Poetry: Lord Byron - English bards and Scotch reviewers - Complete - Links to more Byron

Posted by Ricardo Marcenaro | Posted in | Posted on 15:52




      A SATIRE.


 "I had rather be a kitten, and cry mew!
 Than one of these same metre ballad-mongers."

 "Such shameless bards we have; and yet 'tis true,
 There are as mad, abandon'd critics too."


All my friends, learned and unlearned, have urged me not to publish this Satire with my name.  If I were to be "turn'd from the career of my humour by quibbles quick, and papers bullets of the brain," I should have complied with their counsel; but I am not be terrified by abuse, or bullied by reviewers, with or without arms.  I can safely say that I have attacked none /personally/ who did not commence on the offensive.  An author's works are public property: he who purchases may judge, and publish his opinion if he pleases; and the authors I have endeavoured to commemorate may do by me as I have done by  them: I dare say they will succeed better in condemning my scribblings, than in mending their own.  But my object is not to prove that I can write well, but, /if possible,/ to make others write better.

As the poem has met with far more success than I expected, I have endeavoured in this edition to make some additions and alterations, to render it more worthy of public perusal.

In the first edition of this Satire, published anonymously, fourteen lines on the subject of Bowles's Pope were written by, and inserted at the request of, an ingenious friend of mine, who has now in the press a volume of poetry.  In the present edition they are erased, and some of my own substituted in their stead; my only reason for this being that which I conceive would operate with any other person in the same manner -- a determination not to publish with my name any production which was not entirely and exclusively my own composition.

With regard to the real talents of many of the poetical persons whose performances are mentioned, or alluded to, in the following pages, it is presumed by the author that there can be little difference of opinion in the public at large; though, like other sectaries, each has his separate tabernacle of proselytes, by whom his abilities are overrated, his faults overlooked, and his metrical canons received without scruple and without consideration.  But the unquestionable possession of considerable genius by several of the writers here censured, renders their mental prostitution more to be regretted.  Imbecility may be pitied, or, at worst, laughed at and forgotten; perverted powers demand the most decided reprehension.  No one can wish more than the author that some known and able writer had undertaken their exposure; but Mr. Gifford has devoted himself to Massinger, and, in the absence of the regular physician, a country practitioner may, in cases of absolute necessity, be allowed to prescribe his nostrum to prevent the extension of so deplorable an epidemic, provided there be no quackery in his treatment of the malady.  A caustic is here offered, as it is to be feared nothing short of actual cautery can recover the numerous patients afflicted with the present prevalent and distressing /rabies/ for rhyming.

As to the Edinburgh Reviewers, it would indeed require a Hercules to crush the Hydra; but if the author succeeds in merely "bruising one of the heads of the serpent," though his own hand should suffer in the encounter, he will be amply satisfied.



Still must I hear? -- shall hoarse Fitzgerald bawl [1]
His creaking couplets in a tavern hall,
And I not sing, lest, haply, Scotch reviews
Should dub me scribbler, and denounce my muse?
Prepare for rhyme -- I'll publish, right or wrong:
Fools are my theme, let satire be my song.

 Oh! nature's noblest gift -- my gray goose-quill!
Slave of my thoughts, obedient to my will,
Torn from thy parent bird to form a pen,
That mighty instrument of little men!
The pen! foredoom'd to aid the mental throes
Of brains that labour, big with verse or prose,
Though nymphs forsake, and critics may deride,
The lover's solace, and the author's pride.
What wits, what poets dost thou daily raise!
How frequent is thy use, how small thy praise!
Condemn'd at length to be forgotten quite,
With all the pages which 'twas thine to write.
But thou, at least, mine own especial pen!
Once laid aside, but now assumed again,
Our task complete, like Hamet's shall be free; [2]
Though spurn'd by others, yet beloved by me:
Then let us soar to-day; no common theme,
No eastern vision, no distemper'd dream
Inspires -- our path, though full of thorns, is plain;
Smooth be the verse, and easy be the strain.

 When Vice triumphant holds her sov'reign sway,
And men through life her willing slaves obey;
When Folly, frequent harbinger of crime,
Unfolds her motley store to suit the time;
When knaves and fools combined o'er all prevail,
When justice halts, and right begins to fail;
E'en then the boldest start from public sneers,
Afraid of shame, unknown to other fears,
More darkly sin, by satire kept in awe,
And shrink from ridicule, though not from law.

 Such is the force of wit! but not belong
To me the arrows of satiric song;
The royal vices of our age demand
A keener weapon, and a mightier hand.
Still there are follies, e'en for me to chase,
And yield at least amusement in the race:
Laugh when I laugh, I seek no other fame;
The cry is up, and scribblers are my game.
Speed, Pegasus! -- ye strains of great and small,
Ode, epic, elegy, have at you all!
I too can scrawl, and once upon a time
I pour'd along the town a flood of rhyme,
A schoolboy freak, unworthy praise or blame;
I printed -- older children do the same.
'Tis pleasant, sure, to see one's name in print;
A book's a book, although there's nothing in't.
Not that a title's sounding charm can save
Or scrawl or scribbler from an equal grave:
This Lambe must own, since his patrician name
Fail'd to preserve the spurious farce from shame. [3]
No matter, George continues still to write, [4]
Though now the name is veil'd from public sight.
Moved by the great example, I pursue
The self-same road, but make my own review:
Not seek great Jeffrey's, yet, like him, will be
Self-constituted judge of poesy.

 A man must serve his time to every trade
Save censure -- critics all are ready made.
Take hackney'd jokes from Miller, got by rote,
With just enough of learning to misquote;
A mind well skill'd to find or forge a fault;
A turn for punning, call it Attic salt;
To Jeffrey go, be silent and discreet,
His pay is just ten sterling pounds per sheet:
Fear not to lie, 'twill seem a lucky hit;
Shrink not from blasphemy, 'twill pass for wit;
Care not for feeling -- pass your proper jest,
And stand a critic, hated, yet caress'd.

 And shall we own such judgment? no -- as soon
Seek roses in December -- ice in June;
Hope constancy in wind, or corn in chaff;
Believe a woman, or an epitaph,
Or any other thing that's false, before
You trust in critics, who themselves are sore;
Or yield one single thought to be misled
By Jeffrey's heart, or Lambe's Bœotian head. [5]
To these young tyrants, by themselves misplaced, [6]
Combined usurpers on the throne of taste;
To these, when authors bend in humble awe,
And hail their voice as truth, their word as law --
While these are censors, 'twould be sin to spare;
While such are critics, why should I forbear?
But yet, so near all modern worthies run,
'Tis doubtful whom to seek, or whom to shun;
Nor know we when to spare, or where to strike,
Our bards and censors are so much alike.

 Then should you ask me, why I venture o'er [7]
The path which Pope and Gifford trod before;
If not yet sicken'd, you can still proceed:
Go on; my rhyme will tell you as you read.

 Time was, ere yet in these degenerate days
Ignoble themes obtain'd mistaken praise,
When sense and wit with poesy allied,
No fabled graces, flourish'd side by side;
From the same fount their inspiration drew,
And, rear'd by taste, bloom'd fairer as they grew.
Then, in this happy isle, a Pope's pure strain
Sought the rapt soul to charm, nor sought in vain:
A polish'd nation's praise aspired to claim,
And raised the people's, as the poet's fame.
Like him great Dryden pour'd the tide of song,
In stream less smooth, indeed, yet doubly strong.
Then Congreve's scenes could cheer, or Otway's melt;
For nature then an English audience felt.
But why these names, or greater still, retrace,
When all to feebler bards resign their place?
Yet to such times our lingering looks are cast,
When taste and reason with those times are past.
Now look around, and turn each trifling page,
Survey the precious works that please the age;
This truth at least let satire's self allow,
No dearth of bards can be complain'd of now:
The loaded press beneath her labour groans,
And printers' devils shake their weary bones;
While Southey's epics cram the creaking shelves,
And Little's lyrics shine in hot-press'd twelves.

 Thus saith the Preacher: "Nought beneath the sun
Is new;" [8] yet still from change to change we run;
What varied wonders tempt us as they pass!
The cow-pox, tractors, galvanism, and gas,
In turns appear, to make the vulgar stare,
Till the swoln bubble bursts -- and all is air!
Nor less new schools of Poetry arise,
Where dull pretenders grapple for the prize:
O'er taste awhile these pseudo-bards prevail:
Each country book-club bows the knee to Baal,
And, hurling lawful genius from the throne,
Erects a shrine and idol of its own;
Some leaden calf -- but whom it matters not,
From soaring Southey down to grovelling Stott. [9]

 Behold! in various throngs the scribbling crew,
For notice eager, pass in long review:
Each spurs his jaded Pegasus apace,
And rhyme and blank maintain an equal race;
Sonnets on sonnets crowd, and ode on ode;
And tales of terror jostle on the road;
Immeasurable measures move along;
For simpering folly loves a varied song,
To strange mysterious dulness still the friend,
Admires the strain she cannot comprehend.

