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Ode To Rae Wilson, Esq.
by [?]


TO THE EDITOR OF THE ATHENAEUM.

MY DEAR SIR–The following Ode was written anticipating the tone of some strictures on my writings by the gentleman to whom it is addressed. I have not seen his book; but I know by hearsay that some of my verses are characterized as “profaneness and ribaldry”–citing, in proof, the description of a certain sow, from whose jaw a cabbage sprout

“Protruded, as the dove so staunch
For peace supports an olive branch.”

If the printed works of my Censor had not prepared me for any misapplication of types, I should have been surprised by this misapprehension of one of the commonest emblems. In some cases the dove unquestionably stands for the Divine Spirit; but the same bird is also a lay representative of the peace of this world, and, as such, has figured time out of mind in allegorical pictures. The sense in which it was used by me is plain from the context; at least, it would be plain to any one but a fisher for faults, predisposed to carp at some things, to dab at others, and to flounder in all. But I am possibly in error. It is the female swine, perhaps, that is profaned in the eyes of the Oriental tourist. Men find strange ways of marking their intolerance; and the spirit is certainly strong enough, in Mr. W.’s works, to set up a creature as sacred, in sheer opposition to the Mussulman, with whom she is a beast of abomination. It would only be going the whole sow.–I am, dear Sir, yours very truly, THOS. HOOD.

“Close, close your eyes with holy dread,
And weave a circle round him thrice,
For he on honey-dew hath fed
And drunk the milk of Paradise.”–COLERIDGE.

“It’s very hard them kind of men
Won’t let a body be.”–Old Ballad.

A wanderer, Wilson, from my native land,
Remote, O Rae, from godliness and thee,
Where rolls between us the eternal sea,
Besides some furlongs of a foreign sand,–
Beyond the broadest Scotch of London Wall;
Beyond the loudest Saint that has a call;
Across the wavy waste between us stretch’d,
A friendly missive warns me of a stricture,
Wherein my likeness you have darkly etch’d,
And though I have not seen the shadow sketch’d,
Thus I remark prophetic on the picture.

I guess the features:–in a line to paint
Their moral ugliness, I’m not a saint.
Not one of those self-constituted saints,
Quacks–not physicians–in the cure of souls,
Censors who sniff out mortal taints,
And call the devil over his own coals–
Those pseudo Privy Councillors of God,
Who write down judgments with a pen hard-nibb’d;
Ushers of Beelzebub’s Black Rod,
Commending sinners, not to ice thick-ribb’d,
But endless flames, to scorch them up like flax–
Yet sure of heav’n themselves, as if they’d cribb’d
Th’ impression of St. Peter’s keys in wax!

Of such a character no single trace
Exists, I know, in my fictitious face;
There wants a certain cast about the eye;
A certain lifting of the nose’s tip;
A certain curling of the nether lip,
In scorn of all that is, beneath the sky;
In brief it is an aspect deleterious,
A face decidedly not serious,
A face profane, that would not do at all
To make a face at Exeter Hall,–
That Hall where bigots rant, and cant, and pray,
And laud each other face to face,
Till ev’ry farthing-candle ray
Conceives itself a great gas-light of grace.

Well!–be the graceless lineaments confest!
I do enjoy this bounteous beauteous earth;
And dote upon a jest
“Within the limits of becoming mirth”;–
No solemn sanctimonious face I pull,
Nor think I’m pious when I’m only bilious–
Nor study in my sanctum supercilious
To frame a Sabbath Bill or forge a Bull.
I pray for grace–repent each sinful act–
Peruse, but underneath the rose, my Bible;
And love my neighbor far too well, in fact,
To call and twit him with a godly tract
That’s turn’d by application to a libel.
My heart ferments not with the bigot’s leaven,
All creeds I view with toleration thorough,
And have a horror of regarding heaven
As anybody’s rotten borough.