Political Essays (1819)/The Lay of the Laureate
The Lay of the Laureate, Carmen Nuptiale, by Robert Southey, Esq. Poet-Laureate, Member of the Royal Spanish Academy, and of the Royal Spanish Academy of History.—London: Longmans, 1816.
Examiner, July 7, 1816.
The dog which his friend Launce brought as a present to Madam Silvia in lieu of a lap-dog, was something like "The Lay of the Laureate," which Mr. Southey has here offered to the Princess Charlotte for a Nuptial Song. It is "a very currish performance, and deserves none but currish thanks." Launce thought his own dog, Crab, better than any other; and Mr. Southey thinks his own praises the fittest compliment for a lady's ear. His Lay is ten times as long, and he thinks it is therefore ten times better than an Ode of Mr. Pye's.
Mr. Southey in this poem takes a tone which was never heard before in a drawing-room. It is the first time that ever a Reformist was made Poet-laureate. Mr. Croker was wrong in introducing his old friend, the author of "Joan of Arc," at Carlton House. He might have known how it would be. If we had doubted the good old adage before, "Once a Jacobin and always a Jacobin," since reading "The Lay of the Laureate," we are sure of it. A Jacobin is one who would have his single opinion govern the world, and overturn every thing in it. Such a one is Mr. Southey. Whether he is a Republican or a Royalist,— whether he hurls up the red cap of liberty, or wears the lily, stained with the blood of all his old acquaintance, at his breast,—whether he glories in Robespierre or the Duke of Wellington,—whether he pays a visit to Old Sarum, or makes a pilgrimage to Waterloo,—whether he is praised by The Courier, or parodied by Mr. Canning,—whether he thinks a King the best or the worst man in his dominions,—whether he is a Theophilanthropist or a Methodist of the church of England,—whether he is a friend of Universal Suffrage and Catholic Emancipation, or a Quarterly Reviewer,—whether he insists on an equal division of lands, or of knowledge,—whether he is for converting infidels to Christianity, or Christians to infidelity,—whether he is for pulling down the kings of the East or those of the West,—whether he sharply sets his face against all establishments, or maintains that whatever is, is right,—whether he prefers what is old to what is new, or what is new to what is old,—whether he believes that all human evil is remediable by human means, or makes it out to himself that a Reformer is worse than a house-breaker,—whether he is in the right or the wrong, poet or prose-writer, courtier or patriot,—he is still the same pragmatical person—every sentiment or feeling that he has is nothing but the effervescence of incorrigible overweening self-opinion. He not only thinks whatever opinion he may hold for the time infallible, but that no other is even to be tolerated, and that none but knaves and fools can differ with him. "The friendship of the good and wise is his." If any one is so unfortunate as to hold the same opinions that he himself formerly did, this but aggravates the offence by irritating the jealousy of his self-love, and he vents upon them a double portion of his spleen. Such is the constitutional slenderness of his understanding, its "glassy essence," that the slightest collision of sentiment gives an irrecoverable shock to him. He regards a Catholic or a Presbyterian, a Deist or an Atheist, with equal repugnance, and makes no difference between the Pope, the Turk, and the Devil. He thinks a rival poet a bad man, and would suspect the principles, moral, political, and religious, of any one who did not spell the word laureate with an e at the end of it.—If Mr. Southey were a bigot, it would be well; but he has only the intolerance of bigotry. His violence is not the effect of attachment to any principles, prejudices, or paradoxes of his own, but of antipathy to those of others. It is an impatience of contradiction, an unwillingness to share his opinions with others, a captious monopoly of wisdom, candour, and common sense. He is not an enthusiast in religion, but he is an enemy to philosophers; he does not respect old establishments, but he hates new ones; he has no objection to regicides, but he is inexorable against usurpers; he will tell you that "the re-risen cause of evil" in France yielded to "the Red Cross and Britain's arm of might," and shortly after, he denounces this Red Cross as the scarlet whore of Babylon, and warns Britain against her eternal malice and poisoned cup; he calls on the Princess Charlotte in the name of the souls of ten thousand little children, who are without knowledge in this age of light, "Save or we perish," and yet sooner than they should be saved by Joseph Fox or Joseph Lancaster, he would see them damned; he would go himself into Egypt and pull down "the barbarous kings" of the East, and yet his having gone there on this very errand is not among the least of Bonaparte's crimes; he would "abate the malice" of the Pope and the Inquisition, and yet he cannot contain the fulness of his satisfaction at the fall of the only person who had both the will and the power to do this. Mr. Southey began with a decent hatred of kings and priests, but it yielded to his greater hatred of the man who trampled them in the dust. He does not feel much affection to those who are born to thrones, but that any one should gain a crown as he has gained the laureate-wreath, by superior merit alone, was the unpardonable sin against Mr. Southey's levelling Muse!
