« ZurückWeiter »
This is a very pretty little precocious performance, and proves youug Master Hunt to be a promising plant of the Cockney nursery - ground. "Heigh Johnny Nonny," as his papa called him in short metre some four or five jears ago, cannot, we th:nk, Iiave done much more than finished his digits. Now, such a copy of verses as this is most creditable to a boy of ten years, and this small smart smattering satirist of an air-haparent, as he is pronounced in Cockaigne, really seems to smack of his sire, almost as racily as that michievous urchin the Duke of Reichstadt does of Napoleon the Great.
Joking apart, this is one of the cleverest puerile productions that have been published of late years by fond and doting fathers. The author writes like a scholar and a schoolboy, and at whatever academy he may be receiving his education, we cuspect it would puzzle the Pedant who for years has whipped his posteriors, to pen such a capital and crack copy of long jinglers. Master Hunt, no doubt, apes his daddy, and the Cockney-chick crows so like the old cock, that, but for a certain ludicrous tenuity in the stutter of his unformed scraigh,f we could at times have believed that we absolutely heard the old bantam. His comb and wattles, too, are distinctly visible ; the germ of a spur is noticeable upon either feathered leggikin ; he drops a wing, too, with a swaling and graceful amorousness—quite " with such an air" when any smooth pullet picks up a worm near his turned-out toes; and if you only so much as hold out your foraging-cap at him, why the fierce little fumbling fellow attacks it tooth and nail, as jealous as an Othello, and then goes vapouring off in sidelong triumph, cackling as at an ovation.
Now, although the talent of Master Hunt be considerable, we think few parents will approve of the direction which his father has given it, and that little sympathy will be felt for that man who employs his son—a mero lad—a boy—child—infant indeed, almost it may be said—to wreak that vengeance on his enemies, which
his own acknowledged imbecility and impotence is incapable of inflicting. The sight is not a pleasant one—we had nearly said it is disgusting, for al» though filial piety is always interesting, not so such paternal solicitude. Had Leigh Hunt, the Papa, boldly advanced on any great emergency, at the peril of his life and crown, to snatch the legitimate issue of his own loins from the shrivelled hands of some blear-eyed beldam, into whose small cabbage-garden Maximilian had headed a forlorn hope, good and well, and beautiful; but not so, when a stalwart and cankered carle like Mr Giffbrd, with his quarter-staff, belabours the shoulders of his Majesty, and sire shoves son between himself and the Pounder, retreating into the inmost recesses of his own palace. This, we say, is not only to the widest extent unfatlierly, but, which is much worse, unkingly,—such pusillanimity involves forfeiture of the Crown, and from this hour we declare Leigh dethroned, and the boy-bard of UltraCrepidarius King of Cockaigne.
Master Hunt being in Tooke's Pantheon, has called in the Heathen Mythology to the aid of his father and king, and the following passage is equal, we think, to anything in " Ri
"' I wonder,' said Mercury,—putting
liis head One rosy-faced morning from Vcnus's
bed,— 'I wonder, my dear Cytberea,—don't
you ?— What can have become of that rogue of a
shoe. I've search'd every corner to make myself
Awl lifted, I'm sure, every jtosiible curtain, And how I'm to manage, by Jove, I don't
know, For manage I must, and to earth I must
"Tis now a whole week since I lost it; and here,
Like a dove whom your urchin lias crippled, my dear,
Hare I loiter'd, and flutter'd, and look'd in those eyes,
While'Juno keeps venting her crabbed surprise;
• Ultra-Crepidarius j a Satire on William Gifford. John Hunt. 1823. f Sec Dr Jamieson.
