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an assault, and Wolcot would have inflicted severe chastisement on Gifford, but for the interference of a powerful Frenchman, who happened to be present, and who turned Wolcot out of the reading room, where the scene occurred, into the street, throwing his wig and cane after him. In 1802, appeared his long-promised version of Juvenal, which was attacked by the Critical Review, in an crudite but somewhat personal article, that called forth a reply from our author, entitled, Examination of the Strictures of the Critical Review upon Juvenal.
In 1805, and 1816, he published, successively, his editions of Massinger, and Ben Jonson; and in 1821, appeared his translation of Persius. He next edited the works of Ford, in two volumes; and he had proceeded with five volumes of those of Shirley, when his labours were terminated by his death. He died at Pimlico, on the 31st of December, 1826, and was interred in Westminster Abbey. Being a single man, he died in opulent circumstances; having enjoyed, for some years, an annuity from Lord Grosvenor, besides holding the office of pay. master of the band of gentleman pensioners, with a salary of 3002. a year; and, for a time, that of comptroller of the lottery, with a salary of 6007. a year.
The fame of Gifford rests principally upon his Juvenal, which occupied the greater part of his life, and was sent into the world with every advantage that could be derived from the most careful attention on the part of the author, and the correction of his most able friends. It still falls short, however, of Mr. Gifford's attempt to give
Juvenal entire, except in his grossness, and to make him speak as he would have spoken among us. In this he has so far failed, that whilst he omits to furnish the glowing imagery, luxuriant diction, and impetuous fluency of the Roman satirist, he has retained many of his worst and most objectionable passages. It has been well observed, by a writer in the New Monthly Magazine, that his translation presents us rather with the flail of an infatuated rustic, than with the exterminating falchion of Juvenal. His Baviad and Mæviad evince first-rate satirical powers; but in these, as in most of his writings, a degree of coarse virulence displays itself, which shows that literary associations had not refined his mind.
These satires would not have found a place in this collection, but for their intimate connexion with English literary history, and the influence they undoubtedly exerted in reforming public taste, and preparing the way for that galaxy of illustrious poets who succeeded him. Of late years Gifford was principally known as the editor of the Quarterly Review, a work established by himself in 1809, and of which he continued to be the conductor till 1824. He also for some time edited the Anti-jacobin newspaper, in which he displayed his usual acuteness, asperity, and subservience to the party by which he thrived; his politics being invariably those of his interest.
Gifford is chiefly known in America by his base and venomous attacks upon us in the Quarterly Review. These, however, were probably necessary in order for him to retain the direction of that periodical. He slandered for his bread.
Tota cohors tamen est inimica, omnesque manipli Consensu magno officiunt:-dignum erit ergo Declamatoris Mutinensis corde Vagelli,
Cum duo crura habeas, offendere tot caligatos!
stood too little of the language in which they were written to be disgusted with them. In this there was not much harm; nor, indeed, much good: but, as folly is progressive, they soon wrought themselves into an opinion that the fine things were really deserved, which they mutually said and sung
of each other.
Thus persuaded, they were unwilling that their IN 1785, a few English of both sexes, whom inimitable productions should be confined to the ince had jumbled together at Florence, took a little circle which produced them; they therefore fcy to while away their time in scribbling high-transmitted them hither; and, as their friends were f vn panegyrics on themselves, and complimentary canzonettas" on two or three Italians,† who under
* Among whom I find the names of Mrs. Piozzi, Mr. Greathead, Mr. Merry, Mr. Parsons, &c.
† Mrs. Piozzi has since published a work on what she is pleased to call British Synonymes: the better, I suppose, to enable these foreign gentlemen to comprehend her multifarious erudition.
strictly enjoined not to show them, they were first handed about the town with great assiduity, and then sent to the press.
