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perhaps be discovered in the following passage, where, in alluding to three eminent performers on different instruments, he says, “ These three illustrious personages were introduced at the Emperour's court," &c.; speaking of them as if they were foreign ambassadours or princes of the blood, and thus magnifying himself and his profession. This overshadowing manner carries nearly every thing before it, and mystifies a great many. There is nothing like putting the best face upon things, and leaving others to find out the difference. He who could call three musicians “ personages,” would himself play a personage through life, and succeed in his leading object. Sir Joshua Reynolds, remarking on this passage, said, “No one had a greater respect than he had for his profession, but that he should never think of applying to it epithets that were appropriated merely to external rank and distinction.” Madame D
it must be owned, had cleverness enough to stock a whole family, and to set up her cousin-germans, male and female, for wits and virtuosos to the third and fourth generation. The rest have done nothing, that I know of, but keep up the name.
The most celebrated author in modern times has written without a name, and has been
knighted for anonymous productions. Lord Byron complains that Horace Walpole was not properly appreciated, “ first, because he was a gentleman, and secondly, because he was a nobleman.” His Lordship stands in one, at least, of the predicaments here mentioned, and yet he has had justice, or somewhat more, done him. He towers above his fellows by all the height of the peerage. If the poet lends a grace to the nobleman, the nobleman pays it back to the poet with interest. What a fine addition is ten thousand a year and a title to the flaunting pretensions of a modern rhapsodist! His name so accompanied becomes the mouth well : it is repeated thousands of times, instead of hundreds, because the reader in being familiar with the Poet's works seems to claim acquaintance with the Lord.
“ Let but a lord once own the happy lines :
He smiles at the high-flown praise or petty cavils of little men. Does he make a slip in decorum, which Milton declares to be the principal thing? His proud crest and armorial bearings support him: - no bend-sinister slurs his poetical escutcheon! Is he dull, or does he put off some trashy production on the public? It is
not charged to his account, as a deficiency which he must make good at the peril of his admirers. His Lordship is not answerable for the negligence or extravagances of his Muse. He “ bears a charmed reputation, which must not yield” like one of vulgar birth. The Noble Bard is for this reason scarcely vulnerable to the critics. The double barrier of his pretensions baffles their puny, timid efforts. Strip off some of his tarnished laurels, and the coronet appears glittering beneath : restore them, and it still shines through with keener lustre. In fact, his Lordship's blaze of reputation culminates from his rank and place in society. He sustains two lofty and imposing characters; and in order to simplify the process of our admiration, and “ leave no rubs or botches in the way,” we equalise his pretensions, and take it for granted that he must be as superior to other men in genius as he is in birth. Or, to give a more familiar solution of the enigma, the Poet and the Peer agree to honour each other's acceptances on the bank of Fame, and sometimes cozen the town to some tune between them.-Really, however, and with all his privileges, Lord Byron might as well not have written that strange letter about Pope. I could not afford it, poor as I am.
Why does he pronounce, ex cathedrâ and robed, that Cowper
is no poet? Cowper was a gentleman and of noble family like his critic. He was a teacher of morality as well as a describer of nature, which is more than his Lordship is. His John Gilpin will last as long as Beppo, and his verses to Mary are not less touching than the Farewell. If I had ventured upon such an assertion as this, it would have been worse for me than finding out a borrowed line in the Pleasures of Hope.
There is not a more helpless or more despised animal than a mere author, without any extrinsic advantages of birth, breeding, or fortune to set him off. The real ore of talents or learning must be stamped before it will pass current. To be at all looked upon as an author, a man must be something more or less than an author -a rich merchant, a banker, a lord, or a plough
He is admired for something foreign to himself, that acts as a bribe to the servility or a set-off to the envy of the community.
« What should such fellows as we do, crawling betwixt heaven and earth;”. -“coining our hearts for drachmas ;" now scorched in the sun, now shivering in the breeze, now coming out in our newest gloss and best attire, like swallows in the spring, now “ sent back like hollowmas or shortest day?" The best wits, like the hand
somest faces upon the town, lead a harassing, precarious life-are taken up for the bud and promise of talent, which they no sooner fulfil than they are thrown aside like an old fashionare caressed without reason, and insulted with impunity-are subject to all the caprice, the malice, and fulsome advances of that great keeper, the Public and in the end come to no good, like all those who lavish their favours on mankind at large and look to the gratitude of the world for their reward. Instead of this set of Grub-street authors, the mere canaille of letters, this corporation of Mendicity, this ragged regiment of genius suing at the corners of streets in forma pauperis, give me the gentleman and scholar, with a good house over his head and a handsome table “with wine of Attic taste" to ask his friends to, and where want and sorrow never come. Fill up the sparkling bowl, heap high the dessert with roses crowned, bring out the hot-pressed poem, the vellum manuscripts, the medals, the portfolios, the intaglios—this is the true model of the life of a man of taste and virtù--the possessors, not the inventors of these things, are the true benefactors of mankind and ornaments of letters. Look in, and there, amidst silver services and shining chandeliers, you will see the man of genius at his