 Thus Lays of Minstrels -- may they be the last! -- [10]
On half-strung harps whine mournful to the blast.
While mountain spirits prate to river sprites,
That dames may listen to the sound at nights:
And goblin brats, of Gilpin Horner's brood,
Decoy young border nobles through the wood,
And skip at every step, Lord knows how high,
And frighten foolish babes, the Lord knows why;
While high-born ladies in their magic cell,
Forbidding knights to read who cannot spell,
Despatch a courier to a wizard's grave,
And fight with honest men to shield a knave.

Next view in state, proud prancing on his roan,
The golden-crested haughty Marmion,
Now forging scrolls, now foremost in the fight,
Not quite a felon, yet but half a knight,
The gibbet or the field prepared to grace;
A mighty mixture of the great and base.
And thinkst thou, Scott! by vain conceit perchance,
On public taste to foist thy stale romance?
Though Murray with his Miller may combine
To yield thy muse just half-a-crown per line?
No! when the sons of song descend to trade,
Their bays are sear, their former laurels fade.
Let such forego the poet's sacred name,
Who rack their brains for lucre, not for fame:
Low may they sink to merited contempt,
And scorn remunerate the mean attempt!
Such be their meed, such still the just reward
Of prostituted muse and hireling bard!
For this we spurn Apollo's venal son,
And bid a long "good-night to Marmion." [11]

 These are the themes that claim our plaudits now;
These are the bards to whom the muse must bow;
While Milton, Dryden, Pope, alike forgot,
Resign their hallow'd bays to Walter Scott.

 The time has been, when yet the muse was young,
When Homer swept the lyre, and Maro sung,
An epic scarce ten centuries could claim,
While awe-struck nations hail'd the magic name;
The work of each immortal bard appears
The single wonder of a thousand years. [12]
Empires have moulder'd from the face of earth,
Tongues have expired with those who gave them birth,
Without the glory such a strain can give,
As even in ruin bids the language live.
Not so with us, though minor bards, content
On one great work a life of labour spent:
With eagle pinion soaring to the skies,
Behold the ballad-monger Southey rise!
To him let Camoens, Milton, Tasso yield,
Whose annual strains, like armies, take the field.

 First in the ranks see Joan of Arc advance,
The scourge of England and the boast of France!
Though burnt by wicked Bedford for a witch,
Behold her statue plac'd in glory's niche;
Her fetters burst, and just released from prison,
A virgin phœnix from her ashes risen.
Next see tremendous Thalaba come on, [13]
Arabia's monstrous, wild and wondrous son:
Domdaniel's dread destroyer, who o'erthrew
More mad magicians than the world e'er knew.
Immortal hero! all thy foes o'ercome,
For ever reign -- the rival of Tom Thumb!
Since startled metre fled before thy face,
Well wert thou doom'd the last of all thy race!
Well might triumphant genii bear thee hence,
Illustrious conqueror of common sense!
Now, last and greatest, Madoc spreads his sails,
Cacique in Mexico, and prince in Wales;
Tells us strange tales, as other travellers do,
More old than Mandeville's, and not so true.
Oh Southey! Southey! cease thy varied song! [14]
A bard may chant too often and too long:
As thou art strong in verse, in mercy, spare!
A fourth, alas! were more than we could bear.
But if, in spite of all the world can say,
Thou still wilt verseward plod thy weary way;
If still in Berkley ballads most uncivil,
Thou wilt devote old women to the devil, [15]
The babe unborn thy dread intent may rue:
"God help thee," Southey, and thy readers too. [16]

 Next comes the dull disciple of thy school,
That mild apostate from poetic rule,
The simple Wordsworth, framer of a lay
As soft as evening in his favourite May,
Who warns his friend "to shake off toil and trouble,
And quit his books, for fear of growing double;" [17]
Who, both by precept and example, shows
That prose is verse, and verse is merely prose;
Convincing all, by demonstration plain,
Poetic souls delight in prose insane;
And Christmas stories tortur'd into rhyme
Contain the essence of the true sublime.
Thus, when he tells the tale of Betty Foy,
The idiot mother of "an idiot boy,"
A moon-struck, silly lad, who lost his way,
And, like his bard, confounded night with day; [18]
So close on each pathetic part he dwells,
And each adventure so sublimely tells,
That all who view the "idiot in his glory,"
Conceive the bard the hero of the story.

 Shall gentle Coleridge pass unnoticed here,
To turgid ode and tumid stanza dear?
Though themes of innocence amuse him best,
Yet still obscurity's a welcome guest.
If Inspiration should her aid refuse
To him who takes a pixy for a muse, [19]
Yet none in lofty numbers can surpass
The bard who soars to elegise an ass.
So well the subject suits his noble mind!
"A fellow-feeling makes us wondrous kind."

 Oh! wonder-working Lewis! monk, or bard,
Who fain wouldst make Parnassus a churchyard!
Lo! wreaths of yew, not laurel, bind thy brow,
Thy muse a sprite, Apollo's sexton thou!
Whether on ancient tombs thou tak'st thy stand,
By gibbering spectres hail'd, thy kindred band;
Or tracest chaste descriptions on thy page,
To please the females of our modest age;
All hail, M.P.! [20] from whose infernal brain
Thin-sheeted phantoms glide, a grisly train;
At whose command "grim women" throng in crowds,
And kings of fire, of water, and of clouds,
With "small gray men," "wild yagers," and what not,
To crown with honour thee and Walter Scott!
Again all hail! if tales like thine may please,
St Luke alone can vanquish the disease;
Even Satan's self with thee might dread to dwell,
And in thy skull discern a deeper hell.

 Who in soft guise, surrounded by a choir
Of virgins melting, not to Vesta's fire,
With sparkling eyes, and cheek by passion flush'd,
Strikes his wild lyre, whilst listening dames are hush'd?
'Tis Little! young Catullus of his day,
As sweet, but as immoral, in his lay!
Grieved to condemn, the muse must still be just,
Nor spare melodious advocates of lust.
Pure is the flame which o'er her altar burns;
From grosser incense with disgust she turns;
Yet kind to youth, this expiation o'er,
She bids thee "mend thy line and sin no more."

 For thee, translator of the tinsel song,
To whom such glittering ornaments belong,
Hibernian Strangford! with thine eyes of blue, [21]
And boasted locks of red or auburn hue,
Whose plaintive strain each love-sick miss admires,
And o'er harmonious fustian half expires,
Learn, if thou canst, to yield thine author's sense,
Nor vend thy sonnets on a false pretence.
Think'st thou to gain thy verse a higher place,
By dressing Camoens in a suit of lace?
Mend, Strangford! mend thy morals and thy taste;
Be warm, but pure; be amorous, but be chaste;
Cease to deceive,: thy pilfer'd harp restore,
Nor teach the Lusian bard to copy Moore.

 In many marble-cover'd volumes view
Hayley, in vain attempting something new:
Whether he spin his comedies in rhyme,
Or scrawl, as Wood and Barclay walk, 'gainst time,
His style in youth or age is still the same,
For ever feeble and for ever tame.
Triumphant first see "Temper's Triumphs" shine!
At least I'm sure they triumph'd over mine.
Of "Music's Triumphs," all who read may swear
That luckless music never triumph'd there. [22]

 Moravians, rise! bestow some meet reward
On dull devotion -- Lo! the Sabbath bard,
Sepulchral Grahame, pours his notes sublime
In mangled prose, nor e'en aspires to rhyme;
Breaks into blank the Gospel of St. Luke,
And boldly pilfers from the Pentateuch;
And, undisturb'd by conscientious qualms,
Perverts the Prophets, and purloins the Psalms. [23]

 Hail, Sympathy! thy soft idea brings
A thousand visions of a thousand things,
And shews, dissolved in thine own melting tears,
The maudlin prince of mournful sonneteers.
And art thou not their prince, harmonious Bowles!
Thou first, great oracle of tender souls?
Whether in sighing winds thou seek'st relief,
Or consolation in a yellow leaf;
Whether thy muse most lamentably tells
What merry sounds proceed from Oxford bells, [24]
Or, still in bells delighting, finds a friend
In every chime that jingled from Ostend;
Ah! how much juster were thy muse's hap
If to thy bells thou wouldst but add a cap!
Delightful Bowles! still blessing and still blest,
All love thy strain, but children like it best.
'Tis thine, with gentle Little's moral song,
To soothe the mania of the amorous throng!
With thee our nursery damsels shed their tears,
Ere miss, as yet, completes her infant years:
But in her teens thy winning powers are vain;
She quits poor Bowles for Little's purer strain.
Now to soft themes thou scornest to confine
The lofty numbers of a harp like thine;
"Awake a louder and a loftier strain," [25]
Such as none heard before, or will again;
Where all discoveries jumbled from the flood,
Since first the leaky ark reposed in mud,
By more or less, are sung in every book,
From Captain Noah down to Captain Cook.
Nor this alone; but, pausing on the road,
The bard sighs forth a gentle episode; [26]
And gravely tells -- attend, each beauteous miss! --
When first Madeira trembled to a kiss.
Bowles! in thy memory let this precept dwell,
Stick to thy sonnets, man! -- at least they sell.
But if some new-born whim, or larger bribe,
Prompt thy crude brain, and claim thee for a scribe;
If chance some bard, though once by dunces fear'd,
Now, prone in dust, can only be revered;
If Pope, whose fame and genius, from the first,
Have foil'd the best of critics, needs the worst,
Do thou essay; each fault, each failing scan:
The first of poets was, alas! but man.
Rake from each ancient dunghill ev'ry pearl,
Consult Lord Fanny, and confide in Curll; [27]
Let all the scandals of a former age
Perch on thy pen, and flutter o'er thy page;
Affect a candour which thou canst not feel,
Clothe envy in the garb of honest zeal;
Write, as if St. John's soul could still inspire,
And do from hate what Mallet did for hire. [28]
Oh! hadst thou lived in that congenial time,
To rave with Dennis, and with Ralph to rhyme; [29]
Throng'd with the rest around his living head,
Not raised thy hoof against the lion dead;
A meet reward had crown'd thy glorious gains,
And link'd thee to the Dunciad for thy pains. [30]

