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Of all the monstrous things I'd fain forbid,
I loathe an opera worse than Dennis did;
Where good and evil persons, right or wrong,
Rage, love, and aught but moralize, in song.
Hail, last memorial of our foreign friends
Which Gaul allows, and still Hesperia lends!
Napoleon's edicts no embargo lay
On whores, spies singers, wisely shipp'd away.
Our giant capital, whose squares are spread
Where rustics earn'd, 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 the orchestras he pays to hear,
Whom shame, not sympathy, forbids to snore,
His anguish doubling by his own "encore;"
Squeezed in "Fop's Alley," jostled by the beaux,
Teased with his hat, and trembling for his toes;
Scarce wrestles through the night, nor taste of ease
Till the dropp'd curtain gives a glad release;
Why this, and more, he suffers-can ye guess?—
Because it costs him dear, and makes him dress!
So prosper eunuchs from Etruscan schools
Give us but fiddlers, and they're sure of fools!
Ere scenes were play'd by many a reverend clerk*
(What harm, if David danced before the ark?)
In Christmas reveis, simple country folks
Were pleas'd 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,
Tis strange Benvolio suffers such a show;t
Suppressing peer! to whom each vice gives place,
Daths, boxing, begging,-all, save rout and race.
Farce follow'd Comedy, and reach'd her prime
In ever-laughing Foote's fantastic time:
Mad wag! who pardon'd none, nor spared the best,
And turn'd 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 awoln dialogue of kings and queens,
When "Carononhotonthologos must die,"
And Author struts in mimic majesty.
Moschus! with whom once more I hope to sit
And smile at folly, if we can't at wit;
Segnius irritant animos demissa per aurem
Quam que sunt oculis subjecta fidelibus, et quæ
Ipse sibi tradit spectator. Non tamen intus
Digna geri, promes in scenam; multaque tolles
Ex oculis, quæ mox narret facundia præsens.
Ne pueros coram populo Medea trucidet;
Aut humana palam coquat exta nefarius Atreus;
Aut in avem Progne vertatur, Cadmus in anguem.
Quodcunque ostendis mihi sic, incredulus odi.
Neve minor, neu sit quinto productior actu
Fabula, que posci vult, et spectata reponi.
Nec deus intersit, nisi dignus vindice nodus
Ex noto fictum carmen sequar. ut sibi quivis Speret idem: sudet multum, frustraque laboret Ausus idem: tantum series juncturaque pollet; Tantum de medio sumtis accedit honoris.
"The first theatrical representatious, entitled Mysteries and Moralities,' were generally enacted at Christmas, by monks (as the only personswho could read), and latterly by the clergy and students of the universities. The dramatis personce were usually Adam, Pater, Cœlestis, Faith, Vice," &c. &c.-Vide Warton's History of English Poetry.
Yes, friend! for thee I'll quit my cynic cell,
And bear Swift's motto, "Vive la bagatelle !"
Which charm'd our days in each gean 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,
Some merry manuscript of mimes, when dead.
Now to the Drama let & bend our eyes,
Where fetter'd by whig Walpole low she lies;
Corruption foil'd her, for she fear'd her glance;
Decorum left her for an opera dance!
Yet §Chesterfield, whose polish'd pen inveighs
'Gainst laughter, fought for freedom to our plays;
Uncheck'd by megrims of patrician brains,
And damning dullness of lord chamberlains.
Repeal that act! again let Humour roam
Wild o'er the stage-we've time for tears at home;
Let "Archer" plant the horns on "Sullen's" brows
And "Estifania" gull her "Copper" 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;
Ay, but Mackheath's example-psha !-no more!
It form'd no thieves-the thief was form'd before;
And spite of puritans and Collier's curse,¶
Plays make mankind no better, and no worse.
Then spare our stage, ye methodistic men!
Nor burn damn'd Drury if it rise again.
But why to brain-scorch'd bigots thus appeal!
Can heavenly mercy dwell with earthly zeal?
For times of fire and fagot 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, serplex'd apologist of sin!
While the Lord's servant chastens whom he loves,
And Simeon kicks where **Baxter only "shoves."
Whom nature guides, so writes, that every dunce,
Enraptured, thinks to do the same at once;
But after inky thumbs and bitten nails,
And twenty scatter'd quires, the coxcomb fails.
