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Full text of “Letters of Anna Seward : written between the years 1784 and 1807”

Full text of “Letters of Anna Seward : written between the years 1784 and 1807”


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Letters of Anna Seward 



Anna Seward, Archibald Constable 



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LETTERS 



OP 



ANNA SEWARD : 



WBITTKN BETWEEN THETBARS 1784 AND 1807. 



IN SIX VOLUMES. 



VOLUME I. 



EDINBURGH: 
Printed hf George Rmuay 4r Compam^, 

TOR ARCHIBALD OOVSTABLB ANiy COMPAMT, ERlIfBDROH ; 

AND I.01IGMA1I, HURST, RBBS, ORMB, AND BROWN, 

WILLIAM MILLER, AND JOHN MURRAY, 

LONDON. 



1811. 



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ADVERTISEMENT. 



The following letter, which was found 
among Miss Seward's papers after 
her death, will account sufficiently for 
the present Publication, and renders it 
unnecessaly for the £ditor either to enter 
into any explanation of his motives for 
undertaking it, or to offer any apology 
for its appearance. 

Posthumous Letter from Amia Seward 
to Mr A. Constable. 

" Sir, July 17, 1807- 

** In a Will, made and executed since 
•* I had the pleasure of seeing you in 
** April last, I have left you the exclu- 
** sive copy-right of Twelve Volumes 



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VI 

" quarto, half-bound. They contain co- 
" pies of letters, or of parts of letters, 
'^ that, after I had written them, appear^ 
*' ed to me worth the attention of the 
" public. Voluminous as is the coUec- 
^' tion, it does not include a twelfth part 
" of my epistolary writing from the time 
^^ it commences, viz. from the year 1784, 
" to th^ present day. 

*^ I widh you to publish two volumes 
" annually ; aiid by iio means to fbllow 
*^ the late abstird ctistoui of clashing let* 
«« ters to separate cdri^edpbfideittir, but 
^< suffer tfaeni to succeed eftdh other in 
^ the ord^r of time, as you find them 
" transcribed. 

" When you shall receive this letter 
" its Writer will be no more. While »hte 
^^ lives she riiust wish Mr Coi^st able all 
<^ manner of good, and that he may en-- 
**^joy it to a late period of human life., 
" Anna Seward.*' 

It was in tliis mannet that these letters 
came into the hands of the Editor ; md, 



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ill obeytng t\ke direction of their ao«» 
complished Author, he is happy to be» 
lieve that ho is, at. the saine time, con^ 
tributiDg not a little to extend her vepu^ 
tatioD. Miss Se v.ard. has hitherto beei^ 
known and admired. almost. entifely as a 
writer of poetry. Her attempts in prose 
bave not been considered as equally forr 
tonate; and, it is to be feared, that even 
in these familiar epistles, several aflrec«> 
Jbations of style, arising mostly froni tSoo 
free an use of pontic imagery, may tend 
iseonewhat to obscure their real merit 
S^t when this peculiarity is got ov^f^ 
tbe reader, it \» presumed, cannot fail to 
be struck with the many intdlectual 
and morel excellencies which they dis*- 
play. 

He will perceive throughout, in their 
Anthor, an independent and vigorous 
mind, entering with animation into every 
iaubject which is presented to it— full of 
elevated views^ — and uninfluenced by 
-coaunon notions when they were not 



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Ylll 

brought hokne to its own perceptions of 
truth. 

In her Critical remarks especially, 
Miss Sewaed will always be found int 
been exactly obeyed. It was thought 
more satis&ctory to the puUic that 
the whole of these letters should be 
laid before it at once, rather than that 
they should be puUished as she seems 
to have wished, — ^in detached portionft. 
Neither must it be concealed, tbat 
some of the letters contained in her be-* 
quest have been omitted ;— -such chiefly 
as relate to the characters or connections 
of living individuals, and touch upon 
circumstances, which alliiough very na- 
turally introduced into letters among 
fiiends, were evidently not designed for 
the world. Some minute critical dis- 
cussions have also been left out, distin- 
guished indeed by all the acuteness of 
the excellent writer, but which would 
have swelled beyond proper limits a 
work that to many readers may already 



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appear too long. In every other respect 
the Editor has been scrupulously faith- 
ful to the trust with which he has been 
honoured. 

Miss Seward was bom in the year 
1747, and died on the 35th of March 
1 809* Her poetical works, accompanied 
with some part of her early literary cor- 
respondence, and a biographical memoir, 
have since been edited in three volumes, 
by Walter Scott, Esq. to whom that 
part of Miss Seward's writings had 
been committed, by a bequest similar to 
that under which the present Publica- 
tion appears. 



B^Mwrgh, March 28, 1811. 



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CONTENTS 

OP 

TOLUME L 



LETTER I. Mta Powys, PUge 5 

IL Miss Westooy 7 

in. Rev. T. S. WliaUey, 9 

IV, Wm. Hayley, Esq. IS 

V. Dr Perdval of Mandietter, 17 

VL RcT. T. S. Whalley,  on his tiimsliition of 

Bishop Lowth's L^etme/^tollebraic 

Poetry, .' i * / 3^ 

LXXX. George Haidinge, £sq. M / 3^5 

LXXXI. Coort Dewes, Esq. at Vt^} h/tt#hie, 373 

LXXXII. Rev. Dr Gr^oiy, f x I I ^ 375 

LXXXIII. irth which prevail in France 
with a force so generally exclusive ; and who, by 
thus receiving thee into their society, enlarged thy 
sphere of characteristic contemplation, andena7 
bled thee to trace the motives of human action, 
in Uiy eQchanting novel, with truth and accuracy. 
It is melancholy to reflect, on perusing these thy 
Inter works, how much less estimable thy age 



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LETTEK I. 5 

than thy youth ; to see thee verifying; in thy ex- 
ample^ the following exclamation in ** the mourii^ 
fill and angry Night Thoughts/' 

" How few, of huinan kind, bring back at ewy 
Immaculate, the manners of the momr 

A iiieumatic complaint obliged tiie to make aii 
excursion to Buxton this summer, though most 
fmwilling to leave my deiarest father, in his pre^ 
tent weak, though not diseased state; but glad 
tidings of his exemption from every thing like ill- 
ness blessed my absence, and I found a pleasing 
succession of animated hours in the medley socie- 
ty oi diat crowded scene. Many agreeable peo- 
ple sought my regards Amongst them, my neigh- 
bour, the young, the brave, the gallant, unfortu- 
nate Captain Arden, who has lost his right'-arm 
in the naval service of this country. He preceded 
me at Buxton near a fortn^t; and, qn my arri- 
val, introduced me to all the very desirable inti- 
macies which his pleasing manners had enabled 
him to form. Soon after 1 came, the youthful 
and lovely Lady Foster CunlifFe descended, like a 
goddess, amongst us. She unites the most ^i- 
gagii^ afiability to' the powers of an ingenious 
mind, and a cultivated understanding, and to the 
attractiions of radiant beauty and majestic grace. 
She is on a larger scale, both as to face and figure^ 



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6 XiETTEIt 1. 

but I never saw features, or a countonaitce so 
like my lost Honora's* Her complexion is of as 
glowing bloom, with a superior degree of fair- 
ness ; — ^the contour of the face ; the form of the 
mouth ; the nose, that between Grecian and Ro- 
man, is lovelier than either ; the etherial smile on 
the lip, and the bright glance of intell^ence and 
joy, are all Honora. The same soft compla* 
cency shone m her eyes while she conversed with 
me. ^ I was obliged to explain the source of those 
involuntary tears which so often filled my eyes, as 
she hung on my arm, in animated convei«ation. 
The regret I felt when we parted was extreme, — 
more indeed than the shortness of our acquaint- 
ance warranted, but tor the influence of this en- 
dearing, iiiiBfasdnating resemhhnce. 

The autumnal glory of this day puts to shame 
the summer's suUenness. I sit writing upon this 
dear green terrace^ feedin§^ at intervals, my little 
golden-breasted songsters. The embosomed vale of 
Stolv, which you know it overlooks, glows sunny 
through the Claud*Lorain-tiQt, which is spread 
0!7er theTScene, like the blue mist over a plumb. 
How often has our lost Honora hung over the 
wall of this terrace, I enamoured of its scenic 
^aces!' Never- move will such ingA^ glances dis- 
Cfiminate and admire! I them. Well do. I know 



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LSTTSK XI. 



diit die Badness of this leflectioii toadies yout 
heart as it does mine. 2%a^ jKiuroe oi sjmpadqr 
between us is saetcd^ and Inexhaustflble. Fare^ 
weU.; 



LETTER n. 

Mise Weston*. 

Lichfield, Oct. 29, 1784. 

I have litety been in die almost daily habit ci 
eontemplatmg a Teiymdanchdly spectacle. The 
great Johnsoti is here, hboniing under die pa- 
roxysms of a disease, which must q>eedily be fetal. 
He 'shrinks fnnii the consciousness with the ex- 
tvemeat horror. It it by his repeatedHy express^ 
denre that I visit him often : yet I am sure he 
neidm: does, nor ever did feel much regard for 
me^' but he'would lain escape, for a time, in 
any society, from the tenrible idea of his approachr< 

* An intelligent friend of Miss Seward, residing^ at the 
date of thia correspondence, at Ladlow: since married to 
Ur PMdngton, mHrte^ of Uie cereAioiiies at CHftoo, near 



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8 LETTEK II. 

ing diMolntion. I never wouM be awed by Kg 
sMramma, or bis frowns, into acquiescaice mkk 
Im general injustice to die merits of other writers ; 
with his national, or party aversions ; but I feel 
the truest compassion for his present sufFeringSi 
and fervently wish I had power to relieve them. 

A few days since I was to drink tea with him, 
by his request, at Mrs Porter^s. When I went 
into the room, he was in deep but agitated slum- 
ber, in an arm-chair. Opening the door with that 
caution due tp the sick, he did not awaken at my 
entrance. I stood by him several minutes, mourn- 
fully contemplating the temporary suspension of 
those vast intellectual powers, which must so soon^ 
as to this world, be eternally quenched. 

Upoa the servant entering to announce die ai^ 
rival of a gentlemm of the university, introduced 
by Mr White, he awoke with convulsive starts^ — 
but rising, with more alacrity than could have 
been expected, he said, /f Come, my dear lady, 
let you and I attend these gendemen in the stud^'' 
He received them with more than usual com|da- 
cence ; but whimsically chose to get astride npaa 
his chair-seat, with his fiice to its back, keeping a 
trotting motion as if on horseback ; but, in this 
odd position, he poured forth streams of eloquence, 
illumined by frequent flashes of wit and humoinr, 
without any tincture of malignity. That ] 



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LBTTEK III* 9 

part of tbU conversatioDy which .alladed to die 
kanied Pig, and his demi-ratioiAl exhilMtioiis, I 
shall tnmsmit to yon hereafter. 



LETTER III. 

Rev. T. S. Whalley. 

Lichfield^ Nov. 7, 1784. 

Large is my debt to yon, dear friend, for those 
exquitnte, those /iViiig descriptions of the Alpine 
scenery, with wliich you have favoured me. You 
enable me to see their picturesque wonders with- 
out the fatigue and danger of the journey. I ex- 
plore the Glaciers ; I ascend Mount Blanc, and 
contemplate its varied sublimities with the most 
awakened endiusiasm. I walk with you to Vevay 
and Claiens. Why is not Clarens such a situation 
as m^ht enable our imagination to indulge its de- 
ceptions ; to make those believe, who actually visit 
that spot, that they tread in the steps of Julie, 
and St Preux, of Ckra, and Wolmar? Ah! it,is 
the vivid glow of these local interests tl^at consti- 
tutes the highest triumph of genius, after it has de* 
Kvered an immortal, work to the world. 



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10 IiStTEB Ifl« 

Yoif e%dk»hge\ike vamffsAcent iandscapes^ of 
Savoj and Smtaertand, for the (softer enviroiis of 
Avignon: — ^but th^ ineiud^ VAirictiTSE; 'whose 
interwoven recollections vnll recompense all the 
inferiority in point of scenery on the laurelnshaded 
Sorga, compared with that of the mighty Alps, 
with their stupendous cataracts, green lakes, vine- 
curtamed mountain^ and' bloomy vallies. — ^Yes, 
the spirit of love and poetry will recompense 
their loss at iluitrcoiiseeraied fountain, '^ Clear aa 
a mirror, as an ocean deep/^ 

The old literary Colossits * ha& been some time 
in.Licbfield. The extinctioD; in^ our sfAere, of 
liiat mighty spirit approadhes;fiE»t. A confirmed 
dropsy deluges die vital JM>urce. Itismdancholyto 
observe with what>tenor he~cotitepii^tea his ap« 
proaching£ite« TluBrdigicmof Johmonwasalwaya 
deeply tinctured widi «faat ^oomy and serHrile super- 
atition w^ichtmarksefaispolitical i^ktions. Heex-- 
presseB these tevrers, and- justly calU them muer^ 
^ble, whidi tfmt shrink from the exchai^e of a 
d]i»asedatui paidfiil existeBBe,<*iriiidi gentler hu-* 
man- bea^^coo^ler as the'alt-*r^compaH9ng re- 
>[Vard of a ireli*«peat life. Yet haave not these hu- 
miliating tenore by «iiy meaad subdued that male- 
volent and eimous pride, and finerary jealousy, 

** Johnson. 



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tETTERIII. It 

mbkh were ev^r the vices of his heaurt, imd to 
which he perpetually sacrificed, and contmues to 
sacr^e, the fidelity of representation, and the 
veracity of decision His memory is considerably 
impaired, but his doquence rolls on in its custom- 
ary majestic torrent^ when he speaks at all. My 
heart aches to see him labour for his breath, which 
he driiws with great effort indeed. It is not imr 
probaUe that this literary comet may set where it 
rase, and Lichfield' receive his pale and stem re- 
mains. 

You will be kindly gratified to hear that I re- 
ceive the h^hest epicomiums upon my poem, 
Louisa, by the first literary characters of the age. 
I inclose the beaatifiil eulogium with which it has 
been honoured from the pen of Mr Hayley. 
TUs. eulogium appeared in. several of the public 
prints. 

The feme of Lonardi's aerial toinr must have 
readued you across the continent. Infinite se^ns 
the present rage 

^ To be imprisonM in the vieivless Ynods, 
And blown, with restless violence, about 
This pendant world.** 

Bot unless these adventuvers can acquire the 
power of s^eertfi^ their buoyant bark, the experi-f 
jnent is as idle as it is dangerous. 



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IQ. LETTBft III. 

' A violent sprain in my kaee, into which the rheu* 
 is more rural, 
and less pretending. It is notencumbered, as about 
Geneva, wiA a midtitncte of country^eats, nor 
insulted by the cn^t hedges and formal gardenii^ 
wluch crowd upon, the eye round tJmt £Rmou8 city. 
From Lausanne I took up my staff and walked to 
explore Vevay and Clarens,^ rendered so inferest-- 
iog by Rousseau in his immortal EiiOisA. Yevay 
is a neat pretty town, situated at the extreme end 
of the lake J but Clarens is a beggarly villf^c^ 



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16 LETTER IV- 

where we find no traces of Julie, Clara, St 
Preux, or Wolniar.. However, the wily peasants 
have found their account in b^uiling the warm 
imaginations of credulous straiq^rs, and p<»nt out, 
with anair of confidence, the celebrated Elysium 
of tender memory, and the situation of Wolmar's 
chateau. From Geneva we came directly hither. 
At Lyons we took places in the coche d'eau for 
Avignon, and found our trajet down the rapid 
Rhine veiy delightful, adorned as are' its banks by 
numberless villi^es, vineyards, and the picturesque 
ruins of ancient castles; yet the 4>anks of the 
g^tler Soane, between Macen and Lyons, charm- 
ed us still more, as being more various, more pas- 
toral, and as the difierent parts of the landscape 
were more finely contrasted. The celebrated 
Pont St Esprit, that hai^s, with such noble light- 
ness, over the rapid Rhone^ pleased us infinitely. 
We like Avignon, and are settled here for the 
winter. The provisions are good and cheap, the 
fruits delicious, the sur pleasant, except when the 
sharp bize pierces to t}ie marrow ; but it puri- 
fies the air, braces the nerves, and like a skilful 
surgeon, ctUs to cure J' 

And now, ray dear bard, after having snatched 
you to the continent bf Whalleyan magic, I re- 
store you to Eartham. Sufiisr me, then, to ex- 
press my gratitude for the kind attention and ar- 

4 



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LETTBB V. 17 

deDt wekome with miiich my poetical offspring 
has lieen received in its lovely precincts ; for the 
critical accuracy of those observations which 
have strengthened their claims to die public smile, 
and for the generous, die discriminating apinroba* 
lioo whidi has so highly gratified their parent. 

'< The sooff of spleen ifcail miss its woandiiig tim. 
For Hayley pnises^ and his praise is fame.'* 



LETTER V. 

Dr Pekoival of Manchester. 

Lichfield, Feb. 17, 1785. 

I thank yon, Sir, with the fervour of a pleased 
spirit, for the ingenious pamphlet* you have sent 
me. The system it holds forth, and, as I think, 
demonstrates, has long been a favourite hypo- 
thesis of mine. Judge, then, with what pleasure 
I see its rational probability so benevolently, so 

ably asserted. 

m 
• A Tract, by Dr Percival, on the probability that conscions 
sensation extends throud^ the vegetable as well as animal 
world. 

VOL. I. B 



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IB LETTER V. 

My inidmacy with your publication^ the 
" Moral and Literary Dissertations,'' 
promising me much gratification, became esta- 
blished soon after I had the honour to address 
you last, and, contrary to the general consequence 
of raised expectations, it promised no more than 
it performed. Nothing can be more just than 
your general censure of the poetic violations of 
natiutd history. Yet, I confess, I think slight and 
skirmishing allusions to fabulous circumstances 
have often great beauty. Siu*ely the philosopher 
should pardon them, when they happily serve the 
purposes of illustration and imagery. Lucretius 
has so elegantly, and with such an air of philoso- 
phic truth, accounted for what you tell us is aa 
unexisting circumstance, the yellow vi^on of ic- 
teric patients, that a poet must be unvrilling to re- 
nounce the fable as a source of allusion. Poetic 
taste surely welcomes it in Mr Hayley's animated 
couplet concerning the female poets of this coun- 
try, in his Epistles on Epic Poetry, — 

<' ThQ bards of Britain, with nnjaiiiidicM eyes, 
Will glory to behold sadi rivals rise.*' 

Nor is the fable, if fable it be, less beautifully in- 
troduced in Thomsons Spring, where he de- 
scribes the passion of jealousy, — 



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LETTBK y. 19 



— — ^ The yellow-tiiigiiig plagoa 
Intennl iriskm 1 



What poet scraples to describe an elegant di* 
mmutive female by the expression, ftiry-fonu, or 
to impersonize unpropitious darkness by calling, it 
— ^that witch, the night i We must not be too strict 
with the bards in our demands for the abolition of 
agreeable fables. Sublime use has been frequently 
made, by th^n, of die unphilosoi^ic and long-ex- 
ploded idea, that the sun is a moving orb. ^^ He 
ccmiedi forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber, 
and rejoicedi as a giant to nm his course/' Spenser 
has clodied the same mistaken idea with yet more 
sjrfendoiu*. 

*^ Apd now the golden, oriental gprte 

Of highest heaven 'gan to open fiur, 

And Phoebus, fhesh as bridegroom to his mate. 

Came dancing forth, shaking his dewy hair, 

And hnri'd his i^ist^ing beams thro* |^my air.** 

And Milton, — 

" Thoa smi, of this great worid both eye, and son], 
Acknowledge him thy greater. — Sound his praise 
In thy eternal course, both when thou climb'st. 
And when 1^ i^n hast gam'd, and when thou fall'st.*' 

One of the most strikingly exceptionable viola- 
tions of NATURAL HISTORY is committed by the 



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fiO XETTB^ y. 

generally so veiy accurate Thomson, whose allu- 
sions and descriptions are almost always as faith- 
ful to truth, as they are dear to beauty. This 
violation is found, in a veiy prominent point of 
view, even in the beauteous exordium to his 
Spbing. As Mr Aiidn justly observes, that 
poem opens at the period in which the fairest of 
the season^ is, m turn, represiod by die roughness 
of winter, and triumphant over it ; but that dis-^ 
ceaaag critic, who makes audi a point of fidelity 
to nature in descriptive writmg, shews his par- 
tiality to Thomson, and desire of concealing every 
d^Gsct of bis, by not pointing out the imiHX>priety 
of the veil in this vernal perscmificatMMu It 
oi^t to have been composed of the spring- 
flowers, primroses, violets, hyacincths, &c. in- 
stead of those shadowrag roses which, in our cli- 
mate, never appear before the end of June. Sum- 
mer m^ht properly have been invoked to de- 
scend, '' veil'd in a shower of shadowing roses ;" 
but it is a gross anachronism to attire the Spring 
in that ornament. 



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LETTEB VI. fil 



LETTER VI. 

Rev.T. S. Whalley, on the Continent. 
Lic/^eld, March ly 1785. 

It has lately, de^ir friendi been my lot again to 
suffer pained apprehension from, seeing the dart 
of death shaken furiously over the weak frame of 
my aged father ; Sophia's, to mourn the extinc*, 
lion of her revived hopes ; and yours, to endure 
the anguish of losing your tenderly valued friend, 
in the flower of his youth. '^ Ah ! is this all of 
thy Chatillion's story.'' Mournful proof of life's 
instability! 

^ In the severe disappointment which thus, to 
you and Mrs Whalley, casts the whole Cootment 
into gloom; dius shrouds all the fair schemes you 
had planned of visiting, with this amiable and ac- 
complished Savoyard, its varied scenes ; my best 
consolation is, that you are together, and have the 
power of devoting a portion of every day to the 
remembrance of him whom you have lost. In* 
different people miist soon shew you dieir weari* 
ness of a theme so melancholy ; and even your 
friends, who did not know him, cannot take an 



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22 LETTER VI. 

interest so lively in those precious recollections, 
as will be mutually and equally shared by you. 
When Adam and Eve are exiled paradise, Mil- 
ton says, 

^ They, hand in hand, with wandering steps, and slow. 
Thro' Eden took their solitary way." 

The little words, '^ hand in hand," steal, with 
balmy power, uik)n the pains of sensibility, while 
it contemplates that mournful banishment. Were 
I near you, I should strive to sooth, instead of 
using fruitless endeavours, by common-place ar- 
guments, to banish your grief. I should ask yon 
concerning Chatillion's person, his graces and his 
virtues. By making them habitually our theme, 
a lost frieud seems not lost; he mingles in our 
conversation ; we see him ; we hear his voice ; 
we make our friends see and listen to him ; an8 
we imagine that his beatified spirit hovers over 
OS ; and that it is not among the least of its de- 
lights to contemplate the affection, which thus 
consecrates his idea in the breast of those who 
were dearest to him upon earth, and to whom he 
will soon be reunited in that state, the happiness 
of which will find its perfection in the conscious- 
ness of its perpetuity. ' 
The brilliant bard of Sussex lately sent me a 
beautifully flattering impromptu from his new 



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LETTER VI. as 

PtaiaMtts; its subject a mistake of his sculp- 
tor. 



Impbomtu by Mr Hayley. 



Ye gods, cried a bard, with a dassical oath. 
Who had order'd the bostos of Pope and of Prior; 

That on each side of Seward *, who rivals them both. 
They might properly honour that queen of the lyre : 

O Jove, he exclaimed, if I wielded thy thunder, 
I won'd frif^ten the sculptor who ruins my hope, 

Sure never did artist commit such a blunder, 
He has sent me a Newton instead of a Pope. 

In the wonders of nature Sir Isaac was versed. 
But, alas t with the nise he had little alliance. 

And tho' to the bottom of comets he pierc'd, 
He ne'er sounded woman, that much deeper science. 

But away, old astronomer 1 'tis not thy post ! 

Here, exchum'd the vexM poet, take Newton away -, 
When, O wonderful speech I in the tone of a ghost, 

The meek modest sage thus petitioB*d to stay : 

'^ Dear irascible bard, be a little more just, 
Nor thy sculptor accuse of a careless iransaction, 

In the shape of a cold and insensible bast, 
I am drawn to thy house by the laws of attraction. 



^ Her picture by Romney. 



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24 LETTER YII. 

Tha' tages Mod baid» judge bat ill of a brotbery 
While matter locumben the spirit of each, ^ 

All the children of science are just to each other, 
When they soar oat of human infirmity's reach. 

E'en on canvas thy Seward has yirtne to draw 
A philosopher's soul from the regions of bliss. 

To contemplate her genius may charm him who saw 
AH the secret sublime of the starry abyss. 

Then on me, I beseech you, this charge to confer ^ 
Of Seward's attendants I justly am one : 

The rapt student of light may well wait upon her, 
Whose fancy has all the rich hues of the sun." 



LETTER VII. 

William Haylet, Esq. 

Uchfeld, March 15, 1785. 

Absorbed by considerations yet more inte- 
restii^ than even your beautiful writings, I be- 
lieve my last letter made no comment upon the 
agreeable hope, extended in the epistle to which 
it replied, viz. that of seeing a new emanation 
from our bright fountain of poetic light. Till I 
feel more assured hope of your restoration to 
health, I shall look forward to the gratification of 



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Ji£TT£R Yllk S5 

this curiottty in that sort of UuogiMNr ivith which a 
flick man expects his friend to undraw his cur* 
tains, after he has been told that rnonui^ is arisen 
in all the sununer's gloiy. 

Ouel ! Why would you not send me the trim- 
ming epigram upon the mitred pedant, who has 
so despicably criticised your Sargent's beauteous 
dramatic poem i Not less welcome to me is the 
gall than the honey of Mr Hayle/s pen, since 
sure I am, that when it flows, it is the hand of 
justice which lifts the flood-gates. Beattie com- 
mends, and calls the indignation generous, with 
which we smile over the chastisement of the male- 
vol^oit. 

Miss Western has sent me a most interesting 
extract from a letter lately received from Mr 
Whalley, and dated December 1784. There is 
no resisting the temptation of copying it here for 
your amusement. 

