[149]

TO
MRS. DOUGLAS MACLEAN CLEPHANE.


To you, whose praise my verse did first expand,
I send this web, the fabric of my brains,
Sure that you will not take a broom in hand
To sweep it down like cobwebs for my pains.
And were it the best lay whose inky stains
Had ever blotted paper, 'twere your due:
Nay here and there perhaps a trace remains
In fancy's airy wanderings, not a few
Of things which, little changed, I've ta'en or stol'n from you.

As for our king of critics, he whose eye
Train'd in the doubting science of the laws,
Sharp as a sportsman doth his game espy,
And pounces on poor wretches' faults and flaws:—
Tell him I will not trust his teeth and claws,
Which, ruthless, would unfledge each Sylphid wing;
Moreover, like those martyrs of their cause
Who bade defiance to Assyria's king,
Tell him, I do not care to please him in this thing.

150

For the whole story's tissued out of lies,
Improbable, impossible, and full
Of such anachronisms as must surprise
The order'd inside of a reasoning skull.
Well; who says otherwise? There's room to cull
As perfect faults as critic could desire:
Bad rhymes, bad lines—but yet it is not dull—
Or, if it is, for Heaven's sake ne'er inquire
Into its faults or charms, but lodge it in the fire.