BEING AN ALLUSION IN ENGLISH VERSE TO THE EPISTLE "AD PISONES, DE ARTE POETICA," AND INTENDED AS A SEQUEL TO "ENGLISH BARDS, AND SCOTCH REVIEWERS."
-- "Ergo fungar vice cotis, acutum
Reddere quae ferrum valet, exsors ipsa secandi."
HOR. 'De Arte Poet'., II. 304 and 305.
"Rhymes are difficult things - they are stubborn things, Sir."
FIELDING'S 'Amelia', Vol. iii. Book; and Chap. v.
Hints from Horace (Athens, Capuchin Convent, March 12, 1811); being an
Imitation in English Verse from the Epistle, etc.
Hints from Horace: being a Partial Imitation, in English Verse, of the
Epistle 'Ad Pisones, De Arte Poetica'; and intended as a sequel to
'English Bards, and Scotch Reviewers'.
Athens, Franciscan Convent, March 12, 1811.
INTRODUCTION TO HINTS FROM HORACE
Three MSS. of 'Hints from Horace' are extant, two in the possession of Lord Lovelace (MSS. L. a and b), and a third in the possession of Mr. Murray ('MS. M'.).
Proofs of lines 173-272 and 1-272 ('Proofs a, b'), are among the Egerton MSS. in the British Museum. They were purchased from the Rev. Alexander Dallas, January 12, 1867, and are, doubtless, fragments of the proofs set up in type for Cawthorn in 1811. They are in "book-form," and show that the volume was intended to be uniform with the Fifth Edition of 'English Bards, and Scotch Reviewers', of 1811. The text corresponds closely but not exactly with that adopted by Murray in 1831, and does not embody the variants of the several MSS. It is probable that complete proofs were in Moore's possession at the time when he included the selections from the 'Hints' in his 'Letters and Journals', pp. 263-269, and that the text of the entire poem as published in 1831 was derived from this source. Selections, numbering in all 156 lines, had already appeared in 'Recollections of the Life of Lord Byron', by R. C. Dallas, 1824, pp. 104-113. Byron, estimating the merit by the difficulty of the performance, rated the 'Hints from Horace' extravagantly high. He only forbore to publish them after the success of 'Childe Harold', because he felt, as he states, that he should be "heaping coals of fire upon his head" if he were in his hour of triumph to put forth a sequel to a lampoon provoked by failure. Nine years afterwards, when he resolved to print the work with some omissions, he gravely maintained that it excelled the productions of his mature genius. "As far," he said, "as versification goes, it is good; and on looking back at what I wrote about that period, I am astonished to see how little I have trained on. I wrote better then than now; but that comes of my having fallen into the atrocious bad taste of the times" September 23, 1820. The opinion of J. C. Hobhouse that the 'Hints' would require "a good deal of slashing" to adapt them to the passing hour, and other considerations, again led Byron to suspend the publication. Authors are frequently bad judges of their own works, but of all the literary hallucinations upon record there are none which exceed the mistaken preferences of Lord Byron. Shortly after the appearance of 'The Corsair' he fancied that 'English Bards' was still his masterpiece; when all his greatest works had been produced, he contended that his translation from Pulci was his "grand performance, - the best thing he ever did in his life;" and throughout the whole of his literary career he regarded these 'Hints from Horace' with a special and unchanging fondness.
HINTS FROM HORACE
ATHENS: CAPUCHIN CONVENT, March. 12, 1811. i
Who would not laugh, if Lawrence 1, hired to grace ii
His costly canvas with each flattered face,
Abused his art, till Nature, with a blush,
Saw cits grow Centaurs underneath his brush?
Or, should some limner join, for show or sale,
A Maid of Honour to a Mermaid's tail? iii
Or low Dubost 2 - as once the world has seen -
Degrade God's creatures in his graphic spleen?
Not all that forced politeness, which defends
Fools in their faults, could gag his grinning friends.10
Believe me, Moschus, like that picture seems iv
The book which, sillier than a sick man's dreams,
Displays a crowd of figures incomplete,
Poetic Nightmares, without head or feet.
Poets and painters, as all artists know, v
May shoot a little with a lengthened bow;
We claim this mutual mercy for our task,
And grant in turn the pardon which we ask;
But make not monsters spring from gentle dams -
Birds breed not vipers, tigers nurse not lambs. 20
A laboured, long Exordium, sometimes tends
(Like patriot speeches) but to paltry ends; vi
And nonsense in a lofty note goes down,
As Pertness passes with a legal gown: vii
Thus many a Bard describes in pompous strain viii
The clear brook babbling through the goodly plain:
The groves of Granta, and her Gothic halls,
King's Coll-Cam's stream-stained windows, and old walls:
Or, in adventurous numbers, neatly aims
To paint a rainbow, or the river Thames. 330
You sketch a tree, and so perhaps may shine ix -
But daub a shipwreck like an alehouse sign;
You plan a 'vase' - it dwindles to a 'pot';
Then glide down Grub-street - fasting and forgot:
Laughed into Lethe by some quaint Review,
Whose wit is never troublesome till - true.
In fine, to whatsoever you aspire,
Let it at least be simple and entire.
The greater portion of the rhyming tribe x
(Give ear, my friend, for thou hast been a scribe)40
Are led astray by some peculiar lure. xi
I labour to be brief - become obscure;
One falls while following Elegance too fast;
Another soars, inflated with Bombast;
Too low a third crawls on, afraid to fly,
He spins his subject to Satiety;
Absurdly varying, he at last engraves
Fish in the woods, and boars beneath the waves! xii
Unless your care's exact, your judgment nice,
The flight from Folly leads but into Vice;50
None are complete, all wanting in some part,
Like certain tailors, limited in art.
For galligaskins Slowshears is your man xiii
But coats must claim another artisan. 4
Now this to me, I own, seems much the same
As Vulcan's feet to bear Apollo's frame;
Or, with a fair complexion, to expose
Black eyes, black ringlets, but - a bottle nose!
Dear Authors! suit your topics to your strength,
And ponder well your subject, and its length; 60
Nor lift your load, before you're quite aware
What weight your shoulders will, or will not, bear.
But lucid Order, and Wit's siren voice, xiv
Await the Poet, skilful in his choice;
With native Eloquence he soars along,
Grace in his thoughts, and Music in his song.
Let Judgment teach him wisely to combine
With future parts the now omitted line:
This shall the Author choose, or that reject,
Precise in style, and cautious to select; 70
Nor slight applause will candid pens afford
To him who furnishes a wanting word. xv
Then fear not, if 'tis needful, to produce
Some term unknown, or obsolete in use,
(As Pitt has furnished us a word or two, 5
Which Lexicographers declined to do;)
So you indeed, with care, - (but be content
To take this license rarely) - may invent.
New words find credit in these latter days,
If neatly grafted on a Gallic phrase; xvi 80
What Chaucer, Spenser did, we scarce refuse
To Dryden's or to Pope's maturer Muse.
If you can add a little, say why not,
As well as William Pitt, and Walter Scott?
Since they, by force of rhyme and force of lungs, xvii
Enriched our Island's ill-united tongues;
'Tis then - and shall be - lawful to present
Reform in writing, as in Parliament.
As forests shed their foliage by degrees,
So fade expressions which in season please; 90
And we and ours, alas! are due to Fate,
And works and words but dwindle to a date.
Though as a Monarch nods, and Commerce calls, xviii
Impetuous rivers stagnate in canals;
Though swamps subdued, and marshes drained, sustain xix
The heavy ploughshare and the yellow grain,
And rising ports along the busy shore
Protect the vessel from old Ocean's roar,
All, all, must perish; but, surviving last,
The love of Letters half preserves the past.100
True, some decay, yet not a few revive; xx 6
Though those shall sink, which now appear to thrive,
As Custom arbitrates, whose shifting sway xxi
Our life and language must alike obey.
The immortal wars which Gods and Angels wage,
Are they not shown in Milton's sacred page?
His strain will teach what numbers best belong
To themes celestial told in Epic song. xxii
The slow, sad stanza will correctly paint
The Lover's anguish, or the Friend's complaint. 110
But which deserves the Laurel - Rhyme or Blank? xxiii
Which holds on Helicon the higher rank?
Let squabbling critics by themselves dispute
This point, as puzzling as a Chancery suit.
Satiric rhyme first sprang from selfish spleen.
You doubt - see Dryden, Pope, St. Patrick's Dean. 7
Blank verse is now, with one consent, allied
To Tragedy, and rarely quits her side.
Though mad Almanzor 8 rhymed in Dryden's days,
No sing-song Hero rants in modern plays;120
Whilst modest Comedy her verse foregoes
For jest and 'pun' 9 in very middling prose.
Not that our Bens or Beaumonts show the worse,
Or lose one point, because they wrote in verse.
But so Thalia pleases to appear, xxiv
Poor Virgin! damned some twenty times a year!
Whate'er the scene, let this advice have weight: -
Adapt your language to your Hero's state.
At times Melpomene forgets to groan,
And brisk Thalia takes a serious tone;130
Nor unregarded will the act pass by
Where angry Townly 10 "lifts his voice on high."
Again, our Shakespeare limits verse to Kings,
When common prose will serve for common things;
And lively Hal resigns heroic ire, xxv -
To "hollaing Hotspur" 11 and his sceptred sire. xxvi
'Tis not enough, ye Bards, with all your art,
To polish poems; they must touch the heart:
Where'er the scene be laid, whate'er the song,
Still let it bear the hearer's soul along;140
Command your audience or to smile or weep,
Whiche'er may please you - anything but sleep.
The Poet claims our tears; but, by his leave,
Before I shed them, let me see 'him' grieve.
If banished Romeo feigned nor sigh nor tear,
Lulled by his languor, I could sleep or sneer. xxvii
Sad words, no doubt, become a serious face,
And men look angry in the proper place.
At double meanings folks seem wondrous sly,
And Sentiment prescribes a pensive eye; 150
For Nature formed at first the inward man,
And actors copy Nature - when they can.
She bids the beating heart with rapture bound,
Raised to the Stars, or levelled with the ground;
And for Expression's aid, 'tis said, or sung, xxviii
She gave our mind's interpreter - the tongue,
Who, worn with use, of late would fain dispense
(At least in theatres) with common sense;
O'erwhelm with sound the Boxes, Gallery, Pit,
And raise a laugh with anything - but Wit. 160
To skilful writers it will much import,
Whence spring their scenes, from common life or Court;
Whether they seek applause by smile or tear,
To draw a Lying Valet, 12 or a Lear, 13
A sage, or rakish youngster wild from school,
A wandering Peregrine, or plain John Bull;
All persons please when Nature's voice prevails,
Scottish or Irish, born in Wilts or Wales.
Or follow common fame, or forge a plot; xxix
Who cares if mimic heroes lived or not! 170
One precept serves to regulate the scene:
Make it appear as if it 'might' have 'been'.
If some Drawcansir 14 you aspire to draw,
Present him raving, and above all law:
If female furies in your scheme are planned,
Macbeth's fierce dame is ready to your hand;
For tears and treachery, for good and evil,
Constance, King Richard, Hamlet, and the Devil!
But if a new design you dare essay,
And freely wander from the beaten way,180
True to your characters, till all be past,
Preserve consistency from first to last.
Tis hard 15 to venture where our betters fail, xxx
Or lend fresh interest to a twice-told tale;
And yet, perchance,'tis wiser to prefer
A hackneyed plot, than choose a new, and err;
Yet copy not too closely, but record,
More justly, thought for thought than word for word;
Nor trace your Prototype through narrow ways,
But only follow where he merits praise. 190
For you, young Bard! whom luckless fate may lead 16
To tremble on the nod of all who read,
Ere your first score of cantos Time unrolls, xxxi
Beware - for God's sake, don't begin like Bowles!
"Awake a louder and a loftier strain," 17 -
And pray, what follows from his boiling brain? -
He sinks to Southey's level in a trice,
Whose Epic Mountains never fail in mice!
Not so of yore awoke your mighty Sire
The tempered warblings of his master-lyre;200
Soft as the gentler breathing of the lute,
"Of Man's first disobedience and the fruit"
He speaks, but, as his subject swells along,
Earth, Heaven, and Hades echo with the song."xxxii
Still to the "midst of things" he hastens on,
As if we witnessed all already done; xxxiii
Leaves on his path whatever seems too mean
To raise the subject, or adorn the scene;
Gives, as each page improves upon the sight,
Not smoke from brightness, but from darkness - light;210
And truth and fiction with such art compounds,
We know not where to fix their several bounds.
If you would please the Public, deign to hear
What soothes the many-headed monster's ear: xxxiv
If your heart triumph when the hands of all
Applaud in thunder at the curtain's fall,
Deserve those plaudits - study Nature's page,
And sketch the striking traits of every age;
While varying Man and varying years unfold
Life's little tale, so oft, so vainly told; 220
Observe his simple childhood's dawning days,
His pranks, his prate, his playmates, and his plays:
Till time at length the mannish tyro weans,
And prurient vice outstrips his tardy teens! xxxv
Behold him Freshman! forced no more to groan xxxvi
O'er Virgil's 18 devilish verses and his own;
Prayers are too tedious, Lectures too abstruse,
He flies from Tavell's frown to "Fordham's Mews;"
(Unlucky Tavell! 19 doomed to daily cares xxxvii
By pugilistic pupils, and by bears,)230
Fines, Tutors, tasks, Conventions threat in vain,
Before hounds, hunters, and Newmarket Plain.