** I have this month visited the celebrated 
fountain of Vaucluse. It is the fullest, purest, 
and most beautiful source imaginable. So serene- 
ly does it sleep in a vast cavern, at the foot of a 
lofty rock, that not one intruding breath ruffles 
its azure surface, even while it is sending out an 
hundred limpid streams from its secret and im- 
measureable depth. These streams gush out 
from beneath a shelving bed of huge mossy 



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£6 LETTER VII. 

•tones, ID various directioiis, and unite themselvM 
at once in a little river. But this is its state cndy 
when the waters are low. As soon as the first 
ardent beams of the sun penetrate into. the stor^ 
houses of ^e mountain-snowsi and • send t&em 
dissolving through die rocky crevices^ to replc^ 
nish the springs, the Fountain of Vaucluse 
swells, and fills completely the ample cavern in 
which it now slumbers; and then, scorning even 
that mound, its waters rush out with impetuous 
fury at the mouth of the cave, and foam over the. 
rough ciagB, which now seem to tower hr above 
their reach. Then it b that diis oveifiowiiig 
fountain increases the now gentle Sorgue into a 
wide and rapid torrent, that often deluges the 

vale. 

— ^* While I sat and leaned on a rock, what a soft 
melancholy did the striking scene of tender poe. 
tic consecration breathe over my soul! mine, 
which was so much less affected than that of Pe- 
trarch by relative objects and concatenated ideas ; 
but you must not talk of the laurels around diis 
fountain, for there are.none, or rather it is abun- 
dant in poetic, because imaginary bowers. There 
can be little doubt, however, that such laurel 
bowers were contemporary with the poet, plant* 
ed probably m lavish plenty, by his hand, firom 
fbeir similarity to .the name of his mistress, and 



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LETTER VII. 27 

to his consciousness of the futore fame of his 
T^rse; but ikey were not natives of the scene, 
and time has "withered and destroyed every vestige 
of the aliens. The scenery in reality is that of 
bare and -broken rocks; broken into a thousand 
fantastic angles, and offering picturesque figures 
more grand than beautiful. A few straggling 
olive trees, nitched here and there among the- 
cliffs, seem to -strive, with their niggard and in- 
significant foliage, against the general image of 
awful barrenness ; as a partial ray of light serves 
only to render more sensible the general blackness 
of the surrounding clouds. A fig-tree, however, 
bad much interest for me. It grows wild out 
of the crevice of the principal rock, and imme- 
diately over the caveiti. The fountain never rises 
above its roots, which seem planted there as a 
boundary to its ambition, and as an ohve of peace 
to the affrighted valley when it shrinks beneath 
the overwhefanidg waters. 

'' We purpose staying at Avignon till March, 
and then removing to some pleasant villa in the 
Mghbourhood of Vaucluse : that, if it can be 
procured, in which Sterne resided. 

^^ You will ask me if ' I have seen the origi* 
nal pictures of Petrarch and Laura. Yes, I 
have seen tbem, and am almost sorry for it, so 
agreeable .do we find the illusions of our fancy. 



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28 LETTER VII. 

Petrarch appears with a maty doctor^s hood ; 
with a sanguine h]gb*fed fiace, a harsh eye^ and, 
I had almost said, with a libidinous countenance. 
Laura sticks up, stiff as an hedge^take, with 
red lockSy stiff top gloves, and smelling at a scar- 
let poppy, which she holds mincii^ betwixt her 
finger and thumb. I have bunted out dnree 
couple of their portraits; but found it vain to 
search for images more congenial to my idea of 
those charming beings : yet I cansole myself with 
exclaiming, ' These are but the painter^s daubs; 
and it was the meanness and grossness- of the art, 
in those early days, that thus disgraced the ap- 
p^u-ance of the interestii^ lovers, which for supe^ 
nor pencils would have vainly strove to represent 
justly." 

Is not this very interestii^ description, my dear 
Mr Hayley i And now I must tell you how high- 
ly I am gratified by the beautiful impromptu 
upon the mistake of the sculptor, in sending 
down the busts of Newton and Pope, instead of 
Pope and Prior, which you did me the honour to 
purpose placing on each side Romne/s picture 
of me. Such intoxicatii^ flattery has your muse 
put into the mouth of the supreme {Jiilosopher, 
that I feel more delist to know that my portrait 
is near him, than even that it diould be placed by 
the brilliant^and harmonious Pope. How charm- 



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IiXTTSB VII. £U 

ing is your poetical gdkntry ! If all the testhuo- 
nias of it, bestowed upon my flattered self, were 
collected and given to die world, the garlands of 
Swift's Stella and Prior's Chloe would lade be** 
fore mine. My pride, my heart exults in these 
distinctiomi, oonfenred by the transcendent English 
hard of the present sera. 

O, certainly! our friend, Mr — —, has true 
genius, biilliaut wit, and the last polish of high- 
life aoci^ ; while benevolence and sweet temper 
are added to these rare endowments. I should 
extremely regret his hahit of passing whole weeks 
in Lichfield, without callmg at this house, if his 
opmions on works of imagination, and science, 
and politics, were ^ one thought more steady 
than the ebbii^ sea f but excessive instabSity of 
every sort counteracts the pleasures I should 
otherwise feel in his company, and reconciles me 
to the selik^aness of his visits. From die gay cor- 
diality with which he always addresses me, I 
might expect them to be as frequent as in reality 
they are otherwise. Our dining hour is earliw 
much than his ; and when he does make a morn- 
ing call here, its bell generally summons me to 
that meal before he has been with me half an 
hour. He then always humorously exclaims, 

^ Silence that dreadfal beU^ 

It fiig^ts my aonl Aom her proprie^." 



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so LETTER VII. 

• As to Horace^ I can well believe tbat his^odes 
possess many exquisite graces of expression, too 
subtly elegant to be fortunately transposed into 
another language ; but I am surprised at the .fre- 
quently violent transitions in the ideas of these 
odes. They sometimes put me in mind of a little 
fat attorney, of whom my motherused to talk, who 
had an unfortunate.habit of citing cases that made 
directly s^ainst the cause he undertook. 

One of the Horatian odes b^ns widi adjurii^ 
a certain nymph not to cross the seas, lest she 
hazard a life so precious to him. After. .enu- 
merating maritime s^ns inauspicious to her pur- 
posed voyage, he reminds her of the fiate <^ 
£uropa,-who, when. she repented of her expedi<- 
tion, was rallied upon the rep^itance by Venus. 
The goddess sarcastically tells her that she was 
only destined to be die wife of Jove, and to give 
her name to a third part of the habitable world. 
How inconsistently does this narrative conclude 
an ode, whose object had been to dissuade the 
nymph from her watery journey ! 



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1.ETTBB VIII. 31 



LETTER VIII. 
Lady Marianne Caenegy. 

Lichfield f March 21, 1785. 

YotJB Ladyship's )ciiid attention and most wel- 
come letter, highly gratifies; obliges, and honours 
me, Since I learned the melancholy tidings of 
dear and honoured Lady Nortfaesk's death, I fdt 
-what I believed, an unavailing desire to obtain 
more particular intelligence than I had the means 
of acquiring, concerning the welfare and intUation 
of her lord, and of sweet Lady Mariimne, whose 
virtues and graces were in their bud virhen I had 
the honour of passing a week in Lady Northesk's, 
Lady Marianne's, and Mrs Scott's society at Lich- 
field, in the house of Dr Darwin. Mournful was 
that pleasure, because of the fearful balance in 
which then hung the valuable life of Lady Korth- 
esk. Ah! with what delight did I learn, from 
her condescending letters to me, of the return of 
her health, by the prescriptions of Dr Darwin, 
after those of the London and Bath physicians 



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S^ LETTEB VIII. 

had failed ! Sincerely did I deplore the"*^ sudden 
blight upon those hopes of her long existence, 
which were inspired by that unexpected, that 
wonderful recovery. 

To be thus engagingly sought, through motives 
of filial piety, by a daughter of hers, gives me sa- 
tisfaction, which is not die less poignant for be- 
ing shaded over by a sense of mournful gratitude 

to the ETEBNALLY ABSENT. 

I sun hapipy to hear you say Lord Northesk 
is well« You do not mention your own health. 
During that transient residence at Lichfield, I ob* 
served, with pain, that your Ladjfship's constitutioB 
was veiy delicate. Hie years of advancing youth 
have, I trust, broij^t strength and bloom on didr 
wing. 

For both your sakes I regret that intelligent 
and amiable Mrs Scott is removed so tat from 
you. She must often wrish to embrace the love- 
ly daughter of alost friend ;•—« friend so dear and 
so revered ! 

The style of Lady Marianne's letter convinces 
me that die has a mind whose tastes, pursuits, 
and sensibilities, preclude the irksome lassitude 



* The author has been since infonned, that her friend, Lady 
Northesk, died by accidentally setting her cap and handker- 
chief on fire. 

4 



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LETTER VIII. 33 

Mnith which retirement is apt to inspire people at 
hctt* sprigfady time of life. Ah ! dearest Miidam> 
may ike consciousness of cliearing tl\e declisnng 
yekrs'of a bdbved father giM the silent hours^ 
t^Hea the rocks frown aroraid you with^solemn 
sternness, and the winds of wikiter'are. howling 
over the ocean ! 

Almost five years are elapsed since Dr Darwin 
left Lichfield., A handsome young widow, relict 
of Colonel Pool; by whom she had three children, 
drew froiin us, in the hymeneal di!dn, our celebrat- 
ed (diysician/our poetic and witty friend. 

The Docior was in love Hkfe a very Celadon^ 
a^id a numerous yc^iing family are springing up in 
consequence of a union, which was certainly a 
little unaccoii^blet not that there was any won- 
der' tbat. a fine, gracefail, and affluent young wo- 
man, should fiMcinate a grave philosopher ; but 
ihat a JBage of tio elegant exten^aty-and'siitik into the 
vale of yelirs, diould, by ao g^ a latdy, be pi^efer- 
ted to younger, richer,- and' handsomer 'suitors, 
was the marvel ; ««pe^idly since; though; lively, 
benevolent, and by no means d^cient in native 
wit, she was never suspected of a taste for 
science, or works of imagkiation. Yet so* it Was ; 
and sh^ makes her ponderous spouse a very at- 
tached, sind indeed devoted wife ! The poetic 
philosopher, in retui;n, transfers the amuseYiient of 

VOL. I. c 



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34 LETTBR VIII.' 

his leisure hours, from the study of botaay and 
mechanics, and the composition of odes, and hcf- 
roic verses, to fabricating riddles and charards! 
Thus employed, his mind is 8ome>vhat in the 
same predicament with HercuWs body, when 
he sat amongst the women, and handled the dis- 
teff. 

Dr Darwin finds himself often summoned to 
Lichfield ; indeed, whenever symptoms of danger 
arise in the diseases of those whose fortunes are 
at all competent to the expence of employing a 
distant physician. When I see him, he shall cer- 
tainly be informed how kindly your Ladyship en- 
quires after his welfiau-e, and that of his family^ 
His eldest son by his first wife, who was one of 
the most enlightened and charming of womeh^ 
died of a putrid fever, while he was studying phy- 
sic at Edinburgh, with the most sedulouis atten- 
tion, and the most promising ingenuity. His se- 
cond is an attorney at Derby, of very distinguish- 
ed merit, both as to intellect and virtue ; — and 
your play-fellow, Robert, grown to an uncom- 
mon height, gay and blooming as a mom of sum- 
mer, pursues medical studies in Scotland, under 
happier auspices, I hope, than his poor brother.. 
I had the misfortune to lose my mother in the 
year 1780. My dearest father ^e^ lives, but his 
existence hangs by a very slender thread ; since. 



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LETTER IX. S5 

liowever^ he suffers no pain^ nor depression of 
spirits, I bless God that he yet lifts up bis feeb]e 
hands to bless me. 

