Wholesale Critic and Hop-Merchant

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The Wholesale Critic and Hop-Merchant. Fable I
by Christopher Smart
From Fables.

The WHOLESALE CRITIC and the

HOP-MERCHANT.


 

FABLE I.


Hail to each ancient sacred shade
Of those, who gave the Muses aid,
Skill'd verse mysterious to unfold,
And set each brilliant thought in gold.
5 Hail Aristotle's honour'd shrine,
And great Longinius hail to thine;
Ye too, whose judgment ne'er cou'd fail,
Hail Horace, and Quintilian hail;
And, dread of every Goth and Hun,
10 Hail Pope, and peerless Addison.

      Alas! by different steps and ways
Our modern critics aim at praise,
And rashly in the learned arts,
They judge by prejudice and parts;
15 For crampt by a contracted soul,
How shou'd they comprehend the whole?

      I know of many a deep-learn'd brother,
Who weighs one science by another,
And makes 'mongst bards poetic schism,
20Because he understands the prism;
Thinks in acuteness he surpasses,
From knowledge of the optic glasses.
There are some critics in the nation,
Profoundly vers'd in gravitation;
25 Who like the bulky and the great,
And judge by quantity and weight.
Some who're extremely skill'd in building,
Judge by proportion, form, and gilding,
And praise with a sagacious look
30The architecture of a book.

      Soon as the hops arriv'd from Kent,
Forth to the quay the merchant went,
Went critically to explore
The merit of the hops on shore.
35 Close to a bag he took his standing,
And at a venture thrust his hand in;
Then with the face of a physician,
Their colour scann'd and their condition;
He trusts his touch, his smell, his eyes,
40The goods at once approves and buys.
Catchup so dextrous, droll, and dry,
It happen'd Catchup there was by,
Who like[1] Iago, arch on all,
Is nothing, if not critical.
45 He with a sneer and with a shrug,
With eye of hawk, and face of pug,
Cry'd; "fellow I admire thy fun,
Thou most judiciously hast done,
Who from one handful buyst ten ton.
50Does it not enter in thy crown,
Some may be mouldy, some be brown;
The vacancies with leaves supplied,
And some half pick'd and some half dry'd?
The merchant, who Tom Catchup knew,
55 (A merchant and a scholar too)
Said "what I've done is not absurd,
I know my chap and take his word. —
On thee, thou caviller at large,
I here retort thy random charge;
60 Who, in an hypercritic rage,
Judgest ten volumes by a page;
Whose wond'rous comprehensive view
Grasps more than Solomon e'er knew;
With every thing you claim alliance,
65 Art, trade, profession, calling, science;
You mete out all things by one rule,
And are an universal fool.
Tho' swoln with vanity and pride,
You're but one driv'ller multiplied,
70A prig — that proves himself by starts,
As many dolts — as there are arts."


17??


Notes

Written: no information. Published posthumously. Text: 1791.

  1. O, gentle lady, do not put me to't,
    For I am nothing if not critical.
    Othello, Act. 2, scene 5 [1].
This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.