The poetry of the Lay is beneath criticism; it has all sorts of obvious common-place defects, without any beauties either obvious or recondite. It is the Namby-Pamby of the Tabernacle; a Methodist sermon turned into doggrel verse. It is a gossipping confession of Mr. Southey's political faith—the "Practice of Piety" or the "Whole Duty of Man" mixed up with the discordant slang of the metaphysical poets of the nineteenth century. Not only do his sentiments every where betray the old Jacobinical leaven, the same unimpaired desperate unprincipled spirit of partisanship, regardless of time, place, and circumstance, and of every thing but its own headstrong will; there is a gipsey jargon in the expression of his sentiments which is equally indecorous. Does our Laureate think it according to court-etiquette that he should be as old-fashioned in his language as in the cut of his clothes?—On the present occasion, when one might expect a truce with impertinence, he addresses the Princess neither with the fancy of the poet, the courtier's grace, nor the manners of a gentleman, but with the air of an inquisitor or father-confessor. Geo. Fox, the Quaker, did not wag his tongue more saucily against the Lord's Anointed in the person of Charles II., than our Laureate here assures the daughter of his Prince, that so shall she prosper in this world and the next, as she minds what he says to her. Would it be believed (yet so it is) that, in the excess of his unauthorized zeal, Mr. Southey in one place advises the Princess conditionally to rebel against her father? Here is the passage. The Angel of the English church thus addresses the Royal Bride:—
"Bear thou that great Eliza in thy mind,
Who from a wreck this fabric edified;
And Her who to a nation's voice resigned,
When Rome in hope its wiliest engines plied,
By her own heart and righteous Heaven approved,
Stood up against the Father whom she loved."
This is going a good way. Is it meant, that if the Prince Regent, "to a nation's voice resigned," should grant Catholic Emancipation in defiance of the "Quarterly Review," Mr. Southey would encourage the Princess in standing up against her father, in imitation of the pious and patriotic daughter of James II.?
This quaint effusion of poetical fanaticism is divided into four parts, the Proem, the Dream, the Epilogue, and L'Envoy. The Proem opens thus:—
"There was a time when all my youthful thought
Was of the Muse; and of the Poet's fame,
How fair it flourisheth and fadeth not, .....
Alone enduring, when the Monarch's name
Is but an empty sound, the Conqueror's bust
Moulders and is forgotten in the dust."
This may be very true, but not so proper to be spoken in this place. Mr. Southey may think himself a greater man than the Prince Regent, but he need not go to Carlton-House to tell him so. He endeavours to prove that the Prince Regent and the Duke of Wellington (put together) are greater than Bonaparte, but then he is by his own rule greater than all three of them. We have here perhaps the true secret of Mr. Southey's excessive anger at the late Usurper. If all his youthful thought was of his own inborn superiority to conquerors and kings, we can conceive that Bonaparte's fame must have appeared a very great injustice done to his pretensions: it is not impossible that the uneasiness with which he formerly heard the names of Marengo, of Austerlitz, of Jena, of Wagram, of Friedland, and of Borodino, may account for the industrious self-complacency with which he harps upon those of Busaco, Vimiera, Salamanca, Vittoria, Thoulouse, and Waterloo; and that the Iron Crown of Italy must have pressed upon his (Mr. Southey's) brows, with a weight most happily relieved by the light laureate-wreath! We are justified in supposing Mr. Southey capable of envying others, for he supposes others capable of envying him. Thus he sings of himself and his office:—
"Yea in this now, while malice frets her hour,
Is foretaste given me of that meed divine;
Here undisturbed in this sequestered bower,
The friendship of the good and wise is mine;
And that green wreath which decks the Bard when dead,
That laureate garland crowns my living head.
That wreath which in Eliza's golden days
My master dear, divinest Spenser, wore,
That which rewarded Drayton's learned lays,
Which thoughtful Ben and gentle Daniel bore...
Grin, Envy, through thy ragged mask of scorn!
In honour it was given, with honour it is worn!"
