« PreviousContinue »
sink into oblivion for addressing in vain; or what reception the world may give to the poet who is the first to enter deeply into those feelings, and express them first, remains for men more gifted and more zealous than myself to discover.
The Poem which forms the staple of this volume, addresses itself to the humours rather than to the passions of men. Chiefly of a comic and of a lightly satiric nature, it makes little pretence to those provinces to which the ambition of poets is usually directed. And, for my own part, even if I possessed far higher endowments for poetry-far warmer inclinations towards it than I ever, in my youngest days of inexperience, imagined I could claim-I own my belief that I have lived too immediately in that day with the style of which the world has grown weary, not to be imbued in the grayer school of poetry with the very faults which I should censure in others: and imbued too deeply and from too early a period, to allow much hope of exchanging those faults for faults of a more innovating and unhacknied character. In the comic school it is different; for the comic school has been little cultivated in this country; and originality in that department is therefore easier than in one more severe, and yet seemingly more inviting to disciples. If I have now accomplished something which, though a tale and a satire, is yet not evidently plagiarised either from Byron or from Butlerif, without that wearisome straining for novelty in detailwhich so rarely leads to any thing better than affectation--the matter and the manner be not-on the whole---without some claim to originality-then shall I be fully satisfied.
That you, my dear Publishers, may be fully satisfied also, is a matter equally desirable, but a little more difficult to effect!
The above observations were written some months ago; since then the aspect of the times has grown more visibly dark and troubled; and the Public, occupied with events of stirring moment, have now some solid reason to be less than ever disposed towards "the recreations of the pleasant loiterer, Poesy." Were this Poem of more value, and of a different nature, I should delay its appearance to a less unpropitious moment. I feel, indeed, a little ashamed to produce, at such times, any thing not more intimately connected with the great causes which now (in the exaggeration of no metaphor) agitate the world. But the crop has been sown, and has ripened, and may stand no longer in other words, so much of any little attraction my Poem may possess, depends upon the aptness of its allusions to the present day, that in the present day it must seek its fortune. If it have other merit, indeed, the temporary neglect for which I am prepared, cannot become a permanent oblivion. Without referring to posterity-that last and most perilous appeal of the neglected-a court to which, at this moment, I have not the temerity or the vanity to subject so unimportant a cause-there is yet a lesser and an intermediate tribunal. No man's real reputation, small or great, is made by his exact cotemporaries: it is the generation succeeding, yet
witnessing his own—the generation some eight or ten years his junior-by which he is tried. To that generation-not in the spirit of dejection or of boasting-but as the first fair and dispassionate tribunal I can obtain, I confide the fate of this work, and of those which, in humbler prose, have been, from the first to the latest, actuated by the same objects-objects that may keep alive in me, indeed, the love of Fame; but which yet can console me, if I am forbidden to attain it.
January 6, 1831.
Love's Watch: To Juliet Sleeping
On the Imitators of Byron: a fable
On the want of Sympathy we experience in the World.
The Rats and the Mice; a fable, of the days of King
Addressed to His Grace the Duke of Wel-
LIST OF PLATES.
No. 1. The Birth of the Twins
2. The Patriot and the Palanquin
3. Sights in Siam; or Filial Affection in a Chinese
4. The Magician. (Frontispiece)
5. An Adventure in London
6. The Arrested and the Recruited: a dilemma