,
" Applying to the spring my hand;
" Shake not, said one, thy head at me,
" Thou can'st not say, I murder'd thee;
" Let not thine eye indignant roll
" Another cry'd, to fright my soul;
" A Third exclaim'd, ye shades of night!
" 'Tis D—W—A, hide me from his sight:
" And now a gen'ral terror ran
" Through all, and catch'd from man to man;
" I seiz'd the moment of dismay,
" And came with hasty steps away.
" When from a prince to empire born,
" The diadem is basely torn,
" The wretch who gave the bleeding blow,
" May well the action disavow;
Page  26 " May well, should e'er his shade appear,
" To petrifaction turn, with fear;
" But that the unpolluted heart,
" Should thus eccentrically start:
" That souls as virtue's bosom fair,
" Should shake at trifles light as air,
" Shake like the murderer and thief,
" Amazes me beyond belief:"
He ceas'd, and with him all agreed,
'Twas strange! 'twas passing strange, indeed
A group of heads, but lately brought,
From Herculaneum's dreadful vault;
(Gorg'd when th' Almighty hid his face,
And nature trembled to her base,)
Came in rotation to be sold,
And LANGFORD thus, their hist'ry told.
" These were the men, when Rome arose,
" Said he, with vengeance on her foes;
Page  27 " When from the orient, to the north,
" Her eagles flew with terror forth;
" When she to half the world gave law,
" And kneeling, kept the rest in awe:
" These were the men, who brought disgrace,
" On her, and all the Roman race;
" Restor'd what long she sought to gain,
" By millions spent, and thousands slain;
" And bid her conqu'ring legions cease,
" Brib'd by the nations round, to peace.
" 'Twas then the high patrician pride,
" Look'd with contempt on all beside;
" 'Twas then the public treasure went,
" To serve each infamous intent;
" 'Twas then corrupt, her senate grown,
" Assum'd a pow'r, before unknown;
" And freedom by the swelling tear,
" Confess'd her dissolution near.
Page  28
" 'Twas then her judges warp'd the laws,
" To serve th' abandon'd villain's cause;
" Then o'er a son, whose guiltless blood
" Fast flow'd, a weeping father stood;
" The prop of his declining day,
" Snatch'd by the murd'rer's arm away:
" And saw the wretch by vile chicane,
" Escape, by whom his son was slain.
" Then justice hid, abash'd, her head,
" Misrule, her baleful influence spread,
" And stalking forth with giant stride,
" Menac'd destruction far and wide.
" At length enrag'd, the people rose,
" And rush'd impetuous on their foes;
" To justice brought them for their crimes,
" A mark to all succeeding times:
" And lo! beneath the sculptor's hand,
" Consign'd to infamy they stand."
Page  29 All look'd astonish'd at the tale,
Some blush'd, and some turn'd sickly pale,
When one, intelligent of soul,
Thus feelingly address'd the whole.
" Would you, my countrymen, but cast
" A retrospect, on cent'rys past;
" Would you explore th' historic page,
" Transmitted down from age to age;
" Then would you feel without alloy,
" The many blessings you enjoy.
" Thrice happy England, happy plains,
" Where justice dwells, and freedom reigns,
" Where round a virtuous monarch, stand,
" A glorious patriotic band,
" Watchful and firm, with ARGUS' eyes,
" To guard her laws against surprize.
Page  30
" Where GRAFTON, ever honour'd name,
" Immortal on the roll of fame;
" Who like an ATLAS, bears the weight,
" Attendant on a mighty state;
" Ne'er leaves the council, ne'er attends
" Newmarket, and his jockey-friends,
" Who when the fascinating die,
" Bids ample patrimonies fly;
" Ne'er mingles in the guilty train,
" Damn'd to variety of pain:
" Where GRAFTON stands, unaw'd by fear,
" Tho' faction thunder in his ear;
" Let fear the guilty mind deform,
" The virtuous man defies the storm.
" Where BEDFORD, whose exalted breast,
" Is by fair freedom's love imprest;
" To whom Hibernia's sons shall raise,
" The voice of unabating praise:
Page  31 " Who when the laurel, once the boast
" Of Britain's nervous sons was lost,
" Bid war, with all his horrors cease,
" And gave his vanquish'd country peace:
" Refus'd all profit for himself,
" (Superior to the love of pelf,)
" All, save a snuff-box, (trifling thing,)
" Presented by the Gallic king:
" Where BEDFORD stands, beyond the reach
" Of those, who dare his fame impeach;
" Contemns the shafts around him hurl'd,
" And scorns the malice of the world.
