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TO THE SECOND VOLUME.
The Poems suggested to me by my visit to Bermuda, in the year 1803, as well as by the tour which I made subsequently, through some parts of North America, have been hitherto very injudiciously arranged; any distinctive character they may possess having been disturbed and confused by their being mixed up not only with trifles of a much earlier date, but also with some portions of a classical story, in the form of Letters, which I had made some progress in before my departure from England. In the present edition, this awkward jumble has been remedied; and all the Poems relating to my transatlantic
voyage will be found classed by themselves. As, in like manner, the line of route by which I proceeded through some parts of the States and the Canadas, has been left hitherto to be traced confusedly through a few detached notes, I have thought that, to future readers of these poems, some clearer account of the course of that journey might not be
unacceptable, — together with such vestiges as may still linger in my memory of events now fast fading into the background of time.
For the precise date of my departure from England, in the Phæton frigate, I am indebted to the Naval Recollections of Captain Scott, then a midshipman of that ship. “We were soon ready,” says this gentleman, “ for sea, and a few days saw Mr. Merry and suite embarked on board. Mr. Moore likewise took his passage with us on his way to Bermuda. We quitted Spithead on the 25th of September (1803), and in a short week lay becalmed under the lofty peak of Pico. In this situation, the Phaeton is depicted in the frontispiece of Moore's Poems.”
During the voyage, I dined very frequently with the officers of the gun-room ; and it was not a little gratifying to me to learn, from this gentleman's volume, that the cordial regard these social and openhearted men inspired in me was not wholly unreturned, on their part. After mentioning our arrival at Norfolk, in Virginia, Captain Scott says, “ Mr. and Mrs. Merry left the Phaeton, under the usual salute, accompanied by Mr. Moore;" — then, adding some kind compliments on the score of talents, etc., he concludes with a sentence which it gave me tenfold more pleasure to read, — “The gun-room mess witnessed the day of his departure with genuine sorrow.” From Norfolk, after a stay of about ten days, under the hospitable roof of the British Consul, Colonel Hamilton, I proceeded, in the Driver sloop of war, to Bermuda.
There was then on that station another youthful sailor, who has since earned for himself a distinguished name among English writers of travels, Captain Basil Hall, — then a midshipman on board the Leander. In his Fragments of Voyages and Travels, this writer has called up some agreeable reminiscences of that period; in perusing which, — so full of life and reality are his sketches, I found all my own naval recollections brought freshly to my mind. The very names of the different ships, then so familjar to my ears, - the Leander, the Boston, the Cambrian, transported me back to the season of youth and those Summer Isles once more.
The testimony borne by so competent a witness as Captain Hall to the truth of my sketches of the beautiful
scenery of Bermuda is of far too much value to me, in my capacity of traveller, to be here omitted by me, however conscious I must feel of but ill deserving the praise he lavishes on me, as a poet. Not that I pretend to be at all indifferent to such kind tributes ; on the contrary, those are always the most alive to praise, who feel inwardly least confidence in the soundness of their own title to it. In the present instance, however, my vanity (for so this uneasy feeling is always called) seeks its food in a different direction. It is not as a poet I invoke the aid of Captain Hall's opinion, but as a traveller and observer; it is not to my invention I ask him to bear testimony, but to my matter-of-fact.
“The most pleasing and most exact description which I know of Bermuda," says this gentleman, “is to be found in Moore's Odes and Epistles, a work published many years ago. The reason why his account excels in beauty as well as in precision that of other men probably is, that the scenes described lie so much beyond the scope of ordinary observation in colder climates, and the feelings which they excite in the beholder are so much higher than those produced by the scenery we have been accustomed to look at, that, unless the imagination be deeply drawn upon, and the diction sustained at a correspondent pitch, the words alone strike the ear, while the listener's fancy remains where it was. In Moore's account there is not only no exaggeration, but, on the contrary, a wonderful degree of temperance in the midst of a feast which, to his rich fancy, must have been peculiarly tempting. He has contrived, by a magic peculiarly his own, yet without departing from the truth, to sketch what was before him with a fervour which those who have never been on the spot might well be excused for setting down as the sport of the poet's invention." *
How truly politic it is in a poet to connect his
* Fragments of Voyages and Travels, vol. ii. chap. vi.