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Let me observe that I have spent six or seven days in composing this sublime piece; tle orb of my moon-like genius has made the fourth part of its revolution round the dull earth which you inhabit, driving you mad, while it has retained its calmness and its splendour, and I have been fitting this its last phase “ to occupy a permanent station in the literature of my country.”
Your works, indeed, dear Tom, sell better; but mine are far superior. The public is no judge; posterity sets all to rights.
Allow me to observe that so much has been written of Peter Bell, that the present history can be considered only, like the Iliad, as a continuation of that series of cyclic poems, which have already been candidates for bestowing immortality upon, at the same time that they receive it from, his character and adventures. In this point of view I have violated no rule of syntax in beginning my composition with a conjunction; the full stop which closes the poem continued by me, being like the full stops at the end of the Iliad and Odyssey, a full stop of a very qualified import.
Hoping that the immortality which you have given to the Fudges, you will receive from
1 These words are misquoted from Wordsworth's Dedication of Peter Bell to Southey :-“The Tale of Peter Bell, which I now introduce to your notice, and to that of the Public, has, in its Manuscript state, nearly survived it minority ;-for it first saw the light in the summer of 1798. During this long interval, pains have been taken at different times to render the production less unworthy of a favourable reception ; or, rather, to fit it for filling permanently a station, however humble, in the Literature of my Country.”—ED.
them; and in the firm expectation that, when London shall be an habitation of bitterns, when St. Paul's and Westminster Abbey shall stand, shapeless and nameless ruins, in the midst of an unpeopled marsh; when the piers of Waterloo-Bridge shall become the nuclei of islets of reeds and osiers, and cast the jagged shadows of their broken arches on the solitary stream, some transatlantic commentator will be weighing in the scales of some new and now unimagined system of criticism, the respective merits of the Bells and the Fudges, and their historians,
I remain, dear Tom,
MICHING MALLECHO. December 1, 1819.
P.S.-Pray excuse the date of place; so soon as the profits of the publication come in, I mean to hire lodgings in a more respectable street.
PETER BELLS, one, two and three, O’er the wide world wandering be. — First, the antenatal Peter, Wrapped in weeds of the same metre, The so long predestined raiment Clothed in which to walk his way meant The second Peter; whose ambition Is to link the proposition, As the mean of two extremes(This was learnt from Aldric's' themes) 10 ? Although the author referred to was doubtless Aldrich, it seems scarcely warrantable to spoil the
Shielding from the guilt of schism
Peter Bell the First was Peter
rhythm by turning a dissyllable into a trisyllable. Perhaps Shelley was taught at school to pronounce the name as if written without the final h. -ED. i The oldest scholiasts read
A dodecagamic Potter. This is at once more descriptive and more megalophonous,—but the alliteration of the text had captivated the vulgar ear of the herd of later commentators.
And the last is Peter Bell,
PART THE FIRST.
And Peter Bell, when he had been
With fresh-imported Hell-fire warmed, Grew serious—from his dress and mien 'Twas very plainly to be seen
Peter was quite reformed.
His accent caught a nasal twang;
Which Peter said or sang.
But Peter now grew old, and had
An ill no doctor could unravel;
Some swore it was the gravel.
"To those who have not duly appreciated the distinction between Whale and Russia oil, this attribute might rather seem to belong to the Dandy than the Evangelic. The effect, when to the windward, is indeed so similar, that it requires a subtle naturalist to discriminate the animals. They belong, however, to distinct genera.
His holy friends then came about,
And with long preaching and persuasion, Convinced the patient that, without The smallest shadow of a doubt,
He was predestined to damnation.
They said—“Thy name is Peter Bell ;
Thy skin is of a brimstone hue;
The other, I think, rhymes with you."
Then Peter set up such a yell!
The nurse, who with some water gruel
And broke them both—the fall was cruel.
The Parson from the casement leapt
Into the lake of WindermereAnd many an eel—though no adept In God's right reason for it-kept
Gnawing his kidneys half a year.
And tumbled over one another,
And cursed his father and his mother;
Blaspheming like an infidel;