" Where virtuous MANSFIELD, first and best
" Of orators, by all confess'd,
" Whose firm undeviating heart,
" From rectitude shall ne'er depart;
" But who, an angel might believe,
" If he attempted to deceive:
Page  32 " Who in the gay convivial hour,
" When wine prevails o'er reason's pow'r;
" Hath seen his friends drink copious streams,
" In healths to CHARLEY, and to JAMES:
" Hath seen them on their knees implore,
" High heav'n their S—n to restore;
" Yet hath refus'd the knee to bend,
" Solicited by ev'ry friend;
" And nobly scorn'd the guilty wine,
" True to the Hanoverian line:
" Where MANSFIELD stands, O! glorious cause,
" To guard, and to explain her laws.
" Laws, which our ancestors obtain'd,
" When JOHN, and either HENRY reign'd;
" When they the tyrant's arm withstood,
" And purchas'd freedom with their blood.
" Laws, which at ev'ry father's hand,
" The son with justice may demand,
Page  33 " Still unsubverted and intire,
" As he receiv'd them from his Sire.
" O! 'tis a theme, on which to dwell
" With pleasure, makes each art'ry swell,
" Extatick to the last degree,
" Britannia's high-born sons to see;
" With fond parental care secure,
" Her laws inviolably pure.
" But for those grinning traytors there,
" Condemn'd their country's hate to bear;
" Take them, my friend, O! take them hence,
" And with another lot commence."
Next came an old historic piece,
Which rival'd all the works of Greece;
The story was so well portray'd,
Assisted so by light and shade,
Page  34
That e'en the most consummate dunce,
Might know the history at once.
The hero of the canvas stood,
In many a diff'rent attitude.
First in the senate he appear'd,
And seem'd with much attention heard.
Then as a minister of state,
He scowl'd around with pride elate.
Next stood an army in array,
Which he appear'd employ'd to pay;
One hand (in bus'ness nicely skill'd,)
Perform'd that office, 'tother fill'd
A coffer of enormous size,
On which he look'd with jealous eyes.
Page  35
Near this again he stood confest,
A tempting coronet, his crest,
The sure, the never-failing boast,
Of those who serve their country most.
But last, disgraceful situation,
Accus'd by all of peculation;
Abandon'd and detested grown,
He safety sought behind a throne.
Whether the people dragg'd him thence,
To pay for his suppos'd offence;
Or suffer'd him secure to stay,
The painter's art forbore to say;
Forbore on purpose, I presume,
To give imagination room.
Still were the tints so fresh and fair,
Tho' painted many a hundred year;
Page  36 The preservation still so nice,
'Twas sold at an enormous price.
Its fate extreamly odd appear'd,
When from the buyer's lips we heard,
" 'Twas bought alone to decorate,
" The room where traytors to the state;
" For manifold offences lie,
" Before they on the scaffold die."
Last came an urn, which L—GF—D feign'd,
Was carv'd when good AURELIUS reign'd;
But which to me and all appear'd,
The work of days far less rever'd.
Full in the front, in bass-relief,
Rome's colonies o'er-whelm'd with grief
Were seen, whilst commerce trembling stood,
And fear'd again to tempt the flood:
Page  37 In alto on the other side
Enthron'd, oppression sat, and pride,
Corruption near them held her seat,
And freedom crouch'd beneath their feet;
Whilst faction, bursting from her cell,
Encourag'd millions to rebel.
Around this motto struck the eye,
The sad remains of liberty;
Who for so many ages spurn'd,
Tyrannic rage, behold inurn'd:
Cut off! O, most unhallow'd deed!
When least of all she fear'd to bleed.
Much said, the auctioneer to raise
The price and credit of the vase,
'Twas he declar'd, no modern bauble,
But an Etruscan veritable;
And fit, so capital a thing,
Fit for the palace of a king.
Page  38
When one distinguish'd from the croud,
Whose genius was by all allow'd,
Superior to the common herd,
On his own knowledge thus declar'd.
" This curious vase, exceeding like
" In all respects, the true antique;
" Is made my friends, of modern clay,
" By artists of the present day;
" I know them perfectly, could teach
" The name and character of each:
" Could tell how all their lives were spent,
" To bring about this blest event;
" Who mix'd the clay, who form'd the urn,
" Who bid the flame so fiercely burn,
" With life, whose hand each figure crown'd:
" And who inscrib'd the motto round.
