LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Autobiography of William Jerdan
The Satirist.

Vol. I. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Introductory
Ch. 2: Childhood
Ch. 3: Boyhood
Ch. 4: London
Ch. 5: Companions
Ch. 6: The Cypher
Ch. 7: Edinburgh
Ch. 8: Edinburgh
Ch. 9: Excursion
Ch. 10: Naval Services
Ch. 11: Periodical Press
Ch. 12: Periodical Press
Ch. 13: Past Times
Ch. 14: Past Times
Ch. 15: Literary
Ch. 16: War & Jubilees
Ch. 17: The Criminal
Ch. 18: Mr. Perceval
Ch. 19: Poets
Ch. 20: The Sun
Ch. 21: Sun Anecdotes
Ch. 22: Paris in 1814
Ch. 23: Paris in 1814
Ch. 24: Byron
Vol. I. Appendices
Scott Anecdote
Burns Anecdote
Life of Thomson
John Stuart Jerdan
Scottish Lawyers
Sleepless Woman
Canning Anecdote
Southey in The Sun
Hood’s Lamia
Murder of Perceval
Vol. II. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Literary
Ch. 2: Mr. Canning
Ch. 3: The Sun
Ch. 4: Amusements
Ch. 5: Misfortune
Ch. 6: Shreds & Patches
Ch. 7: A Character
Ch. 8: Varieties
Ch. 9: Ingratitude
Ch. 10: Robert Burns
Ch. 11: Canning
Ch. 12: Litigation
Ch. 13: The Sun
Ch. 14: Literary Gazette
Ch. 15: Literary Gazette
Ch. 16: John Trotter
Ch. 17: Contributors
Ch. 18: Poets
Ch 19: Peter Pindar
Ch 20: Lord Munster
Ch 21: My Writings
Vol. II. Appendices
‣ The Satirist.
Authors and Artists.
The Treasury
Morning Chronicle
Chevalier Taylor
Foreign Journals
Vol. III. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Literary Pursuits
Ch. 2: Literary Labour
Ch. 3: Poetry
Ch. 4: Coleridge
Ch 5: Criticisms
Ch. 6: Wm Gifford
Ch. 7: W. H. Pyne
Ch. 8: Bernard Barton
Ch. 9: Insanity
Ch. 10: The R.S.L.
Ch. 11: The R.S.L.
Ch. 12: L.E.L.
Ch. 13: L.E.L.
Ch. 14: The Past
Ch. 15: Literati
Ch. 16: A. Conway
Ch. 17: Wellesleys
Ch. 18: Literary Gazette
Ch. 19: James Perry
Ch. 20: Personal Affairs
Vol. III. Appendices
Literary Poverty
Ismael Fitzadam
Mr. Tompkisson
Mrs. Hemans
A New Review
Debrett’s Peerage
Procter’s Poems
Poems by Others
Poems by Jerdan
Vol. IV. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Critical Glances
Ch. 2: Personal Notes
Ch. 3: Fresh Start
Ch. 4: Thomas Hunt
Ch. 5: On Life
Ch. 6: Periodical Press
Ch. 7: Quarterly Review
Ch. 8: My Own Life
Ch. 9: Mr. Canning
Ch. 10: Anecdotes
Ch. 11: Bulwer-Lytton
Ch. 12: G. P. R. James
Ch. 13: Finance
Ch. 14: Private Life
Ch. 15: Learned Societies
Ch. 16: British Association
Ch. 17: Literary Characters
Ch. 18: Literary List
Ch. 19: Club Law
Ch. 20: Conclusion
Vol. IV. Appendix
Gerald Griffin
W. H. Ainsworth
James Weddell
The Last Bottle
N. T. Carrington
The Literary Fund
Letter from L.E.L.
Geographical Society
Baby, a Memoir
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A, p. 33.

From observations on my former volume from several quarters, my worthy publishers have given me to understand, that Appendices are by some readers considered to be mere appendages of little consequence to a work, and which may be as conveniently dispensed with as published. It happens, however, that these additions on my part, are as intrinsically a portion of my biography as the narrative from which they are detached; and that the sole reason for so detaching them, is to preserve the best order I can with so many miscellaneous materials without the interruption of co-lateral affairs which form compact little episodes by themselves. As Samson’s strength lay in his locks, O’Connell’s in his tail, and every lady’s epistolary correspondence in her postscripts, so would I wish the public to believe that my weakness will not be found diffused in this division of my labour. “The Satirist, or Monthly Meteor,”* represents a very essential section of my literary career. It was commenced by Mr. George Manners on the 1st of October, 1807, and by its talent and virulence very speedily attracted general notice, warm partisanship, and bitter hate. The first coloured caricature represented Lord Grenville, Lord Temple, Lord Moira, Lord Erskine, Sheridan, John Kemble, Windham, Whitbread, Burdett, Horne Tooke, and other public characters, political, dramatic, and literary; and over them the tall figure of the Satirist brandishing

* Not to be confounded with the “Satirist” newspaper, of much later date.

