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VISION OF JUDGMENT.
BY QUEVEDO REDIVIVUS
SUGGESTED BY THE COMPOSITION SO BNTITLED BY TUB AUTHOR OF “WAT TYLER."
A Daniel come to judgment ! yea, a Daniel!
It hath been wisely said, that “One fool makes many;" and it hath been poetically observed,
“ That fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”—POPE.
If Mr. Southey had not rushed in where he had no business, and where he never was before, and never will be again, the following poem would not have been written. It is not impossible that it may be as good as his own, seeing that it cannot, by any species of stupidity, natural or acquired, be worse. The gross flattery, the dull impudence, the renegado intolerance and impious cant of the poem by the author of Wat Tyler, are something so stupendous as to form the sublime of himself-containing the quintessence of his own attributes.
So much for his poem-a word on his preface. In this preface it has pleased the magnanimous laureate to draw the picture of a supposed " Satanic School," the which he doth recommend to the notice of the legislature ; thereby adding to his other laurels the ambition of those of an informer. If there exists any where, excepting in his imagination, such a school, is he not sufficiently armed against it by his own intense vanity? The truth is, that there are certain writers whom Mr. S. imagines, like Scrub, to have “talked of him ; for they laughed consumedly."
I think I know enough of most of the writers to whom he is supposed to allude, to assert, that they, in their individual capacities, have done more good in the charities of life to their fellow-creatures in any one year, than Mr. Southey has done harm to himself by his absurdities in his whole life; and this is saying a great deal. But I have a few questions to ask :
Istly. Is Mr. Southey the author of Wat Tyler ?
2dly. Was he not refused a remedy at law by the highest judge of his beloved England, because it was a blasphemous and seditious publication ?
3dly. Was he not entitled by William Smith, in full parliament, rancorous renegado ?" ,
4thly. Is he not poet laureate, with his own lines on Martin the regicide staring him in the face ?
* This preface was not printed with the poem, having miscarried in its way to England.
And 5thly. Putting the four preceding items together, with what conscience dare he call the attention of the laws to the publications of others, be they what they may !
I say nothing of the cowardice of such a proceeding; its meanness speaks for itself; but I wish to touch upon the motive, which is neither more nor less than that Mr. S. has been laughted at a little in some recent publications, as he was of yore in the “ Anti-jacobin” by his present patrons. Hence all this “ skimble skamble stuff" about “Satanic," and so forth. However, it is worthy of him—" Qualis ab incepto.”
If there is any thing obnoxious to the political opinions of a portion of the public in the following poem, they may thank Mr. Southey. He might have written hexameters, as he has written every thing else, for aught that the writer cared—had they been upon another subject. But to attempt to canonize a monarch, who, whatever were his household virtues, was neither a successful nor a patriot king,—inasmuch as several years of his reign passed in war with America and Ireland, to say nothing of the aggression upon France,- like all other exaggeration, necessarily begets opposition. In whatever manner he may be spoken of in
Vision,” his public career will not be more favourably transmitted by history. Of his private virtues (although a little expensive to the nation) there can be no doubt.
With regard to the supernatural personages treated of, I can only say that I know as much about them, and (as an honest man) have a better right to talk of them than Robert Southey. I have also treated them more tolerantly. The way in which that poor insane creature, the laureate, deals about his judgments in the next world, is like his own judgment in this. If it was not completely ludicrous, it would be something worse. I don't think that there is much more to say at present.
P. S.-It is possible that some readers may object, in these objectionable times, to the freedom with which saints, angels, and spiritual persons discourse in this “Vision." But for precedents upon such points I must refer him to Fielding's “ Journey from this world to the next," and to the Visions of myself, the said Quevedo, in Spanish or translated. The reader is also requested to observe, that no doctrinal tenets are insisted upon or discussed ; that the person of the Deity is carefully withheld from sight, which is more than can be said for the laureate, who hath thought proper to make him talk, not like a school divine,” but like the unscholarlike Mr. Southey. The whole action passes on the outside of heaven; and Chaucer's Wife of Bath, Pulci's Morgante Maggiore, Swift's Tale of a Tub, and the other works above referred to, are cases in point of the freedom with which saints, &c. may be permitted to converse in works not intended to be serious.
[*** Mr. Southey being, as he says, a good christian and vindictive, threatens, I understand, a reply to this our answer. It is to be hoped that his visionary faculties
will in the mean time have acquired a little more judgment, properly so called: otherwise he will get himself into new dilemmas. These apostate jacobins furnish rich rejoinders. Let him take a specimen. Mr. Southey laudeth grievously “one Mr. Landor," who cultivates much private renown in the shape of latin verses; and not long ago, the poet laureate dedicated to him, it appeareth, one of his fugitive lyrics, upon the strength of a poem called Gebir. Who could suppose, that in this same Gebir the aforesaid Savage Landor (for such is his grim cognomen) putteth into the infernal regions no less a person than the hero of his friend Mr. Southey's heaven, yea, even George the Third! See also how personal Savage becometh, when he hath a mind. The following is his portrait of our late gracious sovereign :
(Prince Gebir having descended into the infernal regions, the shades of his royal ancestors are, at bis request, called up to his view, and he exclaims to his ghostly guide)
“ Aroar, what wretch that nearest us? what wretch
“Alas, O king!
Gebir, p. 28.
I omit noticing some edifying Ithyphallics of Savagius, wishing to keep the proper veil over them, if his grave but somewhat indiscreet worshipper will suffer it; but certainly these teachers of “great moral lessons” are apt to be found in strange company.]