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    Horatio & James Horatio Smith . Rejected Addresses: Or The New Theatrum Poetarum. Sixteenth Edition. London: Gale & Fenner, 1817. Krown & Spellman retail: $100. 12mo. xiii,[1],127.[1],[1ads]pp. Original paper boards, hinges splitting, uncut. From the Krown & Spellman Collection.

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    Smith, Horatio [Horace] (1779Ð1849), writer and humorist. "It was a theatrical occasion of a rather different kind which established Smith's fame. To mark the opening of the rebuilt Drury Lane Theatre after the fire of 1809, a competition was held to find an inaugural ode. 112 addresses were submitted, none of an acceptable standard and 69 featuring phoenixes, so an address was commissioned from Byron. Amid discontent at this insider dealing the Smiths had the idea, aided and abetted by the secretary to the theatre Charles William Ward, of publishing, anonymously, a volume of parodies purporting to make public a selection of the effusions rejected. In six weeks the brothers wrote the twenty-one pieces which made up Rejected Addresses, or, The New Theatrum poetarum, 'one of the luckiest hits in literature' according to Smith himself (Smith, 'Memoir', 25) and one of the cleverest volumes of parody to be published in the Romantic period. Ten of the pieces were by Horace Smith, including his original (rejected) submission to the competition, 'An Address without a Phoenix', and parodies of Thomas Moore, Walter Scott, and M. G. Lewis. After rejections of its own the volume was taken up by the dramatic publisher John Miller (earlier involved in The Highgate Tunnel) who arranged to give the Smith brothers 'half the profits, should there be any' (Smith, 'preface').


    The publication of the volume provoked amusing responses from those parodied, such as Scott's conviction that he had indeed written the description of the fire in 'A Tale of Drury Lane', though he had forgotten when. 'On the whole, the only discontented persons were the poets who were left out' ('Biographical notice of James Smith', Law Magazine, 23, 1840, 121), although Charles Lamb described the parodists in a letter to Wordsworth of 1819 as 'the sneering brothers, the vile Smiths' (P. Fitzgerald, ed. The Life, Letters, and Writings of Charles Lamb, 2.131). Rejected Addresses was favourably reviewed, most notably in the Edinburgh Review by Francis Jeffrey, who thought this 'little morsel of town-made gayety' (Edinburgh Review, 20, 1812, 434) ranked with the celebrated parodies of the Anti-Jacobin. Rejected Addresses, however, is politically noncommittal, and seizes on stylistic and verbal idiosyncrasy in a manner closer to playful imitation than to corrective mockery. Horace Smith later aptly described it as 'a malicious pleasantry' ('preface')." [ODNB]


    The Smith Brothers parody of the "rejected addresses" is one of the most famous of the eighteenth century. Byron, a very young man, eventually gave the opening for the rebuilt theater.       NCBEL 111.

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    April, 2015
    2nd Thursday
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