The Tinder Box

Mr Flaxman

A Probationary Ode by Philo Fillagree Jun. Esq.

See! the storm begins to lower,
Moon beams dart between the clouds,
Winds whistle with the pattering shower
In the anxious seaman’s shrouds.
Young beaux, and belles, call out for coaches
To bear them safe thro’ wet and dirt,
To wave fine clothes from foul reproaches,
And tender skins, and corns, from hurt.
Now the magic rites prepare
Let all enchantments, powers be there,
Now Rosa, bring the fatal casket
And all the et ceteras in the charmed basket;


Down the winding stairs they go
To the grand saloon below.
The grand saloon, the pride of regal state,
The pink of fashion, by decree of fate,
Vulcan and Hermes, made the beauteous work,
Chairs a la Grec & Sophas a la Turc;
Egyptian serpents, rising on their spires
Hiss in each others face, and bound the fires,
Umbrageous mirrors darken the long wall,
And swell bronzed nymphs dispense light thro’ the hall.
Here on each leg of stool, and arm of chair
Chimeras grin so blythe and debonair
And fierce Anubis backs in crock’ry wave
There to compleat the whole;
Bought in the Attic marker
Wove by Minerva’s hand,
To grace the floor is laid
A handsome Turkey carpet;


Now Tinderella moves, with awful grace,
Rosa attends her, with obsequious face,
But sudden turning round,
She utters with commanding round,
“Let down the casket, for I’ll strike a light,
A light shall kindle strange desires
Blazing through poetic fires.”
“Lud Ma’am,” says Rose, “these lighted tinders
Will turn us to a heap of cinders.”
Be silent wench; You’re not among your peers,
Mind what I say, or else I’ll box your ears!
Now we’ll begin the rite
Set down the flint, and steel, and tinderbox,
I’ll strike a light!
But first we will invoke
Her, who above this earthly smoke
In a train of silver light
Rules her steeds, the queen of night.
Thro’ the concave’s dark expanse
Lead the stars in mazy dance,
Moving on from east to west,
Where the sun is gone to rest
In Tythona’s billowy bed
Were sea waves hide his blazing head;
The Virgin Queen, Luna above
Dian on earth, daughter of Jove,
Hecate in Hele, with whips and serpents,
To inflict on wicked poetasters, torments,
Hear, O hear a virgin’s prayer,
Nor dissipate my vows in air!
Now bring with thee, from Delphi’s steep
Proudly rising o’er the deep,
O’er the wide cerulean main
Where Neptune holds his wat’ry reign,
From the temple’s lofty dome
Phœbus king of poets come!

The beauteous form in ever blooming youth
Thy azure eyes beaming bright truth,
Thy golden ringlets blazing far
In more refulgence than the Hesperian star
Let me behold!
But great patron, round thee throw
Thy sky blue mantle, in a streaming flow;
Thus veil thy brightness, to weak mortal sight,
Which else must darken in thy light!


Thy come, they are here,
On me they glare,
Don’t wink and stare,
I cannot bear — here — there,
Give me the tinderbox;
Rose you are so slow,
You’d make a parson swear;
There! fix fair Daphne’s branch full in Apollo’s sight,
The holly place before the virgin goddess bright,
And now, e’en now, I’ll strike a light!

Conclusion of the Tinder Box

This rich Daedalian golden casket
Was made by Vulcan,
And was asked, by him, by his mother,
To hold the gems, which deck her
For her husband-brother!
This, she to Psyche let, descending from the realms of bliss
To bring cosmetics from the wife of Dis;
But the poor casket in its downward journeying
Got an informal ugly tinge of mourning;
Unfitted thus, for Juno’s toilette,
Altho’ she scower’d it well, and boil’d it;
Then she gave back the box of dingey yellow
To Vulcan, who bestowed it upon Tinderella; —
The adamantine flint, by great Alcides broke,
When he released Prometheus from the rock;
The steel was wrought by fays in northern caves
Beneath ice mountains, where bleak Boreas raves,
Drawn from the same huge mass, in the same fire,
Which made Thor’s mace, and strung sweet Snorro’s lyre;
But of the tinder, Muse, speak more at large!
The cause of all our rhyme, our great poetic charge
How made, where got, and in what hole was crammed,
E’re in the golden circle it was rammed;
This was the veil of Semele, consumed by Jove,
In ardent heat of thundering fiery love,
Caught up by Ino, in a Cantherus,
Preserved from damp, and loss, in safety thus,
Inspired by Bacchus, and enflamed by Jove,
Of sovereign power, to kindle war and love —
In all poetic bosoms! made them sad,
Or joyful, calm, or mad.
Thus Ino gives, as she her store unlocks,
The fates straight press it in the tinderbox —


