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FLORENCE MISCELLANY.

Dedication (writer not specified).

What a whimsical task, my dear friends, you impose
To contribute a fine Dedication in prose!
Our Piozzi, methinks, is much fitter for this,
For she writes the Preface, and can't write amiss.
But my thoughts neither beautiful are nor sublime,
So I wrap them in metre, and tag them with rhime,
Like theatrical dresses, if tinselled enough,
The tinsel one stares at, nor thinks of the stuff,

We mean not our book for the public inspection,
Then why should we court e’en a Monarch's protection ?
For too oft the good Prince such a critic of lays is,
He scarcely knows how to peruse his own praises.
Ourselves and our friends we for Patrons will chuse,
No others will read us, and these will excuse.

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Preface, by Mrs. Piozzi.* PREFACES to Books, like Prologues to Plays, will seldom be found to invite readers, and still less often to convey importance. Excuses for mean Performances add only the baseness of submission to poverty of sentiment, and take from insipidity the praise of being inoffensive. We do not however by this little address mean to deprecate public Criticism, or solicit Regard ; why we wrote the verses may be easily explain'd, we wrote them to divert ourselves, and to say kind things of each other; we collected them that our reciprocal expressions of kindness might not be lost, and we printed them because we had no reason to be ashamed of our mutual partiality.

Portrait Painting, though unadorn’d by allegorical allusions and unsupported by recollection of events or places, will be esteem'd for ever as one of the most durable methods to keep Ten

* See ante, p. 90.

derness alive and preserve Friendship from decay ; nor do I observe that the room here where Artists of many Ages have contributed their own likenesses to the Royal Gallery is less frequented than that which contains the statue of a slave and the picture of a Sybil. Our little Book can scarcely be less important to Readers of a distant Age or Nation than we ourselves are ready to acknowledge it; the waters of a mineral spring which sparkle in the glass, and exhilarate the spirits of those who drink them on the spot, grow vapid and tasteless by carriage and keeping; and though we have perhaps transgress'd the Persian Rule of sitting silent till we could find something important or instructive to say, we shall at least be allow'd to have glisten’d innocently in Italian sunshine, and to have imbibed from its rays the warmth of mutual Benevolence, though we have miss'd the hardness and polish that some coarser Metal might have obtain’d by heat of equal force. I will not however lengthen out my Preface ; if the Book is but a feather, tying a stone to it can be no good policy, though it were a precious one; the lighter body would not make the heavy one swim, but the heavy body would inevitably make the light one sink.

SOCIAL VERSES.

On Tuesday evening, the 26th December, 1815 (writes Mr. Fellowes), we met at the Vineyards, our conversation led to the House of Commons, and my father expressed a wish that I had been a member, adding that he believed I should have followed that line with more pleasure than physic. Mrs. Piozzi assented to this, in her usual good-humored complimentary manner. I made an observation about illusion, &c., and something was said about Spain, and the beauties of the language, and I read the following Spanish verses to her, which pleased from their simplicity and neatness :

• La otra noche soñaba,

Que feliz sueño,
A decirte lo iva,

Pero no quieso.
Permita el Amor,

Que algun dia tu sueñes,

Lo que soné yo.”
On the following morning I received from Mrs. Piozzi these
lines : —

“ The amorous Spaniard's glowing dream,
Joined with our doctor's soberer scheme,

Caused in my brain confusion;
Yet when before my closing eyes,
I saw Saint Stephen's chapel rise,

Say, was that all illusion ?
“O, if the stream of eloquence,
I saw you gracefully dispense,

Was fancied all and vain :
Daylight no more I wish to see,
But drive back dull reality,

And turn to dream again.
“Mr. Linton takes this imitation of the yerses you showed me
last night.

H. L. P.

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During her stay in Italy (writes Sir J. Fellowes) in this delightful society, upon the banks of the Arno, which was duly enlivened by brilliant wit and classic taste, the conversation often turned upon more serious subjects, and one day it was proposed to write an impromptu upon the fatal monosyllable now, the present passing away even before the word is written that explains it. This pretty quatrain was produced by Della Crusca, who had been asserting that all past actions are nihilitic, and that the immediate moment was the whole of human existence:

“ One endless Now stands o'er th' eventful stream

Of all that may be with colossal stride;
And sees beneath life's proudest pageants gleam,
And sees beneath the wrecks of empire glide.”

To this H. L. P. replied:

“ 'Tis yours the present moment to redeem,

And powerful snatch from Time's too rapid stream ;
While self-impelled, the rest redundant roll,
Slumbering to stagnate in oblivion's pool.”

LINES WRITTEN JULY 28Th, 1815.
Is it of intellectual powers,
Which time develops, time devours,
Which twenty years perhaps are ours,

That man is vain ?

Of such the infant shows no sign,
And childhood shuns the dazzling shine,
Of knowledge bright with rays divine,

As mental pain.

Still less when passion bears the sway,
Unbridled youth brooks no delay,
He drives dull reason far away,

With scorn avowed.

For twenty years she reigns at most,
Labor and study pay the cost ;
Just to be raised is all our boast,

Above the crowd.

Sickness then fills the uneasy chair,
Sorrow, and loss, and strife, and care ;
While faith just saves us from despair,

Wishing to die.

Till the farce ends as it began,
Reason deserts the dying man,
And leaves to encounter as he can

Eternity.

ON A WEEPING WILLOW PLACED OVER AGAINST THE SUNDIAL

AT BRYNBELLA, NOV. 28TH, 1802.

Mark how the weeping willow stands

Near the recording stone;
It seems to blame our idle hands,

And mourn the moments flown.

Thus conscience holds our fancy fast,

With care too oft affected,
Pretending to lament the past,

The present still neglected.

Yet shall the swift improving plant

With spring her leaves resume,
Nor let the example she can grant

Descend on winter's gloom.

Loiter no more, then, near the tree,

Nor on the dial gaze;
If but an hour be given to thee,

Act right while yet it stays.

ON A WATCH.

When Pleasure marks each hour that flies,

And Youth rejoyces in his prime,
It may be good, it may be wise,

To watch with care the flight of time.

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