1847 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Combe

Horace Smith, in "A Graybeard's Gossip about his literary Acquaintance" New Monthly Magazine 79 (March 1847) 306-07.



The first literary work in which I had the distinction of being connected, longissimo intervallo, with Mr. Cumberland, was the Pic-Nic weekly newspaper, established in 1802 by Colonel Greville, for the double purpose of vindicating the theatrical entertainments which he had given, in conjunction with M. Texier, and of checking the scandalous personalities with which some of the newspapers were in the habit of assailing the aristocracy. The principal contributors, in addition to Mr. Cumberland, were Colonel Greville, Sir James Bland Burges, Monsieur Peltier, Mr. Croker, Mr. J. C. Herries, Mr. Bedford, James and Horace Smith, and Mr. Combe; all of them writing gratuitously, except the last-mentioned gentleman, who was the editor, and who had long been living in the Rules of the King's Bench. As he could not safely emerge from that sanctuary during the daytime, our weekly meetings, for the arrangement of the paper, were held every Thursday night, at the residence of Hatchard, the publisher, in Piccadilly, opposite to York House, then beginning to rejoice in its new name of the Albany. Of the party thus assembled in an obscure back room, for the conduct of an insignificant and short-lived periodical, several attained a subsequent eminence which at that time none could have anticipated. Mr. Herries, then a clerk in the Treasury, and contributing ponderous financial articles, little in accordance with the fashionable character of the newspaper, became Chancellor of the Exchequer. Mr. Croker, after attaining and holding for many years the important post of Secretary to the Admiralty, also distinguished himself as a writer. The two Smiths jumped into sudden and easy celebrity by their lucky hit of the Rejected Addresses, the younger brother becoming further known as a successful novelist, and living (a rare piece of good fortune) to see the twenty-first edition of the little work which originally made him known. In the biographical memoir prefixed to his deceased brother's Comic Miscellanies, he has made brief allusion to those Pic-Nic meetings, as well as to the strange history of the editor, and has given extracts from some of James Smith's contributions, under the title of Endymion the Exile.