« PreviousContinue »
Alas, Matilda then was true!
niversity of Gottingen,
niversity of Gottingen.
Her neat post-wagon trotting in!
niversity of Gottingen,
niversity of Gottingen.
This blood my veins is clotting in,
niversity of Gottingen,
niversity of Gottingen. There first for thee my passion grew.
Sweet, sweet Matilda Pottingen! Thou wast the daughter of my Tutor, law professor at the U
niversity of Gottingen, *.
niversity of Gottingen,
That kings and priests are plotting in :
Iniversity of Gottingen,
niversity of Gottingen.* (During the last stanza, Rogero dashes his head repeatedly against the walls of his pri
son ; and finally so hard as to produce a visible contusion. He then throws himself on the floor in an agony. The curtain drops, the music still continuing to play till it is wholly fallen.]
The following epitaph on his son who died in 1820, shews that Canning could write in a tender and elegiac as well as satirical strain.
Mr. Canning's Epitaph on his Son.
* It is stated by Mr. C. Edmonds, editor of Poetry of the Anti-Jacobin (1854), that the above song having been accidentally seen, previous to its publication, by Mr. Pitt, ho was so amused with it that he took a pen, and composed the last stanza on the spot.'
Pure from all stain-save that of human clay,
Pour forth a father's sorrows on thy tomb. A satirical poem, which attracted much attention in literary circles at the time of its publication, was the “Pursuits of Literature,' in four parts, the first of which appeared in 1794. Though published anonymously, this work was written by Mr. THOMAS JAMES MATHIAS, à distinguished scholar, who died at Naples in 1835. Mr. Mathias was sometime treasurer of the household to her majesty Queen Charlotte. He took his degree of B.A. in Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1774. Besides the Pursuits of Literature,' Mr. Mathias was author of some ‘Runic Odes, imitated from the Norse Tongue;' • The imperial Epistle from Kien Long to George III. (1794), The Shade of Alexander Pope,' a satirical poem (1798); and various other light evanescent pieces on the topics of the day. Mr. Mathias also wrote some Latin odes, and translated into Italian several English poems. He wrote Italian with elegance and purity, and it has been said that no Englishman, since the days of Milton, has cultivated that language with so much success. The ‘Pursuits of Literature' contains some pointed satire on the author's poetical contemporaries, and is enriched with a vast variety of notes, in which there is a great display of learning. George Steevens said the poem was merely 'a peg to hang the notes on.' The want of true poetical genius to vivify this mass of erudition has been fatal to Mr. Mathias, His works appear to be utterly forgotten.
DR. JOHN WOLCOT. DR. JOHN WOLCOT (1738-1819) was a coarse but lively satirist, who, under the name of Peter Pindar,' published a variety of effusions on the topics and public men of his times, which were eagerly read and widely circulated. Many of them were in ridicule of the reigning sovereign, George III., who was a good subject for the poet; though the latter, as he himself acknowledged, was a bad subject to the king. Wolcot was born at Dodbrooke, a village in Devonshire, in the year 1738. His uncle, a respectable surgeon and apothecary at Fowey, took the charge of his education, intending that he should become his own assistant and successor in business. Wolcot was instructed in medicine, and 'walked the hospitals in London, after which he proceeded to Jamaica with Sir William Trelawney, governor of that island, who had engaged him as his medical attendant. The social habits of the doctor rendered him a favourite in Jamaica; but his time being only partly employed by his professional avocations, he solicited and obtained from his patron the gift of a living in the church, which happened to be then vacant. The bishop of London ordained the graceless neophyte, and Wolcot entered upon his sacred duties. Ilis congregation consisted mostly of negroes, and Sunday being their principal holiday and market, the attendance at the church was very limited. Sometimes not a single person came, and Wolcot and his clerk—the latter being an excellent shot-used at such times, after waiting for ten minutes, to proceed to the sea-side, to enjoy the sport of shooting ring-tail pigeons !