Lady Marianne Camegy has no reason to 
doubt her epistolary talents. The proof of their 
elegance is before me ; but dearer far is their 
kimlness than their grace. Ah ! Madam, the afr 
lection which Ihat kindness has excited in my 
heart, creates a tender interest in all you say to 
me, beyond the reach of literary communication, 
scenic description, 
, aa foi'the po$^umotts fiune of our English daasicsy bi» adhereilce to tmik was confined to trivial occorrencesy and.abstrtjct mo* rality, his generosity to giving *alms, his sincerity to those he hated, and his devotion to the gloom of religious terror. ' Truth, from Dr Johnson's lip; yielded to misrepresentation in his n^e of casting rival-excellence into dbade. That gene- rosity, which loves to place exalted genius and virtue in their feirest ppint of view, was a stran- ger to Dr Johnson's heairt. His violent desire of life, while he was continually expatiating upon its infelicity, the unphilosophic and coward horror with which he ^runk from the Upproacb of death, proved that his religion was not of that amiable species, which smooths the pillow- of Ae dying man, and sheds upon it the light of religious hope^ : ^ Digitized by Google If Ae niMliU^ iforee of im. ebqueiiee hud not blighted Ibe jiut prtftoiisiottB of odwrs, both' to morid imd iftt^lleclttal eitcdSsape, I should^ not regret to see Johnson's character iiMrested vMk, diis idelii splendour; since I always thought it for the interest of morality ^d literature, to believe exalted genius good as greats and; in a conisiderable degree, exempt from human depravity ; such be- lief having a natural tendency to inspirit the- pup« suit of excellence, and give force to the precept of the moralist. But since he has industriously laboured to expose the defects, and defame the virtues and talents of his breUiren in the race of literary glory, it is sacrificing the many to an in^ dividual, virhen, to exalt him, truth is thus involv- ed, and hid in hyperbolic praise. O England ! not less ungrateful than partial is this thy boundless incense. Investing die gloomy devotion and merely pecuniary donations of John- son with the splendour of faultless excellence, thou sacrificest an hecatomb of ^characters, most of them more ^miable, and some of them yet great- er in point of genius, to kis manes ! Our Cecilian concert was not so full as I have seen it. It was a bad evening, moonless, sleety, and of the most dreary coldness ; but Mr Saville and his daughter sang divinely. You, who heard her a year i^o warble her wild notes^ unassisted Digitized by Google 38 LETTEB X. by scientific instraction, would tluiik ber w ed in'min for die tracesi of femer/abililjr.' I wish io halve jfoui? opinioiiy Sir/of what she wa^^ y&ik who kae«^ her «o well la b^ to^ days/' ^ My dear, iwhentfry mother told theef Aston was baiidaoine> thy niolheit^tbld thee ^uth : Sh« was very haiideonie»>.. When thy modier told &ee that Astoa loved to^ abiwarher nM^bottrs, she (dkt thee tradk^^Jbtft when, ^tfay mother told thee that Aston had any marked ability in that' same abusive tNiaioests, that wit {pnre it aest, ^t imi^i- nation colour,' thy mother did nottdl thee tnttfai No,jio,.Madanv Alton's iiliderstandiiig was not of any stirengthy either native or acquired/'. ' But,SiryJhaveheardyoiisiiy,^thather>sister'« husband, Mr Walmileyf wa» a^man -of bri^ parts, and extenaive^faiowiedge $ 'tlNit^he wte-also a man. of strong {ia$sions,*and,'diottgh'bM«volent in a tl^ousand instances, yet iraiscit^e aa aa niany. It is well known, ^^aluftfr Wabasley ^ wa» oonsi'> derably governed^ % 4his<>lady'f as witness Mr Hinton's constant visits, and«preseace at. hi» tabky in despite of its master's avowed aversion. Could it be, that, without some marked intdilectual Digitized by Google 4% LETTER X. powers, she could obtain absolute dominion over such a man ?* " Madam, I have said, and truly, that Walms- ley had bright and extensive powers of mind ; that they had been cultivated by familiarity with the best authors, and by connections with the learned and polite. It is a fact, that Aston obtained nearr ly absolute dominion over his will ; it is no less a fact, that his disposition was irritable and violent* But Walmsley was a man ; and there is no maa who can resist the repeated attacks of a furious woman. Walmsley had no alternative but to sub* mit, or turn her out of doors." I have procured, from Mr Levett, of this city, the inclosed copy of an original * letter of Dr John- son's, Though its style may not bear the stamp of its author's genius, yet it is illumed with a soft ray of filial piety, which cannot fiedl to cast its por- tion of additional lustre, however small, on the amiaUe side of the Johnsonian medal. The genuine lovers of the poetic science look with anxious eyes to Mr Boswell, desirii^^ that every merit of the stupendous mortal may be shewn in its fairest light ; but expecting also, that impartial justice, so worthy of a generous mind, * Tills letter appeuBin Mr Boswell's life of Drjolmsom Digitized by Google XETTEB X. 43 ivliich the popular cry cannot influence to flatter the object of discrimination, nor yet the yearnings of remembered amity induce, to invest diat object with unreal perfection, injurious, from the severi-* ty of his censures, to the rights of others. Tliere can be no doubt of the. authenticity of that little anecdote of Johnscm's infancy; the verses he made at three years old, on having killed^ by treading upon it, his eleventh duck. Mrs Lucy Porter is a woman of the strictest veracity ; and a more conscientious creature could not live than old Mrs Johnson, who, I have heard Mrs Por-* ter say, has often mentioned the circumstance to her. It is curious to remark, in these little verses, the poetic seed which afterwards bore plenteous fruits, of so rich a lustre and flavour. Every thing Johnson wrote was poetry ; for the poetic essence consists not in rhyme and measure, which are on- ly its trappii^s, but in that strength, and glow of the £uicy, to which all the works of art and na- ture stand m prompt administration ; in that rich harmnly^ in his iinagF- natioti. Sh^'hadkvisry redface^ and very indif- ferent features $ wid he^ntenners'm advssieisd Me; far her cbUdren "weveali grown up lAen; Jofan* S0a> first ^whehyitad'^ an unbecomiBg' excess of girlish levity, and tlii^piB&i^' affectation; TM rustic prettiness^^and^artiels'niamiers of her daugh* ter, thepresent Mrs Ln^yPorter, had'wrdn Johnson's youtliftal heart/wheii sl^virlui upon a visit at my'*' grandfother^s in Johnson^s school^nlays. Dis- gusted by his linsighdy form; she had a - persons! avermontO'^him/iior' could the' Ifeaatiiul ^fvc^-ses he addressed to her, teach her to endure hhn; The nymph, at kt^, returned to her'parenis at Bwmingham, and was soon forgotten.' Busmess takii^ Jolmson ta Birmingham/ on the death of his own father, and calling upon his coy mistress there, he found her father dying. He passed all his leisure hours at Mr Porter's, attending his sick-bed, and, in a few months after his death', * Rev. John Hoater, master of the licfafield Free-School, by whom Johitton wss educated* t See the Verses on receiviiig a myrtle firom a Lady, Insert- ed fn Mr Bosweirs life of Johnson. Digitized by Google LBTTBR X. 45 asked Mrs Johnson's consent to marry the old widow. After expressing her surprise at a re«- quest so extraordinary — ** no, Sam, my willing consent you will never have to ab preposterous a union. Yoa are not twenty-five, and she is turn- ed fifty. If she had any prudence, this requ^t had never been made to me. Where are your means of subsistence i Porter has died poor, in consequence o£ his wife's. eypidnsive habits. You have great talents, but, as yet, have turned them auto no {Hro&able duuinel."-^'' ^O^er, I have not deceived Mrs Pwter:. I. have tpld her the .worst of me ; that I am of mwfk .ei^tra^tion ; that Ihave no.mo|iey).aDdithat:Ihav^. )ia4 an luade hsBgfd,. She replied, that; she jveliied no one more or. less for hift descmt ;. ithat. die bad no more money than., myself;. and diat, ^though ^6 had not had a relation htog^ she. h»4 fifty vbp deserved hangiDg/', ,, And thus became, accompliihediithisv^ cut rioos amour. Adieu, Sir, go. on aiid prosper in yoiu* arduous tafilc of presenting to the world the poitiait4>f Jjcdmson's mind ai(id manners. If faijth* ftil, brilliant will be its lights, but deep its shades. Digitized by Google 46 LETTER Xt. LETTER XI. Mbs Knowles*. March 27, 1765. So your fair frieiid, Mrs Hunter^ disavows jK)etic inspiratioB. This b bemg very uograteAil to the god of the silver bow, and the nine nymphs in his train. I give her credit for a very feelii^ heart ; but it might have thrilled^ and glowed, and melted long enough before it had produced such verses as I have seen of hers, unless she had ob- tained those delphic irradiations which she, thank* less princess as she is, disclaims. When she as- sures me that they were produced without any ef- forts of study, I do not doubt her veracity, but the belief doubles my conviction of her obliga- tions to their high miightinesses on the mountain. When you and she would exalt simplicity, that nymph of the valley, into your patron and inspir- * Hie odebmted qnaker bdy who worked the Kiiig*s pic- ture 80 admirably in worsted. "Whea Molly Morrii of Bage- by, she was stiled the beauty of Staffordshire. She sornved her husband, Dr Knowles, an eminent physician in Itondofl^ many years, and died February 4, 1807, aged 80. Digitized by Google LETTER XI. Afl ing goddess, you put me in mind of the children of Israel worshipping the calf in Horeb. That gentle^faced idol was just as capable of protect- ing ihamy as she is of producii^ the wit and ora^ toi7 of Mrs Knowles, and Ae poetry of Mrs Hunter. O ! to be sure it was simplicity solely who set ^ Maiy Knowles upon one leg in the temple of fame^/' Arch and humorous imagi-^ nation was no agent in producing that odd idea ! -*-but, in truth, all that Simplicity ever did for that gentlewoman was to put on her cap. Mr Boswell has applied to me for Johnsonian records for his life of the despot. If he inserts them unmutilated, as I have arranged them, they will contribute to display Johnson's real character to the public; that strange compound of great talents, weak and absurd prejudices, strong, but unfruitful devotion ; intolerant fierceness ; com- passionate munificence, and corroding envy. I was fearful that Mr Boswell's personal attach- ment would have scrupled to throw in those dark shades which truth commands should be employ ed in drawing the Johnsonian portrait ; but these fears are considerably dissipated by Ae style of Mr BoswelFs' acknowledgments for the materials I had sent him, and for the perfect impartiality * ABoding to a famnorow description of herself in one of her letters. Digitized by Google 48 JLBTTER XI. with which I had spoken of Johnson's virtues and faults. He desires I will send him the minutes I made at the tbne ot that^ as he justly calls it, tremendous* conversatbn at IMUys^ betwedi you and him/ on the sulgect of Mis^ Harry^ ami* mencii^ quaker. Boswell had so 6ften spoke to me, with regret, over> the ferocious, reasonless, and uHdaistian viidence of his idql that n^ht, it looks impartial beyond niy hopes, that he requests me to arrange it. I had omitted to send it in Ae first collection, from my hopelessness that Mr Boswell would insert it in hk^life of the Colossus. Time may have worn avpay those deep^iadented lines of higbt fieiceness from the menuMy of the biographer, and the hand of affection may not be firm enough to resolve upon engraving tbem. Q! yes, as you observe, dreadful ^ere the hor- rors which attended poor Johnson's dying: state. His religion was certainly not of ibat nature which sheds comfort on llie deathbedf»Uow. tl believe his faith was sincere; and 'therefore oould not fail to reproach his hearty which had swelled wi^ pride,'^vy, and hatred, Arotigh^'die whide course of his existence But religiouii fidi&g^^R the minutes sent him of this conversation. The reader tvill find them fiiithfnlly given in a letter foiUMT on, addressed to Mrs Mompesson, and dated December 31, 1785< Digitized by Google LETTElt XI. 49 ^ich yoii lay so peBLt a stress, was not the desi- deratum id JohnsonV virtue. H^ was no cold moralist; it was obedience, 'meekness, and unn versal b^^deni[^> whose abseneeifrMi his heart, diiven away by the turbulent fiercdn^ss attd jea-^ lousy of his unbridled passions, filled with so much horror the darkness of the grave. Those glowing aspirations in religion, which are termed enthu- siasm, cannot be rationally considered as a test of its truth. Every'lefigidn 'has had its martyrs. I verily believe Johnson would have stood that trial for a system to whose pf e ferent from his was the death-bed of that sweet Excellence, whom he abused at "'Dill/s, by the . name of the '' odious wench f' ' Those weite sAiocking suicided which ybu'met- tiooed.^ Abs! tbkt viee increase!^. Infidelity, pride, and extrati^gsttioe ine iti general sources ; but why i«fir aliteist, Vvkd groatid not unfder theop^ pression of povei^ty and (kiai, should prefer aniii-' hilatiidn to exist^ikre, itis tfifBcult^ to gtiessl £n- nui, whatever d&conteht it 'may create, would, one should suppose, be'ineonsiiteiit \(ritlr tbat'de- gree of stimulds which subdues the iiatural lovi^' of life, even where it has nothing new or interest- ing to present. Next to genuine piety, the love of science b the best preservative i^ainst human VOL. I. D Digitized by Google 50 LBTTBK XII. misery. Where it exists, novel and interesting objects can never be wanting to shorten the long- est summer day. You and I may experience n&i- sery, my friend, but we shall never feel the touch of the mental torpedo. LETTER XIL CouBT Dewes, Esq*. March SO, 1785. Yes, my dear Sir, our great Laureat is indeed a critic, who, if nbt unexceptionably judicious^ does infinite honour to a profession which so many disgrace. His illustrations and decisions are generally the result of a penetrating judgment and a refined taste, united with a long, industrious, and fortunate study of the pontic art. Thisrad- mirable work, his edition of Milton's Juvenile Poems, with that great - mass of fine criticism contained in the notes, ought to recal the opi- nions of the public from the anarchy into which * Now decea«ed. He resided at Welpbouni, near Stratford- upon-A?on ;— ii refined gentleman and an excellent flcholu*. Digitized by Google LETTER XII. 51 Aey have been thrown concerning the claims of the Biitish poets, by the misleading sophistry of Johnson in his Lives, and by the fastidious trash of his modem imitators. While the former per- plex and dazzle the ingenious, the latter destroy every thing like taste and feeling in the common reader. Thus is the science, and thus are its vo- taries, ^* fallen on evil days and evil tongues." May the powers of Mr Warton clear the times from their darkness. Admirable as this work i?, it often carries the charge of imitation upon Milton vastly too far> and sometimes to a ridiculous excess. Among many real proofs which it brings, that Comus frequently imitates Fletcher's Faithful Shep* herdess, one cannot but smile when such charges of plagiarism as the following are brought against a great bard : ^ Canst thoa not tell me of a gentle pair."-— Comittf. So Fletcher's Faithful Shepherdess, ^ A gentle pair have promised equal love." Mr Warton adds, /^ other petty pilferings of the same sort might be pointed out, which prove Milton's familiarity with Fletcher's play.'' , Now, if an author may be convicted of theft upon such evidences, it will be impossible for the Digitized by Google 52 LETTEB XII. most original genios to produce ten^ perhaps two Imesy that shall not be equally exposed with Mil- ton'sy in this instance^ to the charge of pflfering. I thought of the mote and^diebeam, when I saw Mr Walton ob^erym^-^'^hat'^Mit^ sion^^^rlad in complete steel f^mppo9^ to have been borrowed'from Hamlet ;^-^tibar^^'c3ritiG9^ttst shew thehr readiHigt. byqnol^ books-; biit that it wa» merely nb espf^iiHodf in comnMi ^ifte^ f6 signify being armed ifrom headto'ftof/^ Now, certainly, ^^ clad in coibplet^ ^teel,^ is a more striking arrangeikient t>f words, afiid has wmA more probability of having been botirowed from Shakespeare, tlian^ that the simple ittd usual ex<» pression, ^^ gentle pair,^^ should have been sfe^itoi from Fletcher." ' •,. *t^ / ; When passaged from various writers fe«endjle each other, we impute such resemblance,' aeoord^ ing to the degree of its strength, either to coinci- dence, imitation, or plagiarism. £ven the best critics, as Mr Wartpn evinces in his own example, are too apt to charge ideas and expressions upon imitation and theft, which might fairly be sup- posed to result from a coincidence. However, if Mr Warton be too prone to be- lieve that the rich and plenteous imagination of Milton was perpetually stooping to glean from others, he has fully convicted Pope of '^ sprinkf- Digitized by Google IfBTTBR XII. ^S liiig over his Eloisa with epithets and phrases of new form and sound, pilfered from Comas and II Penseroso : ^ And storied windows, ricUy dij^t^^ Casting a dim religions light."-— A Pen. " And the dim windows shed a solemn light." — Eh, to A, ^ By ipfupi and cavtnis, dngg^d with horrid 8hBde."-^C?ofiaM. ^ Ye grots and caTeras, sh^M with horrid thorn V^-r-Eloisa, With other instances as flagrant. Here, indeed, is likeness loo strong to be the o^spring of coin- cidence ; -and,, indeed, it is oft^ so in many of MiltoBHS^ passages. Mr Warton demonstrates, that the geperal.planjofL" Allegro, II Penseroso, was suggested' to Milton by a. now^forgotten work of one JBurton. .Curious is the examination of those. loii^ materials of 3nrton's, upon which jMilton has.builtsiich. a beauteous edifice. Mr Wartoofs two la9t notes on L'Allegro, II Pensecoso, are .some of the most exquisite writ- ing I ever beheld ;. and the. last,' sentence but one in his preface, is of the sublimest species that ora* toiy. has been known to produce. I read them with the same thrill of delight, that the poetry on which they comment inspires ; but by what mi- racle of misconception is it, that he pronounces Milton to have had a bad ear ! ! Digitized by Google 64 LETTEB Xli; Nothing can be more just dian Mr Warton's observalion that^ *^ in reading verse, it is better to rest on a general idea, resulting from the whole, when that idea is sufficiently seen, than to seek for the precise meaning of parts.'' The author might, I think, have extended this rule to every work of imagination, whether in verse or prose. I am charmed with that admioible sport of fieincy, the pretended Continuation of Dr John- ison's Criticism on the Poems of Gray *. I hope it will be generally read, exposing, as it does, in such exact imitation, the absurd, yet plausible sophis- try, of that arrogant decider. It also shews the possibility of dissecting so minutely the ideas and images of one of the most perfect poems, ever written, the Elegy in a Church-yard, as almost to persuade us that its exeelleoce is not genuine. No, indeed, my conviction of the high poetic merit of Mr Sargent's dramatic poem, the Mine, has lost none of its ardour. Mr Hayjey says it is the worthy rival of Milton's Comus. Perhaps I do not rate its cllj^m quite so high ; but I place it on a level \^ith Mason's Caractacus. Judge, then, if I can subscribe to your friend's opinion, that it does not rise above mediocrity ! — Why is it that people of fine understanding, and general accuracy * Written by the ?eiy learned and ingemons Professor Young of Glasgow. Digitized by Google •LETTBK XII. 55 of taste, are so often blind to the irradiations of genius, on its first emerging ? — but let me reflect that the sweet effusions of Milton's juvenile years, the Lycidas, Comus, UAUegro, II Pense- roso, &c. sunk, on their first appearance, into that oblivion out of which they did not emerge > during seventy years* Are the following passages Irom the Mine of moderate beauty only i -** Tb notv three months Since, on this pendant vaolt, -with trembling hand, I etcfa'd the 8«d memorial of my name. And on itg sparry architrave began To chronicle each day of growing woe," -^ When thou shalt inhale The breezy air, and with a thirst as keen As the parched Arab feels on Nnbia'is saiidiy Drink the refreshing stream of living light, Thy sonl-felt ectasy shaU I partake Mid this abhorred privation.** ^ Stem was his brow, and dark.— As on his feet They bomid tiie cramping irons, he smiFd in scorn. With more tfatin cnrions thooght hf seem'd to view. And measure all my form.*^ :* ' Sooner couldM thou bid The floret, that o'er-hangs the stream, and feeds On its pure essence, live in these dank caves, Than plant tme fnendshq[> in oor alien hearts, rris but the trail of braided sparks, that fly In quick snccesaion from the whirling flints, Digitized by Google 56 LETTEB Xn. And stncken steel ; ibr, in this noziow efaasm. Such dense, and sulphnrons fumes exhale, as touch'd By lighted torch, would instant fire tlie air, And wrap the caverhs in continuous' hiaze." *f^ Se^p from (yen crag she bends^ And lifb her dit>ws^ lids,^ that'hang like clouds Over the brimming oc^an, when tBe sun Flrsi peeps ffotn Uie blue wiH^eb'' <' And canst thou thai, thou poor afflicted creature, >Boot fintai thine heart the seitoe of crowdmg sorrows; Long dayji of hope deferred, and nif^tB of weepmg, Witii all the aches, and sick'nings of the soul ; Canst thoo forget these^pangs^ and on astranger Waste generous comfort?*' When I bdiold thee EnvianM by dim forms, pent in the gloom Of these' abrupt, unoigaaizetl caserns, Mid fierce Tidnitndes of heat, and cold. And sublimated vapdun, thy. meek carriage $(^ooto me to patience." ' ^Scarce ean I pierce the air with labouring eye, Sudi misly darkness reigns ^-~yet| near yon rode, Where drops the lingering stream, a form I see That rests incumbent on a wrenchhig mattock. And seems entrancM in mefamdioly thoughts" Hast thou not sat Motionless^ while he delv'd the liaed rodL? Or, when he sunk beneath the sultry toil. Brought the cool beverage, and, with genQe Digitized by Google LETTER XII. 57 Then, as heftopt^ hast thM not 8tol*n to^jMnds Uib» And Img^in lilant gaie o*er Ui wan cbeek,' Thiit Milte ckai aloM rested j» I Ain would do so, And Qfcvin my pnyeb remember patience ; For hope of belter days attends the good. And Tirtne^lilce the wild-bee^ can ezttact, Feii Ihmrflir ttner plant, advcari^y Sweet food to cheer the spirit" <. C«iife9);^th]ffi plenitude of b^utifi|! sentimeot, imtlgeryi and description, induce men^ of taste imiinimoiji^y to decree the palm of distinguished g^iis to their author ? For my part, I am more and more charmed with the Mine, though I hint* ed to Mr Hayley, that I thoi^ht it had some flat speeches, and several needlessly inharmonious lines; that it might have been more pathetic ; and that the language of Conrad had too much purity and ten- derness for his licentious chaiticter, his villainous designs, the murky scene, and unprotected situa- tion of her whom he endeavours to seduce. The first speech in blank verse of the Gnome is perfectly Miltonic ; and I scarce know heroic rhymes .more sublime than the ensuing : — '< Of hoaiy fens exalt the stagnant breatii. And loaAflie paauqg gale withplagses and death! Digitized by Google 58 UETTKK XIII. Thro' yeUing gal& ontrageoos iivliiilwmds nii^y Or cnrl the toaaiog pool with fiery aarge ! Bid flaming cataracts roimd VcftUTius glow. Bid Hecia thnnder thro' incumbent snow ! From Cotopascrs heights the deloge poor. And melt a thousand winters* firocen store ! Beneath the mam expansive vi^nrs nuse^ And with metallic cmbera feed the blaae. Till the black vortex of the water boils^ And Ocean wonders at his new-fonuM isles !'' But perhaps I ought to beg your pardon for thus drenching you perforce with Heliconian dews, springing up at Lavington, the seat of this other bard of Sussex, the emulous friend of the celebrated Hayley. My heart was in the sub- ject, and the midnight clock has struck in vain. — Adieu ! LETTER XIII. Rev. T.. S. Wh ALLEY, then on the Continent. Lichfield, April 7, 1785. Surely, dear friend, you do not reason like yourself upon the subject of literary fame^ when Digitized by Google lETTER XIII. 59 it is become posthumoas ; siiice^ however im- probaUe it may be, that its blaze, or its cessation, can be an object of attention to the beatified spirit, whose ex^tions, while on earth, had pro* duced it ; so far, at least, an object of attention as inspiring, or gratifying vanity or ambition ; yet, if we retain any consciousness of what passed, and yet passes on earth, when ourselves have soared above it, the consciousness of being remembered with esteem and honour by our fellow*creatures on the scone of virtuous compositions, will probably prove a source of delight, worthy to be admitted into the number of angelic gratifications. Grate- fill to the purest nature must be the conscious- ness that we had employed the talents committed to our cultivatioo, in alleviating sorrow and care in our fellow creatures^ by compositions that sof<^ ten, refine, and. exalt the human mind ; that foster its gentleness, and strengthen its virtue* There surely can be no degradation of angelic dignity, in the belief that it will have pleasure in perceiving that the fruits of its earthly industr}' continue to inspire virtuous pleasure through pas* sing generations. That charming poem, £d^7 and Edilda, so justly styled, by the Monthly Re- view, a domestic epic poem, b eminently calcu** lated to improve and delight the mind of youth ; and I repeat my exhortations, that you will re- Digitized by Google 60 I.ETTER.XIII.. publi«h it widi its new tcinninatiaii> so much mpre coDsoQant to poetic justjc^, land .the gra^cation of the reader., You quote ^fadam.GenUs. Dp you not ob- ject to her ayatem concerning the choice of books for young people ? She wishes. that authors of first-rate excellence should be withheld from our youth, during those fredi and vivid years, when the perceptions are in their first poignancy.. I differ from her totally. Whatever books are put into the hands of. sensible ingenious yowag people, between the age of twelve and eighteod, will, I am, convinced, fix their taste in reading. A work of mediocrity, if it is in any >degree. inte- resting, will, during that lively interval, inspire more delight, than can be produced by composi* tiona of a ha hi^ier class, when the first fine edge of the. feelings is .taken off. The mmd always ac- quires a fond predilection for that species of writing which had borne away the early fruits of its ripening sensibilities. It is therefore of the utmost importance to the future* strength of mtel- lect, that the literary taste in opening youth be set high. What a treasure is your last letter ! How ccmi- pletely does it place us in scenery so inevitably dear to a poetic imagination ! As late you shew- ed me the calm, so now you make me see the 5 Digitized by Google LETtEB XIII. 61 swoln and agitated waters of Vaucluse ; and each are alike interesting. Ah! those cypresses! — ^what striking memorials ! The detestable portraits of Petrarch and Laura^ in the Castle of Sommane, ought to make people, whose personal represen- tation is likely to interest generations yet unborn, careful how they leave behind them disagreeable pictures, which must hereafter disappoint the anxious gazer, and outrage' his ituaginatibn, by facing upon it an idea uncongeliid to his pre- conceptions, and destructive of their enthusiasm. The winter lifts b^n, with us, very long and severe. A sharp; gloomy, and steril frost, attend- ed widi frequent dtbrms of snow, even yet. " dulls our pale moras,' and bids the driTing sleet Defenn onr day0'ddi|;litl«».'? By this tiine, it is broad and sultry summer widi you. I know how inuch you luxuriate in glow- ing suns, and I hope you enjoy them on your classic plains of Petrarchian consecration. But I had much rather you were, at this instant, rub- bing your haijds over an English fire, and breath- ing phillipics oil our Wayward and disappointing climate. Digitized by Google 62 I.BTTEB XIV. LETTER XIV. WiLUAM Hayley, Esg, Lichfield, April 10, 1785. Heaif poetry, should envy poetic reputa* tion, especially where it was posthumous 4 and seemed to believe that his injustice to Milton, Prior, Gray, Collins, .&c. proceeded firom real want of taste for the higher orders of verse, his judgment being too rigidly severe to relish the en- thusiasms of imagination. Digitized by Google LETTBB XIV. 63 Affection is apt to start from the impartiality of calling faults by their proper names. Mr Soswell soon after, unawares, observed that John« son had been galled by David Garrick's mstant success, and long eclat, who had set sail with himself on the sea of public life ; that he took an aversion to him on that account ; that it was a litde cruel in the great inan not once to name David Garrick in his preface to Shakespeare ! and base, said I, as well asunldnd. Garrick! who had restored that transcendent author to the taste of the public, after it had recreantly and long re- ceded from him ; especially as this restorer had been the companion of his youth. He was gal- led by Garrick's prosperity, rejoined Mr Boswell. Ah ! said I, you now, unawares, cede to my po- sition. If the author of the Rambler could stoop to envy a player, for the hasty splendour of. a re- putation, which, compared to his own, however that might, for some time, be hid in the night of obscurity, must, in the end, prove as the meteor of an hour to the permanent light of the sun, it cannot be doubted, but his injustice to Milton, Gray, Collins, Prior, &c. proceeding from the same cause, ^produced that levelling system of criticism, " which lifts the mean, and lays the mighty low." Mr Boswell's comment upon this observation was, that dissenting shake of the head. Digitized by Google 64 I.BTT2R XIV. tojM^hich folk are reduced^ when tfaey will not be convinced^ yet find their stores of defence ex- hausted. Mr B. confessed his idea that Johnson Waii a Roman Catholic in his heart. — I have heal^'him^ said he,' umfortnly defend the cniel executions of that dark bigot^ Qu^en' Mary. Warton's Milton, Mr Hiayley !