Saturday Evening Post. March 30, 1861, p3.
The following extraordinary charge against young Bulwer – “Owen Meredith" – has recently been made in England : –
The London Literary Gazette of March second, has an elaborate article of four pages, demonstrating in the fullest manner that the famous poem of Lucile, which revealed last year in such an unexpected manner the genius of the son of Bulwer, is no better than a very literal translation of the “Lavinia” of George Sand. That novel, published in Paris about twenty-five years ago, is one of the few novels of George Sand, which has not appeared in an English dress; and the great number of larger works which have followed, had caused it to be almost forgotten. It is very remarkable, however, that so bold and complete a plagiarism from so well known a writer, extending through whole cantos of poems, should have remained undetected for so many months. Mr. “Owen Meredith” in his “Dedication” of Lucile to his father, has the assurance to say that he “has endeavored to follow a path on which I cou1d discover no foot-prints before me, either to guide or to warn." In illustration of this astounding imprudence, the reviewer in the Literary Gazette places the passages from the novel and the passages from the poem side by side, and enables the reader to see that they are so nearly identica1 as poetry and prose can be. In many instance, indeed, “Lucile” uses the very words of “Lavinia" – the French expressions for flowers that have no English name. Of forty-seven pages which the reviewer examined, the identity was complete. No literary reputation can stand such an exposure as this; and we have probably heard the last of Owen Meredith as an author and poet.
Without expressing any opinion upon the charge of plagiarism alluded to in the above – only so far as to say that not only charity, but justice demands that the literary public should withhold its verdict until Mr. Bulwer has had an opportunity of being heard in reply – we may be allowed to dissent from the closing sentence of the article we have quoted. Putting Lucile aside, "Owen Meredith" has fully proven by other productions that he has no mean claim to the title of “author and poet." Moreover, his poetry seems to us to be decidedly original. Whatever else may be said against the vein in which he works, it certainly cannot be accused of being the same old mine which third and fourth rate poets have been working at for ages. And among his fugitive pieces are those which will not, soon be forgotten, but will probably continue to appear in popular “poetical selections" for centuries.
We await Mr. Bulwer's answer to the charge of the London Literary Gazette, in the hope, we might almost say belief, that it will fully explain what now, we confess, does seem a little difficult of explanation.
Last revised: 20 August 2010