Crockford-House (1827), Canto II

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Frankenstein, Edited by Stuart Curran
STUDY AIDS : IN POPULAR CULTURE

Crockford-House (1827), Canto II

Henry Luttrell

 

Luttrell uses Frankenstein's Monster to represent a suffering and hated everyman, one who "Must be fed, when once created."


Rouse your spirits, Muse of mine.
Though the feeblest of the Nine,
There's no saying how 'twould hurt me,
Goddess, should you now desert me.
Since so lovingly we've travelled
On together, don't be gravelled,
But conduct a grateful friend
Safely to his journey's end;
Clear awhile your clouded brow,
And, if ever, help me now.

In some tiny shape again
Settle on my Bramah-pen,
Or, still kinder, near me stand,
Large as life, and there command
All the motions of my hand,
Lest the bard's unworthy song
Do the matchless Hero wrong.

Tell me, when o'erweening pride
Lured him to a scene untried,
When it hurried him astray
From a safe and noiseless way,
To the dangerous heights of Play,
Tell me what the valiant Cid
Of St. James's, Crockford, did.
How he spurred his desperate soul
Onward to the destined goal.

Thanks to many a luckless caster,
Houses four now called him master.
Still (since never mortal gained
All he wished) a fifth remained,
Where the men of rub-a-dub,
Left without a foe to drub,
Long had held their peaceful club;
And, disdaining to be sold,
Spurned our Hero's proffered gold.

Strange, when soldiers disobey,
And refuse to move for pay!
Crockford, in a case so new,
Puzzled felt what next to do;
But, though formed for soft persuasion
More than open bold invasion,
Driven at last to change his course,
Foiled at fair means, took to force.
As some "losel," to possess
Her who scorns his soft caress,
Long in vain of money lavish,
Wickedly resolves to ravish.

Thus he on the luckless building
Forced the pill without the gilding.
Baffled and enraged to find it
Curbed his fancy, and confined it,
He attacked and undermined it.
Armed with pickaxe, crow, and spade,
Such a rent this Casca made,
That, as dawned the wintry day,
Rocked awhile with side-long sway,
Joists, and floors, and beams gave way.
Every story, every wall,
Nodding, tottered to its fall,
Ousting husbands, children, wives,
Just in time to save their lives.

Many a neighbour by the shock
Startled, woke at seven o'clock,
Many a stranger heard from far, a
Sound like that of Niagara.
Haunts beloved of fife and drum,
Down, in thunder, down you come,
And with ruin far and wide
Strew the gulf on every side!

Passenger, I need not ask,
Would it be an easy task
Now, to trace a feature clubbish,
In yon heap of dust and rubbish.
Ne'er before had household-gods
Struggled with such fearful odds;
By the sudden revolution,
Worse than sheriff's execution,
Scarce was left within the house
Shelter for a man or mouse;
Reft of every stick within it,
'Twas unfurnished in a minute;
While, perchance, some broker sly
Marked the goods, in passing by,
Thus projected, with amazement,
Longing for a fair appraisement.
While, in spite of many a prop,
Hoby trembled for the shop
Where his matchless boots are sold,
Nearly for their weight in gold!

Is it thus that Fate rewards
Deeds like yours, ye dauntless Guards?
Must you, bearded in your camp
By a foe of Crockford's stamp,
See him in your quarters dwell,
In your very citadel?
Must your trials never cease,
Spared in war, to fall in peace?

Yet, while, club-less, you bemoan
Walls so suddenly o'erthrown,
Gratitude should check your tongue;
For, had such a mine been sprung
At an earlier hour or later,
By that merciless Abater,
Had the Fates, his will obeying,
Caught you dining, supping, playing,
Neither fortitude nor flight
Had availed you—Men of might,
'Twould have sealed your doom outright!
All had perished, flesh and bones,
Maimed and lifeless, on the stones,
All from cards or billiards hurled
Headlong to another world!