^^I am snre yoii are charmed Vith it. Bnt'how melancholy are the reflections M^ich re^t froni its information^ that the Lycidas, Comus, and II Penseroso, the Sonnets, in short, all the juveiiOe wdrks of that immortal poet, reiiiahied in bblivion ftiU twenty years after the Paradise Lk>st had emerged. It proved the absolute incompetence 6f the pubUe to discern and estimate the claims of genius, till, by die slow accumulation of the sufirage of kin^ dred talents, it is taught their value. If, as I be« gin to fear, from what tWo men of talents, who ought to*know better, "say of the Mine, that fine dramatic poem should sink, for some time, be- neath the fastidious coldness of modern criti- cism, we may address its author in the words of his great model, — '• ^ So sinks the day-star in the ocean-bed, But yet, anon, exalts his drooping head; New tridcB his beams, and with new^pangled ore Fhrnes in the forehead of the morning sky. Digitized by Google LBTTBB Xy« 65 LETTER XV. M|ts Bbooke *• Lichfield, April 21, 1785. I DEPLOBE what you tell me of oitr good Baron Dimsdale's illneai ; aiidamafeIlow«8ufferer with him, from a frequent and oppressive pain at my stomach, and dliortness of breath. It has Blade me se^n of late to neglect many of my cor-c respondents. It is with regj^t that I hear you say we are not likely soon to see another charming work of yours. I pity you for die harassing number of those complex circumstances, which force into exertion the energies of your spirit, widiout the power to interest your affections, or awaken your imagination. ^ What needs a mind-illiimiii'd breast for those, Heart-melUng thongfatB^ or fancy like the snn ? ** * Aatfaor of Lady Julia MandeviUe, Emily Montague, &c. She i^erally resided with an aunt in licl^eld, and was a near relatiTe of Dr Bro<^e, rector of. Birmingham, the fimnd and contemporary of Dr Johnson. VOI*. I. K. Digitized by Google 66 LETTBB XV. There is no parodying a passage in Milton, with- out speaking of the late literaiy treasure, Mr T. Warton's edition of Milton's juvenile poems. Its critical notes have all the eloquience and strength of Johnson, without his envy. Johnson told me once, '^ he would hang a dog ihat read the Lyci"> das twice." " What, then," replied I, " must be-, cotne of me, who can say it by heart ; and who often repeat it to myself, with a delight ' which grows by what it feeds upon f" *^ Die,'' returned the growler, '^ in a surfeit of bad taste*'' Thus it was, that the wit and awless impolite- ness of the stupendous creature bore down, by storm, every barrier which reason attempted to rear against his injustice. The injury that in- justice has done to the claims, of genius, and the taste for its effusions, is irreparable. You, my dear Madam, I am assured, have sense to perceive, and generosity to deplore its consequences. Digitized by Google z^tiiTTBii xvr. 67 LETTER XVI. CouBT Dewes; Esq, Lichjieldy May 2,7, 1785. NO| no, my ever esteemed friend, I cannot be- lieve that Mr Hayle/s friendship for Mr Sargent shews him imexisting poetic beauties in that gentlennui's fine dramatic poem, the Mine; be* cause I am perfectly sure that personal regard or dislike never raises in my own brain the illusions of prejudice for or against a literary composition. It is true, where I know that a brilliant or su- blime work has proceeded from a hand I love, that consciousness increases the delight I feel in ex- amining its features; but die delight must first spring from the merit of the author, not that of the man. I love Mrs K, think her letters and con- versation abound with genius; yet I cannot ad- mire, her verses. Dr Johnson's character and manners always excited much more of my indig- nation than esteem, yet do I continually shed tears of rapture over such of his writings as are free frojn the envious taint of his disposition. My Digitized by Google 68 I^£TT£R XVI. personal knowledge of Mr Sargent is very slight, were personal knowledge apt to influence me : — but if the Mine is not^ upon the whole, a compo- sition of very considerable poetic merit, I have wholly mistaken the nature of poetry. When I observed to its author, that some of the lines in the dialogues had a certain roughness which might disgust the fastidiousness of modem taste, it is curious that he accounts for this roughness exact- ly as you do for the many inhaimonious lines in Comus, which I am very certain are more harsh, and more frequent than in the Mine. The poems being of much the same leng&, if the ancient judged right, as you say he did, to set ofi^, by con* trast, the more melodious passages, the modem i» justified in following his example. Mr Saigent tells me, that it was his choice to relieve his. lawn by some inequalities, though he wished not to introduce into it the asperities of Stone* Henge. The Critical Review does justice to the splen- dour of Mr Sargent's poem. Its strictures upon it breathe a poetic sensibility far more than usual with those cold gentlefolk, the public critics, and of nice and just discrimination rarely found on their pages. I declare to you, my dear Sir, that I am all astonishment how you can endure my poetry, if 3 Digitized by Google LBTTEB XVI. 69 yoii think a work, which holds the light of gmiu JO far above me, destitute of its great essentials. Peimit me to thank you very warmly for shewing me the impropriety of my epithet swart for a sun- besuA. Misled by the '^ swart star'' of Milton, I had associated no other idea but that of sultriness to the word, nor once reflected that, in using it for noon-day heats, I imputed the effect to the cause. I altered swart into JUrce in the copy I intend for my miscellany, the instant I had read your last letter. Be assured I shall always receive your observations upon any thing I write with the most cheerful gratitude, and endeavour to avail myself of them. Never yet have I felt the slightest reluctance to kiss the rod of friendly criticism. There are strange mistakes of press in my pane^ gyric sonnet on the Mine, which I sent to the Gentleman's Magazine. So we have lost the poet laureat I always thought Mr Whitehead's abilities to oconsiderable for that rhyming drudgery ; and now a yet gi-eater bard undertakes the labouring oar of the boat which is to row our Monarch over one. of the Pierian rivers. Our concerts this winter have been very de- lightful. Mr Saville's songs are always exquisite ; and his feir pensive Philomel improves in every exertion. Attending frequently to Mr Saville's Digitized by Google 70 LETTEB XVII. manner of in^ructing his daughter in a song that is new to her, it is curious to observe on what nice touches musical expression depends, and how necessary a feeling heart, and even poetic taste, to enable a professor to teach his pupils to sing willi elegance, pathos, and grace. Adieu. LETTER XVII. Dr S Lichfield f June 7, 1785. That poetic criticism had been so much your study, I did not indeed know till I learnt it from your last letter. It was my idea, that the more important sciences had left you little time for the muses. Suffer me to observe, that was the highest compliment I could pay to the understand- ing of any man, who considers Mr ^ as a feeble poet. The misunderstood observation of Horace, — '' Not to admire is all the art I know, To make men bappy or to keep them so," Digitized by Google LETTER XVII* 71 has made dionsands fastidious, inducing (hem to fimcy such cold temperament a proof of wisdom and philosophy; but it is impossible ' Horace coul4 stapiriUiee, devil, tnin him. The last letters I received fi-qp Mr and Mrs Whalley, were written from their summer retreat, ' in the neighbouriiood of Vaucluse, seven miles from Avignon. Their villa commanded a view of what appears like an immense park, graced with the shade of innumerable mulberry trees* Beyond the considerable extent of open ground, various landscapes present themselves, rich in chateaus, villages, and ruins, while the Alps of Digitized by Google 78 JLETTER XVIII. I>aiipliJii£.fonn a mqestic back-ground^ and close the sceoe* Mr Whalley speaks with deligbt of tbeir litde green drawing-room, whose windows are curtained with foliage from. a small grove of planes, elms, and flowering limes. Between the irr^ular trunks of the trees, and beneath. dieir branches, are seen.the pure waters of the Sorgue. Thejrare perfectly azure, and flow an. hundred yards distant from thb romantic habitation. Think, dear Misa Williams, how the conscious- ness of this river's poetic consecraUon, by Pe* trarch, must enhance the del^t with which the kindred spirit of Mr Whalley gazed on its waves, as they wandered by this villa. He tells me, that» to complete the magic of the scene^ thenr near grove was the mansion ^of nightingales, which, when he wrote, were in full song. Many English families of rank, residing for a time at Avignon, followed our friend's example, and formed a s^ of colony in the muse-hallowed scene ; pleased with the idea of passing a sum- mer in the vicinity of that immortd fountain, and valley, which had witnessed the beauty of Laura, and heard the songs of. Petrarch, ** That spread tlie fame of bis disastrous love.** Adieu ! Digitized by Google LETTEB XIX. 79 LETTER XIX, To Mrs G Lickfield, Jug. 27, 1785. Be assured, dear Madam, it was with no cold ear tbat 1 Ibtened to Dr B, when he talk- ed to me of the obligations which Lord H acknowledged to the valour and conduct of your gallant brother-in-law. Yet, had my spirit still more fervently hailed a theme so welcome, but for the consciousness, which your late letters have inspired, that this distii^uished supporter of our naval glory was less sensible than he ought to be of your merit, and of those tender and constant attentions, with which your high-strung esteem impels you to honour him. Will you, however, forgive me, if I observe, that, as his virtues are cast in a sterner mould than yours, the effusions of so poignant a senisibi- lity may probably not only be incomprehensible, |)eriiaps they are displeasing. Do they not seem a tacit reproof to his owil colder temperament ? They may perhaps more induce him to question the sincerity of your regard, than to tell himself Digitized by Google so LBTTEB XIX. that he is lu^ratefiil. Heroic sfinta are often proud ones ; and pride will not endure the weight of incessant obligation. Affection, we all knowj, is the only coin in which we can be allowed to repay our debts to that affection which is demon- strated for us. Where native disposition brings on inevitable insolvency, how can the noble mind observe, without pain, the sum of those debts in- creasing by hourly accumulation i Since you hint to me, diat your l^rother seems, radier oppressed than gratified by die generous extreme of so mudi apparent veneration, I could wish you to avoid letting him perceive its fervours : that you would demonstrate only such a d^ree of it as he can hope to equal and return. We must rein in our endiusiasms towards those who are not diemselves enthusiasts, lest the warm ingenu- ous heart defeat, by its excess, its dearest pur* poses. I cannot doubt your having been infinitely amused by Mr Boswell's tour. The general style is somewhat too careless, and its egotism is ridiculed ; but surely to the cold-hearted and fas- tidious reader only, will it seem ridiculous. The slip-shod style is richly compensated by the pal- pable fidelity of the interesting anecdotes ; the egotism, by that good humoured, ingsnuousness with which it is given, and by its unsospecting Digitized by Google LKTTBK XtX. 81 Gonfidenoe in the candov of the reader. The incidealfi^ ead ehancterktie traito of this vihiabk work^ grapple our attentioa perforce. How strongly our imagination is impressed when the massive Being is preseatod to it stalking, like a Greenland bear, over the barren Hebrides, roam- ing round the blade rocks, and lonely coasts, in a. small boat^ on rough seas, and saluting Flora Macdonald in the Isle of Sky ! When shall I have the happiness to salute you and Mr G at Lichfield i You have allow- ed of an hope so agreeable, but the hour of reali- zation 18 Jong delayed. Come, and persuade the gallant *' diief of the rtovmy aeas^'' to make yo«r party a trio. We will see if we cannot teach him to associate witii die advcnturmis spirit of andent diivalrj, diat high vd«e of female esteem, whieli^ in purer and ha|^ier timeti was its inseparabk companion. We AM soon, I tmst^ meet at Manchester^ hear the voilies of die abbey drums, tee Mara eit*- hibit balloonhig vocalities, and our fitend do th^ noblest justice to die inapiratioas of HaudeL Some spirit, friendly to the juster conceptions of the art; early in life whispered Saville, ^ Ah fiieiid! to daide let the vam desigD, To raise the heart, and touch the soid, be thhie.** VOL. I. F Digitized by Google LBTTEB XX, ' J am sure you will agree with me, that the jti- dicioui admonition was not breathed in vain. LETTER XX. To Mks Cotton. Lichfield, Oct. 27, 1785. » It is longer, I believe, than we both vrish^ since we heard from each other. I hope the summer has passed. pleasantly with you as with myself. The graceful and eloquent Miss Wes- ton beii^ my guest, inspirited, by her society, its sultry days. We went together to a brilliant miisic-meeting at Manchester last month, where, amiidst the collected musical strength of the king- dom, Mara and Saville had the leadii^ parts, and fiikdthem to the high delight of their auditors. Sophia and myself joined a very agreeable paarty frOni.iDerbyshire, Mr and Mrs G ^, and a piecing young lady> her friend, and Mr G-* — -'s brolheii, a sea-officer, of distinguished bravery and skiH in'bis profession. My poor father has been very'iH 'since buT»rcturn, but is now recovered. Digitized by Google LETTER XX. 83 ' Mrs G is a very singular^ but very diarm- ing being. Her figure has uncommon elegance : but it is more the result of native grace than of fashion. Her complexion brunette^ withctut bloom ; BOr are her features regolai*, but perfectly femi- nine, and very attractive. Nothing can be more beautiful than her black eyes. They are exactly Aose of Fatima, as described by Lady M. W; Montague in her letters^; have that length, hori- zontally, which always gives lai^uishii^ sweet- ness, Mrs G ^'s eyes speak a thousand soft affectionate meanii^s through the dark biogt which endrdes them. ThisladywaaiMMfriedquiteagirltoMrG ; more than old enough to have been her father. fie is a gei^eman of large fortune, light and akrt'inhis figure, devoted to the sports of die field/ without neglecting the treasiues of his Hf* brary ; frioidly and hospitable, with a great deal of that dry sarcastic, and, as Sterne calls it,' sub-acid .huoiour, which forms a diverting contrast to the pensive, impassioned, perhaps romantic, enthusi- asm, of his lady's ehanicter.. ^^ I have been told it was his marriage stipuia*-^ tion that die should be content to live whoUy in the country, widiout requesting to go to Bath or liMidon.' In all other respects, he.|s the > most indu^;eiit of husbands, animadng hePiratilirenieiit Digitized by Google 84 I^ETTElt XX. with duit libenl welcome^ which their friends^ of both flexesy idways find to ius house, and to hia plenteous and epicuican table. Living thua tao- tally among the shades, her mind has nurturac^ beneath their umbrage, the highf«tnmg propeM*> ties of a warm heart, and vivid imaginaticm. She reads a great deal ; but I ^Kmld suppose cUefly writings of fancy. Iiif;enttous, disposed to tUnk the best of everybody, sBe shapes her favoanles, of both sexes, mto the resemblance of all she has read of refined, amiable, and exalted* H^ice, where odiers would esteem, Mrs G-^ > veoeratea ; where others would admire, Mrs 6 worships* Heroes have ever been her idols ; but the house, of a country gentleman is not the plaoe where heroes are often found* The gaUantiy oi her brother-in-law. Captain G" ^ s conduet, die ho* nourable mention made of it in the public prmts, and in the woric^ bad prepared the lovely devotee to glory, to d^ him in her inuigination, whom it had pictured a Csssar, an Alexander. But, from the native unvmniAed plaimiesa of hb person, character, and manners, he nei&tr de- sired nor understood what it was to be idolized by a fine young lady, on the score of that tried va- lour, which, whatever high rqmtaition it had ob- tained, his honest hearty a stranger ta .selfrvahung . presumption, considered not as constituting any Digitized by Google LCTTEE XX. 85 daim to marked dfltinctioii. He was, in all like- lihood, unaccustomed to receive it from the fair ones .of our sex, in diese anti-chivalry times, in which an elegant coM*hearted lounger of fa^ sUon exeites attentions diey would not dream of bestowing upon the brave veteran, who had not been accustomed to entwine the myrtle with his laurels. Before I had ever stoi this gendeman, Mrs G 'b letters had m sndi sort mentioned him, as, m spite of my consciousness of die leaf«gold she is wont to spread ovnr her favourite ciiaiacters^ tau^t n»e to expect attractions dangerous to the peace c^a young woman married to her grandf»* Aer* tfw was I sorry to find the fair enthusiast complaining that her exalted brother, as she called him, repaid her reverii^ afiection with cold ne^ gleet. You will conclude me not a litde internally di* verted, when I beheld in this fimcied Alexander, a somewhat coarsely, large, and hard*featured man, looking older, though he was not oldca^tfaaa his brother, ** Full of odd oaths, and bearded Vke a pard.** I was, however, comforted by the non-«xistence pt that graceful dignity of form and address, which Digitized by Google 86 LETTER XX. possessed, might have exhibited a formidable con- trast to the sub*acids of our grandfather. Still more ivas I diverted to see the lady, fast bound in the spelb of her hero-partialities, at gazing at the honest veteran, like a Catholic pil- .grim upon her favourite saint, fixing upon him her solicitous dewy eyes, diat seemed fearful of offending the majesty of super-human excellence by the intenseness of their homage. The good Captain knew not what to make of all this admirii^ veneration; but he constantly addressed her with jestii^ familiarity, which, though kind, she took for want of respecV; jet seemed she rather pensively humbled than offmd: ed by the freedoms, not much calculated to the meridian of super-worldly refinement. ** DaAm it, Where's Madam ?" — * Here, my noble brpth^^ too much honoured in your inquiry.' — ** Well then, zoons! come down stairs; thie Omcert Room will be fiill, and the devil a place shall we get.^'. •. . Now, you must not suppose from all thi^, that Mrs G is weakly ridiculous. Her man- ners, her language, though entirely unique in these days, become her infinitely. There is a certain fikiv^t^'in her elevations, which presenre them it(m appearing fustian. She tastes the beau^ Digitized by Google LETTEB XX. 87 of ewety amg she reads with discrimmating fer- vour. Her observations often discover powers of mind much above tbe level of die many who ri- dicule that singularity, which has been the residt of seclusion, want of knowledge of the world, aad of judgii^ of. mankind from, the representa- tions of the bard and die novelist. Jf her friends pi^ssess any one good quality, or pleasing accom-. plishment, she assimilates their whole mind. and manners to her h%h standard of visionary excelr >. W^ing with her caro sposo in his gardens, in our first acquaintance, we beheld the graceful misr tress of tbe domain approachii^ us, with a group pf her favourites of. both sexes. — ** O ! dsonn it," ^xdaimed sub-acid, ^' here comes my wife and her angels." ^ - He perfectly understands her character, is di- verted with the altitude of his lovely Quixotte, »idhasthe good sense, to smile at. what would fiirrow, with jealous frowns, the brow of a less dis ceming Being. So much for Mr and Mrs G-7 — r. . Every: harmonic meeting I attend leads^^/me to - ponder with new. as|:onishment, the. univ/ersal ajf-^ fectationof musical feeling, while ^e. audience evince so.little of its reality.. How.pf(pa./i(9,^^e perceive them either not listening ^f;Al)»(,pr;;;9irith. the most languid attention, to tbe sublimest com- Digitized by Google 88 I^TTSB XX. fodUom, hoA vocal andiMlnaMaUd; to.^vllkh, ^nhm « trifliag btllad has moceodbd^ its Botes have been imbibed with csager tmonport^ and disaUMsed. with volhes of apfdanae. A great Master takes a oommon coimtry-^aiKe as die subject of his aolo, and fonnsy. upon dntwofthleai groondy the most elegaiit embroidoy thatflorid and m^eoAvefamyip naked to conaiumiiatetaste^ can produce. Straoge itisy to obserre no ^enecal transport .eaqmased dmiag diose daring eSbtts of ingenuity, whfle his return to Malbrool^, or ** Ccmie, haste tothewed*; ding/' has been hailed widi the glance of defigfat f poan a dionsand egmu .By theaanse prewalenoeof bad laste^ h&vel seen a London audience aef^ect die ddicaie and pa^ thetic soi^ of die late Miss Uaaijf vrfien the more powerful, but coarser and inexpressive toneil of the then Miss PUqpa, now Mrs Cronch, werei naoeived widi the loudest asannal aedamation. I have, theesfbre, nqr dtMibta^ whedier Mrs Smith, whose voice is of such tmasooident sweetness, who meks her liqpiid notes into eadi oAer:wid» such charming flexibilitj, wanting iibe power to make a.grant noise, eoold ever bo a popidar pid>- lic singer. Bat her fisdier wSl iwfer wnture to launch her tmud bark iqpoB ike ciqpiiciaus tides of metropolitan firrour. Digitized by Google XETT£B XX.. «0 It wfts at Mancheater &at I bAdA, for die first timey the newniflen star of the hannooic y/mM, Mara* Hier fires are very damslii^y it must be confessed. She lias, however^ some harib notes ]Q the lower pail of faer vmoe, ^vi^ieii she throws it out fortissimo ; and the excursive cadences (die uses are too gay ornaments for the mourning robes of Handel's solemn songs. Her Italian pathetic songs are endanting ; — heir bravura ones stupendous ; — ^but those violent eifiDrts, thoij^h miraculously successful, were as unpleasing to my ear, as they were visibly painful to the Syren who hazarded them. Ah ! it was not t for die dim green and sickly yel* low* How partial is nature to that last named co^ lowr K^-it^is the first hoe of bar flowers, and die last a&het leaves* But bow differait Ibe g<4den .^w of her crocu»-borders, in the infancy of theyear^ to die wan lemoiHtint upon the leaf diat diiigs Digitized by Google 90 LETTER XXI. trembling to the naked spray, and quiven in the bleak galer Lichfield has lost many of those inhalnttttts Vi^hose society used to gild the gloom of die ap^: proaching season ; but a few are yet widiin hei^ mansionsi — ... '< Who, when it falls, and when the wind and rain Beat dark December, can right well discourse The freezing honn away.** Adieu. LETTKR XXI. William Hayley, Esq. IicA/i€«, Dec. £S, 1785, I TAKE up my pen to you on the eve of a win^ try excursion over roads white with snows, and in defiance of the keen Eurus. My purposed visit is to Mr Dewes, at his seat in Warwickdiire. CKhia talents and worth I have before ispoken to you. His lovely sister, Mrs Granville, meets me there. Though an esquire and a justice, he little resem- 6Ies his brethren of that tribe. Last summer, he told me, he had danced up to town, in a herd of Digitized by Google LBTTEB XXI. 91 diem, to the Handelian commemoration^ like the hnites after Orpheus. : My dear father's, healdi seems to have recruit- ed much since his hst paralytic seizure, six weeks i^o. I impute the precious amendment to more submission to restraint in his diet, and to more care in ayoiding the inclement gales. It encou- rages me to make this kindly solicited visit, in de- spite of the rigours of die season, and its land- scape devastation, — ^ Dim wmtei^ naked liedge, and pUnhy fieU." I go where it is well understood how to cheer the sullen day. I am gratified by your praise of my translation of the two odes of Horaee*. You. seem to pre- fer the ode addressed, to Melpomene. My fskr vourite is that which recommends a frugal sacri- fice ; it appears to me more pleasiiigi though per- haps less, sublime. ; Scarce, mi hour haa past since Mr Saville bronght.n}^,.with all the triimiph of poiatic taste in. his, eyes, what he justly called an high trefiti * They will be found in the anthoi^s Poetic ApaceUjHiyi %>- getber with many other transhitions or par^hmee irom ^tiie Honitian lyries. Digitized by Google 9d LETTBR XXI. fresh imported from Aoaian bowers. ^' I have tasted/' said he, ** just sipt, and found its flatour delicious ; if you are not diarmed widi the opeiv- in^ of ibis new poem, the Tvak, I shall resign my pretences to know what will please you/' He be- gan with those harmonious tones, that spirit, that variety of cadence, which makes poetry poetry fkideed, — ^ I sing the Hofa — ^I who lately i Faith, hope, and charity, and touch'd with awe The Mlenm chonis of that advenCvrooB Mog, Now seek repose upon an hombler theme." We had only time for the gay exordium, which traces the progress of chairs from die rudfs inven- ti to go through my effort without incurring disgrace ! Dear father, I do think my pray^^ were heard. I felt strengthened and sustained when I stood 'up tp.akig* You and my little ones,* all that are to ^fm U^mf^jini the world, seemed to stand before Digitized by Google JLETTEB XXI. 9^ hie and encourage my attempt. My hand, indeed; trembled sOy* that Miss Cantelo kindly rose and l^ped me to hold my song ; but my voice did not fauher very nrnck. * ^' I 'was complimentedy on my first rising, with a lond plaudit. That was a plaudit of encourage- ment ; but I had the delight of being interrupted 'twice in the progress of my song with a repeti- tion of this generous ap|dause. That was the ap- plause of mercy ; since, though, considering every thing, I performed better than I myself expected^ yet most well do I know that I could not deserve those indulgent testunonies of satisfiiction from my audience. They were twice r^eated on the close of my strain; and when the concert was over; several elegant ladies, whose names I do not know^ came and spoke to me with so much kind- ness in their eyes ! God bless them for it ! it was a warm cordial to my beating heart." Thus does our unpractised orator paint, in thie vivid colours of truth and nature, all the feeUi^s of her heart, and place every little interesting cir- cumstance before our ^es that occurs eaich n^t of her performance. It is deligh^l to us wik> are warmly interested for her. Perhaps- there k^e not many instances, like this^ where a pienldn commences public singer through considsartitions of genuine piety. Mr Newton of Lidifi^ld'has Digitized by Google 96 -I.BTTBB XX U been a liberal frieiid to diie interestki^ TMng ^h»» man, and, at diffsrent timesy made her a j of two very elegant dreeKs. She has been i noticed, and made herself many friends at Batk. Mrs Falconer, of this.plac^ good-iM^nf«dly sent her fadier a billet die other day, to the leihrnn^ purport: ** I lately heard a Udj in this neighbouihood read a tetter from one of her correspondents at Bath. It had this fwmgrufh. * Our concefta are very good this winlar^ We have a Mrs Smith who pleases extremdy." The expression, ** a Mrs Snuth," is more grati»^ fying than if it had been Mrs Smith from Lich- field; proving that the observation was without an idea diat the person to whom it ' addressed, m^ht, being of S my dear Nancy ?*' Our meet-' ing was glad, even to rapture, on both sides ; per- ceivings as I did, full as much appeai*ance of in- ternal health as on our separation. Several of our kind ne%hbours had promised me that he should not pasd many lonely hours in my absence. My cousin, Mr White, and Giovanni, were, by turns, ahnost constantly with him. At Wellsbum, Mrs Granville and myself often talked of the dear saint, your Jenny Harry. I read to die animated party die whole of your charming letter. They were much impressed by Digitized by Google 108 LETTEK XXllI. the padios witk \ivfaich it describes that soft resig- nation, which, dying in the bloom of her life, drew the stti^ of death from her bosom ; and b; those angelic aspirations, that lighted, with more than a sun, the chambers of the opening grave* My friends listened, with an air of tender and pious delight, to a description which chased away all sorrow for a loss, so much her gain. It aug- mented the esteem with which they had always viewed the noble sacrifice she made to apprehend- ed duty, of an interest so dazzling. The gayer parts of your epistle enchanted them by their brilliance. The ingenious comparison of this late intoxicated, and now sick and du|or- dered kingdom, to a tavern company, after a drunken riot, highly pleased the somewhat £i8ti- dious taste of my mgenious host. He called your manner of writing vivid, strong, and original. We do not always agree in our opinion of talents and composition. He often thinks my approbation too glowing, I his too coy ; but we are perfectly in unison concerning the strength and fertility of imagination in your letters, and in the poems of Hayley. Mr Dewes agreed with me, that these poems equal Dryden's, as to the luxuriance of poetic creation, and the happiness of allusion, avoiding the slovenly coarseness of his style. Digitized by Google LETTER XXllU 109 Johnson's daughter-in-law, dear Lucy Porter, was buried this evening. The little asperities of her petulant humour had all softened down in her long illness, sustained with true Christian pa- tience. Thus we saw her passing slowly away from us, and saw it with considerable regret; but she had no regret ; none of those yearnings after protracted existence ; none of those terrors at ap- {H-oaching dissolution, which hung about the sternly-fading form of her mighty father-in-law* I cannot quit this funeral theme, without ob- serving to you, how I was shocked to read of poor Beardmere's death; so fiill of health, bloom, and prosperity, as I lately saw him, and in the strength and vigour of his life ; but nature deals much in this ^' cunning flattery." Your old acquaintance, Kitty —, who mar- ried a Warwickshire squire, lives very near Mr Dewes, and squiresses it with much loquacious importance ; but away with every thing like sar- castic comment upon a prudent wife, a kind mo- ther, and a cheerful desirable neighbour. Ah! how much a more useful creature than such a celibaic cypher as myself ! You coin a word now and then, Jso pray welcome my stranger-epithet. Her sons are fine youths ; and her eldest daughter is *' the fairest flower of the vicinage." Digitized by Google no LSTTsa xxm. Sorely, you are too hard upon the military pro- fession, by denying all compatibility between the life of a soldier and the faith of a Christian. Texts may be found in Scripture, which authorise ibm union ^ and as the general reice of mankind' so loudly applauds the darii^s of human bi^heiy, a good man may certainly, without beii^ a deist, persuade himself, that he is doing his duty, when he defends his king and country, at the hazanl of his own life, and at that of sheddii^ die fife^Mbod of their foes. How finely has the old Colossus, whose writii^s I love even more than I diriflie his disposition, — how finely has he described the force of military allurements ! " The festal blazes, the triumphal shew, The ravish'd standard, and the captive foe ; The Senate's thanks, the Gaiette's pompons tale, With force resbtless o'er the braTe prevaiL Such bribes the rapid Greek o'er Asia whirled, For this the steady Roman shook the world ; For such, m distant lands, the Britons shine, And stain witli blood the Danube and the Rhin^ Yet reason frowns on war's unequal game, Where wasted nations raise a single name, And mortgaged lauds their grandsires wreaths regret, From age to age in everlastmg debt ; Wreaths, which at last the dear-bought right convey To rust on medals, or on stones decay." You and I, however, shall close our dispute in perfect unison, equally deprecating the horrors of Digitized by Google liBTTBR XXtll. Ill war; detesting it on all less diait necessary occa:^ sions^ and lamenting the delusive fires of false glory, diat gild the fatal conflicts of restless am- bition. Mrs Graofviile shewed me Jenny Harry's apo- logetic tract on quitting our church in favour of qtaikerism^ at so vast a sacrifice of worldly inte<- rest* We all agreed, for it was read aloud in the Wellsbum circbi that this tract evinced depthof thought,* asid pbwers of reasoning, that, in a girl of twenty, were very extraordinary. It occasrion^ ed us to comment, with fresh indignation, upoh the rujBian-a^perity of Dr Johnson on this subject; for I had previously recounted to tfiem the con- versation of diat tremenddus evening, as Mr Boih well calls it, at BHly's, when you, with patient and placid smiles, calmly and concisely refuted the roarings of bigot rage, which induced his shud- dering friend^s emphatic whisper — ^* I never saw this mighty lion so chafed before/' Thank you for your charming portraits of Mrs Lort and Mrs Hunter ; one the child of wit, the other of imagination. Yours is die simile of s»- milies, for those coldly-prudent hearts so diffe- rently constructed from that of the fair enthusiast Mrs H. ! ** Pagods that sit squat, demure, and alone, in separate niches." I am honoured by the Digitized by Google. HIE LETTER XXIII. predilection of those charming women in my fift>- voiir. As to a miscellany of mine, diere is certmnly sufficient materials in my desk to fill several vo- lumes, without marginal lakes spread out betvireen the passages; but they must be arranged, cor- rectedy and transcribed, ere they can approach the press ; and I almost despair, of ever finiding leisure for the task. How dear Mr Hayley, vnth those burning eyes of his, which, ** though clear, to x>utward sight, of blemish or of spot," annoy him so much by the sense of internal inflammation, how he gets through those numerous beautiful produc- tions which he presents to the public, I cannot imagine ; but, indeed, he lives in hermitic retire-- ment, and I in the mill-horse round of a provin- cial city's diurnal society. I meant to have spoken to you farther of the spirited graces of Cowper's Task ; but in a letter, already voluminous, I must not give my ideas their full license on the subject. The sublime, though gloomy, fires of Young, with the corro- sive ones of Churchill, stream blended through its later pages. The author seems almost as re- ligious as the former, and quite as ill-natured as the latter. Shield me from saints who look up- on the world as a den of fools and knaves ! I 5 Digitized by Google I.BTTER ICXIIl. 