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The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero)/Poetry/Volume 7/On Lord Thurlow's Poems



When Thurlow this damned nonsense sent,
(I hope I am not violent)
Nor men nor gods knew what he meant.


And since not even our Rogers' praise
To common sense his thoughts could raise—
Why would they let him print his lays?






To me, divine Apollo, grant—O!
Hermilda's[2] first and second canto,
I'm fitting up a new portmanteau;


And thus to furnish decent lining,
My own and others' bays I'm twining,—
So, gentle Thurlow, throw me thine in.

June 2, 1813.
[First published, Letters and Journals, 1830, i. 396.]

  1. [One evening, in the late spring or early summer of 1813, Byron and Moore supped on bread and cheese with Rogers. Their host had just received from Lord Thurlow [Edward Hovell Thurlow, [1781-1829] a copy of his Poems on Several Occasions (1813), and Byron lighted upon some lines to Rogers, "On the Poem of Mr. Rogers, entitled 'An Epistle to a Friend."' The first stanza ran thus—

    "When Rogers o'er this labour bent,
    Their purest fire the Muses lent,
    T' illustrate this sweet argument."

    "Byron," says Moore, "undertook to read it aloud;—but he found it impossible to get beyond the first two words. Our laughter had now increased to such a pitch that nothing could restrain it. Two or three times he began; but no sooner had the words 'When Rogers' passed his lips, than our fit burst forth afresh,—till even Mr. Rogers himself ... found it impossible not to join us. A day or two after, Lord Byron sent me the following:—'My dear Moore, "When Rogers" must not see the enclosed, which I send for your perusal.'"—Life, p. 181; Letters, 1898, ii. 211-213, note 1.]

    Thurlow's poems are by no means contemptible. A sonnet, "To a Bird, that haunted the Water of Lacken, in the Winter," which Charles Lamb transcribed in one of Coleridge's note-books, should be set over against the absurd lines, "On the Poems of Mr. Rogers."

    "O melancholy bird, a winter's day
    Thou standest by the margin of the pool;
    And, taught by God, dost thy whole being school
    To Patience, which all evil can allay:
    God has appointed thee the fish thy prey;
    And giv'n thyself a lesson to the fool
    Unthrifty, to submit to moral rule,
    And his unthinking course by thee to weigh.
    There need not schools nor the professor's chair,
    Though these be good, true wisdom to impart;
    He, who has not enough for these to spare
    Of time, or gold, may yet amend his heart,
    And teach his soul by brooks and rivers fair,
    Nature is always wise in every part."

    Select Poems, 1821, p. 90.
    [See "Fragments of Criticism," Works of Charles Lamb,
    1903, iii. 284.]

  2. [Hermilda in Palestine was published in 1812, in quarto, and twice reissued in 1813, as part of Poems on Various Occasions (8vo). The Lines upon Rogers' Epistle to a Friend appeared first in the Gentleman's Magazine for April, 1813, vol. 83, p. 357, and were reprinted in the second edition of Poems, etc., 1813, pp. 162, 163. The lines in italics, which precede each stanza, are taken from the last stanza of Lord Thurlow's poem.]