페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

PREFACE.*

ALL my friends, learned and unlearned, have urged me not to publish this Satire with my name. If I were to be "turned from the career of my humor 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 author's works are public property: he who purchases may judge, and publish his opinion if he pleases; and the authors I have endeavored 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

* This preface was written for the second edition, and printed with it. The noble author had left this country previous to the publication of that edition, and is not yet returned. — Note to the fourth edition, 1811. — [" He is, and gone again."— Byron, 1816.]

I expected, I have endeavored 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 by, 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.

[ocr errors]

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 repre

* [Mr. Hobhouse.]

† [Here the preface to the first edition commenced.]

hension. 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 practitioner 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 caustic 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 an 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.†

*["I well recollect the effect which the critique of the Edinburgh Reviewers, on my first poem, had upon me-it was rage and resistance, and redress; but, not despondency nor despair. A savage review is hemlock to a sucking author, and the one on me (which produced the English Bards, etc.) knocked me down — but I got up again. That critique was a masterpiece of low wit, a tissue of scurrilous abuse. I remember there was a great deal of vulgar trash, about people being “thankful for what they could get," — "not looking a gift horse in the mouth," and such stable expressions. But so far from their bullying me, or deterring me from writing, I was bent on falsifying their raven predictions, and determined to show them, croak as they would, that it was not the last time they should hear from me." - Byron, 1821.]

† ["The severity of the criticism," Sir Egerton Brydges has observed, "touched Lord Byron in the point where his original

strength lay: it wounded his pride, and roused his bitter indignation. He published 'English Bards and Scotch Reviewers,' and bowed down those who had hitherto held a despotic victory over the public mind. There was, after all, more in the boldness of the enterprise, in the fearlessness of the attack, than in its intrinsic force. But the moral effect of the gallantry of the assault, and of the justice of the cause, made it victorious and triumphant. This was one of those lucky developments which cannot often occur; and which fixed Lord Byron's fame. From that day he engaged the public notice as a writer of undoubted talent and energy both of intellect and temper."]

ENGLISH BARDS

AND

SCOTCH REVIEWERS.

STILL must I hear? shall hoarse Fitzgerald † bawl

His creaking couplets in a tavern hall, ‡
And I not sing, lest, haply, Scotch reviews
Should dub me scribbler, and denounce my muse?
Prepare for rhyme - I'll publish, right or wrong:
Fools are my theme, let satire be my song.

Oh! nature's noblest gift-my gray goose-quill! Slave of my thoughts, obedient to my will,

*IMIT. "Semper ego auditor tantum ? nunquamne reponam, Vexatus toties rauci Theseide Codri?"—Juv. Sat. I. t["Hoarse Fitzgerald."—"Right enough; but why notice such a mountebank." - Byron, 1816.]

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. - [For the long period of thirty-two years, this harmless poetaster was an attendant at the anniversary dinners of the Literary Fund, and constantly honored the occasion with an ode, which he himself recited with most comical dignity of emphasis.]

« 이전계속 »