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PREFATORY SKETCH.

Quelque foibles ecrits-Enfants de mon repos.”

VOLTAIRE.

The Romans had a term exclusively appro

priate to poetical trifles, and the Greeks

an epithet as exclusively applied to poetical

triflers.

Neither the Moorish loftiness of the Spa

nish, nor the elevated gravity of the Italian

literature, has exempted them from that spe

cies of sportive composition which, though

generally the effect of minor talent (tasteful

in its mediocrity), is sometimes the effusion of

superior genius, in the absence of its higher inspiration. But I believe the French lan

guage above any other abounds with those

metrical trifles which, as the offspring of

minds elegantly gay and intimately associ

ated, have obtained the name of “ vers de

societe," and which frequently possess an

exquisite finesse of thought, that does not

exclude nature, and is most happily adapted

to the delicate idiom of the language in which

it flows.

Did this little volume aspire to any class

in literature, I would rank it among the last

and least of those bagatelles to which I have

alluded; for the fragments it contains were

written at distant periods, and in those care

less intervals of life when judgment no longer

breathes the Qui va la? to fancy! when

feeling is inspiration! and when the mind,

too desultory for narrative composition, or

too indolent for connected detail, resigns

itself to the impulse of transient emotion,

and gives back to the heart some simple but endeared image the heart's own feelings had

supplied.

It

may be alledged, that a work so avowedly inconsequent ought not to be obtruded

on public attention; but in the freedom of

human agency there is no act more optional

than that of purchasing and that of perusing

a book merely and professedly amusive.

And the success of my late trivial publica

tions, and the liberality of my publisher,

(who, after all, as Dr. Johnson remarks,“ is

the best patron,') rendered it an object of

pecuniary consequence to give to “ an airy

nothing a local habitation and a name,”

which was too harmless to injure, if too in

significant to interest, those into whose hands

chance or curiosity may throw it.

It were perhaps politic to anticipate the severity of criticism, by candidly acknowledging the too frequent admission of French quotations. But if there are many elegant triflers in English poetry, either the paucity

of my reading or the treachery of my me

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