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But Crusca still has merit, and may claim
A linsey-woolsey song, framed with such ease,
No, mewl thou still: and, while thy d-s join
Might tempt e'en Vaughan to whisper, "This is Their melancholy symphonies to thine,
Vaughan! well remember'd.
He, good man, The well earned fame it robb'd them of before:
Drop from the gentle mouths of Vaughan and Co.,
Right! cry the brethren. When the heaven
complains That I affix'd his name to Edwin's strains:
into plain Mr.—" has honoured Mr. Tasker's poetical and other productions with high and distinguished marks of her approbation."-Gazetteer, Jan. 16.
Why this is the very song of Prodicus, ή χειρ την χειpa krize for the rest, I trust my readers will readily subscribe to the praises which these most "competent and disinterested judges" have reciprocally lavished upon each other. But allons!
'Tis just-for what three kindred souls have done,
The force of folly can no farther go! *Edwin's strains.-If the reader will turn to the conclusion of the Baviad, he will find a delicious Extratov on a tame mouse, by this gentleman. As it seemed to give universal satisfaction, I embrace the opportunity of
Shames her descent, and, for low, earthly views,
laying before the public another effusion of the same exquisite pen.
It will be found, I flatter myself, not less beautiful than the former; and fully prove that the author, though ostensibly devoted to elegy, can, on a proper occasion, assume an air of gayety, and be "profound" with ease, and instructive with elegance.
"On the circumstance of a mastiff's running furiously (sad dog!) toward two young ladies, and, upon coming up to them, becoming instantly gentle (good dog !) and tractable."
Tantum ad narrandum argumentum est benignitas! "When Orpheus took his lyre to hell,
To fetch his rib away,
On that same thing he pleased so well,
"Besides, in books it may be read,
"But here we can with justice say,
He sang a mastiff's rage away,
You look'd one through the heart." Fecit Edwin. *Cesario. In the Baviad are a few stanzas of a most delectable ode to an owl. They were ascribed to Arno; nor was I conscious of any mistake, till I received a polite note from that gentleman, assuring me that he was not only not the author of them, but (horresco referens) that he thought them "execrable." Mr. Bell, on the other hand, affirms them to be "admirable."
Lorenzo, Reuben, spare: far be the thought
"Soothing those fond dreams of pleasure,
Gently wing thy aery flight."-Cesario. Though I flatter myself that I have good sense and taste enough to see and admire the peculiar beauties of this ode, yet a regard for truth obliges me to declare that they are not original. They are taken (with improvements, I confess) from a most beautiful "Song by a person of quality," in Pope's Miscellanies. This, though it detracts a little from Cesario's inventive powers, still leaves him the praise (no mean one) of having gone beyond that great poet, in what he probably considered as the ne plus ultra of ingenuity.
Venimus ad summum fortune! Mr. Greathead equals Shakspeare, Mrs. Robinson surpasses Milton, and Cesario outdoes Pope in that very performance which he vainly imagined so complete as to take away all desire of imitating, all possibility of excelling it!
"O favour'd clime! O happy age!"
+ Carlos. I have nothing of this gentleman (a most pertinacious scribbler in the Oracle) but the following "sonnet;" luckily, however, it is so ineffably stupid, that it will more than satisfy any readers but Mr. Bell's. "ON A LADY'S PORTRAIT. "Oft hath the poet hail'd the breath of morn,
That wakens nature with the voice of spring, And oft, when purple summer feeds the lawn,
Hath fancy touch'd him with her procreant wing; Full frequent has he bless'd the golden beam
Which yellow autumn glowing spreads around, And though pale winter press'd a paly gleam,
Fresh in his breast was young description found."
Adelaide.-And who is Adelaide ? O seri studiorum! "Not to know her, argues yourselves unknown." Hear Mr. Bell, the Longinus of newspaper writers.
They pour" from their big breast's prolific zone
age," who, from her flippant nonsense, appears to be Mrs. Piozzi, were it not for the sake of remarking, that, whatever be the merit of "drawing out the fine powers of Arno," (which, it seems, this ungrateful country has not yet rewarded with a statue,) she must be content to share it with Julia. Hear her invocation-but first hear Mr. Bell. "A most elegant compliment, which for generous esteem has been seldom equalled, any more than the muse which inspired it."