a whip. This took; and the publication went prosperously on, lashing without mercy the Whig, “all the talents” statesmen, the authors of books obnoxious to the critics, and the players who, through any cause, incurred their displeasure. Their boundless personality and unrestrained abuse of those whom they chose to treat as delinquents in politics, morals, taste, or conduct, made a violent sensation; and the abilities displayed by the editor and his coadjutors, (evincing education, style, force, wit, and humour,) sent the bruit of their biting and clever censures through the land. One novel feature especially told well. It was entitled “Comparative Criticism,” and consisted in placing in close juxta-position the opinion of other periodicals on new publications and plays, &c., in which the contradictions were often most direct and whimsically ludicrous. The licentiousness which frequently disfigured the design, would not be endured now; but five-and-forty years have done much towards refining the public taste, and what passed as (perhaps) slightly indecorous in those days would be scouted as intolerable indecency in our times. It is greatly to the benefit of the people that it is so; for coarse and immodest language cannot be used without polluting the sense and poisoning the mind. Undeterred by any scruples upon the grounds I have stated, and caught by the striking talent of the work, I offered a contribution which was accepted; and I joined the ranks in January, 1808, with a political drama, entitled “
Vox et Præterea Nihil, or Parliamentary Debates in Rhyme,” directed with all my powers of comic ridicule against the Opposition leaders and their chief adherents. I must say, however, that whilst I blamed what was intemperate and personally injurious in the “Satirist,” I was thoroughly convinced that it effected great public good in all the departments it handled; and that though I wrote with the rest, from entertaining similar opinions, I was not one of those who forgot that “want of decency is want of sense.” I took up the “Comparative Criticism” sport, and contributed to it with much gusto; for it was altogether truly entertaining from the palpable differences in facts as well as opinions. But for the trouble of comparing so many organs, it would be a capital hit in any journal to revive the contrast, and show how very little the judgment of readers ought to depend on the dicta of newspapers
and magazines. I copy a few fragments in proof, and the entire sentences would occupy too much space.

“These discourses may be regarded as of general utility.”—Monthly Review.

“In a sound, forcible, argumentative, and scriptural manner. The style is manly and perspicuous.”—Eclectic Review.

“The ludicrous matter here collected in this trumped-up story. How long will the understanding of the common people be inposed upon by such rhapsodies?”—Critical Review. Another—

“Is detailed with equal perspicuity and force.”—British Critic.

“Is not very intelligible.”—Monthly Review. Again,

“This work (Loudon on Country Residences) displays throughout a vigorous and original mind.”—Anti-Jacobin Review.

“A scientific man, who discovers considerable experience in his profession, and good sense,” &c.—Eclectic Review.

“We perceive more charlatanry than is compatible with genuine science.”—Monthly Review.

Many such conflicting oracles from the monthly publications, and many more from the newspaper press (which last was my suggestion) were so splendidly absurd, that it was impossible not to have a hearty laugh at them; and the exposure seemed to have some influence in causing the production of more guarded, if not just and honest, critiques. I am tempted to add a few notices of the sort from about forty on Scott’sMarmion.”

“There is a good deal of spirit and a good deal of nature intermingled in the introductions to the cantos.”—Edinburgh Review.

“To show what poverty of idea prevails through these introductory chapters, we will quote some few lines from these spiritless effusions.”—Critical Review.

“The introduction to Canto Second contains a piece of ineffable nonsense.”—Universal Magazine.

“In the second epistle the prospect is admirably delineated— the ramble finer than anything of the kind that we have hitherto met in Mr. Scott himself.”—Eclectic Review.

Fitz-Eustace’s Song “is strikingly conceived.”—Beau
Monde. “Has a natural and enduring charm, and is sweetly wild.”—
Eclectic Review. “Is but a stiff and rather childish imitation of the truly pathetic simplicity of Burns.”—Monthly Review. “A remarkably silly song.”—Universal Magazine. “Exceedingly dull.”—Monthly Review. “Never dull.”—Eclectic Review.

Of the newspaper contradictions the following is a specimen:—

“A new comedy, in three acts, from the pen of Mr. Skeffington, called ‘Lose no Time,’ was performed for the first time, last night, with universal and deserved applause. We have no room for particulars; and must therefore content ourselves with observing generally, that it is at once interesting, sprightly, and well-arranged; and promises to become a general favourite.”—Morning Post.

“A new drama, called ‘Lose no Time,’ which report ascribes to the pen of Mr. Skeffington, was last night performed to a half-filled pit, and a ‘beggarly account of empty boxes.’ To such vulgar trash we have seldom been compelled to listen. Two officers, of family and distinction, for the sake of anticipating each other in the possession of a lady, have recourse to a series of mean deceptions, for one-half of which they ought to be horse-whipped from all society above the rank of pugilists and pick-pockets. We shall not bestow further notice on this contemptible production; which, however, was given out for repetition.”—Times.

“A new comedy, in three acts, entitled ‘Lose no Time,’ was performed last night, for the first time, and received with unmixed applause. It is from the pen of Mr. Skeffington. We are prevented, by want of room, from entering into the detail of the piece; nor is it necessary, for it is rather a series of lively scenes than a regular drama.”—Morning Chronicle.

“The Epilogue, containing many good points relative to the title of the comedy was admirably delivered by Mrs. Edwin.”—Morning Herald.

Mrs. Edwin spoke the Epilogue; a common-place about Buonaparte’s running away, and being pursued by the Cossacks, was not at all relished by the audience. It was, in truth, rather out of time, as well as out of place.”—Morning Chronicle.

“The Epilogue, written by Mr. G. L. Peacock, the author of
Palmira,’ &c. abounds with excellent points, and was admirably delivered by Mrs. Edwin. The piece went off with eclat, and was announced for repetition amidst shouts of applause.”—British Press.

These are but brief and imperfect specimens of what an industrious and clever penny-a-liner might now imitate with profit to himself, and amusement and advantage to the community. Verb. Sap., or ponder on the following note:—

“Dear Sir,—

“My only reason for omitting your poetical article in our last number, was that it came too late, and I fear the subject is now too stale. The newspaper Com. cut was inserted, and I wish you to continue the article; but I think it would have more effect if you arrange the extracts, so that those which contradict each other should be together.

