Sidor som bilder

Such is the force of Wit! but not belong

To me the arrows of satiric song;
The royal vices of our age demand
A keener weapon, and a mightier hand.
Still there are follies, e'en for me to

chase 41 And yield at least amusement in the


Laugh when I laugh, I seek no other fame,

The cry is up, and scribblers are my game:

Speed, Pegasus! — ye strains of great

and small, Ode! Epic! Elegy! — have at you all! I, too, can scrawl, and once upon a time I poured along the town a flood of


A schoolboy freak, unworthy praise or blame;

I printed —- older children do the same. 50

Tis pleasant, sure, to see one's name in print;

A Book's a Book, altho' there's nothing in't

S"ot that a Title's sounding charm can save

Or scrawl or scribbler from an equal grave:

This Lamb 1 must own, since his patrician name

Failed to preserve the spurious Farce from shame.'

No matter, George continues still to write*

Tho' now the name is veiled from public sight.

^He's a very good fellow; and, except his ■otfther and sister, the best of the set, to my urnd-" — B., 1816. [William (1770-1848, Viscount Melbourne, 1828), and George (17841S34) Lamb, sons of Sir Peniston Lamb, by Elizabeth, only daughter of Sir Ralph Milbanke, were Lady Byron's first cousins. William married, in 1805, Lady Caroline Ponsonby, writer of Glenarvon. George was one of the earty contributors to the Edinburgh Review.]

1 This ingenious youth is mentioned more ^erucularly, with his production, in another place. 'Vide post. I. 515.)

[The farce Whistle }or U was performed two ■X three times at Covent Garden Theatre in

'In the Edinburgh Review.

Moved by the great example, I pursue The self-same road, but make my own

review: 60 Not seek great Jeffrey's, yet like him

will be

Self-constituted Judge of Poesy. A man must serve his time to every trade

Save Censure — Critics all are ready made.

Take hackneyed jokes from Miller,1 got by rote,

With just enough of learning to misquote;

A mind well skilled to find, or forge a fault;

A turn for punning — call it Attic salt; To Jeffrey go, be silent and discreet, His pay is just ten sterling pounds per

sheet: 70 Fear not to lie, 'twill seem a sharper hit; Shrink not from blasphemy, 'twill pass

for wit;

Care not for feeling — pass your proper jest,

And stand a Critic, hated yet caressed.

And shall we own such judgment? no

— as soon Seek roses in December — ice in June; Hope constancy in wind, or corn in chaff, Believe a woman or an epitaph, Or any other thing that's false, before You trust in Critics, who themselves are

sore; 80 Or yield one single thought to be misled By Jeffrey's heart, or Lamb's Bceotian


'[The proverbial "Joe" Miller (1684-1738), an actor by profession, is said to have been unable to read. His reputation rests mainly on the book of jests, compiled after his death, by John Mottley.l

2 Messrs Jeffrey and Lamb are the alpha and omega, the first and last of the Edinburgh Review; the others are mentioned hereafter.

"This was not just. Neither the heart nor the head of these gentlemen are at all what they are here represented. At the time this was written, I was personally unacquainted with either." — B., 1816.

[Francis Jeffrey (1773-1850) founded the Edinburgh Review in conjunction with Sydney Smith, Brougham, and Francis Horner, in 180a. In 1803 he succeeded Smith as editor, and conducted the Review till 1820. He was called to the Scottish bar in 1794, and as an advocate was To these young tyrants, by themselves

misplaced, Combined usurpers on the Throne of


To these, when Authors bend in humble awe,

And hail their voice as Truth, their

word as Law; While these are Censors, 'twould be sin

to spare; 1 While such are Critics, why should I


But yet, so near all modern worthies run,

'Tis doubtful whom to seek, or whom to shun; go

Nor know we when to spare, or where to strike,

Our Bards and Censors are so much alike.

Then should you ask me,' why I venture o'er

The path which Pope and Gipford ■ trod before;

especially successful with juries. He sat as M.P. twice for Malton (1830-1832), and, afterwards, for Edinburgh. In T834 he was appointed a judge of the Court of Sessions, when he look the title of Lord Jeffrey.] 1 Imitation. "Stulta est dementia, cum tot ubique

occurras pcritura: parcere charue."

