« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
A polish'd nation's praise aspired to claim,
2 [ With regard to poetry in general, I am convinced that we are all upon a wrong revolutionary poetical system, not worth a damn in itself, and from which none but Rogers and Crabbe are free. I am the more confirmed in this by having lately gone over some of our classics, particularly Pope, whom I tried in this way: I took Moore's poems, and my own, and some others, and went over them side by side with Pope's, and I was really astonished and mortified at the ineffable distance, in point of sense, learning, effect, and even imagination, passion, and invention, between the little Queen Anne's man, and us of the Lower Empire. Depend upon it, it is all Horace then, and Claudian now, among us; and if I had to begin again, I would mould myself accordingly."— B. Diary, 1817.]
Sonnets on sonnets crowd, and ode on ode;
To strange mysterious dulness still the friend,
While mountain spirits prate to river sprites,
Next view in state, proud prancing on his roan, The golden-crested haughty Marmion, Now forging scrolls, now foremost in the fight, Not quite a felon, yet but half a knight, The gibbet or the field prepared to grace; A mighty mixture of the great and base. And think'st thou, Scott 15 by vain conceit per
On public taste to foist thy stale romance,
videlicet, a happy compound of poacher, sheep-stealer, and highwayman. The propriety of his magical lady's injunction not to read can only be equalled by his candid acknowledgment of his independence of the trammels of spelling, although, to use his own elegant phrase, “'t was his neck-verse at Harri. bee," i. e the gallows. — The biography of Gilpin Horner, and the marvellous pedestrian page, who travelled twice as fast as his master's horse, without the aid of seven-leagued boots, are chefs-d'œuvre in the improvement of taste. For incident we have the invisible, but by no means sparing box on the ear bestowed on the page, and the entrance of a knight and charger into the castle, under the very natural disguise of a wain of hay. Marmion, the hero of the latter romance, is exactly what William of Deloraine would have been, had he been able to read and write. The poem was manufactured for Messrs. Constable, Murray, and Miller, worshipful booksellers, in consideration of the receipt of a sum of money; and truly, considering the inspiration, it is a very creditable production. If Mr. Scott will write for hire, let him do his best for his pay-masters, but not disgrace his genius, which is undoubtedly great, by a repetition of black-letter ballad imitations.
["When Lord Byron wrote his famous satire, I had my share of flagellation among my betters. My crime was having written a poem for a thousand pounds; which was no other. wise truc, than that I sold the copyright for that sum. Now, not to mention that an author can hardly be censured for accepting such a sum as the booksellers are willing to give him, especially as the gentlemen of the trade made no com. plaints of their bargain, I thought the interference with my private affairs was rather beyond the limits of literary satire. I was, however, so far from having any thing to do with the offensive criticism in the Edinburgh, that I remonstrated against it with the editor, because I thought the "Hours of Idleness" treated with undue severity. They were written, like all juvenile poetry, rather from the recollection of what had pleased the author in others, than what had been suggested by his own imagination; but, nevertheless, I thought they contained passages of noble promise."- SIR WALTER SCOTT.]
6 [Lord Byron, as is well known, set out with the determin ation never to receive money for his writings. For the liberty to republish this satire, he refused four hundred guineas; and
Such be their meed, such still the just reward
These are the themes that claim our plaudits now; These are the bards to whom the muse must bow; While Milton, Dryden, Pope, alike forgot, Resign their hallow'd bays to Walter Scott.
The time has been, when yet the muse was young, When Homer swept the lyre, and Maro sung, An epic scarce ten centuries could claim, While awe-struck nations hail'd the magic name; The work of each immortal bard appears The single wonder of a thousand years. 2 Empires have moulder'd from the face of earth, Tongues have expired with those who gave them birth, Without the glory such a strain can give, As even in ruin bids the language live. Not so with us, though minor bards content, On one great work a life of labour spent: With eagle pinion soaring to the skies, Behold the ballad-monger Southey rise! To him let Camoens, Milton, Tasso yield, Whose annual strains, like armies, take the field. First in the ranks see Joan of Arc advance, The scourge of England and the boast of France!
