Classic Writings on Poetry - William Harmon 2003
George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788—1824)
Lord Byron still shines among the great Romantic writers who flourished during the first quarter of the nineteenth century—maybe more for his personality than for his poetry, although he is widely regarded as a very great writer indeed, especially as a wit and a satirist. Byron was not only a genius; he was also a millionaire, a hero, a nobleman, a sinner, and a beauty. The world is still learning how to catch up with him.
He was born into a tormented and tempestuous family; his father, who died when Byron was three, was nicknamed “Mad Jack.” Byron was a peer for all of his teens and his adult life, inheriting the family title at age ten. He began publishing poetry while still an adoloescent and by 1812 was among the most famous poets in England. He married most unhappily in 1815, and in the next year—hounded by accusations of insanity and incest—he exiled himself from England, never to come home. He spent some time in Switzerland but devoted most of his remaining life to working in Italy, often in the company of Percy Bysshe Shelley and his wife Mary.
Byron fits into the same category as Horace, Dryden, and Pope: poet-critics who excel in satire and ridicule. When his early Hours of Idleness (1807) was disparaged in the pages of The Edinburgh Review, Byron reacted with English Bards and Scotch Reviewers (1809). It was published as a thin octavo volume in 1809 and went through four editions, with some corrections and revisions, by 1811. At the time, the adjective “Scotch” had not acquired some of the negative connotations that subsequently caused many natives or adherents of Scotland to prefer “Scottish” or “Scots,” except in reference to whisky. In the late eighteenth century, Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott usually said “Scotch,” although “Scottish” already bore a note of formality. Two years later Byron continued his dispute with the publication of the poem’s sequel, Hints from Horace, an adaptation of Horace’s Ars Poetica.
ENGLISH BARDS AND SCOTCH REVIEWERS (EXCERPT,1809)
“I had rather be a kitten, and cry mew!
Than one of these same metre ballad-mongers”
“Such shameless bards we have; and yet ’tis true,
There are as mad, abandon’d critics too,”
O nature’s noblest gift—my grey goose-quill!
Slave of my thoughts, obedient to my will,
Torn from thy parent bird to form a pen,—
That mighty instrument of little men!
The pen! foredoom’d to aid the mental throes
Of brains that labour, big with verse or prose,
Though nymphs forsake, and critics may deride,
The lover’s solace, and the author’s pride.
What wits, what poets dost thou daily raise!
How frequent is thy use, how small thy praise!
Condemn’d at length to be forgotten quite,
With all the pages which ’twas thine to write.
But thou, at least, mine own especial pen!
Once laid aside, but now assumed again,
Our task complete, like Hamet’s shall be free;1
Though spurn’d by others, yet beloved by me:
Then let us soar to-day, no common theme,
No eastern vision, no distemper’d dream
Inspires—our path, though full of thorns, is plain;
Smooth be the verse, and easy be the strain.
When Vice triumphant holds her sov’reign sway,
Obey’d by all who nought beside obey;
When Folly, frequent harbinger of crime,
Bedecks her cap with bells of every clime;
When knaves and fools combined o’er all prevail,
And weigh their justice in a golden scale;
E’en then the boldest start from public sneers,
Afraid of shame, unknown to other fears,
More darkly sin, by satire kept in awe,
And shrink from ridicule, though not from law.
Such is the force of wit! but not belong
To me the arrows of satiric song;
The royal vices of our age demand
A keener weapon, and a mightier hand.
Still there are follies, e’en for me to chase,
And yield at least amusement in the race:
Laugh when I laugh, I seek no other fame;
The cry is up, and scribblers are my game.
Speed, Pegasus!—ye strains of great and small,
Ode, epic, elegy, have at you all!
I too can scrawl, and once upon a time
I pour’d along the town a flood of rhyme,
A schoolboy freak, unworthy praise or blame;
I printed—older children do the same.
’Tis pleasant, sure, to see one’s name in print;
A book’s a book, although there’s nothing in’t.
Not that a title’s sounding charm can save
Or scrawl or scribbler from an equal grave:
This Lambe must own, since his patrician name2
Fail’d to preserve the spurious farce from shame.
No matter, George continues still to write,
Though now the name is veil’d from public sight.
Moved by the great example, I pursue
The self-same road, but make my own review:
Not seek great Jeffrey’s, yet, like him, will be3
Self-constituted judge of poesy.