 Another epic! who inflicts again
More books of blank upon the sons of men?
Bœotian Cottle, rich Bristowa's boast,
Imports old stories from the Cambrian coast,
And sends his goods to market -- all alive!
Lines forty thousand, cantos twenty-five!
Fresh fish from Helicon! who'll buy, who'll buy?
The precious bargain's cheap -- in faith, not I.
Too much in turtle Bristol's sons delight,
Too much o'er bowls of rack prolong the night!
If Commerce fills the purse, she clogs the brain,
And Amos Cottle strikes the lyre in vain.
In him an author's luckless lot behold,
Condemn'd to make the books which once he sold.
Oh, Amos Cottle! -- Phœbus! what a name
To fill the speaking trump of future fame! --
Oh, Amos Cottle! for a moment think
What meagre profits spring from pen and ink!
When thus devoted to poetic dreams,
Who will peruse thy prostituted reams?
Oh, pen perverted! paper misapplied!
Had Cottle still adorn'd the counter's side, [31]
Bent o'er the desk, or, born to useful toils,
Been taught to make the paper which he soils,
Plough'd, delved, or plied the oar with lusty limb,
He had not sung of Wales, nor I of him.

 As Sisyphus against the infernal steep
Rolls the huge rock, whose motions ne'er may sleep,
So up thy hill, ambrosial Richmond! heaves
Dull Maurice all his granite weight of leaves: [32]
Smooth, solid monuments of mental pain!
The petrifactions of a plodding brain,
That, ere they reach the top, fall lumbering back again.

 With broken lyre, and cheek serenely pale,
Lo! sad Alcæus wanders down the vale;
Though fair they rose, and might have bloom'd at last,
His hopes have perish'd by the northern blast:
Nipp'd in the bud by Caledonian gales,
His blossoms wither as the blast prevails!
O'er his lost works let /classic/ Sheffield weep;
May no rude hand disturb their early sleep! [33]

 Yet say! why should the bard at once resign
His claim to favour from the sacred Nine?
For ever startled by the mingled howl
Of northern wolves, that still in darkness prowl;
A coward brood, which mangle as they prey,
By hellish instinct, all that cross their way;
Aged or young, the living or the dead,
No mercy find -- these harpies must be fed.
Why do the injured unresisting yield
The calm possession of their native field?
Why tamely thus before their fangs retreat,
Nor hunt the blood-hounds back to Arthur's Seat? [34]

 Health to immortal Jeffrey! once, in name,
England could boast a judge almost the same;
In soul so like, so merciful, yet just,
Some think that Satan has resign'd his trust,
And given the spirit to the world again,
To sentence letters, as he sentenced men.
With hand less mighty, but with heart as black,
With voice as willing to decree the rack;
Bred in the courts betimes, though all that law,
As yet hath taught him is to find a flaw.
Since well instructed in the patriot school
To rail at party, though a party tool,
Who knows, if chance his patrons should restore
Back to the sway they forfeited before,
His scribbling toils some recompense may meet,
And raise this Daniel to the judgment-seat?
Let Jeffries' shade indulge the pious hope,
And greeting thus, present him with a rope:
'Heir to my virtues! man of equal mind;
Skill'd to condemn as to traduce mankind,
This cord receive, for thee reserved with care,
To wield in judgment, and at length to wear."

 Health to great Jeffrey! Heaven preserve his life,
To flourish on the fertile shores of Fife,
And guard it sacred in its future wars,
Since authors sometimes seek the field of Mars!
Can none remember that eventful day,
That ever-glorious, almost fatal fray,
When Little's leadless pistol met his eye,
And Bow Street myrmidons stood laughing by? [35]
Oh, day disastrous! on her firm-set rock,
Dunedin's castle felt a secret shock;
Dark roll'd the sympathetic waves of Forth,
Low groan'd the startled whirlwinds of the north;
Tweed ruffled half his waves to form a tear,
The other half pursued its calm career; [36]
Arthur's steep summit nodded to its base,
The surly Tolbooth scarcely kept her place;
The Tolbooth felt -- for marble sometimes can,
On such occasions, feel as much as man --
The Tolbooth felt defrauded of his charms,
If Jeffrey died, except within her arms: [37]
Nay, last, not least, on that portentious morn,
The sixteenth storey, where himself was born,
His patrimonial garret, fell to the ground,
And pale Edina shudder'd at the sound:
Strew'd were the streets around with milk-white reams,
Flow'd all the Canongate with inky streams;
This of his candour seem'd the sable dew,
That of his valour show'd the bloodless hue;
And all with justice deem'd the two combined
The mingled emblems of his mighty mind.
But Caledonia's goddess hover'd o'er
The field and saved him from the wrath of Moore;
From either pistol snatch'd the vengeful lead,
And straight restored it to her favourite's head;
That head, with greater than magnetic power,
Caught it, as Danae caught the golden shower,
And, though the thickening dross will scarce refine,
Augments its ore, and is itself a mine.
"My son," she cried, "ne'er thirst for gore again,
Resign the pistol and resume the pen;
O'er politics and poesy preside,
Boast of thy country, and Britannia's guide!
For as long as Albion's heedless sons submit,
Or Scottish taste decides on English wit,
So long shall last thine unmolested reign,
Nor any dare to take thy name in vain.
Behold, a chosen band shall aid thy plan,
And own thee chieftain of the critic clan.
First in the oat-fed phalanx shall be seen
The travell'd thane, Athenian Aberdeen. [38]
Herbert shall wield Thor's hammer, [39] and sometimes,
In gratitude, thou'lt praise his rugged rhymes.
Smug Sydney too thy bitter page shall seek, [40]
And classic Hallam, much renown'd for Greek; [41]
Scott must perchance his name and influence lend,
And paltry Pillans shall traduce his friend; [42]
While gay Thalia's luckless votary, Lambe, [43]
As he himself was damn'd, shall try to damn.
Known be thy name, unbounded be thy sway!
Thy Holland's banquets shall each toil repay;
While grateful Britain yields the praise she owes,
To Holland's hirelings, and to learning's foes.
Yet mark one caution ere thy next Review
Spread its light wings of saffron and of blue,
Beware lest blundering Brougham destroy the sale, [44]
Turn beef to bannocks, cauliflowers to kail."
Thus having said, the kilted goddess kist
Her son, and vanish'd in a Scottish mist. [45]

 Illustrious Holland! hard would be his lot,
His hirelings mentioned, and himself forgot!
Holland, with Henry Petty at his back,
The whipper-in and huntsman of the pack.
Blest be the banquets spread at Holland House,
Where Scotchmen feed, and critics may carouse!
Long, long beneath that hospitable roof
Shall Grub Street dine, while duns are kept aloof.
See honest Hallam lay aside his fork,
Resume his pen, review his Lordship's work,
And, grateful to the founder of the feast,
Declare his landlord can translate at least! [46]
Dunedin! view thy children with delight,
They write for food -- and feed because they write:
And lest, when heated with unusual grape,
Some glowing thoughts should to the press escape,
And tinge with red the female reader's cheek,
My lady skims the cream of each critique;
Breathes o'er the page her purity of soul,
Reforms each error, and refines the whole. [47]

 Now to the Drama turn -- Oh! motley sight,
What precious scenes the wondering eyes invite!
Puns, and a prince within a barrel pent, [49]
And Dibdin's nonsense yield complete content.
Though now, thank Heaven! the Rosciomania's o'er,
And full-grown actors are endured once more:
Yet what avail their vain attempts to please,
While British critics suffer scenes like these?
While Reynolds vents his "Dammes!" "Poohs!" and "Zounds!" [49]
And common-place and common sense confounds?
While Kenney's "World," just suffer'd to proceed,
Proclaims the audience very kind indeed!
And Beaumont's pilfer'd Caratach affords
A tragedy complete in all but words? [50]
Who but must mourn, while these are all the rage,
The degradation of our vaunted stage?
Heavens! is all sense of shame and talent gone?
Have we no living bard of merit? -- none!
Awake, George Colman! Cumberland, awake!
Ring the alarum-bell! let folly quake!
O Sheridan! if aught can move thy pen,
Let Comedy resume her throne again;
Abjure the mummery of German schools,
Leave new Pizarros to translating fools;
Give, as thy last memorial to the age,
One classic drama, and reform the stage.
Gods! o'er those boards shall Folly rear her head,
Where Garrick trod, and Kemble lives to tread?
On those shall Farce display Buffoon'ry's mask,
And Hook conceal his heroes in a cask?
Shall sapient managers new scenes produce
From Cherry, Skeffington, and Mother Goose?
While Shakspeare, Otway, Massinger, forgot,
On stalls must moulder, or in closets rot?
Lo! with what pomp the daily prints proclaim
The rival candidates for Attic fame!
In grim array though Lewis' spectres rise,
Still Skeffington and Goose divide the prize.
And sure /great/ Skeffington must claim our praise,
For skirtless coats and skeletons of plays,
Renown'd alike; whose genius ne'er confines
Her flight to garnish Greenwood's gay designs; [51]
Nor sleeps with "Sleeping Beauties," but anon
In five facetious acts comes thundering on, [52]
While poor John Bull, bewilder'd with the scene,
Stares, wondering what the devil it can mean;
But as some hands applaud -- a venal few --
Rather than sleep, why John applauds it too.