Let pastoral be dumb; for who can hope
To match the youthful eclogues of our Pope?
Yet his and Philips' faults, of different kind,
For art too rude, for nature too refined,
Silvis deducti caveant, me judice, Fauni,
Ne velut innati triviis, ac pene forenses,
Aut nimium teneris juvenentur versibus unquam.
Aut immunda crepent, ignominiosaque dicta.
Offenduntur enim, quibus est equus, et pater, et res:
Nec, si quid fricti ciceris probat et nucis emtor,
Equis accipiunt animis, donantve corona.
Syllaba longa brevi subjecta, vocatur iambus, Pes citus: unde etiam trimetris accrescere jussit Nomen iambeis, cum senos redderet ictus, Primus ad extremum similis sibi: non ita pridem,
Under Plato's pillow a volume of the Mimes of Sophron was found the day he died.-Vide Barthelemi, De Pauw, or Diogenes Laertius, if agree able. De Pauw calls it a jest book.-Cumberland, in his Observer, terms it moral, like the sayings of "Publius Cyrus."
His speech on the licensing act is one of his most eloquent efforts. Michael Perez, the "Copper Captain," in "Rule a Wife and have a Wife."
Jerry Collier's controversy with Congreve, &c. on the subject of the drama, is too well known to require further comment.
**"Baxter's Shove to heavy-a-d Christians." The veritable titie of a book once in good repute, and likely enough to be so again.-Mr. Simeon ↑ Benvolio does not het; but every man who maintains race-horses is a the very bully of beliefs, and castigator of "good works." He is ably sup promoter of all the concomitant evils of the turf. Avoiding to bet is a lit-ported by Jolin Stickles, a labourer in the same vineyard:-but I say ile plarisaical. Is it an exculpation? I think not. I never yet heard a more, for according to Johnny in full congregation, "No hopes for thein bawd praised for chastity because she herself did not commit fornication. laughs."
Instruct how hard the medium 't is 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,
But even too nasty for a city knight!
Peace to Swift's faults! his wit hath made them pass,
Unmatch'd by all, save matchless Hubibras!
Whose author is perhaps the first we meet,
Who from our couplet lopp'd 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
Form'd, save in ode, to bear a serious strain,
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,
Whose fluctuations, tender or sublime,
Are curb'd too much by long-recurring rhyme.
But many a skilful judge abhors to see,
What few admire-irregularity.
This some vouchsafe to pardon; but 't is hard
When such a word contents a British bard.
And must the bard his g'owing thoughts confine,
Lest censure hover o'er some faulty line!
Remove whate'er a critic may suspect,
To gain the paltry suffrage of "correct?"
Or prune the spirit of each daring phrase,
To fly from error, not to merit praise?
Ye who seek finish'd models, never cease,
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, any thing but chaste;
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.
Tardior ut paulo graviorque veniret ad aures,
Spondeos stabiles in jura paterna recepit
Commodus et patiens; non ut de sede secundâ
Cederet aut quarta socialiter. Hic et in Acci
Nobilibus trimetris apparet rarus, et Enni.
In scenam missos magno cum pondere versus,
Aut operæ celeris nimium, curaque carentis,
Aut ignoratæ premit artis crimine turpi.
Non quivis videt immodulata poemata judex;
Et data Romanis venia est indigna poetis.
Idcircone vager, scribamque licenter? an omnes
Visuros peccata putem mea; tutus, et intra
Spem veniæ cautus? vitavi denique culpam,
Non laudem merui. Vos exemplaria Græca
Nocturna versate manu, versate diurna.
At vestri proavi Plautinos et numeros et
Laudavere sales; nimium patienter utrumque,
Ne dicam stulte, mirati; si modo ego et vos
Scimus inurbanum lepido seponere dicto,
Legitimumque sonum digitis callemus et aure.
Ignotum tragicæ genus invenisse Camenæ
Dicitur, et plaustris vexisse poemata Thespis,
Quæ canerant agerentque peruncti fæcibus ora
Post hunc persone dallæque repertor honestæ
Eschylus, et modicis instravit pulpita tignis,
Et docuit magnumque loqui, nitique cothurno.