The death of Sir William Trelawney cut off all further hopes of preferment, and every inducement to a longer residence in the island. Bidding adieu to Jamaica and the church, Wolcot accompanied Lady Trelawney to England, and established himself as a physician at Truro, in Cornwall. IIe inherited about £2000 by the death of his uncle. While resident at Truro, Wolcot discovered the talents of Opie
The Cornish boy in tin-mines bredwhose genius as an artist afterwards became so distinguished. He also materially assisted to form his taste and procure him patronage ; and when Opie's name was well established, the poet and his protégé, forsaking the country, repaired to London, as affording a wider field for the exertions of both. Wolcot had already acquired some distinction by his satirical efforts; and he now poured forth a series of odes and epistles, commencing with the Royal Academicians, whom he ridiculed with great success and some justice. In 1785 he produced no less than twenty-three odes. In 1786 he published “The Lousiad,' a *Heroi-comic Poem,' in five cantos, which had its foundation in the fact, that an obnoxious insect-either of the garden or the body--had been discovered on the king's plate among some green peas, which produced a solemn decree that all the servants in the royal kitchen were to have their heads shaved. In the hands of an unscrupulous satirist like Wolcot, this ridiculous incident was an admirable theme. The publication of Boswell's Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides' afforded another tempting opportunity, and he indited a humorous poetical epistle to the biographer, commencing:
O Boswell, Bozzy, Bruce, whate'er thy name,
In addition to this effusion, Wolcot revelled another attack on Boswell, entitled · Bozzy and Piozzi, or the British Biographers. The personal habits of the king were ridiculed in ‘Peeps at St. James's,
Royal Visits,' 'Lyric Odes,' &c. Sir Joseph Banks was another subject of his satire:
A president, in butterflies profound,
Of whom all insect-mongers sing the praises,
On violets, dunghills, nettle-tops, and daisies, &c.
He had also ‘Instructions to a Celebrated Laureat;' 'Peter's Pension;' 'Peter's Prophecy;' 'Epistle to a Fallen Minister;' `Epistle to James Bruce, Esq., the Abyssian Traveller;' Odes to Mr. Paine;' *Odes to Kien Long, Emperor of China;''Ode to the Livery of London,' and brochures of a kindred description on most of the celebrated events of the day. From 1778 to 1808, above sixty of these poetical pamphlets were issued by Wolcot. So formidable was he considered, that the ministry, as he alleged, endeavoured to bribe him to silence. He also boasted that his writings had been translated into six differ ent languages. In 1795, he obtained from his booksellers an annuity of £257, payable half-yearly, for the copyright of his works. This handsome allowance he enjoyed, to the heavy loss of the other parties, for upwards of twenty years. Neither old age nor blindness could repress his witty vituperative attacks. He had recourse to an amanuensis, in whose absence, however, he continued to write himself, till within a short period of his death. His method was to tear a sheet of paper into quarters, on each of which he wrote a stanza of four or six lines, according to the nature of the poem: the paper he placed on a book held in the left hand, and in this manner not only wrote legibly, but with great ease and celerity.'
In 1796, his poetical effusions were collected and published in four volumes 8vo, and subsequent editions have been issued; but most of the poems have sunk into oblivion. How satirists can reckon on permanent popularity, and the poems of Wolcot were in their nature of an ephemeral description; while the recklessness of his censure and ridicule, and the want of decency, of principle, and moral feeling, that characterises nearly the whole, precipitated their downfall. Ile died at his house in Somers' Town on the 14th January, 1819, and was buried in a vault in the churchyard of St. Paul's, Coveni Garden, close to the grave of Butler. Wolcot was equal to Churchill as a satirist, as ready and versatile in his powers, and possessed of a quick sense of the ludicrous, as well as a rich vein of fancy and humour. Some of his songs and serious effusions are tender and pleasing; but he could not write long without sliding into the ludicrous and burlesque. His critical acuteness is evinced in his “Odes to the Royal Academicians,' and in various passages scattered throughout his works; while his ease and felicity, both of expression and illus
tration, are remarkable. In the following terse and lively lines, we have a good caricature sketch of Dr. Johnson's style:
I own I like not Johnson's turgid style,
The Pilgrims and the Peas.
A brace of sinners, for no good,
Were ordered to the Virgin Mary's shrine,
And in a curled white wig looked wondrous fine.
A nostrum famous in old popish times
A sort of apostolic salt,
That popish parsons for its powers exalt,
The knaves set off on the same day,
But very different was their speed, I wot.
The other limped as if he had been shot.
Had, his soul whitewashed all so clever,
Made fit with saints above to live forever...
In coming back, however, let me say,
You lazy lubber!'
Are now as soft as blubber.