"He who is here addressed by the first lyric writer in the kingdom, must himself endeavour to repay a debt so highly honourable, if it can be done by verse! This lady shall have the praise which ought to be given by the country, that of first discovering and drawing out the fine powers of Arno and Della Crusca."
"O thou, whom late I watch'd, while o'er thee hung
§ See note §, next col.
I See note |, ib.
"JULIA TO ARNO.
"Arno! where steals thy dulcet lay,
Soft as the evening's minstrel note,
Or on the noontide breezes float?"
Mrs. Robinson (for we may as well drop the name of Julia) has been guilty of a trifling larceny here; having taken from the Baviad, without any acknowledgment, a delicious couplet, which I flattered myself would never have been seen out of that poem; but so it is, that, like Pope,
"Write whate'er I will,
Some rising genius sins up to it still."
I can copy no more-Job himself would lose all patience here. Instead, therefore, of the remainder of this incomprehensible trash, I will give the reader a string of judicious observations by Mr. T. Vaughan: "Bruyere says, he will allow that good writers are scarce enough, but adds, and justly, that good critics are equally so: which reminds our correspondent also of what the Abbé Trublet writes, speaking of professed critics, where he says, they were obliged to examine authors impartiallythere would be fewer writers in this way. Was this to be the liberal practice adopted by our modern critics, we should not see a Baviad-falling upon men and things that are much above his capacity, and seemingly for no other reason than because they are so."
A Daniel come to judgment, yea, a Daniel! This is induced himself to the World by the following
truth the reason; and when Mr. Vaughan and his coadjutors condescend to humble themselves to my understanding, I will endeavour to profit by their eloquent strictures.
"ADDRESS TO ANNA MATILDA.
Chameleon like, anon of various hue,
Such genius claim'd when she Idalia drew."—
Breathe life upon her dying lays,"
like "the daisy which spreads her bloom to the moist evening!" and accordingly produced a matchless "adornment of love," to the great contentment of the gentle Reuben.
This has nettled me a little, and possibly injured the great poetess in my opinion; for I have been robbed so often of late, that I begin to think with the old economist
Οὗτος αοιδων λωστος ἧς εξ εμεν οισεται ουδεν.
For the rest, this "elegant invocation" called forth a specimen of Arno's fine powers in the following dulcct lays.
"ARNO TO JULIA.
Guides to his heart the desolating fire,
Και πως εγω Σθενελου φαγοιμ' αν ρημα τι,
Says a hungry wight in an old comedy. But I know of
|| Reuben, whom I take to be Mr. Greathead in disguise, (it being this gentleman's fate, like Hercules of old, to assume the merit of all unappropriated prodigies,) intro
"But, bard polite, how hard the task
Who would have imagined that these lines, the simple
To souls like theirs ;" as Anna's youth inspires,
As Henriet-For heaven's sake, not so fast.
And is thy active folly adding more
To this most worthless, most superfluous store?
*Mr. Parsons is extremely angry at my "ostentatious intrusion" of the "Otium Divos" into the notes on this poem. What could I do? I ever disliked publishing my little modicums on loose pages-but I shall grow wiser by
Forbear, forbear:-What though thou canst not his example! and, indeed, am even now composing" one
riddle, two rebusses, and one acrostic to a babe at nurse," which will be set forth with all convenient speed. Meanwhile I am tempted to offend once more, and subjoin the only three of my "wild strains" that now live in my recollection. I can assure Mr. Parsons that they were written on the occasions they profess to beand the last of them at a time when I had no idea of surviving to provoke his indignation:
-Sed Cynara breves
The sacred honours of a POET's name,
Then shame ensued, and vain regret, t' have spent
tribute of gratitude to genius, should nearly occasion "a perdition of souls?" Yet so it was. They unfortunately roused the jealousy of Della Crusca "on the sportive banks of the Rhone." One luckless evening
"When twilight on the western edge
Had twined his hoary hair with sabling sedge," as he was "weeping" (for, like Master Stephen, these good creatures think it necessary to be always melancholy) at the tomb of Laura, he started, as well he might, at the accursed name of Reuben.
"Hark! (quoth he,)
What cruel sounds are these
Which float upon the languid breeze,
For him my faithless Anna," &c.
