Page images


Of sheltering trees it humbly peeped between ; The stone-rocked wagon with its rumbling sound; The windmill's sweeping sails at distance seen; And every form that crowds the circling round, Where the sky, stooping, seems to kiss the meeting ground.

And dear to him the rural sports of May, When each cot-threshold mounts its hailing bough, And ruddy milkmaids weave their garlands gay, Upon the green to crown the earliest cow; When mirth and pleasure wear a joyful brow; And join the tumult with unbounded glee, The humble tenants of the pail and plough: He loved 'old sports,' by them revived, to see, But never cared to join in their rude revelry.

O'er brook-banks stretching, on the pasture-sward He gazed, far distant from the jocund crew; "Twas but their feats that claimed a slight regard; "Twas his-his pastimes lonely to pursue Wild blossoms creeping in the grass to view, Scarce peeping up the tiny bent as high, Betinged with glossy yellow, red or blue, Unnamed, unnoticed but by Lubin's eye, That like low genius sprang, to bloom their day and die.

O! who can tell the sweets of May-day's morn,
To waken rapture in a feeling mind;
When the gilt east unveils her dappled dawn,
And the gay woodlark has its nest resigned,
As slow the sun creeps up the hill behind;
Morn reddening round, and daylight's spotless hue,
As seemingly with rose and lily lined;

While all the prospect round beams fair to view, Like a sweet opening flower with its unsullied dew.

Ah! often brushing through the dripping grass, Has he been seen to catch this early charm, Listening the 'love-song' of the healthy lass Passing with milk-pail on her well-turned arm; Or meeting objects from the rousing farmThe jingling plough-teams driving down the steep, Wagon and cart; and shepherd-dogs' alarm, Raising the bleatings of unfolding sheep, As o'er the mountain top the red sun 'gins to peep.

Nor could the day's decline escape his gaze; He loved the closing as the rising day, And oft would stand to catch the setting rays, Whose last beams stole not unperceived away; When, hesitating like a stag at bay, The bright unwearied sun seemed loath to drop, Till chaos' night-hounds hurried him away, And drove him headlong from the mountain top, And shut the lovely scene, and bade all nature stop.

And here the rural muse might aptly say,
As sober evening sweetly siles along,
How she has chased black ignorance away,
And warmed his artless soul with feelings strong,
To teach his reed to warble forth a song;
And how it echoed on the even-gale,

All by the brook the pasture-flowers among:
But ah! such trifles are of no avail-
There's few to notice him, or hear his simple tale.

O Poverty! thy frowns were early dealt
O'er him who mourned thee, not by fancy led
To whine and wail o'er woes he never felt,
Staining his rhymes with tears he never shed,
And heaving sighs a mock song only bred:
Alas! he knew too much of every pain

That showered full thick on his unsheltered head;
And as his tears and sighs did erst complain,
His numbers took it up, and wept it o'er again.

With contemplation's stores his mind to fill, O doubly happy would he roam as then, When the blue eve crept deeper round the hill, While the coy rabbit ventured from his den, And weary labour sought his rest again; Lone wanderings led him haply by the stream, Where unperceived he 'joyed his hours at will, Musing the cricket twittering o'er its dream, Or watching o'er the brook the moonlight's dancing



JAMES SMITH (1775-1839) was a lively and amusing author both in prose and verse. His father, Mr Robert Smith, was an eminent legal practitioner in London, and solicitor to the Board of Ordnancea gentleman of learning and accomplishments, whose

James Smith.

latter years were gratified by the talents and reputation of his two sons, James and Horace. James, the eldest, was educated at a school at Chigwell, in Essex, and was usually at the head of his class. For this retired schoolboy spot' he ever retained a strong affection, rarely suffering, as his brother relates, a long interval to elapse without paying it a visit, and wandering over the scenes that recalled the truant excursions of himself and chosen playmates, or the solitary rambles and musings of his youth. Two of his latest poems are devoted to his reminiscences of Chigwell. After the completion of his education, James Smith was articled to his father, was taken into partnership in due time, and eventually succeeded to the business, as well as to the appointment of solicitor to the Ordnance. With a quick sense of the ridiculous, a strong passion for the stage and the drama, and a love of London society and manners, Smith became a town wit and humorist-delighting in parodies, theatrical colloHis first pieces quies, and fashionable criticism. appear to have been contributed to the Pic-Nic newspaper established by Colonel Henry Greville, which afterwards merged into The Cabinet, both being solely calculated for the topics and feelings of the day. A selection from the Pic-Nic papers, in two small volumes, was published in 1803. He next joined the writers for the London Review-a journal established by Cumberland the dramatist, on the novel principle of affixing the writer's name to his critique.



