Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση
[blocks in formation]

Parnassian pilgrims! ye whom chance, or choice, Hath led to listen to the Muse's voice, Receive 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. 1

Quem bis terque bonum cum risu miror; et idem Indignor, quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus. Verum operi longo fas est obrepere somnum.

Ut pictura, poesis: erit quæ, si propius stes, Te capiet magis; et quædam, si longius abstes: Hæc amat obscurum; volet hæc sub luce videri, Judicis argutum quæ non formidat acumen : Hæc placuit semel; hæc decies repetita placebit.

"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 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."

Again, my Jeffrey !—as that sound inspires,
How wakes my bosom to its wonted fires!
Fires, such as gentle Caledonians feel
When Southrons writhe upon their critic wheel,
Or mild Eclectics 2, 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 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 ;
Till thee or thine mine evil eye discerns,
Alas! I cannot “strike at wretched kernes.”3
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

[Here, in the original MS., we find the following couplet couplet, which Mr. Campbell will find in a writer for whom and note:

he, and his school, have no small contempt;

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, deathsongs 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 discre iit 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

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?

O major juvenum, quamvis et voce paterna Fingeris ad rectum, et per te sapis, hoc tibi dictum Tolle memor: certis medium et tolerabile rebus Recte concedi: consultus juris, et actor Causarum mediocris, abest virtute diserti Messalæ, nec scit quantum Cascellius Aulus: Sed tamen in pretio est: mediocribus esse poetis Non homines, non Di, non concessere columnæ.

E'cn copious Dryden wanted, or forgot,

The last and greatest art — the art to blot!'"]

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 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 ?" 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 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. [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 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 dely his assailant to mortal combat. Of this we shall no doubt hear more in due time."]

3 ["Alas! I cannot strike at wretched kernes."- Macbeth.]

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

[See the memorable critique of the Edinburgh Review on "Hours of Idleness," antè, p. 419.]

2 Invenies alium, si te hic fastidit Alexin.

3 [Lord Byron's taste for boxing brought him acquainted, at an early period, with this distinguished, and, it is not too much to say, respected, professor of the art; for whom, throughout life, he continued to entertain a sincere regard. In a note to the eleventh canto of Don Juan, he calls him "his old friend, and corporeal 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 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 bibliopolâ " 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 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 same advocates, pro 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 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 Edin

And men unpractised in exchanging knocks
Must go to Jackson 3 ere they dare to box.
Whate'er the weapon, cudgel, fist, or foil,
None reach expertness without years of toil;
But fifty dunces can, with perfect case,
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,
And lived in freedom on a fair estate;
Who left me heir, with stables, kennels, packs,
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?

[blocks in formation]

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 DBC, ACB, DB is equal to A C, and BC common to both; the two sides DB, BC, are equal to the two A C, CB, each to each, and the angle DBC is equal to the angle A CB: therefore, the base D C is equal to the base AB, and the triangle DBC (Mr. Southey) is equal to the triangle AC 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."


5 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.

6 Like Sir Bland Burges's" Richard;" the tenth book of which I read at Malta, on a trunk of Eyre's, 19. Cockspurstreet. If this be doubted, I shall buy a portmanteau to quote from.

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.'


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.

Next rose the martial Homer, Epic's prince, And fighting's been in fashion ever since, And old Tyrtæus, when the Spartans warr'd, (A limping leader, but a lofty bard,) 1 Though wall'd Ithome had resisted long, Reduced the fortress by the force of song.

When oracles prevail'd, in times of old, In song alone Apollo's will was told: 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 woo'd; In turns she'll seem a Paphian, or a prude; 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;

Dictus et Amphion, Thebane conditor arcis,
Saxa movere sono testudinis, et prece blanda
Ducere quo vellet: fuit hæc sapientia quondam,
Publica privatis secernere; sacra profanis;
Concubito prohibere vago; dare jura maritis ;
Oppida moliri; leges incidere ligno.
Sic honor et nomen divinis vatibus atque
Carminibus venit. Post hos insignis Homerus
Tyrtæusque mares animos in Martia bella
Versibus exacuit; dictæ per carmina sortes,
Et vitæ monstrata via est: et gratia regum
Pieriis tentata modis: ludusque repertus,
Et longorum operum finis: ne forte pudori

1 [Lord Byron had originally written

"As lame as I am, but a better bard." The reader of Mr. Moore's Notices will appreciate the feeling which, no doubt, influenced Lord Byron's alteration of the manuscript line.]

2 [The red hand of Ulster, introduced generally in a canton, marks the shield of a baronet of the United Kingdom.]

3 [" Pollio." In the original MS. "Rogers."]

4" Tum quoque marmorea caput a cervice revulsum,
Gurgite cum medio portans (Eagrius Hebrus,
Volveret Eurydicen vox ipsa, et frigida lingua;
Ah, miseram Eurydicen! anima fugiente vocabat;
Eurydicen toto referebant flumine ripe."

Georgic. iv. 523.

5 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 " Della Cruscans" were people of

Though without genius, and a native vein
Of wit, we loathe an artificial strain-
Yet art and nature join'd 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 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?
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!?
Cash cannot quell them; Pollio 3 play'd this prank,
(Then Phoebus first found credit in a bank!)
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!-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 5 sing to Capel Lofft!6
Till, lo! that modern Midas, as he hears,
Adds an ell growth to his egregious ears!