Now we do assure Mr. Southey, that we do not envy him this honour. Many people laugh at him, some may blush for him, but nobody envies him. As to Spenser, whom he puts in the list of great men who have preceded him in his office, his laureateship has been bestowed on him by Mr. Southey; it did not "crown his living head." We all remember his being refused the hundred pounds for his "Fairy Queen." Poets were not wanted in those days to celebrate the triumphs of princes over the people. But why does he not bring his list down nearer to his own time—to Pye and Whitehead and Colley Cibber? Does Mr. Southey disdain to be considered as the successor even of Dryden? That green wreath which decks our author's living head, is so far from being, as he would insinuate, an anticipation of immortality, that it is no credit to any body, and least of all to Mr. Southey. He might well have declined the reward of exertions in a cause which throws a stigma of folly or something worse on the best part of his life. Mr. Southey ought not to have received what would not have been offered to the author of "Joan of Arc."
Mr. Southey himself maintains that his song has still been "to Truth and Freedom true;" that he has never changed his opinions; that it is the cause of French liberty that has left him, not he the cause. That may be so. But there is one person in the kingdom who has, we take it, been at least as consistent in his conduct and sentiments as Mr. Southey, and that person is the King. Thus the Laureate emphatically advises the Princess:—
"Look to thy Sire, and in his steady way,
As in his Father's he, learn thou to tread."
Now the question is, whether Mr. Southey agreed with his Majesty on the subject of the French Revolution when he published "Joan of Arc." Though Mr. Southey "as beseems him well" congratulates the successes of the son, we do not recollect that he condoled with the disappointments of the father in the same cause. The King has not changed, therefore Mr. Southey has. The sun does not turn to the sun-flower; but the sun-flower follows the sun. Our poet has thoughtlessly committed himself in the above lines. He may be right in applauding that one sole purpose of his Majesty's reign which he formerly condemned: that he can be consistent in applauding what he formerly condemned, is impossible. That his majesty King George III. should make a convert of Mr. Southey rather than Mr. Southey of George III. is probable for many reasons. The King by siding with the cause of the people could not, like King William, have gained a crown: Mr. Southey, by deserting it, has got a hundred pounds a-year. A certain English ambassador, who had a long time resided at the court of Rome, was on his return introduced at the levee of Queen Caroline. This lady, who was almost as great a prig as Mr. Southey, asked him why in his absence he did not try to make a convert of the Pope to the Protestant religion. He answered, "Madam, the reason was that I had nothing better to offer his Holiness than what he already has in his possession." The Pope would no doubt have been of the same way of thinking. This is the reason why kings, from sire to son, pursue "their steady way," and are less changeable than canting cosmopolites.
The Lay of the Laureate, Carmen Nuptiale, by Robert Southey, Esq. Poet-Laureate, Member of the Royal Spanish Academy, and of the Royal Spanish Academy of History.—London: Longmans, 1816.
"Queen. Hamlet, thou hast thy Father much offended.
"Hamlet. Madam, you have my Father much offended."
July 14, 1816.
Though we do not think Mr. Southey has been quite consistent, we do not think him a hypocrite. This poem proves it. How should he maintain the same opinion all his life, when he cannot maintain it for two stanzas together? The weakness of his reasoning shews that he is the dupe of it. He has not the faculty of perceiving contradictions. He is not accountable for his mistakes. There is not a single sentiment advanced in any part of the Lay, which is not flatly denied in some other part of it. Let us see:—
"Proudly I raised the high thanksgiving strain
Of victory in a rightful cause achieved:
For which I long had looked and not in vain,
As one who with firm faith and undeceived,
In history and the heart of man could find
Sure presage of deliverance for mankind."
Mr. Southey does not inform us in what year he began to look for this deliverance, but if he had looked for it long, he must have looked for it long in vain. Does our poet then find no presage of deliverance for "conquered France" in the same principles that he found it for "injured Germany?" But he has no principles; or he does not himself know what they are. He praises Providence in this particular instance for having conformed to his hopes; and afterwards thus gives us the general results of his leading in history and the human heart. In the Dream he says, speaking of Charissa and Speranza—
"This lovely pair unrolled before the throne
"Earth's melancholy map," whereon to sight
Two broad divisions at a glance were shown,
The empires these of darkness and of light.
Well might the thoughtful bosom sigh to mark
How wide a portion of the map was dark.
Behold, Charissa cried, how large a space
Of earth lies unredeemed! Oh grief to think
That countless myriads of immortal race
In error born, in ignorance must sink,
Trained up in customs which corrupt the heart,
And following miserably the evil part!
