Page images
PDF
EPUB

ALFRED TENNYSON.

Poet Laureate.
TO CHRISTOPHER NORTH.
You did late review my lays,

Crusty Christopher;
You did mingle blame and praise,

Rusty Christopher.
When I learnt from whom it came,
I forgave you all the blanie,

Musty Christopher ;
I could not forgive the praise,

Fusty Christopher. This was addressed to Christopher North in reply to a critique in " Blackwood's Magazine.” The lines are now a literary curiosity. They are printed in the edition of 1833 of Mr. Tennyson's “Poems," but have been omitted in subsequent editions.

The poet's forgiveness of the Reviewer's blame, and rejection of his praise, recalls (pace the shade of clever old Christopher North) an amusing epigrammatic fable by the Spanish poet Don Thomas de Yriarte, born about 1750, translated by Roscoe in Sismondi’s “ Literature of the South of Europe.” A dancing bear happens, in the exercise of his profession, to be ridiculed by a monkey and praised by a pig; the eulogy of the one, however, offends him more than the sneers of the other :

When the sly nionkey called me dunce,

I entertained a slight misgiving ;
But, pig, thy praise has proved at once,

Thut dancing will not earn my living.
Let every candidate for fame

Rely upon this wholesome rule,
Your work is bad if wise men blame,

But worse if lauded by a fool. The danger of praise from the unworthy or the incompetent has been pointed out in all ages; and it is charitable to believe that affectionate consideration for the best interests of those addressed is the cause of the bitter severity of many modern epigrams. The writers have certainly carefully followed those pungent receipts which apply to the Roman and the French rather than to the Greek epigram.

A few receipts for making epigrams (iu addition to those given at page 432) may form a suitable close to this volume.

An epigram by Martial, addressed to an epigrammatist whom be calls bad, but who, perbaps, wrote after the Greek manner, may bave suggested some of the modern receipts (Book VII. 25. Translated by liay):

In all the epigrams you write, we trace
The sweetness, and the candour of your face.
Think you a reader will for verses call,
Without one dram of salt or drop of gall ?
'Tis vinegar gives relish to our food :
A face that cannot smile, is never good.
Smooth tales, like sweet-meats, are for children fit:

High-season'd, like my dishes, be my wit. The following receipt is anonymous (“Contemporary Review," SIV. 017):

Take a portion of wit,

And fashion it fit,
Like a needle with point and with eye,

A point that can wound,

An eye to look round,

And at folly or vice let it fly.
The next is by Dr. Walsh (Walsh's “ Bagatelles," 1793, 50):

An epigram should be-if right
Short, simple, pointed, keen, and bright,

A lively little thing!
Like wasp with taper body-hound
By lines—not many. neat and round,

All ending in a sting. Some modern epigrammatists would complain of want of seasoning in the following-a receipt which might have been used by many of the Greek writers (“Notes and Queries,” 3rd S. VỊI.):

An epigram should, like a pin, conjoint

In its small compass, show both hưad and point. These receipts may be concluded with some lines which are applicable to the finest epigrams both of ancient and modern times. They were placed on the title-page of one of the earliest of the English Collections to show that the chief virtues of an epigram are brerity and sweetness (“Collection of Epigrams,” 1735):

If true that notion, which but few contest,
That, in the way of wit, short things are best ;
Then in good epigrums two virtues meet;
For 'tis their glory to be short, and sweet.

APPENDIX.

BOOKS CONNECTED WITH EPIGRAMMATIC

LITERATURE.

The following list of books may be useful to students of Epigrammatic Literature. It is not requisite to mention any of the works which must form the basis of all study of this subject—such as the Greek and Latin Anthologies; the principal English poets, major and minor, from Chaucer to the present time; and the well-known writers of Latin epigrams—Buchanan, Owen, and others; whilst the ordinary sources whence translations from the Greek and Latin may be obtained are too generally known to require to be specified. The chief object of the list is to call attention to scarce volumes of epigrams by authors of the 17th century, whose names are now little known; to indicate some of the numerous collections of scattered pieces, which issued thick and fast from the press in the 18th century, and a few of those works in which epigrams are found imbedded in the midst of other matter, chief among which are the “ Gentleman's Magazine,” and one of the most valuable of modern periodicals, “ Notes and Queries.” The list is only a selection from the mass of volumes which it has been found necessary to examine for this work; and it is needless to say, that it does not contain a tithe of the works connected with Epigrammatic Literature which are accessible in the British Museum and other public libraries.

The edition given is that which has been used. “ John Heywood's Works. A dialogue containing the number of the effectual proverbs, &c. &c. With one hundred of epigrams: and three hundred of epigrams upon three hundred proverbs: and a fifth hundred

[ocr errors]

of epigrams. Whereunto are newly added a sixth hundred of epigrams by the said John Heywood.” London, 1576.

“ Chrestoleros. Seven Books of Epigrams, written by T. B.” (Thomas Bastard). London, 1598.

* Two Centuries of Epigrams. By John Heath, B.A. and Fellow of New College, Oxford.” London, 1610.