“I beg leave to suggest that you have it in your power to furnish us monthly with an article, which, I think, would produce a considerable effect, under the title of ‘Newspaper inconsistencies and falsehoods.’ We very frequently read in one paper that a person is dying, in another of the same day, that he is giving splendid dinners. That the Duke of Anything was at one place, and then at another, &c., &c., &c., &c.; which your judgment would enable you to contrast in a whimsical and entertaining manner. If you can let me have an article of this description by Sunday, twelve o’clock, it shall be inserted in our next number.

“I am, Sir, yours truly,

“G. R.”

Occupied with my newspaper engagements I was a very rare contributor to the “Satirist” for several years. It was during that time in continual hot-water in consequence of its insolent tone and bitter personalities. Law-suits, challenges, assaults, and affrays, marked its monthly course; and but for Mr. Manners’s masculine form and great physical strength, he would have had even more encounters and failed to get so victoriously out of them. Unappalled by such dangers, and determined not to provoke them by indecency or scurrility, I was induced to purchase the copyright of the publication, and the house in
which it was published, 267, Strand, both together. Of my tenantry, I have given the history elsewhere; and have now only to relate my adventures and endeavour to preserve some of my productions from and after the 1st of July, 1812, when my editing began. I announced that though satire would still, in conformity with its title, be the prevailing feature of the work, I had opened it more freely to communications (not satirical) of merit, and trusted to make it “a repository of general information and a permanent fund of rational amusement.” I further stated my sentiments as regarded the publication. “Satire is a potent instrument, and, as it is employed, adorns with honour or confounds with shame the author who dares to use it. Well-directed, impartially administered, and dispassionately applied to the correction of crimes that ‘flaunt in the broad face of day,’ no one can doubt the usefulness of its tendency, or deny it the praise of being the most efficient friend to virtue. On the other hand, if calculated only to gratify envy, to satiate private malignity, to disseminate slander, and poison the confidence of social intercourse, there is not a curse within the wrath of heaven more afflicting, nor a wretch upon earth more detestable than the man who can address it to purposes so base. With these feelings, the readers of the New Series need be under no apprehension of ever meeting in our page with matter to shock decency, to outrage society, to disturb the peace of families, or sport with individual happiness. While we shall attempt to follow the better part of the example of our predecessors, in baring imposture, however curiously concealed; in scourging infamy, however highly elevated; in holding religious hypocrisy and wickedness up to detestation; and political tergiversation up to scorn; we shall maintain that respect for the opinion of the wise and good, we shall maintain that respect for the approbation of our own hearts, so to conduct ourselves that we may ever exclaim with the poet—
“‘Curst be the verse, how smooth so e’er it flow,
That tends to make one virtuous man our foe.’”

August, 1812, thus gave evidence to intentions which ought not to be confounded with the traditionary character of the “Satirist,” which I must acknowledge was of a prurient and
frequently offensive description; and had I then, whilst greatly admiring much that was piquant and just, entertained the same strong objections to much of the contents of the ten volumes which preceded my undertaking as I do now, I should, assuredly, never have become the pseudo-
Juvenal of the age.

“Oh! let me fly to some deserted coast,
Some dreary region of eternal frost;
Far from the cant of hypocrites precise,
Far from the sermonising slaves of vice,
Who seem all virtue in the streets of Rome,
And swell the bacchanalian roar at home.”

In this spirit I carried on the publication, and introduced a new feature, entitled “The Moon,” for the reception of lighter literature; and which grew into popularity for its anecdotes, epigrams, and other small-ware moon-rakings. My third volume, commencing July, 1813, exulted in success, though the satire of its two precursors had been confined to public life, public men, and public matters.

When I was transplanted into the “Sun” I found the “Satirist” too much for me; and to confess the truth, its literary merits did not suffice to gratify the public appetite so much as when it was seasoned with the spices I had repudiated. It was therefore discontinued, and in its stead another attempt made under the title of “The Tripod;” but the “Tripod” had soon hardly a leg to stand upon, and so was kicked over. From my four volumes of “Satirist,” I may hereafter make a selection of my own writings, and some contributions from other hands, with notes upon their authors; but the quantity is too great for the space I could allow here, and I have only to express my hope that the following specimens may not be thought too much.

What is love? a morning vapour,
Flying from the beams of day;
What is love? a midnight taper,
Dying with the hours away.
’Tis the sigh, the infant utters,
’Ere it knows the use of breath;
’Tis the moth, that gaily flutters
Round the flame that dooms its death.
’Tis the glow-worm’s witching glory,
Luring travelers in the mire;
’Tis the gossip’s goblin story,
Told around a winter fire.
’Tis the dream that haunts our pillows;
’Tis a castle in the air;
’Tis the tears of weeping willows,
Tears that really never were.
’Tis, oh! ’tis, the rose, in fancy,
In reality, the thorn;
And I’ve heard a married man say,
’Tis the Devil! by his horn!

