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In offering “ The Poetic Negligée to the acceptance of the public, I take permission to remark, that some of the loose beads have been already submitted to inspection in different journals and periodicals, and it is principally (I am proud and happy to say) in obedience to the “ soft command” of many of Eve's loveliest daughters, that I have now ventured (most humbly) to collect and string them together.
At first, I had some very serious thoughts of empanelling a “special jury " of old maids, and of submitting to them my work in sheets ; in order that any of the pieces which they (dear sensitive souls) should consider trop fleuri, might have the benefit of their moral expurgation; but fearing, should I risk the experiment, that my verecund censors would leave me nothing but my title-page to go to press with, I resolved upon the desperate hazard of being my own licenser, and of publishing my brunettes without the emendation of either saint or sinner.
Though denying to my Ms. the excerption of others, I have by no means been parsimonious of it myself, and all those morceaux which rose above “ fever heat,” (by the
poetic thermometer,) I have sent to refrigerate in my portfeuille ; so that what now sees the light, may, I dare swear, be innocuously read by any fille suranné in Christendom, ay, and what is more, got by heart (if, by the bye, an old maid has a heart*) the last thing she does on going to her bed of
Moroever—as a contingent lenitive to her bashful qualms, I have considerately introduced a fancy paper, (of that most interesting of all colours, the “ maiden's blush,”) in order that if she thinks she feels her cheek a little sunnier than usual, she may quiet any obtrusive scruples with the qualifying salvo, that it is merely the reflection of the warm tint of the leaves; and thus happily for both our reputations, the pages of “ The Poetic Negligée ” will seem-couleur de rose.
Should, however, any ultra-prude (and the bare thought of one gives me a flesh-quake) feel it to be a case of conscience not to“ tell her beads” by my rosary, then all I can do for either of us, is to prescribe an extra cup of camphor tea, and to have neatly embroidered on our chaste garters—,
* See note in Appendix, p. 207.
“ For single blessedness, at best,
Like toujours perdrix grows a pest.” Being the proper “ garter” motto.
THERE being more than sufficient in the annexed pages to try the fortitude of lami lecteur, I will be proportionably considerate, and cut the discours préliminaire as short as possible.
Of course I am not insane enough to imagine, (if the madness of Poets can have a limit,) that the thorough-paeed Prose-monger will doom himself to the peine forte et dure of my poetic rack; and even the indulgent admirer of the “Gay Science” will, I apprehend, have quite enough to do to preserve his equanimity above par.
The peruser of the present Miscellanea may set it down as a true tenet, that had my intellect been fed upon any useful pabulum, instead of (woodcock-like) the springs of the Castalides, the following verses would never have come into either my head or his hand, and thus the literature of the Nineteenth Century would not have been enriched with the treasures of “The Poetic Negligée;" but the mind lying fallow, the