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TO LORD BYRON. DEAR LORD BYRON, — Though this Volume should possess no other merit in your eyes than that of reminding you of the short time we passed together at Venice, when some of the trifles which it contains were written, you will, I am sure, receive the dedication of it with pleasure, and believe that I am, my dear Lor), ever faithfully yours,
PREFACE. Though it was the wish of the Members of the Poco-curante Society (who have lately done me the honour of electing me their Secretary) that I should prefix my name to the following Miscellany, it is but fair to them and to myself to state that, except in the painful pre-eminence of being employed to transcribe their lucubrations, my claim to such a distinction in the title-page is not greater than that of any other gentleman who has contributed his share to the contents of the volume.
I had originally intended to take tiis opportunity of giving some account of the origin and objects of our Institution, the names and characters of the different members, etc. etc. ; but as I am at present preparing for the press the First Volume of the Transactions of the Poco curante Society,' I shall reserve for that occasion all further details upon the subject; and content myself here with referring, for a general insight into our tenets, to a Song which will be found at the end of this work, and which is sung. to us on the first day of every month, by one of our oldest members, to the tune of (as far as I can recollect, being no musician) either Nancy Dawson' or 'He stole away the Bacon.'
It may be as well also to state, for the information of those critics who attack with the hope of being answered, and of being thereby brought into notice, that it is the rule of this Society to return no other answer to such assailants than is contained in three words, “Non curat Hippoclides' (meaning, in English, • Hippoclides does not care a fig'), which were spoken two thousand years ago by the firstfounder of Poco-curantism, and have ever since been a lopted as the leading dictum of the sect.
So, on he capered, fearless quite,
Thinking himself extremely clever, THE DISSOLUTION OF THE HOLY And waltzed away with all his might, ALLIANCE.
As if the frost would last for ever. A Dream.
Just fancy how a bard like me, I've had a dream that bodes no good
Who reverence monarchs, must have
trembled, Unto the Holy Brotherhood.
To see that goodly company I may be wrong, but I confess
At such a ticklish sport assembled. As far as it is right or lawful For one, no conjurer, to guess
Nor were the fears, that thus astounded It seems to me extremely awful.
My loyal soul, at all unfounded;
For, lo! ere long, those walls so massy Methought, upon the Neva's flood
Were seized with an ill-omened dripA beautiful Ice Palace stood; A dome of frost-work, on the plan
And o'er the floors, now growing glassy, Of that once built by Empress Anne,?
Their Holinesses took to slipping. Which shone by moonlight -as the tale is –
The Czar, half through a Polonaise, Like an aurora borealis.
Could scarce get on for downright
stumbling; In this said Palace-furnished all
And Prussia, though to slippery ways And lighted as the best on land areI dreamed there was a splendid ball,
So used, was cursedly near tumbling. Given by the Emperor Alexander, To entertain with all due zeal,
Yet still 'twas who could stamp the
floor most, Those holy gentlemen who've shown a Regard so kind for Europe's weal,
Russia and Austria 'mong the foremost. At Troppau, Laybach, and Verona
And vow, to an Italian air,
This precious brace would hand in The thought was happy, and designed To hint how thus the human mind
Now-while old ....3 from his chair, May-like the stream imprisoned Intreated them his toes to sparethere
Called loudly out for a fandango. Be checked and chilled till it can bear The heaviest Kings, that ode or sonnet And a fandango, "faith, they had, E’er yet be praised, to dance upon it. At which they all set to like mad
Never were Kings (though small the ex. And all were pleased, and cold, and stately,
Of wit among their Excellencies) Shivering in grand illumination- So out of all their princely senses. Admired the superstructure greatly, Nor gave one thought to the founda- But, ah ! that dance—that Spanisb tion.
danceMuch too the Czar himself exulted, Scarce was the luckless strain begun,
To all plebeian fears a stranger, When, glaring red--as 'twere a glance As Madame Krudenero when consulted, Shot from an angry southern sunHad pledged her word there was no Alight through all the chambers flamed, danger.