Rough with his elders, with his equals rash,
Civil to sharpers, prodigal of cash;
Constant to nought - save hazard and a whore, xxxviii
Yet cursing both - for both have made him sore:
Unread (unless since books beguile disease,
The P -- x becomes his passage to Degrees);
Fooled, pillaged, dunned, he wastes his terms away, xxxix
And unexpelled, perhaps, retires M.A.;240
Master of Arts! as 'hells' and 'clubs' 20 proclaim, xl
Where scarce a blackleg bears a brighter name!
Launched into life, extinct his early fire,
He apes the selfish prudence of his Sire;
Marries for money, chooses friends for rank,
Buys land, and shrewdly trusts not to the Bank;
Sits in the Senate; gets a son and heir;
Sends him to Harrow - for himself was there.
Mute, though he votes, unless when called to cheer,
His son's so sharp - he'll see the dog a Peer! 250
Manhood declines - Age palsies every limb;
He quits the scene - or else the scene quits him;
Scrapes wealth, o'er each departing penny grieves, xli
And Avarice seizes all Ambition leaves;
Counts cent per cent, and smiles, or vainly frets,
O'er hoards diminished by young Hopeful's debts;
Weighs well and wisely what to sell or buy,
Complete in all life's lessons - but to die;
Peevish and spiteful, doting, hard to please,
Commending every time, save times like these; 260
Crazed, querulous, forsaken, half forgot,
Expires unwept - is buried - Let him rot!
But from the Drama let me not digress,
Nor spare my precepts, though they please you less. xlii
Though Woman weep, and hardest hearts are stirred, xliii
When what is done is rather seen than heard,
Yet many deeds preserved in History's page
Are better told than acted on the stage;
The ear sustains what shocks the timid eye,
And Horror thus subsides to Sympathy, 270
True Briton all beside, I here am French -
Bloodshed 'tis surely better to retrench:
The gladiatorial gore we teach to flow
In tragic scenes disgusts though but in show;
We hate the carnage while we see the trick,
And find small sympathy in being sick.
Not on the stage the regicide Macbeth
Appals an audience with a Monarch's death; xliv
To gaze when sable Hubert threats to sear
Young Arthur's eyes, can 'ours' or 'Nature' bear? 280
A haltered heroine 21 Johnson sought to slay -
We saved Irene, but half damned the play,
And (Heaven be praised!) our tolerating times
Stint Metamorphoses to Pantomimes;
And Lewis' 22 self, with all his sprites, would quake
To change Earl Osmond's negro to a snake!
Because, in scenes exciting joy or grief,
We loathe the action which exceeds belief:
And yet, God knows! what may not authors do,
Whose Postscripts prate of dyeing "heroines blue"? 23 290
Above all things, 'Dan' Poet, if you can,
Eke out your acts, I pray, with mortal man,
Nor call a ghost, unless some cursed scrape xlv
Must open ten trap-doors for your escape.
Of all the monstrous things I'd fain forbid,
I loathe an Opera worse than Dennis did; 24
Where good and evil persons, right or wrong,
Rage, love, and aught but moralise - in song.
Hail, last memorial of our foreign friends, xlvi
Which Gaul allows, and still Hesperia lends!300
Napoleon's edicts no embargo lay
On whores - spies - singers - wisely shipped away.
Our giant Capital, whose squares are spread xlvii
Where rustics earned, and now may beg, their bread,
In all iniquity is grown so nice,
It scorns amusements which are not of price.
Hence the pert shopkeeper, whose throbbing ear
Aches with orchestras which he pays to hear, xlviii
Whom shame, not sympathy, forbids to snore,
His anguish doubling by his own "encore;" xlix310
Squeezed in "Fop's Alley," 25 jostled by the beaux,
Teased with his hat, and trembling for his toes;
Scarce wrestles through the night, nor tastes of ease,
Till the dropped curtain gives a glad release:
Why this, and more, he suffers - can ye guess? -
Because it costs him dear, and makes him dress! 26
So prosper eunuchs from Etruscan schools;
Give us but fiddlers, and they're sure of fools!
Ere scenes were played by many a reverend clerk, l 27
(What harm, if David danced before the ark?) li 320
In Christmas revels, simple country folks
Were pleased with morrice-mumm'ry and coarse jokes.
Improving years, with things no longer known,
Produced blithe Punch and merry Madame Joan,
Who still frisk on with feats so lewdly low, lii
'Tis strange Benvolio 28 suffers such a show;
Suppressing peer! to whom each vice gives place, liii
Oaths, boxing, begging - all, save rout and race.
Farce followed Comedy, and reached her prime,
In ever-laughing Foote's fantastic time: 29 330
Mad wag! who pardoned none, nor spared the best,
And turned some very serious things to jest.
Nor Church nor State escaped his public sneers,
Arms nor the Gown - Priests - Lawyers - Volunteers:
"Alas, poor Yorick!" now for ever mute!
Whoever loves a laugh must sigh for Foote.
We smile, perforce, when histrionic scenes
Ape the swoln dialogue of Kings and Queens,
When "Crononhotonthologos must die," 30
And Arthur struts in mimic majesty. 340
Moschus! with whom once more I hope to sit, liv
And smile at folly, if we can't at wit;
Yes, Friend! for thee I'll quit my cynic cell,
And bear Swift's motto, "Vive la bagatelle!"
Which charmed our days in each AEgean clime,
As oft at home, with revelry and rhyme.
Then may Euphrosyne, who sped the past,
Soothe thy Life's scenes, nor leave thee in the last;
But find in thine - like pagan Plato's bed, lv 31
Some merry Manuscript of Mimes, when dead.350
Now to the Drama let us bend our eyes,
Where fettered by whig Walpole low she lies; 32
Corruption foiled her, for she feared her glance;
Decorum left her for an Opera dance!
Yet Chesterfield, 33 whose polished pen inveighs
'Gainst laughter, fought for freedom to our Plays;
Unchecked by Megrims of patrician brains,
And damning Dulness of Lord Chamberlains.
Repeal that act! again let Humour roam
Wild o'er the stage - we've time for tears at home;360
Let Archer 34 plant the horns on Sullen's brows,
And Estifania gull her "Copper" 35 spouse;
The moral's scant - but that may be excused,
Men go not to be lectured, but amused.
He whom our plays dispose to Good or Ill
Must wear a head in want of Willis' skill; 36
Aye, but Macheath's example - psha! - no more!
It formed no thieves - the thief was formed before; 37
And spite of puritans and Collier's curse, lvi
Plays make mankind no better, and no worse. 38370
Then spare our stage, ye methodistic men!
Nor burn damned Drury if it rise again. 39
But why to brain-scorched bigots thus appeal?
Can heavenly Mercy dwell with earthly Zeal?
For times of fire and faggot let them hope!
Times dear alike to puritan or Pope.
As pious Calvin saw Servetus blaze,
So would new sects on newer victims gaze.
E'en now the songs of Solyma begin;
Faith cants, perplexed apologist of Sin!380
While the Lord's servant chastens whom he loves,
And Simeon kicks, 40 where Baxter only "shoves."41
Whom Nature guides, so writes, that every dunce lvii,
Enraptured, thinks to do the same at once;
But after inky thumbs and bitten nails lviii,
And twenty scattered quires, the coxcomb fails.
Let Pastoral be dumb; for who can hope
To match the youthful eclogues of our Pope?
Yet his and Philips' 42 faults, of different kind,
For Art too rude, for Nature too refined, lix 390
Instruct how hard the medium 'tis to hit
'Twixt too much polish and too coarse a wit.
A vulgar scribbler, certes, stands disgraced
In this nice age, when all aspire to taste;
The dirty language, and the noisome jest,
Which pleased in Swift of yore, we now detest;
Proscribed not only in the world polite lx,
But even too nasty for a City Knight!
Peace to Swift's faults! his wit hath made them pass,
Unmatched by all, save matchless Hudibras!400
Whose author is perhaps the first we meet,
Who from our couplet lopped two final feet;
Nor less in merit than the longer line,
This measure moves a favourite of the Nine.
Though at first view eight feet may seem in vain
Formed, save in Ode, to bear a serious strain lxi,
Yet Scott has shown our wondering isle of late
This measure shrinks not from a theme of weight,
And, varied skilfully, surpasses far
Heroic rhyme, but most in Love and War, 410
Whose fluctuations, tender or sublime,
Are curbed too much by long-recurring rhyme.
But many a skilful judge abhors to see,
What few admire - irregularity.
This some vouchsafe to pardon; but 'tis hard
When such a word contents a British Bard.
And must the Bard his glowing thoughts confine, lxii
Lest Censure hover o'er some faulty line?
Remove whate'er a critic may suspect,
To gain the paltry suffrage of "Correct"? 420
Or prune the spirit of each daring phrase,
To fly from Error, not to merit Praise?
Ye, who seek finished models, never cease lxiii,
By day and night, to read the works of Greece.
But our good Fathers never bent their brains
To heathen Greek, content with native strains.
The few who read a page, or used a pen,
Were satisfied with Chaucer and old Ben;
The jokes and numbers suited to their taste
Were quaint and careless, anything but chaste;430
Yet, whether right or wrong the ancient rules,
It will not do to call our Fathers fools!
Though you and I, who eruditely know
To separate the elegant and low,
Can also, when a hobbling line appears,
Detect with fingers - in default of ears.
In sooth I do not know, or greatly care
To learn, who our first English strollers were;
Or if, till roofs received the vagrant art,
Our Muse, like that of Thespis, kept a cart;440
But this is certain, since our Shakespeare's days,
There's pomp enough - if little else - in plays;
Nor will Melpomene ascend her Throne lxiv
Without high heels, white plume, and Bristol stone.
Old Comedies still meet with much applause,
Though too licentious for dramatic laws;
At least, we moderns, wisely, 'tis confest,
Curtail, or silence, the lascivious jest lxv.
Whate'er their follies, and their faults beside,
Our enterprising Bards pass nought untried; 450
Nor do they merit slight applause who choose
An English subject for an English Muse,
And leave to minds which never dare invent
French flippancy and German sentiment.
Where is that living language which could claim
Poetic more, as philosophic, fame,
If all our Bards, more patient of delay,
Would stop, like Pope, to polish by the way? 43
Lords of the quill, whose critical assaults
O'erthrow whole quartos with their quires of faults lxvi, 460
Who soon detect, and mark where'er we fail,
And prove our marble with too nice a nail!
Democritus himself was not so bad;
He only 'thought' - but 'you' would make us - mad!
But truth to say, most rhymers rarely guard
Against that ridicule they deem so hard;
In person negligent, they wear, from sloth,
Beards of a week, and nails of annual growth;
Reside in garrets, fly from those they meet,
And walk in alleys rather than the street.470
With little rhyme, less reason, if you please,
The name of Poet may be got with ease,
So that not tuns of helleboric juice lxvii
Shall ever turn your head to any use;
Write but like Wordsworth - live beside a lake,
And keep your bushy locks a year from Blake; 44
Then print your book, once more return to town,
And boys shall hunt your Bardship up and down. 45
Am I not wise, if such some poets' plight,
To purge in spring - like Bayes 46 - before I write?480
If this precaution softened not my bile,
I know no scribbler with a madder style;
But since (perhaps my feelings are too nice)
I cannot purchase Fame at such a price,
I'll labour gratis as a grinders' wheel, lxviii
And, blunt myself, give edge to other's steel,
Nor write at all, unless to teach the art
To those rehearsing for the Poet's part;
From Horace show the pleasing paths of song, lxix,
And from my own example - what is wrong. 490
Though modern practice sometimes differs quite,
'Tis just as well to think before you write;
Let every book that suits your theme be read,
So shall you trace it to the fountain-head.
He who has learned the duty which he owes
To friends and country, and to pardon foes;
Who models his deportment as may best
Accord with Brother, Sire, or Stranger-guest;
Who takes our Laws and Worship as they are,
Nor roars reform for Senate, Church, and Bar; 500
In practice, rather than loud precept, wise,
Bids not his tongue, but heart, philosophize:
Such is the man the Poet should rehearse,
As joint exemplar of his life and verse.
Sometimes a sprightly wit, and tale well told,
Without much grace, or weight, or art, will hold
A longer empire o'er the public mind
Than sounding trifles, empty, though refined.
Unhappy Greece! thy sons of ancient days
The Muse may celebrate with perfect praise, 510
Whose generous children narrowed not their hearts
With Commerce, given alone to Arms and Arts. lxx
Our boys (save those whom public schools compel
To "Long and Short" before they're taught to spell)
From frugal fathers soon imbibe by rote,
"A penny saved, my lad, 's a penny got."
Babe of a city birth! from sixpence take lxxi
The third, how much will the remainder make? -
"A groat." - "Ah, bravo! Dick hath done the sum! lxxii
He'll swell my fifty thousand to a Plum." 47520
They whose young souls receive this rust betimes,
'Tis clear, are fit for anything but rhymes;
And Locke will tell you, that the father's right
Who hides all verses from his children's sight;
For Poets (says this Sage 48, and many more,)
Make sad mechanics with their lyric lore: lxxiii
And Delphi now, however rich of old,
Discovers little silver, and less gold,
Because Parnassus, though a Mount divine,
Is poor as Irus, 49 or an Irish mine. lxxiv 50530
Two objects always should the Poet move,
Or one or both, - to please or to improve.