A short time before the period of which we speak, a knot of fantastic coxcombs, headed by one Este,
as much Latin from a child's Syntax, as sufficed to expose the ignorance which she so anxiously labours to conceal. "If such a one be fit to write on Synonymes, speak." Pignotti himself laughs in his sleeve; and his countrymen, long since undeceived, prize the lady's talents at their true worth,
Et centum Tales: curto centusse licentur.2
Though no one better knows his own house" than 1 the vanity of this woman, yet the idea of her undertaking such a work had never entered my head; and I was thunderstruck when I first saw it announced. To execute it with any tolerable degree of success, required a rare con bination of talents, among the least of which may be numbered, neatness of style, acuteness of perception, and a more than common accuracy of discrimination; and Mrs. Piozzi brought to the task a jargon long nished the conjectural emendation above, which is highly spoken of by the since become proverbial for its vulgarity, an utter incabability of defining a single term in the language,and just
1 Quære Thrales!-Printer's Devil.
2 Thus translated by Mr. Bulmer's devil, (the young gentleman who fur
German critics :)
And, for a clipt half-crown, expose to sale A hundred Synomists like Madam Thrale.
had set up a daily paper called the World.
It is scarcely necessary to observe, that Yendas, and Laura Marias, and Tony Pasquins, have long claimed a prescriptive right to infest our periodical publications: but as the editors of them never pretended to criticise their harmless productions, they were merely perused, laughed at, and forgotten. A paper, therefore, which introduced their trash with hyperbolical encomiums, and called upon the town to admire it, was an acquisition of the utmost importance to these poor people, and naturally became the grand depository of their lucubrations.
not a day passed without an amatory epistle fraught with thunder and lightning, et quicquid habent telorum armamentaria cœli.-The fever turned to a frenzy; Laura Maria, Carlos, Orlando, Adelaide, and a thousand nameless names caught the infection: and from one end of the kingdom* to the other, all was nonsense and Della Crusca.
Even THEN, I waited, with a patience which I can better account for than excuse, for some one (abler than myself) to step forth to correct the growing depravity of the public taste, and check the inundation of absurdity now bursting upon us from a thousand springs. As no one appeared, and as the evil grew every day more alarming, (for bedridden old women, and girls at their samplers began to rave,) I determined, without much confidence of success, to try what could be effected by my feeble powers; and accordingly wrote the following poem.
At this auspicious period the first cargo of poetry arrived from Florence, and was given to the public through the medium of this favoured paper. There was a specious brilliancy in these exotics which dazzled the native grubs who had never ventured beyond a sheep, and a crook, and a rose tree grove, with an ostentatious display of "blue hills," and "crashing torrents," and "petrifying suns!"+ From I admiration to imitation is but a step. Honest Yonda tried his hand at a descriptive ode, and succeeded beyond his hopes; Anna Matilda followed; in a word,
Whoever has read the first editions of the BAVIAD must have perceived, that its satire was direct ed against the wretched taste of the followers of the Cruscan school, without the slightest reference to their other qualities, moral or political.
In this I should have persevered to the end, had not been provoked to transgress the bounds prescribed to myself, by the diabolical conduct of one of my heroes, the notorious Anthony Pasquin.
This man, who earned a miserable subsistence by working on the fear or vanity of artists, actors, &c., hardened by impunity, flew at length at higher
some time, Della Crusca became impatient for a sight
Tacta places, audita places, si non videare
Mr. Bell, however, tells the story another way. Accord ing to him, "Chance alone procured the interview." Whatever procured it, all the lovers of "true poetry," with Mrs. Piozzi at their head, expected wonders from it. The flame that burned with such ardour while the lady was yet unseen, they hoped would blaze with unexampled brightness at the sight of the bewitching object. Such were their hopes. But what, as Dr. Johnson
In this paper were given the earliest specimens of those unqualified and audacious attacks on all private character; which the town first smiled at for their quaintness, then tolerated for their absurdity, and now-gravely asks, are the hopes of man! or indeed of woman! that other papers, equally wicked, and more intelligible, have ventured to imitate it,-will have to lament to the last hour of British liberty.
for this fatal meeting put an end to the whole. With the exception of a marvellous dithyrambic, which Della Crusca wrote while the impression was yet warm upon him, and which consequently gave a most accurate account of it, nothing has since appeared to the honour of Anna Matilda: and the "tenth muse," the "angel," the "goddess," has sunk into an old woman; with the comforting reflection of having mumbled love to an ungrate ful swain.