113 ^pine when nuch possess a muse pf fire, ivith whom dwell the creative powers of imagery, the soft bright hues of description, and the melting influence of pathos. The beautiful apostrophe to Omaia, together with many other parts of this poem, breathes of all these ins(Mratious. What an interesting object is your Mary Llpyd in her rural habiliments, with all her serene emar nations streaming around her ! .And O ! what a truly comic scene is formed by your description of Mrs in her fine coach, and yourself standing upon your own steps, and hammering out excuses for not having returned her visits! That ever wit and humour should have enabled you to present yourself so exactly to my ideas in the form of a turkey-poot, casting about,. with a pitiful poked-out neck, for its lost companion. How was I diveited by the fine lady's fine lamentation, in her fine coach, for the loss of your society, which js to her just such a loss as our late friend, the blind philosopher, would sustain on the removal of a Claud-land- scape from his apartment ! When I came to the Turkey-poot passage, I exclaimed, witli Lady -Grace, " O ! I see them, I see them ! " You al- ways stoop, and poke out your pretty long neck, when you are noni-plussed. ATOIi. I. H Digitized by Google 114 LSTTEB XXIV. My citfiosity is on fire to become acquainted with my sisters, the old maidsy of whom I hear so much, and which are said to be the bard's. My bookseller, neglecting ray order, has vexed me by delay. What«n age of wit and genius is the present! But the world will never be cured of its cant about ** weakened nature and exhaosted art." Shaftes- bury and Addison so canted in tkdr period^ now called the Augustan : £nvy of contemporary claims produces, and will ever produce it. W6 have plenty of ravens, that fly croaking about, and seek to darken, with their flapping wings, the present gcJden day. — ^Farewell ! LETTER XXIV. Court Dewes, Es^. lAcl^eld, Jan. 30, 1786. Cold and dreary was my journey from the mansion of many pleasures at^W^bum, thfough the snowy length of ui^oyous roads : but how- ever destitute of bodily comforts, fiKal hopes^ the delight which I knew my return would diiiise through the dear aged bosom, recompensed the Digitized by Google LETTEE XXIV. ] 15 duilness and monotcHij of ovtMnnl objects. The lia{»p]iie8s my fsitber expfi^ssed oit my return, made itinipossible for me to regret the loss of any grataficatifMis which he had not shared. It 18 not to you that I scruple to acknowledge .this^ amidst my gratefiil thanks for your late attentioosi as well as ainmated welcome. They have left me largely your debtor. All the politeness of your spirit is in the rea- son you give for the decreasing interest of the Task, the two first books of which I had the ho- nour to read to you. But, i» truth, the interest of that poem does decrease on its progress. It is ill for the interest of a muse, at least with people of benevolent taste, when she quits the mazes of sportive invention, pathetic description, and ge»- nerous sentiment, for those thorny paths of acri^ monious satire, whose darkness is rendered vi- sible by the flashes of the reader^s just iodigna* tion. As to the Old Maids, I still rely upon ii^mal evidence respecting the auithor of that work. Per^- haps I wish no man had written it, while- 1 feel that no wom«i would; but I persevere in be* lieving there is but one man in Europe, since it lost Volteire, whose species of wit is responsible for that ver7 nneommon ct^npositton. Digitized by Google Il6 LETTRR XXIY. Apropos of old maids. — ^After a gradual de- cline of a few months, we have lost dear Mid Porter, the earliest object of Dr Johnson's love. This was some years before he married her mo^ ther. In youth, her fair, clean complexion, bloom, and rustic prettiness, pleased the men. More than once she might have married advan- tageously ; but as to the enamoured affections, ^ High Tanras' sdow, fiumM by the eastern wind, Was not more cold." Spite of the accustomed petulance of her tem- per, and odd perverseness, since she had do ma- lignmice, I regret her as a friendly creature, of in- trinsic worth, with whom, from childhood, I had been intimate* She was one of those few beings who, from a sturdy singularity of temper, and some prominent good qualities of head and heart, was enabled; even in her days of scanty mainte- nance, to make society glad to receive, and pet the grown spoiled child. Alffluence was not hers till it came to her in her fpitieth year, by the death of her eldest brother. Fron^ the age of twenty till that period, she had boarded in Lich- field with Pr Johnson's mother, who 4tiU kejpt that little bookseller's shop, by which her bus* band bad supplied the scanty means of existence. Digitized by Google LETTER XXIV. U7 Meantime, Lucy Porter kept the best company of our little city, but i/^^ould make no ^igagement on market-days, lest Granny, as she called Mrs Johnson, should catch cold by serving in the shop. There Lucy Porter took her place, standii^ be- hind the counter, nor thought it a disgrace to thank a pioor person iivho purchased from her a penny battledore. With a marked vulgarity of address and lan- guage, and but little intellectual cultivation, she had a certain shrewdness of understanding, and piquant humour, with the most perfect truth and integrity. By these good traits in her character, were the most respectable inhabitants of this place induced to bear, with kind smiles, her mu- lish obstinacy, and perverse contradictions. John- son himself, often her guest, set the example, and extended to her that compliant mdulgence which he shewed not to any other person. I have heard her scold him like a schodi-boy, for soiling her floor with his shoes, for she was clean as a Dutch- woman in her house, and exactly neat in her per- son. Dress too she loved in her odd way ; but we will not assert that the Graces were her hand- maids. Friendly, cordial, and cheerful to those she loved, she was more esteemed, more amusing, and more regretted, than many a polished charac- ter, over whose smooth, but insipid surface, the Digitized by Google 118 I^fiTTER XXIV. attention of those Mrho have mind passes Ibtless and uninterested. Adieu ! — Do I flatter myself inordinately by the idea, that I am sometimes regretted in that circle at Wellsburn, ivhich so well understands how to speed and illuminate the winter's day ? LETTER XXV. Rev. T. S. Whalley, on the Continent. Lichfield, Feb. 1, 1786. Often has .it ^been .mine to experience that unplesasantsensationf of 'Stagnated abilities, under the inftuence of which you began your.letter ; but imagination soon geta afloat ifpon the risiiig ener- gies of .friendly communication. I smiled. ta^see how. quickly yours b^an to. glide away. through the pages before me,- with e^ry- sail of the ima- gipation unfurled ; yet it grieved me to see the saUe flag waving amopgst them. Alas! poor L ! — Surely the once. gay and, frolic Estr^ia will feel some kind r^^ts^ some upbraidings of conscience^ when she hears of .bis deaths a4.con- Digitized by Google I.ETTBR XXY.^ 119 siderable period of whose existeace her ci^cioiu desertion had emlntteied. I am charmed with your description of Aix, and its emerald avenues — ^with your picture of the gloomy and infested passage between the cleft locks on the load to Maneilles, in which the gende Mrs WhaUey was an armed heroine; and with the town itself, that spl^idid and filthy tilty^ that '^ stands and stinks instate/' vod whose operar singers must, to a blind person, suggest the idea of holding their noses while they warble. I long to wander in the orange-groves of Heiles. Wfa^icecomesit, that.poetryhas not celebrated this Gallic Arcadia i How infinitely more love- ly.is France in her vegetable dian in her human iprodttctions? The first perfume the air widi .their, balmy gs^. and delicious odours, while the latter pollute it with the waoet ^odious degree oi, uncleanliness. The want of taste and solicitude for eztenial purity .always destroys my confidence in the internal worth. Having never seen a laige town on. the .mangin of the extended ocean, I^had annexed an idea of loneliness to the jea*shore. You< describe-an ex* tent of coast, many miles in length, populous and busy as the banks of the Thames, and make me see Digitized by Google 120 LETTER XXV. * White Cocolleto gleaming on tiie strand. And steep Saint Remo numing up the rocks; As eager to iqiproacfa, with pious haste, The dome maternal, that majestic sits Calm on the heig'lits before her olive cone. And is it no more than thus with the de- scendants of the great Columbus ? Ah ! since ikey must labour for their daily bread, I hope tl^y are unconscious of their illustrious origin, lest reflection, on a degeneracy so cruel, should make the sweat of their brows corrosive to their peace ! But Genoa, the magnificent city ! — ^which seems to possess a right to that boast, which the ena- moured Andre thought could belong (mly to little Lichfield^ even to that celebrated exclamation which the Prophet makes for Babyloi^ ^' I. am, and there is none beside me." The image in your nocturnal navigation is truly poetic — the moon drof^ing- her brilliants in the sea,' and e<^ing its curling waves with silver; — ^but O ! how have you muddied the poetically crystal Amo, by dashing the torch of tntth into its waters ! A new star is arisen in our poetic hemisphere, with very powerful lustre ; yet I by no means * Towns on the Italian coast. Digitized by Google I.BTTER XXV. 121 think its generally red and ai^ry beams very au- spicious to human happiness, or to human virtue. The name of this luminary is Cowper ; his work, entitled The Task, has many and great poetic beauties, both as to imagery, landscape, and sen- timent ; yet the author perpetually shews him- self to be a sarcastic misanthropist. It opens, however, with a gay and enchanting genealo- gy of seats, from the three-legged stool of Al- jfred to the accomplished sofa of Geoi^c the Third ; but this delicious gaiety of spirit soon shuts in. Do you remember these lines in an old Scotch balled, called *The Flowers of the Forest? *' I have seen Tweed streaming With sun-beams blight gleaming. Grow drunUij and black as he rolls on hu way.'* So it is with the muse of Cowper. But Bristol seems the soil where poetic plants, of wonderful strength and luxuriance, spring up amidst the weeds and brambles of vulgar life. The milk-woman's celebrity must have reached you across the seas. She is said to have be- haved most ungratefully to her humane and en- ergetic patroness. Miss H. More. Inflexible mo- ral honesty, stern uncomplaining patience, that silently endured the bitterest evils of want, are re- Digitized by Google 122 LETTER XXV. corded. by tbe.pen of that celebrated lady^ in tbe anecdotes she formerly gave ua of this muse-bom woinder. Her Mrritings breathe a gloomy and jealous dignity of spirit. Great delicacy was re* quired in the manner of cooferriag obligati^m.on a mind so tempered. Miss More's letter to Mrs Montague, prefixed. to I«actiUa's first publicatioi^ struck me with an air. of superciliousness^ towards the Being she; patronized ; and the pride of genius in adversity revolted. So, in a similar situation^ would surly Samuel Johnson have spumed the hand tfaat> after it haxl procured hint the bounty of others, sought to dictate to him as to its use ; and that resentment, which, in her, is universally ex- ecrated, would, coming down to us now as a re- cord of his emerging talents, have been generally excused, and probably, with whatever little rea« son, admired. I should not wonder if this sud- dep reverse of public esteem should send this kindred. s|Hrit of .the unfortunflOe Chatterton's to attend his manes, in the dreary pitith of suicide. From a blind. alley. of tbe same distinguished ) city, a third * illiterate genius has started up, with powers little .inferior: to Lactilla's. He sets his compositions: to pleasing, though wild, airs of his own. The world, however, refuses to celebrate and protect him,, as it did her; sheltering its con- * Biyant, the maker of tobacce-pipes. Digitized by Google LETTER XXV4 12s tempt under declamations upon die ingratitude of the milk-i¥oman. Critics are also started up^ producing books abounding with Ibe jpawn of Johnsonian envy, unsupported with Johnsonian ability, and lina* domed with Johnsonian wit* The sweet syren, Mrs Smith, is at Bath, and very kindly received. She writes us extremely pietty and pathetic I letters. We learn from them, that flistrimcHiy has not extiflgvidied Mrs Velley's enlkufliasm .ahmt your talents and virtues. I cbaw'^a pleasing prognostic for that lady's fiiture happiness, from her having, wi& her own hands, dressed Mrs Smidi for her first essay in the con* certHPOom. It shews that Major Velley throws- no", damp of disapprdiwtion upon her active and affiible benevolence, from the strutting jealou^ of false (fignity. Sophia kindly regrets your and' Mrs W.^s absence frv>m Bath on Mrs Smith's account, conscious as she is, how warmly you would have patronized that {deasing young wo- Tlie drow^ hour has stdien upon >m&-«-my eyes are heavy— rso is my heart, at times, when I think of friends whom I might search for in vain over this island, of no narrow bounds. Digitized by Google 124 LETTER XXVT. LETTER XXVI. H. Repton, Esq,* Lichfield, Feb. 9,3, 1786. It vfwi vith the true English sullenness that your spirit felt repressed and deadened rbeneath the consciousness of havings by procuring a frank, laid youriself under the necessity of writing to me on a certain day. From the style of your first p^ge^ I perceive, you ' fancied your talents in cramping'-ironsy and that they must necessarily plod through the white waste of blank paper, with a dull and heavy pace; amd I smile rto ob- serve how soon you found these same ideal cramp- ihg-irons were, in reality, a pair of light skates, on which imagination glided: rapidly away,, with every free and graceful exertion; since .the very next passage tp that which complains of the re- tarding power of that restraint, is h^hly beautiful and ingenious. It is on the subject of the cele- brated — ■, expressing your doubts whether * A gentleman well known by his skill in landscape garden* ing, and not less distinguished by private worth and polished Digitized by Google LETTBB XXVI. 125 a visit from you would prove yffi.come, because you had not made one before ber benefit ; observ- ing, that ^^ the little. you have to bestow must be •confined to merit in distress ; that it is only for the greatly aiBuent to reward Genius in affluence ; since, though a watering-pot may refresh a bed of drooping flowers, nothing less than the liberal showers of the wide horizon can nourish the woods and lawns, or ripen to perfection the abun- dant harvest/' No metaphor can be more com- plete than that, — no allusion more happy. By reflecting back upon your recollection this admirable sentence, I justify myself against your charge of partial praise on the theme of your epistolary talents ; like the lover who, when his mistress tells him he flattera her, leads the nymph to the looking-^ lass. My pen, let me tell you, never troubles itself to manufacture unmeaning compliments, and scorns the task of disingenuous flattery — but, as I love commendation myself, where my heart tells me I deserve it, and where I have any confidence in the judgment of the commender, so I also. love to in- dulge my spirit in the luxury of encomium where I can honestly bestow it. That I have an eye quick to discern the emanations of genius, and of just and generous sentiments; and. a mind which del^hts to contemplate their graces, and to ap^ Digitized by Google 126 IBTTBH XXVt. pkiRl their cultitati(m> is at least my ha|ipiiiess^ if it isnot allowed to be my praise. Yottr makiBg these propensities of' mine an insuperable bar to a coBi»iiiiiicatio» of mjr letters to ai^y of your friends, is surdy a needless scruple. If thas is noi false modesty, the frnd^ permission' T often give my companions of penising ingeniouB letters addressed to myself, though sprinkled over with the hyperboles of partiality, must strike them as a proof of vanity. But, in tntdi, if the readers of such letters see clearer on the subject of my ta^ lents and disposition than the vnriters, I conclude they observe, v^ith Stdh, on her being shewn Swift's beautiful poem, Cadenus and Vanessa, that '' a man of genius may vnite finely on a broom-stick." However, your reserve about my letters is, per- haps, in my &vour, though the sennbflity which produces it may be superfluous, since my letters, like my verses, are not much calculated to please the popular taste. I admit, in a great degree, the justice of all you say on the subject of my paraphrastic odes from Horace. If I had ever entertained the idea of translatix^ or paraphrasing the lyric compositioas of that very agreeable poet regularly, I should have probably renounced it after having read your Digitized by Google LETTEB rXTI. !£•? tastiettier; but I had no suck inHeatioii; yet^ as I jfuMJ it very amusu^ to give an English dress to a few of the most beautiful, while my hair is dressBigy.and as the attempt has greatly pleased some of my learned friends^— aoee they flatter me with hvfing cao^t the qnrit, while I departed from the letter of the poet, I have ventured to send one for every month since this year com- menced, to the Gentleman's Magazine, and per- hapfS may continue that tribute till it expires. Mr Hayley calls these same litde odes of mine beautiful; His partial regard for me may render his praise too vivid. for their merit; but that praise cannot be bestowed, with any degree of truths upon the entire translations of the Horace- odes which the scholars have given. That it cskh not, affords proof to me that they will not bear a liieral or even close translation,? without losing their fire and tfaek- grace. If I have rendered a few of them interesting to even bnrt- one genuine disciple of the muses, my triffing, for I cannot call it labour, has not been in vnn. Over the lyre of Horace I throw an un- fettered^ perhaps a presumptueos, hand. That you. have not read the Clanssa does not much s^Lcile my wonder. I Jmow the aversion which most sensiUe payple have to novels ; and those who> likeyon^ live much in the wovld,. are Digitized by Google 128. LETTER XXVI ; deterred by tbe idea of eight volumes closely writ-' ten. It is but of late years diat this work has been considered as amongst the English classics. I thank you for promising to read it with atteiH tion. Nothing is more agreeable to me than the consciousness of having opened new sources of ra* tional delight to those whom I esteem. You tell me that Mrs Repton reads to you in an evening while you draw. I envy you the Julian faculty of dividing your attention without break* ing it into useless fragments. If it was early instead of late in my large sheets I should speak to you of the publicationa which have attiacted attention since I wrote to you last. Mr BoswelFs entertaining Toiur with the growling philosopher, over the desert Hebrides/ which, ihroi^h the fidelity of the describer, enables us to discern most distinctly the colloquial brightness of that luminary^ and also its dark and turbid spots ; — ^Those pharisaic meditations, with their popish prayers for old Tetty's soul ; their con- trite parade about lying in bed on a momii^; drinking creamed tea on a fast-day ; snoring at sermons, and having omitted to ponder well Bel and the Dragon, and Tobit and his Dog: — ^Cow- per's Task, which the. generous reader of poetic susceptibility at once censures and adores : O ! that such a master of the metaphoric^ the'alluMve, Digitized by Google tBTTEB XXVll. JS9 the iscenicy and the pathetic graced^ should so often la^ them aside to vrfiip the follies of the age with ah iron^rod/ sottietiittes AiistakiHg good for evil pi'opertsities^ as^'when^he satki^^es the amiable warmth of e^cmium il)k>ll the tidents it reveres! The Esn^ay oir Old Maidk ^ ceitataly the prodoc- tibn of that pett/wh6se geniUs> w}t> and tearnitig', thrown most 6f i«s lit^ra^ tivdh tft ii^eaburable dtstance; Thiswhimidteal v^dl^k/richly ilhnAinat^ ed by all those' emKtiatiolds^ iiO' lightly/ so wantoni ly betrays the c^xvSe it affdet^ to defend^ that I could wisli it had never pal^sed the pfess^ My heart rejoices that' this sifeVere winter has passed its gloomy zenitfi; trembling ds^ I do for the ef* feet of its keen' blasts updh my aged' Aursdiilgl Adieu. LETTER XXVII. James Boswell, Esq. Licl^ldj March 25,^ r-. " No, Sir/* there are not any lees — ^the spirit of your Tour with Johnson nms clear to the last VOL, r. I Digitized by Google ISO LETTEE XXVII. syllable. Those who are not interested in its anecdotes, can have little intellectual curiosity and no imagination, llose who are not enter- tained with the perpetual triumph of sarcastic wit over fair ingenuous argument, must be sturdier moralists than even Johnson himself affected to have been ; and those who do not love the biogra- pher, as they read, whatever imperfection th^ may find in the massive Being whom he so strong- ly characterizes, can have no hearts. I confess, however, that it was not without some surprise that I perceived so much exulta- tion avowed concerning the noble blood which flows in your veins ; since it is more honourable for a man of distinguished ingenuity to have been obscurely than splendidly descended; because then his distinctions are more exclusively his own,- Often, as well you are aware, have nobles, princes, ' perhaps kings, stood awed in the presence of the son of a Lichfield bookseller. Can die recorder of his life and actions think birth of consequence i Mr Boswell is too humble in fancying he can de- rive honour from noble ancestry. It is for the line of Bruce to be proud of the historian of Cor- sica — it is^ for the House of Auchinlec to boast of him who, with the most fervent personal attach- ment to an illustrious literary character, has yet beet) sufficiently faithful to die just claims of the Digitized by Google I^TTEB XXTII. 131 public upon biographic fidelity, to represent him, not as his weak or prejudiced idolaters might wish to behold him ; not in the light in which they de- sire to contemplate Johnson, who pronounce his writings to be an obscure jargon of pompous pe* dantry, and his imputed virtues a superstitious ^rragt) of pharisaic ostentation; but as he was the most wonderful composition of great and ab- surd, of misanthropy and benevolence, of lumi- nous intellect and prejudiced darkness, that was ever produced in the human breast. The only part of this work whose omission I could much have wished, is the passage which re- cords the despot's injustice to Mrs Montague's in- genious and able Treatise on Shakespeare. Its omission, as all my correspondents observe, would have been much more consonant than its appear- ance to the philanthropy of the biographer. I have, it is true, seen a great deal of nonsense about your Tour in the public prints, and that both in its praise and abu&e« It is hard to say who are most absurd, they who vilify its enter- taining eflusions, as vapid and uninteresting, or they who faiity they see a perfect character in the stupendous mortal whom its pages exhibit in lights so striking and so various ; bowing down before the relics of popish superstition ; repay- Digitized by Google 132 LBTT£n XXVII. ing jthe hospitable kindness of the Scotdr profes- sors with unfeeling exultation over the barrenness of their country, and the imputed foUy of their re- ligion; and roammgy Uke a Greenland bear^ over Caledonia and her lonely isles. I have written to Ihe elegant bard of Sussex^ to Mr Whalley, who i9 on die Contment, to my late and ever-honoured friend; Dr John Jebb, and my other literary correspondimts upon the merits of your Tour ; and in a spirit of warm en- comium upon die gay benevolence^ characteristic traits, scenic graces, and biographic iiddity which adorn its pages ; observing also how valuable a counterpart it forms to Dr Johnson's Tour to the Hebrides. In one we perceive, through a me- dium of solemn and sublime eloquence, in what light Scotland, her nobles, her. professors, and her chieftains appeared to the august wanderer ; in die other how the growling philosopher ap- peared to them. If the use of biography is to as- certain and discriminate character, its domestic minuteness is its most essential excellence. The nearly universal approbation with which those whose opinions are of consequence, have mentioned your work to me, precludes all ideas of defence against the frothy spleen descending so continually upon ii^eniowsr composition from the Digitized by Google LBTrSRXXTIlI* 133 pea of anonymous criticiam. It desc^jtds in plen- teous efiusion, • ^ But ksves no ipol or bliBie MuBcL *' LETTER XXVm. Miss Scott. Lichfield, March 29, 1786. Can k be.diat three months of this dreary sea- son have elapsed, without affording me an oppcM** tiuuty of e:it;pressing the satisfecticm I feel from perceiving you likely to renounce the painful cQOkbat with long-«stablished affection i Ah ! if the delay of Mr Tayloi^s wishes were to termi- nate only with your mother's existence, who shall aay ^hen it may end i His lot is harder than that of Jacob toiling for his Rachael, if Hope has no distincter goal. Meantime life wears and wastes. I ventured to pass 4ie Christmas.month at Wells- htti;n, in Warwickshire, besneatfa the hospitable and el^ant mansion of my friend, Mr Etewes, u gentle* man ^f many virtuesi and many accomplishments. Digitized by Google 134 LETTER XXVIII. They are of a nature to make one regret bis celibacy. A younger brother of. his changed the name of Dewes to that of Granville for a large fortune, left him by his uncle. I have heard, had Mr Granville chosen it, he might have obtained the . Lansdown title, being descended from that fa- mily. His lovely lady, with a mind well culti- vated, and adorned by every feminine virtue, has the most ingenuous and cfaartning manners ima- ginable. She and her equally excellent husband, and another brother of Mr Dewes, with the re- spective children of each, formed our party. These agreeable families reside in the village, and several in the neighbourhood, with whom we had much social intercourse. Qur short 4lay and long evening were divided with a regularity that husbanded the hours. They were, in turn, en- livened by music and poetry, by some agreeable evening card-parties, and by convivial sprightli- ness. Thus it was that we scarce heard the howl- ing of those sleety storms that made the without scene so total a contrast to that within. The vil- lage of Wellsbum almost borders on the park of the Lucy family, from whence Shakespeare stole the deer. To the many other pleasures of that excursion, was added an ineffably pleasing sensa* tion, the result of finding myself, for the first time of my life, in the ^hakesperian region ; in meet- Digitized by VjOOQIC LBTTEB XXVllI. 