stroying equally the harmless curiosity of the reader,
and the critical independence of the author; and
Cumberland, besides, was too vain, too irritable and
poor, to secure a good list of contributors.
then became a constant writer in the Monthly
Mirror (wherein Henry Kirke White first attracted
the notice of what may be termed the literary world),
and in this work appeared a series of poetical imita-
tions, entitled Horace in London, the joint production
of James and Horace Smith. These parodies were
subsequently collected and published in one volume
in 1813, after the success of the Rejected Addresses
had rendered the authors famous. Some of the
pieces display a lively vein of town levity and
humour, but many of them also are very trifling
and tedious. In one stanza, James Smith has given
a true sketch of his own tastes and character :-

The Review proved a complete failure. The system right, which had been originally offered to Mr Mur of publishing names was an unwise innovation, de-ray for L.20, was purchased by that gentleman, in 1819, after the sixteenth edition, for L.131. The articles written by James Smith consisted of imita tions of Wordsworth, Cobbett, Southey, Coleridge, Crabbe, and a few travesties. Some of them are inimitable, particularly the parodies on Cobbett and Crabbe, which were also among the most popular. Horace Smith contributed imitations of Walter Scott, Moore, Monk Lewis, Lord Byron, W. T. Fitzgerald (whose Loyal Effusion' is irresistibly ludicrous for its extravagant adulation and fustian), Dr Johnson, &c. The amount of talent displayed by the two brothers was pretty equal; for none of James Smith's parodies are more felicitous than that of Scott by Horace. The popularity of the Rejected Addresses' seems to have satisfied the ambition of the elder poet. He afterwards confined himself to short anonymous pieces in the New Monthly Maga zine and other periodicals, and to the contribution of some humorous sketches and anecdotes towards Mr Mathews's theatrical entertainments, the author. ship of which was known only to a few. The Country Cousins, Trip to France, and Trip to America, mostly written by Smith, and brought out by Mathews at the English Opera House, not only brought the witty writer a thousand pounds-a sum filled the theatre, and replenished the treasury, but allusion without shrugging up his shoulders, and to which, we are told, the receiver seldom made ejaculating, A thousand pounds for nonsense! Mr Smith was still better paid for a trifling exer tion of his muse; for, having met at a dinner party the late Mr Strahan, the king's printer, then sufferDring from gout and old age, though his faculties remained unimpaired, he sent him next morning the following jeu d'esprit :

Me toil and ease alternate share,
Books, and the converse of the fair,

(To see is to adore 'em);
With these, and London for my home,
I envy not the joys of Rome,
The Circus or the Forum!

To London he seems to have been as strongly at

tached as Dr Johnson himself. 'A confirmed me

tropolitan in all his tastes and habits, he would often quaintly observe, that London was the best place in summer, and the only place in winter; or quote Dr Johnson's dogma-"Sir, the man that is tired of London is tired of existence." At other times he would express his perfect concurrence with Mosley's assertion, that in the country one is always maddened with the noise of nothing: or laughingly quote the Duke of Queensberry's rejoinder on being told one sultry day in September that London was exceedingly empty-" Yes, but it's fuller than the country." He would not, perhaps, have gone quite so far as his old friend Jekyll, who used to say, that "if compelled to live in the country, he would have the approach to his house paved like the streets of London, and hire a hackney-coach to drive up and down the street all day long;" but he would relate, with great glee, a story showing the general conviction of his dislike to ruralities. He was sitting in the library at a country house, when a gentleman, informing him that the family were all out, proposed a quiet stroll into the pleasure-grounds. "Stroll! why, don't you see my gouty shoe?" "Yes, but what then? you don't really mean to say that you have got the gout? I thought you had only put on that shoe to avoid being shown over the improvements." There is some good-humoured banter and exaggeration in this dislike of ruralities; and accordingly we find that, as Johnson found his way to the remote Hebrides, Smith occasionally transported himself to Yorkshire and other places, the country seats of friends and noblemen. The 'Rejected Addresses' appeared in 1812, having engaged James and Horace Smith six weeks, and proving one of the luckiest hits in literature. The directors of Drury Lane theatre had offered a premium for the

best poetical address to be spoken on opening the

new edifice; and a casual hint from Mr Ward, secre

tary to the theatre, suggested to the witty brothers the composition of a series of humorous addresses, professedly composed by the principal authors of the day. The work was ready by the opening of the theatre, and its success was almost unexampled.