-Non hic est sermo pudicus
In vetula, quoties lascivum intervenit illud
+ Here Mr. Parsons is pleased to advance his farthing rushlight. "Crashing torrents and petrifying suns are extremely ridiculous,"-habes confitentem! "but they are not to be found in the Florence Miscellany." Who said they were? But apropos of the Florence Miscellany. Mr. Parsons says that I obtained a copy of it by a breach of confidence; and seems to fancy, "good easy man!" that I derived some prodigious advantage from it: yet I had written both the poems, and all the notes save one, before I knew that there was such a treasure in existence. He might have seen, if passion had not rendered him as blind as a mill horse, that I constantly allude to poems published separately in the periodical sheets of the day, and afterward collected with great parade by Bell and others. I never looked into the Florence Miscellany but once; and the only use then made of it was to extract a sounding passage from the odes of that deep-mouthed Theban, I almost shudder while I quote: but so it ever is, Bertie Greathead, Esq.
The termination of this "everlasting" attachment was curious. When the genuine enthusiasm of the correspondence (Preface to the Alburn) had continued for
*Kingdom. This is a trifle. Heaven itself, if we may be lieve Mrs. Robinson, took part in the general infatuation: "When midst ethereal fire
Thou strikest thy DELLA CRUSCAN lyre,
Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
And Merry had given an example of impious temerity, which this wretched woman was but too eager to imitate
game, and directed his attacks against an illustrious persecuted brethren, to shift for himself. He accordstranger. ingly engaged in a New York paper, called The Federalist," but unfortunately his writings did not happen to hit the taste of his adopted countrymen ; for after a few numbers had appeared, he was taken up for a libel, and is now either chained to a wheelbarrow on the Albany road, or rotting in the provincial jail.
These, which were continued, from day to day, in the Morning Post, with a rancour that seemed indefatigable, were, after some time, incorporated with such additional falsehoods as the most savage hostility could supply, and printed in a book, to which Anthony thought fit to prefix his name.
It was now that I first found a fair opportunity for dragging this pest before the public, and setting him up to view in his true light. I was not slow in seizing it, and the immediate consequence was, that an action was commenced, or threatened against every publisher of the Baviad.
If we did not know the horror which these obscure reptiles, who fatten on the filthy dregs of slander and obscenity, feel at being forced into day, we might be justly surprised that a man who lived by violating the law should have recourse to it for protection; that a common libeller, who spared no rank nor condition, should cry out on the license of the times, and solicit pity and redress from that community, almost every individual of which he had wantonly and wickedly insulted.
The first, and, indeed, the only trial that came on, was that of Mr. Faulder, (a name not often coupled with that of a dealer in libels,) who was not only acquitted, but, by a verdict of his peers, declared to have been unjustly put in a state of accusation.
I take some little credit to myself for having driven this pernicious pest out of the society upon which he preyed: I say some little-for, to be candid, (though I would not have shrunk from any talents in the contest,) the warfare with Anthony was finished ere well begun. Short and slight as it was, however, it furnishes an important lesson. Those general slanderers, those bugbears of a timid public, are as sneaking as they are insolent, as weak as they are wicked.-—Resist them, and like the devil, to use a sacred expression, "Resist them, and they will flee from you."
A PARAPHRASTIC IMITATION OF THE FIRST SATIRE
Impune ergo mihi recitaverit ille SONETTAS,
P. WHEN I look round on man, and find how vain His passions
F. Save me from this canting strain!
F. None, by my life.
P. This, my friend, to me
P. What! none? Sure, two or three"Tis sad; but
Mr. Garrow was furnished with a number of extracts from Anthony's multifarious productions. I lamented at first, that the impatient indignation of Why, who will read it? the jury at the plaintiff's baseness, coinciding with that of the upright judge who presided, stopped him short, and prevented their being read. But I am now satisfied with the interruption. It is better that such a collection of slander, and obscenity, and treason, and impiety, should moulder in the obscu-Pity is insult here. I care not, I, rity to which its ineffable stupidity has con- Though Boswell,* of a song and supper vain, demned it, than that it should be brought forward to the reprobation and abhorrence of the public.