My dearest Sister! now you rove
Through every field and every grove
To cull the fragrant flow’rs,
Which Nature, with unsparing pains,
O’er all her spacious domains
In vast profusion pours.
I see thy feet attracted stray
To where the violet scents the way,
Low blooming in the shade:
Now where the speckled hawthorn blows;
Now where the beauties of the rose
Are to the sun display’d.
Now exultation lifts thee high,
And pleasure brightens up thine eye;
Thy nosegay is complete—
So various too! it needs must please—
Here daisies, cowslips, and heartsease,
With broom and bluebells meet.
Yet, ah! my lovely girl, beware!
All is not good that looks so fair,
And dangers lurk around—
The glowing rose you so admire
Is guarded by the scythelike brier,
Th’ invader’s hand to wound.
The May is not in triumph borne,
Without encountering the thorn
Attendant on its bloom:
And oft beneath the nettle’s sting,
Protected, scented violets spring,
And all the gale perfume.
And, oh! my love! your views extend,
Instruction with amusement blend,
And wisely learn betimes;
E’en like the chase you now pursue
Your pilgrimage through life to view,
Where virtues mix with crimes.
The graced outside, the manners bland,
The look sincere, and proffer’d hand,
May hide a callous heart,
Which feels not for another’s pain;—
Which envy, hate, and malice stain;
All baseness, fraud, and art.
Nay! hid beneath Love’s warmest smile,
Lurk falsehood, perfidy, and guile,
The female heart t’ensnare;
And, under friendship’s sacred guise,
Too oft, alas! foul treachery lies,
Deceit, and selfish care.
And still the more of life you know,
Experience more and more will show
Your yet unconscious youth:
Survey the real scene, you’ll find
This hasty picture of mankind
Falls sadly short of truth.
Yet suffer not scowling mistrust
To make thee to the world unjust,
And think the whole one blot:
For some there are—alas! how few!
With souls to every virtue true—
Heav’n cast with theirs thy lot!

* Written when removed in bad health to my native air, 1802. (See Vol I.)

Letter from the Lord Chamberlain to the Satirist.
“Lord Chamberlain’s Office, Palace Yard,
Dear Sir,—

“In consequence of the death of Mr. Pye, the lucrative, honourable, and important office of Poet Laureat having become vacant, very numerous applications for the reversion have been made to me by sundry noble, celebrated, and estimable persons. Many of these applicants have presented me with specimens of their poetical talents, in order to enable me to appreciate their fitness for office; but, as I am not only little versed in measured compositions, but am, moreover, extremely puzzled to make out intelligibly the plain prose meaning of not a few of these productions, I have deemed it expedient to send them to you as One skilled in criticism, and, from practice in dissecting authors, enabled to develop things incomprehensible to other men; and to beg you will favour me with your opinion thereon, with your speediest convenience, for the writers have already become extremely clamorous and impatient for a decision each in his own favour.

“In the hope of an early answer, to release me from the life of persecution I now lead, and the hourly dread of being torn to pieces by infuriated bards, as a certain bard, I believe Orpheus, was of old,*

“I remain, dear Satirist, yours, &c,

In consequence of the request contained in this polite epistle, which his lordship dispatched to US by a special messenger, we have taken infinite pains carefully and impartially to scan and

* The Lord C. is a little out in his Heathen Mythology, but it ill becomes a Christian noble to be more accurate in those things than in his Scriptural knowledge.—Ed.

peruse the mass of poems which accompanied it, and which were, for greater security and conveniency, conveyed to our office in two of the royal waggon-train-covered waggons, attended by a suitable escort. From these loads we selected, by a species of sortes invented for the occasion, one thousand applications. These were again reduced to one hundred by another ordeal; and, lastly having undergone the severest criticism, we chose twelve of the best, which we returned to his lordship, advising him, as they were all of equal merit, to have the business of the Laureat hereafter done by a committee of twelve, in such manner as we also pointed out. His lordship we understand thinks highly of our suggestions, and letters have been written to
Mr. Bankes, Mr. Martin, and other reformists of our petty economy, in order to ascertain if such appointment may not occasion great clamour, from the creation of so many new officers. Should any objection be made, the idea will be dropped, rather than be persevered in to cause contention (such is the placable spirit of ministers, who, instead of treating such carping little creatures with contempt, too often yield to these political coxcombs), though, as only the same salary and perquisites are to be allotted to the committee of twelve as to one individual, it is hoped no objection will be urged against a plan which promises so much variety, novelty, and national renown. From these and others, with the approbation of their several authors, we have made a few selections, and, with some extracts from the letters enclosing them, we now hasten to submit to the admiration of the world.

Note from Mr. Wilberforce, enclosing a Specimen of
Hannah More’s
“Kensington Gore, 14th August.

Mr. Wilberforce humbly begs to earnestly recommend the enclosed to the notice of the Lord Chamberlain. Though it hath not been usual in times past to nominate and appoint females to the office of Laureat, yet he trusts that, with the glory of God, and the religious instruction of this degenerate age
in the contemplation of his Majesty’s confidential advisers, an exception may be made in favour of one so pre-eminently saintly, and so admirably calculated, by her writings of birthday odes and moral reflections on the new year’s-day, to promote the sacred cause of Christianity. Surely as there was one she Pope, there may be allowed to be one she Laureat: if which should be the event of this application, it is hoped the usual formalities and ceremonies, as enacted by the Cardinals on the initiation of a Pope, will not be insisted upon, though
Hannah is willing to undergo much in the service of the Lord.”

From Mrs. More’s production we select only two verses: it is rather too much in the Methodist hymn style for an ode.

“While worldlings sing
Earth’s joys, oh king!
I’ll heavenly anthems raise;
‘No Pagan nine,
But hymns divine,
Inspiring George’s praise.
“Oh! Lord of hosts!
Protect our coasts,
From war’s terrific burst;
And Boney’s sway,
Now and for ay,
Be evermore accurst.”