A man must serve his time to every trade
Save censure—critics all are ready made.
Take hackney’d jokes from Miller, got by rote,4
With just enough of learning to misquote;
A mind well skill’d to find or forge a fault;
A turn for punning, call it Attic salt;
To Jeffrey go, be silent and discreet,
His pay is just ten sterling pounds per sheet:
Fear not to lie, ’twill seem a sharper hit;
Shrink not from blasphemy, ’twill pass for wit;
Care not for feeling—pass you proper jest,
And stand a critic, hated yet carress’d.
And shall we own such judgment? no—as soon
Seek roses in December—ice in June;
Hope constancy in wind, or corn in chaff;
Believe a woman or an epitaph,
Or any other thing that’s false, before
You trust in critics, who themselves are sore;
Or yield one single thought to be misled
By Jeffrey’s heart, or Lambe’s Boeotian head.5
To these young tyrants, by themselves misplaced,
Combined usurpers on the throne of taste;
To these, when authors bend in humble awe,
And hail their voice as truth, their word as law—
While these are censors, ’twould be sin to spare;
While such are critics, why should I forebear?
But yet, so near all modern worthies run,
’Tis doubtful whom to seek, or whom to shun:
Nor know we when to spare, or where to strike,
Our bards and censors are so much alike.
Then should you ask me, why I venture o’er
The path which Pope and Gifford trod before;6
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 come 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:”—7
Indeed!—’tis granted, faith!—but what care I?
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 fabl’d 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;
A polish’d nation’s praise aspir’d to claim,
And rais’d 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.
Then Congreve’s scenes could cheer, or Otway’s melt—8
For nature then an English audience felt.
But why these names, or greater still, retrace,
When all to feebler bards resign their place?
Yet to such times our lingering looks are cast,
When taste and reason with those times are past.
Now look around, and turn each trifling page,
Survey the precious works that please the age;
This truth at least let satire’s self allow,
No dearth of bards can be complain’d of 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.9
Thus saith the Preacher: “Nought beneath the sun
Is new”; yet still from change to change we run:
What varied wonders tempt us as they pass!
The cow-pox, tractors, galvanism and gas,10
In turns appear, to make the vulgar stare,
Till the swoln bubble bursts—and all is air!
Nor less new schools of Poetry arise,
Where dull pretenders grapple for the prize:
O’er taste awhile these pseudo-bards prevail;
Each country book-club bows the knee to Baal,
And, hurling lawful genius from the throne,
Erects a shrine and idol of its own;
Some leaden calf—but whom it matters not,
From soaring Southey down to grovelling Stott.11
Behold! in various throngs the scribbling crew,
For notice eager, pass in long review:
Each spurs his jaded Pegasus apace,
And rhyme and blank maintain an equal race;
Sonnets on sonnets crowd, and ode on ode;
And tales of terror jostle on the road;12
Immeasurable measures move along;
For simpering folly loves a varied song,
To strange mysterious dulness still the friend,
Admires the strain she cannot comprehend.
Thus Lays of Minstrels—may they be the last!—13
On half-strung harps whine mournful to the blast.
While mountain spirits prate to river sprites,
That dames may listen to the sound at nights;
And goblin brats, of Gilpin Horner’s brood,14
Decoy young border-nobles through the wood,
And skip at every step, Lord knows how high,
And frighten foolish babes, the Lord knows why;
While high-born ladies in their magic cell,
Forbidding knights to read who cannot spell,
Despatch a courier to a wizard’s grave,
And fight with honest men to shield a knave.
Next view in state, proud prancing on his roan,
The golden-crested haughty Marmion,15
Now forging scrolls, now foremost in the fight,
Not quite a felon, yet but half a knight,
The gibbet or the field prepar’d to grace;
A mighty mixture of the great and base.
And think’st thou, Scott! by vain conceit perchance,
On public taste to foist thy stale romance,
Though Murray with his Miller may combine
To yield thy muse just half-a-crown per line?
No! when the sons of song descend to trade,
Their bays are sear, their former laurels fade.
Let such forego the poet’s sacred name,
Who rack their brains for lucre, not for fame:
Still for stern Mammon may they toil in vain!
And sadly gaze on gold they cannot gain!
Such be their meed, such still the just reward
Of prostituted muse and hireling bard!