 Such are we now.  Ah! wherefore should we turn
To what our fathers were, unless to mourn?
Degenerate Britons! are ye dead to shame,
Or, kind to dulness, do you fear to blame?
Well may the nobles of our present race
Watch each distortion of a Naldi's face;
Well may they smile on Italy's buffoons,
And worship Catalani's pantaloons, [53]
Since their own drama yields no fairer trace
Of wit than puns, of humour than grimace.

 Then let Ausonia, skill'd in every art
To soften manners, but corrupt the heart,
Pour her exotic follies o'er the town,
To sanction Vice, and hunt Decorum down:
Let wedded strumpets languish o'er Deshayes,
And bless the promise which his form displays:
While Gayton bounds before th' enraptured looks
Of hoary marquises and stripling dukes;
Let high-born lechers eye the lively Presle
Twirl her light limbs, that spurn the needless veil;
Let Angiolini bare her breast of snow,
Wave the white arm, and point the pliant toe;
Collini trill her love-inspiring song,
Strain her fair neck, and charm the listening throng!
Raise not your scythe, suppressors of our vice!
Reforming saints! too delicately nice!
By whose decrees, our sinful souls to save,
No Sunday tankards foam, no barbers shave;
And beer undrawn, and beards unmown, display
You holy reverence for the Sabbath-day.

 Or, hail at once the patron and the pile
Of vice and folly, Greville and Argyle! [54]
Where yon proud palace, Fashion's hallow'd fane,
Spreads wide her portals for the motley train,
Behold the new Petronius of the day, [55]
The arbiter of pleasure and of play!
There the hired eunuch, the Hesperian choir,
The melting lute, the soft lascivious lyre,
The song from Italy, the step from France,
The midnight orgy, and the mazy dance,
The smile of beauty, and the flush of wine,
For fops, fools, gamesters, knaves, and lords combine.
Each to his humour -- Comus all allows;
Champaign, dice, music, or your neighbour's spouse.
Talk not to us, ye starving sons of trade!
Of piteous ruin, which ourselves have made;
In Plenty's sunshine Fortune's minions bask,
Nor think of poverty, except /en masque,/
When for the night some lately titled ass
Appears the beggar which his grandsire was.
The curtain dropp'd, the gay burletta o'er,
The audience take their turn upon the floor;
Now round the room the circling dowagers sweep,
Now in loose waltz the thin-clad daughters leap;
The first in lengthen'd line majestic swim,
The last display the free, unfetteer'd limb!
Those for Hibernia's lusty sons repair
With art the charms which nature could not spare;
These after husbands wing their eager flight,
Nor leave much mystery for the nuptial night.

 Oh! blest retreats of infamy and ease,
Where, all forgotten but the power to please,
Each maid may give a loose to genial thought,
Each swain may teach new systems, or be taught:
There the blithe youngster, just return's from Spain,
Cuts the light pack, or calls the rattling main;
The jovial caster's set, and seven's the nick,
Or -- done! -- a thousand on the coming trick!
If, mad with loss, existence 'gins to tire,
And all your hope or wish is to expire,
Here's Powell's pistol ready for your life,
And, kinder still, a Paget for your wife;
Fit consummation of an earthly race,
Begun in folly, ended in disgrace,
While none but menials o'er the bed of death,
Wash thy red wounds, or watch thy wavering breath;
Traduced by liars, and forgot by all,
The mangled victim of a drunken brawl,
To live, like Clodius, and like Falkland fall. [56]

 Truth! rouse some genuine bard, and guide his hand,
To drive this pestilence from out the land.
E'en I -- least thinking of a thoughtless throng,
Just skill'd to know the right and choose the wrong,
Freed at that age when reason's shield is lost,
To fight my course through passion's countless host,
Whom every path of pleasure's flowery way
Has lured in turn, and all have led astray --
E'en I must raise my voice, e'en I must feel
Such scenes, such men, destroy the public weal;
Although some kind, censorious friend will say,
"What art thou better, meddling fool, than they?"
And every brother rake will smile to see
That miracle, a moralist in me.
No matter -- when some bard in virtue strong --
Gifford perchance -- shall raise the chastening song,
Then sleep my pen for ever! and my voice
Be only heard to hail him, and rejoice;
Rejoice, and yield my feeble praise, though I
May feel the lash that Virtue must apply.

 As for the smaller fry, who swarm in shoals,
From silly Hafiz up to simple Bowles, [57]
Why should we call them from their dark abode,
In broad St. Giles's or in Tottenham Road?
Or (since some men of fashion nobly dare
To scrawl in verse) from Bond Street or the Square?
If things of ton their harmless lays indite,
Most wisely doom'd to shun the public sight,
What harm?  In spite of every critic elf,
Sir T. may read his stanzas to himself;
Miles Andrews still his strength in couplets try,
And live in prologues, though his dramas die:
Lords too are bards, such things at times befall,
And 'tis some praise in peers to write at all.
Yet, did or taste or reason sway the times,
Ah! who would take their titles with their rhymes?
Roscommon! Sheffield! with your spirits fled,
No future laurels deck a noble head;
No muse will cheer, with renovating smile,
The paralytic puling of Carlisle:
The puny schoolboy and his early lay
Men pardon, if his follies pass away:
But who forgives the senior's ceaseless verse,
Whose hairs grow hoary as his rhymes grow worse?
What heterogeneous honours deck the peer!
Lord, rhymester, /petit-maitre,/ and pamphleteer! [58]
So dull in youth, so drivelling in his age,
His scenes alone had damn'd our sinking stage;
But managers for once cried, 'Hold, enough!'
Nor drugg'd their audience with the tragic stuff.
Yet at their judgment let his Lordship laugh,
And case his volumes in congenial calf:
Yes! doff that covering, where morocco shines,
And hang a calf-skin on those recreant lines. [59]

 With you, ye Druids! rich in native lead,
Who daily scribble for your daily bread,
With you I war not: Gifford's heavy hand
Has crush'd, without remorse, your numerous band.
On "all the talents" vent your venal spleen;
Want is your plea, let pity be your screen.
Let monodies on Fox regale your crew,
And Melville's Mantle prove a blanket too.
One common Lethe waits each hapless bard,
And, peace be with you! 'tis your best reward.
Such damning fame as Dunciads only give
Could bid your lines beyond a morning live;
But now at once your fleeting labours close,
With names of greater note in blest repose.
Far be't from me unkindly to upbraid,
The lovely Rosa's prose in masquerade,
Whose strains, the faithful echoes of her mind,
Leave wondering comprehension far behind. [60]
Though Bell has lost his nightingales and owls,
Matilda snivels still, and Hafix howls;
And Crusca's spirit, rising form the dead,
Revives in Laura, Quiz, and X.Y.Z. [61]

 When some brisk youth, the tenant of a stall,
Employs a pen less pointed than his awl,
Leaves his snug shop, forsakes his store of shoes,
St. Crispin quits, and cobbles for the muse,
Heavens! how the vulgar stare! how crowds applaud!
How ladies read, and literati laud!
If chance some wicked wag should pass his jest,
'Tis sheer ill-nature -- don't the world know best?
Genius must guide when wits admire the rhyme,
And Capel Lofft declares 'tis quite sublime. [62]
Hear, then, ye happy sons of needless trade!
Swains! quit the plough, resign the useless spade!
Lo! Burns and Bloomfield, nay, a greater far,
Gifford was born beneath an adverse star,
Forsook the labours of a servile state,
Stemm'd the rude storm, and triumph'd over fate:
Then why no more? if Phœbus smiled on you,
Bloomfield! why not on brother Nathan too?
Him too the mania, not the muse, has seized:
Not inspiration, but a mind diseased:
And now no boor can seek his last abode,
No common be enclosed without an ode. [63]
Oh! since increased refinement deigns to smile
On Britain's sons, and bless our genial isle,
Let poesy go forth, pervade the whole,
Alike the rustic, and mechanic soul.
Ye tuneful cobblers! still your notes prolong,
Compose at once a slipper and a song;
So shall the fair your handywork peruse,
Your sonnets sure shall please -- perhaps your shoes.
May Moorland weavers boast Pindaric skill, [64]
And tailors' lays be longer than their bill!
While punctual beaux reward the grateful notes,
And pay for poems -- when they pay for coats.

