Imatges de pÓgina
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is more than all can say. What remains to us now is old, I fear, and very little of its age, though, like ourselves, it was once young and attic. Fuimus! I am proud of the word. When a saucy young Lemnian reproached Vulcan with his lameness, he drew himself up on his sound leg, and exclaimed—“ Earthborn insolent! I got it by falling from Heaven!”

Over these pleasant purlieus of the Green Park, along which I have so often and so gladly hurried when dinner-ward bound towards the spacious mansion of Miles Peter, there now sits, as patron and president of the literary and jocose convivia, a time-honoured bard, not less fortunate than his predecessor in the power to exercise a generous hospitality, and still more highly endowed with the kindness and cordiality, the mingled wit and learning, that_render his symposia the most delightful in the whole metropolis. For art or nature, for dead or living gems, what house can compare with his? O happy bard ! favourite alike of the bright-eyed god and of the blind goddess ! their gifts

“ In te mixta fluunt, et quæ divisa beatos

Efficiunt, collecta tenes.” Who could describe thee so well as Claudian, himself a poet and a man of business? Cheering is it, and consolatory, to find from thy example how lightly time touches those finer combinations of humanity, where the kind heart is united with a head of superior intellect and genius. Long mayest thou be spared to adorn and enrich our literature! long mayest thou enjoy in thy classical retreat the rich and gratifying store which must be ever offered by thine own “ Pleasures of Memory!"

And whither shall we wend in search of him, the pleasant and facetious wag, who seldom observed any rules so long as he lived within them, and only began to cling to them when he left them ; who was the most licentious of dramatists until he became dramatic licenser, and the most independent of all gentlemen until he was dubbed a gentleman pensioner? Is our grave and reverend Signior still G. C. the younger ! and will Time give him pretermission in virtue of this addendum ? If so, Juvenal should never have died, and the author of the “ Night Thoughts" ought to be still among us. Gadso! if I were a sex, or septuagenarian, and felt that I had cut my wise teeth, I would not thus have a child's coral dangling at the end of my grey beard. They tell me that George, falling into the old mistake, that the reverse of wrong is right, has become squeamish, narrow-minded, puritanical; playing official pranks which, if they do not make the angels weep, assuredly make men laugh. Prodigious! as Dominie would say. An appointment that brings him in so little money, ought to do him more credit;

« For he that liveth in authority,

And neither gets him friends, nor fills his bags,
Lives like the ass that Æsop speaketh of,
Who labours with a load of bread and wine,

And heaves it off to snap at thistle tops." If this censor morum were to snap off my dramatic thistletops as freakishly as he does those of the poor playwights, I should be tempted to exclaim in the words of Kit Marlowe—“ An I be not re. venged for this, would I might be turned to a gaping oyster, and drink nothing but salt-water!” and my revenge should be to publish an expurgated Family Colman, edited by Bowdler, in order that the world might see how small and insipid would be the residuum of his purified comic poetry. If he wants to make atonement for his own misdeeds, let him be more merciful, both towards himself and others, His “ridicula quædam et jucunda,” his “Nightgown and Slippers," and his “ Broad Grins," have done, but little harm, if any. For my, self, I can safely say in the words of Lipsius, when speaking of Petronius, an ancient master of the revels, and an autor purissimæ impuritatis—"Joci ejus me delectant, urbanitas capit, cætera nec in animo, nec in moribus meis majorem relinquunt labem, quàm solet in flumine vestigium cymba.” Our licenser may condemn himself in others, but he cannot diminish his fair fame; he cannot emasculate the poetical vigour, terse language, and manly cast of sentiment which in his heroic pieces so forcibly remind us of our best ancient dramatists; nor dilute that rich vein of humour which in his farces, and other comic writings, has secured for him the inalienable favour of the whole laughter-loving public.

Son of the Sun! (I mean not the god of day, but the evening paper so called)—pleasant Jack! thou king of anecdote and prince of pun. sters, it ever likes me well to revert to our merry meetings at the cottage of our hospitable friend, the Mæcenas of Sydenham. And why should I

say that thou wert the offspring of the solar diurnal, and not of the Delphian Apollo, seeing that thou art the author of two goodly tomes of poetry, which thou hast bound over to keep green, so far as the verdant binding can effect it. But what public will ever suffer " Monsieur Tonson” to die? --would he not have lived for ever, even without Cruickshank's illustrations ? Most delectable is it, thou Pa. ronomasiarch of the punsters, to recall thy encounterings with the quick-witted and caustic Du B- , when, like two intellectual gla. diators, ye did assault each other, waging an incessant conflict, but unattended with any other convulsions than those of laughter-producing no bloodshed but that of the grape, and terminating in no other death than that of care. Time seems to have made a compromise with our convivial circle. If he hath carried off some prematurely, he bath been liberal towards others, and to none more so than to thee, shedding his snows upon thy head without chilling thy faculties, or refrigerating thy heart, or arresting the flow of thy spirits. Long may thy cheerful winter endure, for thy friends may say of thee, as Boerhaave did of the Italian author on surgery—"Omnibus potius quam hocce carere possumus."