Mr. Erskine, who did every thing for his client which could be expected from his integrity and abilities, applied in the "next ensuing term" for a new trial. I have forgotten the motives for this application, but it was resisted by Lord Kenyon; and chiefly on the ground of the marked indignation shown by the jury at the plaintiff's infamous conduct and character, and that, even before Mr. Garrow had fully entered into them,
To finish Anthony's history.-His occupation was now gone. As a minister of malevolence he was no longer worth hiring; and as a dispenser of fame, no longer worth feeding. Thus abandoned, without meat and without money, he applied to a charitable institution for a few guineas, with which he shipped himself off for America,
But he was even here too late; that country had discovered, some time before Anthony reached it, that receiving into its bosom the refuse and offal of every clime, and seemingly for no other reason but because they were so, was neither the way to grow rich nor respectable. Anthony had, therefore, no congratulatory addresses presented to him on his arrival, but was left, with hundreds of his poor
F. No, no; not one.
P. "Sad, but!"-Why?
* Cui non dictus Hylas? And who has not heard of James Boswell, Esq.? All the world knows (for all the world has it under his own hand) that he composed a BALLAD in honour of Mr. Pitt, with very little assistance from Dr. Trusler, and less from Mr. Dibdin; which he produced, to the utter confusion of the Foxites, and sang at the lord mayor's table. This important" state paper,"
thanks to the scombri, et quicquid ineptis amicitur chartis, I have not been able to procure; but the terror and dismay which it occasioned among the enemy, with a variety of other circumstances highly necessary to be known, may be gathered from the following letter:
"To the Conductor of the World.
'Sir,-The wasps of opposition have been very busy with my State Ballad, the GROCER of LONDON," and they
are welcome. Pray let them know that I am vain of a hasty composition which has procured me large draughts of that popular applause in which I delight. Let me add, that there was certainly no servility on my part; for I publicly declared in Guildhall, between the encores, 'that this same Grocer had treated ME arrogantly and ungratefully; but that, from his great merit as a minister, I was compelled to support him!'
"The time WILL come when I shall have a proper opportunity to show, that in one instance, at least, the man has wanted wisdom
Atqui vultus erat multa et præclara minantis! Poor Bozzy! But I too threaten.-And is there nee of thy example, then, to convince us that on
And Bell's whole choir,* (an ever-jingling train,)
Our quickest attempts
The noiseless and inaudible foot of time
"BELL'S WHOLE CHOIR!' Quousque tantum-Yes,
sir, I am proud of the insinuation while I despise it. The owl, they say, was a baker's daughter. We know what we ARE, but we know not what we MAY BE. There. by hangs a tale: and the WORLD shall have it-Choice BIOGRAPHY is the boast of my paper-Verba sat-I have
friends-so has LAURA MARIA-She is the SAPPHO of the age. I wrong her-The MONTHLY REVIEWERS read GREEK, and they prefer our fair country woman. I read Greek, too, but I make no boast of it. I sell Mrs. RoBINSON's works, and I know their value- It is the bright day that brings forth the adder.'
"YENDA I despise; ANTHONY PASQUIN I execrateThe brilliant effusions of fancy, the bright coruscations of genius only, illuminate the ORACLE-and ARNO and CESARIO, names dear to the MUSE OF GLORY, constitute a proud distinction between the unfading leaves of the PYTHIAN shrine, and the perishable records of the day. "JOHN BELL.
"P. S. 'BLOCKHEADS with reason'-you know the rest. I fear nothing-yet I love not everlasting feuds-At a word: Will one of my NEW COMMONPLACE BOOKS be aoceptable? "J. B."