Sit tibi Musa lyræ solers, et cantor Apollo.
Natura fieret laudabile carmen, an arte,
Quæsitum est: ego nec studium sine divite vena,
Nec rude quid prosit video ingenium; alterius sic
Altera poscit opem res, et conjurat amice.
Qui studet optatam cursu contingere metam,
Multa tulit fecitque puer; sudavit et alsit;
Abstinuit Venere et vino: qui Pythia cantat
Tibicen, didicit prius, extimuitque magistrum.
Nunc satis est dixisse; Ego mira poemata pango:
Occupet extremum scabies; mihi turpe relinqui est,
Et quod non didici, sane nescire fateri.

[ocr errors]

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 smallclothes in the parish unrepaired, to patch up Elegies on Enclosures and Pans to Gunpowder. Sitting on a shopboard, they describe 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? - [See antè, p. 432. note.]

6 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 rolumes 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? 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 ǹies, 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
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,
In modern physics, we can scarce allow),
Should some pretending scribbler of the court,
Some rhyming peer- there's plenty of the sort 2-
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!

Si carmina condes, Nunquam te fallant animi sub vulpe latentes. Quintilio si quid recitares, Corrige, sodes, Hoc (aiebat) et hoc: melius te posse negares, Bis terque expertum frustra, delere 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 retinement 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." 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 éclat, 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 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. 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.[See antè, p. 432.]


[In the original MS.—

"Some rhyming peer- Carlisle or Carysfort."

To which is subjoined this note:-" 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

Yet, since 'tis promised at the rector's death,
He'll risk no living for a little breath.
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,
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,
As when the dying vicar will not die !
Nor feels, forsooth, emotion at his heart;
But all dissemblers overact their part.

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!) you scorn to condescend, And will not alter what you can't defend, If you will breed this bastard of your brains +, 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,
Nullum ultra verbum, aut operam insumebat inanem,
Quin sine rivali teque et tua solus amares.

Vir bonus et prudens versus reprehendet inertes:
Culpabit duros; incomptis allinet atrum
Transverso calamo signum; ambitiosa recidet

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.]

2 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 penul



"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, &c. &c.

IN tracing of the human mind
Through all its various courses.

Though strange, 't is 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, &c. &c.

3 [See Milton's Lycidas.]

4" Bastard of your brains."-Minerva being the first by Jupiter's headpiece, and a variety of equally unaccountable parturitions upon earth, such as Madoc, &c. &c. &c.

Give light to passages too much in shade,
Nor let a doubt obscure one verse you've made;
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 1, or their quills.

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 2 Fitzscribble's 3 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 lucem dare coget;
Arguet ambigue dictum; mutanda notabit;
Fiet Aristarchus: nec dicet, Cur ego amicum
Offendam in nugis? hæ nugæ seria ducent
In mala derisum semel exceptumque sinistre.

Ut mala quem scabies aut morbus regius urguet,
Aut fanaticus error et iracunda Diana,
Vesanum tetigisse timent fugiuntque poetam,
Qui sapiunt; agitant pueri, incautique sequuntur.
Hic dum sublimes versus ructatur, et errat,
Si veluti merulis intentus decidit auceps
In puteum, foveamve; licet, Succurrite, longum
Clamet, lo cives! non sit qui tollere curet.
Si quis curet opem ferre, et demittere funem,
Qui scis an prudens huc se dejicerit, atque

1 "A crust for the critics."-Bayes, in the "Rehearsal." 2 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 compeiled, 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 !"

3 ["Fitzscribble," originally "Fitzgerald." See antè, p. 421.]


On his table were found these words: "What Cato did, and Addison approved, cannot be wron 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 fell 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 prosecution, on account of forging the will of Dr. Tindal; in which Eustace had provided himself with a legacy of two thousand pounds. To this Pope alludes

"Let Budgell charge low Grub-street on my quill, And write whate'er he please-except my will."]

5 ["We talked (says Boswell) of a man's drowning himself. JOHNSON. I should never think it time to make away with myself. I put the case of Eustace Budgell, who was accused of forging a will, and sunk himself in the Thames, before the trial of its authenticity came on. 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 society.'

Budgell, a rogue and rhymester, for no good, (Unless his case be much misunderstood) When teased with creditors' continual claims, "To die like Cato," 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


And, sooth to say, mad poets must not lose The glory of that death they freely chose.

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, — 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. 7

Servari nolit? Dicam: Siculique poetæ
Narrabo interitum. Deus immortalis haberi
Dum cupit Empedocles, ardentem frigidus Etnam
Insiluit sit jus, liceatque perire poetis:
Invitum qui servat, idem facit occidenti.
Nec semel hoc fecit; nec, si retractus erit, jam
Fiet homo, et ponet famosæ mortis amorem.
Nec satis apparet cur versus factitet: utrum
Minxerit in patrios cineres, an triste bidental
Moverit incestus: certe furit, ac velut ursus,
Objectos caveæ valuit si frangere clathros,
Indoctum doctumque fugat recitator acerbus.
Quem vero arripuit, tenet, occiditque legendo,
Non missura cutem, nisi plena cruoris, hirudo.

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.'"-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 purpose of giving this poem to the press, instead of Childe Harold, 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 resumed 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 suficient 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. MOORE.]

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »