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of the reader. Between him who writes and him who reads, there must be a kind of coalition of interests, something of a partnership (however unequal the capital) in mental property; a sort of joint stock of tastes and ideas. The student must have been initiated into the same intellectual commerce with him whom he studies ; for large bills are only negotiable among the mutually opulent.
There are perhaps other reasons why popularity is no infallible test of excellence. Many readers even of good faculties, if those faculties have been kept inert by a disuse of exertion, feel often most sympathy with writers of a middle class ; and find more repose in a mediocrity which lolls and amuses the mind, than with a lostiness and extent which exalts and expands it. To enjoy works of superlative ability, as was before suggested, the reader must have been accustomed to drink at the same spring from which the writer draws; he must be at the expense of furnishing part of his own entertainment, by bringing with him a share of the science or of the spirit with which the author writes.
These are some of the considerations, which, while my gratitude has been excited by the favourable reception of my various attempts, have helped to correct that vanity which is so easily kindled where merit and success are evidently disproportionate.
For fair criticism I have ever been truly thankful. For candid correction, from whatever quarter it came, I have always exhibited the most unquestionable proof of my regard, by adopting it. Nor can I call to mind any instance of improvement which has been suggested to me by which I have neglected to profit.* I am not insensible to human estimation. To tho approbation of the wise and good 'I have been perhaps but too sensible. But I check myself in the indulgence of the dangerous pleasure, by recollecting that the hour is fast ap. proaching to all, to me it is very fast approaching, when no human verdict, of whatever authority in itself, and however favourable to its object, will avail any thing, but inasmuch as it is crowned with the acquittal of that Judge whose favour is eternal life. Every emotion of vanity dies away, every swelling of ambition subsides before the consideration of this solemn responsibility. And though I have just avowed my deference for the opinion of private critics, and of public censors; yet my anxiety with respect to the sentence of both is considerably diminished, by the reflection, ihat not the writings but the writer will very soon be called to another tribunal, to be judged on far other grounds than those on which the decisions of literary statutcs are framed: a tribunal at which the sentence passed will depend on far other causes than the observation or neglect of the rules of composition ; tban the violation of any precepts, or the adherenice to any decrees of critic legislation.
With abundant cause to be humbled at the mixed motives of even my least exceptionable writings, I am willing to hope that in those of later date, at least, vanity, has not been the governing principle. And if in sending abroad the present collection, some sparks of this inextinguishable fire should struggle to break out, let it be at once quenched by the reflection, that of those persons whose kindness stimulated, and whose partiality rewarded, my early efforts ; of those who would have dwelt on these pages with most pleasure, the eyes of the greater part are closed, to open no more in this world. Even while the pen is in my hand framing this remark, more than one affecting corroboration of its truth occurs. May this reflection, at once painful and salutary, be ever at hand to curb the insolence of success, or to countervail the mortification of defeat! May it serve to purify the motives of action, while it inspires resignation to its event! And may it affect both without diminisbing the energies of duty--without abating the activity of labour!
• If it be obiected that this has not been the case with respect to one single passa ge wbich has excited some controversy, it has arisen not from any want of openness to conviction in ine, but from my conceiving myself to have been misunderstood, and, for tbat reason only, misrepresented.
A NOBLE earl !-the name I spare, | And pays profusely for the treasure :
He bids them pack the precious thing
His own new coach must fetch the creature!
And lodg'd beneath his splendid dome; His house's archives do not say ;
All obstacles at length surmounted, Or that more modish joys he felt,
My lord on perfect pleasure counted. And would in opera transports melt;
If you have feelings, guess you may,
Of his new favourite's habitation,
One single taste historians mention, Thy genius shall have full display!
How shali I laugh to hear thy wit
At supper nightly as I sit ! Somewhat peculiar for a peer,
And how delightful as I dine, Though the rude democratic pen
To hear some sallies, Punch, of thine!' Pretends that peers are only men.
Next day, at table, as he sat, Whatever town or country fair
Impatient to begin the chat, Was advertised, my lord was there. Punch was produc'd; but Punch, I trow, 'Twas not to purchase or to sell
Divested of his puppet-show,
Whose sameness disappoints and tires. The joy congenial to his mind.