Juvenal, Satire 1. 11. 17, 18. * Imitation.

"Cur t.imcn hoc potius libeat decurrere campo. Per quem magnus equos Auruncse llexit alumnus,

Si vacat, et placidi rationem admittitis, edam."

Juvenal, Satire /. II. 10-21. '[William Gifford (1756-1826), a selftaught scholar, was sent by friends to Exeter Col lege, Oxford (1770 82). In the Bafiad (1704) and the Alartad (1795) he attacked the so-called Delia Cruscan School, and in his Epistle to Peter Pindar (1800) he laboured to expose the true character of John Wolcot. As editor of the Quarterly Rnnfw, from its foundation (February, 1800) to his resignation in September, 1824, he soon rose to literary eminence by his sound sense, though his judgments were sometimes narrow-minded and warped by political prejudice. Byron was attracted to Gifford, partly by his devotion to the classical models of literature, partly by the outspoken frankness of his literary criticism, partly also, perhaps, by his physical deformity. "I know no praise," he wrote September 20, 1821, "which would compensate me in my own mind for his censure."]

If not yet sickened, you can still pr<


Go on; my rhyme will tell you as yo read.

"But hold I" exclaims a friend,

"here's some neglect: This — that — and t'other line seer

incorrect." What then? the self-same blunder Pop

has got,

And careless Dryden — "Aye, but Py has not:" — 10

Indeed! — 'tis granted, faith! — bu what care I?

Better to err with Pope, than shine witl Pye.1

Time was, ere yet in these degenerati


Ignoble themes obtained mistake!


When Sense and Wit with Poesj allied,

No fabled Graces, flourished side bi


From the same fount their inspiratior


And, reared by Taste, bloomed fairet

as they grew. Then, in this happy Isle, a Pope's pure


Sought the rapt soul to charm, noi sought in vain; lie

A polished nation's praise aspired to claim,

And raised the people's, as the poet'? fame.

Like him great Dryden poured the tide

of song,

In stream less smooth, indeed, yet

doubly strong. Then Congreve's scenes could cheer,

or Otway's melt; For Nature then an English audience

felt —

But why these names, or greater still, retrace,

When all to feebler Bards resign their place?

1 [Henry James Pye (1745-1813), M.P. for Berkshire, held the office of poet laureate from 1700 till his death in 1H13, succeeding Thorna* VVarlon, and succeeded by Southey.]

Vet to such times our lingering looks

are cast,

IVhen taste and reason with those times ire past. 120

So* look around, and turn each trifling page.

Survey the precious works that please the age;

This truth at least let Satire's self allow, No dearth of Bards can be complained of now.

The loaded Press beneath her labour groans,

And Printers' devils shake their weary


While Soutetey's Epics cram the creaking shelves, And Little's Lyrics shine in hot-pressed


Thus saith the Preacher: "Nought

beneath the sun Is new,"1 yet still from change to change

we run. 130 Vhtt varied wonders tempt us as they


The Cow-pox, Tractors,' Galvanism, and Gas,

In turns appear, to make the vulgar stare,

Ti'.l the swoln bubble bursts — and all is air!

Nor less new schools of Poetry arise, IVhtre dull pretenders grapple for the


Va Taste awhile these Pseudo-bards prevail;

Each country Book-club bows the knee to Baal,

Ud, hurling lawful Genius from the throne,

irectsashrine and idol of its own; 140

'[Little was the name under which Moore's vb pnems were published. — The Poetical frii ej the late Thomas Little, Esq. (1801). Trtra" refers to the "duodecimo. Sheets, iher printing, are pressed between cold or hot flcrs, to impart smoothness of "surface." I < rolling is the more expensive process.]

: Ecties, chapter i. verse g.

