« AnteriorContinuar »
study of oratory, did essay to speak ; for, indeed, my honour had been attacked, and the distinction which was conferred upon me by the voice of the Club, had been taken
and insidiously bestowed upon another. Grieved at heart, I could not keep silence, and in truth I was much applauded when I spoke as is here set down :
“ Most Worthy Gentlemen,- It is impossible for me to heighten the effect of the President's discourse ; 'howbeit, one circumstance hath escaped his recollection : our designing enemies have taken from us our honours as well as our wealth -I allude most particularly to mine own case. have despoiled of the rank to which you have exalted me, and they have bestowed it unjustly upon the Gentleman whose name was last mentioned by the worthy Chairman. I have no doubt that when the claims of that Gentleman are duly considered, it will be found that he does in no respect deserve the title which has been given to him. I pray you to aver publicly, that Richard Hodgson, your humble Secretary, has the only just claim to the title of Knave of Clubs."
T'he PRESIDENT said, he hoped what had passed would have the effect of securing to the Club the undisturbed possession of their property and distinctions.-(Hear, hear.)
The thanks of the Club, on the motion of the Hon. G. Montgomery, were presented to Mr. Courtenay, for his conduct in the Chair--for his attention on all occasions to the interest of Eton, and the ability he had displayed in the management of “ THE ETONIAN.”
Mr. COURTENAY returned thanks in a neat speech.
Knave of Clubs, Secretary.
· Notice is hereby giren, that his Majesty the King of Clubs has signified his gracious intention of holding a Drawing Room on Monday the 27th Inst.
TO RICHARD HODGSON,
KNAVE OF CLUBS, SECRETARY.
MY DEAR KNAVE,-Great geniuses are subject from their very nature to ebbs and Hows of inspiration. Milton and Dryden, during the best half of every year, could never rise higher than to Essays on Divorce, Prefaces, Translations, and English Grammars.
Just so it is with me at present; and I, your appointed Laureat, after having put in practice every mean I ever heard of for creating verses, as biting the nails, scratching the head, &c., have absolutely effected nothing, saving six lines and a half of a Sonnet to Mary, and the joke of an Epigram without any beginning. The very truth of it is, I am at low water mark; and accordingly, actuated, as I am, by the purest patriotism for our Club and its bantling, I resign my mantle of poetry for this Number to other bards less affected by weather* than myself ; though I claim it as my right, virtute officii, that you make them understand, that, like the Cæsars of the Empire, they are bound, if their verses be good, to refer all their credit and success to the auspicious influence of Gerard Montgomery, their Augustus. ·
Having doffed, therefore, my mantle of Poetry, I sit clothed in my short coat of Criticism, after the universal example of modern Poets, who rarely send forth a volume of verses without associating it with another in prose, to prove the said verses to be the best that were ever written. Not that I am going to waste a sheet and an hour in proving my poems such, for that would be superfluous : but what from the vehement desire I have of venting my spleen against Golightly and MʻFarlane, who cannot endure the writings of the Poets nicknamed the Lake School, (whether xat' štoxív, or directly, is a doubt), and what from my own long and constant admiration of them, I have determined to devote this my interlunar page to a short and popular elucidation of the genius of the most eminent among the said poets-William Wordsworth; Allen le Blanc having engaged to furnish, if called for, a full and complete account of the more mysterious and esoteric department of his metaphysics.
* We are happy to perceive that the recent change of weather has induced the Hon. G. Montgomery to change his mind.. Vide Godiva. P. C.
I have just before said that these persons had been nicknamed a School of Poets; and I said so, because, if we understand by that term what we do when talking of the Schools of Plato or Raffaelle, it is to all intents and purposes a misnomer. Every one knows that in schools of philosophy and painting the precepts and the manner are scrupulously obeyed and imitated ; and when any striking aberration from that standard has occurred, the author of such separation has ever been considered the founder of a new sect or school in his own person. Now whoever is at all acquainted with the writings of the Lake Poets (I use the term at present for conciseness) must have perceived, that, so far from there existing any imitation of, or intimate communion with, each other, with respect to the choice of subject matter, or the manner of treating it in their works, nothing can be more essentially different, in almost all points of importance, than they are; and as far as concerns the individual genius of each person, I will venture to say that there do not exist such opposite and strikingly various characters of intellect in any other given number of writers of the present day, whether English or Foreign. I shall not stay now to exemplify this position at length, because
it is no more than what every one who reads these authors must acknowledge, and what to those who will turn a deaf ear to a charmer, “ charm he never so wisely,"? is immaterial whether it be fact not.
In the meantime it may be worth while to observe this first instance of that liberal and discriminating criticism, that abhorrence of misrepresentation and sneering, which has so honourably distinguished a certain Scotch (pace M Farlani dixerim) Review, and with which the Lake Poets have been for a long period of time so unceasingly and conspicuously favoured, to the no small detriment of the shares rightly appertaining to many a famous bard of the present time.
But the motives, which prompted this imposition of a nickname are not very mysterious, at least to the initiated ;-having pocketed all that was to be extracted by conversation and repeated epistolary correspondence with these very men, those generous critics found it necessary, in order to avoid the suspicion of plagiarism, to turn sharp round upon their benefactors, to whom they owed the reputation by which they got their bread, quiz all their little peculiarities, and finally “ spit in their faces and call them asses !" Accordingly, after sporting whole sheets full of admired reasoning, and, as was generally supposed, original theory, (almost the whole of which, it is well known by many persons in this country, was actually stolen from the unreserved communications of one of the most distinguished of these writers,) they have the charity to fall most especially foul upon that very person; and, in consideration of his favours, pleasantly denominate him ' fool,” “ simpleton," " ingenious gentleman, woman;" and, with a discrimination and significancy peculiarly their own, pronounce all his writings " Lakish!" In short, they know the meaning of the proverb, “Give a dog,” &c., and acted upon its benevolent principles ; in lieu of all particulars, one formula was amply sufficient. Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Southey were "Lake Poets,"
and their works of course “ Lakish!” These Scotchmen were born with the malignity of Caligula, but purloined his wit as usual, and gave a collective name to destroy
Since, however, this consummation so devoutly wished for has not taken place, and the reputation and pervading influence of these bespattered Poets, so far from decreasing to a nonentity under the “ unceasing stowre,” have on the contrary gone on slowly, but steadily widening and deepening, and still continue so to do, it becomes a matter of reasonable curiosity to inquire into the causes which have preserved and invigorated them under this tyranny of abuse, whilst not a few of their contemporaries, who, at their first appearance, were bepraised ad nauseam by these same learned Thebans, are now sinking fast, some into neglect, and others into contempt.
Now a poet, in the highest and strictest sense of that word, is he who is a womths, a Muker, an Inventor, whose imagination, or shaping power, can and does embody the forms of things unknown, and can create realities out of airy nothings. This energy, which is the highest heaven of invention in a poet, is not however peculiar, in an exclusive manner, to a writer of verses ;-it may exist as vitally and essentially in prose ;-rhythm and metre are to this Power, as two wings to a soul, investing it with the robes and resemblances of a Seraphim. Therefore the Wise Man of Israel was a poet, when he burst forth, “Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah ; comely as Jerusalem ; terrible as an army with banners." Therefore Demosthenes'was a poet, when by an instantaneous effort of his power he evoked the canonized shades of his ancestors, and caused them, as it were, to flit over the spell-bound mob around him,—“ 'Oů ud Tous év Μαραθώνι προκινδυνευσαντας των προγόνων,” κ. τ. λ. Therefore Jeremy Taylor was a poet when he prayed for humility,-And yet I know thou resistest the proud,