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William Blake (1757–1827).  The Poetical Works.  1908.
 
On Friends and Foes
Having given great offence by writing in prose
 
XXXI
HAVING 1 given great offence by writing in prose,
I’ll write in verse as soft as Bartoloze.
Some blush at what others can see no crime in;
But nobody sees any harm in riming.
Dryden, in rime, cries ‘Milton only plann’d’:        5
Every fool shook his bells throughout the land.
Tom Cooke cut Hogarth down with his clean graving:
Thousands of connoisseurs with joy ran raving.
Thus, Hayley on his toilette seeing the soap,
Cries, ‘Homer is very much improv’d by Pope.’        10
Some say I’ve given great provision to my foes,
And that now I lead my false friends by the nose.
Flaxman and Stothard, smelling a sweet savour,
Cry ‘Blakified drawing spoils painter and engraver’;
While I, looking up to my umbrella,        15
Resolv’d to be a very contrary fellow,
Cry, looking quite from skumference to centre:
‘No one can finish so high as the original Inventor.’
Thus poor Schiavonetti died of the Cromek—
A thing that’s tied around the Examiner’s neck!        20
This is my sweet apology to my friends,
That I may put them in mind of their latter ends.
If men will act like a maid smiling over a churn,
They ought not, when it comes to another’s turn,
To grow sour at what a friend may utter,        25
Knowing and feeling that we all have need of butter.
False friends, fie! fie! Our friendship you shan’t sever;
In spite we will be greater friends than ever.
 
Note 1. XXXI 1 Cp. Hunt’s reference to Blake’s ‘Descriptive Catalogue’, Examiner, no. 90, Sept. 17, 1809. 4 But nobody at all sees harm in riming MS. 1st rdg. del. 8 How many thousands of connoisseurs ran raving MS. 1st rdg. del. 9 Thus] An addition. 10 Cries] Says MS. 1st rdg. del.
11, 12
I’ve given great provision to my foes,
But now I’ll lead my false friends by the nose.
MS. 1st rdg. del.
‘Some say’ in l. 11, and ‘that’ in l. 12 being marginal additions. 17 Cry Tom Cooke proves from circumference to centre MS. 1st rdg. del. 19, 20 A reference to Cromek’s ‘Account of Mr. Schiavonetti’ in the Examiner, July 1, 1810. 27 fie! fie!] O no! MS. 1st rdg. del. you shan’t] ne’er shall MS. 1st rdg. del. 28 In spite] For now MS. 1st rdg. del. [back]
 
 
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