Thalaba, thou Arch-destroyer,
Do, consult a clever lawyer.
Let him be an able varlet,
For the Red-coats must have Scarlet.
Therefore, to avert your doom,
Be advised, and "buy a Brougham."
One who's never to be bought
But in cases where he ought,
Where, I fancy, those who try him
Find it well worth while to buy him.

You may laugh at such a trespass,
But 'twill never with the Mess pass.
Law, like war, affords an action;
Guards-men, though a fighting faction,
May contrive to calm their fury
With the verdict of a Jury.
Mischief done there's no undoing;
Vengeance in their breast is brewing,
And, whatever you may say for't,
Ten to one, they'll make you pay for't.

Still, though awkward is the scrape,
There's a loop-hole to escape
From its trouble and vexation.
End the suit by arbitration,
Might I venture to advise;
For a sudden compromise,
Breaking out between the parties,
Wormwood to the' Attorney's heart is.

But if you are over-bold
For my counsel,—if you hold
That submission in a hero
Lowers him, at once, to Zero,
Luckily there yet a charm is,
(Though, in trespass vi et armis
Damages are often heavy),
Ere the Sheriff makes his levy,
There's a charm to save you still—
Crockford, you may file a bill.
Law to equity must yield;
Equity, that Gorgon-shield,
To the liveliest suitor shewn,
Stiffens him at once to stone.

Bring the haughty warriors down,
Make them truckle to the Gown;
Folks like you have no compunction,
Only move for an injunction,
And with charges so involve it,
That no answer can dissolve it.
If they stir an atom faster,
Have them up before a Master,
Ply them well with forms for fudge meant,
Never let them hope for judgment;
And if, eager in the suit,
On they rush to seize the fruit,
As on cattle does a lion,
As on Juno did Ixion,
Let their arms, in vain held out,
Only clasp a cloud of doubt,
Raised, to check their daring love
Of dispatch, by Chancery's Jove;
While the' avenging pangs they feel
Of his slow-revolving wheel.

Think what anguish and surprise,
Mingled, in their bosoms rise,
Chill their hearts, and glaze their eyes,
When my Lord, to cure their vapours,
Talks of taking home the papers,
Where, perchance, his Lordship weighs them,
Reads perchance,—perchance mislays them!

Term by term, and day by day,
Wear their patience thus away,
Till arrives that consummation
Of their woe, the long Vacation.
Drained by sums already lost,
Scared by dreams of future cost,
You may curb these men of war
With their own Solicitor;
Or, if Fortitude endures
Aught more terrible, with yours.
Think, if these should charge together
On the baffled suitors, whether
Proof there'd be in gun or blade
'Gainst two Chancery-bills unpaid!

Thus tormented let them be;
Feeing ever, still to fee,
For a lingering last decree;
While till doomsday off you stave it
With a special affidavit.
Think in oaths what magic spells lie!
Think of Beaufort versus Wellesley!

Friends and foes you may defy,
Thus intrenched in Chancery.
'Tis like Doubting-Castle, where
Dwelt that giant-form, Despair,
Save that all the luckless clients,
Though his namesakes, are not giants,
But, by heavy fees exacted,
Into pigmy-forms contracted.
Can a standard here be planted?
Hence, avaunt!—The ground's enchanted.
Warlike engines are in vain,
Storm, or sap, or coup-de-main.
Guards, you might with less ado,
Win a second Waterloo,
Than a victory achieve
Here, without the Conjuror's leave.

He can keep you all at bay
With one magic word—Delay.
Send you to the right about
By two syllables—I doubt.
So impregnable a fort
Ne'er held out as Eldon's court.
Europe's armies would be beat
Matched with Eldon, and—the Fleet!

But it matters not a straw
Whether Equity or Law,
(Blessings both, but somewhat dear)
Conquers, or is conquered here;
If the Man of dice and cards
Proves too many for the Guards;
Or if they, of life and limb
Prodigal, should master him;
If, in short, the case that's strongest
Triumphs, or the purse that's longest.

These are trifles, light as air,
Little worth our Hero's care.
Crockford, conscious of the ready,
To his darling purpose steady,
Nay, each hour determined more,
Having ruined, to restore,
Hastes to be a man or mouse,
Made or marred, at Crockford-House.

