« PreviousContinue »
INTRODUCTION. I HAVE been taught by experience, since I first addressed the public, that the condition of an author is not one of unmixed pleasure. Not long ago I met with a line in Euripides, which is peculiarly consolatory to me in my present frame of mind :
ουκ έστιν ουδένι δία τέλος ευδαιμονείν. . When I have heard myself abused on one side, and commended on another, and when all the resources of my natural vanity have been exhausted, I have made up my mind to share with patience the common lot of mortals, and to be contented-as well indeed I
maywith the unmerited patronage, and the liberal praise, which have been bestowed upon me.
I shall here present to the public two metrical epistles on the subject of the merits of this publication ; as, if true, they deserve insertion, and, if unfounded, they will not injure me.
To BARTHOLOMEW BOUVERIE.
When first I spied thy title page,
And read thine introduction,
A dealer in instruction.
But soon the cloud spread o'er my eyes,
The Sun of Truth did banish : Soon did the weak and thin disguise
Of feign'd discretion vanish.
And some of it is fairish;
And sexton of the parish.
But oh! thou dry and barren stick,
Thy prose is prose indeed, Sir; 'Twas form'd to make thy readers sick,
And well does it succeed, Sir.
Then I will close, as thou did'st close,
With sober admonition ;
And mourn his sad condition.
Go where no self-dubb’d poet's tongue
His fustian rant rehearses :
To B. BOUVERIE.
And stock me well with voice and tongue,
Having thus given utterance to feelings so hostile to me, I shall now, in pursuance of my declared intention of gradually removing the mysterious veils which surround and conceal us from the public eye, admit a ray of light in a hitherto concealed, but most important, quarter, and introduce to the public a third among the coadjutors whom I have chosen.
No one, unless endowed with a more than common share of penetration, would divine from the exterior appearance of Francis Jermyn, how much of what deserves and attracts our admiration and esteem lies concealed beneath a somewhat unpolished superficies. Talents the most various, and pursuits the most opposite, distinguish this extraordinary being : yet, with the qualities which embellish the head, he possesses, in an eminent degree, the affections which adorn the heart. What nature could possibly have intended him for, I am entirely at a loss to divine : if she meant him to be a philosopher-he laughs too much for Heraclitus-feels too much for Democritus; he is too light for a Stoic, too civil for a Cynic, too lazy for a Peripatetic, and too sensible for an Epicurean. He is passionately fond of Newmarket and Parnassus, of the racer's turf and the poet's ivy; a muse and a jockey hold about an equal place in his estimation; and Pegasus himself is hardly on a par with Mamaluke or Gulnare. He once intended to write an epic on the celebrated Memnon; the genealogy
was to occupy the first department; the training the second; and the whole of the circumstances attending the Grand St. Leger, with the triumph of his hero, the third : the whole interspersed with episodes concerning the victories of his forefathers, and the histories of his riders. The notes (for who writes books without notes ?) were to contain many curious and interesting documents, elucidating several disputed points in the history of horseracing. He had great difficulty in choosing a metre; but at last determined on the anapæst, as having most affinity in sound, to a horse's gallop. The names of Memnon's ancestors be made into patronymics : a most spirited imprecation on the demon of black-leggism figured in the beginning of the second book; and it was only from the vengeance of the aforesaid spirit, that he, being thoroughly disgusted by the result of inquiries which he was forced to make among the black-legs themselves, for the purpose of procuring information, was compelled reluctantly to relinquish his undertaking.
The habitation of my friend is strictly in character, . Not containing more than the three or four articles of furniture which form the usual complement of an Eton boy's room, it exhibits a singular mixture of Sporting Magazines and volumes of Lord Byron ; of prints of racehorses, and scenes from Shakespeare. Here and there the curious observer may detect some of his own compositions; and they are usually such as, when discovered, amply to repay any trouble incurred during the search. His poetry is such as would not disgrace many a more experienced candidate for poetical honours : and, whatever may be the fate of poor Bartholomew Bouverie's compositions, I am confident that those of Francis Jermyn will find for him a road to fame, and secure him a situation far higher than any which he can enjoy in my company.
There are no weapons more dangerous to the possessors of them, than those of ridicule. There are none which require more skill to use, and more self-denial to refrain from using. While carelessness is the predominant failing, warmth of heart is the prevailing virtue of my coadjutor; and I do not hesitate to affirm that I never saw him use those powers which he possesses in an eminent degree, with the intention of hurting the feelings of any one. An unhappy constitutional risibility is, indeed, inherent in him, which occasionally places him in rather awkward situations ; but no one can laugh at his own failings or mistakes with more perfect sincerity and good humour. · His carelessness is remarkable. Whatever nature did intend him for, it was not to carry messages. Fortunately his head is well fastened to his shoulders, or he would leave it behind him in some of his perambulations. He will wonder what he can have done with a book which he is holding in his hand ; and will as frequently forget the want of one which he is not. Often and often does he stalk into school, so far from having prepared a lesson, , that he has no idea in what author, or in what language, it is to be found. He sometimes has his attention pinned down to it by being directed to translate it, and if, while he is actually at work, he forms resolutions, when he has completed his task he forgets them. Were I to represent to him how serious the consequences of these apparently