Twopenny Post-Bag, Intercepted Letters, Etc. Appendix.

A poem by Thomas Moore

Twopenny Post-Bag, INTERCEPTED LETTERS, ETC. LETTER IV. PAGE 584.


Among the papers, enclosed in Dr. Duigenan's Letter, was found an Heroic Epistle in Latin verse, from Pope Joan to her Lover, of which, as it is rather a curious document, I shall venture to give some account. This female Pontiff was a native of England, (or, according to others of Germany,) who at an early age disguised herself in male attire and followed her lover, a young ecclesiastic, to Athens where she studied with such effect that upon her arrival at Rome she was thought worthy of being raised to the Pontificate. This Epistle is addressed to her Lover (whom she had elevated to the dignity of Cardinal), soon after the fatal accouchement, by which her Fallibility was betrayed.

She begins by reminding him tenderly of the time, when they were together at Athens--when, as she says,

--"by Ilissus' stream
"We whispering walkt along, and learned to speak
"The tenderest feelings in the purest Greek;
"Ah! then how little did we think or hope,
"Dearest of men, that I should e'er be Pope![1]
"That I, the humble Joan, whose housewife art
"Seemed just enough to keep thy house and heart,
"(And those, alas! at sixes and at sevens,)
"Should soon keep all the keys of all the heavens!"

Still less (she continues to say) could they have foreseen, that such a catastrophe as had happened in Council would befall them--that she

"Should thus surprise the Conclave's grave decorum,
"And let a little Pope pop out before 'em--
"Pope Innocent! alas, the only one
"That name could e'er be justly fixt upon."

She then very pathetically laments the downfall of her greatness, and enumerates the various treasures to which she is doomed to bid farewell forever:--

"But oh, more dear, more precious ten times over--
"Farewell my Lord, my Cardinal, my Lover!
"I made thee Cardinal--thou madest me--ah!
"Thou madest the Papa of the world Mamma!"

I have not time at present to translate any more of this Epistle; but I presume the argument which the Right Hon. Doctor and his friends mean to deduce from it, is (in their usual convincing strain) that Romanists must be unworthy of Emancipation now, because they had a Petticoat Pope in the Ninth Century. Nothing can be more logically clear, and I find that Horace had exactly the same views upon the subject.

Romanus (eheu posteri negabitis!)
emancipatus FOEMINAE
fert vallum!


[1] Spanheim attributes the unanimity with which Joan was elected to that innate and irresistible charm by which her sex, though latent, operated upon the instinct of the Cardinals.




Twopenny Post-Bag, INTERCEPTED LETTERS, ETC. LETTER VII. PAGE 588.


The Manuscript, found enclosed in the Bookseller's Letter, turns out to be a Melo-Drama, in two Acts, entitled "The Book,"[1] of which the Theatres, of course, had had the refusal, before it was presented to Messrs. Lackington and Co. This rejected Drama however possesses considerable merit and I shall take the liberty of laying a sketch of it before my Readers.

The first Act opens in a very awful manner--Time, three o'clock in the morning--Scene, the Bourbon Chamber[2] in Carleton House-- Enter the Prince Regent solus--After a few broken sentences, he thus exclaims:--

Away--Away--
Thou haunt'st my fancy so, thou devilish Book,
I meet thee--trace thee, whereso'er I look.
I see thy damned ink in Eldon's brows--
I see thy foolscap on my Hertford's Spouse--
Vansittart's head recalls thy leathern case,
And all thy blank-leaves stare from R--d--r's face!
While, turning here (laying his hand on his heart,)
I find, ah wretched elf,
Thy List of dire Errata in myself.
(Walks the stage in considerable agitation.)
Oh Roman Punch! oh potent Curaçoa!
Oh Mareschino! Mareschino oh!
Delicious drams! why have you not the art
To kill this gnawing Book-worm in my heart?

He is here interrupted in his Soliloquy by perceiving on the ground some scribbled fragments of paper, which he instantly collects, and "by the light of two magnificent candelabras" discovers the following unconnected words, "Wife neglected"--"the Book"--"Wrong Measures"--"the Queen"--"Mr. Lambert"--"the Regent."

Ha! treason in my house!--Curst words, that wither
My princely soul, (shaking the papers violently) what Demon
brought you hither?
"My Wife;"--"the Book" too!--stay--a nearer look--
(holding the fragments closer to the Candelabras)
Alas! too plain, B, double O, K, Book--
Death and destruction!

He here rings all the bells, and a whole legion of valets enter. A scene of cursing and swearing (very much in the German style) ensues, in the course of which messengers are despatched, in different directions, for the Lord Chancellor, the Duke of Cumberland, etc. The intermediate time is filled up by another Soliloquy, at the conclusion of which the aforesaid Personages rush on alarmed; the Duke with his stays only half-laced, and the Chancellor with his wig thrown hastily over an old red night-cap, "to maintain the becoming splendor of his office."[3] The Regent produces the appalling fragments, upon which the Chancellor breaks out into exclamations of loyalty and tenderness, and relates the following portentous dream:

'Tis scarcely two hours since
I had a fearful dream of thee, my Prince!--
Methought I heard thee midst a courtly crowd
Say from thy throne of gold, in mandate loud,
"Worship my whiskers!"--(weeps) not a knee was there
But bent and worshipt the Illustrious Pair,
Which curled in conscious majesty! (pulls out his handkerchief)--
while cries
Of "Whiskers; whiskers!" shook the echoing skies.--
Just in that glorious hour, me-thought, there came,
With looks of injured pride, a Princely Dame
And a young maiden, clinging by her side,
As if she feared some tyrant would divide
Two hearts that nature and affection tied!
The Matron came--within her right hand glowed
A radiant torch; while from her left a load
Of Papers hung--(wipes his eyes) collected in her veil--
The venal evidence, the slanderous tale,
The wounding hint, the current lies that pass
From Post to Courier, formed the motley mass;
Which with disdain before the Throne she throws,
And lights the Pile beneath thy princely nose.