’Tis done, ’tis done,
The charms are laid,
The philters are displayed;
“All ye mighty powers
Look down benign from your ambrosial bowers
Ye ministers of mighty Jove,
Whether ye dwell in air above
Or in the sea-green ocean play,
And glitter in the face of day;”
Fair Tinderella said,
Then raised her arm,
When sudden dread,
Caused her to strike aside
The sparkling meteour flew
Sudden enlightening all the distant view
Countries far distant, distant ages too
Where lofty Pharos lights the Egyptian strand,
See Meleager walk, his chaplet in his hand;
And Aristophanes, who bears,
Deep critic wisdom in his mellowing years —
And Aristarchus, who in dreams sublime
Gives rules to Homer, and the tuneful Nine;
The Persee, and the Moorman, bring their orient posies
Glittering with gems, embalmed in fragrant roses;
The grave Italian brings his pasqinades,
The Spaniard (whiskered like the Knave of Spades)
Stored with love sonnets, and gallant romance,
Sings to his mandolin in a fandango dance;
Next poets come in a cotillon measure,
Natives of France, the votaries of pleasure;
Pert simpering cupids choke their path with flowers
And craze their brains with thoughts of Paphian bowers.
Then follows a promiscuous crowd,
Like rushing waters, mixt, tumultuous loud,
Gessners, and Boothbys, Wordsworths, Aikins, Moores,
Countless as sands on the sea-beaten shores!
Critics, and sonneteers, and elegists,
Writers of epigrams, of ecloages, and encomiasts
A puny race, that lives in herds,
Like timid deer, or cranes among the birds;
Their Tinderella saw the various scene
Her soul exulted, and she struck again,
Two sparks she struck, the tinder blazed!
The sky turned fiery red — All were amazed!
The shivering lightnings play, deep thunders roll,
Peal following peal bellows from pole to pole!
Earth yawns! Ghosts peep, fiends chatter, and in the hurly burly
The gentlefolks all tumble topsy turvy;
The storm subsides — the azure vault is seen,
Light tripping fairies, foot it o’er the green
Spirits of air, of earth, of fire,
Bring in great Shakespear — their dramatic Sire —
The passions love and joy, pride and relentless rage,
Follow the mighty sovereign of the stage —
The conquering Aeschylus attends the spell,
Clad in the whirlwind, hailed by furies yell!
Euripides, and Sophocles, a mighty name,
With a few others in the list of fame;
Racine, Corneille, at reveren’d distance stand,
And modern play-house scribblers fly the land;
The pageant moves, and slowly disappears;
When lo! we’re charmed with music of the spheres!
Homer, and Hesiod, and the tuneful Nine,
Are seen on Helicon, their ancient shrine,
Pinder, Callimachus, and Orpheus, move
Hymning the praises of their thundering Jove!
And now the rising song to loftier themes aspires
And now celestial hands touch heavenly lyres!
See Dante, with appalled look, move slow,
He, who beheld the prison house of woe!
See Tasso tinged with a light divine! —
The gilded clouds disclose seraphic rays.
Cherub and seraphim in panoplies blaze!
Milton looks down, points to the serpent bound,
And then retires, amidst the starry round;
The glorious vision ends, the sky is cleared
All nature looks more gay, and every heart is cheered!
The sparks electric fly!
Tinderella seized her lyre
She cried, I am now content:
I have set the world of poetry on fire!!!

Philo Filligree Jun. Esq.