The Book-Plate’s Petition by Henry Austin Dobson

By a gentleman of the temple.

While cynic CHARLES still trimm’d the vane
‘Twixt Querouaille and Castlemaine,
In days that shocked JOHN EVELYN,
My First Possessor fixed me in.
In days of Dutchmen, and of frost,
The narrow sea with JAMES I cross’d,
Returning when once more began
The Age of Saturn and of ANNE.
I am a part of all the past;
I knew the GEORGES, first and last;
I have been oft where else was none
Save the great wig of ADDISON;
And seen on shelves beneath me grope
The little eager form of POPE.
I lost the Third that owned me when
French NOAILLES fled at Dettingen;
The year JAMES WOLFE surpris’d Quebec,
The Fourth in hunting broke his neck;
The day that WILLIAM HOGARTH dy’d,
The Fifth one found me in Cheapside.
This was a Scholar, one of those
Whose Greek is sounder than their hose;
He lov’d old Books and nappy ale,
So liv’d at Streatham, next to THRALE.
‘Twas there this stain of grease I boast
Was made by DR. JOHNSON’S toast.
(He did it, as I think, for Spite;
My Master call’d him Jacobite!)
And now that I so long to-day
Have rested post discrimina,
Safe in the brass-wir’d book-case where
I watch’d the Vicar’s whit’ning hair,
Must I these travell’d bones inter
In some Collector’s sepulchre!
Must I be torn herefrom and thrown
With frontispiece and colophon!
With vagrant E’s, and I’s, and O’s,
The spoil of plunder’d Folios!
With scraps and snippets that to Me
Are naught but kitchen company!
Nay, rather, FRIEND, this favour grant me:
Tear me at once; but don’t transplant me.

Cheltenham,
Sept. 31, 1792.

From: Dobson, Austin, Collected Poems in Two Volumes, Volume II, 1895, Dodd, Mead and Company: London, pp. 87-88.
(http://www.gutenberg.org/files/24334/24334-h/24334-h.htm)

Date: 1885

By: Henry Austin Dobson (1840-1921)

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