Regard the expanded Orient from the shores
Of scorched Arabia and the Persian sea,
To where the inhospitable Ocean roars
Against the rocks of frozen Tartary;
Look next at those Australian isles which lie
Thick as the stars which stud the wintry sky.
Then let thy mind contemplative survey
That spacious region where in elder time
Earth's unremembered conquerors held the sway;
And Science trusting in her skill sublime,
With lore abstruse the sculptured walls o'erspread,
Its import now forgotten with the dead.
From Nile and Congo's undiscovered springs
To the four seas which gird the unhappy land,
Behold it left a prey to barbarous Kings,
The Robber and the Trader's ruthless hand;
Sinning and suffering, everywhere unblest,
Behold her wretched sons, oppressing and opprest!"
This is "a pretty picture" to be drawn by one who finds in the past history of the world the sure presage of deliverance for mankind. We grant indeed that Mr. Southey was right in one thing, viz. in expecting from it that sort of "deliverance of mankind," bound hand and foot, into the power of Kings and Priests, which has actually come to pass, and which he has celebrated with so much becoming pomp, both here and elsewhere. The doctrine of "millions made for one" has to be sure got a tolerable footing in the East. It has attained a very venerable old age there—it is mature even to rottenness, but without decay. "Old, old, Master Shallow," but eternal. It is transmitted down in unimpaired succession from sire to son. Snug's the word. Legitimacy is not there militant, but triumphant, as the Editor of The Times would wish. It is long since the people had any thing to do with the laws but to obey them, or any laws to obey but the will of their task-masters. This is the necessary end of legitimacy. The Princes and Potentates cut one another's throats as they please, but the people have no hand in it. They have no French Revolutions there, no rights of man to terrify barbarous kings, no republicans or levellers, no weathercock deliverers and redeliverers of mankind, no Mr. Southeys nor Mr. Wordsworths. In this they are happy. Things there are perfectly settled, in the state in which they should be,—still as death, and likely to remain so. Mr. Southey's exquisite reason for supposing that a crusade to pull down divine right would succeed in the East, is that a crusade to prop it up has just succeeded in the West. That will never do. Besides, what security can he give, if he goes on improving in wisdom for the next five and twenty years as he has done for the last, that he would not in the end be as glad to see these "barbarous kings" restored to their rightful thrones, as he is now anxious to see them tumbled from them? The doctrine of "divine right" is of longer standing and more firmly established in the East than in the West, because the Eastern world is older than ours. We might say of it,
"The wars it well remembers of King Nine,
"Of old Assaracus and Inachus divine."
It is fixed on the altar and the throne, safe, quite safe against Mr. Southey's enthusiasm in its second spring, his Missionary Societies, and his Schools for All. It overlays that vast continent, like an ugly incubus, sucking the blood and stopping up the breath of man's life. That detestable doctrine, which in England first tottered and fell headless to the ground with the martyred Charles; which we kicked out with his son James, and kicked twice back with two Pretenders, to make room for "Brunswick's fated line," a line of our own chusing, and for that reason worth all Mr. Southey's lines put together; that detestable doctrine, which the French, in 1793, ousted from their soil, thenceforward sacred in the eyes of humanity, which they ousted from it again in 1815, making it doubly sacred; and which (oh grief, oh shame) was borne into it once more on English shoulders, and thrust down their throats with English bayonets; this detestable doctrine, which would, of right and with all the sanctions of religion and morality, sacrifice the blood of millions to the least of its prejudices; which would make the rights, the happiness, and liberty of nations, from the beginning to the end of time, dependent on the caprice of some of the lowest and vilest of the species; which rears its bloated hideous form to brave the will of a whole people; that claims mankind as its property, and allows human nature to exist only upon sufferance; that haunts the understanding like a frightful spectre, and oppresses the very air with a weight that is not to be borne; this doctrine meets with no rubs, no reverses, no ups and downs, in the East. It is there fixed, immutable. The Jaggernaut there passes on with its "satiate" scythe over the bleeding bodies of its victims, who are all as loyal, as pious, and as thankful as Mr. Southey. It meets with no opposition from any "re-risen cause of evil" or of good. Mankind have there been delivered once for all!
In the passage above quoted, Mr. Southey founds his hope of the emancipation of the Eastern world from "the Robber and the Trader's ruthless hand" on our growing empire in India. This is a conclusion which nobody would venture upon but himself. His last appeal is to scripture, and still he is unfortunate:—
"Speed thou the work, Redeemer of the World!
