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Liberal of April 26, 1823.—Into the long quarrel between Southey, the reformed radical and obliging poet-laureate, and Byron, leader of the 'Satanic school,' there is neither space nor occasion here to enter. The result on Byron's side, notably the Dedication to Don Juan and The Vision of Judgment, was the writing of some of the most enjoyable satire ever penned. George III. died January 29, 1820; Southey's apotheosis of that monarch was published in April of the next year as A Vision of Judgment. The inexpressible flatness and absurdity of the hexameters which composed this poem cried out for ridicule, and Byron was ready. He sent the manuscript of his satire of the same name to Murray, October 4, 1821; Murray, however, cautiously refrained from printing, and the poem was first published in the Liberal of October 15, 1822. The Age of Bronze was composed in December of 1822 and January of 1823, and three months later was published by John Hunt without the author's name. The poem contains a rapid survey of Napoleon's career, of the Congress of the Allied Powers at Verona, 1822, and the political difficulties of Great Britain of that year.]

ENGLISH BARDS AND SCOTCH
REVIEWERS

A SATIRE

'I had rather be a kitten, and cry mew!
Than one of these same metre ballad-mongers.'
SHAKSPEARE.
'Such shameless bards we have; and yet 't is true,
There are as mad, abandon'd critics too.'
POPE.

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 humour 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 endeavoured 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 I expected, I have endeavoured 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.

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 separat tabernacle of proselytes, by whom his abilities are over-rated, 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 reprehension. 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.

STILL must I hear?-shall hoarse Fitz-
gerald 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

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Then should you ask me, why I venture o'er

The path which Pope and Gifford trod before;

If not yet sicken'd, you can still proceed: Go on; my rhyme will tell you as you read. 'But hold!' exclaims a friend, 'here 's some neglect:

This, that, and t'other line seem incorrect.'

."

What then? the self-same blunder Pope has got, And careless Dryden - Ay, but Pye has not:'Indeed! 't is granted, faith! - but what care I?

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Better to err with Pope than shine with Pye.

Time was, ere yet in these degenerate days

Ignoble themes obtain'd mistaken praise,
When sense and wit with poesy allied,
No fabled graces, flourish'd side by side;
From the same fount their inspiration drew,
And, rear'd by taste, bloom'd fairer as they
grew.
Then, in this happy isle, a Pope's pure
strain

Sought the rapt soul to charm, nor sought in vain;

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A polish'd nation's praise aspired to claim, And raised the people's, as the poet's fame. Like him great Dryden pour'd the tide of

song,

In stream less smooth, indeed, yet doubly strong.

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now.

The loaded press beneath her labour groans, And printers' devils shake their weary bones;

While Southey's epics cram the creaking shelves,

And Little's lyrics shine in hot-press'd twelves.

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name:

The work of each immortal bard appears The single wonder of a thousand years. Empires have moulder'd from the face of earth,

Tongues have expired with those who gave them birth,

Without the glory such a strain can give,
As even in ruin bids the language live.
Not so with us, though minor bards, content,
On one great work a life of labour spent:
With eagle pinion soaring to the skies, 201
Behold the ballad-monger Southey rise!
To him let Camoens, Milton, Tasso yield,
Whose annual strains, like armies, take the
field.

First in the ranks see Joan of Arc advance,
The scourge of England and the boast of
France!

Though burnt by wicked Bedford for a witch,

Behold her statue placed in glory's niche; Her fetters burst, and just released from prison,

A virgin phoenix from her ashes risen.
Next see tremendous Thalaba come on,
Arabia's monstrous, wild, and wondrous son;
Domdaniel's dread destroyer, who o'er-

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threw

More mad magicians than the world e'er knew.

Immortal hero! all thy foes o'ercome,
For ever reign- the rival of Tom Thumb!
Since startled metre fled before thy face,
Well wert thou doom'd the last of all thy
race!

Well might triumphant genii bear thee hence,

Illustrious conqueror of common sense! Now, last and greatest, Madoc spreads his sails,

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Cacique in Mexico, and prince in Wales; Tells us strange tales, as other travellers do, More old than Mandeville's, and not so true. Oh, Southey! Southey! cease thy varied song!

A bard may chant too often and too long: As thou art strong in verse, in mercy, spare!

A fourth, alas! were more than we could bear.

But if, in spite of all the world can say, Thou still wilt verseward plod thy weary

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way;

If still in Berkley ballads most uncivil, Thou wilt devote old women to the devil, The babe unborn thy dread intent may rue: 'God help thee,' Southey, and thy readers

too.

Next comes the dull disciple of thy school,

That mild apostate from poetic rule,
The simple Wordsworth, framer of a lay
As soft as evening in his favourite May,
Who warns his friend to shake off toil and
trouble,

And quit his books, for fear of growing double;'

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Who, both by precept and example, shows That prose is verse, and verse is merely prose;

Convincing all, by demonstration plain,
Poetic souls delight in prose insane;
And Christmas stories tortured into rhyme
Contain the essence of the true sublime.
Thus, when he tells the tale of Betty Foy,
The idiot mother of an idiot boy;'
A moon-struck, silly lad, who lost his way,
And, like his bard, confounded night with
day;

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So close on each pathetic part he dwells, And each adventure so sublimely tells, That all who view the 'idiot in his glory' Conceive the bard the hero of the story.

Shall gentle Coleridge pass unnoticed here,

To turgid ode and tumid stanza dear? Though themes of innocence amuse him best, Yet still obscurity 's a welcome guest.

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