At this season when the birds of the air are supposed to select their conjugal partners for the year, it has long been the custom for wit and humour to sport in soft sonnets and tender billets of real or pretended affection.
Our correspondents have made full use of this opportunity, and furnished the Attic Chest with several Valentines; but as most of them are under female signatures we apprehend that our almanac is mistaken and that this year is really a leap year; when the ladies are privileged to throw down the amorous gauntlet to the gentlemen. Be this as it may, our fair friends need not be ashamed of their courtship, and we (The gentlemen) cannot but desire that every year might be leap year, if that would ensure us annually, such well written testimonies of regard.
In the name of Philo-Fillagree, Peregrine, Ictinus, Roberto, Hassan, and Somebody, the Editor bows the head and trusts that the ladies will ere long receive such returns of gratitude from each as will prove that we are not insensible to the favours of the fair, though we cannot hope to express our feelings with equal ingenuity and elegance.
We shall read them in the following order.
Scintilla to Philo-Fillagree, which is a flourishing compliment, and written in the spirit of the Tinder-Box. We cannot give it higher praise.
To Peregrine, we are sorry to find nameless. The neatness of the device, and the sentiment of the verses do great credit to the authoress.
Dido to Ictinus. This lady seems to think that the heart of Ictinus is made of buff leather or cased in some other impenetrable stuff. But it is not certain that he has a heart. Those who pretend to know him best say that he has locked it up in a Chest, the key of which is kept by a lady at Kensington. Cupid may therefore select his keenest shafts and shoot as long as he pleases, he cannot wound unless he has sufficient address to pick the lock of steal the key from the fair keeperess who may emphatically be denominated, the Lady of his heart.
Phoebe to Roberto. This fair damsel tenderly hints to Roberto that beauty is but a fading flower, and that age will bring on dim eyes and wrinkles. We hope that if he has the least sensibility he will take time by the forelock, not let his Valentine sigh in vain. He should call to mind the words of the old song,
“Youth’s the season made for joy,
Love is then our duty.”
Augusta to Hassan. This composition is an ingenious attempt to draw Hassan from the obscurity in which he has so long veiled himself. If he should read her verses with the same pleasure that we have done, he would soon become visible.
To Somebody. As this Valentine appears to come from Nobody, Somebody cannot address his thanks to Anybody; but Everybody will do him the justice to believe that he is grateful for the heart so generously bestowed on him, though he cannot tell from whence it came, nor whether he has it or not.
To the Editor, a well written Valentine in the genuine style of a sonnet, but wanting the requisite number of verses for a legitimate poem of that denomination. The sonnet as every one knows, is derived from the Italian, in which language they are innumerable, and we may from thence presume that the structure is peculiarly agreeable to an Italian ear. They were almost as innumerable in English from the time of Chaucer to the reign of Charles the First, and make no small part of the works of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton and others.
When the French School became predominant the Sonnet gave way to Chansons and irregular Pindarics with which the slipshod Muses sung the nation to sleep, till Mason, Gray, Warton and others restored the Italian School and with it the sonnet, since when it has been cultivated with so much success as to rival the productions of the Tuscan and Roman Muses, but why it should be confined to fourteen verses and to one appropriate form we have not seen explained to our satisfaction.
The Editor feels a little indignant that his literary productions should be compared to castles in the air, and were he a turkey-Cock, he would shake his scarlet whiskers at his Valentine for daring to hint at castles of any kind on the backs of elephants.
Nevertheless there is something so sweet in the words dear architect, that our anger is charmed to serenity by the sound.
There is such classic neatness in the style of these verses that we cannot but desire to see more from the same lady, when subjects capable of richer embellishments present themselves to her fancy.
To the Editress and
From Moth to Stella, are sparkles of the first brilliancy.
From John Punch Esqre to Eborina we think cannot fail to be pleasing if the lady is fond of sweet things. It is an exemplification of what in Yorkshire is called lump love. For the credit of poor Punch we hope the cake is not stale.
To the Valentines will succeed a poem on Wit, which cannot be too highly praised, and our reading will conclude with Female Emigration, or the five “Honest Lawyers” in which work (for it is a Volume we believe that more is meant than meets the ear). We shall be obliged to our friends for their comments and to the author for a key.
We have to thank our obliging correspondents for several other pieces of great merit which will be read on a future evening.