The easy social bachelor-life of James Smith was perately, and at his club-dinner restricted himself fa much impaired by hereditary gout. He lived tem his half-pint of sherry; but as a professed joker and diner out,' he must often have been tempted to over-indulgence and irregular hours. Attacks of gout began to assail him in middle life, and he gra

Eighteen editions have been sold; and the copy-dually lost the use and the very form of his limbs,

*Memoir prefixed to Smith's Comic Miscellanies, 2 vols.

bearing all his sufferings, as his brother states, with an undeviating and unexampled patience.' One of





Your lower limbs seemed far from stout
When last I saw you walk;
The cause I presently found out
When you began to talk.

The power that props the body's length,
In due proportion spread,

In you mounts upwards, and the strength
All settles in the head.

Mr Strahan was so much gratified by the compli ment, that he made an immediate codicil to his will, by which he bequeathed to the writer the sum of L.3000! Horace Smith, however, mentions that Mr Strahan had other motives for his generosity, for he respected and loved the man quite as much as he admired the poet. James made a happier, though, in a pecuniary sense, less lucky epigram on Miss Edgeworth :

We every-day bards may 'anonymous' sign
That refuge, Miss Edgeworth, can never be thine.
Thy writings, where satire and moral unite,
Must bring forth the name of their author to light
Good and bad join in telling the source of their birth;
The bad own their EDGE, and the good own their


the stanzas in his poem on Chigwell displays his philosophic composure at this period of his life :

World, in thy ever busy mart I've acted no unnoticed part

Would I resume it? oh no!

Four acts are done, the jest grows stale; The waning lamps burn dim and pale, And reason asks-Cui bono?

He held it a humiliation to be ill, and never complained or alluded to his own sufferings. He died on the 24th December 1839, aged 65. Lady Blessington said, If James Smith had not been a witty man, he must have been a great man.' His extensive information and refined manners, joined to an inexhaustible fund of liveliness and humour, and a happy uniform temper, rendered him a fascinating companion. The writings of such a man give but a faint idea of the original; yet in his own walk of literature James Smith has few superiors. Anstey comes most directly into competition with him; yet it may be safely said that the Rejected Addresses' will live as long as the New Bath Guide.'

The surviving partner of this literary duumvirate -the most constant and interesting, perhaps, since that of Beaumont and Fletcher, and more affectionate from the relationship of the parties-has distinguished himself by his novels and historical romances, and by his generosity to various literary men. Mr Horace Smith has also written some copies of verses, one of which, the Address to the Mummy, is a felicitous compound of fact, humour, and sentiment, forcibly and originally expressed.

The Theatre. By the Rev. G. C. [Crabbe.]
'Tis sweet to view, from half-past five to six,
Our long wax candles, with short cotton wicks,
Touched by the lamplighter's Promethean art,
Start into light, and make the lighter start:
To see red Phoebus through the gallery pane
Tinge with his beam the beams of Drury Lane,
While gradual parties fill our widened pit,
And gape, and gaze, and wonder, ere they sit.

What various swains our motley walls contain!
Fashion from Moorfields, honour from Chick Lane;
Bankers from Paper Buildings here resort,
Bankrupts from Golden Square and Riches Court;
From the Haymarket canting rogues in grain,
Gulls from the Poultry, sots from Water Lane;
The lottery corinorant, the auction shark,

The full-price master, and the half-price clerk;
Boys who long linger at the gallery door,
With pence twice five, they want but twopence more,
Till some Samaritan the twopence spares,
And sends them jumping up the gallery stairs.
Critics we boast who ne'er their malice baulk,
But talk their minds, we wish they'd mind their talk;
Big worded bullies, who by quarrels live,
Who give the lie, and tell the lie they give;
Jews from St Mary Axe, for jobs so wary,
That for old clothes they'd even axe St Mary;
And bucks with pockets empty as their pate,
Lax in their gaiters, laxer in their gait;
Who oft, when we our house lock up, carouse
With tippling tipstaves in a lock-up house.

Yet here, as elsewhere, chance can joy bestow,
Where scowling fortune seemed to threaten wo.
John Richard William Alexander Dwyer
Was footman to Justinian Stubbs, Esquire;
But when John Dwyer listed in the Blues,
Emanuel Jennings polished Stubbs's shoes.
Emanuel Jennings brought his youngest boy
Up as a corn cutter a safe employ;

In Holywell Street, St Pancras, he was bred
(At number twenty-seven, it is said),
Facing the pump, and near the Granby's head.
He would have bound him to some shop in town,
But with a premium he could not come down:
Pat was the urchin's name, a red-haired youth,
Fonder of purl and skittle-grounds than truth.