Whate'er you teach, be brief, if you design
For our remembrance your didactic line;
Redundance places Memory on the rack,
For brains may be o'erloaded, like the back. lxxv
Fiction does best when taught to look like Truth,
And fairy fables bubble none but youth:
Expect no credit for too wondrous tales,
Since Jonas only springs alive from Whales! 540
Young men with aught but Elegance dispense;
Maturer years require a little Sense.
To end at once: - that Bard for all is fit lxxvi
Who mingles well instruction with his wit;
For him Reviews shall smile; for him o'erflow
The patronage of Paternoster-row;
His book, with Longman's liberal aid, shall pass
(Who ne'er despises books that bring him brass);
Through three long weeks the taste of London lead,
And cross St. George's Channel and the Tweed. 550
But every thing has faults, nor is't unknown
That harps and fiddles often lose their tone,
And wayward voices, at their owner's call,
With all his best endeavours, only squall;
Dogs blink their covey, flints withhold the spark,
And double-barrels (damn them!) miss their mark. lxxvii 51
Where frequent beauties strike the reader's view,
We must not quarrel for a blot or two;
But pardon equally to books or men,
The slips of Human Nature, and the Pen. 560
Yet if an author, spite of foe or friend,
Despises all advice too much to mend,
But ever twangs the same discordant string,
Give him no quarter, howsoe'er he sing.
Let Havard's 52 fate o'ertake him, who, for once,
Produced a play too dashing for a dunce:
At first none deemed it his; but when his name
Announced the fact - what then? - it lost its fame.
Though all deplore when Milton deigns to doze, lxxviii
In a long work 'tis fair to steal repose. 570
As Pictures, so shall Poems be; some stand
The critic eye, and please when near at hand; lxxix
But others at a distance strike the sight;
This seeks the shade, but that demands the light,
Nor dreads the connoisseur's fastidious view,
But, ten times scrutinised, is ten times new.
Parnassian pilgrims! ye whom chance, or choice, lxxx
Hath led to listen to the Muse's voice,
Receive this counsel, and be timely wise;
Few reach the Summit which before you lies. 580
Our Church and State, our Courts and Camps, concede
Reward to very moderate heads indeed!
In these plain common sense will travel far;
All are not Erskines who mislead the Bar: lxxxi 53
But Poesy between the best and worst
No medium knows; you must be last or first;
For middling Poets' miserable volumes
Are damned alike by Gods, and Men, and Columns. lxxxii
Again, my Jeffrey - as that sound inspires, 54
How wakes my bosom to its wonted fires! 590
Fires, such as gentle Caledonians feel
When Southrons writhe upon their critic wheel,
Or mild Eclectics, 55 when some, worse than Turks,
Would rob poor Faith to decorate "Good Works."
Such are the genial feelings them canst claim -
My Falcon flies not at ignoble game.
Mightiest of all Dunedin's beasts of chase!
For thee my Pegasus would mend his pace.
Arise, my Jeffrey! or my inkless pen
Shall never blunt its edge on meaner men; 600
Till thee or thine mine evil eye discerns,
"Alas! I cannot strike at wretched kernes." 56
Inhuman Saxon! wilt thou then resign
A Muse and heart by choice so wholly thine?
Dear d - d contemner of my schoolboy songs,
Hast thou no vengeance for my Manhood's wrongs?
If unprovoked thou once could bid me bleed,
Hast thou no weapon for my daring deed?
What! not a word! - and am I then so low?
Wilt thou forbear, who never spared a foe?610
Hast thou no wrath, or wish to give it vent?
No wit for Nobles, Dunces by descent?
No jest on "minors," quibbles on a name, 57
Nor one facetious paragraph of blame?
Is it for this on Ilion I have stood,
And thought of Homer less than Holyrood?
On shore of Euxine or AEgean sea,
My hate, untravelled, fondly turned to thee.
Ah! let me cease! in vain my bosom burns,
From Corydon unkind Alexis turns: 58620
Thy rhymes are vain; thy Jeffrey then forego,
Nor woo that anger which he will not show.
What then? - Edina starves some lanker son,
To write an article thou canst not shun;
Some less fastidious Scotchman shall be found,
As bold in Billingsgate, though less renowned.
As if at table some discordant dish, 59
Should shock our optics, such as frogs for fish;
As oil in lieu of butter men decry,
And poppies please not in a modern pie; lxxxiii 630
If all such mixtures then be half a crime,
We must have Excellence to relish rhyme.
Mere roast and boiled no Epicure invites;
Thus Poetry disgusts, or else delights.
Who shoot not flying rarely touch a gun:
Will he who swims not to the river run?
And men unpractised in exchanging knocks
Must go to Jackson 60 ere they dare to box.
Whate'er the weapon, cudgel, fist, or foil,
None reach expertness without years of toil;640
But fifty dunces can, with perfect ease,
Tag twenty thousand couplets, when they please.
Why not? - shall I, thus qualified to sit
For rotten boroughs, never show my wit?
Shall I, whose fathers with the "Quorum" sate, lxxxiv
And lived in freedom on a fair estate;
Who left me heir, with stables, kennels, packs, lxxxv
To 'all' their income, and to - 'twice' its tax;
Whose form and pedigree have scarce a fault,
Shall I, I say, suppress my Attic Salt? 650
Thus think "the Mob of Gentlemen;" but you,
Besides all this, must have some Genius too.
Be this your sober judgment, and a rule,
And print not piping hot from Southey's school,
Who (ere another Thalaba appears),
I trust, will spare us for at least nine years.
And hark'ye, Southey! 61 pray - but don't be vexed -
Burn all your last three works - and half the next.
But why this vain advice? once published, books
Can never be recalled - from pastry-cooks! lxxxvi660
Though "Madoc," with "Pucelle," 62 instead of Punk,
May travel back to Quito - on a trunk! 63
Orpheus, we learn from Ovid and Lempriere,
Led all wild beasts but Women by the ear;
And had he fiddled at the present hour,
We'd seen the Lions waltzing in the Tower; 64
And old Amphion, such were minstrels then,
Had built St. Paul's without the aid of Wren.
Verse too was Justice, and the Bards of Greece
Did more than constables to keep the peace; 670
Abolished cuckoldom with much applause,
Called county meetings, and enforced the laws,
Cut down crown influence with reforming scythes,
And served the Church - without demanding tithes;
And hence, throughout all Hellas and the East,
Each Poet was a Prophet and a Priest,
Whose old-established Board of Joint Controls 65
Included kingdoms in the cure of souls.
Next rose the martial Homer, Epic's prince,
And Fighting's been in fashion ever since;680
And old Tyrtaeus, when the Spartans warred,
(A limping leader, but a lofty bard) lxxxvii
Though walled Ithome had resisted long,
Reduced the fortress by the force of song.
When Oracles prevailed, in times of old,
In song alone Apollo's will was told. lxxxviii
Then if your verse is what all verse should be,
And Gods were not ashamed on't, why should we?
The Muse, like mortal females, may be wooed; 66
In turns she'll seem a Paphian, or a prude; 690
Fierce as a bride when first she feels affright,
Mild as the same upon the second night;
Wild as the wife of Alderman or Peer,
Now for His Grace, and now a grenadier!
Her eyes beseem, her heart belies, her zone -
Ice in a crowd - and Lava when alone.
If Verse be studied with some show of Art.
Kind Nature always will perform her part;
Though without Genius, and a native vein
Of wit, we loathe an artificial strain, 700
Yet Art and Nature joined will win the prize,
Unless they act like us and our allies.
The youth who trains to ride, or run a race,
Must bear privations with unruffled face,
Be called to labour when he thinks to dine,
And, harder still, leave wenching and his wine.
Ladies who sing, at least who sing at sight,
Have followed Music through her farthest flight; lxxxix
But rhymers tell you neither more nor less,
"I've got a pretty poem for the Press;" 710
And that's enough; then write and print so fast; -
If Satan take the hindmost, who'd be last?
They storm the Types, they publish, one and all, xc 67
They leap the counter, and they leave the stall.
Provincial Maidens, men of high command,
Yea! Baronets have inked the bloody hand!
Cash cannot quell them; Pollio played this prank, xci
(Then Phoebus first found credit in a Bank!)
Not all the living only, but the dead,
Fool on, as fluent as an Orpheus' Head; 68720
Damned all their days, they posthumously thrive,
Dug up from dust, though buried when alive!
Reviews record this epidemic crime,
Those Books of Martyrs to the rage for rhyme.
Alas! woe worth the scribbler! often seen
In Morning Post, or Monthly Magazine.
There lurk his earlier lays; but soon, hot pressed, xcii
Behold a Quarto! - Tarts must tell the rest.
Then leave, ye wise, the Lyre's precarious chords
To muse-mad baronets, or madder lords, cxiii730
Or country Crispins, now grown somewhat stale,
Twin Doric minstrels, drunk with Doric ale!
Hark to those notes, narcotically soft!
The Cobbler-Laureats 69 sing to Capel Lofft! 70
Till, lo! that modern Midas, as he hears, xciv
Adds an ell growth to his egregious ears! xcv
There lives one Druid, who prepares in time 71
'Gainst future feuds his poor revenge of rhyme;
Racks his dull Memory, and his duller Muse,
To publish faults which Friendship should excuse. 740
If Friendship's nothing, Self-regard might teach
More polished usage of his parts of speech.
But what is shame, or what is aught to him? xcvi
He vents his spleen, or gratifies his whim.
Some fancied slight has roused his lurking hate,
Some folly crossed, some jest, or some debate;
Up to his den Sir Scribbler hies, and soon
The gathered gall is voided in Lampoon.
Perhaps at some pert speech you've dared to frown,
Perhaps your Poem may have pleased the Town:750
If so, alas! 'tis nature in the man -
May Heaven forgive you, for he never can!
Then be it so; and may his withering Bays
Bloom fresh in satire, though they fade in praise
While his lost songs no more shall steep and stink
The dullest, fattest weeds on Lethe's brink,
But springing upwards from the sluggish mould,
Be (what they never were before) be - sold!
Should some rich Bard (but such a monster now, 72
In modern Physics, we can scarce allow), xcvii760
Should some pretending scribbler of the Court,
Some rhyming Peer - there's plenty of the sort - xcviii 73
All but one poor dependent priest withdrawn,
(Ah! too regardless of his Chaplain's yawn!)
Condemn the unlucky Curate to recite
Their last dramatic work by candle-light,
How would the preacher turn each rueful leaf,
Dull as his sermons, but not half so brief!
Yet, since 'tis promised at the Rector's death,
He'll risk no living for a little breath. 770
Then spouts and foams, and cries at every line,
(The Lord forgive him!) "Bravo! Grand! Divine!"
Hoarse with those praises (which, by Flatt'ry fed, xcix
Dependence barters for her bitter bread),
He strides and stamps along with creaking boot;
Till the floor echoes his emphatic foot,
Then sits again, then rolls his pious eye, c
As when the dying vicar will not die!
Nor feels, forsooth, emotion at his heart; -
But all Dissemblers overact their part. 780
Ye, who aspire to "build the lofty rhyme," 74
Believe not all who laud your false "sublime;"
But if some friend shall hear your work, and say,
"Expunge that stanza, lop that line away,"
And, after fruitless efforts, you return
Without amendment, and he answers, "Burn!"
That instant throw your paper in the fire,
Ask not his thoughts, or follow his desire;
But (if true Bard!) you scorn to condescend, ci
And will not alter what you can't defend, 790
If you will breed this Bastard of your Brains, 75
We'll have no words - I've only lost my pains.
Yet, if you only prize your favourite thought,
As critics kindly do, and authors ought;
If your cool friend annoy you now and then,
And cross whole pages with his plaguy pen;
No matter, throw your ornaments aside, -
Better let him than all the world deride.
Give light to passages too much in shade,
Nor let a doubt obscure one verse you've made;800
Your friend's a "Johnson," not to leave one word,
However trifling, which may seem absurd;
Such erring trifles lead to serious ills,
And furnish food for critics, or their quills. 76
As the Scotch fiddle, with its touching tune,
Or the sad influence of the angry Moon,
All men avoid bad writers' ready tongues,
As yawning waiters fly 77 Fitzscribble's lungs; cii
Yet on he mouths - ten minutes - tedious each ciii 78
As Prelate's homily, or placeman's speech;810
Long as the last years of a lingering lease,
When Riot pauses until Rents increase.
While such a minstrel, muttering fustian, strays
O'er hedge and ditch, through unfrequented ways,
If by some chance he walks into a well,
And shouts for succour with stentorian yell,
"A rope! help, Christians, as ye hope for grace!"
Nor woman, man, nor child will stir a pace;
For there his carcass he might freely fling, civ
From frenzy, or the humour of the thing.820
Though this has happened to more Bards than one;
I'll tell you Budgell's story, - and have done.
Budgell, a rogue and rhymester, for no good,
(Unless his case be much misunderstood)
When teased with creditors' continual claims,
"To die like Cato," 79 leapt into the Thames!
And therefore be it lawful through the town
For any Bard to poison, hang, or drown.
Who saves the intended Suicide receives
Small thanks from him who loathes the life he leaves; cv830
And, sooth to say, mad poets must not lose
The Glory of that death they freely choose.