Of a very opposite tendency and character is the following:—

“Melina Place, half-past Two o’clock,
“Saturday morning.
My Lord Chamberlain,—

“You and I have had a —— deal of troublesome correspondence; I trust the present will be more pleasant to us both. It ought to be so, considering the auspices under which it commences, for, by Jove, I have been enjoying my bottle since five o’clock with a few friends, and, having tired myself and them with damning the critics, for whose malevolence I do not care a single curse (save when they attack my moral character, b——t them), I sit down in desperate good humour and high spirits to write to your lordship.


“As Pye has been dished up for the worms—
“And there he doth lie,
To make a dirt pie.’
what say you, my lord, to put me into his living place? I can sing more like a lark than any Pye that ever chattered. I will undertake to keep the court in good humour. Give me the money, and you shall have odes galore. But to show you that I do not want to bargain about the Sack, like a pig in a poke, to—a specimen—

“‘Is’t wine you give the bard t’inspire?
By heaven it sets my soul on fire!
And for the tun,
I’ll write and pun,
Till Maids of Honour cry,
O G—d! I’m like to die;
How different from Pye!
Give over punning, George—with laughing I’ll expire.
“Then give a butt of sack, I’ll say,
And on the sackbutt I will play:
But sack the cash likewise.
Penn’d in his Bench,* here let me pen.
Odes to the very best of men,
And laud him to the skies.
“Through life Pre had a hellish prance,
A kind of damn’d bad Morris-dance
’Tis time now for repose.
Then give me, king, thy wine to drink,
And lend me paper, pens, and ink,
I’ll write, till all my senses sink,
Thy praise, and —— our foes.
George Colman.”
My Lord,—

“Having many hours of idleness on my hands, and being an adept at versification, it would not be unacceptable to me

* Melina Place was in the rules of the King’s Bench, and George resided at No. 7, a considerable time. Delpini, the famous clown, escaped a like fate by writing to the Prince of Wales, “By de * * * *, if your Royal Highness not help me, I shall go live in your Papa’s Bench.” But the Prince succoured him!

to try the experiment of writing the Laureat Odes, in order to ascertain if that new pursuit would kill the ennui by which I am devoured. Being in politics between a Whig and a Jacobin, the subject of our Sovereign’s praise will have so much of the Romaunt in my eyes, as sufficiently to resemble the species of composition in which I am most successful. My desires, my Lord, do not point at the perquisites or emoluments of the office. Wine I now loath—money I detest—praise is irksome to me—and the world only one dull round of apathy and misanthropy. It is for variety I undertake the task, and, if possible, to amuse the forlorn.


We have only room for very limited extracts from this candidate’s probationary ode.

“Three hosts combine to offer sacrifice;
Three tongues prefer strange orisons on high;
Three splendid standards charm the pale blue skies;
The shouts are France, Spain, Albion, victory!
The ‘foe’ presumptuous, and the brave ‘Ally,’
‘That fights’ for liberty, nor fights in vain,
‘Are met; and low on earth the spoilers lie,
To feed the crow on ‘Salamanca’s’ plain,
And fertilise the field they idly hoped to gain.’”
——“he, whose nod,
‘Has tumbled’ feeble monarchs ‘from their sway,’
Abhorr’d of men, and surely cursed of God;
Is forced now his murd’rous arm to stay:
Soon have his myrmidons been swept away.”
“Borders of the Lakes,
“11th August.
My Lord,—

“I have just received tiding of the demise of the lamented Mr. Pye. Grief for the loss suffered by the nation in so inestimable a genius will scarcely permit my sensibility to turn connectedly to worldly concerns; but, simple as I am, if it should please your good lordship to nominate me to the vacant Laurel, in good sooth I will address me to the office with my
dearest ability; and for office I trust your lordship will acknowledge my perfect aptitude.

“I am, my Lord,
“With the utmost gratitude, respect, and admiration,
“Your Lordship’s
“Most obedient, devoted,
“And very humble servant,

Here follows a specimen of this gentleman’s writing—

“Great ‘Lawgiver! yet thou dost wear
The godhead’s most benignant grace,
Nor know we anything so fair
As is the smile’ on George’s face.
“‘Flowers laugh before’ him ‘on their beds,
And fragrance in’ his ‘footing treads;’
He does ‘preserve the stars from wrong,
And the most ancient Heav’ns, through’ him, ‘are fresh and strong.’”*
“We poets in our youth begin in gladness,
But thereof comes in the end despondency and madness.Ӡ
Sack and a salary are‡ ‘there,
Few visions have I seen more fair;
Nor many prospects of delight
More pleasing than that simple sight.’
‘My heart leaps up when I behold’§
An office rear’d on high:
‘So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The child is father of the man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by’ Sack and Salary!

* Ode to Duty.

Resolution and Independence.

‡ “Look, five blue eggs are gleaming there.” See Verses on a Sparrow’s Nest. § Wordsworth’s Poems, p. 44.


Who comes next?

My Lord,—

“Having been honoured with the patronage of his Royal Highness our most gracious Prince Regent, H.R.H. A.B.C.D. E.F.G.H. and all the most illustrious of our nobility, I presume to solicit your attention to my claim to the vacant seat of the Laureat. Odes, my Lord, are nothing to my Muse. I will do wonders.

“‘When energising objects men pursue,
What are the prodigies they cannot do?’
(Ohe! jam satis!)

“N.B. My son, G. F. B., Esquire, is willing either to write in conjunction with me, or, if more agreeable, recite my odes to the court.—L. B.”

