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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 1.djvu/400

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358
ENGLISH BARDS, AND SCOTCH REVIEWERS.

And Merry's[1] metaphors appear anew,
Chained to the signature of O. P. Q.[2]


  1. [Lines 756-764, with variant ii., refer to the Della Cruscan school, attacked by Gifford in The Baviad and The Mæviad. Robert Merry (1755-1798), together with Mrs. Piozzi, Bertie Greatheed, William Parsons, and some Italian friends, formed a literary society called the Oziosi at Florence, where they published The Arno Miscellany (1784) and The Florence Miscellany (1785), consisting of verses in which the authors "say kind things of each other" (Preface to The Florence Miscellany, by Mrs. Piozzi). In 1787 Merry, who had become a member of the Della Cruscan Academy at Florence, returned to London, and wrote in the World (then edited by Captain Topham) a sonnet on "Love," under the signature of "Della Crusca." He was answered by Mrs. Hannah Cowley, née Parkhouse (1743-1809), famous as the authoress of The Belle's Stratagem (acted at Covent Garden in 1782), in a sonnet called "The Pen," signed "Anna Matilda." The poetical correspondence which followed was published in The British Album (1789, 2 vols.) by John Bell. Other writers connected with the Della Cruscan school were "Perdita" Robinson, née Darby (1758-1800), who published The Mistletoe (1800) under the pseudonym "Laura Maria," and to whom Merry addressed a poem quoted by Gifford in The Baviad (note to line 284); Charlotte Dacre, who married Byrne, Robinson's successor as editor of the Morning Post, wrote under the pseudonym of "Rosa Matilda," and published poems (Hours of Solitude, 1805) and numerous novels (Confessions of the Nun of St. Omer's, 1805; Zofloya; The Libertine, etc.); and "Hafiz" (Robert Stott, of the Morning Post). Of these writers, "Delia Crusca" Merry, and "Laura Maria" Robinson, were dead; "Anna Matilda" Cowley, "Hafiz" Stott, and "Rosa Matilda" Dacre were still living. John Bell (1745-1831), the publisher of The British Album, was also one of the proprietors of the Morning Post, the Oracle, and the World, in all of which the Della Cruscans wrote. His "Owls and Nightingales" are explained by a reference to The Baviad (l. 284), where Gifford pretends to mistake the nightingale, to which Merry ("Arno") addressed some lines, for an owl. "On looking again, I find the owl to be a nightingale!—N'importe."]
  2. These are the signatures of various worthies who figure in the poetical departments of the newspapers.