Mr Elliott

Sylvius, Cittus, & Critickius

Beneath the shade a spreading beech displays,
Sylvius and Cittus sung their rival lays;
That lov’d the rural seat, and this the town,
But both contended for the poet’s crown.
As they disputed in alternate strains,
This boasted loveless ease, that wail’d his am’rous pains.
High in the midst the sage Critickius sate
To judge between them in the sharp debate;
And first sung Sylvius, lover marked by fate.


Of all the soul-entrancing themes
That swell the youthful poet’s dreams,
 None does so oft employ the votive verses,
As, to what’s sweetest, best, most rare,
His beauteous idol to compare,
 And in symbolic strain her praise rehearse.

The drooping violet — the blushing rose — 
The lily pale — her beauties oft disclose;
 Each flow’r by turns that sips the ev’ning dew,
And oft the fleecy clouds, or silver moon,
Or sun triumphant blazing in high noon,
 With fancied semblance bless the lover’s view.

But not the blushing rose nor lily pale,
Nor fleecy clouds, nor silver moon, avail
 To deck the verse that sings Pastora’s praise;
Her matchless beauty, unaffected grace,
And all the varied wonders of her face,
  Each vain comparison leave behind — 
But who the golden treasures of her mind
 By apt similitude shall e’er display?
To sing of these my ardent muse aspires,
But the bright theme a nobler verse requires,
 And lost in dumb despair I close the feeble lay.


With aching brains and well-scratch’d pate,
With my five wits I ne’er hold long debate,
 By apt comparison to sing my idol’s praise;
Nor do I gaze the clouds, nor all forlorn
Range o’er the flowerbeds and verdant lawn
 To seek an emblem of her charms wherewith the eke my lays.

For who that walks our London streets,
But ev’ry moment some strange object meets,
 (If not engross’d by love) which straightway strikes his fancy?
The shopman’s treasures prominently gay,
Glitt’ring thro’ windows bright in proud array,
 Quick to his roving mind recall the beauteous Nancy.

And those, who burn’st in Cupid’s flames,
And call’st they idol by a thousand names
 Of all that’s lovely, fanciful and tender,
Come taste the dashing pleasures of the town,
With us in wine these odd vagaries drown,
 And ten to one out of your head we’ll send her!


To my disdainful Fair this strain I sung,
And pleas’d she listen’d to my tuneful tongue:
The melting maid forgot her proud disdain,
And sweetly own’d she pitied Sylvius pain.

 “With love my hapless heart is beating,
  There passion reigns;
 With love my hapless heart is beating;
  Assuage its pains!”

 “Alas! my plaints are all in vain!
  You still deride
 And laugh to scorn my am’rous pain,
  With cruel pride.”

 “Cruel! this rig’rous scorn no more
  Sylvius can bear;
 Thy killing slights he’ll still deplore
  In dumb despair!”

 “With love my hapless heart is beating,
  There passion reigns;
 With love my hapless heart is beating;
  Assuage its pains!!!”


Once at our Club I quizz’d these waking dreams,
The tender languish of these lovesick themes;
And from all quarters warm applauses gain’d,
As I in numbers meet this truth maintain’d — 

 “The man’s an ass
  Who blows out his brains
 For a scornful lass
  Who flouts him for his pains:
 For one who her smiles dispenses,
 Love, joy, admiration ecstasy, whence is;
 I forgive him if he lose his senses:
  But to blow out his brains
   For a scornful lass
  Who derides his pains — 
   Believe me, that man’s an ass!!!”


Oh how shall I award the prize?
Let both divide the crown;
Sylvius could raise a mortal to the skies,
And Cittus bring an Angel down.