 To the famed throng now paid the tribute due,
Neglected genius! let me turn to you.
Come forth, O Campbell! give thy talents scope;
Who dares aspire if thou must cease to hope?
And thou, melodious Rogers! rise at last, [65]
Recall the pleasing memory of the past;
Arise! let blest remembrance still inspire,
And strike to wonted tones thy hallow'd lyre;
Restore Apollo to his vacant throne,
Assert thy country's honour and thine own.
What! must deserted Poesy still weep
Where her last hopes with pious Cowper sleep?
Unless, perchance, from his cold bier she turns
To deck the turf that wraps her minstrel, Burns!
No! though contempt hath mark'd the spurious brood,
The race who rhyme from folly, or for food,
Yet still some genuine sons 'tis hers to boast,
Who, least affecting, still affect the most:
Feel as they write, and write but as they feel --
Bear witness Gifford, Sotheby, Macneil. [66]

 "Why slumbers Gifford?" once was ask'd in vain; [67]
Why slumbers Gifford? let us ask again.
Are there no follies for his pen to purge?
Are there no fools whose backs demand the scourge?
Are there no sins for satire's bard to greet?
Stalks not gigantic Vice in every street?
Shall peers or princes tread pollution's path,
And 'scape alike the law's and muse's wrath?
Nor blaze with guilty glare through future time,
Eternal beacons of consummate crime?
Arouse thee, Gifford! be thy promise claim'd,
Make bad men better, or at least ashamed.

 Unhappy White! while life was in its spring, [68]
And thy young muse just waved her joyous wing,
The spoiler came; and all thy promise fair,
Has sought the grave, to sleep for ever there.
Oh! what a noble heart was here undone,
When Science' self destroy'd her favourite son!
Yes, she too much indulged thy fond pursuit,
She sow'd the seeds, but death has reap'd the fruit.
'Twas thine own genius gave the final blow,
And help'd to plant the wound that laid thee low:
So the struck eagle, stretch'd upon the plain,
No more through rolling clouds to soar again,
View'd his own feather on the fatal dart,
And wing'd the shaft that quiver'd in his heart;
Keen were his pangs, but keener far to feel,
He nursed the pinion which impell'd the steel;
While the same plumage that had warm'd his nest
Drank the last life-drop of his bleeding breast.

 There be who say, in these enlighten'd days,
That splendid lies are all the poet's praise;
That strain'd invention, ever on the wing,
Alone impels the modern bard to sing:
'Tis true, that all who rhyme -- nay, all who write,
Shrink from that fatal word to genius -- trite;
Yet Truth sometimes will lend her noblest fires,
And decorate the verse herself inspires:
This fact in Virtue's name let Crabbe attest;
Though nature's sternest painter, yet the best.

 And here let Shee and Genius find a place, [69]
Whose pen and pencil yield an equal grace;
To guide whose hand the sister arts combine,
And trace the poet's or the painter's line;
Whose magic touch can bid the canvas glow,
Or pour the easy rhyme's harmonious flow;
While honours, doubly merited, attend
The poet's rival, but the painter's friend.

 Blest is the man who dares approach the bower
Where dwelt the muses at their natal hour;
Whose steps have press'd, whose eye has mark'd afar,
The clime that nursed the sons of song and war,
The scenes which glory still must hover o'er,
Her place of birth, her own Achaian shore.
But doubly blest is he whose heart expands
With hallow'd feelings for those classic lands;
Who rends the veil of ages long gone by,
And views their remnants with a poet's eye!
Wright! 'twas thy happy lot at once to view [70]
Those shores of glory, and to sing them too;
And sure no common muse inspired thy pen
To hail the land of gods and godlike men.

 And you, associate bards! who snatch'd to light [71]
Those gems too long withheld from modern sight;
Whose mingling taste combined to cull the wreath
Where Attic flowers Aonion odours breathe,
And all their renovated fragrance flung,
To grace the beauties of your native tongue;
Now let those minds that nobly could transfuse
The glorious spirit of the Grecian muse,
Though soft the echo, scorn a borrow'd tone:
Resign Achaia's lyre, and strike your own.

 Let these, or such as these with just applause,
Restore the muse's violated laws;
But not in flimsy Darwin's pompous chime,
That mighty master of unmeaning rhyme;
Whose gilded cymbals, more adorn'd than clear,
The eye delighted, but fatigued the ear;
In show the simple lyre could once surpass,
But now, worn down, appear in native brass;
While all his train of hovering sylphs around
Evaporate in similes and sound:
Him let them shun, with him let tinsel die:
False glare attracts, but more offends the eye. [72]

 Yet let them not to vulgar Wordsworth stoop,
The meanest object of the lowly group,
Whose verse, of all but childish prattle void,
Seems blessed harmony to Lamb and Lloyd: [73]
Let them -- but hold, my muse, nor dare to teach
A strain far, far beyond thy humble reach:
The native genius with their being given
Will point the path, and peal their notes to heaven.

 And thou, too, Scott! resign to minstrels rude [74]
The wilder slogan of a border feud:
Let others spin their meagre lines for hire;
Enough for genius, if itself inspire!
Let Southey sing, although his teeming muse,
Prolific every spring, be too profuse;
Let simple Wordsworth chime his childish verse,
And brother Coleridge lull the babe at nurse;
Let spectre-mongering Lewis aim, at most,
To rouse the galleries, or to raise a ghost;
Let Moore be lewd; let Strangford steal from Moore,
And swear that Camoens sang such notes of yore;
Let Hayley hobble on, Montgomery rave,
And godly Grahame chant a stupid stave:
Let sonneteering Bowles his strains refine,
And whine and whimper to the fourteenth line;
Let Stott, Carlisle, [75] Matilda, and the rest
Of Grub Street, and of Grosvenor Place the best,
Scrawl on, till death release us from the strain,
Or Common Sense assert her rights again.
But thou, with powers that mock the aid of praise,
Shouldst leave to humbler bards ignoble lays:
Thy country's voice, the voice of all the nine,
Demand a hallow'd harp -- that harp is thine.
Say! will not Caledonia's annals yield
The glorious record of some nobler field,
Than the wild foray of a plundering clan,
Whose proudest deeds disgrace the name of man?
Or Marmion's acts of darkness, fitter food
For outlaw'd Sherwood's tales of Robin Hood?
Scotland! still proudly claim thy native bard,
And be thy praise his first, his best reward!
Yet not with thee alone his name should live,
But own the vast renown a world can give:
Be known, perchance, when Albion is no more,
And tell the tale of what she was before;
To future times her faded fame recall,
And save her glory, though his country fall.

 Yet what avails the sanguine poet's hope,
To conquer ages, and with time to cope?
New eras spread their wings, new nations rise,
And other victors fill the applauding skies; [76]
A few brief generations fleet along,
Whose sons forget the poet and his song:
E'en now, what once-loved minstrels scarce may claim
The transient mention of a dubious name!
When fame's loud trump hath blown it noblest blast,
Though long the sound, the echo sleeps at last;
And glory, like the phœnix midst her fires,
Exhales her odours, blazes, and expires.

 Shall hoary Granta call her sable sons,
Expert in science, more expert at puns?
Shall these approach the muse? ah, no! she flies,
And even spurns the great Seatonian prize:
Though printers condescend the press to soil
With rhyme by Hoare, the epic blank by Hoyle:
Not him whose page, if still upheld by whist,
Requires no sacred theme to bid us list. [77]
Ye! who in Granta's honours would surpass,
Must mount her Pegasus, a full-grown ass;
A foal well worthy of her ancient dam,
Whose Helicon is duller than her Cam.

 There Clarke, still striving piteously "to please,"
Forgetting doggerel leads not to degrees,
A would-be satirist, a hired buffoon,
A monthly scribbler of some low lampoon,
Condemn'd to drudge, the meanest of the mean,
And furbish falsehoods for a magazine,
Devotes to scandal his congenial mind;
Himself a living libel on mankind. [78]

 Oh! dark asylum of a Vandal race! [79]
At once the boast of learning, and disgrace;
Sunk in dulness, and so lost to shame,
That Smythe and Hodgson scarce redeem thy fame! [80]
But where fair Isis rolls her purer wave,
The partial muse delighted loves to lave;
On her green banks a greener wreath is wove,
To crown the bards that haunt her classic grove:
Where Richards wakes a genuine poet's fires,
And modern Britons justly praise their sires.  [81]

 For me, who, thus unask'd, have dared to tell
My country what her sons should know too well,
Zeal for her honour bade me here engage
The host of idiots that infest her age;
No just applause her honour'd name shall lose,
As first in freedom, dearest to the muse.
Oh! would thy bards but emulate thy fame,
And rise more worthy, Albion, of thy name!
What Athens was in science, Rome in power,
What Tyre appear'd in her meridian hour,
'Tis thine at once, fair Albion! to have been --
Earth's chief dictatress, ocean's lovely queen:
But Rome decay'd, and Athens strew'd the plain,
And Tyre's proud piers lie shattered in the main;
Like these, thy strength may sink, in ruin hurl'd,
And Britain fall, the bulwark of the world.
But let me cease, and dread Cassandra's fate,
With warning ever scoff'd at, till too late;
To themes less lofty still my lay confine
And urge thy bards to gain a name like thine.