Nor is it certain that some sorts of verse cvi
Prick not the Poet's conscience as a curse;
Dosed 80 with vile drams on Sunday he was found,
Or got a child on consecrated ground!
And hence is haunted with a rhyming rage -
Feared like a bear just bursting from his cage.
If free, all fly his versifying fit,
Fatal at once to Simpleton or Wit:840
But 'him', unhappy! whom he seizes, - 'him'
He flays with Recitation limb by limb;
Probes to the quick where'er he makes his breach,
And gorges like a Lawyer - or a Leech.
The last page of 'MS. M.' is dated -
Athens. 'March 14th, 1811'.
The following memorandum, in Byron's handwriting, is also inscribed on the last page:
"722 lines, and 4 inserted after and now counted, in all 726. - B.
"Since this several lines are added. - B. June 14th, 1811.
"Copied fair at Malta, May 3rd, 1811. - B."
'March 11th and 12th',
'MS. L. (a)'.
BYRON, 'March 14th, 1811.'
Athens, Capuchin Convent.
'MS. L. (b)'.
Footnote 1: Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830) succeeded West as P.R.A. in 1820. Benjamin West (1738-1820) had been elected P.R.A. in 1792, on the death of Sir Joshua Reynolds.
Footnote 2: In an English newspaper, which finds its way abroad wherever there are Englishmen, I read an account of this dirty dauber's caricature of Mr. H - -as a "beast," and the consequent action, etc. The circumstance is, probably, too well known to require further comment. Thomas Hope (1770-1831) was celebrated for his collections of pictures, sculpture, and 'bric-a-brac'. He was the author of 'Anastasius, or Memoirs of a Greek, etc'., which was attributed to Byron, and, according to Lady Blessington, excited his envy. "Low Dubost" was a French painter, who, in revenge for some fancied injustice, caricatured Hope and his wife as Beauty and the Beast. An exhibition of the sketch is said to have brought in from twenty to thirty pounds a week. A brother of Mrs. Hope (Louisa Beresford, daughter of Lord Decies, Archbishop of Tuam) mutilated the picture, and, an action having been brought, was ordered to pay a nominal sum of five pounds. Dubost's academy portrait of Mrs. Hope did not please Peter Pindar.
"In Mistress Hope, Monsieur Dubost!
Thy Genius yieldeth up the Ghost."
'Works' (1812), v. 372.
"While pure Description held the place of Sense." -
Pope, 'Prol. to the Sat.,' L. 148.
"While Mr. Sol decked out all so glorious
Shines like a Beau in his Birthday Embroidery."
Fielding, 'Tom Thumb', act i. sc. I. - 'MS. M.'
"'Fas est et ab Hoste doceri.'" In the 7th Art. of the 31st No. of the 'Edinburgh Review' (vol. xvi. Ap. 1810) the "Observations" of an Oxford Tutor are compared to "Children's Cradles" (page 181), then to a "Barndoor fowl flying" (page 182), then the man himself to "a Coach-horse on the Trottoir" (page 185) etc., etc., with a variety of other conundrums all tending to prove that the ingenuity of comparison increases in proportion to the dissimilarity between the things compared. - 'MS. L. (b) erased.'
Footnote 4: Mere common mortals were commonly content with one Taylor and with one bill, but the more particular gentlemen found it impossible to confide their lower garments to the makers of their body clothes. I speak of the beginning of 1809: what reform may have since taken place I neither know, nor desire to know. - 'MSS. L. (b), M'.
Footnote 5: Mr. Pitt was liberal in his additions to our Parliamentary tongue; as may be seen in many publications, particularly the 'Edinburgh Review'.
The reference may be to financial terms, such as sinking fund (a phrase not introduced by Pitt), the English equivalent of 'caisse d'amortissement', or income tax ('impot sur le revenu'), or to actual French words such as 'chouannerie, projet', etc. But Pitt's "additions" are unnoticed by Frere and other reporters and critics of his speeches. For a satirical description of Pitt's words, "which are finer and longer than can be conceived," see 'Rolliad', 1799; 'Political Miscellanies', p. 421; and 'Political Eclogues', p. 195.
"And Billy best of all things loves - a trope."
Compare, too, Peter Pindar, "To Sylvanus Urban," 'Works' (1812), ii. 259.
"Lycurgus Pitt whose penetrating eyes
Behold the fount of Freedom in excise,
Whose 'patriot' logic possibly maintains
The 'identity' of 'liberty' and 'chains'."
Footnote 6: Old ballads, old plays, and old women's stories, are at present in as much request as old wine or new speeches. In fact, this is the millennium of black letter: thanks to our Hebers, Webers, and Scotts!
Richard Heber (1773-1833), book-collector and man of letters, was half-brother of the Bishop of Calcutta. He edited, 'inter alia', 'Specimens of the Early English Poets', by George Ellis, 3 vols., London: 1811.
W. H. Weber (1783-1818), a German by birth, was employed by Sir Walter Scott as an amanuensis and "searcher." He edited, in 1810, 'Metrical Romances of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Centuries', a work described by Southey ('Letters', ii. 308) as "admirably edited, exceedingly curious, and after my own heart." He also published editions of Ford, and Beaumont and Fletcher, which were adversely criticized by Gifford. For an account of his relations to Scott and of his melancholy end, see Lockhart's 'Life of Scott' (1871), p. 251.
Footnote 7: 'Mac Flecknoe', the 'Dunciad', and all Swift's lampooning ballads. Whatever their other works may be, these originated in personal feelings, and angry retort on unworthy rivals; and though the ability of these satires elevates the poetical, their poignancy detracts from the personal character of the writers.
Footnote 8: 'Almanzor: or the Conquest of Granada by the Spaniards', a Tragedy by John Dryden. The bombastic character of the hero was severely criticized in Dryden's own time, and was defended by him thus:
"'Tis said that Almanzor is no perfect pattern of heroic virtue, that
he is a contemner of kings, and that he is made to perform
impossibilities. I must therefore avow, in the first place, from
whence I took the character. The first image I had of him was from the
Achilles of Homer: the next from Tasso's Rinaldo, and the third from
the Artaban of Mons. Calprenede.... He talks extravagantly in his
passion, but if I would take the trouble to quote from Ben Jonson's
Cethegus, I could easily show you that the rhodomontades of Almanzor
are neither so irrational as his nor so impossible to be put in
'An Essay on Heroic Plays. Works of John Dryden' (1821), iv. 23-25.
Footnote 9: With all the vulgar applause and critical abhorrence of puns, they have Aristotle on their side; who permits them to orators, and gives them consequence by a grave disquisition.
"Cicero also," says Addison, "has sprinkled several of his works with them; and in his book on Oratory, quotes abundance of sayings as pieces of wit, which, upon examination, prove arrant puns." - 'Essay on Wit, Works' (1888), ii. 354.
Footnote 10: In Vanbrugh and Gibber's comedy of The Provoked Husband, first played at Drury Lane, January 10, 1728.
"And in his ear I'll holla - Mortimer!"
'I Henry IV'., act i. sc. 3.
Footnote 12: Garrick's 'Lying Valet' was played for the first time at Goodman's Fields, November 30, 1741.
"Peregrine" is a character in George Colman's 'John Bull', or 'An Englishman's Fire-Side', Covent Garden. March 5, 1803.
Footnote 13: I have Johnson's authority for making Lear a monosyllable -
"Perhaps where Lear rav'd or Hamlet died
On flying cars new sorcerers may ride."
"Perhaps where Lear has rav'd, and Hamlet dy'd."
Prologue to 'Irene. Johnson's Works' (1806), i. 168. and (if it need be mentioned) the 'authority' of the epigram on Barry and Garrick. - Note 'erased, Proof b, British Museum'.
"'Johnson'. Pray, Mr. Bayes, who is that Drawcansir?
'Bayes'. Why, Sir, a great fierce hero, that frights his mistress,
snubs up kings, baffles armies, and does what he will, without regard
to numbers, good sense, or justice good manners, justice, or
'The Rehearsal', act iv. sc. I.
'The Rehearsal', by George Villiers, second Duke of Buckingham (1627-1688), appeared in 1671. Sprat and others are said to have shared the authorship. So popular was the play that "Drawcansir" passed into a synonime for a braggadocio. It is believed that "Bayes" (that is, of course, "laureate") was meant for a caricature of Dryden: "he himself complains bitterly that it was so." (See 'Lives of the Poets' (1890), i. 386; and Boswell's 'Life of Johnson' (1876), p. 235, and 'note'.)
"Difficile est proprie communia dicere; tuque
Rectius Iliacum carmen deducis in actus,
Quam si proferres ignota indictaque primus."
HOR: 'DE ARTE POET': 128-130.
Mons. Dacier, Mons. de Sevigne, Boileau, and others, have left their dispute on the meaning of this sentence in a tract considerably longer than the poem of Horace. It is printed at the close of the eleventh volume of Madame de Sevigne's Letters, edited by Grouvelle, Paris, 1806. Presuming that all who can construe may venture an opinion on such subjects, particularly as so many who 'can't' have taken the same liberty, I should have held "my farthing candle" as awkwardly as another, had not my respect for the wits of Louis 14th's Augustan "Siecle" induced me to subjoin these illustrious authorities. I therefore offer:
firstly Boileau: "Il est difficile de trailer des sujets qui sont a la portee de tout le monde d'une maniere qui vous les rende propres, ce qui s'appelle s'approprier un sujet par le tour qu'on y donne."
2dly, Batteux: "Mais il est bien difficile de donner des traits propres et individuels aux etres purement possibles."
3dly, Dacier: "Il est difficile de traiter convenablement ces caracteres que tout le monde peut inventer."
Mr. Sevigne's opinion and translation, consisting of some thirty pages, I omit, particularly as Mr. Grouvelle observes, "La chose est bien remarquable, aucune de ces diverses interpretations ne parait etre la veritable." But, by way of comfort, it seems, fifty years afterwards, "Le lumineux Dumarsais" made his appearance, to set Horace on his legs again, "dissiper tous les nuages, et concilier tous les dissentiments;" and I suppose some fifty years hence, somebody, still more luminous, will doubtless start up and demolish Dumarsais and his system on this weighty affair, as if he were no better than Ptolemy or Copernicus and comments of no more consequence than astronomical calculations. I am happy to say, "la longueur de la dissertation" of Mr. D. prevents Mr. G. from saying any more on the matter. A better poet than Boileau, and at least as good a scholar as Mr. de Sevigne, has said,
"A little learning is a dangerous thing."
And by the above extract, it appears that a good deal may be rendered as useless to the Proprietors.
Byron chose the words in question, Difficile,' etc., as a motto for the first five cantos of 'Don Juan'
Footnote 16: About two years ago a young man named Townsend was announced by Mr. Cumberland, in a review (since deceased) the 'London Review', as being engaged in an epic poem to be entitled "Armageddon." The plan and specimen promise much; but I hope neither to offend Mr. Townsend, nor his friends, by recommending to his attention the lines of Horace to which these rhymes allude. If Mr. Townsend succeeds in his undertaking, as there is reason to hope, how much will the world be indebted to Mr. Cumberland for bringing him before the public! But, till that eventful day arrives, it may be doubted whether the premature display of his plan (sublime as the ideas confessedly are) has not, - by raising expectation too high, or diminishing curiosity, by developing his argument, - rather incurred the hazard of injuring Mr. Townsend's future prospects. Mr. Cumberland (whose talents I shall not depreciate by the humble tribute of my praise) and Mr. Townsend must not suppose me actuated by unworthy motives in this suggestion. I wish the author all the success he can wish himself, and shall be truly happy to see epic poetry weighed up from the bathos where it lies sunken with Southey, Cottle, Cowley (Mrs. or Abraham), Ogilvy, Wilkie, Pye, and all the "dull of past and present days." Even if he is not a 'Milton', he may be better than 'Blackmore'; if not a 'Homer', an 'Antimachus'. I should deem myself presumptuous, as a young man, in offering advice, were it not addressed to one still younger. Mr. Townsend has the greatest difficulties to encounter; but in conquering them he will find employment; in having conquered them, his reward. I know too well "the scribbler's scoff, the critic's contumely;" and I am afraid time will teach Mr. Townsend to know them better. Those who succeed, and those who do not, must bear this alike, and it is hard to say which have most of it. I trust that Mr. Townsend's share will be from 'envy'; he will soon know mankind well enough not to attribute this expression to malice. This note was written at Athens before the author was apprised of Mr. Cumberland's death in May, 1811. - 'MS'. (See Byron's letter to Dallas, August 27, 1811.) The Rev. George Townsend (1788-1857) published 'Poems' in 1810, and eight books of his 'Armageddon' in 1815. They met with the fate which Byron had predicted. In later life he compiled numerous works of scriptural exegesis. He was a Canon of Durham from 1825 till his death.
Footnote 17: The first line of 'A Spirit of Discovery by Sea', by the Rev. W. Lisle Bowles, first published in 1805.
Footnote 18: Harvey, the 'circulator' of the 'circulation' of the blood, used to fling away Virgil in his ecstasy of admiration and say, "the book had a devil." Now such a character as I am copying would probably fling it away also, but rather wish that "the devil had the book;" not from dislike to the poet, but a well-founded horror of hexameters. Indeed, the public school penance of "Long and Short" is enough to beget an antipathy to poetry for the residue of a man's life, and, perhaps, so far may be an advantage.