No, not a whit. Let the besotted town
F. What? speak freely; let me know.
For the poetic amours of this lady, see the British
In the first editions of this and the following poems I had overlooked Mr. Parsons, though an undoubted Ba vian. This nettled him. "Ha!" quoth he, "better be damn'd than mention'd not at all." He accordingly apto me,1 (in a circuitous manner, I confess,) and as a particular favour was finally admitted, in the shape of a motto, into the title-page of the Mæviad. These were the lines:
This gentleman, who has long been known as an industrious paragraph-monger in the morning papers,plied took it into his head, some time since, to try his hand at a prologue. Having none of the requisites for this business, he laboured to little purpose till Dullness, whose attention to her children is truly maternal, suggested to him, that unmeaning ribaldry and vulgarity might possibly be substituted for harmony, spirit, taste, and sense. -He caught at the hint, made the experiment, and succeeded to a miracle. Since that period every play-wright from O'Keefe to Della Crusca, "a heavy declension!" has been solicitous to preface his labours with a few lines of his manufacturing, to excite and perpetuate the
May he who hates not Crusca's sober verse, Love Merry's drunken prose, so smooth and terse; The same may rake for sense in Parsons' skull, And shear his hogs, poor fool! and milk his bull. The first distich contains what Mr. Burke calls "high matter!" and can only be understood by the initiated; the second, (would it had never been written!) instead good-humour of his audience. As the reader may pro-pected, and quieting him for ever, had a most fatal effect of gratifying the ambition of Mr. Parsons, as I fondly ex
bably not dislike a short specimen of Mr. Andrews' won der-working poetry, I have subjoined the following extract from his last and best performance, his prologue to
"Feg," cries fat Madam Dump, from Wapping Wall,
Give me the uppero, where folks come so grand in,
Piu forte, piu piano, a che fin
Zounds! here's my warrant, and I will come in.
Now comes the dance, the demi charactere,
upon his poor head, and, from an honest, painstaking gentleman, converted him, in imagination, into a Mino
Continuo implevit falsis mugitibus urbem, Et sæpe in lævi quæsivit cornua fronte. The motto appeared on a Wednesday; and on the Saturday after, the morosoph Este (who appears to have believed in the reality of the metamorphosis) published the first bellowings of Mr. Parsons, with the following introduction:
therefore, I wash my hands-but I would fain ask Messrs. Morton and Rey. nolds, (“the worthy followers of O'Keefe, and the present supporters of the British stage,") whether it be absolutely necessary to introduce their pieces with such ineffable nonsense as this,
-Betty, it's come into my head
Old maids grow cross because their cats are dead;
About the death of our old tabby puss.
She wears black stockings-ah! ah! what a pother,
'Cause one old cat's in mourning for another l'a
If it be not-for pity's sake, gentlemen, spare us the disgrace of it; and O heavens! if it be-deign in mercy sometimes to apply to the bellmen, or the
And this was heard with applause! and this was read grave-stone cutter, that we may stand a little chance of having our doggrel with delight! O shame! where is thy blush? ribaldry with a difference."
Pauci ridiculum effugientem ex urbe pudorem.1
1 It is rightly observed by Solomon, that you may bray a fool in a mortar without making him wiser. Upon this principle I account for the stationary stupidity of Mr. A.; whose faculties, "God help the while !" do not seem a whit improved by the dreadful pounding which he has received. Of him,
1 Parsons I know, and this I heard him say,
See the "Will"-a Bartholomew-fair farce, by Mr. Reynolds
And butting all he meets, with awkward pains,
F. Forbear, forbear;
ON MR. GIFFORD'S MOTTO.
"The following SPIRITED CHASTISEMENT of the vulgar ignorance and malignity in question was sent on Thursday night—but by an accidental error in one of our clerks,
or in the servant delivering the copy at the office, it was unfortunately mislaid!"
Why this is as it should be;-the gods take care of Cato! Who sees not that they interfered, and by conveying the copy out of the compositor's way, procured the author of the Mæviad two comfortable nights! But to the 'spirited chastisement.'
Nor wool the pig, nor milk the bull produces.' The profundity of the last observation, by the-by, proves Mr. Parsons to be an accurate observer of nature: and if the three Irishmen who went nine miles to suck a bull, and came back a-dry, had fortunately had the honour of his acquaintance, we should probably have heard nothing of their far-famed expedition
Nor wool the pig, nor milk the bull produces,
For from that hour scarcely a week, or indeed a day, has elapsed, in which Mr. Parsons has not made himself ridiculous by threatening me in the Telegraph, Oracle, World, &c., with those formidable nonentities.
