LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Lines on the Burial of Sir John Moore.
The Courier  No. 10,290  (6 November 1824)
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No. 10,290. SATURDAY EVENING, NOVEMBER 6, 1824. Price 7D.


Z, Ballad on Sir John Moore

Who is the author of this tiny Poem? We hope, when Parliament meets, that a Committee of both Houses will be appointed to inquire into this great unanswered question. There are, already, we believe, as many claimants as stanzas, and every day’s post brings us fresh ones. A wag in the Morning Chronicle, (that most witty and amusing of all papers), declares that the Dr. Marshall, who wrote to us from Durham, is a horse-doctor. He may be a jack-pudding for any thing we know to the contrary, or for any thing we care.—The Correspondent of a Morning Paper, who signs himself John Hill, Lieut. Royal Navy, and residing at No. 10, Ball’s-pond, Islington, (we are thus minute, because we foresee that it is a matter which the Government must soon take into its own hands), avows that “the real author was Lord Byron himself.” He wrote them, continues Lieutenant Hill, “at Villa Neava, near Ravenna, on the 14th of June, 1817, in our presence, and I have now in my possession, in his Lordship’s writing, the whole poem (save verse 9), and at the bottom he writes, ‘When you reach Malta you may print these if you please.’ I am ready to show it to any one not guided by impertinent curiosity.”

Would not any man, in any ordinary case, be satisfied with this, and swear that the question was settled? Alas! We had just finished reading Lieut. Hill’s epistle (in which, moreover, he roundly asserts that Lord Byron “never drank spirits and water at night,” and that he was “never out of humour with any one but himself,”) when an alarming letter, closely written on three sides of large paper, was put into our hands, advocating the parental claim of the Reverend Charles Wolfe. For this letter, which bears the respectable signature of “James Stuart, Editor of the Belfast News Letter,” we will endeavour to find room on Monday. Meanwhile, we shall content ourselves with the following paragraph from it:—

“On the 16th of April, 1817, I received Mr. Wolfe’s Lines, and on the 19th of the same month they were published, with the initials of his name C. W. annexed, in the Newry Telegraph, Dublin, on reading the affecting account of Sir John Moore’s burial, published in the Edinburgh Annual Register, with which I request you to compare the Poem. From the Newry Telegraph they were copied into various other Journals and Magazines."

We shall deliver no opinion at present; but wait till we see whether that jocular print, the Morning Chronicle makes a cow-doctor of Mr. Stuart, and a mountebank of the Rev. Charles Wolfe. Meanwhile, let Doctor Marshall read the following, and if he really physics horses, let him “laud the Gods and be quiet.”


Sir, The letter relative to the Ballad of Sir John Moore, and signed “H. Marshall, M. D.”, which appeared in the Courier, of the 3d instant, whether really written by some person to whom that signature is applicable or not, deserves no further notice from me, than to be described as an attempt at a gross fraud on public opinion, and the work of an impostor.

1, Garden-court, Middle Temple.