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TO SATIRICAL PIECES, ETC.
The three satirical Poems with which this Volume commences, were published originally without the author's name; “Corruption” and “Intolerance" in the year 1808, and “ The Sceptic” in the year following. The political opinions adopted in the first of these Satires -the Poem on Corruption chiefly caught up, as is intimated in the original Preface, from the writings of Bolingbroke, Sir William Wyndham, and other statesmen of that factious period, when the same sort of alliance took place between Toryism and what is now called Radicalism, which is always likely to ensue on the ejection of the Tory party from power.* In this somewhat rash effusion, it will be seen that neither of the two great English parties is handled with much respect; and I remember being taken to task, by one of the few of my Whig acquaintances that ever looked into the poem, for the following allusion to the silencing effects of official station on certain orators :
Bolingbroke himseif acknowledges that “ both parties were become factions, in the strict sense of the word.”
As bees, on flowers alighting, cease their hum,
But these attempts of mine in the stately, Juvenalian style of satire, met with but little success, never having attained, I believe, even the honours of a second edition; and I found that lighter form of weapon, to which I afterwards betook myself, not only more easy to wield, but, from its very lightness, perhaps, more sure to reach its mark.
It would almost seem, too, as if the same unembittered spirit, the same freedom from all real malice with which, in most instances, this sort of squibwarfare has been waged by me, was felt, in some degree, even by those who were themselves the objects of it;- so generously forgiving have I, in most instances, found them. Even the high Personage against whom the earliest and perhaps most successful of my lighter missiles were launched, could refer to and quote them, as I learn from an incident mentioned in the Life of Sir Walter Scott,* with a degree of good-humour and playfulness which was creditable alike to his temper and good sense. At a memorable dinner given by the Regent to Sir Walter in the year 1815, Scott, among other stories with which his royal host was much amused, told of a sentence passed by an old friend of his, the Lord Justice
* Vol. iii. p. 342.
Clerk Braxfield, attended by circumstances in which the cruelty of this waggish judge was even more conspicuous than his humour. “The Regent laughed heartily,” says the biographer," at this specimen of Braxfield's brutal humour; and “I' faith, Walter,' said he, “this old big-wig seems to have taken things as coolly as my tyrannical self. Don't you remember Tom Moore's description of me at breakfast? —
"The table spread with tea and toast,
Death-warrants, and the Morning Post.'” In reference to this, and other less exalted instances, of the good-humoured spirit in which my “innocui sales” have in general been taken, I shall venture to cite here a few flattering sentences which, coming as they did from a political adversary and a stranger, touched me far more by their generosity than even by their praise. In speaking of the pension which had just been conferred upon me, and expressing, in warm terms, his approval of the grant, the editor of a leading Tory journal * thus liberally expresses himself: “We know that some will blame us for our prejudice — if it be prejudice, in favour of Mr. Moore; but we cannot help it. As he tells us himself,
Wit a diamond brings
That cuts its bright way through' the most obdurate political antipathies. . . . We do not believe that any one was ever hurt by libels
* The Standard, August 24, 1835.