By Leigh Hunt. LondonAnd Apollo, with all that fine faith in his
air, Asks me daily accounts of Rousseau and
Voltaire, And Jove (whom it's awkward to risk
such a thing with) Has not enough thunder to frighten a
king with. So—there then—now don't look so kind,
I heseech you, Or else I shall stay a week longer, you
witch you— I can't ask the gods; but I'll searcli once
again For this fugitive shoe, and if still it's in
vain, I must try to make something a while of
sheer leather, And match with a mortal my fair widow'd
"So saying, the God put a leg out of bed, And summon'd his winged cap on to his
head; And the widow in question Jtew smack round
his foot, And up he was getting to end his pursuit, When Venus said softly (so softly that he Turned about on his elbow)—" What! go
without me f" We had just scored the above for quotation, when who should come clanking and clattering into our study but ODoherty. Clutching the pamphlet into his sinewy and hairy fist, he exclaimed, "By the powers, is not he a jewel of an ould one?" We stared, as the adjutant informed us, that " Ultra-Crepidarius" was not written by Leigh Hunt's son, but by his grandfather! an extremely old man, indeed—a most unconscionable annuitant, who had carried longevity to the most scurvy excess—a paralytic of ninety-six—the Methuselah on the list of decayed authors, who had been absolutely twice married, before Mr Fitzgerald, of all those literary societies, was born. What a change came over the spirit of our dream! The very passage which we had admired as the production of a brisk boy, became odious as the drivelling of a toothless dotard. We certainly disapproved of so much knowingness in the love verses of "Johnny Nonny;" but look at them, fair and gentle reader, and tell us by return of post, what you think of the gloating and glowering of the superannuated Zachariah Hunt. What a gross, vulgar, leering old dog it is! Was ever the couch of the celestials
so profaned before! One thinks of some aged cur, with mangy back, glazed eye-balls dropping rheum, and with most disconsolate mazzard muzzling among the fleas of his abominable loins, by some accident lying upon the bed where Love and Beauty are embracing, and embraced.
The Adjutant is a good trotter, and we, good easy man, the very soul of credulity. Why, what do you think, when we tell you, after all, that this confounded " Ultra-Crepidarius" is written neither by King Leigh's son, as we conjectured, nor yet by his grandfather, (the theory of the Ensign,) but, by all that is vernacular and idiomatic,—by Himself.
Now this is a quite different guess sort of a matter, so let us follow the royal bard. Venus, he tells us, had been reading the new Eloisa, (in bed with Mercury,) to the manifest danger of setting fire to the dimity curtains; and "having prodigiously felt and admired it," sent down one of Mercury's shoes to the village of Ashburton, to order such another pair to be made for herself by a famous cobbler there, with which she proposed forthwith to pay a visit to Rousseau. What a natural, graceful, and beautiful fancy! Pope and Belinda, hide your dishonoured heads! Hark to the song of the nightingale! "She had sent down to earth this same
shoe with an errand, To get a new pair at Ashburton for her,
and Not think of returning without what it
went for, Unless by its master especially sent for. The shoe made a scrape, and concluding
that this Had been settled 'twixt Iter and her master,
took wing, And never ceased beating through sunshine and rain, Now clasp'd in a cloud, and now loosen'd
again, Till it came to Ashburton, where something so odd Seem'd to strike it, it could not help saying, My God!"
There's poetry for you, you infidel. Will you dare after such a strain* to laugh at Leigh Hunt? What a finished gentleman he is ! Why, he breathes the very air of courts and camps! O dangerous deceiver! what woman could be chaste in thy presence! Is there a Wurgin from Cockaigne to
Cochin-China, who would not hasten,
Is there a widow in all the land of Lud who would not fling her loathsome weeds away at sight of your proportions,
"And having prodigiously fejt and admired it,
Could not but say so to him who inspired it?"
But let us go on with the thread of this fairy satire. Mercury and Venus are still in bed, for our fair readers will please look back to our introduction, and they will see that " the god put a leg out of bed," but had not been seen to put on his inexpressibles. What godlike and goddesslike love—whispering!
"I know not precisely bow much of
this matter Was mentiou'd, when Mercury sparkled
round at fieri But Venus proposed, that as one shoe
was fled, Her good easy virtue should help him in
stead. 'You know, love,' said she,' 'tis as light
as a feather: And so I'll be guide, and we'll go down
We have all read of Iris arching her vivid flight, in one glorious sweep, from heaven to earth,—we have all seen her do this, with the black raincloud at her back, and fronting her beauty at the enamoured Sun. But what is she, a solitary phenomenon, in comparison with the Venus of Leigh Hunt, and her Joe, the two-winged, one-shoed Mercury?