That the long miseries of mankind may cease!
Where'er the Red Cross banner is unfurled,
There let it carry truth; and light, and peace!
Did not the Angels who announced thy birth,
Proclaim it with the sound of Peace on Earth?"
From the length of time that this prediction has remained unfulfilled, Mr. Southey thinks its accomplishment must be near. His Odes will not hasten the event.
Again, we do not understand the use which Mr. Southey makes of the Red Cross in this poem. For speaking of himself he says,
"And when that last and most momentous hour
Beheld the re-risen cause of evil yield
To the Red Cross and England's arm of power,
I sung of Waterloo's unrivalled field,
Paying the tribute of a soul embued
With deepest joy, devout and awful gratitude."
This passage occurs in the Proem. In the Dream the Angel of the English Church is made to warn the Princess—
"Think not that lapse of ages shall abate
The inveterate malice of that Harlot old;
Fallen tho' thou deemest her from her high estate,
She proffers still the envenomed cup of gold,
And her fierce Beast, whose names are blasphemy,
The same that was, is still, and still must be."
It is extraordinary that both these passages relate to one and the same thing, namely, Popery, which our author in the first identifies with the Christian religion, thus invoking to his aid every pure feeling or pious prejudice in the minds of his readers, and in the last denounces as that Harlot old, "whose names are blasphemy," with all the fury of plenary inspiration. This is a great effort of want of logic. Mr. Southey will hardly sing or say that it was to establish Protestantism in France that England's arm of power was extended on this occasion. Nor was it simply to establish Popery. That existed there already. It was to establish "the inveterate malice of that Harlot old," her "envenomed cup," to give her back her daggers and her fires, her mummeries, her holy oil, her power over the bodies and the minds of men, to restore Her "the same that she was, is still, and still must be," that that celebrated fight was fought. The massacres of Nismes followed hard upon the triumph of Mr. Southey's Red Cross. The blood of French Protestants began to flow almost before the wounds of the dying and the dead in that memorable carnage had done festering. This was the most crying injustice, the most outrageous violation of principle, that ever was submitted to. What! has John Bull nothing better to do now-a-days than to turn bottle-holder to the Pope of Rome, to whet his daggers for him, to light his fires, and fill his poisoned bowl; and yet, out of pure complaisance (a quality John has learnt from his new friends the Bourbons) not venture a syllable to say that we did not mean him to use them? It seems Mr. Southey did not think this a fit occasion for the interference of his Red Cross Muse. Could he not trump up a speech either for "divine Speranza," or "Charissa dear," to lay at the foot of the throne? Was the Angel of the English Church dumb too—"quite chop-fallen?" Yet though our Laureate cannot muster resolution enough to advise the Prince to protect Protestants in France, he plucks up spirit enough to urge him to persecute Catholics in this country, and pretty broadly threatens him with the consequences, if he does not. "'Tis much," as Christopher Sly says.
There is another subject on which Mr. Southey's silence is still more inexcusable. It was understood to be for his exertions in the cause of Spanish liberty that he was made Poet-Laureate. It is then high time for him to resign. Why has he not written a single ode to a single Spanish patriot who has been hanged, banished, imprisoned, sent to the galleys, assassinated, tortured? It must be pleasant to those who are suffering under the thumbscrew to read Mr. Southey's thoughts upon that ingenious little instrument of royal gratitude. Has he discovered that the air of a Court does not very well agree with remonstrances against acts of oppression and tyranny, when exercised by those who are born for no other purpose? Is his patriotism only a false cover, a Carlton-House convenience? His silence on this subject is not equivocal. Whenever Mr. Southey shews the sincerity of his former professions of zeal in behalf of Spanish liberty, by writing an elegy on the death of Porlier, or a review of the conduct of Ferdinand VII. (he is a subject worthy of Mr. Southey's prose style), or by making the lame tailor of Madrid (we forget his name) the subject of an epic poem, we will retract all that we have said in disparagement of his consistency—But not till then.
We meant to have quoted several other passages, such as that in which old Praxis, that is, Experience, recommends it to the Princess to maintain the laws by keeping all that is old, and adding all that is new to them—that in which he regrets the piety and learning of former times, and then promises us a release from barbarism and brutishness by the modern invention of Sunday schools—that in which he speaks of his own virtues and the wisdom of his friends—that in which he undertakes to write a martyrology.—But we are very tired of the subject, and the verses are not worth quoting. There is a passage in Racine which is; and with that, we take our leave of the Laureate, to whom it may convey some useful hints in explanation of his ardent desire for the gibbeting of Bonaparte and the burning of Paris:—
Nabal.—Que peut vous inspirer une haine si forte?
