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searches of that Institution, innmediately 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 honour 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 experimant; 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. Be. sides, 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-pie-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.
BY A FRIEND OF THE AUTHOR.
I feel myself called upon, as his friend, to notice certain misconceptions and misrepresentations to which this little volume of Trifles has given rise.
In the first place, it is not true that Mr. Brown has had any accomplices in the work. A note, indeed, which has hitherto accompanied his Preface, may very naturally have been the origin of such a supposition; but that note, which was merely the coquetry of an author, I have, in the present edition, taken upon myself to remove, and Mr. Brown must therefore be considered (like the mother of that unique production, the Centaur, mova kac povov *) as alone responsible for the whole contents of the volume.
In the next place it has been said that, in consequence of this graceless little book, a certain distinguished Personage prevailed upon another distinguished Personage to withdraw from the author that notice and kindness with which he had so long and so liberally honoured him. In this story there is not one syllable of truth. For the magnanimity of the former of these persons I would, indeed, in no case answer too rashly: but of the conduct of the latter towards my friend, I have a proud gratification in declaring that it has never ceased to be such as he must remember with indelible gratitude;-a gratitude the more cheerfully and warmly paid from its not being a debt incurred solely on his own account, but for kindness shared with those nearest and dearest to him.
To the charge of being an Irishman, poor Mr. Brown pleads guilty; and I believe it must also be acknowledged that he comes of a Roman Catholic family: an avowal which I am aware is decisive of his utter reprobation, in the eyes of those exclusive patentees of Christianity, so worthy to have been the followers of a certain enlightened Bishop, Donatus,+ who held “that God is in Africa and not elsewhere.” But from all this it does not necessarily follow that Mr. Brown is a Papist; and, indeed, I have the strongest reasons for suspecting that they who say so are somewhat mistaken. Not that I presume to have ascertained his opinions upon such subjects. All I profess to know of his orthodoxy is that he has a Protestant wife and two or three little Protestant children, and that he has been seen at church every Sunday, for a whole year together, listening to the sermons of his truly reverend and amiable friend, Dr. - and behaving there as well and as orderly as most people.
There are yet a few other mistakes and falsehoods about Mr. Brown, to which I had intended, with all becoming gravity, to advert; but I begin to think the task is quite as useless as it is tiresome. Misrepresentations and calumnies of this sort are, like
the arguments and statements of Dr. Duigenan,—not at all the less vivacious or less serviceable to their fabricators, for having been refuted and disproved a thousand times over. They are brought forward again, as good as new, whenever malice or stupidity may be in want of them; and are quite as useful as the old broken lantern, in Fielding's Amelia, which the watchman always keeps ready by him, to produce, in proof of riotous conduct, against his victims. I shall therefore give up the fruitless toil of vindication, and would even draw my pen over what I have already written, had I not promised to furnish my publisher with a Preface, and know not how else I could contrive to eke it out.
I have added two or three more trifles to this edition, which I found in the Morning Chronicle, and knew to be from the pen of my friend. The rest of the volume remains * in its original state.
April 20, 1814.
My dear Lady Bab, you'll be shocked, I'm afraid,
Off at once to Papa, in a flurry, he flies~
* A new reading has been suggested in the original of the Ode of Horace, freely translated by Lord Eldon, page 570. In the line “Sive per Syrteis iter æstuosas," it is proposed, by a very trifling alteration, to read "Surtees,” instead of “Syrteis," which brings the Ode, it is said, more home to the noble translator, and gives a peculiar force and aptness to the epithet “æstuosas." I merely throw out this emendation for the learned, being unable myself to decide upon its merits.
† This young lady, who is a Roman CathoMc, has lately made a present of some beautiful Ponies to the Princess
Quick a Council is called—the whole Cabinet sits-
Wherein-as plain as man can speak
All that can well be understood