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And then he work'd about the whites,
The Republican Procession is described by Mr. Hogg (in his Jacobite Reliques) as “ a poem of sterling rough humour," and as containing “ more humour than any thing of the kind I ever saw.” We suspect Mr. Hogg's political zeal had got the upper-hand of his judgment when this eulogium escaped him. The extracts which he has given from this work are remarkable for nothing but outrageous scurrility and vulgar effrontery, and the whole composition is mean, bald, and contemptible. The subject is the Duke of Marlborough's return, after the death of Queen Anne, and the procession which met and welcomed him to the metropolis.* We are unable to find in this Jacobite effusion any passage of merit or interest to lay before our readers. The Hudibrastic Brewer is somewhat of a comment on the preceding work, and quite as dull, though not so abusive.
Four Hudibrastic Cantos turn upon some local scandal, and are of too mediocre a cast to be disturbed in their oblivion.
England's Reformation is an ex-parte history, in doggrel, of the religious dissentions in this country, from the time of Henry VIII. to Titus Oates, written by a bigoted and unscrupulous papist. Thomas Ward has heavier sins than those of coarseness and dulness to answer for, his work being written throughout with an utter disregard of truth, and falsifying or concealing facts, just as it suited the purpose of the author. We hear enough of the sanguinary persecutions of Edward VI. and of that fiend incarnate, Elizabeth, but not a word of the Smithfield burnings of the “good Queen Mary," or of the torturing exploits of the “good Bonner.”—
* Mr. Hogg very erróneously makes King George the First the hero of this libellous poem, though the personalities against the Duke and his wife are numerous and palpable.
tion substance ofore pleasing d neit
“ Good Glo'ster and good Devil are alike,
And both preposterous.” Those readers who can tolerate a work which burlesques martyrdom, and makes merry with executions, will find it not destitute of humour and ingenuity.
The Alma of Prior is avowedly written in imitation of Hudibras, but there are few points of resemblance between the two works. The plan of Butler is sufficiently irregular, but Prior appears to have had no plan at all, nor even an object. The Alma is a mere conversational sketch, which might have been expanded to any length, according to the industry or caprice of the writer. Prior has judiciously abstained from copying the mere superficial peculiarities of Butler, his uncouth versification, and his licentious phraseology; but he wants the matter and substance of his original. Few writers could tell a humourous tale with a more pleasing mixture of archness and simplicity than Mat Prior; but he had neither the keen wit, the sound sense, or the comprehensive learning of Butler. His good things are " thinly scattered to make up a show;" and there is a pervading feeling of poverty in his Alma, which cannot be disguised by the sprightliness of the style and the neatness of the versification.
The Knight of the Kirk, or the Ecclesiastical Adventures of Sir John Presbyter, by Meston,* is a close and tolerably successful imitation of the style of Butler; but, whether from having studied his original so incessantly that he confounded his ideas with his own, or actuated by zealous admiration, like the old woman that stole a bible through the excess of her devotion, the Scottish writer has conveyed (“convey the wise it call,”) not only thoughts and expressions, but whole lines from his great prototype. He frequently expands a pithy couplet into half a page of doggrel, and dilutes the concentrated spirit of Butler into vapid and mawkish slip-slop. The author of Hudibras certainly did not bequeath him his mantle, but he has managed to pilfer some scraps of it, with which he has patched his thread-bare plaid. Meston, however, is decidedly superior to the common herd of Hudibrastic writers, and his
* William Meston was a native of Aberdeenshire: he was born towards the latter end of the seventeenth century, and was educated at the Mareshall College of Aberdeen. Being a sturdy Jacobite, he took an active part in the insurrection of 1715, and after the defeat at Sheriffmuir, was obliged to skulk among the hills and fastnesses till an act of indemnity was published. He afterwards turned schoolmaster, but with little success, and in his latter years he was dependent on the Countess of Errol for support. He died in 1745.
propensity to plagiarism is the more to be regretted, as he
“Now since you have our hero's name,
When peace comes in and war goes out;
Just so, Sir John, in time of war,
But languished with sore disease,
The following definition of truth is neatly written.
“ Truth is an atom or a point
Or to dissect it, or dispose it,
Meston's Mob contra Mob, and some of his Mother Grim's Tales, are close imitations of Butler ; but we have already devoted a sufficient space to his productions.
Whatever quantum of merit these imitations may possess, they have one distinguishing characteristic unlike their great original: whether written for purposes of mirth or malice, they never rise above their subject. Butler's path was equally narrow, but it could not narrow his mind. He crowds into his confined circle all the treasures of wit and the accumulations of learning. He gives full measure to his readers, heaped up, and running over. Thought crowds upon thought and witticism upon witticism, in rapid and dazzling succession. Every topic and every incident is made the most of: his bye-play always tells. Many of his happiest sallies appear to escape him as if by accident; many of his hardest hits appear to be merely chance-blows. A description of a bear-ward brings in a sneer at Sir Kenelm Digby and his powder of sympathy, and an account of a tinker's doxey introduces a pleasantry on Sir William Davenant's Gondibert. There is always an under current of satiric allusion beneath the main stream of his satire. The juggling of astrology, the besotting folly of alchemy, the transfusion of blood, the sympathetic medicines, the learned trifling of experimental philosophers, the knavery of fortune-tellers and the folly of their dupes, the marvellous relations of travellers, the subtleties of the school-divines, the freaks of fashion, the fantastic extravagancies of lovers, the affectations of poetry, and the absurdities of romance, are interwoven with his subject, and soften down and relieve his dark delineation of fanatical violence and perfidy. Of this continuity of satire, Butler's imitators had no conception, or were too poor in spirit and invention to attempt to follow in his steps. They seem to have taken it into their heads that they had only to bid defiance to grammar and decency, to be vulgar in thought and coarse in