Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

with which a partisan in the field of satire plies his laughing warfare; and how often it may happen that even the pride of hitting his mark hardly outlives the flight of the shaft.

I cannot dismiss from my hands these political trifles,

"This swarm of themes that settled on my pen,
Which I, like summer-flies, shake off again,”.

without venturing to add that I have now to connect with them one mournful recollection one loss from among the circle of those I have longest looked up to with affection and admiration - which I little thought, when I began this series of prefatory sketches, I should have to mourn before their close. I need hardly add, that, in thus alluding to a great light of the social and political world recently gone out, I mean the late Lord Holland.

[ocr errors]

It may be recollected, perhaps, that, in mentioning some particulars respecting an early squib of mine, the Parody on the Prince Regent's Letter, I spoke of a dinner at which I was present, on the very day of the first publication of that Parody, when it was the subject of much conversation at table, and none of the party, except our host, had any suspicion that I was the author of it. This host was Lord Holland; and as such a name could not but lend value to any anecdote connected with literature, I only forbore the pleasure of adding such an ornament to my page, from knowing that Lord

Holland had long viewed with disapprobation and regret much of that conduct of the Whig party towards the Regent, in 1812-13, of the history of which this squib, and the welcome reception it met with, forms an humble episode.

Lord Holland himself, in addition to his higher intellectual accomplishments, possessed in no ordinary degree the talent of writing easy and playful vers de société; and, among the instances I could give of the lightness of his hand at such trifles, there is one no less characteristic of his good-nature than his wit, as it accompanied a copy of the octavo edition of Bayle,* which, on hearing me rejoice one day that so agreeable an author had been at last made portable, he kindly ordered for me from Paris.

So late, indeed, as only a month or two before his lordship's death, he was employing himself, with all his usual cheerful eagerness, in translating some verses of Metastasio; and occasionally consulted both Mr. Rogers and myself as to different readings of some of the lines. In one of the letters which I received from him while thus occupied, I find the following postscript:

"'Tis thus I turn th' Italian's song,
Nor deem I read his meaning wrong.
But with rough English to combine
The sweetness that's in every line,
Asks for your Muse, and not for mine.
Sense only will not quit the score;
We must have that, and little More."

* In sixteen volumes, published at Paris, by Desoer.

He then adds, "I send you, too, a melancholy Epigram of mine, of which I have seen many, alas, witness the truth:

"A minister's answer is always so kind!

I starve, and he tells me he'll keep me in mind.

Half his promise, God knows, would my spirits restore:
Let him keep me — and, faith, I will ask for no more."

The only portion of the mass of trifles contained in this volume, that first found its way to the public eye through any more responsible channel than a newspaper, was the Letters of the Fudge Family in England,—a work which was sure, from its very nature, to encounter the double risk of being thought dull as a mere sequel, and light and unsafe as touching on follies connected with the name of Religion. Into the question of the comparative dulness of any of my productions, it is not for me, of course, to enter; but to the charge of treating religious subjects irreverently, I shall content myself with replying in the words of Pascal- “Il y a bien de la différence entre rire de la religion et rire de ceux qui la profanent par leurs opinions extravagantes."

[ocr errors]

SATIRICAL AND HUMOROUS POEMS,

« AnteriorContinuar »