1800 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir James Bland Burges

An Observer (T. J. Mathias?), "Literary Tittle Tattle" St. James's Chronicle (30 September 1800).



Several Great Works are at this time in contemplation, but in order to produce them, the Authors huddle together like litters of pigs, to "procure warmth."

Cottle and Pye have been running a race to produce an Epick Poem on the character of Alfred. Cottle has anticipated Pye, who is, however, determined to appear; if he should not suffocate his Poetry with his learned Notes, like those on Aristotle, about Mrs. Siddons, Mr. Kemble, and other subjects irrelevant to his direct, though not to his collateral purposes: for a man who means to write Plays, must never forget or miss any occasion to fumigate strong Incense to the Managers and principle Actors.

Sir James Bland Burges, on the porcine principle above mentioned, is at Tunbridge, kept in a state of some warmth by several friends, all of which the courtesy of the day denominates Poets. He is happily delivered of a brave bouncing Epick, called Richard I. and as he has committed it to be washed, and swaddled, and purged, to twelve Squires, he alone being a Knight; the party is called Richard and his twelve Squires. Much is expected from this combination of rare Talents.

Pye, the Royal Laureat, will impart to him some antient ideas brought to the level of all the modern world.

Messrs. Boscawen and Fitzgerald, Laureats of the Literary Fund, may give Richard some ideas of Literary Patronage.

Sotheby will be useful in Versification, Anstey jun. in the important business of Alliteration.

Cumberland will direct him to the treasures of others, but will lock up his own.

Reeves will sublimate his Loyalty into a species of Mysticism, very analogous to the Poetry of the period.

And Naires, called Orthoepy Naires, will take care of his Words and Language; and spread the broad shield of the British Critick over the first months of his Bantling.

This, Mr. Baldwin, is a great subject of Tittle Tattle at Tunbridge; which may be called the Literary Lounge of this Season. I have been here only a few days; and have seen only Literati, of whom, you may possibly hear further, from

AN OBSERVER.