It pains me to add, that the cold-blooded Bell has destroyed this beautiful fancy-scene with one stroke of his clownish pen. In a note on the above verses, Album, p 134, he officiously informs us that Della Crusca knew nothing of his rival, till he read"-detested word!-"his sonnet in the Oracle." O Bell! Bell! is it thus thou humblest the strains of the sublime? Surely we may say of thee, what was not ill said of one of thy sisters,
Sed tu insulsa male et molesta vives,
They pour, &c.
And chased the oppressive doubts which round me
And fired my breast, and loosen'd all my tongue.
How oft, O Dart! what time the faithful pair
TO A TUFT OF EARLY VIOLETS.
Sweet flowers! that, from your humble beds,
Are not the genial brood of May;
Stern winter's reign is not yet past—
Lo! while your buds prepare to blow,
And nips your root, and lays you low.
Alas, for such ungentle doom!
But I will shield you; and supply
Come then-ere yet the morning ray
Has drunk the dew that gems your crest,
O come, and grace my Anna's breast.
Ye droop, fond flowers! but, did ye know
What worth, what goodness there reside,
Her riches to the stores of art,
The soft, the sympathizing heart.
Has drunk the dew that gems your crest,
By one short hour of transport there.
1 See "one epigram, two sonnets, and one ode to a boy at school, by W. Parsons, Esq." The "one ode" was expressly written to show the folly and absurdity of Gray's ode to Eton College, which the "boy at school" was very properly called to attest. What the "one epigram" an 1 the "two son nets" were written for nobody knows,
While THOU hast sweetly gurgled down the vale,
More bless'd than me, thus shall ye live
While I, alas! no distant date,
Mix with the dust from whence I came, Without a friend to weep my fate,
Without a stone to tell my name.
First of May. Though clouds obscured the morning hour, And keen and eager blew the blast, And drizzling fell the cheerless shower, As, doubtful, to the skiff we pass'd; All soon, propitious to our prayer,
Gave promise of a brighter day: The clouds dispersed in purer air,
The blast in zephyrs died away. So have we, love, a day enjoy'd,
On which we both, and yet, who knows?— May dwell with pleasure unalloy'd
And dread no thorn beneath the rose.
How pleasant, from that dome-crown'd hill
We overhung that long-drawn dale,
Proclaim'd the noontide hour expired,
Which richer tables may not know.-
Looks up to catch a parting smile, Feels less assured than thou, dear maid
When, ere thy ruby lips could part, (As close to mine thy cheek was laid,) Thine eyes had open'd all thy heart. Then, then I mark'd the chasten'd joy
That lightly o'er thy features stole, From vows repaid, (my sweet employ,) From truth, from innocence of soul: While every word dropp'd on my ear,
So soft, (and yet it seems to thrill,) So sweet, that 'twas a heaven to hear, And e'en thy pause had music still.And O! how like a fairy dream,
To gaze in silence on the tide, While soft and warm the sunny gleam Slept on the glassy surface wide! And many a thought of fancy bred,
Wild, soothing, tender, undefined, Play'd lightly round the heart, and shed Delicious languor o'er the mind.
Since this, while Merry and his nurslings die,
In L's Review, or Urban's Magazine.
O, for thy spirit, Pope! Yet why, my lays, Which wake no envy, and invite no praise,
So hours like moments wing'd their flight, Till now the boatman, on the shore, Impatient of the waning light,
Recall'd us by the dashing oar.
Well, Anna, many days like this
I cannot, must not hope to share ; For I have found an hour of bliss Still follow'd by an age of care Yet oft, when memory intervenes
But you, dear maid, be happy still, Nor e'er regret, 'mid fairer scenes, The day we pass'd on Greenwich Hill.
THE GRAVE OF ANNA.
I wish I was where Anna lies,
Go, and partake her humble bier.
I wish I could! For when she died,
And weeds that have no business there?
And who, with pious hand, shall bring
The flowers she cherish'd, snow-drops cold, And violets that unheeded spring,
To scatter o'er her hallow'd mould?
And who, while memory loves to dwell
I did it: and, would fate allow,
Should visit still, should still deploreBut health and strength have left me now, And I, alas! can weep no more.
Take then, sweet maid, this simple strain,
Thy grave must then undeck'd remain,
Thy voice, that might with music vie,
Thy courage, by no ills dismay'd,
Thy gay good-humour-Can they 'fade?'
Perhaps but sorrow dims my eye:
Cold turf, which I no more must view, Dear name, which I no more must sigh, A long, a last, a sad adieu!