Est-ce que de Baal le zèle vous transporte?
Pour moi, vous le savez, descendu d'Ismaël,
Je ne sers ni Baal ni le Dieu d'Israel.
Mathan.—Ami, peux-tu penser que d'un zèle frivole
Je me laisse aveugler pour une vaine idole!
Né ministre du Dieu qu'en ce temple on adore,
Peut-être que Mathau le serviroit encore,
Si l'amour des grandeurs, la soif de commander,
Avec son joug étroit pouvoient s'accommoder.
Qu'est-il besoin, Nabal, qu'à tes yeux je rappelle
De Joad et de moi la fameuse querelle?
Vaincu par lui j'entrai dans une autre carrière,
Et mon âme à la cour s'attacha tout entière.
J'approchai par degrés l'oreille des rois;
Et bientôt en oracle on erigea ma voix.
J'étudiai leur cœur, je flattai leurs caprices,
Je leur semai de fleurs le bord des précipices:
Près de leurs passions rien ne me fut sacré;
De mesure et de poids je changeois à leur gré,
Autant que de Joad l'inflexible rudesse
De leur superbe oreille offensoit la mollesse;
Autant je les charmois par ma dextérité,
Dérobant à leur yeux la triste vérité,
Prêtant a leur fureur des couleurs favourables,
Et prodigue sur-tout du sang des misérables.
. . . . . . .
Déserteur de leur loi, j'approvai l'entreprise,
Et par là de Baal méritai la pretrise;
Par là je me rendis terrible a mon rival,
Je ceignis la tiare, et marchai son égal.
Toutefois, je l'avoue, en ce comble de gloire,
De Dieu que j'ai quitté l'importune mémoire
Jette encore en mon ame un reste de terreur;
Et c'est ce qui redouble et nourrit ma fureur.
Heureux, si sur son temple achevant ma vengeance,
Je puis convaincre enfin sa haine d'impuissance,
Et parmi les débris, les ravages, et les morts,
A force d'attentats perdre tous mes remords.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE EXAMINER.
Sir,—I hope you will not omit to notice two passages in Mr. Southey's poem, in which, to try his talent at natural description, he gives an account of two of "the fearfullest wild-fowl living"—a British Lion and a Saxon one. Both are striking likenesses, and would do to hang on the outside of Exeter-'Change to invite the curious. The former (presumed not to be indigenous) is described to be in excellent case, well-fed, getting in years and corpulent, with a high collar buried in the fat of the neck, false mane, large haunches (for which this breed is remarkable), paws like a shin of beef, large rolling eyes, a lazy, lounging animal, sleeping all day and roaring all night, a great devourer of carcases and breaker of bones, pleased after a full meal, and his keepers not then afraid of him. Inclined to be uxorious. Visited by all persons of distinction, from the highest characters abroad down to the lowest at home.—The other portrait of the Saxon Lion is a contrast to this. It is a poor lean starved beast, lord neither of men nor lands, galled with its chain, which it has broken, but has not got off from its neck. This portrait is, we understand, to be dedicated to Lord Castlereagh.—Your constant reader,
Ne Quid Nimis.
- The ignorant will suppose that these are two proper names.
- "Carnage is her daughter."—Mr. Wordsworth's Thanksgiving Ode.
- This article falls somewhat short of its original destination, by our having been forced to omit two topics, the praise of Bonaparte, and the abuse of poetry. The former we leave to history: the latter we have been induced to omit from our regard to two poets of our acquaintance. We must say they have spoiled sport. One of them has tropical blood in his veins, which gives a gay, cordial, vinous spirit to his whole character. The other is a mad wag,—who ought to have lived at the Court of Horwendillus, with Yorick and Hamlet,—equally desperate in his mirth and his gravity, who would laugh at a funeral and weep at a wedding, who talks nonsense to prevent the head-ache, who would wag his flutter at a skeleton, whose jests scald like tears, who makes a joke of a great man, and a hero of a cat's paw. The last is more than Mr. Garrard or Mr. Turnerelli—can do. The busts which these gentlemen have made of a celebrated General are very bad. His head is worth nothing unless it is put on his men's shoulders.