For this we spurn Apollo’s venal son,
And bid a long “good night to Marmion.”
These are the themes that claim our plaudits now;
These are the bards to whom the muse must bow;
While Milton, Dryden, Pope, alike forgot,
Resign their hallow’d bays to Walter Scott.
The time has been, when yet the muse was young,
When Homer swept the lyre, and Maro sung,16
An epic scarce ten centuries could claim,
While awe-struck nations hail’d the magic 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 expir’d 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,
Behold the ballad-monger Southey rise!
To him let Camoëns, Milton, Tasso yield,17
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 plac’d in glory’s niche;
Her fetters burst, and just releas’d from prison,
A virgin phoenix from her ashes risen.
Next see tremendous Thalaba come on,18
Arabia’s monstrous, wild and wondrous son:
Domdaniel’s dread destroyer, who o’erthrew19
More mad magicians than the world e’er knew.
Immortal hero! all thy foes o’ercome,
For ever reign—the rival of Tom Thumb!20
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,21
Cacique in Mexico, and prince in Wales;
Tells us strange tales, as other travellers do,
More old than Mandeville’s, and not so true.22
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 way;
If still in Berkley ballads most uncivil,23
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”;24
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 tortur’d 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”;25
A moon-struck, silly lad, who lost his way,
And, like his bard, confounded night with day;
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 unnotic’d here,
To turgid ode and tumid stanza dear?
Though themes of innocence amuse him best,
Yet still obscurity’s a welcome guest.
If Inspiration should her aid refuse
To him who takes a pixy for a muse,26
Yet none in lofty numbers can surpass
The bard who soars to elegize an ass.
So well the subject suits his noble mind,
He brays the laureat of the long-ear’d kind … .
Health to immortal Jeffrey! once, in name,
England could boast a judge almost the same;
In soul so like, so merciful, yet just,
Some think that Satan has resign’d his trust,
And given the spirit to the world again,
To sentence letters, as he sentenced men.
With hand less mighty, but with heart as black,
With voice as willing to decree the rack;
Bred in the courts betimes, though all that law
As yet hath taught him is to find a flaw;
Since well instructed in the patriot school
To rail at party, though a party tool,
Who knows, if chance his patrons should restore
Back to the sway they forfeited before,
His scribbling toils some recompense may meet,
And raise this Daniel to the judgment-seat?
Let Jeffreys’ shade indulge the pious hope,
And greeting thus, present him with a rope:
“Heir to my virtues! man of equal mind!
Skill’d to condemn as to traduce mankind,
This cord receive, for thee reserved with care,
To wield in judgment, and at length to wear.”
… Then prosper, Jeffrey! pertest of the train
Whom Scotland pampers with her fiery grain!
Whatever blessing waits a genuine Scot,
In double portion swells thy glorious lot;
For thee Edina culls her evening sweets,27
And showers their odours on thy candid sheets,
Whose hue and fragrance to thy work adhere—
This scents its pages, and that gilds its rear.28
Lo! blushing Itch, coy nymph, enamour’d grown,
Forsakes the rest, and cleaves to thee alone;
And, too unjust to other Pictish men,
Enjoys thy person, and inspires thy pen! …
Such are we now. Ah! wherefore should we turn
To what our fathers were, unless to mourn?
Degenerate Britons! are ye dead to shame,
Or, kind to dulness, do you fear to blame?
Well may the nobles of our present race
Watch each distortion of a Naldi’s face;
Well may they smile on Italy’s buffoons,
And worship Catalani’s pantaloons,29
Since their own drama yields no fairer trace
Of wit than puns, of humour than grimace … .
To the famed throng now paid the tribute due,
Neglected genius! let me turn to you,
Come forth, oh Campbell give thy talents scope;
Who dares aspire if thou must cease to hope?
And thou, melodious Rogers! rise at last,30
Recall the pleasing memory of the past;
Arise! let blest remembrance still inspire,
And strike to wonted tones thy hallow’d lyre;
Restore Apollo to his vacant throne,
Assert thy country’s honour and thine own.
What! must deserted Poesy still weep
Where her last hopes with pious Cowper sleep?31
Unless, perchance, from his cold bier she turns,
To deck the turf that wraps her mistral, Burns!
