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Thro listening palaces did rhymeless South
Young's cassock was flounced round with plaintive
And pithier Churchill swore he would have none.
He bared his own broad vices, but the knots
Of the loud scourge fell sorest upon Scots.
He pelted no shy poet thro' the streets,
No Lamb he vilified, he stabb'd no Keats :*
Lamb, Keats, Hazlit, Coleridge, all in short who, recently dead, are now dividing amongst them the admiration of their country, were turned into ridicule by the worthy men employed by Mr. Blackwood. Whatever could lessen their estimation, whatever could injure their fortune, what
His cleanlier fingers in no combat close
To scratch the pimples* upon Hazlit's nose:
ever could make their poverty more bitter, whatever could cast them down from their aspirations after fame, and whatever had a tendency to drive them into the grave, which now has opened to them, was incessantly brought into action against them by these zealots for our religion and laws. A more deliberate, a more torturing murder never was committed, than the murder of Keats; a young man adorned, it is said by those who knew him intimately, with everything graceful, generous, and manly. I have seen those thoughtful and melancholy at the mention of him, whom I never have seen so on any other occasion; and it was many years after his decease. The chief perpetrator of his murder knew beforehand he could not be hanged for it, and was occupying a station whence he might be called by his faction to hang others far less guilty. While he was rising to the highest rank in the profession and in the state, his victim sank under him, in long agonies, to an untimely grave.
When men strike at genius, they strike at the face of God in the only way wherein he ever manifests it to them.
*" To scratch the pimples upon Hazlit's nose, &c." Ridicule of these, together with a compendious list of similar vulgarities, is now lying before me. The author to whom I am indebted for the extracts, and for nearly all I ever knew or heard of the writers, is about to publish as much as
Hunt's Cold-bath-field may bloom with bowers, for
And Coleridge* may be sound in wind and limb.
On bell-hung drays all coarser parcels find
The way to Blackwood; rings, and records kind,
suits his undertaking, in a Life of Keats. Such an exposure of impudence and falsehood is not likely to injure the character of the Magazine, or diminish the number of its subscribers. To those who are habituated to the gin-shop the dram is sustenance, and they feel themselves both uncomfortable and empty without the hot excitement. Blackwood's is really a gin-palace.
* The worst that can be said against Coleridge in his literary character, with which alone we have anything to do, is that he spoke as the poet says the lover loved,
"Not wisely, but too well,"
spouting forth whatever was shining, fit or unfit.
He was fond of beating his breast against the close-wired cage of Metaphysics, where he could only show how delicately his wings were formed, and how beautiful were the feathers he shedd at every effort.
The Gentleman's, the Lady's, we have seen,
Now blusters forth the Blackguard's Magazine:
And (Heaven from joint-stock companies protect us!)
Thanks to the blue brigade enroll❜d by Peel.
While from the south such knaves are carted forth,
Gildons and Curls stil flourish in the north;
And others, baser in degree and mind,
Yon little man with vine and ivy crown'd,
*The scope of pleasure with the shafts of wit.
* Nothing can be lighter or pleasanter or more brilliant. Pope, before he composed his verses to Lady M. W. Montague, forgot his sacrifice to the Graces. Dryden often neglected them; in our others we rarely find those exquisite
Satire! I never call'd thee very fair,
But if thou art inclined to hear my pray'r,
Grant the bright surface that our form reflects,
The healthy font that braces our defects:
But O! to fulminate with forked line
Another's fame or fortune, ne'er be mine!
Against the wretch who dares it, high or low,
When Byron by the borderers was assail'd,
The squad of Brougham and Jeffrey fared but ill,
touches which characterise the poet of Ireland. Prior is among the best, where he ridicules the platitudes of Boileau ; the worst lyrick poet upon record, not excepting Pope, not excepting Addison. One would have imagined that Johnson had at his disposal the means of rendering justice to Prior, tho he never had enough about him to satisfy the demands of Milton, or even of Thompson and Collins.