“12th August.
My Lord,—

“As I never can resign the pleasures of hope, though there may be many more excellent candidates than myself; many whose political opinions are more German to the nature of the office, or whose minds are better attuned to the celebration of royal praises; I cannot resist the impulse I feel to offer myself as a candidate for the bays. I will not debase myself by submitting any specimen of what my Muse is capable of. Such petty-fogging meanness is neither consistent with the national pride, nor the personal consciousness, of

My Lord,—

“The office of Poet Laureat being vacant, unmoved by any sinister motives, and actuated only by the pure love of fame, I will, if thought worthy of the appointment, undertake to fulfil its duties, by giving a New-year Ode in the style of a fairy tale, and, duly mingling seriousness with lightness, a Birth-day Ode from the Bible. Should this candid offer merit your lordship’s approbation, you may command, as your future Laureate,

“Daughters of Britain; praise our noble Prince!
‘Break into song! with harp and tabret lift
Your voices up, and weave with joy the dance;
And to your twinkling footsteps, toss aloft
Your arms.
Shout ye! And ye! make answer.’ Grah’m ‘has slain
His thousands;’ Well’sley ‘his tens of thousands slain.
Sing a new song.’”
Tunc ad libitum.
“King David, in his sark,
He danced in front of the ark,
His religious freedom to show;
No gloomy bigot was he,
The slave of intolerancy:
He caper’d in ecstasy,
And flung his limbs to and fro;
Tol de rol.
“Ah would that our Prince like him
Were full of frolic and whim,
In like manner to dance the Hays; *
O’er Protestant scruples skip,
Give Constitution the slip,
And tip us the Catholic trip,
As jig-led in ancient days.
Tol de rol.”

“The Lakes, 25th August.
My Lord,—

“Earnestly devoted to the Muses, and to every kind of literature, may I presume to offer myself to your lordship’s notice, as one who would be extremely glad to see what can be done after Pye. My Lord, I will not vaunt myself, but refer you to my works, of which I have produced very many, more perhaps than your lordship has had time to read; but I may, without vanity, venture to assure your lordship, that no Epic Poet has ever yet exceeded

“Your humble servant,

* No allusion to the Secretary of the Catholic Board.

“Oh King or Prince!
Charm’d be thy life
From the weapons of strife,
From stone and from wood,
From fire and from flood,
From the serpent’s tooth,
And the beasts of blood;’
From the curse of Kehama,
And ev’ry other curse or dam-a.
May sickness ne’er harm thee,
And constant health charm thee,
May the lands that are thine,
Fruit never deny thee,
And water still bear thee
Where all thy foes fly thee.
‘And the winds shall not touch thee,
When they pass by thee;
And the dews shall not wet thee,
When they’ only ‘fall nigh thee.—
“Then what a happy prince you’ll be
With a Poet Laureat such as me;
When duly here, to George the Regent’s praise,
My prince, as with an angel’s voice of song,
Pour my melodious lays
Upon the gales of even,
And sounding strenuous like a gong,
I lift his fame to th’ north-west gate of heaven,
Such harmony to all my notes is given.”

“Selkirkshire, 10th Aug.
My Lord,—

“My Minstrelsy is so renowned, that I may scantly doubt of success in this contest. In truth, I begin to be afeard that the booksellers will soon think meet to retrench in the purchase of my ballads; and only, as I am anxious to have a horse in the stable, do I submit my claims to your judgment, as a candidate for a hundred pounds sterling per annum, and a butt of good sack, as in older times, on condition of furnishing a certain quantum of rhyme, at which your lordship may have heard I possess great alacrity. The verity is, I can put one
hundred rhymes together in a day with great ease and facility; so that if we can complete this bargain, there is no peril of having sufficiency of verses for the price from

“Yours truly,

This author having enclosed a description of a court-day, of about 900 lines, we can only find room for a small but eminently poetical, picturesque, vigorous, and precise part thereof, describing the Beef-Eaters, &c.

“Ten men in arms came at their backs,
With halbert, bill, and battle-axe:
Then twenty yeomen, two and two,
In hosen white and jerkins new,
With auncient javelins in their hands,
Obey’d their captain’s loud commands.
“’Tis meet that I should tell you now,
How fairly arm’d, and order’d how,
The Soldier of the Guard,
With musquet, pike, and morion,
Stood sentry as the crowd throng’d on
Through Carlton House’s yard:
Fifers and trumpeters were there;
The gunner held his linstock yare,
For welcome-shot prepared.
“The Guards their morrice pikes advanced,
The trumpets flourish’d brave;
The cannons from the ramparts glanced,
And thund’ring welcome gave.
“Two pursuivants, whom tabards deck,
With silver scutcheon round their neck,
Stood on the steps of stone,
By which you reach the outer gate;
And there with equal pomp and state,
They tell you to walk on:
For which their kindness to requite,
Some ready cash (at Court rare!) Wight,
May tip them half-a-crown.”

Enough! surely this is sublime—at any rate it is circumstantial!!!

* He is the man after all.

My Lord,—

“Though my humble pretensions as a poet may not entitle me to enter the lists with the bards of high fame, who will doubtless be competitors for the bays, yet, my Lord, there is one secret point which I trust will have considerable weight in inducing his Majesty’s ministers to look with a favourable eye upon me, and mayhap tempt them to promote my passage to the object of my great ambition. The point to which I allude is this; I have decidedly more Borough interest than any poet who may address your lordship on this subject, all of which I am willing to devote to the service of ministers, on condition of their appointing me successor to Mr. Pye,

“Their humble servant,
“Lo! where the Prince, with glories cover’d o’er,
From wild Miami’s and from Ebro’s shore;
Thence the proud strain of victory resounds,
And triumph’s shouts fill Britain’s ample hounds;
Whose heroes wield their dreaded arms in war,
And drive th’ invaders from their prey afar,
Reluctant flying from their hoarded spoils,
While freedom springs from free-horn Britons’ toils”

Lord Nugent’s compliments to Lord Hertford, would be extremely happy to be crowned with the Laurel. As he is the only one of his family blessed with poetical talents, he conceives that his stake in the Muse’s hedge ought to be planted near those of his relations in the political. Portugal speaks his celebrity, (did Lord H . . . . ever read it, or hear of it?) and if his physiognomy should not be thought indicative of genius, he begs only to refer, for its contradiction, to that poem, which he trusts, it will be acknowledged, gives the lie to his face . . . . . Sunday noon.