Depriv'd of all eccentric aid,
And Punch no longer squeaks or sings.
'Twas paint,'twas show,'twas pasted-board! When Punch exhibited his tricks;
He marvell’d why the pleasant thing And, not contented every night
Which could such crowds together bring; To view this object of delight,
Which charm'd him when the show was full! lle gravely made the matter known
At home should be so very dull.
He never dreamt 'twas the machinery;
Gave the dumb idol this assistance. From a short visit every night,
Preposterous peer ! far better go 'Tis fair to calculate what pleasure
To thy congenial puppet-show; Will spring from owning such a treasure. | Than buy, divested of its glare, I need not for amusement roam,
The empty thing which charm'u thee there. I shall have always Punch at home, Be still content abroad to roam, He rav'd with this new fancy bit,
For Punch exhibits not at home,
The moral of the tale I sing
To every crowded puppet-show;
Ye candidates for earth's best prize, Oft, unawares, some direful storm, Domestic life's sweet charities!
Serenest skies may soon deform ; If long you've stray'd from Reason's way, In dim Afflictions dreary hour Enslav'd by fashion's wizard sway; The flash of mirth must lose its power; If by her witcheries still betray'd,
Whilst faith a constant light supplies, You wed some vain fantastic maid;
And virtue cheers the darkest skies, Snatch'd, not selected, as you go,
To biess the matrimonial hours The heroine of the puppet-show;
Must three joint leaders club tlieir powers, In every ontward grace refin'd,
GOOD-NATURE, PIETY, and SENSE, And destitute of nought but mind;
Must their confederate aids dispense. If skiil'd in ev'ry polishi'd art,
As the soft powers of oil assuage She wants simplicity of heart ;
[Of ocean's waves the furious rage; On her for bliss if you depend,
Lull to repose the boiling tide, Without the means you seek the end ; And the rough billows bid subside; . You seek, o'erturning nature's laws,
Till every angry motion sleep, A consequence without a cause;
And softest tremblings hush the deep : A downward pyramid you place,
Good-nature ! thus thy charms controul The point inverted for the base,
The tumults of the troubled soul : Blame your own work, not fate ; nor rail | By labour worn, by care opprest, If bliss so ill secur'd should fail.
On thee the wearied head shall rest; 'T'is after fancied good to roam,
From business and distraction free, 'Tis bringing Punch to live at home, Delighted, shall return to thee; And you, bright nymphs! who bless our To thee the aching heart shall cling, eyes,
And find that peace it does not bring. With all that art, that taste supplies; And while the light and empty fair, Learn that accomplishments, at best, Form'd for the ball-room's dazzling glare; Are but the garnish of life's feast;
| Abroad, of speech, so prompt and rapid, And tho' your transient guests may praise At home, so vacant and so vapid; Your showy board on gala days:
|Of every puppet-show the life, Yet, while you treat each frippery sinner At home, a dull and tasteless wite; With mere deserts, and call 'em dinner, | Thie mind with sense and knowledge stor'd Your lord who lives at home, still feels Can counsel, or can soothe its lord ; The want of more substantial meals; | His varied joys or sorrows feel, Of sense and worth, which every hour And share the pains it cannot heal. Enlarge Affection's growing power;
But, Piety! without thy aid, Of worth, not emulous to praise,
Love's fairest prospects soon must fade. Of sense, not kept for gala days.
| Blest architect ! rear'd by thy hands, 0! in the highest, happiest lot,
Connubial Concord's temple stands, By woman be it ne'er forgot,
Tho' Wit, tho'Genius, raise the pile, That human life's no Isthmian game, Tho' Taste assist, tho' Talents smile, Where sports and shows must purchase | Tho' Fashion, while her wreaths she twine, fame.
Her light Corinthian columns join; Tho'at the puppet-show he shone,
Still the frail structure Fancy rears, Punch was poor company alone.
A tottering house of cards appears; Life is no round of jocund hours,
Some sudden gust, por rare the case, Of garlands gay, and festive bowers; May shake the building to its base, Even to the young, to whom I sing,
Unless, bless'd Piety ! thou join . Its serious business life will bring.