Successit vetus his comedia, non sine multa
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. But this is certain, since our Shakspeare's days, There's pomp enough, if little else, in plays; Nor will Melpomene ascend her throne 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.,
Whate'er their follies, and their faults beside,
Our enterprising bards pass naught untried;
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?
Lords of the quill, whose critical assaults
O'erthrow whole quartos with their quires of faults,
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. With little rhyme, less reason, if you please, The name of poet may be got with ease, So that not tuns of helleboric juice 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; Then print your book, once more return to town, And boys shall hunt your bardship up and down. Am I not wise if such some poets' plight, To purge in spring (like Bayes) before I write? If this precaution soften'd not my bile,
I know no scribbler with a madder style; *
Laude; sed in vitium libertas excidit, et vim
Dignam lege regi; lex est accepta, chorusque
Turpiter obticuit, sublato jure nocendi.
Nil intentatum nostri liquere poetæ ;
Nec minimum meruere decus, vestigia Græca
Aussi deserere, et celebræære domestica facta
Vel qui prætextas, vel qui docuere togatas.
Nec virtute foret clarisve potentius armis.
Quam lingua, Latium, si nou offenderet unum
quenque poetarum limæ labor, et mora. Vos, 6
Pompilius sanguis, carmen reprehendite, quod non
Multa dies et multa litura coercuit, atque
Præsectum decies non castigavit ad unguem.
Ingenium misera quia fortunatius arte
Credit, et excludit sanos Helicone poetas
Democritus; bona pars non ungues ponere curat
Non barbam: secreta petit loca, balnea vitat.
Nanciscetur enim pretium nomenque poetæ,
Si tribus Anticyris caput insanabile nonquam
Tonsori Licino commiserit. O ego lævus,
Qui purgor bilem sub verni temporis horam!
Non alius faceret meliora poemata: verum
Nil tanti est: ergo fungar vice cotis, acutum
* As famous a tonsor as Licinus himself, and better paid, and may, lika him, be one day a senator, having a better qualification than one half of the heads he crops, viz.-independenes.
But since (perhaps my feelings are too nice)
I cannot purchase fame at such a price,
I'll labour gratis as a grinder's wheel,
And, blunt myself, give edge to others' 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,
And from my own example, what is wrong.
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 learnt the duty which he owes
To friend 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;
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,
Whose generous children narrow'd not their hearts
With commerce, given alone to arms and arts.
Our boys (save those whom public schools compel
Tolong 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 Two thirds, how much will the remainder make?"A groat."-"Ah, bravo! Dick hath done the sum! He'll swell my fifty thousand to a plum."
They whose young souls receive this rust betimes, 'Tis clear, are fit for any thing but rhymes; And Locke will tell you, that the father's right Who hides all verses from his children's sight; Reddere quæ ferrum valet, exsors ipsa secandi: Munus et officium, nil scribens ipse, docebo; Unde parentur opes; quid alat formetque poetam; Quid deceat, quid non; quo virtus, quo ferat error. Scribendi recte, sapere est et principium et fons. Rem tibi Socraticæ poterunt ostendere chartæ : Verbaque provisam rem non invita sequentur. Qui didicit patriæ quid debeat, et quid amicis; Quo sit amore parens, quo frater amandus. et hespes; Quod sit conscripti, quod judicis officium; quæ Partes in bellum missi ducis; ille profecto Reddere persone scit convenientia cuique. Respicere exemplar vitæ morumque jubebo Doctum imitatorem, et vivas hinc ducere voces. Interdum speciosa locis, morataque recte Fabula, nullius veneris, sine pondere et arte, Valdius oblectat populum, meliusque moratur, Quam versus inopes rerum nugæque canoræ, Graiis ingenium, Graiis dedit ore rotundo Musa loqui, præter laudem nullius avaris, Romani pueri longis rationibus assem Discunt in partes centum diducere: dicat Filius Albini, Si de quincunce remota est Uncia, quid superat? poterat dixisse-Triens. Eu! Rem poteris servare tuam. Redit uncia: quid fit? Semis. An hæc animos ærugo et cura peculi Cum semel imbuerit, speramus carmina fingi Posse linenda cedro, et levi servanda cupresso? Aut prodesse volunt, aut delectare poetæ ; Aut simul et jucunda et iponea dicere vitæ, Quidquid præcipies, esto brevis: ut cito dicta Percipiant animi dociles, teneantque fideles, Omne supervacuum pleno de pectore manat.
