1813
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

P—e of Pinner, or the Suburban Cottage, by T. C.

Leaves of Laurel; or New Probationary Odes, for the Vacant Laureatship: collected and edited by Q. Q. and W. W.

Rev. Francis Hodgson


Two Spenserians and a fragment contributed to a collection of burlesque odes occasioned by the search for a new poet laureat to replace Henry James Pye. "T. C." is of course Thomas Campbell, author of Gertrude of Wyoming, whose over-wrought style is the object of the humor in this instance. In the event, the laurel was offered to Walter Scott, who declined, and then to Robert Southey, who accepted. The other poets parodied in this obscure volume are Samuel Rogers, Walter Scott, Lord Byron, Thomas Moore, George Crabbe, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey, William Spencer, and Monk Lewis. The attribution to Hodgson is taken from the memoir published by his son.

In a frame narrative he candidates are made to recite their Odes (actually elegies for Pye) to the actor Joseph Grimaldi of Covent Garden (1779-1837). Possibly this conceit was intended to recall the Drury-Lane competition of the previous year, won by Byron, that had inspired the very popular collection of parodies, Rejected Addresses (1812) by James and Horace Smith.

James T. Hodgson [son]: "The Leaves of Laurel were much discussed and admired in literary society at the time of their publication, and, as in the case of the Rejected Addresses, the poets whose style they imitated were not the last to appreciate their spirit and humour" Memoir of Francis Hodgson (1878) 1:265.



On thy suburban bank, fair Harrow-weald!
Although thine airy downs are now enclos'd,
And tasteless ploughshares furrow up each field,
Yet once the Laureat's verse-fill'd head repos'd:
Alas, those eyes in cloud-capp'd night are clos'd!
Now from his grave alone sweet wild-flowers spring,
(His grave of briar'd turf, and moss compos'd)
Wild-flowers he gather'd when on earth, to fling
O'er Britain's matchless Queen, o'er Britain's matchless King.

Oft, where the humble-bee, with buzzing hum,
At many-colour'd evening's careless hour,
Seem'd, by the whispering air, in act to come,
And rous'd the viewless myriads round his bower,
P—e too would buzz and hum — the song-soul'd power
Of court-born panegyric on his tongue;
His ivy-mantled brow like some grey tower
Enwreath'd with frontlet green, which off he flung,
To deck that Queen and King, whom ceaselessly he sung.

But now—
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And, if Hope's faded pleasures the bosom thus melt,
What has Memory more of such pain to be felt?

[pp. 3-5]