Astonishing old Father Frost,
hand go ;
'It is well known that the Empress Anne built a palace of ice on the Ņeva in 1740, which was fifty-two feet in length, and when illuminated had a surprising effect.'--Pinkerton. * A fanatic who pretended to prophecy, much favoured by the Czar.
Who, bursting into tears, exclaimed, When in some urchin's mouth, alas ! * A thaw, by Jove !-we're lost, we're It melts into a shapeless mass !
lost ! Run, F-! a second Waterloo
In short, I scarce could count a minute Is come to drown you—sauve qui peut l' Ere the bright dome, and all within it,
Kings, Fiddlers, Emperors -all were Why, why will monarchs caper so
gone ! In palaces without foundations ? And nothing now was seen or heard Instantly all was in a flow :
But the bright river, rushing on, Crowns, fiddles, sceptres, decora. Happy as an enfranchised bird, tions ;
And prouder of that natural ray, Those royal arms, that looked so nice, Shining along its chainless wayCut out in the resplendent ice; More proudly happy thus to glide Those eagles, handsomely provided In simple grandeur to the sea, With double heads for double deal. Than when in sparkling fetters tiedl, ings
And decked with all that kingly pride How fast the globes and sceptres glided Could bring to light its slavery!
Outof their claws on all the ceilings! Proud Prussia's double bird of prey, Such is my dream-and, I confess, Tame as a spatch-cock, slunk away; I tremble at its awfulness. While- just like France herself, when she
That Spanish dance—that southern
beamProclaims how great her naval skill is
But I say nothing-there's my dreamPoor ... drowning fleurs-de-lys
And Madame Krudener, the sheImagined themselves water-lilies.
prophet, And not alone rooms, ceilings, shelves, May make just what she pleases of it.
But still more fatal execution-
Proem. Next Prussia took his turn to melt, And, while his lips illustrious felt WHERE Kings have been by mobThe influence of this southern air,
elections Someword like 'Constitution,' long Raised to the throne,'tis strange to see Congealed in frosty silence there, What different and what odd perfections Came slowly thawing from his Men have required in royalty. tongue.
Someliking monarchs largeand plumpy, While —-, lapsing by degree,
Have chosen their Sovereigns by the And sighing out a faint adieu
weight; To truffles, salmis, toasted cheese, Some wished them tall; some tlought And smoking fondus, quickly grew
your dumpy, Himself into a fondu too;
Dutch-built the true Legitimate.3 Or, like that goodly King they make The Easterns, in a Prince, 'tis said, Of sugar, for a twelfth-night cake, Prefer what's called a jolter-bead ;*
% Louis's. 3 The Goths had a law to choose always a short thick man for their king.-Munster, Cosmog. lib. iii. p. 164.
**In a Prince, a jolter-head is invaluable.' – Oriental Field Sports.
The Egyptians weren't at all partic'lar, | Sometimes, indeed, their neighbours
So that their Kings had not red hair- faces This fault not even the greatest stickler Might strike them as more full of
For the blood royal well could bear. reason, A thousand more such illustrations More fresh than those in certain places, Might be adduced from various nations; But, Lord ! the very thought was But, 'mong the many tales they tell us, treason ! Touching the acquired or natural right
Besides, howe'er we loveour neighbour, Which some men have to rule their And take his face's part, 'tis known fellows,
We never half so earnest labour, There's one which I shall here recite:
As when the face attacked 's our own..
So on they went the crowd believing Fable.
(As crowds well governed always do); THERE was a land-to name the place
Their rulers, too, themselves de.
ceivingIs neither now my wish nor dutyWhere reigned a certain royal race,
So old the joke they thought it true. By right of their superior beauty.
But jokes, we know, if they too far go, What was the cut legitimate
Must have an end; and so, one day, Of these great persons' chins and Upon that coast there was a cargo noses,
Of looking-glasses cast away. By right of which they ruled the state, 'Twas said some Radicals, somewhere, No history 1 have seen discloses.