For poets (says this sage, and many more,*)
Make sad mechanics with their lyric lore;
And Delphi now, however rich of old,
Discovers little silver and less gold,
Because Parnassus, though a mount divine,
Is poor as Irus, or an Irish mine,‡
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.
Fiction does best when taught to look like truth,
And fairy fables bubble none but youth:
Expect no credit for too wond'rous tales,
Since Jonas only springs alive from whales!
Young men with aught but elegance dispense,
Maturer years require a little sense.
To end at once:-that bard for all is fit
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.
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 cover, flints withhold their spark,
And double-barrels (damn them!) miss their mark.§
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.
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 fate o'ertake nim, who, for once
Produced a play too dashing for a dunce:
Ficta voluptatis causa, sint proxima veris :
Nec quodcunque volet, poscat sibi fabula credi:
Nen pransa Lamiæ vivum puerum extrahat alvo.
Centuriæ seniorum agitant expertia frugis:
Celsi prætereunt austera poemata Rhamnes.
Omne tulit punctum, qui miscuit utile dulci,
Lectorem delectando, pariterque monendo.
Hic meret æra liber Sosiis; hic et mare transit.
Et longum noto scriptori prorogat ævum.
Sunt delicta tamen, quibus ignovisse velimus; Nam neque chorda sonum reddit quem vult manus
Poscentique gravem persæpe remittit acutum ;
Nec semper feriet quodcunque minabitur arcus.
Verum ubi plura nitent in carmine, non ego paucis
Offendar maculis, quas aut incuria fudit,
*I have not the original by me, but the Italian translation runs as follows. E una cosa a mio credere molto stranagante,che un padredestideri, oper metta, che suo figliuolo coltiri e perfezioni questo talento." A little furiber on: "Si trovano di rado nel Parnaso le miniere d'oro e d'argento." "-Edu cazione dei Fanciulli de Signor Locke. Venetian edition.
↑ "Im pauperior: this is the same begger who boxed with Ulysses for a pound of kid's fry, which he lost, and half a dozen teeth besides.-See Odya sey, b. 19.
The Irish gold mine of Wicklow, which yields just ore enough to swea by, or gild a bad guinea.
$ As Mr. Pope took the liberty of damning Homer, to whom he was under great obligations-“And Homer (danın h ́m !) calls"-it may be presumed that any body or any thing may be damned in verse by poetical license; and, in case of accident, I beg leave to plead so illustrious a precedent.
For the story of Billy Havard's tragedy, see "Davies's Life of Garrick." I believe it is Regulus," or "Charles the First." -The moment it was known to be his, the theatre thinned, and the bookseller refused to give the customary sum for the copyright
At first none deem'd it his, but when his name
Announced the fact-what then?-it lost its fame.
Though all deplore when Milton deigns to doze,
In a long work 'tis fair to steal repose.
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 scrutinized, is ten times new.
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.
Again, my Jeffrey!-as that sound inspires, How wakes my bosom to its wonted fires! Fires, such as gentle Caledonians feel, When Southerns writhe upon their critic wheel, Or mild Eclectics, when some, worse than Turks, Would rob poor Faith to decorate "good works."
Aut humana parum cavit natura. Quid ergo ?
Ut scriptor si peccat idem librarius usque,
Quamvis est monitus, venia caret; ut citharœdus
Ridetur, chorda qui semper aberrat eadem:
Sic mihi, qui multum cessat, fit Cherilus ille,
Quem bis terve bonum cum risu miror; et idem
Indignor, quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus
Verum operi longo fast est obrepere somnum.
Ut pictura, poesis: et erit quæ, si propius stes,
Te capict 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 tepetita placebit.
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
Messale, nec scit quantum Cassellius Aulus:
Sed tamen in pretio est: mediocribus esse poetis
Non homines, non dî, non concessere columnæ.
Ut gratas inter mensas symphonia discors.
Et crassum unguentum, et Sardo cum melle papaver
Offendunt, poterat duci quia cœna sine istis
Sic animis natum inventumque poema juvandis,
Si paulum a summo decessit, vergit ad imum.