135' iiigy on our visits^ the waves of the Avon^ thougli they were crusted over with ice. No, dear Miss Scott, Johnson's mind was not originally perv^ed by applause ; diough, when his I^rary fame became established, tlie dread of his merciless wit infiised into the feelings of his auditors a servility which fed the diseases of his nature^ arrogance and envy; but they were in- herent propensities, which ^^ grew with his growth, and strer^thened wtth his strength/^ The rigid, nay the uncharitable orthodoxy of his avowed opinions, was the source of that flood. of adulation which has been poured upon his tomb* He stood forth the vengeful champicm of the established hierarchy. It became necessaiy to i»it upon his character the whole armour of virtue, to give weight to his applauses, and force to his anathemas* The clergy are a numerous class, and, in general, the most literary of. all other classes. They seek to make Johnson a saint^ after tfa^ same manner, and for similar rea- sons, that the monks canonized very frail kings, when Popery was in Corc^ amongst us. Miss Reeves' * reply to my Stricture on her Richardsonian absurdity, is at once weak and art- fid. Her Treatise on Romances is, in every r^ * Gent, Af ag. Feb. 1780. Digitized by Google spect, a wpric extremely bel«w the level of thoae talents to which we believe lOurseliws iBdebted for Ihe achnirable fiogliah Bacun. .Hie focmer seems chiefly written to. court the favour of our jreview^ ersy whom it mjmdy invests with iiuit justice and ability of fiecisioa to which .their gmeral strictures )iave so JUtle pveteosion. How should they be uble, and Mw are they likely to be Just, com'* posed, as the general class of them are, of hire- ling authors, wbose own works have not merit, or C:elebrity to afford them a maintenance ? Hence lue they naturally the foes of their superior and more fortunate rivals. Miss Reeves, m her work OB roQiioiGes, exposes her ignorance in terming H. Cleveland. an original, and the composition of an unknovm writer; since it is well understood to be a. tnmslatioii from the celebrated Abb6 Prevost. We are this year threatened with as long a dreariness as buushed from, 'the last our genial hours of iresh psdusive sweetness ; robbed oiv banks of their primroses and violets, and our fields and hills of their golden king-cups. Digitized by Google LSTT£K XXIX. 137 LETTER XXIX. Miss Weston. Lkhfield, March 28, 1786. You seem surprised, dear Sophia, at my idea diftt thttne is the^same sort of differoice between Mr W/s liters and Aose of a certain friend of yours^ that exists in dieir mutual poetr}'. In cbaracteming the talents of poetic writers, I al- ways fate their claim by the merit of their best week. Such of their writings as haye marked in^ feriocity to that never occur to me on the esti- mate. In mentioning this difference, I thought solely of.the interefltiug and beautiful Edwy and Edikla. Mr W« is there in verse what he is in prose ; when his spirit takes the wings of the moiraing, and flies to those it loves, from distant regions o£ the earth, infused in all her tender dews, and arrajfed in all her orient colours. But to jdrop the metiq^hor ; that dear poem is surely the exact count^part of his letters, often diffuse, and often heedl^s of elegance, in particular ex- pressions, bat always abounding with the most touching pathos, the most exalted sentiments, the Digitized by Google 15B LETTER XXIX. most glowing and picturesque descriptions ; ner- vous at timeSy but not habitually nervous. He has now been sil^t longer than usual ; and I be- gin to grow anxious for tidings of his and Mrs Whalle/s welfare. Our avidity to hear from those we love, is always, in some degree, proportioned to the consciousness of their distance, especially when Imagination sets her hoiur-glass on the ocean's edge. ' Mr Saville's spirits begin to recover die deep shock they received in the strange deaUi of his un^ fortunate daughter. — His Elisabeth, whose life and manners form so amiable a contrast to that of hei* sister, is gone to Bath, to imbibe more of that honied eli^ance, which Mr Rauizzini infuses into her tones and manner of silking Italian. Ah ! Sophia, it will be in vain that you expect trust in friendship, against appearances, from her to whose devoted affection, of twenty years* dura- tion, an could be ungrateful. Friendship is a serious sentiment ; and, however the imi^- nation may be charmed, the heart sighs when it perceives its affectionate enthusiasms iepaid only by the light flourishings of gallantly, and the sparkling explosion of wit. On perusing such gay, such short, such seldom epistles from the dear and ever-honoured bard, I exclaim, with Ophelia, '^ No more, but so ! ** — ^reniepiberii^ Digitized by Google LETTER XXXX. 159 the frequency, the length, and the heart-waim style of our first correspondence. Little did I once think that those prized letters would prove ** But violets iu the youth of priiny friendship. Forward, not perraanent, tbo' sweet not lasting. The perfame, and snppliance of a minute.** My opinion of the Recess, of its faults, and of its beauties, is congenial to your own ; but £ can- not think it possesses that strong hold on the heart, with which the pages of Werter so irre- sistibly seize it. I scarce wept at die Recess, full of studied misery as it is ; while the so natu* rally mournful pages of Werter rissist the indu- rating effect of repeated perusals, and drown me in exhaustless tears. Mr Dewes, Mr Arch-Deacon Clive, Mr Grove, Dr Gregory, and several other of my li^ terai-y friends, gratify me by the warmest praises of my paraphrases of some of the most beautiful of Horace's odes. It is on no occasion that I have been better satbfied with my rouse, I must confess, than when, after having put an ode of Horace into English verse, I have examined the translation of it by Francis, Oldsworths, and Duncombe. I shall adopt some fine lines^ which I have met with on Dr Johnson's imitations of Juvenal's Satires — not vainly to say what I have done, but what I have fished and aimed to do. Digitized by Google 140. LETTEB XXIX. ^ BolcOy ay anient spirit seeks tinfiise The vigorous sense of the Horatian muse -, WouM shine with more than a reflected light, And with a ftoman's ardour think and write. Hie latiao flower, transplanted by weak hands, To bloom a while ^titioas heat demands ; Tho* glowing Horace a fidnt wannth supplies. The sickly blossom in the hot-house dies. But from more genial culture, art, and toil, Tbe root strikes deep, and owns a kindred soil ; Imbibes our sun thro' all its glowing veins. And grovro a native of Britannia's plains.'* So the voluptuous, ike refined, the gay, tbe diaaipated votary of fashion and expence, Mr, after having lavished away a noble fortune, avows his resolve to renounce the world, to retire into the country, to keep no servant, and content him- s^ with the mere necessaries of life. I hope there can, after all his imprudenpe, be no necesai- ty for an extreme so violent — ^for a contrail so to- tal ; and if there should, I doubt his perseverance, and therefore said to him, Avith a smile of Mend- ed pity a^d affection, -^ What ! thinkest tbou, That the bleak air, tby boist'rous chamberiain, Will put thy shirt on warm ?— Will those moss'd trees, That have outliv'd the eagle, page tby heels, And skip when tliou point'st out ?— Will the cold brook, Candied with ice, candle thy morning taste To cure thy o'er-o^t> socfeit?" Digitized by Google LBTTEB XXX. 141 Yet^ after M^ the hanUiips of severest absd- nence are less oppressive dian die heart-sick anxiety of conscious debts, and the hourly di^ead of a prison. How can it be, that talents have been so given in vain, as that the silly love of os- tentation should induce those who possess them to strew such wounding thorns upon their pillow? Heaven preserve all I love from the fatal indis- cretion ! LETTER XXX. Court Dewes, Esq. Lichfield, March 30, 1786. YouB profile is extremely like. I could not have received a more acceptable present. Seve- ral have been taken of me, but none would I suf- fer to be preserved, because there was not one which had ascertaining resemblance. Men and women, whose shoulders are on the large scale, appear with ten-fold their real clumsiness in these Digitized by Google 142 LBTTER XXX. shadowy outUnes. Slenderaess b essential to ad- mit their presenting a resemblance' which shall not be caricature ; and surely one's feelings revcUt from a caricature likeness of a friend.. Thank you for GeAeral Burgoyne's comedy, and for Miss More's late sprightly poems*. I am, in general, sick of our modem comedies, ex- cepting the iiresistible Sheridan's ; but, after his, this is one of the best I have seen. The Bland- ishes are a race that swarm in the noon-tide beams of high-life and wealth. Our little city has produced them ; though, for the exercise of their noble talents, they are obliged to resort to the seats of the neighbouring lords, lordlings, See. down to the next class of stateliness above their own. To these — "• Inferiors, horrid! — Equals, what a curse ! " 1 have never seen the portraits of this delectable set of cringers at such full dra- matic length, nor in such just and vivid colours as in General Burgoyne's comedy. Miss Alscrip appears to me to say too many really good things, and her general language is too ingeniously allu- sive to harmonize naturally with her absurd and stupid credulity, when Lady Emily exhibits mock airs of fashion and delicacy. * Florio, a Poetical Tale, and the Bas bleu, or CoQverBa- tion. Digitized by Google LETTBH XXX. 143 Miss More's poems have spirit and genius — but contain an affected and pedantic display of knowledge and erudition, especially the Bas bleu. In the Florio/we find many brilliant passages; many just and striking observations, and some ad- mirable portraits hi satiric traits. Not Hayley himself has drawn a modern beau better. Florio is the rival of Filligree, in the Triumphs of Tem- per, with sufficient difference to avert the. charge of plagiarism from the female author ; — but the versification in Florio is, at times, strangely in- hiurmonious, often alliterating with the hardest consonants, and sometimes disgraced by vulgarism : instances, ^< For fiic^ no mortal coa*d reast her.*' And, << He felt not Celia's powers of face.'' These ^ce-€|xpressions put me in mind of an awkward pedantic youth, once resident, for a lit- tle .time, at Lichfield. He was asked how he liked Miss Honora Sneyd. " Almighty powers I" replied the oddity, " I could not have conceived that she had half the face she has !" Honoi-a was finely rallied about this imputed plenitude of &ce. Digitized by Google 144 LEtTBft XXX, The oval elegance of its delicate add bekuteous contour^ made the exclamation trebly absunL How covdd Miss More so apply a ^u-sscy always expressive of efironteiy i and how could so leiim- ed a lady suffer die pleonasm of the folldwkl^ line to escape her pen f ** With tmth to mm^e fiOiles feign*d. '* The character of Celia is pretty, but in the satiri* cal strokes lie all the genius of die work. As for die Bas bleu.-->-You have heard me sigh after the attainment of other langui^es with hope- less yearning ; yet I had rather be ignorant of diem^ as I am, if I thought dieii* acquisition would induce me to clap my wings and crow in Greeks Latin and French, through the course of a poem which ought to have been writtrai in an un- affected and unmii^led English. I am diverted with its eulogies on Garrick, Mason, and John- son, who all three hated each other so heartily. Not very pleasandy, I trow, would the tw6 former have sat in the presence of Old Cato, as this poem oddly terms the arrogant Johnson, surrounded by the worsUpful and worshipping Blue Stocking. — Had the cynic lived to hear his Whig-tide, Cato» I could fancy him saying to the Uir author. Digitized by Google LBTTEE XXZ. 145 ^' You had better have called me the first Whig, Madam, the father cf the tribe, who got kicked out of Heaven for his repuUkan principles.'' To the lady pcesident herself, I fancy the cynic would not now, were he living, be the most welcome guest, since the puUicatipn of Mr Boswell's Tour. Miss More puts him to bed to little David. Their. mutual qpiates are pretty power- ful, else her quondam friend,. Garrick, would not thank her for. his companion ; — but misery, ma- trimony, and mortality, make strange bed-fel- lows. Who is the Hortensius of this work, Burke, Fox> or Sheridan? and who the Lelius ?. I thank you for your elegant prose translation of Horace's ode to Ligurinus. It convinces, me that Smart .was' very incompetent to. the task he undertook, vrith his ^' unexpected plume coming upon vimity^ colour changing into a wrinkled face, and die question why the former cheeks of the youth cannot, return to his present sentiments." Sudi strange misrendering of a poet's sense is svely most disgraceful to a scholastic pen. In my attempt to give diis ode die poetic dress of our hngnage^ can, you forgive a somewhat lavish expansion of the Horatian ideas i — Speak to me ingenuously coiK:eming the manner in which you VOL. I. K Digitized by Google 146 LKTTEK XXX. think I have performed this your welcome task. Whatever you may dhlike in the execation, I will endeavour to correct ; md, whesa you have a len sure hour^ favour me with a prose translation of the ode to Sallust. In Smart the ideas seem pretty, but there is to me an inscrutable obscuri- ty in one part of his translation. When I last wrote^ I did not recollect that Fal- coner's Shipwreck stood 86 high in your good graces. X now recollect your havii^ honoured that interesting poem widi very witfm applauscy before I even knew of its existence. It was un- grateful in me, for a single instant, to have for- gotten to whose taste I was first indebted for the melancholy pleasure of its perusal* The highly ingenious author ought to have had a place in the Hayleyan apotheosis of our epic poets. The Shipwreck has a better claim to be styled an epic poem than the Araucana, since, from Mr Hay- ley's translation, the latter appears to be rather a strii^ of episodes, than one regular connected story. I understand, that poetically to record any single event, diversified with difierent and discri- minated characters, with noble sentimeiiCs, and with contrasted circumstances of pathos and hor- ror, would entitle any composition to the name of Digitized by Google UITTBR XXX* 147 epic* So Falconer, by. iinidicatiQii^ tertns hU Shipwreck, in these lines, ^ A tale from 4iiU oblivioii to testore, Unknown to fiime, and new to epic lore.*' Mr Hajlej denies the essentiality of supernatural machinery to epic poetry; he recognizes the Rape of the Lock as epic ; he cannot, therefore, refuse that title to the more elevated poem of Falconer. In another edition, therefore, I hope to see the marine bard enrolled and characterized in that thrice-beautifiul work, the Essays on Epic Poetry. Its author has not yet answered my letter on the subject of that witty, but ungenerous sport of fancy, the Old Maids. He is, I fear, displeased with my ingenuousness on that subject; yet I cannot repent of it. How erroneously do the undiscc^ning many judge of character! My enemies say, ^' Miss Seward flatters/' That is the construction which their spleen and coldness of heart puts upon a warm desire to please and oblige those I think estimable; upon the vivid glow of that praise which my heart delights to pour, when it can sin* oerely pour it. Truth can never be flattery. Alas! to the utter incapacity of flattering, even those I esteem, and admire, I have, through life, Digitized by Google 148 LETTER XXX. owed the loss of nmcfa favour that ivas, in itself^ most desirable to my affections — ^but sinceri^ is the first duty of friendship; I ^should blush to commend, if I had not courage to confess my dis- approbation. Should dear Mf Hayleybe offend- ed, I shall be deeply grieved, since words are weak to s^y how much I love, admire, and honour his genius and his virtues. Well ! his continued silence/ or the jstyle of his next letter will shew ; -^ And come M^hat may, Time and its hour runs tbro* tbe roim^t day.** I was much shocked lately to find, by the par pers, that the mortal course of the excellent Dr John Jebb had closed. Never were the graces of conciliation, resulting from warm and ingenu- ous benevolence, more engagingly blended widi superior talents, and high-strui^ virtues, than in that extraordinary man. When we met at Bux* ton, two years ago, and I perceived the languor of life-wasting disease in his graceful form, and pale, but sweet and interesting countenance, I la- mented that I had not earlier known hmi, disr posed, as he seemed, to honour me with his con- fidence and friendship. He indulged me vvith some long and kind letters since we parted— alas ! to meet no more. My heart aches for his Dtgitized by Google LETTEK XXX, 149 unhappy widow. Never saw I connubial affection so unaffectedly animated as his to her^ destitute as she was of every exterior charm. There is much misery in the world, yet I ho^ it is not often of such keen intenseness as poor Mrs Jebb now feel& Her abilities have masculine strength, her sensibilities every feminine excess. She idolized him-^-and well she -might, since > the uncommon plainness of her face, and withered leanness of her form, must treble the impression upon her grati- tude and love, made by unremitting attention and impassioned tenderness. O ! what a dreary de- sert is this world now to poor Mrs Jebb! — her earthly sun is set for ever ! Miss Reeves has shewn, in the Gentleman's Magazine for February, how heinously she takes the indignant remonstance which appeared in the preceding one, with my initials, and affects to sup- pose no female could be capable of what she deems so malicious an attack. Heaven knows it was not written with a malicious, though certain- ly with an incensed pen. Not even unjust reflec- tions upon myself can excite my disdain more in- suppressively than the injustice of criticism upon the talents of those great writers, from whom I have derived instruction and delight ; nor is there any mode of degradation which appears to me Digitized by Google 150 LBTTEB XXX. more ungenerous^ than that of exhibitiiq; some very inferior work of a celebrated writer, and a»> serting it to be bis capital performance— ^espe- cially where the nobler effusiom of his genius have, through the cold frivolity of public taste, passed into a degree of general neglect, by which the rising generation is deprived of the great intellec- tual benefits which must ensue from their being admired and studied. My poor fether had another paralytic attack some ten days since ; but, thank God ! is now oa his usual level of quiet, though feeble health. What unnatural weather [ The past fortnight se- verely cold, as our snowy and piercing week at Wellsbum, in the last rigid December. It flatters me that you wish to see a misceUaay of mine on the same shelf with that of the Bard of Sussex. If health and leisure are lent me, I may one day present you with my poetic florets, collected in one garland ; but faint will be their bloom and odour, compared with the magnolias; roses, and amaranths of the Hayleyan wreadi.— Adieu ! Digitized by Google LETTEB %%Xl. 15,1 LETTER XXXI. To Mrs Mabtin*. Lichfield j June 5, 1786, AFtER a month's whirl in the London vortex^ the blooming and quiet shades of Lichfield have again received me ; and filial pleasures^ from the easy and quiet^ though feeble state of my father's health, bless my return. You were, during my absence, a fleeting visionary beneath those shades. I regret tliat you made this transit through our precincts while I was away. I should have pre* ferred talking to you of what I bad seen and heaixi, to rushing back upon paper into the busy world I have left. In that attempt, much that in^ terested must remain untold, untouched upon, or my letter would be of a length ill tallying with the scantiness of my leisure. And now, from the much that I have observed^ and the little which I have time to* impart, what shall be selected ? Shall 1 talk to you of our animated literary breakfastings, at the house of * A near conAeetioo of Miai Seward, now resident at Balh. Digitized by Google 152 LBTT£R XXXI. Miss Helen Williams, Mr Madias, &c. ; of tbe belle esprits of both sexes, whose genius, wit, and knowledge, made those: little meetings so brilliant i — or shall I talk to you of the abbey- music, <' Loud as from numbers without number, sweet As from blest Toices uttering joy ?" The last is the more popular theme; and there- fore, if you please, it shall be ours. People uni- versally assert, that the world never produced anjr thing of equal effect in the art. Indeed, I be- lieve, that at these festiyds, music touched her ne-plus ultra of excellence ^ for though, perhaps, every solo song has, from the impossibility of any single voice filling completely so immense a space, been lieard in smaller scenes to greater advan- tage ; yet, the sublimity. of .the harmonies, so full and complete in all those. -grea^ effects which HandeFs matchless genius conceived, thougb» from the comparative nothingness, of the^be^ band those days coidd afford him, he heard them not complete with his mortal ears ; the exclu* sion of every thing harsh, and disagreeably noi^^ by the care taken that no order of instruments, or of voices, should preponderate ; the exquisite delicacy with which the songs were accompanied, and the pictui;esque power of several of the cho- Digitized by Google LBTTEB XXXI. 158 nissea, tbat endued the ear with the powers of the eye ; — all these admirables: prodtieed one grand result, that completely satisfied my imagination^ high as report had taught me to set its chiims. Now as to the indiTidual performers. — I allow to your favourite, Harrison^. correctness, el^fance, and taste, and all the coyer graces of his science ; but his voice, however sweet, and, even in its tone, however enriched with that free and perfect shake, is very limited in its compass, and very iiNKlerate in its powers; while. his maimer is whoUj destitute of that £ne enthusiasm, which is vital to the just execution of HandeFs glowing ideas', that breathe the soul of eveiy passion m turn. ' Mrs Billington's voice is of great sweetness, c without any thing original. All the lines that are not the lines of others are weak and unimpressive ; and these hedge-flowers to be preferred^ by a critical dictator, to the roses and amaranths of the two first poets the world has produced ! ! ! — ^It makes one sick. The allegory in this lady's Origin of Flattery, is to me wholly incomprehensible: — Why Venus should take the helmet of Mars, for a vessel in which. to make the oil of flattery, I cannot un- derstand. You will find all that is tolerable in this poem taken from Hesiod's rise of Woman, translated by Pamel. Much, indeed very much, above every thing Mrs Smith has published, are the poems of Helen Williams. We trace in them true sensibility of heart, and the genuine fires of an exalted imagina- tion. Who would not forgive to their sparkling efibrvescence the occasional want of metaphoric accuracy, with all the other juvenile errors of a jiidgnient »» yet unripened by time \ Ere I quit the critical, theme, permit me to iu- veigh against the present senseless custom of ex- cluding all capitals except at the beginning of sentences, and to actual proper names. Such ex- clusion is of serious bad consequence to poetry, Digitized by Google 164 LBTTES XXXIV. I mean to the general taste for it, by rendering it more diflicult to be onderstood by the craraion reader. Capitals to every substantive are com^ brously intrusive upon the ^e^ but surely to vrhat- ever is impersonizedy to whatever acts, a capital letter is as necessary as to a proper nam^. When abstracted qualities are clothed and embodied by fancy, common sense revolts at thw snedcing aj>* pearancewitb a little letter. If we say, '^ We feel pleasure in contemjdating. the lovely scene/' it is proper to write pleasure with a small letter ; but if we say, ^ Pleasure shed all her lustre over ike scene," the word requires a large one as much as any other proper name. It was said to a public singer, who sung an energetic song of Handel's too tamely> '' Zoulids, Sir, you spell God with a little g.'? You will find, in tbe Gentleman's Magazine for June last, a pretty poem of my fsither^s. It contains little sketches of his own local vicissi^ tudes, and of the characters of his brother Canons, then of this oithedral. I had forgotten it, not having s^en its face these- twenty years, nw knew I .that a cop^ was extant. We have no guess by what means it crept into that pubUcatioo, but I am glad it is preserved. Digitized by Google lOSTTSR XXXIY. \65 lu 8 fonner letter I spoke to you of tke graCifi^ catioD my musica] aithusiasn^ met dining a late expedition to town ; — rbut think I forgot to mention that I had three or four mtenriews with the extra*' ordinary and pleasing Mrs. She is in as strong heidtby and as lively spirits^ is as witty^ as humorous, as eloquent^ as firiendJy, as insinuating, as fascinating as ever ; but moi-e than ever snufiy, and dirty, and paltry in her dress; and, amidst her accumulated wealth,. jQore than ever penuri- ous in all her habits. For the first time, I saw the justly celebrated Mrs Siddom^ in • com^y, — riu Rosalind :— r-but thoH^ her.amile i».as,^ichi|ntiiig, as her frown. is magn^e^t, aa her tear? are irresistible, yet tM playful scimiUatians of c<^oquial wit, which mpst atrongly .mark that character, suit, not the dignilgr of the SiddoBian form and countenance. Then her dress waa injudicious. The scrupulous prude- ly of decfiii^y, produce4 an ambiguous vestment, that seemed neither male nor; female.. When she first came on as the princess, nothing could be more charming ; nor than when she resumed her original character, and exchanged comic spirit for dignified tenderness. One of those rays of exquisite and original dis- crimination, which her genius so perpetually eli- cits, shone out on her first rushing upon die stage Digitized by Google 166 LETTEH XXXIV. in her own i*e8umed person and dress ; when she bent her knee to her fether^ the Duke, and said — << To yon I give myself— for I am yonn ;'* and when, idling into Orlando's arms, she re- peated the same words,—- << To yon I give myself— for I am yaun t* The marked difference of her look and voice in repeating that line, and particularly the last word of it, was inimitably striking. Tlie tender joy of filial love was in the first ; the whole soul of ena- moured transport in the second. The extremely . heightened emphasis on the word yours, produced an effect greater than you can conceive could re- sult from the circumstance, without seeing and hearing it given by that mistress of the passions. I do not wonder that the idea of meeting Mrs " in public jars you. -^ Not flie basilisk More deadly to the sight^ ttian to the spnl The cool injorions eye of frozen kindness. Let OS not meet its poison.* Adieu, dear Sophia ; far be firom your spirit eveiy balefiil impression! Digitized by Google LETTEB XXXV. lO? LETTER XXXV. To Mrs Stokks* Lichfield, August 9, 1786. My acquaintance is sach a nothing at Shrews- bury^ dear friend, that I cannot hope my recomr mendations could be of use to Dr Stokes; — but what I can I will. After all that could be done by introduction, even where its sources are plente- ous as mine are limited, it is to the luck of some remarkable cures that young physicians must owe their risii^ into practice. The sense of paii^ and the dread of death, are arbitrary impulses, before which all lesser considerations vanish. Yes, indeed, my expectations were more than answered by the abbey-music. In smaller scenes the single songs have certainly been heard to more advanti^e; but all that resulted from the blended harmoi^, both of voices and instruments, was above description, and beyond compare. The * The lady of Dr Stokes, physician of Chesterfield, Derby- ihwe : ^fffaen fint intimate with Wa Seward, she was Miss Rogers of Dronfield, in that coonty. Digitized by Gopgk 166 XBTTfiRXXXV. picturesque powers of some of the chorusses seemed miraculous. Above all others, in that ce- lebrated one from Israel in Egypt, which describes the return of the Red-sea over the host of Pha- raoh. It is then that^e felt the dire situation from the clang of the trumpets, ihe thunder of the drums, the sounds of wild dismay, which burst in voHies from every part of the vast orchestra, whilst a distinct melod3r was ^prenerved amidst the fearful and noringled tones, -as the horse and his rider were thrown into the seal You inquire afiter my cdrrespoindence with the illustrious H-: — \ It is not what it was; but the deficiency, or cause of d^ciency, proceeds not from me. I bonour.'.aiid' love htm as wdl as ever ; yet I feel that the silver cord of our amity is loosening at more links than tOne. People teaze me with applieaitions to write epitaphs upon their frivoqpite friends: Of fre- quent compliance, there would be no end, aiid I could wish never to ajttemqpt another. That pMh of composition is do narrow, and so b^irt^en, •- that one cannot hope to gather in it one novel floret, especially where an uneventful life, and a conse- quently monotonous virtue preclude the possibili- ty of appropriate praise. As to Madam Genlis on Education, I like not the experiments she is perpetually making on the Digitized by Google I. ETT£ R X & XV.. 16$) nunds and dttpositions of her pupilsy at the ex* pence of truth. Truth ought never to be violat- ed with children, much less should its violation form part of a system. Neither do I approve of Ihe climax of excelloice in the books which she would reconunend as tfie proper studies of young people between fifteen and twenty-five. The species of books that first interest and delight the opening mind about fifteen, we may say, will continue to charm and interest through- life, more than any other kind of books. Remembered de- l^t, and associated ideas, will chain the inclina- tions to that level. A naturally intelligent mind, eapeqally beneath the guidance of an instructor wlMThks just taste, will be found capable of feel- ing the most elevated compontions in prose and verse at fifteen. Sensibility and enthusiasm, then in their prislitie, and consequently stroi^est glow, have an intuitive impression of the vast, the won- derful, the fair, and the elegant. There is no danger, that first-rate excellence in writing will make it less charming to youth, whose taste, in that respect, should early be set as high as pos- sible. But what an interesting story is that of the imprisoned Duchess ! I am in possession of some original letters from Dr Johnson to Miss Booth- by, for whom he had a platonic passion. One Digitized by Google 170 LETTER XXXV of them begins thus : — ^* It is midnight ; I am alone, and m no disposition to slumber. How shall I employ this waste hour of darkness and vacuity ?