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I had rather be a kitten, and cry mew!
Than one of these same metre ballad-mongers."-SAAKSPEARE. “ Such shameless bards we have; and yet 'tis true,
There are as mad, abandon'd critics too."-POPE
PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION. All my friends, learned and unlearned, have urged me not to publish this satire with my name. If I were to be “turn'd. from the career of my hnmour by quibbles quick, and paper bullets of the brain," I should have complied with their counsel; but I am not to be terrified by abuse, or bullied by reviewers, with or without arms. I can safely say that I have attacked none personally who did not commence on the offensive. An anthor's works are public property: he who purchases may judge, and publish his opinion if he pleases; and the authors I have endeavoured to commemorate may do by me as I have done by them: I dare say they will succeed better in condemning my scribblings, than in mending their own. But my object is not to prove that I can write well, but, if possible, to make others write better.
As the poem has met with far more success than I expected, I have endeavoured in this edition to make some additions and alterations to render it more worthy of public perusal.
In the first edition of this satire, published anonymously, fourteen lines on the subject of Bowles's Pope were written and inserted at the request of an ingenious friend of mine, who has now in the press a volume of poetry. In the present edition they are erased, and some of my own substituted in their stead; my only reason for this being, that, which I conceive would operate with any other person in the same manner-a determination not to publish with my name any production which was not entirely and exclusively my own composition.
With regard to the real talents of many of the poetical persons whose performances are mentioned, or alluded to, in the following pages, it is presumed by the author that there can be little difference of opinion in the public at large; though, like other sectaries, each has his separate tabernacle of proselytes, by whom his abilities are overrated, his faults overlooked, and his metrical canons received without scruple and without consideration. But the unquestionable possession of considerable genius by several of the writers here censured, renders their mental prostitution more to be regretted. Imbecility may be pitied, or, at worst, laughed at and forgotten; perverted powers demand the most decided reprehension. No one can wish more than the author that some known and able writer had undertaken their exposure ; but Mr. Gifford has devoted himself to Massinger, and in the absence of the regular physician, a country practic, tioner may, in cases of absolute necessity, be allowed to prescribe his nostrum to prevent the extension of so deplorable an epidemic, provided there be no quackery in his treatment of the malady. A canstic is here offered, as it is to be feared nothing short of actual cautery can recover the numerous patients afflicted with the present prevalent and distressing rabies for rhyming.
As to the Edinburgh Reviewers, it would, indeed, require a Hercules to crush the Hydra; but if the author succeeds in merely “ bruising one of the heads of the serpent,” though his own hand should suffer in the encounter, he will be amply satisfied.
ENGLISH BARDS AND SCOTCH REVIEWERS.*
STILL must I hear ?—shall hoarse Fitzgerald+ bawl
Oh! nature's noblest gift-my gray goose-quill !
# Written at Newstead in 1808. + IMITATION
Semper ego auditor tantum ? nunquamne reponam,
Vexatus toties rauci Theseide Codri ?-JUVENAL, Satire 1. Mr. Fitzgerald, facetiously termed by Cobbett the " Small Beer Poet," inflicts his annual tribute of verse on the “ Literary Fund :" not content with writing, he spouts in person, after the company have imbibed a reasonable quantity of bad port, to enable them to sustain the operation.
Cid Hamet Benengeli promises repose to his pen in the last chapter of “ Don Quixote." Oh! that our voluminous gentry would follow the example of Cid Hamet Benengeli,
When Vice triumphant holds her sov'reign sway,
Such is the force of wit! but not belong
and scribblers are my ganie.
A man must serve his time to every trade
• This ingenious youth is mentioned more particularly, with his production, in auother place.
# In the “ Edinburgh Review."
And shall we own such judgment ? No-as soon
Then should you ask me, why, I venture o'er I
“ But hold !” exclaims a friend,_"here's some neglect:
was, e'er yet in these degenerate days Ignoble themes obtain'd mistaken praise, When sense and wit with poesy allied, No fabled graces, flourish'à side by side ; From the same fount their inspiration drew, And, rear'd by taste, bloom'd fairer as they grew. Then, in this happy isle, a Pope's pure strain Sought the wrapt soul to charm, nor sought in vain ; A polish'd nation's praise aspired to claim, And raised the people's, as the poet's fame. Like him great Dryden pour'd the tide of song, In stream less smooth, indeed, yet doubly strong. Then Congreve's || scenes could cheer, or Otway's melt;
For nature then an English audience felt. • Messrs. Jeffrey and Lambe are the Alpha and Omega, the first and last, of the “ Edin. burgh Review ;" the others are mentioned hereafter. | IMITATION
Stulta est Clementia, cum tot ubique
occurras perituræ parcere chartæ.-JUVENAL, Satire l. 1 IMITATION:
Cur tamen hoc libeat potius decurrere campo
Si vacat, et placidi rationem admittitis, edam.-JUVENAL, Satire 1. $ Author of the“ Baviad" and "Mæviad," and first editor of the “Quarterly Review." He became, afterwards, the friend and Aristarchus of Lord Byron. || The great wit of the Augustan age, author of " Love for Love," &c. &c.
The most pathetic of all Engli writers of tragedy: author of “ Venice Preserved," &c. &c,
But why these names, or greater still, retrace,
Behold! in various throngs the scribbling crew,
Thus Lays of Minstrels—may they be the last ! S-
.T. Moore's early amatory poems were published under the name of Thomas Little. Ecclesiastes, cap. 1.
Stott, better known in the “Morning Post" by the name of Hafiz. This person is at present the most profound explorer of the
bathos. I remember, when the reigning family left Portugal, a special ode of Master Stott's, beginning thus:
(Stott loquitur quoad Hibernia.) “ Princely offspring of Braganza,
Erin greets thee with a stanza," &c. &c. Also a sonnet to rats, well worthy of the subject, and a most thundering ode, commencing as follows:
“ Oh ! for a lay ! loud as the surge
That lashes Lapland's sounding shore."
& See the “ Lay of the Last Minstrel," passim. Never was any plan so incongruous and absurd as the groundwork of this production. The entrance of Thunder and Lightning prologuizing to Bayes' Tragedy, unfor unately takes away the merit of originality from the dialogue between Messieurs the Spirits of Flood and Fell in the first canto.