Ludere qui nescit, campestribus abstinet armis,
Indoctusque pilæ, piscive, trochive, quiescit,
Ne spissa risum tollant impune coronæ:
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 pre paring 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 should 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 emote 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 smner 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 suen a conflict as that in which they requested me to fall, I hope they may escape with being "wing"only, and that Heaviside may be at hand to extract the ball.
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."
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 couldst 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?
Hast thou no wrath, or wish to give it vent?
No wits for nobles, dunces by descent?
No jest on minors." quibbles on a name,
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 Egean sea,
My hate untravell'd, fondly turn'd to thee.
Ah! let me cease; in vain my bosom burns,
From Corydon unkind Alexist turns:
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 renown'd.
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?
And men unpractised in exchanging knocks
Must go to Jackson 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 ease,
Why not?-shall I, thus qualified to sit
Tag twenty thousand couplets when they please.
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?
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,
Qui nescit, versus tamen audet fingere! Quid ni?
Liber et ingenuus præsertim census equestrem
Summam nummorum, vitioque remotus ab omni.
Tu nihil invita dices faciesve Minerva:
Id tibi judicium est, ea mens; si quid tamen ohm
Scripseris, in Metii descendant judicis aures,
Et patris, et nostras nonumque prematur in annum
Membranis intus positis, delere licebit
Quod non edideris; nescit vox missa reverti.
Sylvestres homines sacer interpresque deorum
Cædibus et victu fœdo deterruit Orpheus:
Invenies alium, si te luc fastidit, Alexia.
Who (ere another Thalaba appears),
I trust, will spare us for at least nine years.
And hark'ye, Southey !* pray-but don't be vext-
Burn all your last three works-and half the next.
But why this vain advice? once publish'd, books
Can never be recall'd-from pastry-cooks!
Though "Madoc," with "Pucelle," instead of Punch,
May travel back to Quito on a trunk!
Orpheus, we learn from Ovid and Lempriere,
Led all wild beasts but woman 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,)
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.
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 evenang 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 buttermilk in an adjacent paddock), procured three rakes, one eel-spear, and a landing-net, and at last (horesco referens) pulled out-his own publisher. The unfortunate man was gone for ever, and b 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 eine 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, Exodia, Epigonaid, 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 F. Burdett's celebrated cause in the Scotch court. 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 by, 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 by, 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 AC, and BC, common to both; the two sides DB, BC, are equal to the two AC, CB, each to each, and the angle DRC is equal to the angle ACB: therefore, the base DC is equal to the base AB, and the triangle DBC (Mr. Southey) is equal to the triangle ACR. the less to the greater, which is absurd," &c.-The editor of the Elinburgh 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."
1 Voltaire's "Pucelle" is not quite so immaculate as Mr. Southey's "Joan of Arc," and yet I am afraid the Frenchnian has both more truth and poetry too on his side-(they rarely go together)-than our patristic minstrel, whose first essay was in praise of a fanatical French strunipet, whose title of witch would be correct with the change of the first letter.
1 Like Sir B. Burgess's Richard, the tenth book of which I read at Malta, en a trunk of Eyres, 19, Cockspur-street. If this be doubted, I shall buy a portmanteau to quote from.
This Latin bas 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 Jef frey, that it meant nothin more nor less than the "counter of Archy Consta ble's shop."
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,
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 privation 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 follow'd 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; Pollia 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-prest,
Behold a quarto -Tarts must tell the rest.
Dictus ob hoc lenire tigres, rabidosque leones;
Dictus et Amphion, Thebanæ conditor arcis,
Saxa movere sono testudinis, et prece blanda
Ducere quo vellet: fuit hæc sapientia quondam,
Publica privatis secernere; sacra profanis;
Concubitu 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; dicte per carmina sortes:
Et vitæ monstrata via est: et gratia regum
Pieriis tentata modis: ludusque repertus,
Et longorum operum finis: ne forte pudori
Sit tibi Musa lyra solers, et cantor Apollo.
Natura fieret laudabile carmen, an arte,
Quesitum 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:
Occupat extremn scabies; mihi turpe relinqui est,
Et, quod non didici, sane nescire fateri.