** Alas! for the story is true; how did that un- happy woman employ nine waste years of dark- ness and vacuity i When, in 1764, Mr Porter came over from Italy to marry ray lovely sister, he told us that singular and almost incredible circumstance, of a woman of fashion, in that country, having then been just discovered and rescued from a nine years confinement in a sub-^ terraneous dungeon, into which no ray of %ht had, m the long long interval, ever penetrated. But he did not, like Madam Genlis, represent her innocent, thoi^h, with great horror and com- passion, he instanced that dire revenge, as a con- sequence of Italian jealousy, which had not recon- ciled itself to the cicesbeo privil^es. I hope you will find Shi^wsbury a prosperous, as certainly it is a pleasant residence. ^ Admired Salopia I that, with Yenial pride, View'st thy fiur foim in Severn's hidd wave,** Be diou auspicious to the health, the interest, and the fame of my friends ! Mr Saville desires his best remembrances to you and the Doctor, whose botanic enthusiasm Digitized by Google LETTER XXXVI. 171 he shares. The botanists all love each other the better for the knowledge and vegetable treasures that each possess. Ah ! why do not the bards thus also ? Envy throws not brands into the conservatory — ^Why will she so often throw them upon the lyre i LETTER XXXVI. To George Hardinge *, Esq. Lichfield, Sept. 10, 1786. ^ Ip Miss Seward remembers Mr Hardinge ^ Ah ! dull of spirit, if the traces of those few hours, in which she was honoured with his con- versation, had faded in her memory ! On their first meeting, he was so good, at Mi Boothb/s request, to read a few passages from the Paradise Liost, as he sat on the window of her dressing-room* " Poetry was then poetry indeed." The ear of her imagination has often brought back his cadences. Bom an enthusiast, * Nephew to Lord Cambden, and Attorney-General to the Qoeen. Digitized by Google 17a LETTEB XXXVi. time has but little abated- that propensity, in de- Sfnte of her cooscioitsness, that, in tim maiUe age, nothing is more unfashionable. Yes, Sir^ from the retired situation in whidi my life has passed away/ 1 have followed you through your brighter and more elevated track, with dis- tant but earnest gaze, and rejoiced in your expand- ing fame. Two of your sonnets were given me, to the Fountain, and to the Lyre of Petrarch. With them, amongst others, have I often combated the unmeaning assertion of pedants, that the Inti- mate sonnet suits not the genius of our langiutge, producing those * Avignon little gems as its per- fect refutation. While these arise to the honour of. Mr Har- dinge's genius, his generous exertions to ]Nro* mote the .amiable. and hig^y ingenious' Miss.He- len William&'s interest,, m the subscriptiiai to her poems,,do e^qual honour.^ his benevolence. ..My mother's. death,iaiid my.fatbei^s incapacily for every kind of business,' have. involved me in much of that employment which seems the ccm- tradiction of my fate ; so that, together with an inconveniently extensive coirespondence, and the social pleasures, by which I am very seducible, * The sonneu alluded to were written at Avignon. Digitized by Google LBTTEB XXXVIl* 173 little time is left for versifjring ; jet several thou* 8uid lineS; of former compositicw^ in the heroic^ lyric, and somiet nieosBre/have long slumbered in my ifvritmg-desky vainly waiting the always reced- ing hoiyr of transcript and revision; The terms in whkh you mention my poetical novel, Louisa, gratify me extremelv. I know^ it is ^the best and ablest of my publications. There mBf certainly be a best, even where nothiilg is vety good. Flattered that you preserve an agreeable re- membrance of our long past and transient intei^ views> and that you think the employments of my BBfiise worth this inquiry, I remain. Sir, &c. LETTER XXXVIL Rev. T. S. Whalley. Lichfield, Sept. «S, 1786. My late long sflence has been involuntary. I accounted for it in a recent letter to you a valuable acquiation to English verse ; but I have no time ; besides, there are many which it would be imposable to render interesting, and others, and which are unfit for the fen^ale pen. • Let us turn to a more heart-engaging theme. Ah ! dear, and ever dear friend, your letter from Strasbourg to Sophia, delights me, as breadiing an homeward air ; yet, what it says of your health, is far from being all I wish. The death of ex- cellent Mrs £• Whalley has, doubtless, injured it, through the generous excess of your sympathetic feelings. The reconciling power of time, will, I trust, ere long, brace your nerves again, and re* store the tone of yoor coostittttioD. Neither ib our Sophia well. She now seeks to renontte a disordered frame on the dreary shores of Ab- beristwith. Digitized by VjOOQIC IBTTER xxxvn. 175 I am just returned from paying a delightful vi- sity of three weeks, to my friends, Mr and Mrs Granville. Accomplished and excellent Mr I>ewe8 was of our party. The situation of their villa, Calwich, near Ashbourn, is as singular as it is beautiful ; standing on the extremest verge of a large and very lucid sheet of water, through which runs the river Dove. It comes winding down from Dovedale to Ileham, and from thence to Calwich. Gentle hills, the nurselings of the peak mountains, form a semi-circle round the lake, op- posite the house, at about a mile's distance. It is quite fairy-land, so verdant are its lawns, so crystal its streams. The minds of its owners are cultivated as the valley, and clear as the lake. The lady of that lake is young, pretty, grace- ful, and admired, but loves her home and domes- tic duties, as well as it is natural for those to do, who bear about them no such magnetism, either of person or mani^ers, to attract attention, or sti- mulate flattery. Yet is not Mrs Granville cold- ly unsocial ; she mixes with the large neighbour- hood around her, with cheerful pleasure ; but her most enjoyed days are those in which books, needle-works, and the conversation of her more intimate friends, give wings to the hours. The weather was not propitious to the out- door pleasures of this interesting visit. In days Digitized by Google 176 LETTER XXXvn* ivhich should have bean those of autumiml piuie, storms often infesting die wane of that season^ howled over the lawns and lake^ and through the bowers of Calwich. Nq momiD^ was unsullied by rainy clouds, till that of my depariiurey which arose in despiteful beauty. I left Aurora shak- ing her amber tresses on the rocks, and hills, and waters. On returning home, the placid health of my dear enfeebled father completed the pleasures of a period, in which' the light of' mind recom- penced the watery gloom of a long-sullen atmo* Your friend, Pratt, has been making a fresh, though not a new, attack upon my poems, in re- viewing those of dear Helen Williams^ Thou^ my old enemy slufts his ground, he contmues to fire off his darling Jiimile of rags and Utters for my muse. Tliemost charming novel I have read these many years, Caroline de Lichfield, formed part of our amusement at Calwich. It is a unique of its kind, resenibling no other novel. Mr Dewes Englished it aloud and extempore from the French, in language at once fluent and graceful. Doubtless you have read it. What a wonderfbl interest in die last solemn appointment made by Lindorffe to meet Caroline in the pavilion !— What a moment, when he 1^ the manuscript on Digitized by Google X.ETTBB XXXVIII. 177 die knees of Caroline, and nuhes from her. into die wood widi wild precipitation ! > Sophia ardendy prases me to visit her at Lud? low next summer. If my father's health permits, I may hope to enjoy that pl^isure. For heii and her modier^s sake, I. wish their mansion more spa? cious and pleasant; but, for my own. part, the gratifications o£si|cb a visit would not. su£fer me to. hear the din of the blacksmith's hammer, whose vicinity she laments, nor to feel the stra^htoess of my apartment. You and Mi's W. will be in England ere summer comes. Ah! if we could meet at Ludlow! What an agreeable day-dream is that hope! Waft it to me across the ocean ; and may the months of bloom, see it realized ! LETTER XXXVm. William Hayley, Esq. lAchfield, Oct. 11, 1786. My Dear Bard, Your friend, the ii^enious, benevolent, and energedc Dc^Wamer, lately passed a few days in VOL. I. M Digitized by Google 178 XBTTBB xxxvili:. LkMeld. He came hither, poasewed mA the idea, that I was the author of a new poem, en* titkd The TriuiBph of Benevolence, «n hia dar- )ii% subject, the iDamediate order for a statue to the honour of the great Howard.' It is a finvou* rite nibject withei«ry person whose heart glows with enthusiasni^the nobkst eiith«fias|i^ that of humanity: but for the verses, I never saw or heard of tfaem^ till I learnt, from "* Longmus's letter, sent by the Doctor; that he idso believed them lAine. ' My muse is too high ^f npiik to have produced a Work on the deiir exalted Howard, which has such boundless infmority to that ode of yours on the same theme, and which gave him his poetie apotheosis. I would as soon have attempted to write a new Iliad. There is something like genius, however, in this same poem ; but it is the random fire of an inexperienced writer, little acquaifrted with some of the most essential rules of poetic arrangement : Hence, the descending to parts, after he had ad- vanced the: whole ; to individuals, after he had mentioned their species ; — hence, what are only different names for the same virtue, as coun^ * The mgeDioiu and classical Mr Long, an emineiit 10 London, and the confidential friend of Mr Hajrley. 8 Digitized by Google liBTTSK XXXTIII. 179 tmihivretjf 8ec« sepamteiy. personified^ and a^ tempted to be IntM^ht tothe eye moae groap t— »- lience also, the oacongetiisd ^ithet, the coUoquial vulgansm, and freqaeat anii-dimax. I wrote to- LofBgititis. the moiiHiig after- our breakiiABt-coiiCiidtatioiis, in which we^ endeavoured to improve and eleirate this ill-executed work against a sabseqneat edition. In this letter to L.y I stited some of my p«ii|>osed altera)- tions ; but there was no makii^a iSne poem from such crude materidis. At least, however, my |Mx>ud he«rt swelled to. convince him, that no haste could have betrayed me into suffering sach lines to pass &e press, as I had tried to mend, Dr W. is excessively desirous, that this com- pootion should be made as good as the stock of ideas on which it is written wiU permit. I de!i> snred his permission to repeat te him your oda to Howard, since no ctegvee of familiarity with ite beauties can pall the delight oif reconsidering them in a heart like his. The sensibility he shew- ed as I read, recompensed the fat^ue. of criticise ing, and of trying to^ bring iiito shape that a*- bortive work, which presumes to take the same ground. What a beautiful idea is yours of a lamp, whicli should shed around the statue of Howard a splen* did and perpetual light ! I should like to have Digitized by Google 180 XBTTEE XXXVIIf. the office of guarduig it from extinction* — ^Riert* ess to the lamp of bc^ieyolenee ! Such an i^ pointment mi^t exalt^ to some degree of dig* nity, the derided state of stale maidenhood. No, indeed, not mine,, the very, able Johnsonian Analysis in the European Magazine. Pray in* form Longinus of my disavowal. I am glad you so warmly admire my favourite Caroline de Lichfield ; that work, which abounds in situations which make curiosity gasp, admirar tion kindle, and pity dissolve. This novel is a •unique of its kind, and neither imitates or re« sembles any other. W6 shall ^ee plenty written in imitation of it, but they will be worthless. I knew nothing of the publication of those sweet lines you sent me on the card inclosed in the pocket-book Mrs Hayley worked for me. It is true they have been shewn with pride and pleasure, whenever that pocket-book was noticed and admired ; but I do not recoUect having ever given any copy ; nor would I, without their au- thor's leave, have consented to their publication, however I might wish to shelter myself from the abuse of my writings in the European Magazine and English Review, beneath the bright and invulnerable armour of Mr Hayley's praise. Digitized by Google LBTTBR XXXIX. 181 Giovanni and I often execrate tc^ether thq ma- licious author of that invective in the Gentleman's Magasdne for June, upon a certain work, which, kowever we m^ht, m some respects, have vnshr ' ed otheimse, no more deserves such cenaure, than the Jigfatnings which dart in our hemisphere, and which are not without their danger, deserve to be classed as an evil with the baneful explo- sions of Moitfit Etna^ Mrs Knowles brought jiither her admirable 9tage-coach manuscript. The adventure was fortunately ludicrous for th^ amusement of her friends; but most unfortunately so, for the self- consequence of Dr * Bamble-Bee. What ad- mirable fun has she made of his epicurism, his spleen, and his cuUibility ! Adieu ! LETTER XXXIX. The Rev. Dsl Warner. Lichfield, Oct 13, 1786. The suspicion of being blandished into vanity, iias more colour on my side than onyouraj • Dr Bro— by. Digitized by Google IM LXTTKB XXXDU since, in n fnmAkip betweco to Knloned fe- male and at nan of eiacHtioa,' kBowIedge, and adence, k is easy to see I tmat we are neilhet cf ns serioudy disposed to suspect each othen There are circumstances and situatickis in *wliich Ae nunds of two people become mora complet&f Ij nnTeiled in a few hours, than they woidd pev^ haps be in more than as many years of ordinaiy intercourse. The thrice amiable and noble de- ^n, which you pursue with so much ardour, proves to me, that your heart is ingenuous, wana, and affectionate. It is to such that mine feek affianced. Too jusdy does Mr Selwyn call diis die marble age, so polished ! so cold ! It is sick of the disease of not admiring ; and that morbid ennui is epidemic amongst us ; but I think you and I are not infected. We may be subject to other maladies ; but that indurated plague-spot is not upon us. Nothing was ever more absurd, than opposing the inferior virtues of Hanway to those of How- ard. I hope I am not uncharitable ; but I can scarcely think the man genuinely good, who seem- ed to iancy his own comparatively feeble exer- tions, had equal right to public gratitude widi those of the matchless phibnthrophic hero. Han- Digitized by Google Wfj wm too Mlfely Jeakwfl of th^ ^xptuldaog fante uf himf !whQ«e «xcel}Qpce (seemfitbe moil powec- jfuleoiapit^aiL.of daily that was ever shed, on th^ iuiBoan dpirit. ; We imuit t^e cai^, thai j^be wit of your friend about the mowuneat and the statue ruwiug a raee^ does not transpire^ Ennui wcmld take up the iancy with a cold uHoiley sawpiter .with it to her die- ter Cariqatuie, and inischiisf would eitsue; for blightii^ is the effect of. ridicule upon public sei^ sibilijy* Fwatics. have dmoet always cold hearts. Mr Cowper, whose poe^c talents have such glowing and creative powers^ professes himself^Jn the Task^a coutenmer of all praise^ which has not Deity for its exdusive ofcgect^ The plain mstaoh Jng of .^at he says on the ffubject is just this ;^-^ ** You fools> ^ith your jubilee for your Shklre- •apeare^ and your, commemoration for your Uaaa^' del ! What is it to you> that one was the first poet^ the other the first musician in the world i What is it to youy if one employed his talents in pro- moting the moral virtues^ and the other in excit- ing the spirit of devotion i Neither of th^n can get you a better place in Heaven. Away, then, with your idle disinterested encomiums and ho- n6urs. Praise Of heart or hope 1--Biit itill bear up, andtSteer Ri^t onward !" Farewell! Digitized by Google LRTTSK XL. 185 LETTER XL, Miss Scott. Lkhjield, Oct. 20, 1786. The visible dejection of your mind, when you wrote last, pains me ; so does it to learn that a new complaint, in the most important of our senses, is added to the many other circumstances of corporal annoyance, that have often made the hours^ to which your talents are so capable of gtvii^ wings. -^ Movedowlyon With dull and flagging pinion.*' May their dark and retarding influence descend seldomer upon you ! It is too much to hope that they may never come to the healthiest and the happiest. ^ Who dreams of nature free from nature's strife ? Who dreams of perfect happiness below ? The hope-flnsh'd enterer on the stage of life. The yoatb to knowledge unchastis'd by woe." Digitized by Google 186 tXTTBB KU Your objection to the monotonous cbime of the legitimate sonnet, from the four times repeated rhyme, would be just, if the sense were carried on, as in the couplet, to the end of each line. But that jingling e£fect is entirely, done away where the verses run into each other with undulating flow, and varied pause, after the manner of blank verse, as in the sabKme anathema of Milton on the massacre at Piedmont. I have read Mr 6 '^ essays, and like maof of them extremely ; but that mania of the imi^ nation about weakened nature and exhausted art, in the poetic line, is strongly upon him. He should be above such idle prejudice, wbidi has been the common cant in all ages. Never was there so rich a galaxy of poetic stars as have shone out, with perpetual augmenta- tion to their number, within the last half century. Mighty is the power of prejudice, when she weaves a web thick and dark enough to conceal their lustre from the eyes of her votaries. It is true, we have not a Shakespeare and a Milton, but that is not owing to nature having become more penurious respecting the gift of genius^ but to the fastidiousness of refinement^ and the severi- ty of criticism. Digitized by Google LlEfTTBm XI.* 187 I entered ihe liats with Mr G when I was in town last spring, the BMitehkss grace of Milton's ver* sificalioa through the Paradise Lost, which could only result firom the most excpiisite delicacy of ear. What,: then, could produce from the judici^ bus^ the eandid, the anims^ed pea of T. Warton^ the deliriun& of that decision i I am charmed to find you unongst the adorers of- Milton's Lycidas. That is a testi-conq>osition; attd to read it without pleasure-^o have read it wMibut h^fftegut recurrence, argues a morbid de* fidebcy m the ju^^ent and in die affections. I know that it is reprobated by Johnson ; birt false critidsai, on the pale horse of that despot, is the pest of the present timefi^ trampfing beneadi its Digitized by Google 192 LETTBR XLII* ** armed hoofir/' the richest and rarest flowers of bs, Adieu. LETTER XLIL. Mb Repton. Licfijield, Oct. 20, 17S6. You are in no danger of mistaking your own talents ; but you mistake mine in supposing that I can assist you in writii^ comedy or humorous prologue. Perhaps I may have imagination, but humour is not the growth of my brain. Wit is your talent. You say your characters all talk likq yourself. If indeed you wanted them to sigh amd talk fine, like Mr Cumberland's personages, and draw tears instead of laughter, from the audience, I mi^ht perhaps assist you. But you are wiser, and know how eligible it is to keep the or- ders of dramatic composition separate and difr* tinct, unless they could be .blended after Shake- speare's manner, and with hb boldness and fire ; and if that ability existed, our fsiatidiousvage would not endure the attempt. It does not per- Digitized by Google mit a dramatic writer to hazard any thing with im- punity. In those walks which it has not proscribed, who treads most hiippfly J Sh^ridui, certainly ; and he follows the track of Congreve. All Con- greve's characters, and mMt of Sheridan's, are without much strict appropriation in the turn of their s^pdrate dialdgue. Neither of these writers were able to restrah the totient of tfaciir wit fh>m flowmg into a? eij bay^ ehannel, er^^ or eveH gutter of the dramatis personsk, ^here, perhaps folly and idsi][^idit^, beii^ more natural, might b»re had a better effeet, the dead cotearing kt- ereac^, by contiasi, the liistfe of ibe spkiidid tints : but few obfauH die best^pdsnbk iii any line 6( intellectual ^x^rtioni Be yoQ iherefor^ content to commit splendid nm^ against strict kpptofns^Aeh, with Congfeve and Sieridan. If we sometlnieir percme the lerellmg spirit of luxuriant wit, we are tolerably wSling to pardon ita excesses. VOL. I. Digitized by Google 194 LETTBE Xlill. LETTER XLin. George Hardinos, Esq. Lichfield, Oct. 23, 1786. Yes, indeed, Dr Davies* had geBiiine poetic fancy, and his numbers were often grocefiil and hannonious.. So far I think with you ; but must dissent from your assertion that ''he is a poet sweet as any of modem times f times: that boast of Gray, Mason, Collms, Hayley, Beattie, Co¥F- per, Chatterton, Bums, with many others who hold the poetic torch much higher surely than it was lifted by the gentle, the elegant Davies. In my girlish days I knew him well, and always shed tears of delight when I listened to him fromi the pulpit, for his manner of preaching was in- effable : — a voice of tremulously pathetic softness ! religious energies, struggling through constitu- * Dr DaTies was, during aewenl yean, con- vince you that deeiaions, which have so astiHlkb^ ed Bue^ were the result of iadolcnk inatlentioo to Ab writii^ of these two first poets of the preaoit d*y. ■. • ■ I cannot adopt your dislike to cutting off the letter «| when the elision is usefiil to Aemeasnie of YMTse ; nor agree with you that Milton is I6» inarkably mc^ifiil to ^at filde vomeh In. the exordiums of the 3d, 4th, and 5th books of the Paradise Lost, it is cut off thus : ^ Hail holy Light, ofispring of Heav*nt-^fint bQr% Or oe th' Eternat coetenud besm, M^ I express thee aablani'd?''^Bn* S. i '* O ! for that warning voice, which he who saw Th' Apocalypse heard cry in Hea?'n aloild !''•— B^ofc 4. '' Now mora her rosy steps kiia* earteni disss Advancing, sow'd the earth with ofieal peaiir* * - Jf aa fc S* If Milton had considered tins abbreviation as a barbarity in poetic discipline, wonld be have thus Digitized by Google eziiibiteditmtlieveryvanofhisflniiies? Abeau- dftil passage in the 4th book, has a line in which it ia t?rice abbreviated : -^Hiei Dedia'd, ym bwtiog now, with prone cwecri To th' ewt<»ii vies, and in th' ascending scale Of Heav'n, the stars tbat usher evening rose." LETTER XLIV. Th£ Rev. Db Wabneb* Liclifield,Ofit.25,. It dblightarme that yon and Mr Hayley have the haiq[iine8s of each others acquaintance* May the fricndahip between yon be eternal ! My heart glows to behold all the friends I love bound each to each in the golden chain of unity ; the links of which must be indissoluble when formed by congenial ability, and by kindred worth t — ^yet, at this instant, is my heart smote by the sudden re- collection of having seen noble hearts disunited by fatal misconstruction and character* ill-under stood. This consciousness reminds me that the word gentrally ought to have been prefixed, to Digitized by Google 198 LETTER XLIV. render the proud word indissoluble more con- sonant to the instability of mortal natures. Leav- ing axioms^ then, and modestly excbai^ii^ the must for the may, let me express my fervent wish that you may always enjoy Mr Hayley's esteem and warm attachment. — ^Distinctions greater, in my estimi^tion, than monarchs. have it in thdr power to bestow, even without excepting my fa- vourite Joseph, and his amiable brother, die Duke of Tuscany. Every author has a right, to reject alterations of his work, made .by others, if they do not meet his approbation. The pains I took with the poem you brought me, the Triumphs of Benevo- lence, were taken solely to oblige you ; and I have no mortification from seeing them rejected. I invariably felt that, after the best that c€>uld be done for it, speedy oblivion must be its portion: —the fate of every poem when there exists ano- ther, upon the same subject, of decided and in- finite superiority. Jf^y, without such an undoing comparison, the. paucity of its ideas involve ** a natural alacrity at sinking.'' Mr Howard's warm opposition to your plan is what I expected. As he is abroad, I hoped it might not reach hb ear till after its accomplish- ment. Ofiicious information has precluded that hope, and his reluctance on the subject will throw Digitized by Google I.ETTBE XU¥/ 199 grei^ difficulty in your way, in the piosecntion of a design, which is truly pnise-worthy, lei evange- lie modesty oppose it as it may. You might boldly plead one essential argument ID favour of your design to him .by whose virtues it was excited. The statue is not erected with a presumptuous hope to reward exertions that are above all human reward, but to bend the universal passiiMi, the love of fame, upon its noblest object, philanthrophy. Thank you for the translation of those pages in Boccacio, which mention the plague at Florence. The account is awfiil — ^it is terrible; but the traits of that dire calamity .beii^ there chiefly ge- neral, ones, it is less interesting than the poor Sadler's history of the last great calamity in Lon- don. ^ 'When dreadfbl Plague, o^er London's gasping crowds SluMk her dank wingy and steei'd her mmky donds ; When o'er tiie fiieodlMS bier no rites were read. No dirge slow chanted, and no pall outspread ; When Death, and Night, pilM np the naked throng, And Silence drove their ebon can along *•" The.Sadler^s history of that. terrible period, may by no. means vie with your .translation in the ac- . * TheiBe lines are from a very fine manuscript poem, ex- pected flhorUy to pass the press, hy Dr D— of Ilerby, Digitized by Google too LXTTEB SUy. tntacfuodgnfceufkngMg^ but die sottUiuToir^. iog horrors pitt, oa bis f iqiple uudigiiiieil ptige, in all their strength, mi all tbdur pal|i€Ni. ThifdiriBfltof huBifmyiaitf^oBSy with its afflict- tqg partumlars, ought to be impmsed on eveiy Biiad. Balatary ar« die lesaoiui taught by diese l^djF images. Do diey not cry aleudr?-^^ Xiook at us, ye that nurmur at pommon evils, and pour out your hearts in gratitude for the merde^ of ex- emption T It ha^ just struck me, from the duplicity and vanity with which yotf tell me the unknown au-r thor of the Triumphs of Benevolence has ma- noeuvred in his cof^cealed correspondence widi you on t|iis subject, that P, with assistance, may be this yet imknown author. I verily believe it will prove so ; and if it should, I sl^all sipi)e at bay^ig ]>epn dmwp in, q[ice waip, to employ myself in waahii^ the face of his poetry. — O ! that Longinus and yourself could ever, for a ipoment, suppose me die mother of one of those rhyming ahqrtJQns, which a KQCfetn- cioiis and coarse ii^enuity is continually begetting upon his mummy brain! I am now more than ever rejoiced that my lotion was rejected — ^regref-r ting nothing but the time we lost in preparing it. Xw^^ ^^t vrnkt hi^ye b^en devoted to pleasai^ themes; transferred from the attempt of this inn Digitized by Google IiBTTBB XhV. flOl competeat pwegymt, to discuaniig niore ptrti- ciilars cGNiceniiDg the Chrifltian hero Uouelf, '^ Tlie fiiqiiwPs 4qr too iliort lor m4 • svbj^cl.'' LETTER XLV. Geoitge HABniKOE^ Bbq, Lichfield, Oct. 27, 1786. I AM surprised at your idea^ that Milton's son- nets have a singular flow of numbers, and that their author thought smoothness an essential per* feetion in that order of verse. The best of Mil* ton's have oertain hardnesses, thou^ there is a majesty, perhaps, in that very hardness, which, besides producing an enchanting effect for the in- termixture pf the ipusical lines, seems to mark the peculiarity of the composition, and makes the son- net, and its privileges, stand apart from all other writing IB measure. To the* pointed and craggy rock, the grace of which is its roughness, I should as soon tfiink of applying the epithet polkhed, as smoodmess of numbers to the sonnets of Milton. Digitized by Google 202 LbT^ER XLT. Now, seeming to allow ike piivil^e of mttti- lating the vowel e in blank verse, you assert diat- it ought never to be done in rhyme. We perpe- tually see it mutilated, however, in our noblest rhyming compositions, without the least injury to the grandeur and beauty of the verse. Certainly the longer the line, the less is the possibility of in- juring its melody by cutting off the pronunciation of that vowel. The musical Pope, in the most exquisitely polished of all his ever-highly-polisb- ed verse, the 'EioisoL to Abelard, curtails it twice in cm line, ^ How love tt* offiBuder, yet detest th* oficnce.** The e twice taken away does, perhaps, iqure the melody of that line; but there is another of Pope's, from the Temple of Fame, whose sweet- qess has no superior, though it contains an abridg- ed e. ^ And on th' impassive ice the lightnings play." The accurate, the finished Gray, continually takes ^ this liberty, because he felt that it may be taken with poetic impunity ; instance. f* Their name, their yean^ spelt by th* nolettct'd J Digitized by Google LETTEft X LV. MS And, again, ^ One morn I mitt^d him on th' acciutom'd hilL** And also, << Th' miconqaeni|>le mind^ and Freedomls holy flame.*' Even in his short lyjric measure i ^ Ides that crown th* .Sgean deep." Also, << Hie secrets of th' abyss to spy.* And, ^ Who th' avenger of his gjoiU," Milton, in isvery species of measure, whether long or short, scruples not this abridgement, nor the frequency of its use, and this in his rhyme as well as in his blank verse. Examination will shew you this. So dissolves your fastidious maxim in the warm rays of high poetic authorities. Dr Johnson was a very indifferent reader of yerse. One eternal monotone frustrated the in- tent of the poet, respectii^ the echo of sound to s^nse. Thus has he taught modem critics to^ think, that the line Pope gave as an example of Digitized by Google S04 LKTTBR X tV. quick motion, yet of perfect smoolliness, i^, in re^ ality, an harsh and dragging verse. ^ Flies o'er th* nnbendiag coroy and skims along the main." But if the voice dwells, as it ought, in recitation, upon the words flies and skims, the exact effect is produced that Pope intended; it becomes the smoothest possible line, and presents an admirable picture to the ear, not only of a light swift nymph, but of a bird on quick though unwinnowing pi- nion, ^ Fli-es o'er th' mibending com, and ^ki-pis along the mam." By mutilating the e in this line, see how Pope dissented from your maxim combated above. Nor must I suffer you to take from me my favourite word inspirit ; because not your brilliant worship's vocabulary, which you will call the whole Cuglish language, can supply its place — animate will not, since, besides that it is equaHy of foreign extraction, to animate is to give life, to inspirit is to give soul. You have a verbal qneasineas about you, which ^mounts to disease. I hope you like that elegant word. Upon incontrovertible authority have I set a little dozen words upon dioir jomt stools in the poetic fane, which you have attempted to kick Digitized by Google I.STTBBXLY. S06 4owii «tai» ; but I trust the j wUl ituuntain their itation. From the extraeta I sent you^ you have, by ^is tiine^ received proofs that I did not call Ad- diaon'a serious prose a i^at^-gruel style, without havii^ found it so> at least in some instances. Nothii^ wesuries me like pro»ng abotit iind about the good cardinal virfues in their old robes ; but I hke to see iheiii glittering in the bf^ht an&onr of Johnsonian eloquence^ AfMison always appeared to me as tautologi- cal in his solemn prose as im his yerse> when he << 80 the pore limpid stxevoy when foal'd by stains * Of rashing torrents, and descending rains, Wdtks Itself dear, and as it nms refines.