No! though contempt hath mark’d the spurious brood,
The race who rhyme from folly, or for food,
Yet still some genuine sons ’tis hers to boast,
Who, least affecting, still affect the most:
Feel as they write, and write but as they feel—
Bear witness Gifford, Sotheby, Macneil.32
… There be who say, in these enlighten’d days,
That splendid lies are all the poet’s praise;
That strain’d invention, ever on the wing,
Alone impels the modern bard to sing:
’Tis true, that all who rhyme—nay, all who write,
Shrink from that fatal word to genius—trite;
Yet Truth sometimes will lend her noblest fires,
And decorate the verse herself inspires:
This fact in Virtue’s name let Crabbe attest;33
Though nature’s sternest painter, yet the best.
… Let these, or such as these with just applause,
Restore the muse’s violated laws;
But not in flimsy Darwin’s pompous chime,34
That mighty master of unmeaning rhyme,
Whose gilded cymbals, more adorn’d than clear,
The eye delighted, but fatigued the ear;
In show the simple lyre could once surpass,
But now, worn down, appear in native brass;
While all his train of hovering sylphs around
Evaporate in similes and sound:
Him let them shun, with him let tinsel die:
False glare attracts, but more offends the eye.
Yet let them not to vulgar Wordsworth stoop,
The meanest object of the lowly group,
Whose verse, of all but childish prattle void,
Seems blessed harmony to Lamb and Lloyd:35
Let them—but hold, my muse, nor dare to teach
A strain far, far beyond thy humble reach:
The native genius with their being given
Will point the path, and peal their notes to heaven.
And thou, too, Scott! resign to minstrels rude
The wilder slogan of a border feud:
Let others spin their meagre lines for hire;
Enough for genius, if itself inspire!
Let Southey sing, although his teeming muse,
Prolific every spring, be too profuse;
Let simple Wordsworth chime his childish verse,
And brother Coleridge lull the babe at nurse;
Let spectre-mongering Lewis aim, at most,
To rouse the galleries, or to raise a ghost;
Let Moore still sigh; let Strangford steal from Moore,36
And swear that Camoëns sang such notes of yore;
Let Hayley hobble on, Montgomery rave,37
And godly Grahame chant a stupid stave:38
Let sonneteering Bowles his strains refine,39
And whine and whimper to the fourteenth line;
Let Stott, Carlisle, Matilda, and the rest40
Of Grub Street, and of Grosvenor Place the best,
Scrawl on, till death release us from the strain,
Or Common Sense assert her rights again.
But thou, with powers that mock the aid of praise,
Shouldst leave to humbler bards ignoble lays:
Thy country’s voice, the voice of all the nine,
Demand a hallow’d harp—that harp is thine.
Say! will not Caledonia’s annals yield
The glorious record of some nobler field,
Than the wild foray of a plundering clan,
Whose proudest deeds disgrace the name of man?
Or Marmion’s acts of darkness, fitter food
For Sherwood’s outlaw tales of Robin Hood?
Scotland! still proudly claim thy native bard,
And be thy praise his first, his best reward!
Yet not with thee alone his name should live,
But own the vast renown a world can give:
Be known, perchance, when Albion is no more,
And tell the tale of what she was before;
To future times her faded fame recall,
And save her glory, though his country fall.
… Shall hoary Granta call her sable sons,41
Expert in science, more expert at puns?
Shall these approach the muse? ah, no! she flies,
Even from the tempting ore of Seaton’s prize:42
Though printers condescend the press to soil
With rhyme by Hoare, the epic blank by Hoyle:43
Not him whose page, if still upheld by whist,
Requires no sacred theme to bid us list.
Ye! who in Granta’s honours would surpass,
Must mount her Pegasus, a full-grown ass;
A foal well worthy of her ancient dam,
Whose Helicon is duller than her Cam.44
… Then, hapless Britain! be thy rulers blest,
The senate’s oracles, the people’s jest!
Still hear thy motley orators dispense
The flowers of rhetoric, though not of sense,
While Canning’s colleagues hate him for his wit,45
And old dame Portland fills the place of Pitt.46
Yet, once again, adieu! ere this the sail
That wafts me hence is shivering in the gale;
And Afric’s coast and Calpe’s adverse height,
And Stamboul’s minarets must greet my sight:
Thence shall I stray through beauty’s native clime,
Where Kaff is clad in rocks, and crown’d with snows sublime.