! [Metallic "Tractors" were a remedy much ^trrtaed at the beginning of the century by ■ American quack, Benjamin Charles Perkins, **noer of the Perkinean Institution in London, » a "cure for ail Disorders, Red Noses, Gouty Tan, Wndy Bowels, broken Legs, Hump

Some leaden calf — but whom it matters not,

From soaring Southey, down to grovelling Stott..1

Behold! in various throngs the

scribbling crew, For notice eager, pass in long review: Each spurs his jaded Pegasus apace, And Rhyme and Blank maintain an

equal race; Sonnets op sonnets crowd, and ode on


And Tales of Terror 1 jostle on the road; Immeasurable measures move along; For simpering Folly loves a varied

song, 150 To strange, mysterious Dulness still the


Admires the strain she cannot comprehend.

Thus Lays of Minstrels3 — may they

be the last I — On half-strung' harps whine mournful

to the blast,

1 Stott, better known in the Morning Post by the name of Hafiz. This personage is at present the most profound explorer of the bathos. I remember, when the reigning family left Portugal, a special Ode of Master Stott's, beginning thus: — (Stott loquitur quoad Hiiernia) — "Princely offspring of Braganza, Erin greets thee with a stanza," etc. Also a Sonnet to Rats, well worthy of the subject, and a most thundering Ode, commencing as follows: —

"Oh! for a Lay! loud as the surge That lashes Lapland's sounding shore." Lord have mercy on us! the Lay ol the Last Minstrel was nothing to this. [The lines "Princely Offspring," etc., were published in the Morning Post, Dec. 30, 1807.] 3 [See line 365, note.]

3 See the Lay 0} the Last Minstrel, passim. Never was any plan so incongruous and absurd as the groundwork of this production. The entrance of Thunder and Lightning prologuising to Bayes' tragedy, unfortunately takes away the merit of originality from the dialogue between Messieurs the Spirits of Flood and Fell in the first canto. Then we have the amiable William of Deloraine, "a stark moss-trooper," videlicet, a happy compound of poacher, sheepstealcr, and highwayman. The propriety of his magical lady's injunction not to read can only be equalled by his candid acknowledgment of his independence of the trammels of spelling, although, to use his own elegant phrase, "'twas his neckverse at Harribee," i.e. the gallows.

The biography of Gilpin Horner, and the marvellous pedestrian page, who travelled twice

While mountain spirits prate to river sprites,

That dames may listen to the sound at nights;

And goblin brats, of Gilpin Horner's 1 brood

Decoy young Border-nobles through the wood,

And skip at every step, Lord knows how high,

And frighten foolish babes, the Lord knows why; . 160

While high-born ladies in their magic cell,

Forbidding Knights to read who cannot spell,

Despatch a courier to a wizard's grave, And fight with honest men to shield a knave.

Next view in state, proud prancing

on his roan, The golden-crested haughty Marmion, Now forging scrolls, now foremost in

the fight,

Not quite a Felon, yet but half a Knight, The gibbet or the field prepared to grace —

A mighty mixture of the great and base.

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

[Constable paid Scott a thousand pounds for Marmion, and "offered one fourth of the copyright to Mr Miller of Albemarle Street, and one fourth to Mr Murray of Fleet Street (see line 173). Both publishers eagerly accepted the proposal. ..." {Memoirs of John Murray, I 76 OS-)]

1 [It was the suggestion of -the Countess of Dalkeith, that Scott should write a ballad on the old border legend of Gilpin Horner, which first gave shape to the poet's ideas, and led to the Lay ol the Last Minstrel.]

And think'st thou, Scott! by va conceit perchance, 1

On public taste to foist thy stale 1 mance,

Though Murray with his Miller m combine

To yield thy muse just half-a-crown p line?

No 1 when the sons of song descend trade,

Their bays are sear, their former laure fade,

Let such forego the poet's sacred nam Who rack their brains for lucre, not 1


Still for stern Mammon may they toil vain!

And sadly gaze on gold they canTM gain 1 it

Such be their meed, such still the ju reward

Of prostituted Muse and hireling bart For this we spurn Apollo's venal son And bid a long "good night to Ma mion." 1

These are the themes that claim ot

plaudits now; These are the Bards to whom the Mu;

must bow; While Milton, Dryden, Pope, alik


Resign their hallowed Bays to Walte Scott.

