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At first none deem'd it his ; but when his name
As pictures, so shall poems be; some stand The critic eye, and please when near at hand ; 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, Hath led to listen to the Muse's voice, Iteccive this counsel, and be timely wise; Few reach the summit which before you lies. 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; But poesy between the best and worst No medium knows ; you must be last or first; For middling poets' miserable volumes Are damn'd alike by gods, and men, and columns. '
Quem bis tergue bonum cum risu miror; et idem
! [Here, in the original MS., we find the following couplet and note : —
“Though what “ Gods, men, and columns' interdict, The Devil and Jeffrey pardon — in a Pict.
“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 tou, the Devil must ; ' and I am sure no one durst object to is 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, inch, 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 It is fortunate for Campbell, that his fame neither depends on his lost poem, nor the * of the Edinburgh Review. The catalogues of cur Finglish 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 ‘unneaning' 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 ‘statns,' and stains a sound, of all feasible things : To be sure, deathsongs might have been stained with that same grief to very good purpose, if Outalissi had clapped own, his stanzas on wholesome paper for the Edinburgh Evening Post, or any other given hyperborean gazette ; or if the said Qutalissi 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 discro, it to haye made his exit with a nouthful of common sens". Taiking of ' star ning' (as caleb Quotem says) puts me in mind' of a certain
Again, my Jeffrey !—as that sound inspires, How wakcs my bosom to its wonted fires! Fires, such as gentle Caledonians feel When Southrons writhe upon their critic wheel, Or mild Eclectics?, when some, worse than Turks, Would rob poor Faith to decorate “good works." Such are the genial feelings thou canst claim — My falcon flies not at ignoble game. Mightiest of all Duncain'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; Till thee or thine mine evil cyc discerns, Alas ! I cannot “strike at wretchcq kernes."3 Inhuman Saxon l wilt thou then resign A muse and heart by choice so wholly thine 2 Dear, d-d contemner of my schoolboy songs, Hast thou no vengeance for my manhood's
If unprovoked thou once could bid me bleed,
O major juvenum, quamvis ct voce paternn Flngeris ad rectum, et per te sapis, hoc tibi dictum Tolle memor: certis medium et tolerabilc rebus Recte concedi: consultus juris, et actor Causarun mediocris, abest virtute diserti Mess.ua, nec scit quantum Casceilius Aulus: Sed tamen in pretio est: mediocribus esse poetis Non homines, non Di, non concessere columnna.
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,
2 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 thenselves 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, Ilal : " 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 2 " 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 check," I hold them up the other: and, in return for their good wishes, give then an opportunity of repeating them. Had any other set of men expressed such sentiments, I should have smiled, and left them to the “rccording 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 inay be at hand to extract, the ball. —[The following is the charitable passage in the Eclectic Review of which Lord Byron speaks : — “If 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 sashion 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 tiery his assailant to mortal combat. Of this we shall no doubt hear more in due time.")
Hast thou no wrath, or wish to give it vent 2
As if at table some discordant dish 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; If all such mixtures then be half a crime, We must have excellence to relish rhyme. Mere roast and boil'd 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 ?
Ut gratas inter mensas symphonia discors,
! [See the memorable critique of the Edinburgh Review on “ Hours of Idleness,” ante, p. 419. * Invenies alium, site hic fastidit Alexin. * [Lord Byron's taste for boxing brought him acquainted, at an early period, with this distinguished, and, it is not too nuch to say, respected, professor of the art ; for whom, throughout ii. he continued to entertain a sincere regard. In a note to the eleventh canto of Don Juan, he calls him “ his old friend, and corroreal pastor and master.”] * Mr. Southey has lately tied another canister to his tail in the “Curse of Kehama,” maugre the neglect of Madoc, &c., 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 bibliopolà" against a “quiarto 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, Exodia, 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 bellman of St. Sepulchre's. The saine advocates, }. and con, will be employed as are now engaged in Sir Francis Burdett's celebrated cause in the Scotch courts. The public anxiously await the result, and all tire publishers will be sulpoenaed as witnesses. – But Mr. Southey has published the “Curse of Keharna,” — 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 Edin
And men unpractised in exchanging knocks
Thus think “the mob of gentlemen;" but you, Besides as 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 + pray — but don't be
Burn all your last three works—and half the next.
Summam nummorum, vitioque remotus ab omni.
burgh 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 discomfit 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 DEC 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,” &c. – The editor of the Edinburgh Register will find the rest of the theorem hard by his stabling ; he has only to cross the river; t is the first turnpike t'other side “ Pons Asinorum.” “
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; 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; Abolish'd cuckoldom with much applause, Call'd 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-establish'd board of joint controls Included kingdoms in the cure of souls.