"I leave you to fancy how little he
check'd her: They chalk'd out their journey, got up,
took their nectar; And then, with his arm round her waist,
and his eyes Looking thanks upon hers, came away
from the skies. I cannot, I own, say he came much the
How earnest soever he look'd and embraced her; But never before, though a God of much
grace, Had he come with such fine overlooking
of face: And as she travcll'd seldom herself in
this style, * With a lover beside her, and clasji'd all
The last time we ever caw a picture of such a couple, a cull and a trull, was about a fortnight ago. We were sitting in a snug little sylvan palace, up to the door of which winded a serpentine gravel walk, shaded with laurels, and other ever-greens. This little sylvan palace was but an adjunct to a very commodious dwelling-house,in which resided a large family. Thither, ever and anon, would one or other of the inmates repair for meditation: and on the humble wall opposite to where we sat, was the picture, battered on with batter, which so strongly resembled the passage now before us. It represented Roger and Dolly coming down a ladder from the top of a haystack; and their air and attitude, as they descended together from heaven to earth, are so shadowed forth in the above description, that, but for his absence in a foreign land, we could have sworn that Mr Hunt had sat on that seat during the hour of inspiration, and that the poet had painted from that very print.—But the thing is impossible.
Well, well,—be it so; but Venus and Mercury arrive at Ashburton, and there a shoe, yes, a shoe, nearly trips the goddess—but not Mercury's sandal, which is nowhere to be found. Not to keep the reader any longer in suspense, this shoe is—Mr GifFord, Editor of the Quarterly Review—Mercury proves to be no less a personage than Mr Leigh Hunt, Editor of the Examiner Newspaper; and Venus, that identical char-woman, who washed, for so many years, the foul linen of the Knights of the Round Table, and who only ceased to do so " when Rowland brave, and Oliver, and every Paladin and Peer," proposed striking off a penny on every pair of dirty drawers, twopence on every dozen of sweaty socks, and would allow not a single stiver for stains on the celebrated yellow breeches.
There is nothing that Mr Hunt is so fond of as being a heathen god. More than once he has sported Jupiter Tonans, but his thunder was wretched, and his lightning very poor. His Appollar was not much better, but it was summat. He was^ shooting (with bow and arrow) at an old signboard, once the property of Mother Red-cap; and once, during the course of a forenoon, ho sent his missile through the left sparkler of the old landlady; on which achievement he looked as majestically and triumphantly indignant, as Professor Milman's or Professor Wilson's Sir Roger Newdigate's Prize Apollo, when he has settled the hash of the Python. But these are harmless sports, compared with his Mercurial tricks in Ultra-Cre- pidarius. Fye, fye, Mr Hunt—kiss and tell? "' I wonder,' said Mercury, putting his
head One rosy-faced morning from Venus's
But now let us rush into the heart of the satire; for this is a satire, however unlike one it appears. There is no trusting to appearances in this wicked world; so our readers may depend upon it, that this is a satire, and that Mercury is no other heathen than that most powerful satyr, Leigh Hunt.
"Bat now the God, anger'd, shot into that leather A terrible sense of who stood there together,
And while it slunk, shaking, half into itself,
Denounced it in words, that shall die on no shelf:"—
Look at these four lines. The God! why we onlv called him a king. The deification of the Colonel of the Hampstead Heavy Dragoons! Leigh Hunt Divus !" A terrible sense of who stood there together!"—a Cockney and a Quean—a Radical and a Red-rag—a Scribbler and a Scold—two people, who, instead of looking as if they had descended from heaven, were evidently trampers, who had got a lift on the top of a strongly garrisoned Cheapand-Nasty, and who, on being forced to dismount for smutty jokes, too unequivocal for such refined society, vented their abuse, their obscenity, and their blackguardism, on the first welldressed and respectable person whom they chanced to meet sauntering from his native village.
Leigh Hunt, the god, encouraged by the drab whom he "keeps company with," the Venus whom, in words wholly unintelligible to us, he calls "the kind goddess, one of whose charmingest qualities, Is at a small thing to wonder how small it is!" This affords us a specimen of "celestial colloquy divine."
"' As soon as I finish my words, thou shalt be,
Not a man, for thou canst not, but human to see:Thy appearance at least shall be taken for human,
However perplexing to painter or woman.'"