The time has been, when yet the Mui

was young, When Homer swept the lyre, and Mar

sung, 19 An Epic scarce ten centuries could clain While awe-struck nations hailed th

magic name: The work of each immortal Bard aj


The single wonder of a thousand years

141 Good night to Marmion" — the palheti and also prophetic exclamation of Henry Bloua Esquire, on the death of honest Marmion.

* As the Odyssey is so closely connected wi the story of the Iliad, they may almost be clause as one grand historical poem. In alluding Milton and Tasso, we consider the ParaA Lost and Gerusalemme Liberata as their stand* efforts; since neither the Jerusalem Con-pun

inspires have mouldered from the face of earth,

Tongues have expired with those who

gave them birth, Without the glory such a strain can


As even in ruin bids the language live.

Kot so with us, though minor Bards content,

On one great work a life of labour spent: 200

With eagle pinion soaring to the skies,

3ehokl the Ballad-monger Southey rise!

To him let Camoens, Milton, Tasso yield,

Whose annual strains, like armies, take the field.

First in the ranks see Joan of Arc advance,

The scourge of England and the boast

of France! Though burnt by wicked Bedford for

a witch,

Sehold her statue placed in Glory's niche;

Her fetters burst, and just released from prison,

A virgin Phoenix from her ashes risen. 2x0

Next see tremendous Thalaba come on,'

Arabia's monstrous, wild, and wond'rous son;

Dotndaniel's dread destroyer, who o'erthrew

More mad magicians than the world e'er knew.

ci ibe Italian, nor the Paradise Regained of the En^Ssfa bard, obtained a proportionate celebrity to weir farmer poems. Query: Which of Mr Souther's vfli survive?

> Tkalaba, Mr Soothey's second poem, is *rirsec in open defiance of precedent and poetry. Mr S. wished 10 produce something novel, and sjcceeded to a miracle. Joan of Arc was marwfloes enough, but Thalaba was one of those >jcms "which," in the words of Porson, "will or lead when Homer and Virgil are forgotten, bar — »>l till then." ["Of Thalaba the wild and song."— Proem to Modoc, Southey's Poetical Works (1838). vol. v. Joan of Arc was ^ibtisbcd in 1706. Thalaba the Destroyer in 1801, ud Made* in 180s ]

Immortal Hero I all thy foes o'ercome, For ever reign — the rival of Tom Thumb! 1

Since startled Metre fled before thy face,

Well wert thou doomed the last of all thy race I

Well might triumphant Genii bear thee hence,

Illustrious conqueror of common sense I Now, last and greatest, Madoc spreads

his sails, 221 Cacique in Mexico,* and Prince in


Tells us strange tales, as other travellers do,

More old than Mandeville's, and not so true.

Oh, Southey I Southey 15 cease thy

varied song I A bard may chaunt too often and too


As thou art strong in verse, in mercy . spare I

A fourth, alas! were more than we

could bear. But if, in spite of all the world can


Thou still wilt verseward plod thy weary way; 230

If still in Berkeley-Ballads most uncivil,

Thou wilt devote old women to the devil/

1 [The hero of Fielding's farce. The Tragedy o\ Tragedies, or the Life and Death of Tom Thumb the Great, first played in 1730 at the Haymarket.]

1 [Southey's Madoc is divided into two parts — Part I., "Madoc in Wales:" Part II., "Madoc in Aztlan."]

3 We beg Mr Southey's pardon: "Madoc disdains the degraded title of Epic." See his Preface. [Poetical Works, v, p. xxi.] Why is Epic degraded? and by whom? Certainly the late Romaunts of Masters Cottle, Laurcat Pye, Ogilvy, Hole, and gentle Mistress Cowley, have not exalted the Epic Muse: but, as Mr Southey's poem "disdains the appellation," allow us to ask — has he substituted anything better in its stead? or must he be content to rival Sir Richard Blackmore in the quantity as well as quality of his verse?

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

« FöregåendeFortsätt »