Silence, ye gods! to keep your tongues in awe, The muse shall tell an accident she saw.

Pat Jennings in the upper gallery sat; But, leaning forward, Jennings lost his hat; Down from the gallery the beaver flew, And spurned the one, to settle in the two. How shall he act! Pay at the gallery door Two shillings for what cost when new but four! Or till half price, to save his shilling, wait, And gain his hat again at half-past eight! Now, while his fears anticipate a thief, John Mullins whispers, Take my handkerchief. Thank you, cries Pat, but one won't make a line; Take mine, cried Wilson; and, cried Stokes, take mine. A motley cable soon Pat Jennings ties, Where Spitalfields with real India vies. Like Iris' bow, down darts the painted hue, Starred, striped, and spotted, yellow, red, and blue, Old calico, torn silk, and muslin new. George Green below, with palpitating hand, Loops the last 'kerchief to the beaver's band; Upsoars the prize; the youth, with joy unfeigned, Regained the felt, and felt what he regained, While to the applauding galleries grateful Pat Made a low bow, and touched the ransomed hat. **

The Baby's Debut.-By W. W. [Wordsworth.] [Spoken in the character of Nancy Lake, a girl eight years of age, who is drawn upon the stage in a child's chaise by Samuel Hughes, her uncle's porter.]

My brother Jack was nine in May,
And I was eight on New Year's Day;
So in Kate Wilson's shop
Papa (he's my papa and Jack's)
Bought me, last week, a doll of wax,
And brother Jack a top.

Jack's in the pouts, and this it is,
He thinks mine came to more than his,
So to my drawer he goes,
Takes out the doll, and, oh my stars!
He pokes her head between the bars,
And melts off half her nose!
Quite cross, a bit of string I beg,
And tie it to his peg top's peg,

And bang, with might and main,
Its head against the parlour door:
Off flies the head, and hits the floor,
And breaks a window-pane.

This made him cry with rage and spite;
Well, let him cry, it serves him right.
A pretty thing, forsooth!

If he's to melt, all scalding hot,
Half my doll's nose, and I am not
To draw his peg top's tooth!

Aunt Hannah heard the window break,
And cried, 'O naughty Nancy Lake,
Thus to distress your aunt:
No Drury Lane for you to-day!'
And while papa said, ' Pooh, she may!'
Mamma said, 'No, she shan't!'
Well, after many a sad reproach,
They got into a hackney coach,

And trotted down the street.

I saw them go: one horse was blind; The tails of both hung down behind; Their shocs were on their feet.

[blocks in formation]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

An awful pause succeeds the stroke,
And o'er the ruins volumed smoke,
Rolling around its pitchy shroud,
Concealed them from the astonished crowd.
At length the mist awhile was cleared,
When lo! amid the wreck upreared,
Gradual a moving head appeared,

And Eagle firemen knew
'Twas Joseph Muggins, name revered,
The foreman of their crew.
Loud shouted all in signs of wo,
'A Muggins to the rescue, ho!'

And poured the hissing tide:
Meanwhile the Muggins fought amain,
And strove and struggled all in vain,
For rallying but to fall again,

He tottered, sunk, and died!
Did none attempt, before he fell,
To succour one they loved so well!
Yes, Higginbottom did aspire
(His fireman's soul was all on fire)
His brother chief to save;

But ah! his reckless generous ire
Served but to share his grave!
'Mid blazing beams and scalding streams,
Through fire and smoke he dauntless broke,


[ocr errors]

Where Muggins broke before.
But sulphury stench and boiling drench
Destroying sight, o'erwhelmed him quite;

He sunk to rise no more.

Still o'er his head, while Fate he braved,
His whizzing water-pipe he waved;

Whitford and Mitford ply your pumps;
You, Clutterbuck, come, stir your stumps;
Why are you in such doleful dumps?
A fireman, and afraid of bumps!
What are they feared on? fools-'od rot 'em !'
Were the last words of Higginbottom.

The Upas in Marybone Lane.

A tree grew in Java, whose pestilent rind
A venom distilled of the deadliest kind;
The Dutch sent their felons its juices to draw,
And who returned safe, pleaded pardon by law.

Face-muted, the culprits crept into the vale,
Advancing from windward to 'scape the death-gale;
How few the reward of their victory earned!
For ninety-nine perished for one who returned.

