DEDICATION. TO STEPHEN WOOLRICHE, ESQ.
MY DEAR WOOLRICHE,--
It is now about seven years since I promised (and I grieve to think it is almost as long since we met) to dedicate to you the very first Book, of whatever size or kind I should publish. Who could have thought that so many years would elapse, without my giving the least signs of life upon the subject of this important promise? Who could have imagined that a volume of doggerel, after all, would be the first offering that Gratitude would lay upon the shrine of Friendship?
If you continue, however, to be as much interested about me and my pursuits as formerly, you will be happy to hear that doggerel is not my only occupation; but that I am preparing to throw my name to the Swans of the Temple of Immortality, leaving it of course to the said Swans to determine whether they ever will take the trouble of picking it from the stream.
In the meantime, my dear Woolriche, like an orthodox Lutheran, you must judge of me rather by my faith than my works; and however trifling the tribute which I here offer, never doubt the fidelity with which I am and always shall be
Your sincere and attached friend,
March 4, 1813.
The Bag, from which the following Letters are selected, was dropped by a Twopenny Postman about two months since, and picked up by an emissary of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, who supposing it might materially assist the private researches of that Institution, immediately took it to his employers and was rewarded handsomely for his trouble. Such a treasury of secrets was worth a whole host of informers; and, accordingly, like the Cupids of the poet (if I may use so profane a simile) who "fell at odds about the sweet-bag of a bee," those venerable Suppressors almost fought with each other for the honor and delight of first ransacking the Post-Bag. Unluckily, however, it turned out upon examination that the discoveries of profligacy which it enabled them to make, lay chiefly in those upper regions of society which their well-bred regulations forbid them to molest or meddle with.--In consequence they gained but very few victims by their prize, and after lying for a week or two under Mr. Hatchard's counter the Bag with its violated contents was sold for a trifle to a friend of mine.
It happened that I had been just then seized with an ambition (having never tried the strength of my wing but in a Newspaper) to publish something or other in the shape of a Book; and it occurred to me that, the present being such a letter-writing era, a few of these Twopenny-Post Epistles turned into easy verse would be as light and popular a task as I could possibly select for a commencement. I did not, however, think it prudent to give too many Letters at first and accordingly have been obliged (in order to eke out a sufficient number of pages) to reprint some of those trifles, which had already appeared in the public journals. As in the battles of ancient times, the shades of the departed were sometimes seen among the combatants, so I thought I might manage to remedy the thinness of my ranks, by conjuring up a few dead and forgotten ephemerons to fill them.
Such are the motives and accidents that led to the present publication; and as this is the first time my Muse has ever ventured out of the go-cart of a Newspaper, though I feel all a parent's delight at seeing little Miss go alone, I am also not without a parent's anxiety lest an unlucky fall should be the consequence of the experiment; and I need not point out how many living instances might be found of Muses that have suffered very severely in their heads from taking rather too early and rashly to their feet. Besides, a Book is so very different a thing from a Newspaper!--in the former, your doggerel without either company or shelter must stand shivering in the middle of a bleak page by itself; whereas in the latter it is comfortably backed by advertisements and has sometimes even a Speech of Mr. Stephen's, or something equally warm, for a chauffe-pieds--so that, in general, the very reverse of "laudatur et alget" is its destiny.
Ambition, however, must run some risks and I shall be very well satisfied if the reception of these few Letters should have the effect of sending me to the Post-Bag for more.
Twopenny Post-Bag, Intercepted Letters, Etc. Letter I.
FROM THE PRINCESS CHARLOTTE OF WALES TO THE LADY BARBARA ASHLER.
My dear Lady Bab, you'll be shockt I'm afraid,
When you hear the sad rumpus your Ponies have made;
Since the time of horse-consuls (now long out of date),
No nags ever made such a stir in the state.
Lord Eldon first heard--and as instantly prayed he
To "God and his King"--that a Popish young Lady
(For tho' you've bright eyes and twelve thousand a year,
It is still but too true you're a Papist, my dear,)
Had insidiously sent, by a tall Irish groom,
Two priest-ridden ponies just landed from Rome,
And so full, little rogues, of pontifical tricks
That the dome of St. Paul was scarce safe from their kicks.
Off at once to Papa in a flurry he flies--
For Papa always does what these statesmen advise
On condition that they'll be in turn so polite
As in no case whate'er to advise him too right--
"Pretty doings are here, Sir (he angrily cries,
While by dint of dark eyebrows he strives to look wise)--
"'Tis a scheme of the Romanists, so help me God!
"To ride over your most Royal Highness roughshod--
"Excuse, Sir, my tears--they're from loyalty's source-
"Bad enough 'twas for Troy to be sackt by a Horse,
"But for us to be ruined by Ponies still worse!"
Quick a Council is called--the whole Cabinet sits--
The Archbishops declare, frightened out of their wits,
That if once Popish Ponies should eat at my manger,
From that awful moment the Church is in danger!
As, give them but stabling and shortly no stalls
Will suit their proud stomachs but those at St. Paul's.
The Doctor, and he, the devout man of Leather,
Vansittart, now laying their Saint-heads together,
Declare that these skittish young abominations
Are clearly foretold in Chap. vi. Revelations--
Nay, they verily think they could point out the one
Which the Doctor's friend Death was to canter upon.
Lord Harrowby hoping that no one imputes
To the Court any fancy to persecute brutes,
Protests on the word of himself and his cronies
That had these said creatures been Asses, not Ponies,
The Court would have started no sort of objection,
As Asses were, there, always sure of protection.
"If the Princess will keep them (says Lord Castlereagh),
"To make them quite harmless, the only true way
"Is (as certain Chief Justices do with their wives)
"To flog them within half an inch of their lives.
"If they've any bad Irish blood lurking about,
"This (he knew by experience) would soon draw it out."
Should this be thought cruel his Lordship proposes
"The new Veto snaffle to bind down their noses--
"A pretty contrivance made out of old chains,
"Which appears to indulge while it doubly restrains;
"Which, however high-mettled, their gamesomeness checks
"(Adds his Lordship humanely), or else breaks their necks!"
This proposal received pretty general applause
From the Statesmen around-and the neck-breaking clause
Had a vigor about it, which soon reconciled
Even Eldon himself to a measure so mild.
So the snaffles, my dear, were agreed to nem. con.,
And my Lord Castlereagh, having so often shone
In the fettering line, is to buckle them on.
I shall drive to your door in these Vetoes some day,
But, at present, adieu!-I must hurry away
To go see my Mamma, as I'm suffered to meet her
For just half an hour by the Queen's best repeater.