"All things, in short, petty and fit, say, and do, Becoming a man with the soul of a shoe."
And again,"Be these the Court-critics, and vamp a Review;And by a poor figure, and therefore a true, For it suits with thy nature, both shoelike and slaughterly, Be it's hue leathern, and title the Quarterly." And again,
"Like a rogue from a regiment bedrummer'd and fifer'd, It slunk out of doors, and men call'd the
thing Giffoed." "Here Venus entreated, and fain would
have gone, But the god only clasp'd her the more, and went on." Now, Master Mercury and Mistress Venus, are you not a pretty pair of vagabonds, and have you no fear of the tread-mill? Will the parish officers suffer such doings, that will be bringing a burden upon the poor'srates? To be sure, you have no settlement, but there is expense in passing paupers. So, mark down, " relieved at the Vagrant Office," 4J> and on your peril shew your mugs again at Ashburton.
We have written so much for this Number (that Article on Ireland cost us two days' hard driving, and is itself a work) that our fingers are weary; so we conclude with one single observation, which we hope will be taken in good part—You, Leigh Hunt, are, without exception, the weakest and wishy-washiest satirist whose pen ever dribbled. You are like a jack-ass that comes braying out of a pound in which he has been enclosed from Monday till Saturday, precisely the same in sorrow as in anger—sulkily disposed to kick —but oh! weak, weak in the hams is the poor Vicar of Bray! Why, you poor devil, you talk of kicking! you M
cannot kick, neither can you strike. You quote from the Liberal two verses, alluding to your intended exposure of yourself, which say,
««Have I, these five years, spared the dog a stick, Cut for his special use, and reasonably thick?"
and you add in prose, (for you call that verse,)" the following jeu-d'esprit is the stick which is mentioned in the third Number of the Liberal.as having been cut for Mr Gifford's special use." Instead of a stick, why, it is only a strip of peeled willow-bark, held in a palsied hand. A tailor might as well threaten to murder a man with a yard of remnant.
If, instead of good-humoured jocularity, we were to treat our satirist "with a fine serious air," we should present him with a parallel between himself and Mr Gifford, after the manner of Plutarch. We should draw the character of Mr Gifford as an honest man, an accomplished scholar, a sound writer; often the eloquent, always the judicious, defender of religion, morality, and social order; a man with an
English heart We should
draw Leigh Hunt as a but
we tremble to think of it: perhaps he will
"Denounce us in words that shall die on no shelf." So let us part good friends after all; and that you may nop off with flying colours from this " flyting/'here, you god you, with the organ of self-esteem as large as a haddock, swallow your own description of yourself, and then, pulling up your yellow breeches, grin in Mr Gifford's face, and cry out, in choicest
QJan.Cockney, "Well! soul of a shoe—vy vont you speak,""But despair of those nobler ascents,
which thou'lt see Stretching far overhead with the Delphian tree,— Holy ground, to climb up to whose least
laurell'd shelf Thou wouldst have to change natures,
and put off thyself. Stop, and strain at the base; yet, to ease
thy despair, Do thy best to obstruct all the feet that
come there, Especially younger ones, winged like mine, Till bright, up above thee, they soar and they shine**" There he goes soaring, and swaling, and straddling up the sky, like Daniel O'Rourke on goose-back! Hold fast, Leigh, by the gabbler's gullet, or you will fall into the Bay of Genoa, or the New River. Toes in if you please. The goose is galloping—why don't you stand in the stirrups? There— that's riding. Why, you are another Buckle. Don't poke your nose so over your horse's ears—I beg pardon, the goose. Mercy on us! he rides that furious animal in a snaffle. Alas! Pegasus smells his native marshes; instead of making for Olympus, he is off in a wallop to the fens of Lincolnshire. Bellerophon has lost his seat—now he clings desperately by the tail—a single feather holds him from eternity. Although strong as the quills one sees in public offices, it gives way from the socket; too late he finds that it is all a mistake about his having winged feet; and poor Leigh is picked up, sitting on his rump, in a green field, dead as the Liberal, and consequently speechless as a Scotch member in the Lower House of Parliament.
* See the articles in the Quarterly on Mr Keats, Mr Shelley, and others.