the money paid for the copyright of the first and second cantos of Childe Harold, and of the Corsair, he presented to Mr. Dallas. In 1816, to a letter enclosing a draft of 1000 guineas, offered by Mr. Murray for the Siege of Corinth and Parisina, the noble poet sent this answer:-" Your offer is liberal in the extreme, and much more than the two poems can possibly be worth but I cannot accept it, nor will not. You are most welcome to them, as additions to the collected volumes, without any demand or expectation on my part whatever. I have enclosed your draft torn, for fear of accidents by the way. I wish you would not throw temptation in mine; it is not from a disdain of the universal idol — nor from a present superfluity of his treasures- I can assure you, that I refuse to worship him, but what is right is right, and inust not yield to circumstances." The poet was afterwards induced, at Mr. Murray's earnest persuasion, to accept the thousand guineas. The subjoined statement of the sums paid by him at various times to Lord Byron for copyright may be considered a bibliopolic curiosity :
Though burnt by wicked Bedford for a witch,
A fourth, alas! were more than we could bear.
3" Thalaba," Mr. Southey's second poem, is written in open defiance of precedent and poetry. Mr. S. wished to produce something novel, and succeeded to a miracle. "Joan of Arc," was marvellous enough, but "Thalaba," was one of those poems" which," in the words of Porson, "will be read when Homer and Virgil are forgotten, but not till then.”
[“ Of Thalaba, the wild and wondrous song." — Madoc.]
5 We beg Mr. Southey's pardon: "Madoc disdains the degrading title of epic." See his preface. Why is epic degraded? and by whom? Certainly the late romaunts of Masters Cottle, Laureat Pye, Ogilvy, Hole, and gentle Mistress Cowley, have not exalted the epic muse; but as Mr. Southey's poem disdains the appellation," allow us to ask has he substituted any thing better in its stead? or must he be content to rival Sir Richard Blackmore in the quantity as well as quality of his verse?
6 See "The Old Woman of Berkley," a ballad, by Mr. Southey, wherein an aged gentlewoman is carried away by Beelzebub, on a "high-trotting horse."
7 The last line, "God help thee," is an evident plagiarism from the Anti-jacobin to Mr. Southey, on his Dactylics. [Lord Byron here alludes to Mr. Gifford's parody on Mr. Southey's Dactylics, which ends thus:
"Ne'er talk of ears again! look at thy spelling-book; Dilworth and Dyche are both mad at thy quantitiesDactylics, call'st thou 'em?- God help thee, silly one.""]
8 [Lord Byron, on being introduced to Mr. Southey in 1813, at Holland House, describes him "as the best-looking bard he had seen for a long time."-" To have that poet's head and shoulders, I would," he says, "almost have written his Sapphics. He is certainly a prepossessing person to look on, and a man of talent, and all that, and there is his eulogy." In his Journal, of the same year, he says" Southey I have not seen much of. His appearance is epic, and he is the only existing entire man of letters. All the others have some pursuit annexed to their authorship. His manners are mild, but not those of a mar. of the world, and his talents of the first order. His prose is perfect. Of his poetry there are various opinions: there is, perhaps, too much of it for the present generation-posterity will probably select. He has passages equal to any thing. At present, he has a party, but no public -except for his prose writings. His Life of Nelson is beautiful." Elsewhere, and later, Lord Byron pronounces Southey's Don Roderick, "the first poem of our time."]
Next comes the dull disciple of thy school, That mild apostate from poetic rule,
The simple Wordsworth, framer of a lay
[" Unjust," B. 1816.-In a letter to Mr. Coleridge, written in 1815, Lord Byron says, "You mention my Satire,' lampoon, or whatever you or others please to call it. I can only say, that it was written when I was very young and very angry, and has been a thorn in my side ever since: more particularly as almost all the persons animadverted upon became subse quently my acquaintances, and some of them my friends; which is heaping fire upon an enemy's head,' and forgiving me too readily to permit me to forgive myself. The part applied to you is pert, and petulant, and shallow enough; but, although I have long done every thing in my power to suppress the circulation of the whole thing, I shall always regret the wantonness or generality of many of its attempted attacks."]