"'Infandum, regina, jubes renovare dolorem'."
I dare say Mr. Tavell (to whom I mean no affront) will understand me; and it is no matter whether any one else does or no. - To the above events, "'quaeque ipse miserrima vidi, et quorum pars magna fui'," all 'times' and 'terms' bear testimony. The Rev. G.F. Tavell was a fellow and tutor of Trinity College, Cambridge, during Byron's residence, and owed this notice to the "zeal with which he protested against his juvenile vagaries." During a part of his residence at Trinity, Byron kept a tame bear in his rooms in Neville's Court. (See 'English Bards', l. 973, 'note', and postscript to the Second Edition, 'ante', p. 383. See also letter to Miss Pigot, October 26, 1807.)
The following copy of a bill (no date) tells its own story: -
The Honble. Lord Byron.
To John Clarke.
To Bread & Milk for the Bear deliv'd.} L 1 9 7
to Haladay ... ... ... }
Cambridge Reve.A Clarke.
Footnote 20: "Hell," a gaming-house so called, where you risk little, and are cheated a good deal. "Club," a pleasant purgatory, where you lose more, and are not supposed to be cheated at all.
"Irene had to speak two lines with the bowstring round her neck; but
the audience cried out 'Murder!' 'Murder!' and she was obliged to go
off the stage alive."
'Boswell's Johnson' 1876, p. 60.
Irene (first played February 6, 1749) for the future was put to death behind the scenes. The strangling her, contrary to Horace's rule, 'coram populo', was suggested by Garrick. (See Davies' 'Life of Garrick' (1808), i. 157.)
Footnote 22: Matthew Gregory Lewis (1775-1818). ('Vide English Bards,
etc'., l. 265, n. 8.) The character of Hassan, "my misanthropic negro,"
as Lewis called him, was said by the critics of the day to have been
borrowed from Zanga in Young's 'Revenge'. Lewis, in his "Address to the
Reader," quoted by Byron (in 'note' 3), defends the originality of the
Footnote 23: In the postscript to 'The Castle Spectre', Mr. Lewis tells us, that though blacks were unknown in England at the period of his action, yet he has made the anachronism to set off the scene: and if he could have produced the effect "by making his heroine blue," - I quote him - "blue he would have made her!" 'The Castle Spectre', by M.G. Lewis, Esq., M.P., London, 1798, page 102.
Footnote 24: In 1706 John Dennis, the critic (1657-1734), wrote an 'Essay on the Operas after the Italian manner, which are about to be established on the English Stage'; to show that they were more immoral than the most licentious play.
Footnote 25: One of the gangways in the Opera House, where the young men of fashion used to assemble. (See letter to Murray, Nov. 9, 1820; 'Life', p. 62.)
Footnote 26: In the year 1808, happening at the opera to tread on the toes of a very well-dressed man, I turned round to apologize, when, to my utter astonishment, I recognized the face of the porter of the very hotel where I then lodged in Albemarle Street. So here was a gentleman who ran every morning forty errands for half a crown, throwing away half a guinea at night, besides the expense of his habiliments, and the hire of his "Chapeau de Bras." - 'MS. L. (a)'.
Footnote 27: The first theatrical representations, entitled "Mysteries and Moralities," were generally enacted at Christmas, by monks (as the only persons who could read), and latterly by the clergy and students of the universities. The dramatis personae were usually Adam, Pater Coelestis, Faith, Vice, and sometimes an angel or two; but these were eventually superseded by 'Gammer Gurton's Needle'. - 'Vide' Warton's 'History of English Poetry passim'. - 'MSS. M., L. (b)'.
Footnote 28: 'Benvolio' Lord Grosvenor, 'MS. L'. ('b') does not bet; but every man who maintains racehorses is a promoter of all the concomitant evils of the turf. Avoiding to bet is a little pharisaical. Is it an exculpation? I think not. I never yet heard a bawd praised for chastity, because 'she herself' did not commit fornication.
Robert, second Earl Grosvenor (1767-1845), was created Marquis of Westminster in 1831. Like his father, Gifford's patron, the first Earl Grosvenor, he was a breeder of racehorses, and a patron of the turf. As Lord Belgrave, he brought forward a motion for the suppression of Sunday newspapers, June 11, 1799, denouncing them in a violent speech. The motion was lost; but many years after, in a speech delivered in the House of Lords, January 2, 1807, he returned to the charge. (See 'Parl. Hist'., 34. 1006, 1010; and 'Parl. Deb'., 8. 286.) (For a skit on Lord Belgrave's sabbatarian views, see Peter Pindar, 'Works' (1812), iv. 519.)
Footnote 29: Samuel Foote (1720-1777), actor and playwright. His solo entertainments, in 'The Dish of Tea, An Auction of Pictures', 1747-8 (see his comedy 'Taste'), were the precursors of 'Mathews at Home', and a long line of successors. His farces and curtain-pieces were often "spiced-up" with more or less malicious character-sketches of living persons. Among his better known pieces are 'The Minor' (1760), ridiculing Whitefield and the Methodists, and 'The Mayor of Garratt' (1763), in which he played the part of Sturgeon (Byron used this piece, for an illustration in his speech on the Frame-workers Bill, February 27, 1812). 'The Lyar', first played at Covent Garden, January 12, 1762, was the latest to hold the stage. It was reproduced at the Opera Comique in 1877.
Footnote 30: Henry Carey, poet and musician (d. 1743), a natural son of George Savile, Marquis of Halifax, was the author of 'Chrononhotonthologos', "the most tragical tragedy ever yet tragedised by any company of tragedians," which was first played at the Haymarket, February 22, 1734. The well-known lines, "Go, call a coach, and let a coach be called," etc., which Scott prefixed to the first chapter of 'The Antiquary', are from the last scene, in which Bombardinion fights with and kills the King Chrononhotonthologos. But his one achievement was 'Sally in our Alley', of which he wrote both the words and the music. The authorship of "God Save the King" has been attributed to him, probably under a misapprehension.
Footnote 31: Under Plato's pillow a volume of the 'Mimes' of Sophron was found the day he died. - 'Vide' Barthelemi, De Pauw, or Diogenes Laertius, Lib. iii. p. 168 - Chouet 1595 if agreeable. De Pauw calls it a jest-book. Cumberland, in his 'Observer', terms it moral, like the sayings of Publius Syrus.
Footnote 32: In 1737 the manager of Goodman's Fields Theatre having brought Sir Robert Walpole a farce called 'The Golden Rump', the minister detained the copy. He then made extracts of the most offensive passages, read them to the house, and brought in a bill to limit the number of playhouses and to subject all dramatic writings to the inspection of the Lord Chamberlain. Horace Walpole ascribed 'The Golden Rump' to Fielding, and said that he had found an imperfect copy of the play among his father's papers. But this has been questioned. (See 'A Book of the Play', by Dutton Cook (1881), p. 27.)
Footnote 33: His speech on the Licensing Act in which he opposed the Bill, is reckoned one of his most eloquent efforts.
The following sentences have been extracted from the speech which was delivered: -
"The bill is not only an encroachment upon liberty, it is likewise an
encroachment on property. Wit, my lords, is a sort of property; it is
the property of those who have it, and too often the only property
they have to depend on...
"Those gentlemen who have any such property are all, I hope, our
friends; do not let us subject them to any unnecessary or arbitrary
"The stage and the press, my lord, are two of our out-sentries; if we
remove them, if we hoodwink them, if we throw them into fetters, the
enemy may surprise us. Therefore I must now look upon the bill before
us as a step for introducing arbitrary power into this kingdom."
Lord Chesterfield's sentiments with regard to laughter are contained in an apophthegm, repeated more than once in his correspondence: "The vulgar laugh aloud, but never smile; on the contrary, people of fashion often smile, but seldom or never laugh aloud." - 'Chesterfield's Letters to his Godson', Oxford, 1890, p. 27.
Footnote 34: Archer and Squire Sullen are characters in Farquhar's play (1678-1707), 'The Beaux' Stratagem', March 8, 1707.
Footnote 35: Michael Perez, the "Copper Captain," in Fletcher's 'Rule a Wife and Have a Wife' licensed October 19, 1624.
Footnote 36: The Rev. Dr. Francis Willis died in 1807, in the 90th year of his age. He attended George III. in his first attack of madness in 1788. The power of his eye on other persons is illustrated by a story related by Frederick Reynolds ('Life and Times', ii. 23), who describes how Edmund Burke quailed under his look. His son, John Willis, was entrusted with the entire charge of the king in 1811. Compare Shelley's 'Peter Bell the Third', part vi. -
"Let him shave his head:
Where's Dr. Willis?"
(See, too, 'Bland-Burges Papers' (1885), pp. 113-115, and 'Life of George IV'., by Percy Fitzgerald (1881), ii. 18.)
Footnote 37: Dr. Johnson was of the like opinion.
"Highwaymen and housebreakers," he says, in his Life of Gay, "seldom
frequent the playhouse, or mingle in any elegant diversion; nor is it
possible for any one to imagine that he may rob with safety, because
he sees Macheath reprieved upon the stage."
'Lives of the Poets', by Samuel Johnson (1890), ii. 266. It was asserted, on the other hand, by Sir John Fielding, the Bow-street magistrate, that on every run of the piece, 'The Beggar's Opera', an increased number of highwaymen were brought to his office; and so strong was his conviction, that in 1772 he remonstrated against the performance with the managers of both the houses.
Footnote 38: Jerry Collier's controversy with Congreve, etc., on the subject of the drama, is too well known to require further comment.
Jeremy Collier (1650-1756), non-juring bishop and divine. The occasion of his controversy with Congreve was the publication of his 'Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stage' (1697-8). Congreve, who had been attacked by name, replied in a tract entitled 'Amendments upon Mr. Collier's false and imperfect citations from the' OLD BATCHELEUR, etc.
Footnote 39: A few months after lines 370-381 were added to 'The Hints', in September, 1812, Byron, at the request of Lord Holland, wrote the address delivered on the opening of the theatre, which had been rebuilt after the fire of February 24, 1809. He subsequently joined the Committee of Management
Footnote 40: Mr. Simeon is the very bully of beliefs, and castigator of "good works." He is ably supported by John Stickles, a labourer in the same vineyard: - but I say no more, for, according to Johnny in full congregation,'"No hopes for them as laughs."'
The Rev. Charles Simeon (1758-1836) was the leader of the evangelical movement in Cambridge. The reference may be to the rigour with which he repelled a charge brought against him by Dr. Edwards, the Master of Sidney Sussex, that a sermon which he had preached in November, 1809, savoured of antinomianism. It may be noted that a friend (the Rev. W. Parish), to whom he submitted the MS. of a rejoinder to Pearson's 'Cautions, etc.', advised him to print it, "especially if you should rather keep down a lash or two which might irritate." Simeon was naturally irascible, and, in reply to a friend who had mildly reproved him for some display of temper, signed himself, in humorous penitence, "Charles proud and irritable." (See 'Memoirs of the Life of the Rev. Mr. Simeon', by Rev. W. Carus (1847), pp. 195, 282, etc.)
Footnote 41: 'Baxter's Shove to heavy-a - d Christians', the veritable title of a book once in good repute, and likely enough to be so again.
"Baxter" is a slip of the pen. The tract or sermon, 'An Effectual Shove to the heavy-arse Christian', was, according to the title-page, written by William Bunyan, minister of the gospel in South Wales, and "printed for the author" in London in 1768.
Footnote 42: Ambrose Philips (1675?-1749) published his 'Epistle to the Earl of Dorset' and his 'Pastorals' in 1709. It is said that Pope attacked him in his satires in consequence of an article in the 'Guardian', in which the 'Pastorals' were unduly extolled. His verses, addressed to the children of his patron, Lord Carteret, were parodied by Henry Carey, in 'Namby Pamby, or a Panegyric on the New Versification'.
Footnote 43: See letters to Murray, Sept. 15, 1817; Jan. 25, 1819; Mar. 29, 1820; Nov. 4, 1820; etc. See also the two 'Letters' against Bowles, written at Ravenna, Feb. 7 and Mar. 21, 1821, in which Byron's enthusiastic reverence for Pope is the dominant note.
Footnote 44: As famous a tonsor as Licinus himself, and better paid and may be like him a senator, one day or other: no disparagement to the High Court of Parliament. - 'MS.L.(b)', and may, like him, be one day a senator, having a better qualification than one half of the heads he crops, viz. - Independence.
According to the Scholiast, Cassar made his barber Licinus a senator, "quod odisset Pompeium." Blake (see Letter to Murray, Nov. 9, 1820) was, presumably, Benjamin Blake, a perfumer, who lived at 46, Park Street, Grosvenor Square.
Footnote 45: There was some foundation for this. When Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy called on Daniel Stuart, editor of the 'Courier', at his fine new house in Harley Street, the butler would not admit them further than the hall, and was not a little taken aback when he witnessed the deference shown to these strangely-attired figures by his master. - Personal Reminiscence of the late Miss Stuart, of 106, Harley Street.
"'Bayes'. If I am to write familiar things, as sonnets to Armida, and
the like, I make use of stewed prunes only; but when I have a grand
design in hand, I ever take physic and let blood; for when you would
have pure swiftness of thought, and fiery flights of fancy, you must
have a care of the pensive part. In fine, you must purge."
