These few brief lines, my reverend friend,
By a safe, private hand I send
(Fearing lest some low Catholic wag
Should pry into the Letter-bag),
To tell you, far as pen can dare
How we, poor errant martyrs, fare;--
Martyrs, not quite to fire and rack,
As Saints were, some few ages back.
But--scarce less trying in its way--
To laughter, wheresoe'er we stray;
To jokes, which Providence mysterious
Permits on men and things so serious,
Lowering the Church still more each minute,
And--injuring our preferment in it.
Just think, how worrying 'tis, my friend,
To find, where'er our footsteps bend,
Small jokes, like squibs, around us whizzing;
And bear the eternal torturing play
Of that great engine of our day,
Unknown to the Inquisition--quizzing!
Your men of thumb-screws and of racks
Aimed at the body their attack;
But modern torturers, more refined,
Work their machinery on the mind.
Had St. Sebastian had the luck
With me to be a godly rover,
Instead of arrows, he'd be stuck
With stings of ridicule all over;
And poor St. Lawrence who was killed
By being on a gridiron grilled,
Had he but shared my errant lot,
Instead of grill on gridiron hot,
A moral roasting would have got.
Nor should I (trying as all this is)
Much heed the suffering or the shame--
As, like an actor, used to hisses,
I long have known no other fame,
But that (as I may own to you,
Tho' to the world it would not do,)
No hope appears of fortune's beams
Shining on any of my schemes;
No chance of something more per ann,
As supplement to Kellyman;
No prospect that, by fierce abuse
Of Ireland, I shall e'er induce
The rulers of this thinking nation
To rid us of Emancipation:
To forge anew the severed chain,
And bring back Penal Laws again.
Ah happy time! when wolves and priests
Alike were hunted, as wild beasts;
And five pounds was the price, per head,
For bagging either, live or dead;--
Tho' oft, we're told, one outlawed brother
Saved cost, by eating up the other,
Finding thus all those schemes and hopes
I built upon my flowers and tropes
All scattered, one by one, away,
As flashy and unsound as they,
The question comes--what's to be done?
And there's but one course left me--one.
Heroes, when tired of war's alarms,
Seek sweet repose in Beauty's arms.
The weary Day-God's last retreat is
The breast of silvery-footed Thetis;
And mine, as mighty Love's my judge,
Shall be the arms of rich Miss Fudge!
Start not, my friend,--the tender scheme,
Wild and romantic tho' it seem,
Beyond a parson's fondest dream,
Yet shines, too, with those golden dyes,
So pleasing to a parson's eyes
That only gilding which the Muse
Can not around her sons diffuse:--
Which, whencesoever flows its bliss,
From wealthy Miss or benefice,
To Mortimer indifferent is,
So he can only make it his.
There is but one slight damp I see
Upon this scheme's felicity,
And that is, the fair heroine's claim
That I shall take her family name.
To this (tho' it may look henpeckt),
I can’t quite decently object,
Having myself long chosen to shine
Conspicuous in the alias line;
So that henceforth, by wife's decree,
(For Biddy from this point won’t budge)
Your old friend's new address must be
The Rev. Mortimer O'Fudge--
The "O" being kept, that all may see
We're both of ancient family.
Such, friend, nor need the fact amaze you,
My public life's a calm Euthanasia.
Thus bid I long farewell to all
The freaks of Exeter's old Hall--
Freaks, in grimace, its apes exceeding,
And rivalling its bears in breeding.
Farewell, the platform filled with preachers--
The prayer given out, as grace, by speechers,
Ere they cut up their fellow-creatures:--
Farewell to dead old Dens's volumes,
And, scarce less dead, old Standard's columns:--
From each and all I now retire,
My task, henceforth, as spouse and sire,
To bring up little filial Fudges,
To be M.P.s, and Peers, and Judges--
Parsons I'd add too, if alas!
There yet were hope the Church could pass
The gulf now oped for hers and her,
Or long survive what Exeter--
Both Hall and Bishop, of that name--
Have done to sink her reverend fame.
Adieu, dear friend--you'll oft hear from me,
Now I'm no more a travelling drudge;
Meanwhile I sign (that you may judge
How well the surname will become me)