7 [Matthew Gregory Lewis, M. P. for Hindon, never distinguished himself in Parliament, but, mainly in consequence of the clever use he made of his knowledge of the German language, then a rare accomplishment, attracted much notice in the literary world, at a very early period of his life. His Tales of Terror; the drama of the Castle Spectre; and the romance called the Bravo of Venice (which is, however, little more than a version from the Swiss Zschocke); but above all, the libidinous and impious novel of The Monk, invested the
Whether on ancient tombs thou tak'st thy stand,
All hail, M. P. 8! from whose infernal brain
Who in soft guise, surrounded by a choir Of virgins melting, not to Vesta's fire,
With sparkling eyes, and cheek by passion flush'd, Strikes his wild lyre, whilst listening dames are hush'd? 'Tis Little! young Catullus of his day,
As sweet, but as immoral, in his lay!
She bids thee "mend thy line, and sin no more." 10
For thee, translator of the tinsel song, To whom such glittering ornaments belong, Hibernian Strangford! with thine eyes of blue, 11. And boasted locks of red or auburn hue, Whose plaintive strain each love-sick miss admires, And o'er harmonious fustian half expires, Learn, if thou canst, to yield thine author's sense, Nor vend thy sonnets on a false pretence.
name of Lewis with an extraordinary degree of celebrity, during the poor period which intervened between the obscuration of Cowper, and the full display of Sir Walter Scott's talents in the" Lay of the Last Minstrel," a period which is sufficiently characterised by the fact, that Hayley then passed for a poet. Next to that solemn coxcomb, Lewis was for several years the fashionable versifier of his time; but his plagiarisms, perhaps more audacious than had ever before been resorted to by a man of real talents, were by degrees unveiled, and writers of greater original genius, as well as of purer taste and morals, successively emerging, Monk Lewis, dying young, had already outlived his reputation. In society he was to the last a favourite; and Lord Byron, who had be come well acquainted with him during his experience of London life, thus notices his death, which occurred at sea in 1818:"Lewis was a good man, a clever man, but a bore. My only revenge or consolation used to be setting him by the ears with some vivacious person who hated bores especially, -Madame de Staël or Hobhouse, for example. But I liked Lewis; he was the jewel of a man, had he been better set; I don't mean personally, but less tiresome, for he was tedious, as well as contradictory to every thing and every body. Poor fellow he died a martyr to his new riches of a second visit to Jamaica:
2 Hayley's two most notorious verse productions are "Triumphs of Temper," and "The Triumph of Music." He has also written much comedy in rhyme, epistles, &c. &c. As he is rather an elegant writer of notes and biography, let us recommend Pope's advice to Wycherley to Mr. H.'s consideration, viz. "to convert his poetry into prose," which may be easily done by taking away the final syllable of each couplet. [The only performance for which Hayley is now remembered is his Life of Cowper. His personal history has been sketched by Mr. Southey in the Quarterly Review, vol. xxxi. p. 263.]
3 Mr. Grahame has poured forth two volumes of cant, under the name of "Sabbath Walks," and "Biblical Pictures."[This very amiable man, and pleasing poet, published subsequently "The Birds of Scotland," and other pieces; but his reputation rests on his "Sabbath." He began life as an advocate at the Edinburgh bar; but he had little success there, and being of a melancholy and very devout temperament, entered into holy orders, and retired to a curacy near Durham, where he died in 1811.]
[Immediately before this line, we find in the original manuscript, the following, which Lord Byron good naturedly consented to omit, at the request of Mr. Dallas, who was, no doubt, a friend of the scribbler they refer to:
"In verse most stale, unprofitable, flat
Come, let us change the scene, and glean' with Pratt;
To which this note was appended:-" Mr. Pratt, once a Bath bookseller, now a London author, has written as much, to as little purpose, as any of his scribbling cotemporaries. Mr. P.'s Sympathy' is in rhyme; but his prose productions are the most voluminous." The more popular of these last were entitled" Gleanings."]
See Powles's " Sonnet to Oxford," and "Stanzas on hear. ing the Bells of Ostend."