Britannia this Upas-tree bought of Mynheer,
Removed it through Holland, and planted it here;
'Tis now a stock-plant of the genus wolf's-bane,
And one of them blossoms in Marybone Lane.

The house that surrounds it stands first in the row,
Two doors at right angles swing open below;
And the children of misery daily steal in,
And the poison they draw they denominate Gin.

There enter the prude, and the reprobate boy,
The mother of grief, and the daughter of joy,
The serving-maid slim, and the serving-man stout,
They quickly steal in, and they slowly reel out.
Surcharged with the venom, some walk forth erect,
Apparently baffling its deadly effect;
But, sooner or later, the reckoning arrives,
And ninety-nine perish for one who survives.

Tax, Chancellor Van, the Batavian to thwart,
This compound of crime at a sovereign a quart;
Let gin fetch per bottle the price of champagne,
And hew down the Upas in Marybone Lane.

Address to the Mummy in Belzoni's Exhibition.

And thou hast walked about (how strange a story!)
In Thebes's streets three thousand years ago,
When the Memnonium was in all its glory,

And time had not begun to overthrow
Those temples, palaces, and piles stupendous,
Of which the very ruins are tremendous!

Speak! for thou long enough hast acted dumby;

Thou hast a tongue, come, let us hear its tune;
Thou'rt standing on thy legs above ground, mummy!
Revisiting the glimpses of the moon.
Not like thin ghosts or disembodied creatures,
But with thy bones and flesh, and limbs and features.

Tell us for doubtless thou canst recollect

To whom should we assign the Sphinx's fame! Was Cheops or Cephrenes architect

Of either pyramid that bears his name?


Is Pompey's pillar really a misnomer?
Had Thebes a hundred gates, as sung by Homer?
Perhaps thou wert a mason, and forbidden

By oath to tell the secrets of thy trade-
Then say, what secret melody was hidden

In Memnon's statue, which at sunrise played?
Perhaps thou wert a priest-if so, my struggles
Are vain, for priestcraft never owns its juggles.

Perchance that very hand, now pinioned flat,

Has hob-a-nobbed with Pharaoh, glass to glass;
Or dropped a halfpenny in Homer's hat,

Or doffed thine own to let Queen Dido pass,
Or held, by Solomon's own invitation,
A torch at the great Temple's dedication.

They cautious advance with slouched bonnet and hat, Didst thou not hear the pother o'er thy head,

When the great Persian conqueror, Cambyses,

They enter at this door, they go out at that;
Some bear off their burden with riotous glee,
But most sink in sleep at the foot of the tree.

Marched armies o'er thy tomb with thundering tread,

O'erthrew Osiris, Orus, Apis, Isis,

And shook the pyramids with fear and wonder,
When the gigantic Memnon fell asunder?

I need not ask thee if that hand, when armed,
Has any Roman soldier mauled and knuckled,
For thou wert dead, and buried, and embalmed,

Ere Romulus and Remus had been suckled:
Antiquity appears to have begun
Long after thy primeval race was run.

Thou couldst develope, if that withered tongue
Might tell us what those sightless orbs have seen,
How the world looked when it was fresh and young,
And the great deluge still had left
Or was it then so old, that history's pages
Contained no record of its early ages?

Still silent, incommunicative elf!

Art sworn to secrecy? then keep thy vows;
But prithee tell us something of thyself;

Reveal the secrets of thy prison-house;
Since in the world of spirits thou hast slumbered,
What hast thou seen-what strange adventures num-

Since first thy form was in this box extended,

We have, above ground, seen some strange mutations;

The Roman empire has begun and ended,

New worlds have risen-we have lost old nations, And countless kings have into dust been humbled, Whilst not a fragment of thy flesh has crumbled.

If the tomb's secrets may not be confessed,
The nature of thy private life unfold:

A heart has throbb'd beneath that leathern breast,
And tears adown that dusky cheek have rolled:
Have children climbed those knees, and kissed that


What was thy name and station, age and race?

Statue of flesh-immortal of the dead!
Imperishable type of evanescence!
Posthumous man, who quit'st thy narrow bed,

And standest undecayed within our presence,
Thou wilt hear nothing till the judgment morning,
When the great trump shall thrill thee with its

Why should this worthless tegument endure,
If its undying guest be lost for ever?
Oh, let us keep the soul embalmed and pure

In living virtue, that, when both must sever,
Although corruption may our frame consume,
The immortal spirit in the skies may bloom.*

*Originally published in the New Monthly Magazine.

« PreviousContinue »