1807 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Tobias Smollett

Lady Anne Hamilton, in Epics of the Ton (1807) 5-6 & n.



You who, with Etheridge, roved in royal stores,
When beauties, like hobnails, were told by scores;
Or with poor Smollett, fain for gold to tickle,
Wrought up with liquorish gust the feats of Pickle....

Poor Smollett! It is lamentable to recollect the author of Roderick Random and of Humphrey Clinker should have prostituted his pen to delineate the debaucheries of Peregrine Pickle. Does the latter display genius? so much the worse. The prostitute, who haunts the way-side in rags, only disgusts the loathing eye: it is she, whose voluptuous limbs shine through the transparent muslin, that lures us to our ruin. Peregrine Pickle adorns many a toilet, where Aristotle's Master-piece would be thought to carry indelible pollution. It is said that my Lord —, on entering her ladyship's apartment one morning, perceived the third volume of Peregrine Pickle under her pillow. As she was asleep, he gently withdrew it, and substituted a Common Prayer Book. One may imagine her ladyship's surprise, when, on awaking, and resorting to her dear morning treat, she found the amours of Lady — converted by magic art into the Litany.