"Awake a louder," &c. is the first line in Bowles's
And art thou not their prince, harmonious Bowles !
"Spirit of Discovery;" a very spirited and pretty dwarf-epic. Among other exquisite lines we have the following:
Here heard; they trembled even as if the power," &c. &c. That is, the woods of Madeira trembled to a kiss; very much astonished, as well they might be, at such a phenomenon. ["Misquoted and misunderstood by me; but not intentionally. It was not the woods,' but the people in them who trembled why, Heaven only knows-unless they were over. heard making the prodigious smack."— Byron, 1816.]
7 The episode above alluded to is the story of "Robert a Machin" and "Anna d'Arfet," a pair of constant lovers, who performed the kiss above mentioned, that startled the woods of Madeira.
["Although," says Lord Byron, in 1821," I regret having published English Bards and Scotch Reviewers,' the part which I regret the least is that which regards Mr. Bowles, with reference to Pope. Whilst I was writing that publication, in 1807 and 1808, Mr. Hobhouse was desirous that I should express our mutual opinion of Pope, and of Mr. Bowles's edition of his works. As I had completed my outline, and felt lazy, I requested that he would do so. He did
it. His fourteen lines on Bowles's Pope are in the first edition of English Bards,' and are quite as severe, and much more poetical, than my own in the second. Ou reprinting the work, as I put my name to it, I omitted Mr. Hobhouse's lines, by which the work gained less than Mr. Bowles."- The following are the lines written by Mr. Hobhouse: —
"Stick to thy sonnets, man! at least they sell.
For modern worthies who would hope to rise:
But if some new-born whim, or larger bribe,
If Pope, whose fame and genius, from the first,
Another epic! Who inflicts again
More books of blank upon the sons of men ?
Oh, Amos Cottle ! for a moment think
As Sisyphus against the infernal steep Rolls the huge rock whose motions ne'er may sleep, So up thy hill, ambrosial Richmond, heaves Dull Maurice 9 all his granite weight of leaves: Smooth, solid monuments of mental pain! The petrifactions of a plodding brain, That ere they reach the top, fall lumbering back
With broken lyre, and cheek serenely pale, Lo sad Alcæus wanders down the vale; Though fair they rose, and might have bloom'd at last, His hopes have perish'd by the northern blast: Nipp'd in the bud by Caledonian gales, His blossoms wither as the blast prevails! O'er his lost works let classic Sheffield weep; May no rude hand disturb their early sleep! 10
Yet say why should the bard at once resign
Of northern wolves, that still in darkness prowl;
9 Mr. Maurice hath manufactured the component parts of a ponderous quarto, upon the beauties of "Richmond Hill," and the like it also takes in a charming view of Turnham Green, Hammersmith, Brentford, Old and New, and the parts adjacent. [The Rev. Thomas Maurice also wrote Westminster Abbey," and other poems, the "History of Ancient and Modern Hindostan," &c., and his own" Memoirs; comprehending Anecdotes of Literary Characters, during a period of thirty years;" a very amusing piece of autobiography. He died in 1824, at his apartments in the British Museum; where he had been for some years assistant keeper of MSS.]
10 Poor Montgomery, though praised by every English Review, has been bitterly reviled by the Edinburgh. After all, the bard of Sheffield is a man of considerable genius. His "Wanderer of Switzerland" is worth a thousand “Lyrical Ballads," and at least fifty" degraded epics."
[In a MS. critique on this satire, by the late Reverend William Crowe, public orator at Oxford, the incongruity of these metaphors is thus noticed :-" Within the space of three or four couplets he transforms a man into as many dif ferent animals: allow hun but the coinpass of three lines, and he will metamorphose him from a wolf into a harpy, and in three more he will make him a biood-hound." On seeing Mr. Crowe's remarks, Lord Byron desired Mr. Murray to substitute, in the copy in his possession, for “hellish instinct," "brutal instinct,” for “harpies" “felons,” and for“ bloodhounds," "hell-hounds."]
12 Arthur's Scat; the hill which overhangs Edinburgh.