Thy keystone to ensure the shrine; Tho'bright the suns which now appear Unless, to guard against surprises, To gild your cloudless atmosphere, On thy broad arch the temple rises.
THE BAS BLEU; OR, CONVERSATION.
ADDRESSED TO MRS. VESEY.
ADVERTISEMENT. The following trifle owes its birth and name to the mistake of a foreigner of distinction, who gave the literal appellation of the Bas-bleu to a small party of friends, who had been often called, by way of pleasantry, the Blue Stockings. These little societies have been sometimes misrepresented. They were composed of persons distinguished, in general, for their rank, talenis, or respectable character, who met frequently at Mrs. Vesey's, and at a few other houses, for the sole purpose of conversation, and were different in no respect from other par. ties, but that the company did not play at cards...
May the author be permitted to bear her grateful testimony (which will not be suspected of flattery, now that most of the persons named in this poem are gone down to the grave) to the many pleasant and instructive hours she had the honour to pass in this company; in Thich learning was as little disfigured by pedantry, good taste as little tinctured by affectaLion, and general conversation as little disgraced by calumny, levity, and the other censurable errors with which it is too commonly tainted, as has perhaps been known in any society.
VESEY! of verse the judge and friend ! | And LYTTLETON's accomplished name, Awhile my idle strain attend :
And witty PULTNEY shar'd the fame; Not with the days of early Greece,
The men, not bound by pedant rules, I mean to ope my slender piece ;
Nor ladies* Precieuses ridicules ; The rare Symposium to proclain
For polish'd WALPOLE show'd the way, Which crown'a th' Athenian's social name; How wits may be both learn'd and gay; Or how ASPASIA's parties shone,
And CARTER taught the female train, The first Bas-bleu at Athens known; The deeply wise are never vain; Where SOCRATES unbending sat,
And she whom SHAKSPEARE's wrongs reWith ALCIBIADES in chat;
drest, And PERICLES vouchsafed to mix
Prov'd that the brightest are the best. Taste, wit, and mirth, with politics.
This just deduction still they drew, Nor need I stop my tale, to show,
And well they practis'd what they knew ; At least to readers such as you,
Nor taste, nor wit, deserves applause, How all that Rome esteem'd polite, Unless still true to critic laws; Supp'd with LUCULLUS every night; Good sense, of faculties the best, LUCULLUS, who, from Pontus come, luspire and regulate the rest. Brought conquests, and brought cherries | () ! how unlike the wit that fell, home,
RAMBOUILLET !† at thy quaint hotel'; Name but the suppers in th' Apollo, Where point, and turn, and equivoque What classics images will follow !
Distorted every word they spoke!
Plun Common Sense was put to flight; And Attic salt ; and Garum sauce,
Each speaker, so ingenious ever,
Twas tiresome to be quite so clever ;
Chaste queen, divine Simplicity !
But forc'd Conceit, which ever fails, POMPEY's bon-mot, or Cæsar's wit ! And stiff Antithesis prevails; Intemperance, list’ning to the tale,
Uneasy Rivalry destroys Forgot the mullet growing* stale;
Society's unlaboured joys: Au Admiration balanc'i, hung
NATURE, of stilts and fetters tir'd, Twixt PEACOCKS' brains, and Tully's Inpatient from the wits retir'd, tongue.
Long time the exile, houseless stray'd I shall not stop to dwell on these,
'Till SEVIGNE receiv'd the maid. But be as epic as I please,
Though here she comes to bless our isle, And plunge at once in medias res.
Not universal is her smile. To prove the privilege I plead,
Muse! snatch the lyre which CAMBRIDGE 1'11 quote from Greek I cannot read;
strung, Stunn'd by Authority, you yield,
When he the empty ball-room sung ; And I, not Reason, keep the field.
