On page 438 Dixon references "a Page, enclos'd with the letter, clipp'd from the Gentlemen's Magazine of the December previous." Dixon is holding the following poem, which was published on pages 594-595 of the 1764 volume (December section) of The Gentleman's Magazine (i.e., "man" not "men") was "the first general-interest magazine, and the most influential periodical of its time" (Wikipedia).
Pall Mall, Dec. 24 1764.
Having met with a very imperfect copy of the following verses in a News paper, I send you the original, in hopes of doing it justice in your Magazine.
Or, the ASTRONOMIC RACERS.
LET gents on fam’d Newsmarket’s sod
Exhaust their wealth, blaspheme their God,
While the swift courser strains each nerve,
His wanton master’s sport to serve.
Give me the heroes who aspire,
Push’d on by astronomic fire,
To course it through the starry host
And make the fun their starting-post:
Who sport with planets, moons and suns,
With as much ease as Childers runs.
Two lunar months are past, and more,
Since of these heroes half a score
Set out to try their strength and skill,
And fairly start for Flamsteed-Hill.
But lo, from doubts, or tears, or surfeit,
Six have drawn stakes, or else paid forfeit;
And thus, there now remains no more
To run the match, than doughty four.
The first, who vaunts the race he gets,
Is affluent professor B—ts;
Whose first of April’s lunar map
Has giv’n his judgement such a rap,
As to induce his warmest friend
To wish no longer he’d contend;
Who owns the place his only view;
The business journeymen may do,
The N—b s brother next advances,
Who, with some mettle, skips and prances:
But take care, Rev. M—sk—l—n,
Thou scientific harlequin,
Nor think, by jockeying, to win:
Why, when the foremost in the course,
Would’st thou thy hopeful chance reverse,
Avouching with ungen’rous mind,
The two most worth had declin’d?
Believe me, this fallacious boast
Has run thee the wrong side o’ the post;
Eor the great donor of the prize
I just, as Jove who rules the skies.
The next, who promises some sport,
Is the renown’d optician, Short;
Makes all the interest he can,
And candid hopes, if should fail,
Experienced Nestor may prevail.
Nestor, aloud, the standers-by,
Looking around, with pleasure cry—
And wilt thou, Bevis, wilt thou venture
Against such hardy wights to enter?
Yes, clear the course, and call the grooms,
For, lo! how he attended comes:
Immortal Newton, England’s boast,
Conducts him to the starting-post;
And pointing with the other hand,
Shows him, who to assist him stand.
See thy friend Halley by thy side.
And Bradley, whom thou oft didst guide;
By Phœbus sent with Pegasus,
To aid thee in this arduous course.
Tho’ no professorship you hold,
No fellowship, endow’d with gold,
No pension on the worldly stage,
To comfort thy advancing age,
Yet has the Prussian hero deign’d
To fix the ‘midst his learned band.
Courage! then, Sir, nor drop thy merit;
And that the world with outstretcht eyes,
Looks on, and points thee for the prize.
Nay, singly ask the other three,
On whom (himself excepted) he
Thinks that the dubious lost should fall,
Bevis, they’ll answer—one and all.
Keep then this adage old in view,
That what all say must sure be true:
And, ‘gainst the field, I think we my
Venture some odds—you get the day.