See, the destined ground is cleared!
See, the scaffolding is reared!
Carts on carts the gulf environ,
Fraught with timber, stone, and iron.
Piles of bricks from every quarter
Pay their court to hods of mortar,
And, in spite of wintry weather,
Lovingly are linked together.
Welcome (here's a fig for lawyers)
Masons, carpenters, and sawyers,
Heaving, pulleying, chipping, craning,
Thumping, hammering, and planing,
Never grudging, night or day,
Double tasks for double pay.

Soon shall spring (for Crockford dashes),
Like a phenix from its ashes,
Like a rising exhalation,
Such a plan, and elevation!
Such a fabric, such a building,
Rich in marble, stucco, gilding,
Pannels varnished, mouldings burnished;
All so fitted up, and furnished;
Monstrous hive for making honey!
Tempting trap for catching money!

But while, mushroom-like, it grows,
Folks get frightened, and suppose
That, for ends so full of evil,
Crockford's dealing with the Devil;
And, from greediness of pelf,
To that fiend has sold himself
Who will, at no distant day,
Claim, and carry him away!

They down-face you that his master
Scarcely for himself built faster,
When he of metallic scum
Fashioned Pandemonium,
Than his slave, they can't tell how,
Builds, as if by magic, now;
So that any one may spy
Satan's finger in the pye.

Thus, they add, as if they'd seen'em
Sign the deed, it runs between'em.
That of masonry or brick-work,
(Being anxious to make quick work)
Crockford covenants to lay
Certain cubits every day;
Stipulating so, they guess,
Just to save appearances;
While the Devil, maturely weighing
What the house is meant for—playing,
And that then and there, the guests
Most perform his high behests,
And promote his interests,
Duly promises to lay,
(Reckoning on the' aforesaid Play),
Every night, in order true,
For each Crockford-cubit, two.
Both performing thus in turn,
To complete the whole concern,
As agreed, if not so soon
As the end of May, in June.

To the contract, as it stood,
Crockford set his hand in blood;
Satan, with a pen of flame
Dipped in sulphur, did the same.
"Sealed," quoth Satan. Crockford shivered
As he stammered forth "delivered."
And his terror scarce was banished
When the other party—vanished!

Such the tale, of little credit.
'Twas a burning shame to spread it;
To encourage a report
So malicious ev'n in sport.
'Twas a calumny for spite meant,
And, if dealt with by indictment,
Though 'twere true as is the Bible,
More, on that account, a libel,
Say the jury, on their oath,
'Gainst the Devil and Crockford both.
I, for one, though some receive it
All for gospel, don't believe it;
Or that any sprite but Mammon
Helps him on.—The rest is gammon.

Yet, my friend, though he and you
Never had an interview;
And hereafter, as I pray
Most devoutly, never may;
Though no demon-spell has bound you,
Dangers here, on earth, surround you.
Pause a moment, Crockford, pause—
Break, but do not brave the laws;
Out-manoeuvre, or out-buy them;
But 'tis madness to defy them.

Though their silence, long and deep,
Plainly shews them fast asleep,
Be not by their slumbers led
To imagine they are dead.
Fear their renovated vigour,
Fear their threatened "utmost rigour,"
Which, near covers and preserves,
Frowns aloft, to try the nerves
Of those pestilent encroachers
On all rural bliss, the poachers,
In the yearly war which peasants
Wage with gentlemen, for pheasants.

If the legal lion rouses,
How you'll mourn your vanished houses!
When th' expounders of the Laws
Grant a rule for shewing cause,
And to court you trembling go,
Conscious you have none to shew,
How you'll wish yourself again
Safe within that modest den
Where your dextrous course you shaped
So discreetly, and escaped
From such perils as, in print,
'Twere ungracious ev'n to hint!
Now, pursuit may well grow warmer;
Now, you are your own informer.