* Thrill'd, &c.
"Bid the streamy lightnings fly
In liquid peril from thy eye."-Della Crusca.
"Ne'er shalt thou know to sigh,
Or on a soft idea die,
Ne'er on a recollection grasp
Thy arms."-Ohe ! jam satis est.-Anna Matilda.
Half creeping and half flying, yet suffice
Burgoyne, perhaps, unchill'd by creeping age,
And yet Elfrida's bard, though time has shed
Fill with delight the sober ear of taste.
But these, and more, I could with honour name,
Sick of th' eternal croaks, which, ever near,
Burgoyne.-See note, 2d col. p. 174.
And you, too, whole Menander, &c.-0 spem fallacem! Our Menander has since "stolen an hour" (it would be injustice to suppose it more) from public pursuits, and prostituted it to the reproduction of a German sooterkin.
Check'd his wood-notes wild.-ΣwaηoaνTWY Kodorov, εσύνται κύκνοι. But this is better illustrated in a most elegant fable of Lessing, to which I despair of doing justice in a translation.
(Dear to the feeling heart,) in doubt to win
The mischief, in its progress, to arrest,
HENCE! IN THE NAME-I scarce had spoke, when
Reams of outrageous sonnets, thick as snow,
indeed, replied the shepherd; but thy silence alone is the cause of it.
"There's comfort yet!"
* Reams of outrageous sonnets. Of these I have collected a very reasonable quantity, which I purpose to prefix to some future edition of the Mæviad, under the classic head of
BAV: ET MEV: INCLYTISS: AUCTORIS
Meanwhile I shall present the reader with the first two which occur, as a specimen of the collection.
"To the anonymous author of the Baviad, occasioned by his scurrilous and most unmerited attack on Mr. Weston.
"Demon of darkness! whosoe'er thou art,
That darest assume the brighter angel's form, And o'er the peaceful vale impel the storm,
With many a sigh to rend the honest heart,
Foul and malignant as thyself, depart.
Of imitators vile, intrude not!!! I appeal
Tell me, though fair the forms his fancy drew, Shouldst thou the secrets of his heart reveal,
Would fame his memory crown, or cover with disgrace? J. M.-Gent. Mag. Aug. 1792. This poor driveller, who is stupid enough to be Weston's admirer, and malignant enough to be his friend, I take to be one Morley; whom I now and then observe, in the
1I was right. Mr. Morley, who, I understand, is a clergyman, and who, like Mr. Parsons, exults in the idea of having first attacked me, has since published a "Tale," the wit, or rather dulness of which, if I recollect right, consists in my being disappointed of a living.
Here follow a few of the introductory lines, which for poetry and pleasantry can only be exceeded by those of Mr. Parsons.
"What if a little once I did abuse thee?
Worse than thou hadst deserved I could not use thee:
For when I spied thy satyr's cloven foot,
"Tis very true I took thee for a brute;
And, marking more attentively thy manners,
I since have wish'd thy hide were at the tanner's.
As pleased as Punch, I'd hold it in my gripe,
Till Parkinson had stuff'd thee for a snipe !!!"
It is rather singular that this still-born lump of insipidity should be introduced to the bookseller under the auspices of Dr. Parr. If that respectable name was not abused on the occasion, I can only say that politics, like misery, "bring a man acquainted with strange bedfellows!"
For the rest, I will present Mr. Morley with a couple of lines, which, if he will get them construed, and seriously reflect upon, before he next puts pen to paper, may be of more service to him than all the instruction, and all the encouragement the Doctor, apparently, ever gave him.
"Du zürnest, Liebling der Musen," &c. &c. Thou art troubled, darling of the Muses, thou art troubled at the clamorous swarms of insects which infest Parnassus. O hear from me what once the nightingale heard from the shepherd.
I find, from a letter which my publisher has received from Dr. Parr, that
Sing then, said he to the silent songstress, one lovely this note (which I have left in its original state) has given him some slight evening in the spring, sing then, sweet nightingale! Alas! sand the nightingale, the frogs croak so loud, that I have lost all desire to sing: dost thou not hear them? I do,
Cur ego laborem notus esse tam prave,
degree of uneasiness.
It is satisfactory to me to reflect that this uneasiness is founded on a misapprehension. When I remarked on the "singularity of Mr. Morley's 'Tale'