Had laid their wicked heads together, But so it was—a settled case
And forced that ship to founder thereSome Act of Parliament, passed While some believe it was the weather.
snugly, Had voted them a beauteous race,
However this might be, the freight And all their faithful subjects ugly. And from that hour historians date
Was landed without fees or duties; As rank, indeed, stood high or low, The downfall of the race of beauties. Some change it made in visual
organs; Your Peers were decent-Knights, so. The looking-glasses got about,
And grew so common through the land, But all your common people gorgons! That scarce a tinker could walk out
Without a mirror in his hand. Of course, if any knave but hinted
That the King's nose was turned awry, Comparing faces, morning, noon, Or that the Queen (God save us !) And night, their constant occupasquinted
tionThe judges doomed that knave to die. By dint of looking-glasses, soon
They grew a most reflecting ration. But rarely things like this occurred ; The people to their King Were In vain the Court, aware of errors duteous,
In all the old established mazards, And took it, on his royal word,
Prohibited the use of mirrors, That they were frights and he was And tried to break them at all hazards: beauteous.
In vain-their laws might just as well The cause whereof, among all classes, Have been waste paperon the shelves;
Was simply this :- These island elves That fatal freight had broke the spell; Had never yet seen looking-glasses, People had looked- and knew them.
And therefore did not know themselves. selves.
If chance a Duke, of birth sublime, When the fleet youths, in long array,
Presumed upon his ancient face Passed the bright torch triumphant (Some calf-head, ugly from all time), They popped a mirror to his Grace
I saw the expectant nations stand, Just hinting, by that gentle sign,
To catch the coming flame in turn;How little Nature holds it true,
I saw, from ready hand to hand, That what is called an ancient line
The clear, though struggling, glory Must be the line of Beauty too.
And oh, their joy, as it came near, From Dukes they passed to regal 'Twas in itself a joy to see ;phizzes,
While Fancy whispered in my ear, Compared them proudly with their
* That torch they pass is Liberty !' own, And cried, “How could such monstrous And each, as she received the flame, quizzes
Lighted her altar with its ray ; In Beauty's name usurp the throne!' Then, smiling tu the next who came,
Speeded it on its sparkling way. They then wrote essays, pamphlets, books,
From Albion first, whose ancient shrine Upon cosmetical economy,
Was furnished with the fire already, Which made the King try various looks, Columbia caught the boon divine, But none improved his physiognomy.
And lit a flame, like Albion's, steady. And satires at the Court they levelled,
The splendid gift then Gallia took, And smal: lampoons, so full of sly. The brand aloft, its sparkles shook,
And, like a wild Bacchante, raising nesses,
As she would set the world a-blazing! That soon, in short, they quite bedeviiled
And when she fired her altar high, Their Majesties and Royal High- It flashed into the reddening air
So fierce, that Albion, who stood nigh,
Shrunk, almost blinded by the glare! At length—but here I drop the veil,
To spare some loyal folks' sensations: Next, Spain, so new was light to her, Besides, what follows is the tale
Leaped at the torch-but, ere the Of all such late-enlightened pations ;
That fell upon her shrine could stir, Of all to whom old Time discloses 'Twas quenched--and all again was A truth they should have sooner dark. known
Yet, no-1101 quenched-a treasure, That Kings have neither rightsnor noses worth A whit diviner than their own. So much to mortals, rarely dies :
Again her living light looked forth,
And shone, a beacon, in all eyes. FABLE III.
Who next received the flame? alas,
Unworthy Naples-shame of shares,
That ever through such hands should I saw it all in Fancy's glass
pass Herself, the fair, the wild magician, That brightest of all earthly flames! Who bid this splendid day dream pass, And named each gliding apparition.' Scarce had her fingers touched the torch,
When, frighted by the sparks it shed, 'Twas like a torch race-such as they Nor waiting even to feel the scorch,
Of Greece performed, in ages gone, She dropped it to the earth-and fled.
THE TORCH OF LIBERTY