“N.B. Lord N. is just going to be married, and sings thus blithely:

* * * * * * *
* * * * * * *
* * * * * * *
* * * * * * *
* * * * * * *

[We have avoided extracting the accompanying poem: it is such infernal trash. We observe, moreover, that it is disloyal, being written at the expense of the country—on some of the late Lord Temple’s stationery.]

We have no room, at present, for the other candidates though it is a cruel injustice (of which we are sincerely sensible) to withhold from the public the specimens of their productions, of which we are in possession, especially as we were desirous to refute, by their promulgation, an injurious opinion, which has acquired but too much weight with the unthinking multitude, that these authors had already written more than was worth reading. The names of some of them will prove how keen our regret must be in being deterred from rescuing them from this barbarous and unjust insinuation. We have a few strophes and antistrophes from Memory Rogers; from the twin Smiths, who have offered to belaureat the task in the dual number, according to the Athenian fashion; from Coleridge, who says he would be glad to turn his hand to anything which would leave him no cause for Remorse; from John Taylor (not the Water Poet), who has backed his pretensions from his connexion with that loyal paper the “Sun,” and, having defended ministers, right or wrong, for the last thousand years: from, and with him, the Chief of Chiefs, we will close our catalogue, William Henry Fitzgerald. Having, by a fine stratagem, disclaimed the appointment in the newspapers, he, next day, wrote to all the ministers and high officers of state separatim, to inform them of his modesty The hint was palpable, but it would not do; for Lord Hertford enclosed his application to us with the others. These were the last lines:

“Blest year!
George rules sublime: while tyrants domineer,
’Tis his to far and wide merge his mild sway;
Thames, Shannon, Tweed,
His bounties feed,
While Lawrence, Ganges, and Sen’gal, his lovely rule obey.
Hail happy day that gave him birth,
Day most auspicious for earth:
How many nations joy in thy return,
And gladdening myriads with ardour burn,
As my poor verse shall show.
Yankies no longer jaw!
No longer Spain cries Ah!
Sicilia’s blest with British law,
And Portugalia free—enjoys her O—
[Cætera desunt.

Poetry may be said to delight in fiction: creation, as the word implies, is its chief object. Soaring on the wings of fancy and imagination, new worlds and new beings present themselves to the poet’s phrensied view. To the realities he adds all the possibilities of existence, and, unsatisfied pedestribus historiis, with plain narrations, in which only human actors and human exploits are exhibited, he enriches his scene and interests the reader by the introduction of preternatural beings. Homer could not sing the contentions between the Grecian and Dardan hosts, at the siege of Troy, without elevating his subject by associating divinities with heroes, and forcing the gods themselves to bear a part in the mighty conflict. He employed the popular superstitions of his age to impart a grandeur and solemnity to his theme, selecting from the mythology which then prevailed the machinery of his immortal Iliad.

The divinities of Greece having been transported to, and worshipped at, Rome, the Latin epic poets were forced to adopt the machinery, as well as to follow the plans, of Homer—they had little left except to be servile copyists of this great original: but when the Muses began to be courted by our northern ancestors, poetry was obliged to have recourse for its machinery to new superstitions, and to substitute Gothic demons for
Grecian deities: Odin and Thor superseded Jupiter and Mars. In this we are of opinion poetry sustained no loss. Nothing is perhaps more truly adapted to its genius than the Gothic fictions and manners. The military institutions and customs of chivalry, united with the gloomy theology and fables of the north, which included a system of magic, enchantment, and prodigy, opened a spacious field to the epic adventurer. The old romances, though they wanted powers to cultivate it to perfection, serve to demonstrate to the discerning critic its extensive capabilities.
Ariosto, Tasso, and our Spenser have employed them to singular advantage; and had Homer flourished in the Gothic age, the supposition is not extravagant, that he might have produced a work superior to the Iliad itself, as he would certainly have found more unlimited scope for his genius. In the refined gallantry and military fanaticism of this period there was more of the tender as well as of the terrific, and more to engage the softer affections of the heart as well as to harrow up the soul, than the civil and religious state of ancient Greece presented to his observation, or to his fancy.

We have been led to make this observation, not from what is found in the work before us, but from the circumstance of no effort having been made to enrich its pages from these sources. Its claim to public approbation rests not on the exploits of the heroes of antiquity; it is derived from the exertions of those who have figured in modern times. Saying this, however, we do not wish to be understood to assert that its pages are occupied with the frivolous occurrences of modern life, or with the insipid anecdotes of fashionable folly, which have of late swelled almost every new publication. If, however, it has not those deeds of “high emprize,” of which the lovers of romance are so much enamoured, sung in never-dying strains, and if it cannot boast of that fashionable chit-chat which is so ardently admired by the readers of modern novels, on the other hand it avoids that disgusting bombast which frequently attends an attempt to celebrate the former, and that atrocious slander which is too generally the characteristic of the latter. If it is to be censured as wanting that animating fire and fascinating vivacity usually sought for in works of that description to which we have alluded, it possesses nothing that can be regarded as insulting
to common sense, nothing to put female delicacy out of countenance.