 Then, hapless Britain! be thy rulers blest,
The senate's oracles, thy people's jest!
Still hear thy motley orators dispense
The flowers of rhetoric, though not of sense,
While Canning's colleagues hate him for his wit,
And old dame Portland fills the place of Pitt. [82]

 Yet, once again, adieu! ere this the sail
That wafts me hence is shivering in the gale;
And Afric's coast and Calpe's adverse height, [83]
And Stamboul's minarets must greet my sight: [84]
Thence shall I stray through beauty's native clime, [85]
Where Kaff is clad in rocks, and crown'd with snows sublime, [86]
But should I back return, no letter'd rage
Shall drag my common-place book on the stage.
Let vain Valentia rival luckless Carr, [87]
And equal him whose work he sought to mar;
Let Aberdeen and Elgin still pursue [88]
The shade of fame through regions of virtù;
Waste useless thousands on their Phidian freaks,
Misshapen monuments and maim'd antiques;
And make their grand saloons a general mart
For all the mutilated blocks of art;
Of Dardan tours let dilettanti tell,
I leave topography to rapid Gell; [89]
And, quite content, no more shall interpose
To stun mankind with poesy or prose.

 Thus far I've held my undisturb'd career,
Prepared for rancour, steel'd 'gainst selfish fear;
This thing of rhyme I ne'er disdain'd to own --
Though not obtrusive, yet not quite unknown:
My voice was heard again, though not so loud,
My page, though nameless, never disavow'd;
And now at once I tear the veil away: --
Cheer on the pack! the quarry stands at bay,
Unscared by all the din of Melbourne House,
By Lambe's resentment, or by Holland's spouse,
By Jeffrey's harmless pistol, Hallam's rage,
Edina's brawny sons and brimstone page.
Our men in buckram shall have blows enough,
And feel they too "are penetrable stuff:"
And though I hope not hence unscathed to go,
Who conquers me shall find a stubborn foe.
The time hath been, when no harsh sound would fall
From lips that now may seem imbued with gall;
Nor fools nor follies tempt me to despise
The meanest thing that crawl'd beneath my eyes;
But now, so callous grown, so changed since youth,
I've learn'd to think, and sternly speak the truth;
Learn'd to deride the critic's starch decree,
And break him on the wheel he meant for me;
To spurn the rod a scribbler bids me kiss,
Nor care if courts and crowds applaud or hiss:
Nay more, though all my rival rhymesters frown,
I too can hunt a poetaster down;
And, arm'd in proof, the gauntlet cast at once
To Scotch marauder, and to southern dunce.
Thus much I've dared; how far my lay
Hath wrong'd these righteous times, let others say;
This, let the world, which knows not how to spare,
Yet rarely blames unjustly, now declare.

    "Semper ego auditor tantum? nunquamne reponam,
    Vexatus toties rauci Theseide Codri?"
                             Juvenal, /Satire 1./

Mr Fitzgerald, facetiously termed by Cobbett the "Small Beer Poet," inflicts his annual tribute of verse on the "Literary Fund;" not content with writing, he spouts in person, after the company have imbibed a reasonable quantity of bad port, to enable them to sustain the operation.

2.  Cid Hamet Benengeli promises repose to his pen, in the last chapter of "Don Quixote."  Oh that our voluminous gentry would follow the example of Cid Hamet Benengeli!

3.  This ingenious youth is mentioned more particularly, with his [illegible], in another place.

4.  In the "Edinburgh Review."

5.  Messrs Jeffrey and Lambe are the Alpha and Omega, the first and last of the "Edinburgh Review;" the others are mentioned hereafter.

    "Stilt est Clement, cum tot unique
    -------- occurs perturb chart."
                      Juvenal, /Satire 1./

    "Cur tamen hoc libeat potiun decurrere campo
    Per quem magnus equos Auruncæ flexit alumnus:
    Si vacat, et placidi rationem admittitis, edam."
                             Juvenal, /Satire 1./

8.  Ecclesiastes i.

9.  Stott, better known in the "Morning Post" by the name of Hafiz.  This person is at present the most profound explorer of the bathos.  I remember, when the reigning family left Portugal, a special ode of Master Stott's, beginning thus (Stott loquitur quod Hibernia): --
    "Princely offspring of Braganza,
    Erin greets thee with a stanza," &c. &c.
Also a sonnet to Rats, well worthy of the subject, and a most thundering ode, commencing as follows: --
    "Oh for a lay, loud as the surge
    That lashes Lapland's sounding shore!"
Lord have mercy on us! the "Lay of the Last Minstrel" was nothing to this,

10.  See the "Lay of the Last Minstrel," /passim./  Never was any plan so incongruous and absurd as the groundwork of this production.  The entrance of Thunder and Lightning prologuising to Bayes' Tragedy, unfortunately takes away the merit of originality from the dialogue between Messieurs the Spirits of Flood and Fell in the first canto.  Then we have the amiable William of Deloraine, "a stark mosstrooper," /videlicet,/ a happy compound of poacher, sheep-stealer, and highwayman.  The propriety of his magical lady's injunction not to read can only be equalled by his candid acknowledgment of his independence of the trammels of spelling, although, to use his own elegant phrase, "'twas his neck-verse at Harribee," /i.e.,/ the gallows.

The biography of Gilpin Horner, and the marvellous pedestrian page, who travelled twice as fast as his master's horse. without the aid of seven-leagued boots, are /chefs-d'œuvre/ in the improvement of taste.  For incident we have the invisible, but by no means sparing, box on the ear bestowed on the page, and the entrance of a knight into the castle, under the very natural disguise of a wain of hay.  Marmion, the hero of the latter romance, is exactly what William of Deloraine would have been, had he been able to read and write.  The poem was manufactured for Messrs Constable, Murray, and Miller, worshipful booksellers, in consideration of the receipt of a sum of money; and truly, considering the inspiration, it is a very creditable production.  If Mr Scott will write for hire, let him do his best for his paymasters, but not disgrace his genius, which is undoubtedly great, by a repetition of black-letter ballad imitations.

11.  "Good-night to Marmion" -- the pathetic and also prophetic exclamation of Henry Blount, Esquire, on the death of honest Marmion.

12.  As the "Odyssey" is so closely connected with the story of the "Iliad," they may almost be classed as one grand historical poem.  In alluding to Milton and Tasso, we consider the "Paradise Lost" and "Gierusalemme Liberata," as their standard efforts, since neither the "Jerusalem Conquered" of the Italian, nor the "Paradise Regained" of the English bard, obtained a proportionate celebrity to their former powers.  Query: Which of Mr Southey's will survive?

13.  "Thalaba," Mr Southey's second poem, is written in open defiance of precedent and poetry.  Mr S. wished to produce something novel, and succeeded to a miracle.  "Joan of Arc" was marvellous enough, but "Thalaba" was one of those poems "which," in the words of Porson, "will be read when Homer and Virgil are forgotten, but -- /not till then."/

14.  We beg Mr Southey's pardon; "Madoc dislikes the degraded title of epic."  See his preface.  Why is epic degraded? and by whom?  Certainly the late romaunts of Masters Cottle, Laurent Pye, Ogilvy, Hole, and gentle Mistress Cowley, have not exalted the epic muse; but as Mr Southey's poem "disdains the appellation," allow us to ask -- Has he substituted anything better in its stead? or must he be content to rival Sir Richard Blackmore in the quantity as well as quality of his verse?

15.  See "The Old Woman of Berkley," a ballad by Mr Southey, wherein an aged gentlewoman is carried away by Beelzebub, on a "high trotting horse."

16.  The last line, "God help thee," is an evident plagiarism from the "Anti-Jacobin" to Mr Southey, on his Dactylics.  "God help thee, silly one." -- Poetry of the "Anti-Jacobin," page 23.

17.  "Lyrical Ballads," page 4, -- "The Tables Turned," Stanza 1.
      "Up, up, my friend, and clear your looks,
        Why all this toil and trouble?
      Up, up, my friend, and quit your books,
        Or surely you'll grow double."

18.  Mr W. in his preface labours hard to prove, that prose and verse are much the same; and certainly his precepts and his practice are strictly conformable: --
    "And thus to Betty's question he
      Made answer like a traveller bold,
    The cock did crow to-whoo, to-whoo,
      And the sun did shine so cold," &c. &c.
                        /Lyrical Ballads,/ page 129.

19.  Coleridge's Poems, page 11, "Songs of the Pixies," -- /i.e.,/ Devonshire fairies, -- p. 42, we have, "Lines to a Young Lady," and p. 52, "Lines to a Young Ass."

20.  "For every one knows little Matt's an M.P." -- See a Poem to Mr Lewis, in the "Statesman," supposed to be written by Mr Jekyll.

21.  The reader who may wish for an explanation of this, may refer to "Strangford's Camoens," p. 127, note to page 56, or to the last page of the Edinburgh review of "Strangford's Camoens."

It is also to be remarked, that the things given to the public as Poems of Camoens, are no more to be found in the original Portuguese, than in the Song of Solomon.

22.  Hayley's two most notorious verse productions are "Triumphs of Temper," and "Triumphs of Music."  He has also written much comedy in rhyme, epistles, &c. &c.  As he is rather an elegant writer of notes and biography, let us recommend Pope's advice to Wycherley to Mr H.'s consideration, viz., "to convert his poetry into prose," which may easily be done by taking away the final syllable of each couplet.