In what haunt of the metropolitan muses, or temple of the vinecrowned god, shall we catch the still-cheerful carol of the octogenarian Captain ? (for surely he must now count sixteen lustres in his galaxy,) once the finest lyrical writer, as well as the best songster of his day, and the boon companion of a heartless Prince, who could enjoy the cheerfulness and the light of the intellectual lamps with which he surrounded himself, and throw them carelessly aside when they had exhausted their oil in his service! The royal ingrate is already forgotten, or only remembered to be scorned; but who that

has once perused them can erase from his heart or memory the beautiful effusions of Captain M--- especially if, like me, he has often heard their author sing them at the festive board, the sparkling bumper elevated in his right hand; his eye “in a fine frenzy rolling;” the feeling of his whole convivial nature animating his voice, while he enchanted his auditors by the double attraction of poetry and melody; thus refining the sensual gratifications of the banquet by the noblest enjoyments of the intellect! Of such a man, so expressly formed to adorn the social and the festive scene, and therefore so constitutionally prone to indulge, perhaps to an excess, in its delights, the old age, when he attains it (which is of rare occurrence), is still more rarely enviable: yet M-I hear, has travelled cheerfully and contentedly down the vale of years, unruffled by the ingratitude of friends who in death forgot their living promises, visited by fewer ailments than might have been expected from his course of earlier revelry, still cultivating at intervals the willing muse, and still able, though with a less steady hand than heretofore, to toss off an occasional bumper. His compositions, it is said, have assumed a somewhat grave and devotional turn, while his advanced years, and the cares due to his health, are “ever in his flowing cups remembered." But this is as it should be, and thus may he continue “ducere solicitæ jucunda oblivia vitæ." Separated as I now am, and have been for many years, from this lyrical patriarch, I see so little hope of our ever meeting again, that “vix mea sustinuit dicere lingua Vale!”

I had intended to commemorate others, not all unknown to fame, survivors of those with whom I have shared the “ Noctes cænasque Divûm,” and whose cheerful wit still blooms around

my

recollection like a chaplet of roses; but though I began this paper in a merry, or rather a merry-andrew mood, a sadness has gradually stolen over me as I proceeded. “O my coevals, remnants of yourselves!” how can I advert to ye, fallen as so many of ye are into age, decrepitude, and oblivion, without feeling that I am myself far advanced towards that dark bourne from which no traveller returns? It is well sometimes to study our contemporaries, in order that we may understand ourselves; for we shall often discover in their time-worn features and bent bodies what our own glass fails to reveal to us; ay, and in their doting discourse, we may find a reflection of that mental decay in ourselves for which we keep no other honest mirror. And how frequently do I encounter a hiatus valdè deflendus as I run over in my mind the list of those bright intellects and cordial comrades with whom I have so often laughed and quaffed, and shared with them the pleasant country walk,“ not wanting sweet discourse, the banquet of the mind;" or the London merry meeting among the spirits of the age; or the well-filled box at the theatre on the first night of a new play. Methinks I should have first woven a funeral wreath for the departed, once the life of the lively and the darlings of the convivial circle, before I placed a paltry, and perhaps unacceptable garland, upon the head of their survivors. Enough there are, and to spare,

who will extol the great, and the rich, and the living—be it mine to record, in such brief and hasty stanzas as time and space allow, a few of those dear departed, whose memories none of their acquaintance

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would willingly let die, nor suffer them to pass away " without the meed of some melodious tear.” Not as a worthy tribute to the dead, but as a momentary solace to the writer, hath he composed for them this short and trifling epicedium :

Lords of the sword, and ermined robe,
Bards, artists, wits, who fill the globe
With fame, and are with living incense fed,

Let other tongues your praises breathe,

No coronals for you I wreathe,
But twine a cypress chaplet for the dead.

Not to the brave of other days,

Not to the bards of deathless bays,
Heirs of renown and magnates of the state ;

But ah! how far more dear! to those

Who shared my heart and cause its woes,
This tear-dew'd garland do I consecrate.

A soldier's grave, a soldier's fame,

The valiant Henderson may claim,
Whose bosom still for glory, glory yearn'd;

Far off repose his bones, within

The battle-field he help'd to win-
His memory is in my heart inurn'd.

Oft I recall, dear friend, thy face,

Thy manly form, each moral grace
That deck'd and dignified thy noble soul;

I see thee, catch thy voice's tone,

Outstretch mine arms—the vision 's gone,
And tears of anguish flow without cotrol,

Alas! how numerous are the dead !

Oh! whither, whither are ye fled,
Friends of my youth, props of my riper age !

Whose proved attachment warm'd my breast,

Whose converse gave to joy its zest,
And sooth'd the sorrows of life's pilgrimage?

Percy is gone, the pure and good,

Whose all-embracing heart would brood
On patriot hopes and philanthropic schemes;

Percy, with whom I loved to rove

By Thames's bank and Cliefden's grove,
Taught by his lore, charm'd by his poet-dreams.

The porpus sports, and ships sail on

O'er the sea-buried skeleton
Of him whose living breath was never mute
When it could daunt the oppressor-plead

For suffering innocence and need,
And advocate the cause of man or brute.

And Reton too, whose merry voice

Or ready joke made all rejoice,
Setting the raptured table in a roar,

Whom all could as a wit commend,

Yet prize him dearer as a friend,
Him, him, alas ! shall I behold no more !

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O death-recording pen,

desist! Fill not the desolating list Of those in whom my loving heart had trust :

Where are the hands that I have press'd ?

Where the dear forms that I caress'd ?
Dark-silent-sepulchred-all dust, dust, dust!

Take pity on me, and extend

Your arms once inore, some buried friend! Speak! let me catch one old familiar tone

I hear strange voices-hateful sound !

No form I know that moves around ;How sad it is in crowds to feel alone!

Alas ! what business have I here?

This is for me no proper sphere,
The living world I knew is under ground.

There are the good, the brave, the fair,

My household and my home are there,
That only home where perfect peace is found.

At times, perchance, the enfeebled muse

Will not her soothing aid refuse,
While the last welcome summons I await;

Then thus, before her prompting ends,

To you, to you, departed friends, This fond memorial do I dedicate !

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