This work is understood to be compiled by Mr. Hoffman, a gentleman well known in the literary world, and who has been for some time regarded, if not as a rising, at least as a stationary genius. The present is, certainly, not his greatest work; but we are happy to say, that comparing it with his former productions of the same cast, we cannot discover that there is any falling off.

While we bear testimony to the merits of this work, as in no way offending against the purest morality, we cannot but admit that there are parts which, in our opinion, would admit of considerable improvement. It, however, affords us no small satisfaction to find that one work, at least, has been produced in the present day, in which, besides being recommended by the circumstance of its being not only free from nonsense and immorality, but wholly exempt from those errors of style which too frequently disfigure works of merit, from the beginning to the end we have not been able to discover one fault in grammar, or even in punctuation. Its pages are not sullied by one improper, nor even by one inelegant, expression. We cannot say that it is recommended to us by all the fire of Walter Scott; but if it has not the beauties of his style, it is happily free from its defects, and much as we may regret the want of its harmony, we are in a very considerable degree consoled by the absence of its affectation.

We cannot conclude without observing, that this work is in an eminent degree entitled to the praise of consistency, and this of itself is no common merit. No statements are made at the end, which are at variance with anything contained in the early part of the book. Nothing is advanced to influence the thoughtless, or to mislead the ignorant. In no part are we disgusted with an assumption of importance, or of superior information, which is not warranted by facts. It is never attempted to baffle the understanding by an affectation of mystery. We are never perplexed by a series of asterisks, dashes, or initial and final letters, significantly marked in italics. Its contents are in no part unintelligible or even doubtful; but the work is in every part fair, clear, and perfectly plain. With such claims to
approbation, possessing merits so great, and with no faults but of omission, this production, though not all that could be wished, is still of considerable value; and we have no hesitation in recommending it as more harmless than most.modern works of fiction, and as a performance which, if it does not enrapture, does not offend; if it does not convulse with laughter, does not disgust with ribaldry; and if it does not please with novelty of thought, does not excite distaste from impotent attempts at dazzling conceits. Its errors are few, trivial, and unimportant; its beauties, numerous as its leaves, apparent, and perfectly original. The uniformity of its style is unbroken by plagiarism or quotation, and what some hypercritics might challenge as sameness or insipidity is amply compensated by its purity, entire connection, fidelity to its subject, adherence to truth, clearness of conception, and delicacy of execution. These praises are not undeserved; these plaudits not exaggerated; for, reader, the object of this critique is—A blank book.”

Indeed such charms as yours, sweet May,
Might well excuse a slip or two;
But gossip flowers begin to say
Things one could scarcely think of you!
The lily, like some virgin pure,
Astonish’d, leans upon the sedge;
The pretty primrose sits demure,
Shock’d, at the bottom of the hedge.
Nor flowers alone report the tales,
Such gossips might be deem’d untrue;
But meads and groves, banks, sireams, and gales,
Conspire to whisper shame on you.
“And what, then?” Dare you ask it, May,
While all the vales declare it true?
What! answer your own question, pray?—
What pass’d between young Spring and you?
In vain you thought the dark would hide;
The morning peep’d across the night,
And caught you more than side by side,
And blush’d more crimson at the sight.
In vain you thought the grove conceal’d:—
The west wind crept among the trees,
And all the secret soon reveal’d,
In whispers to each passing breeze.
In vain you thought all nature slept,
A secret eye observed your bliss;
Awake on purpose Silence kept,
And softly counted every kiss.
The merry birds the whole affair
Had learnt before the sun rose long;
And through the carol-shaken air
They tuned it in each amorous song.
In vain would you deny, fair May;
The ground itself a witness proves;
The grass is greener where you lay,
And new-blown flowers betray your loves.
Well may the zephyrs whisper sighs,
When things like this are brought to fame;
Well may the morning’s colour rise,
And all the roses blush with shame.
Well may the flowers so gossip it,
Well be surprised the lily pure,
Well may the pretty primrose sit
So sweetly pensive and demure.
Nor is this all, O, wayward May!
When such examples once you lend,
Who knows what hearts are led astray,
Or where love’s mischief finds an end?
Our chastest maids th’ infection feel;
The fluttering growing passion swells;
Nor can the downcast eye conceal
What the quick throbbing bosom tells.

As simplicity is the order of the day, we are sure the following Song, to the fashionable tune of “Geordy Kinlock,” must please our fair readers. The subject is as old as the moon!

‘Says Eve unto Adam, to Adam, to Adam,
Says Eve unto Adam, Come sit down by me;
Says Eve unto Adam, to Adam, to Adam,
Says Eve unto Adam, Come sit down by me;
Come sit you down, and rest awhile,
It will the tedious hours beguile;
I likewise beg you’ll stay to tea—
I’m afraid though, says Adam, you’ve no bohea!
“So down then sat Adam, sat Adam, sat Adam,
So down then sat Adam to gossip with Eve;
The maid she was happy, was happy, was happy,
The maid she was happy, as you may believe:
They pass’d that night, and many more,
As never couple did before!
A happier pair could not have been found
If you’d traversed the garden of Eden round!
“But slily came Satan, came Satan, came Satan,
But slily came Satan, and whisper’d the dame,
‘If you don’t eat the apple, the apple, the apple,
If you don’t eat the apple you’re vastly to blame.
’Twill make you wise without dispute,
Then why not taste such charming fruit?’
Poor Eve bought wisdom much too dear,
Or perhaps there had none of us now been here!!”