"Laquei Ridiculosi : or Springes for Woodcocks. By Henry Parrot." London, 1613.

“Linsi-Woolsie, or Two Centuries of Epigrams. Written by William Gamage, Bachelor in the Arts.” Oxford, 1613.

“Rubbe and a Great Cast." And “Runne and a Great Cast. The second bowle.” “ Epigrams by Thomas Freeman, Gent.” London, 1614.

New Epigrams and a Satyre. Written by Jos. Martyn, a Wellwisher to Study." London, 1621.

“Quodlibets lately come over from New Britaniola, Old Newfoundland. Epigrams and other small parcels, both moral and divine. The first four books being the author's own; the rest translated out of that excellent Epigrammatist, Mr. John Owen, and other rare authors. With two epistles of that excellently wittie Doctor Francis Rablais. Translated out of his French at large. All of them composed and done at Harbor-Grace, in Britaniola, anciently called Newfound-Land. By R. H. (Robert Hayman), sometime Governor of the Plantation." London, 1628.

“ The most Elegant and Wittie Epigrams of Sir John Harington, Knight. Digested into Four Books."* London, 1633.

“Mirror of the New Reformation. Epigrams on the Reformers." (In the British Museum copy this title is in MS., taken from a bookseller's catalogue.) Paris, 1634.

“Delitiæ Delitiarum, sive Epigrammatum ex optimis quibusque hujus et novissimi seculi poetis in amplissimâ illâ Bibliothecâ Bol. leianâ, &c. Operâ Ab. Wright, Art. Bac. et S. Joan. Bapt. Coll. Soci." Oxoniæ, 1637.

“ Two Books of Epigrams and Epitaphs. Dedicated to two topbranches of Gentry, Sir Charles Shirley, Baronet, and William Davenport, Esquire. Written by Thomas Bancroft.” London, 1639.

“Clarastella; together with Poems occasional, Elegies, Epigrams, Satires. By Robert Heath, Esquire.” London, 1650.

· Epigrams, Theological, Philosophical, and Romantic. Six Books. Also the Socratic Session, or the Arraignment and Conviction of Julius Scaliger ; with other Select Poems. By S. Sheppard." London, 1651.

“Paradoxes, Problems, Essays, Characters written by Dr. Donne, Dean of Paul's. To which is added a book of epigrams written in Latin by the same author; translated into English by J. Maine, D.D. As also Ignatius his Conclave, a Satire, &c. &c." London, 1652.

Recreation for Ingenious Head-pieces. Or a Pleasant Grove for their Wits to Walk in,” London, 1654.

“ Ex Otio Negotium, or Martiall his Epigrams translated. Wit) sundry Poems and Fancies. By R. Fletcher.” London, 1656.

Tarpıköy swpov, or a Legacy to his Sons: Being a Miscellany a Precepts, Theological, Moral, Political, Economical. Digested into Seven Centuries of Quadrins. By Henry Delaune." 2nd edition, 1657.

“ Poems or Epigrams, Satires, Elegies, Songs and Sonnets upon several Persons and Occasions." By John Eliot. London, 1658.

“ Parnassi Puerperium.” Consisting of Translations from Owen and Sir Thomas More : and a Century of Epigrams, by Thomas Pecke. London, 1659.

“ Sales Epigrammatum: Being the choicest Distichs of Martial's Fourteen Books of Epigrams; and of all the chief Latin Poets that have writ in these last two centuries. Together with Cato's Morality. Made English by James Wright.” London, 1663. (This volume contains the distichs from Abraham Wright's “Delitiæ Delitiarum.")

“ Epigrams of All Sorts, made at several Times, on several Occasions. By Richard Flecknoe. Being rather a new work than a new impression of the old.” London, 1671.

“ Wit's Interpreter. The English Parnassus. Songs, Epigrams, Epitaphs, Drolleries, &c. The Third Edition, with many Additions. By J. C.” London, 1671.

“ Miscellaneous Poems, by Andrew Marvell, Esq." London, 1681.

“ John Cleveland's revised Poems, Orations,” &c. &c. London, 1687.

“ All Ovid's Elegies : Three Books. By C. M. (Christopher Marlowe). Epigrams by J. D. (Sir John Davies). At Middleburg.” (No date.)

“ The Mastive, or Young-Whelpe of the Olde-Doggo. Epigrams and Satires." (No date.) (The Preface is signed “H. P.")

"Epigrams upon the Paintings of the most eminent Masters, Ancient and Modern. With Reflections upon the several Schools of Painting. by J. E., Esq." (John Elsum). London, 1700.

“Poems on Affairs of State." 4 vols. London, 1703-1707.

“ Oxford and Cambridge Miscellany Poems." (Edited by Fenton.) London, 1709.

“Poetical Miscellanies, consisting of original Poems and translations by the best hands. Published by Mr. Steele.” London, 1714.

“ Miscellany Poems. Containing a variety of new translations of the Ancient Poets : together with several original Poems. the most eminent hands. Published by Mr. Dryden. The Fourth Edition.” 6 vols. London, 1716.

« PreviousContinue »