A Poetic Survey Round Birmingham/Address

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A poetic survey round Birmingham - James Bisset - 1800 - fleuron 05.jpg

Address to the Reader.

Ubique patriam, reminisce.

Believe me, I think, some Apology's due,
Of course, Candid Reader, I'll make one to you,
Tho' Critics may cavil, for ever and ever,
I dread not their frown, nor solicit their favor.

Then, as for my rhyming—in sooth, you must know it,
I never pretended to be a great poet,
I write not for bread, and care little for pelf,
But scribble, to please my good Friends and myself.

Too partial, perhaps, to my Writings, of late,
They urg'd me to publish—The Orphan Boy's Fate;[1]
I did as they wish'd, and the constant demand
For the poor little Boy, whom all took by the hand,
So flatter'd my hopes, that, to mend his condition,[2]
I publish'd a Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Edition.

But, believe me, I am not so fond of the treasure
I gain by the work, as the ultimate pleasure
It gives me to find, both the high and the low
With sympathy melt, with compassion o'erflow;
And children, with sweet pearly drops in each eye,
Lament, whilst they read, his hard fate with a sigh.

Engagements in bus’ness, fill most of my time,
And little, indeed, can I trifle with rhyme;
But having invented a mode grand and new,
T' exhibit the Birmingham Trades at a view,
I thought a Description, in brief, of the place,
Some Strangers might please, to my Townsmen do grace,
And, though it be told, in a plain, simple way,
May act as a Guide, when they take a survey.

Eight hours every day my Museum I 'tend,
To wait on each Traveller, Stranger, or Friend.
To design Works of Fancy, and Sketches to make,
You'll allow in each day a few moments will take;
Some scores of young Artists, with hearts full of joy,
If trade’s brisk or dull, thus have constant employ!
And ev'ry day teems with some works rare and new,
Which, gratis, to all, I exhibit to view.

Domestic affairs seldom trouble my head,
(My partner, for life, in all those takes the lead;)
Bu tmy children to teach, moral lessons impart,
Of course, as a parent, lies nearest my heart:
Some hours in a week, then, I hope you'll agree,
At least, to that purpose, devoted should be.

Arrange ev'ry order, sum up each account,
You'll, surely, allow, to some hours must amount;
And tradesmen must own, that no time should be lost
The ledger to keep, and the daybook to post;
Correspondents to answer; each invoice o'erhaul,
Be pleas'd, Candid Reader, to know—I do all!

Of time I've but little to spare for inditing,
Let candour excuse, then, all faults in my writing.

J. B .

Museum, Birmingham,
Jan. 1, 1800.

  1. A Pathetic Tale-See British Critic for November 1799. Article 18.
  2. The ensuing Editions were published with Additions.