Well and wisely singeth the poet, non unus mentes agila! furor: yet while I give an involuntary smile to the oddity of Mr. Parsons' disease, I cannot but lament that his friends, (and a gentleman who is said to belong to more clubs than Sir Watkin Lewes must need have friends.) I cannot, I say, but lament, that on the first appearance of these knobs, these 'excrescences,' as I call them, his friends did not have him cut for the simples! LO, DELLA CRUSCA!
'O thou, to whom superior worth's allied,
Et solem quis dicere falsum
Indeed she says a great deal more; but as I do not understand it, I forbear to lengthen my quotation.
Innumerable odes, sonnets, &c. published from time to time in the daily papers, have justly procured this gentleman the reputation of the first poet of the age: but the performance which called forth the high-sounding panegyric above-mentioned is a philosophical rhapsody in praise of the French revolution, called the "Wreath of Liberty."
Of this poem no reader (provided he can read) is at this ume ignorant; but as there are various opinions concern. ing it, and as I do not choose, perhaps, to dispute with a lady of Mrs. Robinson's critical abilities, I shall select a few passages from it, and leave the world to judge how truly its author is said to be
-"Gifted with the sacred lyre,
Whose sounds can more than mortal thoughts inspire." This supernatural effort of genius, then, is chiefly distinguished by three very prominent features.-Downright nonsense. Downright frigidity. Downright doggrel.Of each of these as the instances occur.
66 Hang o'er his eye the gossamery tear.
Abortive thoughts, that right and wrong confound,
The BARDSteps forth, in birth-day splendour drest, His right hand graceful waving o'er his breast; His left extending, so that all may see
A roll inscribed "THE WREATH OF LIBERTY."
And now 'tis silence all. "GENIUS OR MUSE"*.
Recumbent eve rock the reposing tide. A web-work of despair, a mass of woes. And o'er my lids the scalding tumour roll.” "TUMOUR, a morbid swelling."-Johnson. An excellent thing to roll over an eye, especially if it happen, as in the present case, to be "scalding."
-Summer tints begemm'd the scene, And silky ocean slept in glossy green." "While air's nocturnal ghost, in paly shroud, Glances with grisly glare from cloud to cloud," "And gauzy zephyrs, fluttering o'er the plain,
On twilight's bosom drop their filmy rain." Unus instar omnium! This couplet staggered me. I should be loath to be found correcting a madman; and yet mere folly seems unequal to the production of such exquisite nonsense.
-The explosion came
And burst the o'ercharged culverin of shame."
Their perish'd, proudest pageantry unfold."
But the bare boast of barren heraldry."
Showers her shafts of silver o'er the scene.
To these add," moody monarchs, turgid tyrant, pampered popes, radiant rivers, cooling cataracts, lazy Loires, (of which, by-the-by, there are none,) gay Garonnes, gloomy glass, mingling murder, dauntless day, lettered lightnings, delicious dilatings, sinking sorrows, blissful blessings, rich reasonings, meliorating mercies, vicious venalities, sublunary suns, dewy vapours damp, that sweep the silent swamp;" and a world of others, to be found in the compass of half a dozen pages.
"In phosphor blaze of genealogic line." N. B. Written to "the turning of a brazen candlestick." "O better were it ever to be lost
In blank negation's sea, than reach the coast." "Should the zeal of Parliament be empty words." -"Doom for a breath
A hundred reasoning hecatombs to death."
A hecatomb is a sacrifice of a hundred head of oxen. Where did this gentleman hear of their reasoning? "A while I'll ruminate on time and fate;
And the most probable event of things"EUGE, MAGNE POETA! Well may Laura Maria say, "That Genius glows in every classic line,
And Nature dictates-every thing that's thine." "Genius or Muse, whoe'er thou art, whose thrill Exalts the fancy, and inflames the will, Bids o'er the heart sublime sensation roll, And wakes ecstatic fervour in the soul." See the commencement of the Wreath of Liberty, where our great poet, with a dexterity peculiar to himself, has contrived to fill several quarto pages without a single idea.