'Tis tun'd above thy pitch, I doubt, Loog was Society o'er-run
| And thou no music would'st draw out; By Whist, that desolating Hun;
Yet, in a lower note, presume Long did Quadrille despotic sit,
To sing the full dull drawing room. I That vandal of colloquial Wit :
* See Moliere's comedy. And Conversation's setting light
+ The society at the hotel de Rambouillet, though Lay half-obscur'd in Gothic night;
composed of the most polite and ingenious persons in At length the mental shades decline, France, was much raidied with affectation and false Colloquial Wit begins to shine ;
taste. See Voiture, Menage, doc. Genius prevails, and Convers::tion
The late earl of Mansfield told the author that when Emerges into Reformation,
he was ambassador at Paris, he was assured that it had The vanquish'd triple crown to you,
not been unusual for those persons of a purer taste who BOSCAWEN sage, bright MONTAGU,
frequented these assemblies, to come out from their soDivided, tell ;-your cares in baste
ciety so weary of wit and laboured ingenuity, that they Rescued the ravag'd realms of Taste; used to express the comfort they felt in ther emancipa
tion, by saying, “ Allons! faisons des so lecismes!" *Seneca says, that in his time the Romans were ar. These grave and formal parties now scarcely exist, med at such a pitch of luxury, that the mullet was rec. having been swallowed up in the reigning multitudinous Kaed stale which did not die in the bands of the guest. I assemblies.
Where the dire circle keeps its station, To feed ten children and a wife! Each common phrase is an oration; No-I may juster pity spare And cracking fans, and whisp’ring misses, To the night lab'rer's keener care ; Compose their conversation blisses. | And, pleas'd, to gentler scenes retreat, The matron marks the goodly show, Where Conversation holds her seat. While the tall daughter eyes the beau Small were that art which would ensure The frigid beau ! ah! luckless fair, The circle's boasted quadrature! 'Tis not for you that studied air;
See VESEY'S* plastic genius make
And bless the liberated ground,
Once dealt his pointed moral round, Self is his object, aim, and end.
And, not unheeded, fell the sound; Chill shade of that affected peer,
The Muse his honour'd memory weeps, Who dreaded mirth, come safely here! For Cato now with Roscius sleeps ! For here no vulgar joy effaces
Here once HORTENSIUST lov’d to sit,
Ah! why in wrangling senates waste Waves o'er the room her poppy wand; The noblest parts, the happiest taste? Arrives the stranger ; every guest
Why democratic thunders wield, Conspires to torture the distrest :
And quit the Muses' calmer field ? At once they rise-so have I seen
Ask you what charms this gift dispense ? You guess the similie I mean,
'Tis the strong spell of COMMON SENSE. Take what comparison you please, Away dull Ceremony few, The crowded streets, the swarming bees, | And with her bore Detraction too. The pebbles on the shore that lie,
Nor only geometric art, The stars which form the galaxy;
Does this presiding power impart ; These serve t'embellish what is said, But chymists too, who want the essence, And show, besides, that one has read ; Which makes or mars all coalescence, At once they rise-th' astonish'd guest Of her the secret rare might get, Back in a corner slinks, distrest;
How different kinds amalgamate : Scar'd at the many bowing round,
And he, who wilder studies chose,
How forms can other forms assume,
Or be, and stranger is th’event,
To cross their genuine destination,
Physicians, fraught with real science,
Poets, fulfilling Christian duties,
Bishops who preach, and peers who pay, None plus ultra stops her schemes; And countesses who seldom play ; Twelve ! she'd have scorn'd the paltry | Learn'd antiquaries, who from College, round,
Reject the rust, and bring the knowledge ; No pillars would have mark'd her bound; And, hear it, Age, believe it, Youth, Caipe and Abyla, in vain
Polemics, really seeking truth; Had nodded cross th' opposing main ; And travellers of that rare tribe, A circumnavigator she
Who've seen the countries they describe ; On Ton's illimitable sea. We pass the pleasures vast and various, This amiable lady was remarkable for her talent in Of routs, not social, but gregarious ;
breaking the formality of a circle, by inviting her par. Where high heroic self-denial
ties to form themselves into little separate groups. Sustains her self-inflicted trial.
+ This was written in the year 1787, when Mr. Ed. Day lab'rers! what an easy life,
I inund Burke had joined the then opposition.