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[Southey's Uneducated Poets in the Monthly Review]               TEI-encoded version

A Letter to Doctor Southey, etc. etc. Poet Laureate, respecting a remarkable Poem, by a Mechanic

[ In 1831, Robert Southey published Attempts in Verse by John Jones, including Southey's own essay, "Introduction: Observations on Uneducated Poets." The collection was later republished as Lives [and Works] of the Uneducated Poets (1836). The book was first reviewed in New Monthly Magazine when edited by S. C. Hall (ed). 2nd series, vol. 31 (1831), pp. 289-294: ]


[...] [Y]ou [Southey] have expressed [in The Lives of Uneducated Poets] a doubt whether, indeed, the `March of Intellect,' [...] will allow persons of lowly rank to cultivate gardens so lovely as those of poetry -- but you imagine the Utilitarians will add, also, so useless. Your friends in the Quarterly Review have answered this doubt, not exactly in the manner I should have done, but much the same as to matter. I think, for my own part, that the more the mind of a man, whether prince or peasant, is stored with just and true images, the more likely he is to write well, whether in prose or verse.

To the sound, strong, masculine sense of Burns, the value of knowledge, even as an aid to the poetical powers, seemed inestimable; and


it is no small or transitory honour to the name of that great man, that he was among the first, if not the very first, to set the example of superintending the formation of a parish-subscription library, which, I learn from Mr. Lockhart's Biography of the Poet, is at present almost universal in the rural districts of southern Scotland. And now I presume to call your attention to a poem, that you will allow, I think, to possess merits of a very remarkable order [a spoof; author attaches bad poem allegedly published by] the Sheffield Mechanics’ Anti-bread-tax Society -- which I believe was composed by a common mechanic, and which bears a title, I must confess, not a little unpromising and unpoetical --

"Corn-Law Rhymes"


"The Ranter"


A new Batch of uneducated Poets

[The parody was continued in the next volume of the magazine, New Monthly Magazine, 2nd series, vol. 32 (1831), pp. 218-226: the issue also included some very bad poetry "by the author of the "A Letter to Doctor Southey; A New Batch of Uneducated Poets"." The essay below mocks Burns as well as L.E.L., whose poems are published in and whose book is reviewed in this very journal -- including both the previous issue and this one:]


The Bard of Hops. This prodigy of humble life, a native of the land of Burns and whisky, is certainly not the least of the great Untaught. Hearing when a child that every second man in Scotland was considered the first genius in the world, he began to ‘lisp in numbers;” but finding afterwards that it was the practice in that country to make all great poets excisemen, as a mark of national gratitude, his sympathies became excited in favour of another kind of 221 / 222 spirit than that which ought to inspire a disciple of the divine art, and led him to adopt a species of pipe which cannot be correctly denominated pastoral. A taste for these indulgences led him to the metropolis, where some time ago he wrote his great work called "Pleasures of Hops," [...] Our poet is the Parry of his art, and returns from his Polar expedition with similar triumphs – discovering in fact that there is nothing new to be discovered upon the subject. He is moreover the author of various unfinished memoirs of eminent persons who happen to be utterly unknown; and is at present, we hear, engaged upon two important works, the "Lives of the most celebrated Hackney-coachmen," from the time of Phaeton, and the "Fugitive Poetry of the Metropolitan Street-Minstrels." In the compilation of this last he has had the valuable assistance of the great Mr. Pitt, (Seven Dials.)

Robert Montgammonry



F. C. C. The Paddington Shepherdess. -- Our fair Initialist, who is, in fact, a milkmaid, though fancifully designated a shepherdess, is another star added to the `galaxy' of female genius. Her name has not accurately transpired -- Felicia Cecilia, we are sure of; but whether the third is Clutterbuck or Crackenthorpe remains for the present a mystery. She is author of the beautiful "Lines on Rowland’s celebrated Kalydor," which are so frequently quoted in the newspapers.1 To those who would object, that the merit of that admirable invention is not decidedly of a pastoral nature, and therefore not a theme for a shepherdess, we would observe, that shepherdesses in former ages did not live at Paddington. [...]


1. According to the "A Letter to Doctor Southey; A New Batch of Uneducated Poets", "Rowland's Kalydor" ointment for curing "cutaneous deformities" and "eruptions" was advertised in British newspapers from 1824 to 1940. [Poetess Tradition Editor.] Back.

Date: 1831 (Coding Revisions: 12/29/2005). Author: [anonymous] (Coding Revisions: Laura Mandell).
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