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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 1.djvu/477

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And hark'ye, Southey![1] pray—but don't be vexed—

Burn all your last three works—and half the next.
  1. Mr. Southey has lately tied another canister to his tail in The Curse of Kehama, maugre the neglect of Madoc, etc., and has in one instance had a wonderful effect. A literary friend of mine, walking out one lovely evening last summer, on the eleventh bridge of the Paddington canal, was alarmed by the cry of "one in jeopardy:" he rushed along, collected a body of Irish haymakers (supping on butter-milk in an adjacent paddock), procured three rakes, one eel-spear and a landing net, and at last (horresco referens) pulled out—his own publisher. The unfortunate man was gone for ever, and so was a large quarto wherewith he had taken the leap, which proved, on inquiry, to have been Mr. Southey's last work. Its "alacrity of sinking" was so great, that it has never since been heard of; though some maintain that it is at this moment concealed at Alderman Birch's pastry premises, Cornhill. Be this as it may, the coroner's inquest brought in a verdict of "Felo de bibliopolá" against a "quarto unknown;" and circumstantial evidence being since strong against The Curse of Kehama (of which the above words are an exact description), it will be tried by its peers next session, in Grub-street—Arthur, Alfred, Davideis, Richard Cœur de Lion, Exodus, Exodiad, Epigoniad, Calvary, Fall of Cambria, Siege of Acre, Don Roderick, and Tom Thumb the Great, are the names of the twelve jurors. The judges are Pye, Bowles, and the bell-man of St. Sepulchre's.

    The same advocates, pro and con, will be employed as are now engaged in Sir F. Burdett's celebrated cause in the Scotch courts. The public anxiously await the result, and all live publishers will be subpoenaed as witnesses.—But Mr. Southey has published The Curse of Kehama—an inviting title to quibblers. By the bye, it is a good deal beneath Scott and Campbell, and not much above Southey, to allow the booby Ballantyne to entitle them, in the Edinburgh Annual Register (of which, by the bye, Southey is editor) "the grand poetical triumvirate of the day." But, on second thoughts, it can be no great degree of praise to be the one-eyed leaders of the blind, though they might as well keep to themselves "Scott's thirty thousand copies sold," which must sadly discomfort poor Southey's unsaleables. Poor Southey, it should seem, is the "Lepidus" of this poetical triumvirate. I am only surprised to see him in such good company.

    "Such things, we know, are neither rich nor rare,
    But wonder how the devil he came there."