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LADY LYTTON BULWER.
TO DR. PRICE, M.D., F.R.C.P.E.
MY DEAR DR. PRICE, IN availing myself of your kind permission to dedicate this book to you, I must begin with a regret and an apology. A regret that this being a utilitarian, or every-one-for-himself Age, the days of Dedications, properly so called, are at an end; as, generally speaking,
“Nos hæc novimus esse nihil.”
For to the good (as in the present instance), printed panegyrics may, indeed, more widely disclose their virtues, but cannot increase them by a single ray. And, on the other hand, old George Herbert counsels wisely when he sayg
"Feed no man in his sinnes : for adulation
Doth make thee parcell-devil in damnation."
Still, I, on my own account, regret the extinction of the good, old, florid, elaborate Dedication, as in one of those I should have had room for at least an inventory of your good qualities. And yet, I am not sure that they may not all be as effectually summed up in a very brief space, by saying, that no one can see you without suspecting you are a genuinely, and, what is better still, an actively and zealously benevolent person ; and no one can have the privilege of knowing you, without experiencing you to be such, whether they merely require the aid of your professional skill (in which few equal, and none surpass you), or whether they want that more general sympathy and aid due from one human being to another, so universally required, though, alas! by no means so universally found; but which in you is, like mercy, of that “unstrained quality" which only avoids granting requests by always antici. pating them. Nor do I think that having made your acquaintance in that little dirty sink of iniquity, Llangollen, at all made me, by the force of contrast, exaggerate your good qualities, as I find that in another and more congenial hemisphere they shine out just as pre-eminently.
And now for my apology. As this Book was ready, and was to have appeared last May, but for the place aux Messieurs, which always reigns and rules in England, the publisher, who was to have brought it out, having the works of two gentlemen to produce at the same time, could not venture upon so stupendous (!) an enterprise as publishing a third consecutively; therefore, my Book was of course to go to the wall till October. Such being the case, I preferred publishing it under my own auspices, which, in a pecuniary point of view, is all the better for me; though I fear that the Book having been written currente calamo up to a certain period, it may, from waiting so long, seem flat as champagne two days opened, and therefore dedicating it to you under these circumstances, is very like asking you to a réchauffé dinner ; but as that is a thing you are very sure I would never do, I hope this conviction will be a sufficient apology for my gracing this tardy ambigu with your name. As far as you are concerned, I could say a great deal more, but !-but! I have no “enterprising publishers,” à la Routledge, to disseminate financial fams for me, which I regret, seeing that the British public greatly resembles the whale in an old line-engraving representing the contretems of Jonah, wherein the said whale is pourtrayed with jaws wide-opened. like a triumphal arch, and a throat capacious enough not only to swallow Jonah, but ANYTHING! in which latter particular, it
must be confessed, the “pensive (query pence.give) public" is “very like a whale !" But still —as the aforesaid public is, despite its slight obliquity of vision, beginning to get a glimmering as to the sort of dirty rags and glittering tinsel of which Authors, with some few honorable exceptions, are composed-were I to expatiate, as I have ample materials for doing, on your many estimable traits, it might simply sum up these indisputable facts, and my appreciation of them, wholely and solely into a total of my (scribbler like) having, above all things, “an eye to business," by wanting the world to know that I had got A FABULOUSLY GOOD PRICE FOR My Book! Cela posé, one word on my farrago libelli. It is the fashion in certain quarters, among other “weak inventions of the enemy,” to accuse me of personality in my books; to which I have only to say, that I should indeed be a bungler if I were to mould any fictitious character which had not its type in nature and reality. For instance, I will not attempt to deny that, barring his physique, bay-wig and Hessians, there are a great many things in the conduct of Mr. Phippen so applicable to your own mode of going through the world, that you are quite welcome to take them for personalities, if you please. As for the Fudgesters, Beaucherches, and other minnows composing my dramatis persone, if they feel “their withers” too much "wrung,” I could defend myself as Molière did, when Malle. de Brie urged him, in return for the intrigues of the Hôtel de Bourgogne against him, to show that clique up, more especially its chief, Boursault :-“Vous êtes folle,” said he, "le beau sujet à divertir la Ville et la Cour que M. Boursault ! Je voudrois bien savoir de quelle façon on pourroit l'ajuster pour le rendre plaisant ; et si, quand on le berneroit sur un théâtre, il seroit assez heureux de faire rire le monde ?"*
I could, I repeat, borrow these words for my defence, but I shall avail myself of no such limited liability ; but merely say, if the cap fits, in Heaven's name, or that of its antipodes, let them wear
*“You are mad,” said he ; "a fine subject, truly, to amuse the Town and the Court with, M. Boursault would be! I should like to know in what way one could handle him so as to render him amusing; and if, after one had tossed him in a blanket, or turned him into every sort of ridicule, one would be fortunate enough to succeed in making people laugh at him?"