Wherefore all this fuss and flourish?
Friends are lukewarm, foes are currish.
Those would hardly stir to right you;
These move heaven and earth to spite you.
Make not such a noise and shew:
If so loud your trumpets blow,
Dread the fate of Jericho.
At their sounding, every wall
Of your citadel may fall.

Take my counsel, do not brag;
Keep your cat within her bag;
Comely whiskers, velvet paws,
Ill conceal her teeth and claws.
Nought avails her coat and purring,
If she keeps the mice from stirring.

With so nourishing a diet
Can't you chew the cud in quiet?
Unmolested would you eat
Never, never, cry roast meat;
Nor, at meals, proclaim aloud
Plenty to a hungry crowd,
Who begin, perhaps, by staring,
But, at last, insist on sharing.
While you summon many a guest
In your pompous halls to feast,
Tremble at the Bow-Street Harpies,
With their nails unclean, and sharp eyes,
Birds obscene, whose sight and touch
May not please you over-much.

Here, I fancy you replying
By a truth there's no denying,
"Men have gambled, and they will,
Spite of lectures, gamble still.
So that any speculation
Has, in Play, a sure foundation."
Granted.—But in every case,
Pray consider time and place:
If you weigh not manners, men,
Where you lay your traps, and when,
Your conclusion's not exact.—
Still, by long experience backed,
Still, your major is a fact.

Wise and simple, grave and gay,
Have been lured and led away
Captives, by the charms of Play.
There's no punishing or shaming
Certain people out of gaming;
'Tis among the plagues that ravage
Countries civilized and savage,
In its blind, impartial rage
Sparing neither sex nor age.
Here, 'tis a resistless passion,
There, a pastime or a fashion.
Some it maddens and bewitches
With the hope of sudden riches:
Some would fain, because too well off,
Stave Ennui, that demon-spell, off;
And by Play's excitement strive
Just to keep themselves alive.
Moralists may preach or wonder;
'Tis as ancient quite as thunder.

Nor imagine that the vice
Is confined to cards and dice;
That its power is felt or shewn
In saloons or clubs alone.
Practised our desires to move
In as various forms as Love,
Shifting to a hundred shapes,
Here some grave pursuit it apes;
Here performs some sordid task
In a domino and mask.

All who, dashing, over-trade,
All by whom a wager's laid;
All who deal in those affairs
Called, from sharing nothing,—shares,
(As a grove all classic men do
Lucus term, a non lucendo);
All who would their incomes double,
By some specious two-faced bubble,
And secure, by hums on hums,
Bonuses and premiums;
All the bulls and bears that range,
Shaped like men, the Stock-exchange,
And, without remorse, would martyr
Half mankind for half a quarter;
All who, preying on the nation,
Call their rapine speculation;
Who by accident advance,
And in all things trust to chance;
Scheme-contrivers, money-scramblers,
All are errant downright gamblers.

Who, but smiling, hears and sees
Folks like some at least of these;
Thus untouched by love of gold,
Thus "in conscious virtue bold,"
With uplifted hands and eyes
Feigning anger, or surprise;
With severe and Spartan air
Sitting in the moral chair;
When at others' motes they scream,
With their own enormous beam;
When they dare the lash to lay
So relentlessly on Play,
And to wonder what retards
God's revenge on dice and cards!

Softly, Stoics, if you please.
Truth, profaned by lips like these,
Sounds but like a lottery-puff.
Play, we own, is bad enough,
With its see-saw loss and gain;—
Every mischief's in its train.
In the human breast, we grant
'Tis a poisonous deadly plant,
One whose growth is sure to smother
And o'ershadow every other;
As for miles round Java's Upas,
('Twont among us, now, for true pass)
Nothing, as the fable goes,
Either moves, or breathes, or grows.

Arm against it Woman's beauty,
Love, Ambition, Fame, and Duty,
Play, unconquered since the Fall,
Play will triumph o'er them all!
'Tis no easier to defend it,
Than by any law to end it;
Vain attempt, and sure to fail. 'Tis
Like a host of other frailties,
Which, if rooted up, no doubt,
We should better be without.

