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The first came cap-a-pee from France,
Her conqu'ring destiny fulfilling,
Whom meaner beauties eye askance,
And vainly ape her art of killing.
The other Amazon, kind heav'n
Had arm'd with spirit, wit, and satire :
But Cobham had the polish giv'n,
And tip'd her arrows with good-nature.
To celebrate her eyes, her air
Coarse panegyrics would but tease her.
Melissa is her nom de guerre.

Alas, who would not wish to please her!
With bonnet blue and capuchine,
And aprons long they hid their armour,
And veil'd their weapons bright and keen
In pity to the country farmer.

Fame in the shape of Mr. P-t
(By this time all the parish know it)
Had told, that thereabouts there lurk'd
A wicked imp they call a poet:

Who prowl'd the country far and near,
Bewitch'd the children of the peasants,
Dried up the Cows, and lam'd the deer,
And suck'd the eggs, and kill'd the pheasants.

My lady heard their joint petition,

Swore by her coronet and ermine,
She'd issue out her high commission
To rid the manor of such vermin.

The heroines undertook the task,

Through lanes unknown, o'er stiles they ventur'd,

Rapp'd at the door, nor stay'd to ask,

But bounce into the parlour enter'd.

The trembling family they daunt,

They flirt, they sing, they laugh, they tattle,

Rummage his mother, pinch his aunt,

And up

stairs in a whirl-wind rattle.

d I have been told that this gentleman, a neighbour and acquaintance of Mr. Gray's in the country, was much displeased at the liberty here taken with his name; yet, surely, without any great reason.

Each hole and cupboard they explore,
Each creek and cranny of his chamber,
Run hurry-skurry round the floor,
And o'er the bed and tester clamber:
Into the drawers and china pry,
Papers and books, a huge imbroglio!
Under a tea-cup he might lie,
Or creased, like dogs-ears, in a folio.
On the first marching of the troops,
The Muses, hopeless of his pardon,
Convey'd him underneath their hoops
To a small closet in the garden.

So Rumour says: (who will, believe.)
But that they left the door a-jar,
Where, safe and laughing in his sleeve,
He heard the distant din of war.
Short was his joy. He little knew
The pow'r of magic was no fable;
Out of the window, whisk, they flew,
But left a spell upon the table.

e Fancy is here so much blended with the humour, that I believe the two stanzas, which succeed this line, are amongst those which are the least relished by the generality. The description of the spell, I know, has appeared to many persons absolutely unintelligible; yet if the reader adverts to that peculiar idea which runs through the whole, I imagine the obscurity complained of will be removed. An incident, we see, so slight as the simple matter of fact, required something like machinery to enliven it: accordingly the Author chose, with propriety enough, to employ for that purpose those notions of witchcraft, ghosts, and enchantment, which prevailed at the time when the mansion-house was built. He describes himself as a demon of the lowest class, a wicked imp who lamed the deer, &c. against whose malevolent power Lady Cobham (the Gloriana of the piece) employs two superior enchantresses. Congruity of imagery, therefore, required the card they left upon the table to be converted into a spell. Now all the old writers, on these subjects, are very minute in describing the materials of such talismans. Hence, therefore, his grotesque idea of a composition of transparent bird-lime, edged with invisible chains in order to catch and draw him to the tribunal. Without going further for examples of this kind of imagery than the Poet's own works, let me instance two passages of the serious kind, similar to this ludicrous one. In his Ode, intitled the Bard, "Above, below, the rose of snow," &c.

And, again, in the Fatal Sisters,

"See the grisly texture grow."

It must, however, be allowed, that no person can fully relish this burlesque, who


The words too eager to unriddle,
The Poet felt a strange disorder:
Transparent bird-lime form'd the middle,
And chains invisible the border.

So cunning was the apparatus,
The powerful pot-hooks did so move him,
That, will he, nill he, to the great-house
He went, as if the devil drove him.
'Yet on his way (no sign of grace,
For folks in fear are apt to pray)
To Phoebus he prefer'd his case,
And begg'd his aid that dreadful day.