(Weeps.)

Heavens, how it blazed!--I'd ask no livelier fire,
(With animation) To roast a Papist by, my gracious Sire!--
But ah! the Evidence--(weeps again) I mourned to see--
Cast as it burned, a deadly light on thee:
And Tales and Hints their random sparkles flung,
And hissed and crackled, like an old maid's tongue;
While Post and Courier, faithful to their fame,
Made up in stink for what they lackt in flame.
When, lo, ye Gods! the fire ascending brisker,
Now singes one now lights the other whisker.
Ah! where was then the Sylphid that unfurls
Her fairy standard in defence of curls?
Throne, Whiskers, Wig soon vanisht into smoke,
The watchman cried "Past One," and--I awoke.

Here his Lordship weeps more profusely than ever, and the Regents (who has been very much agitated during the recital of the Dream) by a movement as characteristic as that of Charles XII. when he was shot, claps his hands to his whiskers to feel if all be really safe. A Privy Council is held-- all the Servants, etc. are examined, and it appears that a Tailor, who had come to measure the Regent for a Dress (which takes three whole pages of the best superfine clinquant in describing) was the only person who had been in the Bourbon Chamber during the day. It is, accordingly, determined to seize the Tailor, and the Council breaks up with a unanimous resolution to be vigorous.

The commencement of the Second Act turns chiefly upon the Trial and Imprisonment of two Brothers[4]--but as this forms the under plot of the Drama, I shall content myself with extracting from it the following speech, which is addressed to the two Brothers, as they "exeunt severally" to Prison:--

Go to your prisons--tho' the air of Spring
No mountain coolness to your cheeks shall bring;
Tho' Summer flowers shall pass unseen away,
And all your portion of the glorious day
May be some solitary beam that falls
At morn or eve upon your dreary walls--
Some beam that enters, trembling as if awed,
To tell how gay the young world laughs abroad!
Yet go--for thoughts as blessed as the air
Of Spring or Summer flowers await you there;
Thoughts such as He who feasts his courtly crew
In rich conservatories never knew;
Pure self-esteem--the smiles that light within--
The Zeal, whose circling charities begin
With the few loved-ones Heaven has placed it near,
And spread till all Mankind are in its sphere;
The Pride that suffers without vaunt or plea.
And the fresh Spirit that can warble free
Thro' prison-bars its hymn to Liberty!

The Scene next changes to a Tailor's Workshop, and a fancifully-arranged group of these Artists is discovered upon the Shop-board--Their task evidently of a royal nature, from the profusion of gold-lace, frogs, etc., that lie about--They all rise and come forward, while one of them sings the following Stanzas to the tune of "Derry Down."

My brave brother Tailors, come, straighten your knees,
For a moment, like gentlemen, stand up at ease,
While I sing of our Prince (and a fig for his railers),
The Shop-board's delight! the Maecenas of Tailors!
Derry down, down, down
derry down.

Some monarchs take roundabout ways into note,
While His short cut to fame is--the cut of his coat;
Philip's Son thought the World was too small for his Soul,
But our Regent's finds room in a laced button-hole.
Derry down, etc.

Look thro' all Europe's Kings--those, at least, who go loose--
Not a King of them all's such a friend to the Goose.
So, God keep him increasing in size and renown,
Still the fattest and best fitted Prince about town!
Derry down, etc.

During the "Derry down" of this last verse, a messenger from the Secretary of State's Office rushes on, and the singer (who, luckily for the effect of the scene, is the very Tailor suspected of the mysterious fragments) is interrupted in the midst of his laudatory exertions and hurried away, to the no small surprise and consternation of his comrades. The Plot now hastens rapidly in its development--the management of the Tailor's examination is highly skilful, and the alarm which he is made to betray is natural without being ludicrous. The explanation too which he finally gives is not more simple than satisfactory. It appears that the said fragments formed part of a self-exculpatory note, which he had intended to send to Colonel M'Mahon upon subjects purely professional, and the corresponding bits (which still lie luckily in his pocket) being produced and skilfully laid beside the others, the following billet-doux is the satisfactory result of their juxtaposition,

Honored Colonel--my Wife, who's the Queen of all slatterns,
Neglected to put up the Book of new Patterns.
She sent the wrong Measures too--shamefully wrong--
They're the same used for poor Mr. Lambert, when young;
But, bless you! they wouldn’t go half round the Regent--
So, hope you'll excuse yours till death, most obedient.

This fully explains the whole mystery--the Regent resumes his wonted smiles, and the Drama terminates as usual to the satisfaction of all parties.


[1] There was, in like manner, a mysterious Book, in the 16th Century, which employed all the anxious curiosity of the Learned of that time. Every one spoke of it; many wrote against it; though it does not appear that anybody had ever seen it; and Grotius is of opinion that no such Book ever existed. It was entitled, "Liber de tribus impostoribus." (See Morhof. Cap. "de Libris damnatis.")

[2] The same Chamber, doubtless, that was prepared for the reception of the Bourbons at the first Grand Fête, and which was ornamented (all "for the Deliverance of Europe") with fleurs de-lys.

[3] "To enable the individual who holds the office of Chancellor to maintain it in becoming splendor." (A loud laugh.)--Lord CASTLEREAGH'S Speech upon the Vice Chancellor's Bill.

[4] Mr. Leigh Hunt and his brother.

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