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THE

HAUNCH OF VENISON.

A POETICAL EPISTLE,

TO

LORD CLARE.

[Part of the spring and summer of the year 1771, Goldsmith passed at Gosfield and at Bath, with his friend Lord Clare. On his return from this visit he drew up the following amusing little poem. It was not published till 1776, two years after his decease. A second edition, with considerable additions and corrections, appeared in the same year. See Life, ch. xx.

“ The leading idea of the • Haunch of Venison,'” observes the Right Hon. J. W. Croker, in a communication to the editor,“ is taken from Boileau's third Satire (which itself was no doubt suggested by Horace's raillery of the banquet of Nasidienus); and two or three of the passages which one would, à priori, have pronounced the most original and natural, are closely copied from the French poet:

“We'll have Johnson and Barke-all the wits will be there;
My acquaintance is slight, or I'd ask my Lord Clare.
Molière avec Tartuffe y doit jouer son rôle,
Et Lambert, qui plus est, m'a donnė sa parole.'

My friend bade me welcome, but struck me quite dumb,
With tidings that Johnson and Burke would not come.
A peine étais.je entré, que ravi de me voir,
Mon homme, en m'embrassant, m'est venu recevoir;
Et montrant à mes yeux une allégresse entiere,
Nous n'avons, m'a-t-il dit, ni Lambert ni Molière.'

But, to be sure, Goldsmith's host, and his wife,' Little Kitty,' and the Scot, and the • Jew, with his chocolate cheek,' are infinitely more droll and more natural than Boileau's deur campagnards. The details of the dinner, too, overdone and tedious in Boileau, are touched by Goldsmith with a pleasantry not carried too far."]

THE

HAUNCH OF

VENISON.

THANKS, my Lord, for your Ven’son; for finer or fatter
Never rang'd in a forest, or smok'd 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 Chambers to place it in view,
To be shown to my friends as a piece of virtù ;
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 a damnable bounce ?

[" The white was so white, and the red was so ruddy.”—First edit.] + [Nearly the same thought occurs in “ Animated Nature,” vol. iii. p, 9. as applicable to the peasantry of other countries : “ There is scarcely a cottage in Germany, Poland, and Switzerland, that is not hung round with these marks of hospitality; and which often makes the owner better contented with hunger, since he has it in his power to be luxurious when he thinks proper. A piece of beef hung up there, is considered as an elegant piece of furniture, which though seldom touched, at least argues the possessor's opulence and ease."]

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. Burn.*

To go on with my tale—as I gaz'd on the Haunch,
I thought of a friend that was trusty and stanch,
So I cut it, and sent it to Reynolds undressed,
To paint it, or eat it, just as he lik'd 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-def and C—y, and H~rth, and H—ff,
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 smil'd as he look'd at the Ven'son and me.ll

* Lord Clare's nephew.

t (“There's Coley, and Williams, and Howard, and Hiff."-First edit.)

(Dr. Paul Hiffernan. For an account of this eccentric character, see Life, ch. xx.]

$ ["Such dainties to them! It would look like a flirt.

Like sending 'em ruffles when wanting a shirt."--First edit.) 1 ["A fine-spoken Custom house officer he,

Who smil'd as he gaz'd on the Ven'son and me."-Ibid.)

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