But are Doctors such as these
Fit to combat the disease?
Men who, in a different form,
Hug the vice at which they storm?
May n't we whisper to these elves,
Sage physicians, cure yourselves?
Others justly may condemn
Who offend not, but in them
'Tis, whatever the pretence,
Sheer, unblushing impudence,
If its real name you want:—
Sheer hypocrisy and cant!

Be it then as you contend.—
Play, no doubt, my venturous friend,
Is an universal passion;
Still be cautious, while you dash on,
What a scheme you risk your cash on.
Freely, we confess, you bleed,
And would, ten to one, succeed,
Were the' adventure French or Flemish;
But, at home, we're somewhat squeamish;
Not what is, but what appears,
Here, alarms our eyes and ears.

While the question we are blinking,
And, as is our custom, winking
Hard, though manifest the case is
As the nose on all our faces,
Crockford, are you not a ninny, an
Errant, reckless Carthaginian,
Thus our Roman eyelids paring,
At your deeds to set us staring,
When, through indolence or kindness,
We've so long been shamming blindness?

If you, for your strange vocation,
Not content with toleration,
Aim at full emancipation,
If you from the monster, Play,
Rashly tear the veil away,
As the' impostor-prophet cast
His, in triumph, off at last;
(So 'tis written in that book
Of enchantment, Lalla Rookh);
Should you, to unseal the eyes
Of its abject votaries,
Treat them even to a glance
Of its hideous countenance,
Crockford, while you ape Mokanna,
Dread the Acts of George and Anna!

Wherefore hurry up a mansion
Of such splendour and expansion,
Wherefore build so proud a fane
To the greedy God of gain?
Nursed in darkness, scared by light,
Play should, here, play least in sight,
And, ensconced behind a screen,
If it blushes, "blush unseen."

Though, from policy or chance,
It has thriven, and thrives in France,
Where unbroken custom backs it,
Law permits, and statesmen tax it;
Crockford, even you must grant,
Here, 'tis but a sickly plant,
Stunted oft, and oft laid low,
By the nipping squalls that blow,
Fitful, from the Street of Bow.

Ev'n our darling shares and tickets,
Long afflicted with the rickets,
Lingering, spite of many a vote,
With the rattles in the throat,
After all their struggles past,
Calmly have expired at last;
And there's left not breath enough
In the Lottery—for a puff!

Wherefore conjure up accusers
In the testy tribe of losers,
Who compose, your annals say,
Just nine-tenths of those who play?
Why instruct the thickest skull
In the secret of the pull?
Are your customers so dull?
Who can doubt, but Nature's fools,
From the value of the tools,
And the instruments they see,
What the precious work must be?
Something you were known to touch,
But we never dreamed how much,
Nor, till such a pile was shewn us,
Guessed the value of your bonus.

Every brick and stone that's laid,
Whispers of your prosperous trade:
When we see yon walls aspire
Higher every day and higher;
When we view that stately front,
Ominous to those who punt,
Parting, by some scores of feet,
Hoby's boots from Bennet-Street,
This, at once, the veil withdraws;
From th' effect we judge the cause,
Sure that all the boundless cost,
Gained by you, by us was lost.

He, the Chief, whose armies went
Rough-shod o'er the Continent,
Who, insatiate of renown,
Thrones and Kingdoms crumbled down,
Deeming he had nothing gained
While unconquered aught remained,
By the flames of Moscow crossed
Mourned his fame and empire lost.
You, though all confess your sway,
Sovereign o'er the realms of Play,
Crockford, if you're wise, refrain
From this dangerous new campaign.
Spite of your achievements, tremble
Lest your fate his fate resemble,
Lest the Palace in our view
Should a Kremlin prove to you.
What though, beaten, you surrender?
We are ruthless and untender,
And have Forts, within a mile,
Strong as St. Helena's isle.

Mighty Man of cards and dice,
Take a real friend's advice;
One who, though he never threw in,
Fain would shelter you from ruin.
Mine's a maxim soon expressed,
Loss the first is loss the best.
Don't, or I shall think you mad,
Throw good money after bad;
Don't, thou prodigal of purse,
Farther go, to fare the worse;
On the precipice's brink
Still you've time to pause and think.
If your noddle be not too dense
For a single grain of prudence,
Now, your self-command recover,
One step more, and all is over.