Though without genius, and a native vein
The youth who trains to ride, or run a race, Must bear privations with unruffled face, Be call'd 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; But rhymers tell you neither more nor less, “I've got a pretty poem for the press;" And that's enough ; then write and print so fast; – If Satan take the hindmost, who'd be last 2 They storm the types, they publish, one and all, They leap the counter, and they leave the stall. Provincial maidens, men of high command, Yea, baronets have ink'd the bloody hand to Cash cannot quell them; Pollio” play'd this prank, (Then Phoebus first found credit in a bank 1) Not all the living only, but the dead, Fool on, as fluent as an Orpheus' head; * Damn’d 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-press'd, Behold a quarto 1–Tarts must tell the rest. Then leave, ye wise, the lyre's precarious chords To muse-mad baronets, or madder lords, Or country Crispins, now grown somewhat stale, Twin Doric minstrels, drunk with Doric ale : Hark to those notes, narcotically soft The cobbler-laureats » sing to Capel Lofft:6 Till, lo! that modern Midas, as he hears, Adds an ell growth to his egregious ears 1
& 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 shoe-making Sappho, may do well; but the “tragedies' are as ricketty as if they had been the offspring of an Earl or a Seatonian
There lives one druid, who prepares in time, 'Gainst future feuds his poor revenge of rhyme; Racks his dull memory, and his duller muse, To publish faults which friendship should excuse. If friendship's nothing, self-regard might teach More polish'd usage of his parts of speech. But what is shame, or what is aught to him 7 He vents his spleen, or gratifies his whim. Some fancied slight has roused his lurking hate, Some folly cross'd, some jest, or some debate; Up to his den Sir Scribbler hies, and soon The gather'd gall is voided in lampoon. Perhaps at some pert speech you've dared to frown, Perhaps your poem may have pleased the town: 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 Rloom fresh in satire, though they fade in praise I 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, In modern physics, we can scarce allow), Should some pretending scribbler of the court, Some rhyming peer 1 — there's plenty of the sort 2– All but one poor dependent priest withdrawn (Ah : too regardless of his chaplain's yawn 1) 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 I
— Si carmina condes, Nunquam te fallant animi sub vulpe latentes. Quintilio si quid recitares, Corrige, sodes, Hoc (aiebat) et hoc: melius te posse negares, Bisterdue expertum frustra, ... jubebat, Et male tornatos incudi reddere versus.
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 u in Surgeons' or in Stationers' Hall 2 Is it so bad to uneart his bones as his blunders ? Is it not better to gibbet his body on a heath, than his soul in an octavo 2. “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 €clat, 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 Crepidam's "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, &c. &c.” – why, this is doling out the “soft milk of dedication ” in gills, — there is but a quart, and he divides it among a dozen. . Pratt, hadst thou not a puff left 2 Dost thou think six families of distinction can share this in quiet 2 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. —[See ante, p. 432.]
Yet, since 'tis promised at the rector's death,
Ye, who aspire to “build the lofty rhyme,”3 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 1) you scorn to condescend, And will not alter what you can't defend, If you will breed this bastard of your brains 4,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.
Si defendere delictum quam vertere malles,
the contents of his ‘foolscap crown octavos.”—John Joshua Proby, first Earl of Carysfort, was joint postmaster-general in 1805, envoy to Berlin in 1806, and ambassador to Petersburg in 1807. Besides his poems, he published two pamphlets, to show the necessity of universal suffrage and short parliaments. He died in 1828.]
* 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 '..."; 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 FAMIL1A R EP1stle to the Editor of The MoRNING
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 - Fitzscribble's a lungs; Yet on he mouths—ten minutes—tedious each As prelate's homily, or placeman's speech ; 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, From frenzy, or the humour of the thing. Though this has happen'd to more bards than one ; I'll tell you Budgell's story, -and have done.
Ornamenta; parum claris lucern dare coget;
p • 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 waterparty; but Miss Budgell, by some accident, escaped this last paternal attention, Thus sell, the sycophant of . Atticus,' and the enemy of Pope — [Eustace Budgell, a friend and relative of Addison's, “leapt into the Thames '' to escape a rosecution, on account of forging the will of Dr. Tindal; n which Eustace had provided himself with a legacy of two thousand pounds. To this Pope alludes —
Budgell, a rogue and rhymester, for no good, (Unless his case be much misunderstood) When teased with creditors' continual claims, “To die like Cato 4,” leapt into the Tharnes 1 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
And, sooth to say, mad poets must not lose
Nor is it certain that some sorts of verse Prick not the poet's conscience as a curse : Dosed 6 with vile drams on Sunday he was found, Or got a child on consecrated ground ! And hence is haunted with a rhyming rage — Fear'd like a bear just bursting from his cage. If free, all fly his versifying fit, Fatal at once to simpleton or wit, But him, unhappy whom he seizes, – hin 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. 7
Servarinolit? Dicam : Siculique poetre
Johnson. “Then, Sir, let him go abroad to a distant country; let him go to some place where he is not known. Don't set him go to the devil, where he is known.’” – See Boswell, vol. iv. p. 50. ed. 1835.]
6 If “dosed with,” &c. 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,” &c. into a decent couplet, I will insert said couplet in lieu of the present.
7 [In tracing the fortunes of men, it is not a little curious to observe, how often the course of a whole life has depended on one single step. Had Lord Byron persisted in his original #. of giving this poem to the press, instead of Childe
arold, it is more than probable that he would have been lost, as a great poet, to the world. Inferior as this Paraphrase is, in every respect, to his former Satire, and, in some places, even descending below the level of under-graduate versifiers, its failure, there can be little doubt, would have been certain and signal : —his former assailants would have resurned their advantage over him, and either, in the bitterness of his mortification, he would have flung Childe Harold into the fire : or, had he summoned up sufficient confidence to publish that poem, its reception, even if sufficient to retrieve him in the eyes of the public and his own, could never have, at all, resembled that explosion of success, – that instantaneous and universal acclaim of admiration, into which, coming, as it were, fresh from the land of song, he surprised the world, and in the midst of which he was borne, buoyant and selfassured, along, through a succession of new triumphs, each more splendid than the last. Happily. the better judgment of his friends averted such a risk. — Moone.]