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To Mrs. Bulwer Lytton, of Knebworth Park, Herts.
My dear Mother, I BELIEVE, I owe to you the first ground-work of that disposition which inclined me to Poetry ;-which disposition, though it has not enabled me, it is true, to make much proficiency in the Divine Art,' has nevertheless given me many hours I should be loth to forget, and many feelings which I would not willingly believe have been altogether fostered in vain. I am not one of those who imagine, (“ whatever dark thoughts some men in their cells may sit brooding upon,”*) that an early love for Poetry engenders a melancholy temperament, or unfits us, unless exclusively indulged, for the habits of common life. Many sentiments, it may and does indeed excite within us, that rise beyond the beaten track of existence-sentiments which struggle not against the laudable action, but the low desires and defiling
* Cudworth's Intellectual System, vol, i.
contagion of the world—but I hold, that while such sentiments are calculated to exalt our future character, they also multiply, even in réfining, the sources of our future enjoyment. Not laying claim myself to the attributes of the poet-but clinging fast to that love and disposition to poetry, which I have thus characterized—and remembering, that such inclinations I owe to the interest for poetry you were accustomed to excite in me when a child, and to the patient indulgence you accorded to my own boyish imitations ;—I feel that this Volume, containing the only verses I have written with the experience and forethought of manhood, can be dedicated to no one, so well as to yourself. Did I anticipate, did I even think it remotely probable, that this attempt in poetry would be hereafter repeated, I own that I would defer the offering, till it assumed a character more consonant to your taste, and loftier in itself. For we must warmly embrace public motives, in order to feel with what dignity and what justice Satire can defend herself;—in order to look beyond her external levity to her latent moral; and to see in her personalities and her assaults, not rancour to individuals, but ardour for a cause.
At a moment—if not in times—certainly unpropitious to poetry ;—and conscious deeply and sincerley conscious, as I am of the weakness of my own attempts—it would be to surpass the sanguineness of authorship, to anticipate success. Could I dare to do so, no feeling in that success would be so sweet to my ambition, as the feeling of the satisfaction it would give to yourself;— and of the increased value which such success would impart to the grateful offering of one, whose childhood you
nursed with so tender a care, whose youth you educated with so anxious a zeal, and whose manhood you have contributed to render independent, with so generous and warm a
friendship; : .
Wishing you, my dearest Mother, long years of health and enjoyment,-believe me