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A Metrical Romance:


T'hus I entertain
The antiquarian humour, and am pleased
To skim along the surfaces of things.”



KING Arthur, in the tenth year of his reign,

Fell sick of the blue devils :—by his court So many brace of dragons had been slain,- *

So many giants, with their crimes, cut short,
So many rapes avenged, and castles ta’en,

That there began to be a lack of sport.
The realm, in fact, from Cornwall to the border,
Was in a shocking state of peace and order.


For six whole weeks, the Knights of the Round Table,

From morn to night, had nothing else to do Than saunter from the palace to the stable,

Play with their falcons, or their ladies woo, Polish their arms, and laugh (when they were able)

At their own languid jests; no mortal knew, Till dinner was announced, what he'd be at; And King and courtiers all were growing fat.


The game laws were enforced in all their rigour,

And several peasants were convicted fully Of breaking dragons' eggs, and pulling trigger

At giants with two heads, who chose to bully
Their frighten'd children; but with all the vigour

Of the police, the court went on but dully;
It seem'd the British fair were past affronting -
And then a frost set in, which spoil'd the hunting,



As for the ladies, they, poor souls, declared

That “they certayne for wearynesse should dye;" The formal knights so prosed, and bowed, and stared,

With their demure, old-fashion'd courtesy;
And poor Sir Tristram, who could ill be spared,

With his gay jests, and harp, and poetry,
In a late fray had got a broken head,
And was not able yet to leave his bed.


In short, Miss Edgeworth's demon, pale Ennui,

Had seiz’d on the whole court with dire aggression ; And made it stupid as a calm at sea,

Or wedlock, after half a year's possession,
Or poor Lord Byron's last new tragedy,

Or this same metre, stripp'd of its digression;
Or any pitch that human dulness reaches-
Save that of Mr. Hume's financial speeches.


I said the King fell sick (he kept his bed,)

With the blue devils ;-'tis a sore disease, Worse than all fevers, yellow, green, or red,

The jaundice, or “ that worm i’th’ bud” one sees On the pale cheeks of hopeless lovers fed;

And if you wish to know the remedies With which it should be treated, go and look In Doctor Burton's valuable book.


'Tis a complaint that's chiefly incidental

To lovers, drunkards, scholars, kings, and bards ; To country squires with an encumber'd rental,

And gamesters apt to hold unlucky cards; Bards bear it best;_to them it's instrumental

In spinning rhymes: there's Chauncey Townshend lards His groaning stanzas (just to eke his strains out,) With gloom enough to blow six Frenchmen's brains out.


The symptoms vary with the sex, condition,

Taste, temper, habits, constitution, age, And fortune of the patient;-if a rich one,

It makes him fretful, puts him in a rage With wife, friends, children, servants, and physician;If

poor, he's apt to quit the world's dull stage With a sore throat;—it makes the lover sad, The gamester gloomy, and the poet mad.


Old ladies call it “ fever on the nerves,

A name of universal application,
Which for all sorts of peevish humours serves,

And gains, for some cross people, toleration
Of such ill-bred behaviour as deserves

(To say the least,) a handsome flagellation; A mode of treatment which I own that I, In “ nervous” cases, often long to try.

Of this I'll say no more; because 1 hear

A better poet is just now preparing
A work upon the subject, to appear

In Mr. Knight's best types and paper, bearing The title of “ Blue Devils,” and I fear

'Twould seem absurd, in one so often wearing Their livery as myself, to act physician To others haply in no worse condition.


I wonder whether Mr. Wordsworth’s yacht,

That fine sky-cruiser call’d the “ Crescent Moon,” Might, upon reasonable terms, be got

To bear my Muse and me, some afternoon, “ Above the smoke and stir of this dim spot,

Which men call earth;” for I'm quite out of tuneBlue-devil'd by eternal common-places-And business-and uninteresting faces.

There's nothing in the world (that is in Trinity)

To make us poets happy;-I detest
Your Hebrew Greek, and heathenish Latinity,

And Mathematics are a bore at best;
And as I'm one who feel the full divinity

Of a fair face in woman, I protest
I'm sick of this unvaried regularity
Of whisker'd cheeks and chins of black barbarity.


"Tis a vile world--a world of dung and draymen,

And filthy streets, and noises beyond bearing; Knife-grinders, fish-wives, ballad-singers, gay men

(Though last not least,) carousing, shouting, swearing, With oaths enough to shock both priests and laymen,

Haunt me o' nights; and I can't take the air in The morning, but I'm bored with butcher's shops, And markets-and prize odes-and hay-and hops.


In me these things breed legions of blue devils;

These, and some thoughts which will not pass away, Of powers decay’d, and time mis-spent in revels ;

Of many a wasted hour and useless lay;
While the dark future, with its host of evils

Muster'd in grim and terrible array,
Looks none the sweeter for the thought that I
Have been the maker of my misery.

And that fond dream, which lured me on for ever

Through a long boyhood, saying I might earn
The poet's laurel with serene endeavour,

And write my name on an enduring urn, Hath now departed; while ambition's fever,

Unquench'd, though aimless, hath not ceas'd to burn With self-exciting fire, and thirst supplied By longings which can ne'er be satisfied.

Here am I now, at twenty-three, inditing

Dull verses in a style which I despise,
And once abjured -- just when I should be fighting

With nobler weapons for a brighter prize;
But that no longer have I hope or might in

My soul, to rush at famous destinies;
No occupation for my pen more meet
Than scribbling nonsense at so much per sheet.


“ Time's pasť—I should have nurs’d the seed, and cherish'd

The weak spring blossoms which shall bud no more,
And water'd their young roots, before they perish’d,

From the rich founts of old poetic lore;
And, in the beams of high devotion, nourish'd

Their growing ripeness, and laid up a store
Of thought, and kept my fancy in controul,
And made the Muse task-mistress of my soul.


I should have been more cautious in my diet,

Eaten less butcher's meat, and drunk no wine; Abstain'd from evening punch, and midnight riot;

Lov’d but one maid, instead of eight or nine;
Kept all my pulses and my passions quiet;

And then my poems would have been divine.
Whereas I've been so wicked and unwise
As to waste all the better sympathies,


Affections, tastes, and impulses, which should,

Under the care of Study and of Nature,
Have fed my spirit with the proper food,

And made it reach the true poetic stature.
I should have then been strong, and wise, and good,

In short, a very different sort of creature;
Yet my friends like me still (at least I think so,)
Which is the reason why I eat and drink so.

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