1823 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Peter Bayley

Anonymous, Obituary in Gentleman's Magazine 93 (May 1823) 473.



Jan. 25. Suddenly, in a coach, in his way to the Italian Opera, by the bursting of an aneurism of the aorta in his inside, Mr. Peter Bailey, late Editor of the weekly periodical, The Museum. Mr. Bailey possessed considerable literary acquirements, and he was about pursuing his avocation, in attending the Opera, for the purpose of making his observations on the same, and on the performers, for the publication of which he was the editor, when his sudden death took place. He has left a wife and three children to bewail their loss.

"Mr. Bailey was the son of a solicitor near Nantwich, who had realised great property in Cheshire. His scholastic career commenced at Rugby, and continued at Merton College, Oxford, from whence he removed to London, and entered at the Temple to follow another branch of the profession of his father. Instead of following the law, Mr. B. seems to have let the law follow him, until it left him, where it frequently does the more mercurial spirits, carried along in this gay metropolis, like atoms in the system of Des Cartes, and in a place which few have quitted so completely unsoiled by the contact with vicious characters, and full of feelings as fine, actions as honorable, and heart as pure, as when he knew but by name of the Palace of Thoughtlessness. We make no hesitation in alluding to this period of Mr. B.'s life, since it enables us to direct the attention of our readers to a publication of his, which does equal credit to the pen and pencil of the author of Sketches from St. George's Field's, by Giogione di Castel Chiuso. From this publication, of which we have seen only the first volume, although some copies of the second have got into circulation, we could make many extracts to prove that Mr. B. possessed all the fluence of Pope's versification, with the accuracy of Crabbe's description.

"Mr. Bailey's first essays were in the higher flight of epic poetry; some specimens of whose power were shown in a printed, but not published, volume, under the title of Idwal. The poem, of which only portions are there given, but the whole or at least the greater part of which has been left in M.S. by the author, was founded on the events connected with the conquest of Wales. At the end of the same volume is found a Greek poem, originally published in the Classical Journal, a few years ago. The last publication of Mr. B. was an anonymous poem, called, A Queen's Appeal, of 165 stanzas, in the Spenser measure. His taste in the beaux arts of painting and music (to the love of which, all the unhappiness of his life was to be attributed, and of which he was no mean proficient, practically), although it was correct 'ad unguem,' still it not chill the fervor of enthusiasm; but while his eye and ear, fixed by the mighty masters of colors and of sounds, drank deeply all the beauties of an original spirit, they instinctively rejected the feebleness of imitation, and turned with scorn from the impudence of successful quackery." MUSEUM.