" But 'tis enough for me to prove,
" Excited by my country's love;
Page  39 " To prove of equal rank in fame,
" The ancient and the modern name.
" He sent it to Saint STEPHEN's fane,
" Where liberty was wont to reign,
" And said, tho' she be banish'd thence,
" Her ashes cannot give offence.
" When all the catalogue was sold,
" Bust, Urn, and Picture, turn'd to gold,
" By L—D's art, who said his say,
" In his obliging smiling way;
" I, hapless I, who tell the tale,
" Was offer'd up to public sale:
" Silence! a lady cry'd for shame,
" Silence! indeed, I hate the name;"
An empty prating fool reply'd,
" Madam, with you I coincide,"
" And so do I, reply'd a brother,"
Another still, and still another,
Page  40 Reply'd the same, and all the cry
Was, who the duce would Silence buy;
" No bidders, L—D knock'd me down,
" To a Jew-broker for a crown,
" Who with small interest content,
" Sold me for ten times ten per cent,
" From him 'twas my mishap to pass,
" Into a Virtuoso's glass;
" Near whose abode, a structure stands,
" Where men from the remotest lands,
" Of indiscriminate degrees,
" All buz, and gather round like bees;
" Where Christians, Jews, and Turks confound
" Language, in undistinguish'd sound.
" Behind it stands that famous place,
" Where modesty ne'er shews her face;
" Where ign'rance, if she chance to come,
" Is certainly sent wadling home,
Page  41 " Whose lawless sons avow this creed,
" By lies and fraud we best succeed;
" And meet tumultuous ev'ry day,
" On each unwary fool to prey:
" Offended thus my eyes and ears,
" Out burst involuntary tears;
" My long invelop'd tongue I try'd,
" Nor found the use of speech deny'd—
Said I, "O!—if thy breast,
" Compassion feels for the distrest;
" If when the heart-depressing sigh,
" Hath burst the sluices of the eye,
" Thy soul susceptible hath known,
" Concern for sorrows not thy own;
" Surely thou wilt with pity hear,
" Nor treat contemptuously my pray'r,
" Deliver me for thou art able,
" From this detested modern Babel:"
He listen'd with astonish'd ear,
The tongue of Silence thus to hear;
Page  42 And while his breast with anger burn'd,
Thus with severity return'd;
" Dar'st thou presumptuously defame,
" This spot, by that opprobrious name,
" Where matchless beauty ev'ry day,
" Shines forth with undiminish'd ray:
" Where merchants meet of genuine worth,
" From the four quarters of the earth,
" Men who expand the golden sail
" Of commerce, to the rising gale;
" Bring tides of wealth in copious streams,
" Along the bosom of the Thames,
" And bid AUGUSTA in the eyes
" Of all, the grand emporium rise.
" Dar'st thou presumptuously reflect,
" On such a place with disrespect!"
Said I, "Ah, little did I dread,
" To draw thy vengeance on my head,
Page  43 " Else had consummate Silence hung,
" For ever, on my hapless tongue;
" But how shall mis'ry find relief?
" If she neglect to tell her grief;
" How shall the wretch opprest with woe,
" Emerge, if none his sorrows know?
" I hop'd in some sequester'd cot,
" Such as thou oft hast wish'd thy lot;
" Beside a stream, and sylvan shade,
" Thou kindly wouldst have seen me laid;
" Or to some friend to sense and thee,
" Who, when from folly's children free,
" Glad from the bustling world retreats,
" And science in his study meets,
" Thou wouldst my person have consign'd,
" In mercy to my tortur'd mind;
" Let then compassion in thine eye,
" Assure me thou wilt yet comply:
" Let anger in thy bosom cease,
" And give me once again to peace:
Page  44 " And now his stubborn soul subdu'd
" No longer was my pray'r withstood;
When kindly he; "O, cease to grieve,
" I pity thee, and will relieve:
" I have, HARPOCRATES, a friend,
" Who never will thy ear offend."
" Dumb, I presume?" "Not he, indeed,
" He talks as fast as I can read,
" But then his tongue flows smoothly on,
" With sense, in perfect unison;"
" Go to him, give my compliments,
" Assure him why thou com'st, and whence,
" Tell all thy tale, nay, do not linger,
" And beg he'll wear thee on his finger."