Haste, ere Winter yield to Spring,
Haste, and strike your scaffolding.
Though you've set the World a gazing
At the structure you are raising,
Though so proud an elevation
Makes what's called—a strong sensation,
Keeping, like the Funds of late,
People in a "feverish state,"
Let it, like the Bear and Fiddle,
Off be broken in the middle;
Let the speculation drop;
Bid your swarming workmen stop;
They may grumble, sneer, or scoff,
Never mind, but pay them off.

Or, should pausing here, perchance,
Cost as much as to advance,
'Twould be easy to diminish
Your expenses, ere you finish
What you rashly mean to build—
Ere its destiny's fulfilled,
Ere to such a size you swell it,
Un-bedevil, and un-hell it,
From a Play-devoted cavern
To a club, hotel, or tavern.
Crowning thus St. James's heights,
'Twill be popular; and White's,
If you delicately break it
To the Managers, and make it
Worth their while, perhaps may take it.

Not intending to distress you,
Not in malice I address you.
Little wisdom lies in scorning
Mine, a well-meant friendly warning.
Dread yon treacherous hollow sea,
Dread the breakers on your lea;
If you would not be the sport
Of foul weather, make for port;
Or, in plainer words, retire
To your snug domestic fire;
To your safe and tight-built ark,
Anchored in the Régent's Park.

Wherefore dread too still a life?
You have children, and a wife;
Can't you trust to her for strife?
And to little girls and boys,
Romping up and down, for noise?
Scarce, amid these "natural shocks,"
Need you miss the dice and box,
Or, in scenes so little dull,
Murmur, though you lose the pull.

There, aloof from tradesmen's bills,
Gaze upon the Sister-hills;
Musing, as you lift the sash,
On M`Adam, and on Nash.
And when Eastern fogs and blights
Mar these innocent delights,
When encroaching smoke from Town
Bids you pull the window down,
Then, for sweet discourse you'll find,
With a neighbour to your mind,
Subjects tempting to dilate on;
Such as we can all debate on.

Sheltered then from wind and rain,
Talk of Portugal and Spain;
Of that driveller in command
Over bigots, Ferdinand;
Of the Lisbon-constitution,
Problem of no quick solution;
And at your discretion mix
These with corn and Catholics;
With protections, prohibitions,
Fierce debates, and strong petitions.
Next, discuss, for a cephalic,
Notes and currency metallic;
Or the crisis which portends
War 'twixt rents and dividends;
War, where moneyed men or landed
Must be scratched, and may be stranded.
Hopeful topics such as these
You may handle at your ease;
Topics, on which every mother's
Son may bore himself—and others.

Or, if later in the year,
Posting down to Cambridgeshire,
On whose plains, by Fortune's care,
You've another pied-à-terre,
Lay your bets, and hedge, and lark it
With the jockeys of Newmarket;
With your wonted welcome greeting,
Every Spring and Autumn-meeting,
All the dear familiar faces
Seldom missed at any races.
So no Big-wigs shall alarm you,
And no information harm you;
So shall duns unpaid forbear you;
So shall nothing ill come near you;
So, whate'er you spend or save,
Peace and safety shall you have.

Lay no longer on, Macduff,
Prudence whispers, "hold—enough!"
Do what every creature tries
To accomplish—realize;
And, intent on winding up,
Take no heed how people sup.
Let them bet, and win, and lose,
How, and when, and where they choose;
Let them celebrate their orgies
In St. James's, or St. George's;
Be they many, be they few,
So they harbour not with you.

