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On Some Books And Their Associations
by [?]

To prolong these vagrant adversaria would not be difficult. Here, for example, dated 1779, are the Coplas of the poet Don Jorge Manrique, which, having no Spanish, I am constrained to study in the renderings of Longfellow. Don Jorge was a Spaniard of the Spaniards, Commendador of Montizon, Knight of the Order of Santiago, Captain of a company in the Guards of Castile, and withal a valiant soldado, who died of a wound received in battle. But the attraction of my volume is, that, at the foot of the title-page, in beautiful neat script, appear the words, “Robert Southey. Paris. 17 May 1817,”–being the year in which Southey stayed at Como with Walter Savage Landor. Here are the Works of mock-heroic John Philips, 1720, whose Blenheim the Tories pitted against Addison’s Campaign, and whose Splendid Shilling still shines lucidly among eighteenth-century parodies. This copy bears–also on the title-page–the autograph of James Thomson, not yet the author of The Seasons; and includes the book-plate of Lord Prestongrange,–that “Lord Advocate Grant” of whom you may read in the Kidnapped of “R.L.S.” Here again is an edition (the first) of Hazlitt’s Lectures on the English Comic Writers, annotated copiously in MS. by a contemporary reader who was certainly not an admirer; and upon whom W.H.’s cockneyisms, Gallicisms, egotisms, and ” ille -isms” generally, seem to have had the effect of a red rag upon an inveterately insular bull. “A very ingenious but pert, dogmatical, and Prejudiced Writer” is his uncomplimentary addition to the author’s name. Then here is Cunningham’s Goldsmith of 1854, vol. i., castigated with equal energy by that Alaric Alexander Watts,[2] of whose egregious strictures upon Wordsworth we read not long since in the Cornhill Magazine, and who will not allow Goldsmith to say, in the Haunch of Venison, “the porter and eatables followed behind.” “They could scarcely have followed before,”–he objects, in the very accents of Boeotia. Nor will he pass “the hollow-sounding bittern” of the Deserted Village. A barrel may sound hollow, but not a bird–this wiseacre acquaints us.


[2] So he was christened. But Lockhart chose to insist that his second pre-name should properly be “Attila,” and thenceforth he was spoken of in this way.

Had the gifted author of Lyrics of the Heart never heard of rhetorical figures? But he is not Goldsmith’s only hyper-critic. Charles Fox, who admired The Traveller, thought Olivia’s famous song in the Vicar “foolish,” and added that “folly” was a bad rhyme to “melancholy.”[3] He must have forgotten Milton’s:–

Bird that shunn’st the noise of folly,
Most musicall, most melancholy!

Or he might have gone to the other camp, and remembered Pope on Mrs. Howard:–

Not warp’d by Passion, aw’d by Rumour,
Not grave thro’ Pride,, or gay thro’ Folly,
An equal Mixture of good Humour,
And sensible soft Melancholy.


[3] Recollections, by Samuel Rogers, 2nd ed., 1859, 43.