The Author, 1763

Churchill, Charles
W. Hogarth, The Bruiser, Engraving and etching. A cartoon created in opposition to poet Charles Churchill after Churchill had attacked Hogarth for a cartoon directed against Churchill's friend, John Wilkes.


How do I laugh, when Creatures, form'd like these,
Whom Reason scorns, and I should blush to please,
Rail at all lib'ral arts, deem verse a crime,
And hold not Truth, as Truth, if told in rime?


O'er crabbed authors life's gay prime to waste,
To cramp wild genius in the chains of taste,
To bear the slavish drudgery of schools,
And tamely stoop to ev'ry pedant's rules,
For seven long years debarr'd of lib'ral ease,
To plod in college trammels to degrees,
Beneath the weight of solemn toys to groan,
Sleep over books, and leave mankind unknown,
To praise each senior blockhead's thread-bare tale,
And laugh till reason blush, and spirits fail,
Manhood with vile submission to disgrace,
And cap the fool, whose merit is his Place;
VICE CHANCELLORS, whose knowledge is but small,
And CHANCELLORS, who nothing know at all,
Ill-brook'd the gen'rous Spirit, in those days
When Learning was the certain road to praise,
When Nobles, with a love of Science bless'd,
Approv'd in others what themselves possess'd.

But Now, when DULLNESS rears aloft her throne,
When LORDLY Vassals her wide Empire own,
When Wit, seduc'd by Envy, starts aside,
And basely leagues with Ignorance and Pride,
What Now should tempt us, by false hopes misled,
Learning's unfashionable paths to tread;
To bear those labours, which our Fathers bore
That Crown with-held, which They in triumph wore?

When with much pains this boasted Learning's got,
'Tis an affront to those who have it not.
In some it causes hate, in others fear,
Instructs our Foes to rail, our Friends to sneer.
With prudent haste the worldly-minded fool,
Forgets the little which he learn'd at School;
The Elder Brother, to vast fortunes born,
Looks on all Science with an Eye of Scorn;
Dependent Breth'ren the same features wear,
And younger Sons are stupid as the Heir.
In Senates, at the Bar, in Church and State,
Genius is vile, and Learning out of date.
Is this—O Death to think! is this the Land
Where Merit and Reward went hand in hand,
Where Heroes, Parent-like, the Poet view'd?—
By whom they saw their glorious deeds renew'd;
Where Poets, true to Honour, tun'd their lays,
And by their Patrons sanctify'd their praise?
Is this the Land, where, on our SPENCER'S tongue,
Enamour'd of his voice, Description hung;
Where JOHNSON rigid gravity beguil'd,
Whilst Reason thro' her Critic fences smil'd;
Where NATURE list'ning stood, whilst SHAKESPEAR play'd,
And wonder'd at the Work herself had made?
Is this the Land, where, mindful of her charge
And Office high, fair Freedom walk'd at large;
Where, finding in our Laws a sure defence,
She mock'd at all restraints, but those of Sense;
Where, health and honour trooping by her side,
She spread her sacred empire far and wide;
Pointed the Way, Affliction to beguile,
And bade the Face of Sorrow wear a smile,
Bade those, who dare obey the gen'rous call,
Enjoy her blessings, which GOD meant for all?
Is this the Land, where, in some Tyrant's reign,
When a weak, wicked Ministerial train,
The tools of pow'r, the slaves of int'rest, plann'd
Their Country's ruin, and with bribes unman'd
Those wretches, who, ordain'd in Freedom's cause,
Gave up our liberties, and sold our laws;
When Pow'r was taught by Meanness where to go,
Nor dar'd to love the Virtue of a foe;
When, like a lep'rous plague, from the foul head
To the foul heart her sores Corruption spread,
Her iron arm when stern Oppression rear'd,
And Virtue, from her broad base shaken, fear'd
The scourge of Vice; when, impotent and vain,
Poor Freedom bow'd the neck to Slav'ry's chain;
Is this the Land, where, in those worst of times,
The hardy Poet rais'd his honest rimes
To dread rebuke, and bade controulment speak
In guilty blushes on the villain's cheek,
Bade Pow'r turn pale, kept mighty rogues in awe,
And made them fear the Muse, who fear'd not Law?

How do I laugh, when men of narrow souls,
Whom folly guides, and prejudice controuls;
Who, one dull drowsy track of business trod,
Worship their Mammon, and neglect their God;
Who, breathing by one musty set of rules,
Dote from the birth, and are by system fools;
Who, form'd to dullness from their very youth,
Lies of the day prefer to Gospel truth,
Pick up their little knowledge from Reviews,
And lay out all their stock of faith in news:
How do I laugh, when Creatures, form'd like these,
Whom Reason scorns, and I should blush to please,
Rail at all lib'ral arts, deem verse a crime,
And hold not Truth, as Truth, if told in rime?


The author: A poem. By C. Churchill. London: printed for W. Flexney; G. Kearsly; J. Coote; C. Henderson; J. Gardiner; and J. Almon, 1763, p. 2-6. Full text at ECCO TCP.