Muse, the rambling course we've run
Might be lengthened, but I've done
Gently, as I hope, my task;—
And if sterner critics ask,
Deeming, in a case like this,
Whips and scorpions not amiss,
Why I have not thought it fitter
For my purpose to be bitter;
Have not opened every sluice
Of all possiblé abuse
(Since good counsel's thrown away)
On the votaries of Play—
Hear my answer. Nought reclaims
People less than calling names,
Be it with the pen or tongue,
Be it written, said, or sung.
Since, could any vice or failing
Have been rooted out by railing,
We, though men in outward shew,
Had been angels long ago.
They who deal in "speaking daggers"
Have no reason to be braggers
Of success in what they do;
What's so very easy too
Has no chance of being new.
Every one can be abusive:
There's no privilege exclusive
To protect their hopeful labours,
Who, in shewing up their neighbours,
Mingle truth enough with lies,
In their batch of calumnies,
Just to make the ferment rise.
None can fail, and none excells
On that paltry peal of bells
Through whose belfry he who ranges,
In a trice, may ring the changes.

Reader, if you're not with me,
Listen to another plea.
Could I sweep, from Earth, away
Every Proteus-form of Play;
Could I wield, in such a cause,
All the thunder of the laws,
And to death, or stripes, or fetters,
Doom its aiders and abettors,
Hunted so through every shape,
That no culprit should escape,
Think what ruin would be hurled
On the heads of half the World!

No, if justice must be done,
Let it be on all, or none.
I, averse to kill so many,
Point no blunderbuss at any;
But, contented to resort
To less murderous arms, for sport,
Pepper, since they can't be all shot,
Those that crow the most, with small shot.

Wherefore should I scold and rate,
Like some nymph of Billingsgate,
Those who, slaves to cards and dice,
Revel in their favorite vice?
Wherefore, by so fierce a tone,
Spoil their temper and my own?—
Can I thus reform produce?
Who grows moral from abuse
Destined, now-a-days, to fall,
Like th'impartial rain, on all;
Like the evils every creature
Suffers from our common nature.
Whether innocent or not,
Every one must stand that shot;
Must an epidemy bear
"General as the casing air."

Wherefore, when the laws are broken,
Brand the' offender with a token,
Who, like old Astolpho's groom,
Shorn, and trembling for his doom,
Comes, and slyly, in the dark,
Sets on all the self-same mark?

To be vilified and hissed
You have only to exist.
'Tis the atmosphere we breathe in;
'Tis a cauldron all must seeth in;
'Tis a plague-spot in the Land; all
Suffer from, or deal in scandal.
For, since Avarice first and Spite
Bred that wolfish Appetite,
Stalking through the world 'tis seen
Like the Monster Frankenstein,
And, however loathed and hated,
Must be fed, when once created.

Libelled, on pretence of news,
Scourged by critics in reviews,
Each is in his turn a martyr
By the day, the week, or quarter.
Once you hardly felt their lashes,
Screened by friendly stars and dashes,
Or, what cloked the mischief better,
Only here and there a letter.
While the meaning thus was muzzled,
Many a Beau was sorely puzzled
Whether 'twas a word to say,
Or a Sum in Algebra.
"Plastered rubric on the walls,
Now, you stand in Capitals."
There, your name, no lustre lacking,
Shines like Hunt's or Warren's blacking,
Or like him of cures so speedy
Safe and secret—Dr. Eady.

Since these Heroes of the pen
War with women thus, and men,
Since their viewless arrows strike
Every head and heart alike,
Why should they have power to vex,
Grieve, or injure either sex?
Thus from post to pillar hunted,
Patience tired, and feelings blunted,
Say, what armour of defence
Have we but—indifference?
But to live unhurt in slander,
As, in fire, the Salamander?

Reader, be what you appear.
Keep your fame and conscience clear,
And, regardless of their frown
Laugh, or rather live them down.
If encompassed with a skin
Somewhat sensitive and thin,
At their stripes you ever winced,
Steeled at length, at length convinced
That, with many faults or few,
(Since whate'er you say or do
They are certain to condemn)
You've no chance of pleasing them,
Scorn to taste the poisoned chalice
Lifted to your lips by Malice;
Let no slanderer stir your bile,
Read his libels with a smile,
Or unheeded on the shelf
Let them lie, and—please yourself.

Original publication date

1818
1831

Published @ RC

May 2009