'Rehearsal', act ii. sc. 1.
This passage is instanced by Johnson as a proof that "Bayes" was a caricature of Dryden.
"Bayes, when he is to write, is blooded and purged; this, as Lamotte
relates, ... was the real practice of the poet."
'Lives of the Poets' 1890), i. 388.
Footnote 47: Cant term for L100,000.
Footnote 48: I have not the original by me, but the Italian translation runs as follows: -
"E una cosa a mio credere molto stravagante, che un Padre desideri, o
permetta, che suo figliuolo coltivi e perfezioni questo talento."
A little further on:
"Si trovano di rado nel Parnaso le miniere d' oro e d' argento,"
'Educazione dei Fanciulli del Signer Locke' (Venice, 1782), ii. 87.
"If the child have a poetic vein, it is to me the strangest thing in
the world, that the father should desire or suffer it to be cherished
or improved." - "It is very seldom seen, that any one discovers mines
of gold or silver on Parnassus."
'Some Thoughts concerning Education', by John Locke (1880), p. 152.
Footnote 49: "Iro pauperior:" a proverb: this is the same beggar who boxed with Ulysses for a pound of kid's fry, which he lost and half a dozen teeth besides. (See 'Odyssey', xviii. 98.)
Footnote 50: The Irish gold mine in Wicklow, which yields just ore enough to swear by, or gild a bad guinea.
Footnote 51: As Mr. Pope took the liberty of damning Homer, to whom he was under great obligations - "'And Homer (damn him!) calls'" - it may be presumed that anybody or anything may be damned in verse by poetical licence I shall suppose one may damn anything else in verse with impunity. - 'MS. L. (b)'; and, in case of accident, I beg leave to plead so illustrious a precedent.
Footnote 52: For the story of Billy Havard's tragedy, see Davies's 'Life of Garrick'. I believe it is 'Regulus', or 'Charles the First' Lincoln's Inn Fields, March 1, 1737. The moment it was known to be his the theatre thinned, and the book-seller refused to give the customary sum for the copyright. See 'Life of Garrick', by Thomas Davies (1808), ii. 205.
Footnote 53: Thomas Erskine (third son of the fifth Earl of Buchan) afterwards Lord Erskine (1750-1823), Lord Chancellor (1806-7), an eloquent orator, a supremely great advocate, was, by comparison, a failure as a judge. His power over a jury, "his little twelvers," as he would sometimes address them, was practically unlimited. (See 'Recollections of the Table-Talk of Samuel Rogers' (1856), p. 126.)
Footnote 54: Lines 589-626 are not in the 'Murray MS'., nor in either of the 'Lovelace MSS'.
Footnote 55: To the Eclectic or Christian Reviewers I have to return thanks for the fervour of that charity which, in 1809, induced them to express a hope that a thing then published by me might lead to certain consequences, which, although natural enough, surely came but rashly from reverend lips. I refer them to their own pages, where they congratulated themselves on the prospect of a tilt between Mr. Jeffrey and myself, from which some great good was to accrue, provided one or both were knocked on the head. Having survived two years and a half those "Elegies" which they were kindly preparing to review, I have no peculiar gusto to give them "so joyful a trouble," except, indeed, "upon compulsion, Hal;" but if, as David says in 'The Rivals', it should come to "bloody sword and gun fighting," we "won't run, will we, Sir Lucius?" Byron, writing at Athens, away from his books, misquotes 'The Rivals'. The words, "Sir Lucius, we - we - we - we won't run," are spoken by Acres, not by David. I do not know what I had done to these Eclectic gentlemen: my works are their lawful perquisite, to be hewn in pieces like Agag, if it seem meet unto them: but why they should be in such a hurry to kill off their author, I am ignorant. "The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong:" and now, as these Christians have "smote me on one cheek," I hold them up the other; and, in return for their good wishes, give them an opportunity of repeating them. Had any other set of men expressed such sentiments, I should have smiled, and left them to the "recording angel;" but from the pharisees of Christianity decency might be expected. I can assure these brethren, that, publican and sinner as I am, I would not have treated "mine enemy's dog thus." To show them the superiority of my brotherly love, if ever the Reverend Messrs. Simeon or Ramsden should be engaged in such a conflict as that in which they requested me to fall, I hope they may escape with being "winged" only, and that Heaviside may be at hand to extract the ball.
"If, however, the noble Lord and the learned advocate have the
courage requisite to sustain their mutual insults, we shall probably
soon hear the explosions of another kind of 'paper' war, after the
fashion of the ever-memorable duel which the latter is said to have
fought, or seemed to fight, with 'Little' Moore. We confess there is
sufficient provocation, if not in the critique, at least in the
satire, to urge a 'man of honour' to defy his assailant to mortal
combat, and perhaps to warrant a man of law to 'declare' war in
Westminster Hall. Of this we shall no doubt hear more in due time"
('Eclectic Review', May, 1809). Byron pretends to believe that the "Christian" Reviewers, actuated by stern zeal for piety, were making mischief in sober earnest. "Heaviside" (see last line of Byron's note) was the surgeon in attendance at the duel between Lord Falkland and Mr. A. Powell. (See 'English Bards', 1. 686, note 2.)
Footnote 56: 'Macbeth', act v. sc. 7.
Footnote 57: See the critique of the 'Edinburgh Review' on 'Hours of Idleness', January, 1808.
Footnote 58: "Invenies alium, si te hic fastidit, Alexin."
Footnote 59: Here 'MS. L.' (a) recommences.
Footnote 60: John Jackson (1769-1845), better known as "Gentleman" Jackson, was champion of England from 1795 to 1803. His three fights were against Fewterel (1788), George Ingleston, nicknamed "the Brewer" (1789), and Mendoza (1795). In 1803 he retired from the ring. His rooms at 13, Bond Street, became the head-quarters of the Pugilistic Club. (See Pierce Egan's 'Life in London', pp. 252-254, where the rooms are described, and a drawing of them by Cruikshank is given.) Jackson's character stood high.
"From the highest to the lowest person in the Sporting World, his
'decision' is law."
He was Byron's guest at Cambridge, Newstead, and Brighton; received from him many letters; and is described by him, in a note to 'Don Juan' (xi. 19), as:
"my old friend and corporeal pastor and master."
Footnote 61: Mr. Southey has lately tied another canister to his tail in 'The Curse of Kehama', maugre the neglect of 'Madoc', etc., and has in one instance had a wonderful effect. A literary friend of mine, walking out one lovely evening last summer, on the eleventh bridge of the Paddington canal, was alarmed by the cry of "one in jeopardy:" he rushed along, collected a body of Irish haymakers (supping on butter-milk in an adjacent paddock), procured three rakes, one eel-spear and a landing net, and at last ('horresco referens') pulled out - his own publisher. The unfortunate man was gone for ever, and so was a large quarto wherewith he had taken the leap, which proved, on inquiry, to have been Mr. Southey's last work. Its "alacrity of sinking" was so great, that it has never since been heard of; though some maintain that it is at this moment concealed at Alderman Birch's pastry premises, Cornhill. Be this as it may, the coroner's inquest brought in a verdict of "'Felo de bibliopola'" against a "quarto unknown;" and circumstantial evidence being since strong against 'The Curse of Kehama' (of which the above words are an exact description), it will be tried by its peers next session, in Grub-street - Arthur, Alfred, Davideis, Richard Coeur de Lion, Exodus, Exodiad, Epigoniad, Calvary, Fall of Cambria, Siege of Acre, Don Roderick, and Tom Thumb the Great, are the names of the twelve jurors. The judges are Pye, Bowles, and the bell-man of St. Sepulchre's.
The same advocates, pro and con, will be employed as are now engaged in Sir F. Burdett's celebrated cause in the Scotch courts. The public anxiously await the result, and all 'live' publishers will be subpoenaed as witnesses. - But Mr. Southey has published 'The Curse of Kehama', - an inviting title to quibblers. By the bye, it is a good deal beneath Scott and Campbell, and not much above Southey, to allow the booby Ballantyne to entitle them, in the 'Edinburgh Annual Register' (of which, by the bye, Southey is editor) "the grand poetical triumvirate of the day." But, on second thoughts, it can be no great degree of praise to be the one-eyed leaders of the blind, though they might as well keep to themselves "Scott's thirty thousand copies sold," which must sadly discomfort poor Southey's unsaleables. Poor Southey, it should seem, is the "Lepidus" of this poetical triumvirate. I am only surprised to see him in such good company.
"Such things, we know, are neither rich nor rare,
But wonder how the devil 'he' came there."
The trio are well defined in the sixth proposition of Euclid: -
"Because, in the triangles D B C, A C B; D B is equal to A C; and B C
common to both; the two sides D B, B C, are equal to the two A C, C B,
each to each, and the angle D B C is equal to the angle A C B:
therefore, the base D C is equal to the base A B, and the triangle D B
C (Mr. Southey) is equal to the triangle A C B, the less to the
greater, which is absurd" etc.
The editor of the 'Edinburgh Register' will find the rest of the theorem hard by his stabling; he has only to cross the river; 'tis the first turnpike t' other side 'Pons Asinorum.'A
'The Curse of Kehama', by Robert Southey, was published 1810; 'Arthur, or The Northern Enchantment', by the Rev. Richard Hole, in 1789; 'Alfred', by Joseph Cottle, in 1801; 'Davideis`', by Abraham Cowley, in 1656; 'Richard the First', by Sir James Bland Surges, in 1801; 'Exodiad', by Sir J. Bland Surges and R. Cumberland, in 1808; 'Exodus', by Charles Hoyle, in 1802; 'Epigoniad', by W. Wilkie, D.D., in 1757; 'Calvary', by R. Cumberland, in 1792; 'Fall of Cambria', by Joseph Cottle, in 1809; 'Siege of Acre', by Hannah Cowley, in 1801; 'The Vision of Don Roderick', by Sir Walter Scott, in 1811; 'Tom Thumb the Great', by Henry Fielding, in 1730.
The 'Courier' of July 16, 1811, reports in full the first stage of the case Sir F. Burdett 'v.' William Scott ('vide supra'), which was brought before Lord Meadowbank as ordinary in the outer court. Jeffrey was counsel for the pursuer, who sought to recover a sum of L5000 lent under a bond. For the defence it was alleged that the money had been entrusted for a particular purpose, namely, the maintenance of an infant. Jeffrey denied the existence of any such claim, and maintained that whatever was scandalous or calumnious in the defence was absolutely untrue. The case, which was not included in the Scottish Law Reports, was probably settled out of court. Evidently the judge held that on technical grounds an action did not lie. Burdett's enemies were not slow in turning the scandal to account. (See a contemporary pamphlet, 'Adultery and Patriotism', London, 1811.)
Sub-Footnote A: This Latin has sorely puzzled the University of
Edinburgh. Ballantyne said it meant the "Bridge of Berwick," but
Southey claimed it as half English; Scott swore it was the "Brig o'
Stirling:" he had just passed two King James's and a dozen Douglasses
over it. At last it was decided by Jeffrey, that it meant nothing more
nor less than the "counter of Archy Constable's shop."
Footnote 62: Voltaire's 'Pucelle' is not quite so immaculate as Mr. Southey's 'Joan of Arc', and yet I am afraid the Frenchman has both more truth and poetry too on his side - (they rarely go together) - than our patriotic minstrel, whose first essay was in praise of a fanatical French strumpet, whose title of witch would be correct with the change of the first letter.
Footnote 63: Like Sir Bland Burges's 'Richard'; the tenth book of which I read at Malta, on a trunk of Eyre's, 19, Cockspur-street. If this be doubted, I shall buy a portmanteau to quote from.
Sir James Bland Burges (1752-1824), who assumed, in 1821, the name of Lamb, married, as his first wife, the Hon. Elizabeth Noel, daughter of Lord Wentworth, and younger sister of Byron's mother-in-law, Lady Milbanke. He was called to the bar in 1777, and in the same year was appointed a Commissioner in Bankruptcy. In 1787 he was returned M.P. for the borough of Helleston; and from 1789 to 1795 held office as Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs. In 1795, at the instance of his chief, Lord Grenville, he vacated his post, and by way of compensation was created a baronet with a sinecure post as Knight-Marshal of the Royal Household. Thenceforth he devoted himself to literature. In 1796 he wrote the 'Birth and Triumph of Love', by way of letter-press to some elegant designs of the Princess Elizabeth. (For 'Richard the First' and the 'Exodiad', see note, p. 436.) His plays, 'Riches and Tricks for Travellers', appeared in 1810, and there were other works. In spite of Wordsworth's testimony (Wordsworth signed, but Coleridge dictated and no doubt composed, the letter: see 'Thomas Poole and His Friends', ii. 27) "to a pure and unmixed vein of native English" in 'Richard the First (Bland-Burges Papers', 1885, p. 308), Burges as a poet awaits rediscovery. His diaries, portions of which were published in 1885, are lively and instructive. He has been immortalized in Person's Macaronics -
"Poetis nos laetamur tribus,
Pye, Petro Pindar, parvo Pybus.
Si ulterius ire pergis,
Adde his Sir James Bland Burges!"
Footnote 64: Charles Lamb, in "Christ's Hospital Five and Thirty Years Ago" ('Prose Works', 1836, ii. 30), records his repeated visits, as a Blue Coat boy, "to the Lions in the Tower - to whose levee, by courtesy immemorial, we had a prescriptive title to admission."
