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contagion of the world—but I hold, that while such sentiments are calculated to exalt our future character, they also multiply, even in refining, the sources of our future enjoyment. Not laying claim myself to the attributes of the poet—but clinging fast to that love and disposition to poetry, which I have thus characterized—and remembering, that such inclinations I owe to the interest for poetry you were accustomed to excite in me when a child, and to the patient indulgence you accorded to my own boyish imitations ;-I feel that this Volume, containing the only verses I have written with the experience and forethought of manhood, can be dedicated to no one, so well as to yourself. Did I anticipate, did I even think it remotely probable, that this attempt in poetry would be hereafter repeated, I own that I would defer the offering, till it assumed a character more consonant to your taste, and loftier in itself. For we must warmly embrace public motives, in order to feel with what dignity and what justice Satire can defend herself ;-in order to look beyond her external levity to her latent moral; and to see in her personalities and her assaults, not rancour to individuals, but ardour for a cause.
At a moment—if not in times-certainly unpropitious to poetry ;-and conscious, deeply and sincerely conscious, as I am of the weakness of my own attempts—it would be to surpa the sanguineness of authorship, to anticipate success. Could I dare to do so, no feeling in that success would be so sweet to my ambition, as the feeling of the satisfaction it would give to yourself;—and of the increased value which such success would impart to the grateful offering of one, whose childhood you nursed with so tender a care, whose youth you educated with so anxious a zeal, and whose manhood you have contributed to render independent, with so generous and warm friendship.
Wishing you, my dearest Mother, long years of health and enjoyment,—believe me
Ever your affectionate Son,
January 6th, 1831.
Every one knows the story of a certain Divine, who, on beginning the church service, found himself without a congregation; and turning to his clerk Roger, addressed him with
Dearly beloved Roger,” &c. An Author, now-a-days, in prefacing a volume of Poetry, finds himself a little in the situation of the Divine : and the individual who composes his audience the solitary Roger whom he can address is his Publisher!
Nevertheless, my dear Publishers, I do not think it is quite true, (however warmly, disappointed Poets, and your yet more disappointed brethren, may assert the fact,) that no poetry, whatsoever
may be its nature, will attract the popular taste of the present age : still less, indeed, do I incline to the opinion of those indelicate and unfeeling critics, who assert, with no excusable incivility, that any poetry, if it be very good, will find an equally hearty welcome whatever be the time of its appearance. Glancing first towards the latter opinion, I think we shall observe that after the death of any pre-eminently popular poet, there is always a sudden, yet a long-continued coolness to the art, which his admirers seem to imagine has expired with himself. Not only the new aspirant, but the poet of established celebrity, is mortified by indifference; and discovers that the broader fame which perhaps he thought overshadowed, on the contrary, protected his renown. Since the death of Lord Byron, the poetry of Moore, the friend of the deceased, or of Southey, the antagonist, has thus seemed to be less eagerly sought for than during the lifetime of that extraordinary man,
when his genius or his faults were the theme of every literary conversation, and the claims of his cotemporaries were brought forward to illustrate, to lessen, or to contrast the merits of the popular idol. I apprehend that the same circumstances will apply to every more exciting species of literature; and had the world lost the Author of “Waverley” at the time when the fullest splendour of his celebrity was calling forth a race of no unnoticed emulators, the whole tribe of historical, or even of Scottish novelists, would suddenly have sunk into that class of writers, to whose claims the Public would have lent the least courteous attention. A great literary man maintains in esteem the whole respectable part of his fraternity, and when he dies, they share the same fate as the friends of a savage Chief, whom his countrymen immolate upon his tomb.
If, my dear Publishers, we shall find, on an attentive recurrence to literary history, that this observation is not without truth in general, there was that in the particular instance of Lord Byron, which would heighten, perhaps beyond a precedent, the indifference towards the art which had lost so eminent a master. For it is superfluous to say, that no poet ever created