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The Haunch of Venison .



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

till 1776.

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;
Though my stomach was sharp, I could scarce help regretting
To spoil such a delicate picture by eating :
I had thoughts in my chamber to place it in view,
To be shown to my friends as a piece of vertù ;

As in some Irish houses, where things are so-so,
One gammon of bacon hangs up for a show; ;
But, for eating a rasher of what they take pride in,
They'd as soon think of eating the pan it is fried in.
But hold—let me pause-don't I hear you pronounce,
This tale of the bacon's a damnable bounce?
Well, suppose it a bounce-sure a poet may try,

By a bounce now and then, to get courage to fly.


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.

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“What have we got here?-Why, this is good eating !
Your own, I suppose, or is it in waiting ?"
Why, whose should it be?” cried I, with a flounce;

get these things often”—but that was a bounce :
“Some lords, my acquaintance, that settle the nation,
Are pleased to be kind—but I hate ostentation."

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“ If that be the case, then," cried he, very gay,
“ I'm glad I have taken this house in my way.
To-morrow you take a poor dinner with me;
No words—I insist on't-precisely at three :
We'll have Johnson and Burke, all the wits will be there;
My acquaintance is slight, or I'd ask my Lord Clare.
And, now that I think on't, as I am a sinner,
We wanted this venison to make out the dinner.

And my

What say you ?-a pasty, it shall and it must,

wife, little Kitty, is famous for crust.
Here, porter—this ven'son with me to Mile-end :
No stirring, I beg, my dear friend—my dear friend !”
Thus, snatching his hat, he brush'd off like the wind,
And the porter and eatables follow'd behind.

Left alone to reflect, having emptied my shelf,
And “nobody with me at sea but myself;"
Tho' I could not help thinking my gentleman hasty,
Yet Johnson, and Burke, and a good ven'son pasty,
Were things that I never disliked in my life,
Though clogg’d with a coxcomb, and Kitty his wife.
So next day, in due splendour to make my approach,
I drove to his door in my own hackney coach.
When come to the place where we all were to dine
(A chair-lumber'd closet, just twelve feet by nine),
My friend bade me welcome, but struck me quite dumb,
With tidings that Johnson and Burke would not come !!
“For I knew it,” he cried, “ both eternally fail,
The one with his speeches, and t'other with Thrale;
But no matter, I'll warrant we make


With two full as clever, and ten times as hearty.
The one is a Scotchman, the other a Jew,
They're both of them merry, and authors like
The one writes the Snarler, the other the Scourge :
Some think he writes Cinna-he owns to Panurge."
While thus he described them by trade and by name,
They enter'd, and dinner was served as they came.


At the top a fried liver and bacon were seen,
At the bottom was tripe, in a swinging tureen ;
At the sides there was spinach and pudding made hot ;
In the middle a place where the pasty—was not.
Now, my lord, as for tripe, it's my utter aversion,

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,
While the bacon and liver went merrily round :
But what vex'd me most, was that d-'d Scottish rogue,
With his long-winded speeches, his smiles, and his brogue;
And “Madam,” quoth he, “may this bit be my poison,
A prettier dinner I never set eyes on!
Pray a slice of your liver, though may I be curst,
But I've ate of your tripe till I'm ready to burst.”
“ The tripe!” quoth the Jew, with his chocolate cheek,
“ I could dine on this tripe seven days in the week:
I like these here dinners so pretty and small;

friend there, the doctor, eats nothing at all.”
“Oh, ho !” quoth my friend, “he'll come on in a trice,
He's keeping a corner for something that's nice :
There's pasty." —“A pasty !” repeated the Jew;
“I don't care if I keep a corner for't too.”
" What the de'il, mon, a pasty!" re-echoed the Scot;

Though splitting, I'll still keep a corner for that."
We'll all keep a corner,” the lady cried out ;
" We'll all keep a corner,” was echoed about.
While thus we resolved, and the pasty delay'd,
With looks that quite petrified, enter'd the maid ;
A visage so sad, and so pale with affright,
Waked Priam in drawing his curtains by night.
But we quickly found out (for who could mistake her?)
That she came with some terrible news from the baker :
And so it fell out, for that negligent sloven
Had shut out the pasty on shutting his oven.
Sad Philomel thus—but let similes drop-
And now that I think on't, the story may stop.
To be plain, my good lord, it's but labour misplaced,
To send such good verses to one of your taste:
You've got an odd something—a kind of discerning-
A relish—a taste-sicken'd over by learning ;
At least, it's your temper, as very well known,
That you think very slightly of all that's your own:
So, perhaps, in your habits of thinking amiss,
You may make a mistake, and think slightly of this.

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