The Godhead would have back'd his quarrel;

But with a blush on recollection,

Own'd, that his quiver and his laurel
'Gainst four such eyes were no protection.

The court was sate, the culprit there,
Forth from their gloomy mansions creeping
The Lady Janes and Joans repair,
And from the gallery stand peeping:
Such as in silence of the night
Come (sweep) along some winding entry,
"(Styack has often seen the sight)
Or at the chapel-door stand sentry:

In peaked hoods and mantles tarnish'd,
Sour visages, enough to scare ye,

High dames of honour once, that garnish'd

The drawing-room of fierce Queen Mary!

is not much conversant with the old romance-writers, and with the poets who formed themselves on their model.

f The humour of this and the following stanza is more pure, and consequently more obvious. It might have been written by Prior, and the wit at the end is much in his best manner.

Here fancy is again uppermost, and soars as high on her comic, as on another occasion she does on her lyric wing: for now a chorus of ghostly old women of quality come to give sentence on the culprit Poet, just as the spirits of Cadwallo, Urien, and Hoel join the bard in dreadful symphony to denounce vengeance on Edward I. The route of fancy, we see, is the same both on the humorous and sublime occasion. No wonder, therefore, if either of them should fail of being generally tasted.

The housekeeper. G.

The description is here excellent, and I should think would please universally.

The Peeress comes. The audience stare,
And doff their hats with due submission:
She curtsies, as she takes her chair,
To all the people of condition.


The Bard, with many an artful fib,
Had in imagination fenc'd him,
Disprov'd the arguments of Squib,
And all that 'Groom could urge against him.
But soon his rhetoric forsook him,
When he the solemn hall had seen;

A sudden fit of ague shook him,
He stood as mute as poor " Macleane.


Yet something he was heard to mutter,
"How in the park beneath an old tree
(Without design to hurt the butter,
Or any malice to the poultry,)

"He once or twice had penn'd a sonnet ;
Yet hop'd that he might save his bacon:
Numbers would give their oaths upon it,
He ne'er was for a conj'rer taken."

The ghostly prudes with "hagged face
Already had condemn'd the sinner.
My Lady rose, and with a grace-

She smil'd, and bid him come to dinner.

Groom of the chamber. G.

The steward. G.

A famous highwayman hanged the week before. G.—This stanza is of the sort where wit rather than fancy prevails, consequently much in Prior's



Hagged, i. e. the face of a witch or hag; the epithet hagard has been sometimes mistaken, as conveying the same idea; but it means a very different thing, viz. wild and farouche, and is taken from an unreclaimed hawk, called an hagard; in which, its proper sense, the Poet uses it finely on a sublime occasion:

Cloth'd in the sable garb of woe,
With hagard eyes the Poet stood.

Vid. Ode VI.

• Here the story finishes; the exclamation of the ghosts which follow is characteristic of the Spanish manners of the age, when they are supposed to have lived; and the five hundred stanzas, said to be lost, may be imagined to contain the remainder of their long-winded expostulation.

"Jesu-Maria! Madam Bridget,
Why, what can the Viscountess mean?
(Cried the square-hoods in woful fidget)
The times are alter'd quite and clean!
"Decorum's turn'd to mere civility;
Her air and all her manners shew it.
Commend me to her affability!
Speak to a commoner and poet!"

[Here five hundred stanzas are lost.]
And so God save our noble king,
And guard us from long-winded lubbers,
That to eternity would sing,

And keep my Lady from her rubbers.



Dec. 17, 1750.

OF my house I cannot say much, I wish I could; but for my heart it is no less yours than it has long been; and the last thing in the world that will throw it into tumults is a fine lady. The verses, you so kindly try to keep in countenance, were written merely to divert Lady Cobham and her family, and succeeded accordingly; but being shewed about in town are not liked there at all. Mrs. *, a very fashionable personage, told Mr. Walpole that she had seen a thing by a friend of his which she did not know what to make of, for it aimed at every thing, and meant nothing; to which he replied, that he had always taken her for a woman of sense, and was very sorry to be undeceived. On the other hand, the stanzas

The house he was rebuilding in Cornhill. See Letter VII. of this Section. Elegy in a Country Churchyard.

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