But should I back return, no tempting press
Shall drag my journal from the desk’s recess;
Let coxcombs, printing as they come from far,
Snatch his own wreath of ridicule from Carr;
Let Aberdeen and Elgin still pursue47
The shade of fame through regions of virtù;
Waste useless thousands on their Phidian freaks,
Misshapen monuments and maim’d antiques;
And make their grand saloons a general mart
For all the mutilated blocks of art;
Of Dardan tours let dilettanti tell,
I leave topography to rapid Gell;48
And, quite content, no more shall interpose
To stun the public ear—at least with prose.
Thus far I’ve held my undistrub’d career,
Prepared for rancour, steel’d ’gainst selfish fear;
This thing of rhyme I ne’er disdain’d to own—
Though not obtrusive, yet not quite unknown:
My voice was heard again, though not so loud,
My page, though nameless, never disavow’d;
And now at once I tear the veil away:—
Cheer on the pack! the quarry stands at bay,
Unscared by all the din of Melbourne House,
By Lambe’s resentment, or by Holland’s spouse, 49
By Jeffrey’s harmless pistol, Hallam’s rage,50
Edina’s brawny sons and brimstone page.
Our men in buckram shall have blows enough,
And feel they too are “penetrable stuff”:
And though I hope not hence unscathed to go,
Who conquers me shall find a stubborn foe.
The time hath been, when no harsh sound would fall
From lips that now may seem imbued with gall;
Nor fools nor follies tempt me to despise
The meanest thing that crawl’d beneath my eyes;
But now, so callous grown, so changed since youth,
I’ve learn’d to think, and sternly speak the truth;
Learn’d to deride the critic’s starch decree,
And break him on the wheel he meant for me;
To spurn the rod a scribbler bids me kiss,
Nor care if courts and crowds applaud or hiss:
Nay more, though all my rival rhymesters frown,
I too can hunt a poetaster down;
And, arm’d in proof, the gauntlet cast at once
To Scotch marauder, and to southern dunce.
Thus much I’ve dared; if my incondite lay
Hath wrong’d these righteous times, let others say;
This, let the world, which knows not how to spare,
Yet rarely blames unjustly, now declare.
1. Hamet: Cid Hamet Benengali, at the end of Don Quixote.
2. Lambe: William and George Lambe (or Lamb), first cousins of Lady Byron; George wrote for the Edinburgh Review.
3. Jeffrey: Francis Jeffrey (1773—1850), one of the founders of the Edinburgh Review. Byron repeatedly associates him with George Jeffreys (1644—1689), one of the first of the Hanging Judges. Francis Jeffrey himself became a judge after Byron’s death.
4. Miller: the legendary Joe Miller, to whom a collection of jokes was attributed in the eighteenth century.
5. Boeotian: stupid.
6. Gifford: William Gifford (1756—1826), brilliant scholar, translator, and satirist.
7. Pye: Henry James Pye (1745—1813), Poet Laureate from 1790 until his death; succeeded by Southey.
8. Otway: Thomas Otway (1652—1685), playwright.
9. Little’s lyrics shine in hot-press’d twelves: Byron’s friend, the Irish poet and satirist Thomas Moore, used the name Thomas Little for his early works. “Twelves” is a reference to the book size called “duodecimo,” which is about 5 × 8 inches. Hot-pressing made the pages smooth.
10. Tractors: rods of two different metals rubbed over the skin as a cure for many maladies. They were called “tractors” because they were thought to draw or pull out the affliction. Marketed by an American physician named Elisha Perkins who died in 1799.
11. Stott: Robert Stott published poems in the Morning Press, or the Morning Post, under the penname Hafiz.
12. tales of terror: A book by Matthew Gregory Lewis (“Monk” Lewis) was called Tales of Terror.
13. Lays of Minstrels: Sir Walter Scott published a poem called The Lay of the Last Minstrel.
14. Gilpin Horner: the legendary Scottish character whose story was the germ of The Lay of the Last Minstrel.
15. Marmion: Marmion, another of Scott’s poems.
16. Maro: Virgil.
17. Camoëns, Milton, Tasso: great epic poets of Portugal, England, and Italy.
18. Thalaba: Thalaba, poem by Southey.
19. Domdaniel: in Southey’s Thalaba, “a seminary for evil magicians, under the roots of the sea.”
20. Tom Thumb: Henry Fielding’s mock-heroic of 1730: The Tragedy of Tragedies, or the Life and Death of Tom Thumb the Great.