23.  Mr Grahame has poured forth two volumes of cant, under the name of "Sabbath Walks," and "Biblical Pictures."

24.  See Bowles's Sonnets, &c. -- "Sonnet to Oxford," and "Stanzas on hearing the Bells of Ostend."

25.  "Awake a louder," &c. &c., is the first line in Bowles's "Spirit of Discontent," a very spirited and pretty dwarf-epic.  Among other exquisite lines we have the following: --
                                    "A kiss
   Stole on the list'ning silence, never yet
   Here heard; they trembled even as if the power," &c.
That is, the woods of Madeira trembled to a kiss, very much astonished, as well they might be, at such a phenomenon.

26.  The episode here alluded to is the story of "Robert a Machin," and "Anna d'Arfet," a pair of constant lovers, who performed the kiss before mentioned, that startled the woods of Madeira.

27.  Curl is one of the heroes of the "Dunciad," and was a bookseller.  Lord Fanny is the poetical name of Lord Hervey, author of "Lines to the Imitator of Horace."

28.  Lord Bolingbroke hired Mallet to traduce Pope after his decease, because the poet had retained some copies of a work by Lord Bolingbroke (the "Patriot King,") which that splendid but malignant genius had ordered to be destroyed.

29.  Dennis the critic, and Ralph the rhymester: --
   "Silence, ye wolves! while Ralph to Cynthia howls,
   Making night hideous; answer him, ye owls!"

30.  See Bowles's late edition of Pope's Works, for which he received £300: thus Mr. B. has experienced how much easier it is to profit by the reputation of another than to elevate his own.

31.  Mr Cottle, Amos, Joseph, I don't know which, but one or both, once sellers of books they did not write, and now writers of books that do not sell, have published a pair of epics.  "Alfred," -- (poor Alfred! Pye has been at him too!) -- "Alfred" and the "Fall of Cambria."

32.  Mr Maurice hath manufactured the component parts of a ponderous quarto, upon the "Beauties of Richmond Hill," and the like; -- it also takes in a charming view of Turnham Green, Hammersmith, Brentford, Old and New, and the parts adjacent.

33.  Poor Montgomery, though praised by every English Review, has been bitterly reviled by the Edinburgh.  After all, the bard of Sheffield is a man of considerable genius; his "Wanderer of Switzerland" is worth a thousand "Lyrical Ballads," and at least fifty "degraded epics."

34.  Arthur's Seat, the hill which overhangs Edinburgh.

35.  In 1806, Messrs  Jeffrey and Moore met at Chalk Farm.  The duel was prevented by the interference of the magistracy; and, on examination, the balls of the pistols, like the courage of the combatants, were found to have evaporated.  This incident gave occasion to much waggery in the daily prints.

36.  The Tweed here behaved with proper decorum; it would have been highly reprehensible in the English half of the river to have shown the smallest symptom of apprehension.

37.  This display of sympathy on the part of the Tolbooth, (the principal prison in Edinburgh,) which truly seems to have been most affected on this occasion, is much to be commended.  It was to be apprehended, that the many unhappy criminals executed in the front might have rendered the edifice more callous.  She is said to be of the softer sex, because her delicacy of feeling on this day was truly feminine, though, like most feminine impulses, perhaps a little selfish.

38.  His Lordship has been much abroad, is a member of the Athenian Society, and Reviewer of "Gell's Topography of Troy."

39.  Mr Herbert is a translator of Icelandic and other poetry.  One of the principal pieces is a "Song on the Recovery of Thor's Hammer:" the translation is a pleasant chant in the vulgar tongue, and endeth thus: --
     "Instead of money and ring, I wot,
     The hammer's bruises were her lot:
     Thus Odin's son his hammer got."

40.  The Reverend Sydney Smith, the reputed author of "Peter Plymley's Letters," and sundry criticisms.

41.  Mr Hallam reviewed Payne Knight's "Taste," and was exceedingly severe on some Greek verses therein: it was not discovered that the lines were Pindar's till the press rendered it impossible to cancel the critique, which still stands an everlasting monument of Hallam's ingenuity.

The said Hallam is incensed, because he is falsely accused, seeing that he never dineth at Holland House.  If this be true, I am sorry -- not for having said so, but on his account, as I understand his Lordship's feasts are preferable to his compositions.  If he did not review Lord Holland's performance, I am glad, because it must have been painful to read, and irksome to praise it.  If Mr Hallam will tell me who did review it, the real name shall find a place in the text; provided, nevertheless, the said name be of two orthodox musical syllables, and will come into the verse; till then, Hallam must stand for want of a better.

42.  Pillans was a tutor at Eton; and subsequently rector of the High School, and a professor in the University, of Edinburgh.

43.  The Honourable G. Lambe reviewed "Beresford's Miseries," and is moreover author of a farce enacted with much applause at the Priory, Stanmore; and damned with great expedition at the late Theatre, Covent Garden.  It was entitled "Whistle for It."

44.  Mr Brougham, in No. XXV. of the Edinburgh Review, throughout the article concerning Don Pedro de Cevallos, has displayed more politics than policy; many of the worthy burgesses of Edinburgh being so incensed at the infamous principles it evinces, as to have withdrawn their subscriptions.

45.  I ought to apologise to the worthy deities for introducing a new goddess with short petticoats to their notice: but, alas! what was to be done?  I could not say Caledonia's genius, it being well known that there is no genius to be found from Clackmannan to Caithness; yet without supernatural agency, how was Jeffrey to be saved?  The national "kelpies," &c., are too unpoetical, and the "brownies" and "gude neighbours" (spirits of a good disposition) refused to extricate him.  A goddess therefore has been called for the purpose; and great ought to be the gratitude of Jeffrey, seeing it is the only communication he ever held, or is likely to hold, with any thing heavenly.

46.  Lord H. has translated some specimens of Lope de Vega, inserted in his life of the author; both are bepraised by his /disinterested/ guests.

47.  Certain it is, her ladyship is suspected of having displayed her matchless wit in the "Edinburgh Review:" however that may be, we know from good authority that the manuscripts are submitted to her perusal -- no doubt for correction.

48.  In the melodrama of Tekeli, that heroic prince is clapt into a barrel on the stage: a new asylum for distressed heroes.

49.  All these are favourite expressions of Mr. R., and prominent in his comedies, living and defunct.

50.  Mr T. Sheridan, the new manager of Drury Lane Theatre, stripped the tragedy of "Bonduca" of the dialogue, and exhibited the scenes as the spectacle of Caractacus.  Was this worthy of his sire? or of himself?

51. Mr Greenwood is, we believe, scene-painter to Drury Lane Theatre -- as such, Mr S. is much indebted to him.

52.  Mr S. is the illustrious author of the "Sleeping Beauty;" and some comedies, particularly "Maids and Bachelors:" Baccalaurii baculo magis quam lauro digni.

53.  Naldi and Catalani require little notice; for the visage of the one, and the salary of the other, will enable us long to recollect these amusing vagabonds; besides we are still black and blue from the squeeze on the first night of the lady's appearance in trousers.

54.  To prevent any blunder, such as mistaking a street for a man, I beg leave to state, that it is the Institution, and not the Duke of that name, which is here alluded to.

A gentleman, with whom I am slightly acquainted, lost in the Argyle Rooms several thousand pounds at backgammon; it is but justice to the manager in this instance to say, that some degree of disapprobation was manifested: but why are the implements of gaming allowed in a place devoted to the society of both sexes?  A pleasant thing for the wives and daughters of those who are blessed or cursed with such connexions, to hear the billiard-tables rattling in one room, and the dice in another!  That this is the case, I myself can testify, as a late unworthy member of an institution which materially affects the morals of the higher orders, while the lower may not even move to the sound of a tabor and fiddle without a chance of indictment for riotous behaviour.

55.  Petronius, "Arbiter elegantarium" to Nero, "and a very pretty fellow in his day," as Mr Congreve's "Old Bachelor" saith.

56.   Mutate nomine de te
       Fabula narratur.

I knew the late Lord Falkland well.  On Sunday night I beheld him presiding at his own table, in all the honest pride of hospitality; on Wednesday morning, at three o'clock, I saw stretched before me all that remained of courage, feeling, and a host of passions.  He was a gallant and successful officer: his faults were the faults of a sailor; as such, Britons will forgive him.  He died like a brave man in a better cause, for had he fallen in like manner on the deck of the frigate to which he was just appointed, his last moments would have been held up by his countrymen as an example to succeeding heroes.

57.  What would be the sentiments of the Persian Anacreon, Hafiz, could he rise from his splendid sepulchre at Sheeraz, where he reposes with Ferdousi and Sadi, the oriental Homer and Catullus, and behold his name assumed by one Stott of Dremore, the most impudent and execrable of literary poachers for the daily prints?

58.  The Earl of Carlisle has lately published an eighteen-penny pamphlet on the state of the stage, and offers his plan for building a new theatre: it is to be hoped his Lordship will be permitted to bring forward anything for the stage -- except his own tragedies.

59.   "Doff that lion's hid,
       And hang a calf-skin on those recreant limbs."
                                                    SHAKSPEARE, /King John./

Lord C.'s works, most resplendently bound, form a conspicuous ornament to his book-shelves?

"The rest is all but leather and prunella."