Footnote 65: Lines 677, 678 are not in 'MS. L. (a)'.
Footnote 66: Lines 689-696 are not in 'MS. L. (a)' or 'MS. L. (b)'.
Footnote 67: 'MS. L.' ('a' and 'b') continue at line 758.
"Tum quoque marmorea caput a cervice revulsum,
Gurgite cum medio portans OEagrius Hebrus,
Volveret Eurydicen vox ipsa, et frigida lingua;
Ah, miseram Eurydicen! anima fugiente vocabat;
Eurydicen toto referebant flumine ripae."
'Georgic', iv. 523-527.
Footnote 69: I beg Nathaniel's pardon: he is not a cobbler; 'it' is a 'tailor', but begged Capel Lofft to sink the profession in his preface to two pair of panta - psha! - of cantos, which he wished the public to try on; but the sieve of a patron let it out, and so far saved the expense of an advertisement to his country customers - Merry's "Moorfields whine" was nothing to all this. The "Delia Cruscans" were people of some education, and no profession; but these Arcadians ("Arcades ambo" - bumpkins both) send out their native nonsense without the smallest alloy, and leave all the shoes and small-clothes in the parish unrepaired, to patch up Elegies on Enclosures, and Paeans to Gunpowder. Sitting on a shop-board, they describe the fields of battle, when the only blood they ever saw was shed from the finger; and an "Essay on War" is produced by the ninth part of a "poet;"
"And own that 'nine' such poets made a Tate."
Did Nathan ever read that line of Pope? and if he did, why not take it as his motto?
'An Essay on War; Honington Green, a Ballad ... an Elegy and other Poems,' was published in 1803.
Footnote 70: This well-meaning gentleman has spoiled some excellent shoemakers, and been accessory to the poetical undoing of many of the industrious poor. Nathaniel Bloomfield and his brother Bobby have set all Somersetshire singing; nor has the malady confined itself to one county. Pratt too (who once was wiser) has caught the contagion of patronage, and decoyed a poor fellow named Blackett into poetry; but he died during the operation, leaving one child and two volumes of "Remains" utterly destitute. The girl, if she don't take a poetical twist, and come forth as a shoemaking Sappho, may do well; but the "tragedies" are as ricketty as if they had been the offspring of an Earl or a Seatonian prize poet. The patrons of this poor lad are certainly answerable for his end; and it ought to be an indictable offence. But this is the least they have done: for, by a refinement of barbarity, they have made the (late) man posthumously ridiculous, by printing what he would have had sense enough never to print himself. Certes these rakers of "Remains" come under the statute against "resurrection men." What does it signify whether a poor dear dead dunce is to be stuck up in Surgeons' or in Stationers' Hall? Is it so bad to unearth his bones as his blunders? Is it not better to gibbet his body on a heath, than his soul in an octavo? "We know what we are, but we know not what we may be;" and it is to be hoped we never shall know, if a man who has passed through life with a sort of eclat is to find himself a mountebank on the other side of Styx, and made, like poor Joe Blackett, the laughing-stock of purgatory. The plea of publication is to provide for the child; now, might not some of this 'Sutor ultra Crepidaitis' friends and seducers have done a decent action without inveigling Pratt into biography? And then his inscription split into so many modicums! - "To the Duchess of Somuch, the Right Hon. So-and-So, and Mrs. and Miss Somebody, these volumes are," etc. etc. - why, this is doling out the "soft milk of dedication" in gills, - there is but a quart, and he divides it among a dozen. Why, Pratt, hadst thou not a puff left? Dost thou think six families of distinction can share this in quiet? There is a child, a book, and a dedication: send the girl to her grace, the volumes to the grocer, and the dedication to the devil.
For Robert Bloomfield, see 'English Bards', ll. 774-786, and note 2. For Joseph Blacket, see 'English Bards', ll. 765-770, and note 1. Blacket's 'Remains', with Life by Pratt, appeared in 1811. The work was dedicated "To Her Grace the Duchess of Leeds, Lady Milbanke and Family, Benevolent Patrons of the Author," etc.
Footnote 71: Lines 737-758 are not in either of the three original MSS. of 'Hints from Horace', and were probably written in the autumn of 1811. They appear among a sheet of "alterations to 'English Bards, and S. Reviewers', continued with additions" ('MSS. L.'}, drawn up for the fifth edition, and they are inserted on a separate sheet in 'MS. M.' A second sheet ('MSS. L.') of "scraps of rhyme ... principally additions and corrections for 'English Bards', etc." (for the fifth edition), some of which are dated 1810, does not give the whole passage, but includes the following variants (erased) of lines 753-756: -
"Then let thy ponderous quarto steep and stink,
The dullest fattest weed on Lethe's brink.
Down with that volume to the depths of hell!
Oblivion seems rewarding it too well."
"Yet then thy quarto still may," etc.
A "Druid" (see 'English Bards', line 741) was Byron's name for a scribbler who wrote for his living. In 'MS. M.', "scribbler" has been erased, and "Druid" substituted. It is doubtful to whom the passage, in its final shape, was intended to apply, but it is possible that the erased lines, in which "ponderous quarto" stands for "lost songs," were aimed at Southey (see 'ante', line 657, 'note' 1).
Footnote 72: 'MS. L. (a)' recommences at line 758.
Footnote 73: Here will Mr. Gifford allow me to introduce once more to his notice the sole survivor, the "ultimus Romanorum," the last of the Cruscanti - "Edwin" the "profound" by our Lady of Punishment! here he is, as lively as in the days of "well said Baviad the Correct." I thought Fitzgerald had been the tail of poesy; but, alas! he is only the penultimate.
A FAMILIAR EPISTLE TO THE EDITOR OF THE "MORNING CHRONICLE."
"What reams of paper, floods of ink,"
Do some men spoil, who never think!
And so perhaps you'll say of me,
In which your readers may agree.
Still I write on, and tell you why;
Nothing's so bad, you can't deny,
But may instruct or entertain
Without the risk of giving pain, etc., etc.
ON SOME MODERN QUACKS AND REFORMISTS.
In tracing of the human mind
Through all its various courses,
Though strange, 'tis true, we often find
It knows not its resources:
And men through life assume a part
For which no talents they possess,
Yet wonder that, with all their art,
They meet no better with success, etc., etc.
'A Familiar Epistle, etc.', by T. Vaughan, Esq., was published in the 'Morning Chronicle', October 7, 1811. Gifford, in the 'Baviad' (l. 350), speaks of "Edwin's mewlings," and in a note names "Edwin" as the "profound Mr. T. Vaughan." 'Love's Metamorphoses', by T. Vaughan, was played at Drury Lane, April 15, 1776. He also wrote 'The Hotel, or Double Valet', November 26, 1776, which Jephson rewrote under the title of 'The Servant with Two Masters.' Compare 'Children of Apollo', p. 49: -
"Jephson, who has no humour of his own,
Thinks it no crime to borrow from the town;
The farce (almost forgot) of 'The Hotel'
Or 'Double Valet' seems to answer well.
This and his own make 'Two Strings to his Bow'."
Footnote 74: See Milton's 'Lycidas'.
Footnote 75: Minerva being the first by Jupiter's head-piece, and a variety of equally unaccountable parturitions upon earth, such as Madoc, etc. etc.
"A crust for the critics."
'Bayes, in "the Rehearsal"' act ii. sc. 2.
Footnote 77: And the "waiters" are the only fortunate people who can "fly" from them; all the rest, viz. the sad subscribers to the "Literary Fund," being compelled, by courtesy, to sit out the recitation without a hope of exclaiming, "Sic" (that is, by choking Fitz. with bad wine, or worse poetry) "me servavit Apollo!"
See 'English Bards', line 1 and 'note' 3.
Footnote 78: Lines 813-816 not in 'MS. L. (a)' or 'MS. L. (b)'.
Footnote 79: On his table were found these words: - "What Cato did, and Addison approved, cannot be wrong." But Addison did not "approve;" and if he had, it would not have mended the matter. He had invited his daughter on the same water-party; but Miss Budgell, by some accident, escaped this last paternal attention. Thus fell the sycophant of "Atticus," and the enemy of Pope!
Eustace Budgell (1686-1737), a friend and relative of Addison's, "leapt into the Thames" to escape the dishonour which attached to him in connection with Dr. Tindal's will, and the immediate pressure of money difficulties. He was, more or less, insane.
"We talked (says Boswell) of a man's drowning himself. I put the case
of Eustace Budgell.
'Suppose, sir,' said I, 'that a man is absolutely sure that, if he
lives a few days longer, he shall be detected in a fraud, the
consequence of which will be utter disgrace, and expulsion from
JOHNSON. 'Then, sir, let him go abroad to a distant country; let him
go to some place where he is 'not' known. Don't let him go to the
devil, where he 'is' known.'"
Boswell's 'Life of Johnson' (1886), p. 281.
Footnote 80: If "dosed with," etc. be censured as low, I beg leave to refer to the original for something still lower; and if any reader will translate "Minxerit in patrios cineres," etc. into a decent couplet, I will insert said couplet in lieu of the present.
ATHENS, 'March 2nd, 1811'.
'MS. L.' (a).
ATHENS, 'March 12th, 1811'.
'MS. L. (i), MS. M.'
'If A West or Lawrence, (take whichever you will)
Sons of the Brush, supreme in graphic skill,
Should clap a human head-piece on a mare,
How would our Exhibition's loungers stare!
Or should some dashing limner set to sale
My Lady's likeness with a Mermaid's tail.'
'MS. L.' (a).
'The features finished, should superbly deck
My Lady's likeness with a Filly's neck;
Or should some limner mad or maudlin group
A Mermaid's tail and Maid of Honour's Hoop.'
'MS. L. '(b).
Sub-Footnote A: I have been obliged to dive into the "Bathos" for the
simile, as I could not find a description of these Painters' merits
"Si liceat parvis
Componere magna" -
"Like London's column pointing to the skies
Like a 'tall Bully', lifts its head and lies"
I was in hopes might bear me out, if the monument be like a Bully.
West's glory may be reduced by the scale of comparison. If not, let me
have recourse to 'Tom Thumb the Great' Fielding's farce, first
played 1730 to keep my simile in countenance. - 'MS. L. (b) erased
Footnote iii: After line 6, the following lines (erased) were inserted: -
'Or patch a Mammoth up with wings and limbs,
And fins of aught that flies or walks or swims'.
Another variant ran -
'Or paint (astray from Truth and Nature led)
A Judge with wings, a Statesman with a Head'!
'Believe me, Hobhouse'.
'as we scribblers'.
'MSS. L'. ('a' and 'b'), 'MS. M'.
'Like Wardle's'A 'speeches'.
'MS. L'. ('a').
Sub-Footnote A: Gwyllim Lloyd Wardle (1762-1834), who served in
Ireland in 1798, as Colonel of the Welsh Fusiliers, known as "Wynne's
lambs," was M.P. for Okehampton 1807-12. In January, 1809, he brought
forward a motion for a parliamentary investigation into the exercise
of military patronage by the Duke of York, and the supposed influence
of the Duke's mistress, Mary Anne Clarke.
'As pertness lurks beneath a legal gown.
And nonsense in a lofty note goes down'.
'MS. L'. ('a').
'Which covers all things like a Prelate's gown'.
'MS. L'. ('a').
'Which wraps presumption'.
'MS. M. erased'.
'As when the poet to description yields
Of waters gliding through the goodly fields;
The Groves of Granta and her Gothic Halls,
Oxford and Christchurch, London and St. Pauls,
Or with a ruder flight he feebly aims
To paint a rainbow or the River Thames.
Perhaps you draw a fir tree or a beech,
But then a landscape is beyond your reach;
Or, if that allegory please you not,
Take this - you'ld form a vase, but make a pot'.
'MS. L'. ('a').
'Although you sketch a tree which Taste endures,
Your ill-daubed Shipwreck shocks the Connoisseurs.'
'The greater portion of the men of rhyme
Parents and children or their Sires sublime'.
'But change the malady they strive to cure'.
'MS. L. (a').
'Fish in the woods and wild-boars in the waves'.
'For Coat and waistcoat Slowshears is your man,
But Breeches claim another Artisan;
Now this to me I own seems much the same
As one leg perfect and the other lame'.
'MSS. M., L. (a').
'Sweitzer is your man'.
MS. M. 'erased'.
'Him who hath sense to make a skilful choice Nor lucid Order, nor the Siren Voice Of Eloquence shall shun, and Wit and Grace (Or I'm deceived) shall aid him in the Race: These too will teach him to defer or join To future parts the now omitted line: This shall the Author like or that reject, Sparing in words and cautious to select: Nor slight applause will candid pens afford To him who well compounds a wanting word, And if, by chance, 'tis needful to produce Some term long laid and obsolete in use'. -
'MSS. M., L'. ('a' and 'b'). 'The last line partly erased.'
'The dextrous Coiner of a' wanting 'word'. -
'Proof b, British Museum'.
'Proof b, British Museum'.
'Since they enriched our language in their time
In modern speeches or Black letter rhyme.'
'MS. L. (a)'.
'Though at a Monarch's nod, and Traffic's call
Reluctant rivers deviate to Canal'.
'MSS. M., L'. ('a' and 'b').
