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The Haunch of Venison .
A POETICA: EPISTLE TO LORO CLARE.
INTRODUCTION. MONGST the intimate friends of Goldsmith was one Robert Nugent
an Irishman, jovial, social, and not over refined—tall, awkward, goodhumoured, and bold-possessed of a ready wit and no mean poetical ability. He was for many years an active member of the House of Commons, and on the accession of the Chatham Administration he was raised to the peerage, in 1766, as Baron Nugent and Viscount Clare, and ten years afterwards created Earl Nugent.
The poet passed much time with the peer at his seat at Gosfield Park, in Essex, in unrestrained and joyous intercourse. On one occasion-probably early in 1771—the peer sent the poet a haunch of venison, and received in return the poem which follows, and which was not published
This charming little piece has done more to preserve the memory of Lord Nugent than either his politics or his poetry. His peerage of Clare is extinct, but the name of the donor of the haunch of venison 'will be always remembered.
Lively, graceful, and finished ; harmless in its satire, and comic in its delineations of character, no doubt drawn from the life, it nowhere violates good taste or good feeling. Mr. Croker observes that Goldsmith "ought to have confessed that he borrowed the idea and some of the details from Boileau.” Such a confession was needless ; and to whom should it have been made? The jeu d'esprit was for the eye of a friend, and, when published after his death, it was unnecessary to draw attention to (what every scholar would have recognised) the resemblance to the few lines quoted by Croker, for it goes no farther.
HANKS, my lord, for your ven’son, for finer or fatter
Ne'er ranged in a forest, or smoked in a platter,
The haunch was a picture for painters to study,
The fat was so white, and the lean was so ruddy;
As in some Irish houses, where things are so-so,
But, my lord, it's no bounce : I protest in my turn, It's a truth, and your lordship may ask Mr. Byrne.'
a To go on with my tale, as I gazed on the haunch, I thought of a friend that was trusty and staunch ; So I cut it, and sent it to Reynolds undrest, To paint it or eat it, just as he liked best. of the neck and the breast I had next to dispose'Twas a neck and a breast that might rival Monroe's :? But in parting with these I was puzzled again, With the how and the who, and the where and the when, There's H-d, and C—y,4 and H—rth,' and H—ff,o I think they love ven’son, I know they love beef; There's my countryman Higgins-oh! let him alone, For making a blunder, or picking a bone. But hang it! to poets who seldom can eat Your very good mutton's a very good treat; Such dainties to them their health it might hurt, It's like sending them ruffles when wanting a shirt. While thus I debated, in reverie centred, An acquaintance, a friend as he call'd himself, enter'd: An under-bred, fine-spoken fellow was he, And he smiled as he look'd at the ven'son and me.
Mr. Byrne.- Michael Byrne, Esq., of Cabinteely, in the county of Dublin; son of Robert Byrne and Clare, sister of Lord Clare.
Monroe's.-Dorothy Monroe, a celebrated beauty of the day. 3 H-d.-Possibly the Hon. Charles Howard, afterwards tenth duke of Norfolk, one of the literary men of the day.
*-.-George Coleman, the celebrated dramatic writer, and lessee of Covent Garden Theatre, and afterwards of the Haymarket; born in 1733, and died in 1794.
SH-rth.--The great painter, William Hogarth, cannot be intended, as he died in 1764, previous to the elevation of Nugent to the peerage. Probably the person meant was Dr. John Hawkesworth, well known for his papers in “The Adventurer," and his tale of “Almoran and Hamet." He was born in 1715, and died in 1773.
H--ff.—Paul Hiffernan, a dramatic and periodical writer, born in Dublin in 1719 He was educated for the priesthood in France, and returned to his native city to practise medicine. He went to London, became known to Garrick and Murphy, and wrote four plays, one of which was successful. He was a man of some genius, but of coarse mind and offensive manners, led a dissipated and disreputable life, and died in poverty in London, 1777.
“What have we got here?-Why, this is good eating !
get these things often”—but that was a bounce :
“ If that be the case, then," cried he, very gay,
What say you ?-a pasty, it shall and it must,
wife, little Kitty, is famous for crust.
Left alone to reflect, having emptied my shelf,
At the top a fried liver and bacon were seen,
bacon I hate like a Turk or a Persian ;
Wilk tidings that Johnson and Burke would not come.—"Goldsmith's poetry presents one well-known and remarkable instance of how he appreciated Burke and Johnson. In • The Haunch of Venison,' partially an imitation of the Third Satire of Boileau, when Goldsmith came to the French poet's line announcing the non-arrival of the promised grand guests
Nous n'avons, m'a-t-il dit, ni Lambert ni Molière'he put in the place of the original names those of the two supreme objects of his own admiration."-Serjeant Burke's Life of Edm Bike.
So there I sat stuck, like a horse in a pound,
friend there, the doctor, eats nothing at all.”
Though splitting, I'll still keep a corner for that."