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March 8, 1812: Thomas Moore


On March 8, 1812, Thomas Moore's poem "Parody of a Celebrated Letter" is published in the Examiner. The poem was another attack on the Prince Regent for having betrayed his Whig friends. 

In his time, Moore was a quite well known poet and singer specializing in various Irish songs. Later, he was to befriend Lord Byron. He spent time with Byron in Venice, who gave Moore his memoirs with instructions to publish them after his death as a literary executor. It is in this role that he is usually remembered. After Byron's death in 1827, he and John Murray burned Byron's memoirs  receiving a great deal of criticism.  

The poem published on March 8 is a parody of an actual letter from the Prince Regent to his brother, Duke of York ("Freddy"), sent on or about February 13, 1812.
The letter was meant to be conveyed to Lords Grey and Grenville, the Whig leaders, to precipitate their  refusal to form a government. In this way, the Prince Regent could continue have a government led by the Tories including Perceval, as prime minister, and Wellesley (the Duke of Wellington's brother). The poem is actually quite funny though some of the humour is lost because of lack of context. 



Parody of a Celebrated Letter.


At length, dearest Freddy, the moment is night
When, with Perceval's leave, I may throw my chains by;
And, as time now is precious, the first thing I do
Is to sit down and write a wise letter to you.


I meant before now to have sent you this Letter,
But Yarmouth and I thought perhaps 'twould be better
To wait till the Irish affairs are decided--
(That is, till both Houses had prosed and divided,
With all due appearance of thought and digestion)--
For, tho' Hertford House had long settled the question,
I thought it but decent, between me and you,
That the two _other_ Houses should settle it too.


I need not remind you how cursedly bad
Our affairs were all looking, when Father went mad;
A strait waistcoat on him and restrictions on me,
A more _limited_ Monarchy could not well be.
I was called upon then, in that moment of puzzle.
To choose my own Minister--just as they muzzle
A playful young bear, and then mock his disaster
By bidding him choose out his own dancing-master.


I thought the best way, as a dutiful son,
Was to do as Old Royalty's self would have done.
So I sent word to say, I would keep the whole batch in,
The same chest of tools, without cleansing or patching:
For tools of this kind, like Martinus's sconce.
Would loose all their beauty if purified once;
And think--only think--if our Father should find.
Upon graciously coming again to his mind,
That improvement had spoiled any favorite adviser--
That Rose was grown honest, or Westmoreland wiser--
That R--d--r was, even by one twinkle, the brighter--
Or Liverpool speeches but half a pound lighter--
What a shock to his old royal heart it would be!
No!--far were such dreams of improvement from me:
And it pleased me to find, at the House, where, you know,
There's such good mutton cutlets, and strong curacoa,
That the Marchioness called me a duteous old boy,
And my Yarmouth's red whiskers grew redder for joy.


You know, my dear Freddy, how oft, if I _would_,
By the law of last sessions I _might_ have done good.
I _might_ have withheld these political noodles
From knocking their heads against hot Yankee Doodles;
I _might_ have told Ireland I pitied her lot,
Might have soothed her with hope--but you know I did not.


And my wish is, in truth, that the best of old fellows
Should not, on recovering, have cause to be jealous,
But find that while he has been laid on the shelf
We've been all of us nearly as mad as himself.
You smile at my hopes--but the Doctors and I
Are the last that can think the King _ever_ will die.


A new era's arrived--tho' you'd hardly believe it--
And all things of course must be new to receive it.
New villas, new fetes (which even Waithman attends)--
New saddles, new helmets, and--why not _new friends_?


I repeat it, "New Friends"--for I cannot describe
The delight I am in with this Perceval tribe.
Such capering!--Such vaporing!--Such rigor!--Such vigor!
North, South, East, and West, they have cut such a figure,
That soon they will bring the whole world round our ears,
And leave us no friends--but Old Nick and Algiers.


When I think of the glory they've beamed on my chains,
'Tis enough quite to turn my illustrious brains.
It is true we are bankrupts in commerce and riches,
But think how we find our Allies in new breeches!
We've lost the warm hearts of the Irish, 'tis granted,
But then we've got Java, an island much wanted,
To put the last lingering few who remain,
Of the Walcheren warriors, out of their pain.
Then how Wellington fights! and how squabbles his brother!
_For_ Papists the one and _with_ Papists the other;
_One_ crushing Napoleon by taking a City,
While t'other lays waste a whole Catholic Committee.
Oh deeds of renown!--shall I boggle or flinch,
With such prospects before me? by Jove, not an inch.
No--let _England's_ affairs go to rack, if they will,
We'll look after the affairs of the _Continent_ still;
And with nothing at home but starvation and riot,
Find Lisbon in bread and keep Sicily quiet.


I am proud to declare I have no predilections,
My heart is a sieve where some scattered affections
Are just danced about for a moment or two,
And the _finer_ they are, the more sure to run thro';
Neither feel I resentments, nor wish there should come ill
To mortal--except (now I think on't) Beau Brummel,
Who threatened last year, in a superfine passion,
To cut _me_ and bring the old King into fashion.
This is all I can lay to my conscience at present;
When such is my temper, so neutral, so pleasant,
So royally free from all troublesome feelings,
So little encumbered by faith in my dealings
(And that I'm consistent the world will allow,
What I was at Newmarket the same I am now).
When such are my merits (you know I hate cracking),
I hope, like the Vender of Best Patent Blacking,
"To meet with the generous and kind approbation
"Of a candid, enlightened, and liberal nation."


By the by, ere I close this magnificent Letter,
(No man, except Pole, could have writ you a better,)
'Twould please me if those, whom I've humbugged so long
With the notion (good men!) that I knew right from wrong,
Would a few of them join me--mind, only a few--
To let _too_ much light in on me never would do;
But even Grey's brightness shan't make me afraid,
While I've Camden and Eldon to fly to for shade;
Nor will Holland's clear intellect do us much harm,
While there's Westmoreland near him to weaken the charm.
As for Moira's high spirit, if aught can subdue it.
Sure joining with Hertford and Yarmouth will do it!
Between R-d-r and Wharton let Sheridan sit,
And the fogs will soon quench even Sheridan's wit:
And against all the pure public feeling that glows
Even in Whitbread himself we've a Host in George Rose!
So in short if they wish to have Places, they may,
And I'll thank you to tell all these matters to Grey.
Who, I doubt not, will write (as there's no time to lose)
By the twopenny post to tell Grenville the news;
And now, dearest Fred (tho' I've no predilection),
Believe me yours always with truest affection.


P.S. A copy of this is to Perceval going
Good Lord, how St. Stephen's will ring with his crowing!



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