'marshes dried, sustain'.
'Proof b, British Museum'.
'Thus - future years dead volumes shall revive'.
'Proof b, British Museum'.
'As Custom fluctuates whose Iron Sway
Though ever changing Mortals must obey'.
'To mark the Majesty of Epic song'.
'MS. L'. ('a').
'But which is preferable rhyme or blank
Which holds in poesy'.
'MS. L'. ('a').
- 'ventures to appear. - '
'MS. Corr. in Proof b, British Museum'.
'And Harry Monmouth, till the scenes require,
Resigns heroics to his sceptred Sire.'
'MS. L'. (a).
'To "hollaing Hotspur" and the sceptred sire.' -
'MS. Corr. in Proof b, British Museum'.
'Dull as an Opera, I should sleep or sneer.'
'And for Emotion's aid 'tis said and sung'.
'MS. L, (a)'.
'or form a plot'.
'Proof b, British Museum'.
'Whate'er the critic says or poet sings
'Tis no slight task to write on common things'.
'MS. L. (a).'
'Ere o'er our heads your Muse's Thunder rolls.'
'MS. L. (a)'.
'Earth, Heaven and Hell, are shaken with the Song.'
'MS. L. (a)'.
'Through deeds we know not, though already done,'
'MS. L. (a)'.
'What soothes the people's, Peer's, and Critic's ear.'
'MS. L. (a)'.
'And Vice buds forth developed with his Teens.'
'The beardless Tyro freed at length from school.
MSS. L. (b), M. erased'.
'And blushing Birch disdains all College rule.
MS. M. erased'.
'And dreaded Birch.
MS. L.' (a' and 'b').
'Unlucky Tavell! damned to daily cares
By pugilistic Freshmen, and by Bears.'
'MS. M. erased'.
'Ready to quit whatever he loved before,
Constant to nought, save hazard and a whore.'
'MS. L. (a)'.
'The better years of youth he wastes away.'
'MS. L. (a)'.
'Master of Arts, as all the Clubs proclaim.'
'MS. L. (b)'.
'Scrapes wealth, o'er Grandam's endless jointure grieves.'
'O'er Grandam's mortgage, or young hopeful's debts.'
'MS. L. (a)'.
'O'er Uncle's mortgage.'
'MS. L. (b)'.
'Your plot is told or acted more or less.'
'To greater sympathy our feelings rise
When what is done is done before our eyes.'
'MS. L. (a)'.
'Appalls an audience with the work of Death -
To gaze when Hubert simply threats to sere.'
'MS. L. (a)'.
'Nor call a Ghost, unless some cursed hitch
Requires a trapdoor Goblin or a Witch.'
'MS. L. (a)'.
'This comes from Commerce with our foreign friends
These are the precious fruits Ausonia sends.'
'MS. L. (a)'.
'Our Giant Capital where streets still spread
Where once our simpler sins were bred.'
'MS. L. (a).'
'Our fields where once the rustic earned his bread.'
'MS. L. (b)'.
'Aches with the Orchestra he pays to hear.
'Scarce kept awake by roaring out encore.'
'MS. L. (a)'.
'Ere theatres were built and reverend clerks
Wrote plays as some old book remarks.'
MS. L. (a)'.
'Who did what Vestris - yet, at least, - cannot,
And cut his kingly capers "Sans culotte."'
'Who yet squeaks on nor fears to be forgot
If good Earl Grosvenor supersede them not'.
'MS. L'. ('a').
'Who still frisk on with feats so vastly low
'Tis strange Earl Grosvenor suffers such a show'.
'Suppressing Peer! to whom all vice gives place,
Save Gambling - for his Lordship loves a Race'.
'MS. L'. ('a').
'Hobhouse, since we have roved through Eastern climes,
While all the AEgean echoed to our rhymes,
And bound to Momus by some pagan spell
Laughed, sang and quaffed to "Vive la Bagatelle!'" -
'MS. L'. ('a').
'Hobhouse, with whom once more I hope to sit
And smile at what our Stage retails for wit.
Since few, I know, enjoy a laugh so well
Sardonic slave to "Vive la Bagatelle"
So that in your's like Pagan Plato's bed
They'll find some book of Epigrams when dead'.
'MS. L'. ('b').
'My wayward Spirit weakly yields to gloom,
But thine will waft thee lightly to the Tomb,
So that in thine, like Pagan Plato's, bed
They'll find some Manuscript of Mimes, when dead'.
'And spite of Methodism and Collier's curse'.
'He who's seduced by plays must be a fool'
'If boys want teaching let them stay at school'.
MS. L. (a).
'Whom Nature guides so writes that he who sees
Enraptured thinks to do the same with ease'.
'But after toil-inked thumbs and bitten nails
Scratched head, ten quires - the easy scribbler fails'. -
'MS. L'. ('a').
'The one too rustic, t'other too refined'.
'MS. L'. ('a' and 'b').
'Offensive most to men with house and land
Possessed of Pedigree and bloody hand'.
'MS. L'. ('a').
'Composed for any but the lightest strain'.
'MS. L'. ('a').
'And must I then my' -
'Ye who require Improvement'.
'MS. L'. ('a').
'And Tragedy, whatever stuff he spoke
Now wants high heels, long sword and velvet cloak'. -
'MS. L'. ('a') 'erased'.
'Curtail or silence the offensive jest'.
'Curtail the personal or smutty jest'.
'MS. L'. ('a') 'erased'.
'Overthrow whole books with all their hosts of faults'. -
'MS. L'. ('a').
'So that not Hellebore with all its juice'.
'MS. L'. ('a').
'I'll act instead of whetstone - blunted, but
Of use to make another's razor cut'.
'MS. L.' ('a').
'From Horace show the better arts of song'.
'MS. L'. ('a').
'To Trade, but gave their hours to arms and arts'.
'MS. L'. ('a').
'MS. L'. ('b').
'Babe of old Thelusson' A -- .
'MS. L'. ('a' and 'b').
Sub-Footnote A: Peter Isaac Thellusson, banker (died July 21, 1797),
by his will directed that his property should accumulate for the
benefit of the unborn heir of an unborn grandson. The will was,
finally, upheld, but, meanwhile, on July 28, 1800, an act (39 and 40
Geo. III.c.98) was passed limiting such executory devises.
'A groat - ah bravo! Dick's the boy for sums
He'll swell my fifty thousand into plums'.
'MS. L'. ('a').
'Are idle dogs and (damn them!) always poor'. -
'MS. L'. ('a' and 'b').
'Unlike Potosi holds no silver mine'.
'MS. L'. ('a').
'Keeps back his ingots like'} 'Is rather costive - like' } 'an Irish Mine'. 'Is no Potosi, but' }
'MS. L'. ('b').
'Write but recite not, e'en Apollo's song
Mouthed in a mortal ear would seem too long,
Long as the last year of a lingering lease,
When Revel pauses until Rents increase'.
'MS. M. erased'.
'To finish all'.
'MS. L'. ('b').
'That Bard the mask will fit'.
'MS. L'. ('b').
'Revenge defeats its object in the dark
And pistols (courage bullies!) miss their mark.'
'MS. L. (a).'
And pistols (courage duellists!) miss their mark.
'MS. L. (b)'.
'Though much displeased.'
'MS. L. (a and b)'.
'MS. L. (a)'.
'Oh ye aspiring youths whom fate or choice.'
'MS. L. (a)'.
'All are not Erskines who adorn the bar.'
'With very middling verses to offend
The Devil and Jeffrey grant but to a friend.'
'MS. L. (a).'
'Though what "Gods, men, and columns" interdict,
The Devil and Jeffrey A pardon - in a Pict.'
Sub-Footnote A: "The Devil and Jeffrey are here placed antithetically
to gods and men, such being their usual position, and their due
one - according to the facetious saying, 'If God won't take you, the
Devil must;' and I am sure no one durst object to his taking the
poetry, which, rejected by Horace, is accepted by Jeffrey. That these
gentlemen are in some cases kinder, - the one to countrymen, and the
other from his odd propensity to prefer evil to good, - than the 'gods,
men, and columns' of Horace, may be seen by a reference to the review
of Campbell's 'Gertrude of Wyoming'; and in No. 31 of the 'Edinburgh
Review' (given to me the other day by the captain of an English
frigate off Salamis), there is a similar concession to the mediocrity
of Jamie Graham's 'British Georgics'. It is fortunate for Campbell,
that his fame neither depends on his last poem, nor the puff of the
'Edinburgh Review'. The catalogues of our English are also less
fastidious than the pillars of the Roman librarians. A word more with
the author of 'Gertrude of Wyoming'. At the end of a poem, and even of
a couplet, we have generally 'that unmeaning thing we call a thought;'
so Mr. Campbell concludes with a thought in such a manner as to fulfil
the whole of Pope's prescription, and be as 'unmeaning' as the best of
his brethren: -
'Because I may not 'stain' with grief
The death-song of an Indian chief.'
"When I was in the fifth form, I carried to my master the translation
of a chorus in Prometheus, wherein was a pestilent expression about
'staining a voice,' which met with no quarter. Little did I think that
Mr. Campbell would have adopted my fifth form 'sublime' - at least in
so conspicuous a situation. 'Sorrow' has been 'dry' (in proverbs), and
'wet' (in sonnets), this many a day; and now it ''stains',' and stains
a sound, of all feasible things! To be sure, death-songs might have
been stained with that same grief to very good purpose, if Outalissi
had clapped down his stanzas on wholesome paper for the 'Edinburgh
Evening Post', or any other given hyperborean gazette; or if the said
Outalissi had been troubled with the slightest second sight of his own
notes embodied on the last proof of an overcharged quarto; but as he
is supposed to have been an improvisatore on this occasion, and
probably to the last tune he ever chanted in this world, it would have
done him no discredit to have made his exit with a mouthful of common
sense. Talking of ''staining'' (as Caleb Quotem says) 'puts me in
mind' of a certain couplet, which Mr. Campbell will find in a writer
for whom he, and his school, have no small contempt: -
'E'en copious Dryden wanted, or forgot,
The last and greatest art - the art to 'blot'!'"
'And mustard rarely pleases in a pie.'
'MS. L. '(a).
'At the Sessions'.
'MS. L.' (b), 'in pencil'.
Footnote lxxxv: Lines 647-650 -
Whose character contains no glaring fault...
Shall I, I say.
MS. L. (a).
Footnote lxxxvi: After 660 -
'But why this hint-what author e'er could stop
His poems' progress in a Grocers shop.'
'MS. L. (a).'
'As lame as I am, but a better bard.'
'Apollo's song the fate of men foretold.'
'MS. L. (a).'
'Have studied with a Master day and night'.
'MS. L. (a, b).'
'They storm Bolt Court, they publish one and all'. -
'MS. M. erased.'
'Rogers played this prank'.
'There see their sonnets first - but Spring - hot prest
Beholds a Quarto - Tarts must tell the Rest.'
'MS. M. erased.'
'To fuddled Esquires or to flippant Lords.'
'Till lo! that modern Midas of the swains -
Feels his ears lengthen - with the lengthening strains'. -
'MS. M. erased'.
'Adds a week's growth to his enormous ears'.
'MS. M. erased.'
'But what are these? Benefits might bind
Some decent ties about a manly mind'.
'Our modern sceptics can no more allow.'
'MS. L. (a).'
'Some rhyming peer - Carlisle or Carysfort.'A
Sub-Footnote A: To variant ii. (p. 444) (this footnote) is subjoined
"Of 'John Joshua, Earl of Carysfort,' I know nothing at present, but
from an advertisement in an old newspaper of certain Poems and
Tragedies by his Lordship, which I saw by accident in the Morea.
Being a rhymer himself, he will forgive the liberty I take with his
name, seeing, as he must, how very commodious it is at the close of
that couplet; and as for what follows and goes before, let him place
it to the account of the other Thane; since I cannot, under these
circumstances, augur pro or con the contents of his 'foolscap crown
John Joshua Proby, first Earl of Carysfort, was joint
postmaster-general in 1805, envoy to Berlin in 1806, and ambassador to
Petersburgh in 1807. Besides his poems ('Dramatic and Miscellaneous
Works', 1810), he published two pamphlets (1780,1783), to show the
necessity of universal suffrage and short parliaments. He died in
'Hoarse with bepraising, and half choaked with lies,
Sweat on his brow and tear drops in his eyes.'
'MS. L. (a).'
'Then sits again, then shakes his piteous head
As if the Vicar were already dead.'
'MS. L. (a).'
'But if you're too conceited to amend.'
'MS. L. (a).'
'On pain of suffering from their pen or tongues.'
'MS. M. erased.'
' - fly Fitzgerald's lungs.'
'Ah when Bards mouth! how sympathetic Time
Stagnates, and Hours stand still to hear their rhyme.'
'MS. M. erased'.
'Besides how know ye? that he did not fling
Himself there - for the humour of the thing.'
'Small thanks, unwelcome life he quickly leaves;
And raving poets - really should not lose.'
'Nor is it clearly understood that verse
Has not been given the poet for a curse;
Perhaps he sent the parson's pig to pound,
Or got a child on consecrated ground;
But, be this as it may, his rhyming rage
Exceeds a Bear who strives to break his cage.
If free, all fly his versifying fit;
The young, the old, the simpleton and wit.'
'MS. L. (a)'.