21. Madoc: Madoc, a poem by Southey.
22. Mandeville: “Sir John Mandeville,” supposed author of a fourteenth-century travel book that combines geography with fantasy.
23. Berkley ballads: refers to Southey’s The Old Woman of Berkeley.
24. growing double: in Wordsworth’s “The Tables Turned.”
25. an idiot boy: Wordsworth’s “The Idiot Boy.”
26. Pixy: Coleridge wrote a poem called “Songs of the Pixies.”
27. Edina: the ancient and poetic name for Edinburgh, Scotland, as in Burns’s “Address To Edinburgh”: “Edina! Scotia’s darling seat!”
28. gilds its rear: the back cover of the magazine was gilt.
29. Naldi’s face … Catalani’s pantaloons: Giuseppe Naldi and Angelica Catalani, celebrated musical performers.
30. Campbell… Rogers: Thomas Campbell (1777—1844) and Samuel Rogers (1763—1855) were among Byron’s most accomplished and respected contemporaries.
31. Cowper: William Cowper (1731—1800), poet much admired by Wordsworth and others; known for piety and patriotism and also for his abiding melancholy.
32. Sotheby: William Sotheby (1757—1833), translator and playwright. Macneil: Hector Macneil (1746—1818), minor Scottish poet, known for songs and pastorals; his poetical works were published in two volumes in 1801.
33. Crabbe: George Crabbe (1754—1832), poet admired by Byron and by many others, including Edwin Arlington Robinson and Ezra Pound.
34. Darwin: Erasmus Darwin (1731—1802), grandfather of the biologist.
35. Lloyd: Charles Lloyd (1775—1839), journalist and poet.
36. Strangford: Viscount Strangford, translator of Camoëns.
37. Let Hayley hobble on: William Hayley, author of a biography of Milton. Montgomery: James Montgomery, minor poet.
38. Grahame: James Grahame, author of religious poems.
39. Bowles: Rev. W. Lisle Bowles, known for sonnets and for longer poems as well.
40. Carlisle: Frederick Howard, fifth earl of Carlisle (1748—1825), politician. Matilda: “Rosa Matilda” and “Anna Matilda” were pseudonyms used by poets.
41. Granta: Small stream running into the Cam. Byron wrote a “medley” called “Granta.”
42. Seaton: Thomas Seaton (1684—1741), the founder of the Seatonian prize, awarded for religious poetry at Cambridge.
43. Hoare: Charles James Hoare (1781—1865), clergyman and minor poet. Hoyle: Charles Hoyle, minor poet. Byron connects him with Edmund Hoyle (1672—1769), still honored in card-playing contexts. He invented the modern game of whist.
44. Helicon: Byron admitted that he made a mistake. Helicon is a mountain; Byron meant Hippocrene, one of the fountains of poetic inspiration on Helicon. Cam: the river that flows through Cambridge.
45. Canning: George Canning (1770—1827), politician and author.
46. Pitt: William Pitt the Younger (1759—1806), politician.
47. Aberdeen: Earl of Aberdeen (1784—1869); while touring Europe at the beginning of the nineteenth century, he excavated an amphitheatre in Athens and sent the reliefs to Britain (along with the Elgin Marbles). He founded the Athenian Society and wrote for the Edinburgh Review. Byron, who was Aberdeen’s cousin, castigated him for taking antiquities from Greece. Elgin: Lord Elgin (1766—1841); the “Elgin Marbles,” about which Keats wrote a poem, were parts of the Parthenon that Elgin collected and sold to the British government, who placed them in the British Museum. Byron also attacked Elgin in “The Curse of Minerva” and Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (II, 11).
48. Gell: Sir William Gell (1777—1836), archaeologist. He wrote and illustrated Topography of Troy (1804).
49. Holland: Lord Holland (1773—1840); one of the very few Whigs in the House of Lords, Holland was a patron of the Edinburgh Review. The critics returned the favor by giving positive reviews to his essays and translations. He married a woman who had been scandalously divorced from a baronet (she had borne Holland’s child earlier)—a rare phenomenon at the time.
50. Hallam: Henry Hallam (1777—1859), distinguished historian; father of Tennyson’s friend Arthur Henry Hallam.