60.  This lively little Jessica, the daughter of the noted Jew K____, seems to be a follower of the Della Crusca school, and has published two volumes of very respectable absurdities in rhyme, as times go; besides sundry novels in the style of the first edition of the "Monk."

61.  These are the signatures of various worthies who figure in the poetical departments of the newspapers.

62.  Capel Lofft, Esq., the Mæcenas of shoemakers, and preface-writer-general to distressed versemen; a kind of gratis accoucheur to those who wish to be delivered of rhyme, but do not know how to bring forth.

63.  See Nathaniel Bloomfield's ode, elegy, or whatever he or any one else chooses to call it, on the enclosure of "Honington Green."

64.  Vide "Recollections of a Weaver in the Moorlands of Staffordshire."

65.  It would be superfluous to recall to the mind of the reader the authors of "The Pleasures of Memory" and "The Pleasures of Hope," the most beautiful didactic poems in our language, if we except Pope's "Essay on Man:" but so many poetasters have started up, that even the names of Campbell and Rogers became strange.

66.  Gifford, author of the "Baviad" and "Mæviad," the first satires of the day, and translator of Juvenal.

Sotheby, translator of Wieland's "Oberon," and Virgil's "Georgics'" and author of "Saul," an epic poem.

Macneil, whose poems are deservedly popular, particularly "Scotland's Scaith; or, The Waes of War," of which ten thousand copies were sold in one month.

67.  Mr Gifford promised publicly that the "Baviad" and "Mæviad" should not be his last original works.  Let him remember "Mox in reluctantes dracones."

68.  Henry Kirke White died at Cambridge in October 1806, in consequence of too much exertion in the pursuit of studies that would have matured a mind which disease and poverty could not impair, and which death itself destroyed rather than subdued.  His poems abound in such beauties as must impress the reader with the liveliest regret that so short a period was allotted to talents which would have dignified even the sacred functions we was destined to assume.

69.  Mr Shee, author of "Rhymes on Art," and "Elements of Art."

70.  Mr Wright, late Consul-General for the Seven Islands, is author of a very beautiful poem just published.  It is entitled, "Horæ Ionicæ," and is descriptive of the isles and adjacent coast of Greece.

71.  The translators of the "Anthology" have since published separate poems, which evince genius that only requires opportunity to attain eminence.

72.  The neglect of the "Botanic Garden" is some proof of returning taste.  The scenery is its sole recommendation.

73.  Messrs Lamb and Lloyd, the most ignoble followers of Southey and Co.

74.  By the by, I hope that in Mr Scott's next poem, his hero or heroine will be less addicted to "Gramarye," and more to grammar, than the Lady of the Lay, and her bravo, William of Deloraine.

75.  It may be asked why I have censured the Earl of Carlisle, my guardian and relative, to whom I dedicated a volume of puerile poems a few years ago.  The guardianship was nominal, at least so far as I have been able to discover; the relationship I cannot help, and am very sorry for it; but as his lordship seemed to forget it on a very essential occasion to me, I shall not burden my memory with the recollection.  I do not think that personal differences sanction the unjust condemnation of a brother scribbler: but I see no reason why they should act as a preventive, when the author, noble or ignoble, has for a series of years beguiled a "discerning public" (as the advertisements have it) with divers reams of most orthodox, imperial nonsense.  Besides, I do not step aside to vituperate the Earl; no -- his works come fairly in review with those of other patrician literati.  If, before I escaped from my teens, I said anything in favour of his lordship's paper books, it was in the way of dutiful dedication, and more from the advice of others than my own judgment, and I seize the first opportunity of pronouncing my sincere recantation.  I have heard that some persons conceive me to be under obligation to Lord Carlisle; if so, I shall be most particularly happy to learn what they are, and when conferred, so that they may be duly appreciated and publicly acknowledged.  What I have humbly advanced as an opinion on his printed things, I am prepared to support, if necessary, by quotations from elegies, eulogies, odes, episodes, and certain facetious and dainty tragedies bearing his name and mark: --

    "What can ennoble knaves, or /fools,/ or cowards?
    Alas! not all the blood of all the Howards!"

So says Pope.  Amen!

76.  "Tollere humo, victorque virum volitare per ora." -- Virgil.

77.  The "Games of Hoyle," well known to the votaries of whist, chess, &c., are not to be superseded by the vagaries of his poetical namesake, whose poem comprised, as expressly stated in the advertisement, all the "plagues of Egypt."

78.  This person, who has lately betrayed the most rabid symptoms of confirmed authorship, is writer of a poem denominated the "Art of Pleasing," as "lucus a non lucendo," containing little pleasantry, and less poetry.  He also acts as a monthly stipendiary and collector of calumnies for the "Satirist."  If this unfortunate young man would exchange the magazine for the mathematics, and endeavour to take a decent degree in his university, it might eventually prove more serviceable than his present salary.

79.  "Into Cambridgeshire the Emperor Probus transported a considerable body of Vandals." -- /Gibbon's Decline and Fall,/ page 83, vol. ii.  There is no reason to doubt the truth of this assertion; the breed is still in high perfection.

80.  Mr Hodgson's name requires no praise; the man who in translation plays unquestionable genius may well be expected to excel in original composition, of which it is to be hoped we shall soon see a splendid specimen.

81.  The "Aboriginal Britons," an excellent poem by Richards.

82.  A friend of mine being asked why his Grace of P.  was likened to an old woman? replied, "he supposed it was because he was past bearing."

83.  Calpe is the ancient name of Gibraltar.

84.  Stamboul is the Turkish word for Constantinople.

85.  Georgia, remarkable for the beauty of its inhabitants.

86.  Mount Caucasus.

87.  Lord Valentia, (whose tremendous travels are forthcoming, with due decorations, graphical, topographical, and typographical,) deposed, on Sir John Carr's unlucky suit, that Dubois's satire prevented his purchase of the "Stranger in Ireland."  -- Oh fie, my Lord! has your Lordship no more feeling for a fellow tourist?  "But two of a trade," they say, &c.

88.  Lord Elgin would fain persuade us that all the figures, with and without noses, in his stone-shop, are the work of Phidias; "Credat Judæus!"

89.  Mr Gell's "Topography of Troy and Ithaca" cannot fail to ensure the approbation of every man possessed of classical taste, as well for the information Mr G. conveys to the mind of the reader, as for the ability and research the respective works display.



I have been informed, since the present edition went to the press, that my trusty and well-beloved cousins, the Edinburgh Reviewers, are preparing a most vehement critique on my poor, gentle, /unresisting/ Muse, whom they have already so bedeviled with their ungodly ribaldry:

 "Tantæne animis cœlestibus iræ:"

I suppose I must say of Jeffrey as Sir Andrew Aguecheek saith, "An I had known he was so cunning of fence, I had seen him d_____d ere I had fought him."  What a pity it is that I shall be beyond the Bosphorus before the next number has passed the Tweed.  But I yet hope to light my pipe with it in Persia.

My Northern friends have accused me, with justice, of personality towards their great literary anthropophagus, Jeffrey; but what else was to be done with him and his dirty pack, who feed by "lying and slandering," and slake their thirst by "evil speaking?"  I have adduced facts already well known, and of Jeffrey's mind I have stated my free opinion, nor has he thence sustained any injury; -- what scavenger was ever soiled by being pelted with mud?  It may be said that I quit England because I have censured there "persons of honour and wit about town;" but I am coming back again, and their vengeance will keep hot till my return.  Those who know me can testify that my motives for leaving England are very different from fears, literary or personal; those who do not, may one day be convinced.  Since the publication of this thing, my name has not been concealed; I have been mostly in London, ready to answer for my transgressions, and in daily expectation of sundry cartels; but, alas! "the age of chivalry is over," or, in the vulgar tongue, there is no spirit now-a-days.

There a youth yclept Hewson Clarke (Subaudi Esquire), a Sizer of Emanuel College, and I believe a denizen of Berwick-upon-Tweed, whom I have introduced in these pages to much better company than he has been accustomed to meet; he is, notwithstanding, a very sad dog, and for no reason that I can discover, except a personal quarrel with a bear, kept by me at Cambridge to sit for a fellowship, and whom the jealousy of his Trinity contemporaries prevented from success, has been abusing me, and, what is worse, the defenceless innocent above mentioned, in the "Satirist," for one year and some months.  I am utterly unconscious of having given him any provocation; indeed, I am guiltless of having heard his name till coupled with the "Satirist."  He has therefore no reason to complain, and I dare say that, like Sir Fretful Plagiary, he is rather /pleased/ than otherwise.  I have now mentioned all who have done me the honour to notice me and mine, that is, my bear and my book, except the Editor of the "Satirist," who, it seems, is a gentleman, God wot!  I hear that Mr Jerningham is about to take up the cudgel for his Mæcenas, Lord Carlisle; I hope not: he was one of the few who, in the very short intercourse I had with him, treated me with kindness when a boy, and whatsoever he may say or do, "pour on, I will endure."  I have nothing further to add, save a general note of thanksgiving to readers, purchasers, and publisher; and in the words of Scott, I wish

   "To all and each a fair good night,
   And rosy dreams and slumbers light."

Poetry: Lord Byron - English bards and Scotch reviewers - Complete - Links to more Byron

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