** There can be no partiality in my boundless preference of Johnson's style, as a moral essayist, to Addison's. I am reiMly to confess the superi- ori^ of the latter in {^s^M comporitidn. Addi- son di^ beiore I was bom, said Johnson hated me ; against whose writii^ 9m I most likely to be prc§ttAc»d i But, in troth, I never snfier either personal affection, or dislike, to operate up* on what I read. So if, as you insinuate respecting ^ What aa anticlimax !— 5. Digitized by Google 206 LETTER XLY. these two celebrated authors^ I am bUod to excd- lence, and feel myself fired with rapturoua «{^ probation where no excellen<^e is, die defect lie^ in my taste, and in my jiidgmadt. Your wit runs strangely away with you in cri- ticizing poetry, or swely you would feel the hqn piness of Mr Hayle/s simile for the fine luxuri- ances of genius, lopt away by criticism, when he compai-es them to Sampson shorn by SaliUi, of his strength^iymg tresses. Sinulieir aine^ not expected to be minutely exact; it is enoi^h, if the general resemblance is strikii^. That author did not mean that time had made the frolic compositions of Cbancer heavy as lead — ^he uses not the word, but says '' dark as lead*" Time, rendering their language obsolete, may well be allowed to have made that metal dim, or dark as lead, that once was brilliant as steel and gold. And what! — ^is Hayle/s illustration of the bounds which prejudice affixes to genius, by an allusion to the pillars of Hercules, supposed, by the ancients, to fix the linuts of the wcurld ; is that too sublime for your comprehension*? You ! * The three paasages aHaded to are in Hayley's Epistles on Epic Poeby.— .S. Digitized by Google LETTEB XtY. 207 Ue'clanical, the learned ! '' And who's blind now Mamma, the urdiin cried/' I could dissect many of Milton's sublimest passa^y place their imagery and phrases in a ri- diculous point of view, with the same ease that prejudice against the moderlis induces you to ri- dicule fine passives in Masoil and Hayley, and that envy induced Johnson so to criticise the beauties of Milton, Prior, Gray, &c. &c. Be- hold a mirror to such critical sophistries. ^ Soon as Hiey forth were come to open sight Of day-spring, and the San, who scarce uprisen, With wheels yet hovering o'er the ocean brim, Shot parallel to th' earUi his dewy ray." PanidtseXoff, Books. When we place the sun in a chariot, we may mention its wheels ; but personifying the suu as the word his implies, and arising from slum- ber, we must not give him wheels instead of legs. --^ And the thunder, 'Wing'd with red lightning, and impetuous rage, Peiiiaps has spent its shafts, and ceases now. To bellow thfoogh the vast and boundleM deep»'* Natural history is here violated ; the proper- ties of lightning ai-e transferred to the mere noise made by its explosion. Thunder is in itself in- Digitized by Google t08 liHTTKB XLTI. noxious ; aiid> afto* all, thb dread instriiBi^ of Jehova's wrath is tiini^d iirto a bidl and belhmt*. But O ! wUle I thus tmufotm myself ioto 6ne of those unfeeling critics^ of whom iuy spiril is so impatiettt^ how sincerely do I atgure snob sicli^ ly accuracy ; like that by whidb you w^re jaon* diced in your strictures on the beauteous extraeis I sent you from Mason and Ebtyley. A nerrotii and manly understanding oi^ht to Aake snek ^ei* bal prudery to air, as ''dm lion shakes die dewi drop from his mane/' LETTER XLVI. Miss Powys. Lid^M, Nao. 10, 1786. It was time to abandon your beloved retreat on the ocean's edge, spite of all the elegant com- forts with which it has be^i invested by your w- tive iiq^enuitytf Now wmtet'8 turbid i Dash roahd the rocks, and dark the tempestB looTy Afltd montn liie ttidds atoi^ ttte ronefy i Digitized by Google UiTf SB xiiri. : £09 Fmndihit^, tlieiiefflEi^ preemui ttea$Hae, tiine wnsfts from as fay variouif tneaoui — by the moet 9mfoi and iire^erHUe^liaTe i loit anodiear oI^m^ of my vegaid. Hoauuw and geiide, tendor and attentive to Ui that covld affect m^ peace, did I ever find £Nr KJKiwloB/who b^ly iell a vk^^' to the duties of ' his professioD. No mediciiie was finind of power to expel the putrid venoih .from fab frune^ whose prescr^ylioiis had rescued so many from the grave. Whhoirt the lustres oi genius^ or* of that ^nis^ fiituns wit; his Intdlects had strength and clear* Hess : his striel piety no shade of moroseness, loid the ktndnesB of his heart tempered a very in- flexible sincerity. I must long regret ike loss of such a friend. Haw you heard of the good foirtune of diat ingenious French lady, to whom we are in- debted for Caroline de Litchfield f Doubtless you have read and admired that beautiful work. Gratitude for literary pleasures always interests good hearts, in the destiny of diose who have be- stowed them ; therefore, I am sure you will be glad to learn, that die author of Caroline is in- debted to the merits and graces o£ those volumes^ for a transition from incompetence to the com- forts of wealth ; from the unprotected depend^ce vox. I. o • *" Digitized by Google £10 LETTEE XX.TX1. oi wankg virgintty to the. social {detsufes of wedded -frieodihip. A lich widower^ ei fi%r diree^ Oil Ihe confinet of Geimanj^iespeGteble ia rank andcha^'acter, whose cUdien .are raanied^ and settled at distance frooft him, read diat. novels and fdt its excdllence. Parsonally ui]4ao¥m to die author, he •inquired mto her sitoatioo, and foimd hsx merits acknowledged, her reputation spotless^ He had the good sense to .believe^ that the acquisition of a oompani(m for life, whose ta- lents and. sensibility had produced tibat work, would prove a surer, source of happiness to his remakiing years thao youth, which, with her, was past; than beaisty, .which she had never possessed. He has married her. The -instance is rare. Hy- men, passing by the fane of Cytherea and Plutus's shrine, to l%fat his torch at the altars of gemua. Adieu \, LETTER XLVn. GsoaaE Habdinge, Esg. Lichfield, Nov. 15, 178G. Be assured Z will write to you as often as I can, without shameful neglect of my old friends. Digitized by Google Move diaii lilis jou have too much gienfifouty to dewe. There are ckrcmnstances which swallow up my- leisufe^ • for which you would pity me. Axao^t that number is the being presented from their authors,, with most of the fustian and vapid coqqpotttieare only had a right to enter the chaos of ver- bal combinations^ for the purpose of extending the poetic privileges, and that its gates ought to he shut, after having admitted his writings, asto- nishes me in a man of sense, and in a whig, ex- clusive privileges bek^ the v^ comer-stone of toiyiBm. There is toryism in science as well as in govenunent I have not been accustomed to ^ve my mind p th^y give us several epithets, in .climatic succession, to a single substantive. Conyersaticmal poetry may be impressive, pathetic, and interestmg, with a very sparing use of epithets ; but descriptive poe- try must abundantly have them, or it can, as was observed before, brii^ nothing to the eye of the reader. The Botanic Garden is a professedly de- scr^tive composition. Lavish as are its epithets, many of them we find original, and all aj^ropii- ate. Let us examine if Shakeiq>eare and Milton are less lavish of them when imagery or scenery is their theme. First for the bard of Avon, Digitized by Google I UTTIE^B XhYllU 817 ** Sown those m^y, Moiky, g^ldm l8ck^ That make sach wfuUm gtmbols iq the wind." ^ Tby twiy MomrtMiw where live mMltiy flheepi Tlqr jbi^ meadis Hack with dowur for llieur food, Hiy banks with ^iNMd and tiUkdhnam, Which «poivy Ai^iily «t tby best bedecks» To make cM symphs duute crowns,** " Hie seasons alter, *oafy.Aeaded frosts Fdi in ffaeyVnlb lip «f the 4taMtlB rose, And on old Hyem's Utm and My €row% An odomu ohaplet ^ motet swrniur buds Is, as in mockeiy, set" ^ By jMOfld £»mitain, and by msfty brook, Or on the beached margent of the sea.** ^ E'en till the eastern gate, all/ery red^ Opening tnne with /air Messed beams, Toms into yeUow gold his saU green streams." ' I wanant yon The wkUey «sld, tftrgin snow upon my heart Abates the ardour of my liver." This even in common dramatic dialogue. And it is worth observation, that even the agitated state of Claudio's mind, at the time he makes the ensuing speech, does not prevent his using epi- thets lavishly. Tbey are dictated by passion it- self, if that passion wishes to give pathetic pic- tures of the evils it dreads. Digitized by Google £18 LETTBR XLVIII. 1« Ay I but to die, To lie foisotten in the nknt gnire. This sensible warm motion to become A. kneaded clpd, and the deUgkUd j^pmi To bathe in/cry floods, or to reside In tkrWmgref^om o£thidt4ikbed ioe ; To be imprisonM in the viewless winds. Or blown with restless violence about Tbe pendant world T « Tluree glorious suns, eadi one a perfect ma, Not separated with the racking donds. Bat sever'd in a pale dearMaing sky." Shew me passages, if you can, in a modem poet, more liberal of epithets than the above verses se- lected from Shakespeare. Let us look at Milton. -" His ponderous shield. Etherial temper, massyf^large, and round Behind him cast." — Five epithets in one line and half. *^ Now to th' ascent of tliat steep sanage hill Satan had jonmied on, penme, and Oswi^* -" Yet not the more Cease I to wander where the muses haunt Clear spring, or shady grove, or smny hill.** --« As when Heaven's fire Has scathM the forest oaks, or mountain pines, With ^ged top their stately growth, tho' bare^ Stands on tho llagted heath.** Digitized by Google •LETTER XLYIII. ^19 «< Ye vallitt liw, tet the iniM ivUipen wfi Of ihadety and wtmim windSy and gmkmg brooks, On whose /reaft bp the noart star sparely looks. Throw hither all your qmint enamelled eyes, That on the ^e«ii tnif sack the h»med showen, And pniple all the gromid with «oimI doweia»^ But the day and night would fail me in citing in- stances on this subject. Tliey swam through the writings of Shakespeare and Milton. Take away die epithets from any of the passages,- and see how indistinct the delMrriptions, images, and land- scapes become ! You cannot dislike make-weight epidiets more than I do. Had you called Pratt an epithet- monger, you had given him his proper tide, who gives the following line in seven times repetition tiirough the course of five pages : ^ O wiMk, O/ntU, O poor mortelity.'' You tell me that you dislike in my poem, Louisa, the first adjective of the ensuing couplet, ^ lighted with arrowy beams the ocean caves, And sunk with splendour in th* illumined waves." It has always been my endeavour to paint from nature, rather than .to copy from books, in my poetic landscapes; and I have often objserved. Digitized by Google 220 LBTTBR XLVUI. duty when caves are penetrated with light, it is shot into them in pointed rays, for which ammy is a picturesque epithet. I confess it is of my own coinage ; but I flatter myself it was not coin- ed unhappily. Its original appearance in Eng- lish verse will, I believe, be found in my Elegy on Captain' Cook, puUisfaed fi»t in ifae year 1780 ^, It has met with very flatterbg adoption in die subsequent works of superior poets. I cannot .conclude my letter without adding one moie observation lespeciing die reason yon allege for your strange scorn of die extracts from &e Botanic Garden. If you will not grant diat I have dononstrated your mistake about filuik»- apeare and Millon bemg more sparing of the ad- jective than the best modem poets, I beg we may speak no more to each o^r on classical subjects^ since we shall certainly agree no better on poetic claims, rights, usages^, &c. than Archbishop Laud and Hampden would on political ones, were diey to talk diem over in Elysium. It hectics me painfully to see an understandii^ of Ugh endonF- ment dius unjust to contemporary- abilities — ^to find die " mole's dim curtain,** where I expected to have met the " lynx's beam." Adieu. ,* This word is not aew, but aiay be foaad k Mtttsn wil Digitized by Google iiXTTSR xux; sef LETTER XLIX. Mr W. Nbwton. Lichfield, Dec. 17, 1786. Y&T too agitated to employ my pen on indif- ier&kt rabjects, it is to such friends as yourself only tbat I am capable of writing. You who have long known and loved my poor father ; you who are sowkindly interested in my feelii^, and in my destiny; it is you whom I wish to address in hours like these, when my mind is, as the subsid- ii^ sea, still trembling from the stoim. You are aware by how sli^t a thread the life of my aged nurslii^ has be^i long suspended. His drop into the grave is an event which, I fear, •wilLbaffle my resolution to sustain with the cheer- ful resignation which reason and religion dictate. Tliat entire dependence upon my care and atten- tion, resulting from die decay of his corporeal and iniidlectual faculties, has doubled our bond of unkm, and engrafted the maternal upon filial ten- derness. He seems at once my parent and my child ; nor shall I suffer less^ perhaps even more,, from the loss of him, than if he had died while 4 Digitized by Google liETTEH XLIX.- power, and authprityy and exertion were in hiar hands. • He had been several weeks, exempt from those 8ud4en seizures of apparently mortal torpidity, which often put his existence into the extremest peril. Last Sunday mcHning, I was roused from my slumbers, between seven and eight, by these alarming words from my servant : '^ Madam, my master is very ill. He was seized, a few minntes ago, in a different way from what he used to be^ with a dreadful fit You had better not go to him. We have sent for Dr Jones.'' You will suppose I was not to be restrained from a sight which, God knows, I was not able to endure without agony. That dear feeble frame, and venerable face, which I had often seen sunk in the stupor of apoplectic palsy, torn and dis- torted by convulsive and apparently agonized struggles ! Ere I had been ten minutes in the room, his physician entered, and pronounced the seizure epilectic. He i^aid he should bleed him cofNoqs- ly, not with the least hope that he could now be rescued from death ; but to prevent the continu-* ance of the fits, and render his expiring ,m(»nents calm and easy ; adding, he has not strength to bear the loss of blood, which is necessary to subdue Digitized by Google LETTER XLIX. S23 diese conYttlMi struggles; biit if not subdued, they would be inevitably fatal. The loss of blood did subdue the fits, of which he had no return ; but sunk into cold, damp, and, in appearance, deadly slumber. The physician said he would pass away in those slumbers; and assured me that he bad little more to suffer. I adted why it might not be hoped that he, who had survived apoplexy and palsy so often, might survive this new and more terrible attack ? It was replied, that when epilepsy seizes, after a succes- sion of other dangerous diseases, and after years of previous debility, there had been scarce an in- stance where it had not been speedily fatal ; that it would, however, be right to make every effort to save vi^hile breath remained ; that a c(tfeeK:up of madeira should be poured down his tl^oat every half hour, the capability of swallowiilg being lost ; that nothing more could be done ; that me- dicine was useless ; that he might expire in a few minutes, or might continue some hours ; biit I was intreated not to entertain a certainly fidlacious hope. J> J I hope, generous zeal may have carried me, in my late letters to you, somewhat beyond the bounds of politeness. Beneath your preceding reproofs for what I perceived you considered as arrogance, I could pout and be sullen ; wrap myself up in conscious integrity of spirit, and say to myself, ** He is.a fine gentleman, and lives with senators, judges, and lords ; he looks down upon contemporary genius in the poetic line, upon existing bards, and me, Digitized by Google LlSrtERLII.^ 243" their handmaid ; — ^let him leave us ow beads and our maple dish, with which he twits us ; they will one day, peiliaps, be more honourable to our me* mories than '^ stars and strings.'^ We will reihemr ber how the genius of Collins was, while he lived; n^lectedand despised, till die poverty and disap^. pointment, produced by diat n^lect and scorn, made a chaos of his brain, and an ice-stone of his heart. We will reflect that such contumely is no longer di^raceful to him^ but shames the times in which it was inflicted; and thus the love of famet that spur which raises the clear spirit, shall not be blunted by die fastidious disdain of any of our contemporaries. In- the shelter of independence, we can smile at literary injustice, and commit our pretensions to posterity. If they are cogent they will prevail, and we shall be remembered when those who despise us shall be foi^otten ; — ^if they are not cogent, the dismbsion of them into the limbo of vanity will be nothing to us. Provided we have taken care of better things, we shall be spared the mortification of seeing them tossed about in that windy region, and finally sinking in its oblivious gulf.'' Thus could I philosophize away all the morti- fication of your disdain — ^but against your kindness ^an find no shield. Digitized by Google S44 LETTER MI. I have lately been combating Sophia's poetical prejudices, as well as yours.. It is these whimsi- cal dislikes to immaterial circumstances which makes so many people of s^ise and feeling bad critics. Criticism must proceed upon a large , scale, or her efforts will but deceive herself, and mislead others. She may, it is true, without losii^ dignity, dightly notice slight things, but the only requisites on which she should strongly insist are general consistence of metaphor, and happiness of allusion, sqipropriation as to character, vigour of idea, perspicuity of expression, accuracy and general grace of style, and picturesque, power hi the epithets. Where these are, how. greatly is it below the dignity of her office to indulge un- meaning aversions to this or that order of verse ; or, with yet more puerile petulance, to quarrel with words for their mere sound, and even to vvage icile war with individual letters of the alpha- bet. Above all, it is necessary, to form the useful and enlightenmg critic, that he should have none of those partialities which may lead him to admire in one writer what he dislikes in another. Justice does not allow us to go farther than, in considera- tion of ruder times, to pardon in an ancient what we might not be so ready to forgive in a modem ; 4 Digitized by Google IBTTEB LIII. 945 we must not preclude to the modems those dar- ing graces which we admire in older writers, since beauty is confined to no form, no clime, no pe- riod. You intreat me to relieve your solitude in Or- mond Street. It must certainly be very pro- found I — ^Heavens ! with the bar, the senate, the opera, the Siddons, the lords, and the ladies, how is it that you procure leisure for such copiousness of epistolary intercourse ? I fancy, like poor Chat- terton, that child of genhis, you tiever sleep. I wish I could be superior to the necessity of such vulgar renovation ! LETTER Lin. Miss Weston. Lic^ield, Jan 15, 1787. I AM Sony you find your marihe shield so vul- nerable, opposed to these wintry skied ; but, as they have been uncommonly mild since you wrote to me, I trust, enabling you to use exercise, they prove salutary. Digitized by Google £46 ,< LETTER lilll. Yes^ truly, it was a whimsical fatality ihBt set me agun. to work m washing and meo6r .ing the raiments of P/s muse, by bringing the ardent and honest Dr Warner to Lichfield^ with that same odd work, the Triumphs of JBe- nevolence, in his hand; — the author unknown. .Without discovering his name, he had left a chan- nel of communication with the Doctor open, and had solicited from him and his literary friends, the .correction of that rhapsody. Dr Warner, on fire in the Howaid cause, was naturally partial to verses which celebrated the statue-des^n ; yet he perceived how much they were deformed by the frequent mixture of bombast and vulgarism, by anticlimax and false metaphor. He solicited me to remove at least the most glaring of these stains. I made the attempt in his' company, which I was too desirous to enjoy, to attend to the P — ean traces in that absurd composition. They could not have escaped, a more sequestered examina- tion. Soon after Dr Warner left Lichfield, and be- fore he knew the author of this work, I wrote to him that I suspected P. to be the writer — since, though it was in some places too good to foe the work of his unassisted pen, yet that the absurdi- ties were excessively of his species. Digitized bV Google fiSTTlR Llll. 847 You will know how much I must have regret ted -the deadi of my excellent friend, Dr Knowles, whose soothing benevolence was salubrious to the spirits, siS was his medical skill to the ftame. His ever ingenious widow has answered my let- ter of c(Hidolence in an highly religious strain, and in that strong and beautiful language which, on all occasions, flows from her pen. Lovely, sensible, and amiable Mrs Capper has fcdlowed bar sweet sister, Mrs Wolferstan, to a premature grave. I have more depredations of which to inform you, committed by that pale and pitiless despot, on youthful hi^pmess. Sunday three weeks, my father was prayed for in the Ca^ diecbal, and, as it was expressed, without hope of recovery. Mrs C. B. was at church, in the first year of her marriage, and appaiendy in the most Aorid health. The disagreeable prospect of los- ing, by his death, her pleasant habitation, must intttrally rise before her mind, on this solemn commencement of its approach. Alas ! she little thought that that day three weeks he would be recovered, and that a much narrower house would receive her insensate clay, then glowing in the «trei^;di of six-and-twenly years. You have heard how viol^itly bar aunt and maternal friend, Mrs 6., had opposed this mar^ ris^e. There was little wonder that die, idio ' 5 Digitized by Google £48 LETTEE LIII. meant her niece to be the sole heiress of her very large f ortune^ should oppose the ccnmexion^ espe- cially as, superadded to the inferiority of his for- tune^ the too vulnerable heart of Mr C. B. had been drawn into temporary alienation, from his engagem^it to Miss y by the power of beauty, to which that lady had no pretension. They married in June last, and Mrs 6. ney^ saw her niece afterwards, speaking, both of her and her husband, with unabatii^ and incessant asperity. But during Mrs B.'s. illness, Mrs 6. was agitated and miserable ;-^^^md, two di^s after the melancholy event, went, at four o'clock in the evening, to that house of death* She entered in violent agitation, and, doubtless, very real anguish. She wept over the corpse, loud and bitterly, re- peatedly kissing the face, with passionate affec- tion ; — ^but, strange to tell, her indignation at the family remained unquenched by those agonized tears; and Ae refused, with scorn, the offered hand of old Mrs B. who had been a careful and tender nurse to her daughter-in-law, through the fatal illness. Does not this visit remind you of Miss Howe's to Harlow Place ? — ^the struggle of wild despon- dent tenderness for her lost friend, with disdain of die inhabitants; though Miss Howes's ccm- tinued affection for Clarissa, was a contrast to Digitized by Google LETTER £111. 249 Mrs G/s iingoveraed resentmait. So much the more bitter must have been the anguish of the latter, standing by the coffin, vvhen, like Miss Howe, with wild impatience, she pushed aside the iace-cloth. Yesterday morning. Miss Nott came to desire I would pass that evening with her. At a quar- ter past six, the night being fair, star-%ht, and frosty, T set out to walk to my appointed visit. My way was by Mr C. B/s house. I observed the chamber of the deceased, where both the shut- ters were open, to be extremely light, and the shadows of several people, walking about the room, were visible on the ceiling. As I stood contiemplating the awfiil scene, I heard the knock- u^ of hammers, that were sodering up the cof- fin. The lines from Shakespeare's description of the martial field, the night before the battle of Agincourt, rushed upon my recollection : -^ While, from the teutsy The armourers, accompli&hing the knights, With busy hammers closing rivets up, Gave dreadful note of preparation." The loud and dismal fimeral-bell tolled this m replied that her majesty had on a dirty blue apron, but said she was mighty glad to see him ; observmg, that, if it had not been wash- Digitized by Google €54 LETTER LT. bg-weeky she should have asked him to stay din- ner; and added he was welcome to stxj, efen as it was, if he would take pot-luck ; but that she had nothii^ for dinner but a leg of pork andpense^ pudding. — ^Adieu ! LETTER LV. Rev. Dr Warner. Lichfield, March 7, 1786. I ENTREAT jou w91 favour me with speedy tidings concerning Mr Hayley's present state of heahh. Your last letter has alarmed me on the subject. It is not a common degree of interest which I take in his welfare. Obserring his c<^i- stitution, I have always feared for his life. That you would be glad to learn that Mr Pio2> zi is constantly and tenderly grateful for the sacri^ fices his enchanting wife has made to him, at the' instigation of the despotic litde deity, I was pei^ fectly conscious. Her fine talents, and die un- grateful abuse of Dr Johnson, upon this mar- riage, after the years she had devoted to rendei^ Digitized by Google LETTBS LV. 255 ing his life happy, ought, and will interest every benevolent heart in her destiny Such hearts virill rejoice to see envy and malice disappointed by the devoted attachment of the highly obliged Piozzi, and by his acknowledged virtues. I perfectly agree with you as to the genius and spirit of Cowper's beautifid poem. The Task ; yet I somewhat wonder at the confidence with which it inspires you in the goodness of his heart* My doubts on that subject do not proceed alone from the severity of his satire, however ill I may think severity to human failings becomes a hu- man creature. But if a benevolent man may be induced to wield, with harsh asperity, the satiric scouige, yet surely he will not suffer ungenerous sentiments to descend from his pen. But for the illiberal protest of this author against the genero- sity of encomium, against the gratitude of tribu- tary praise, I should have read his poetry with pleasure unallayed, as I confess it was exquisite. The Task certainly contains not only dazzling imdiations of fency, but many noble sentiments. Alas! it is not always, that either one or Ae other affofd indubitable proof of an imthor's vir- tue ! The depraved and selfish often wear these splendid veils of light, when all is darkness at the pNitre. Digitized by Google 258 LETTBR LV. There is a knot of ingenioas and charming fe- males at LiidloWy in Shropshire. My friend^ Miss Weston^ is its leading S[»rit. Do not chide me, that I ventured to send a few of your delightful letters for the amusement of this little society of intel%ent friends. It has been a mental repast, for which they are idinitely grateful. The sister nymphs meditate a plan to draw you into their circle, if you should realize your idea of an expe- dition to the classic environs of Ludlow. It is a very formidable ambush, believe me. With plenteous resources of wit and imagination, Miss Weston's form is graceful, and her countenance interesting. Her friends are celebrated beauties, with minds much above the common female le- vel. I see no chance of your escape, except from the number of the assailants, which, sluicii^ your admiration into different channels, may pre- vent its flowing in a resistless torrent over your heart. It gratifies my literary ambition not sightly, that you liked .me so much in my ^' doublet and hose," in the letters on Johnson's character, sign- ed Benvolio. I was delighted by your recom- mendii^ them to my attention, as able, eloqu«it, and convincmg, without the least suspicion of die name or sex of their author. Nothing coidd be Digitized by Google LBTTER Lyi, 25? more flattering than praise, so utterly exempted from the possibility of being meant as flattery. LETTER LVI. Miss Weston. Lichfield, March 20, 1787. * Respondent to your kind inquiries, I have the pleasure to tell you, that my dearest father, though weaker than ever in his limbs, and amidst the fast-fading powers of memory, has had no re- lapse since his dreadful epileptic seizures in De- cember ; while his affection for me seems to in- crease as the other energies of his mind subside. When I adipinister his food, his wine, and even bis medicines, which indeed are few, cordial, and palatable, he looks at me with ineffable tender- ness ; and with an emphatic, though weak voice, '' thank you, my dear child, my darling, my bles- sing ;" and not seldom he calls me '' the light of his eyes." The sensations of melting fondness which such expressions awaken in my bosom, are of im- utterable pleasure. But, alas ! soon or. late, we generally pay an high price for whatever has been VOL* I. B Digitized by Google 2&8 LETTER LVl. cordial to our spirits, and sweet to our hearts* This augmeDted tenderness, from a parent always a£Fectionate, — O ! how will it embitter the past- ing hour, which I must consider as perpetually impending ! I have not heard from Mrs Mompessan since we parted. She does not love her pen, and she loves me well enough to evince, that frequent epistolary intercourse is not necessaCry to the du- ration, or ev^ the warmth of friendship. Ever delightful is her society to me« Its interest in- creases as years roll on. Conversing together, we recal the past, and all that made it dear. My sister, crushed in the blossom of our youth, by the pale hand of death, i^n lives, and speaks and moves before us, in the soft light of her s^ rene graces ; my mother, in all the enei^es of her high and generous spirit ; my beauteous Ho- pora, as in the golden days of her prime, when her affections were warm, and artless as her bloom ; her fancy gay as her smile, her under* standii^ clear as her eyes. Yes, it is thus that our conversations lift the veils of time. Very gratifying, clear Sophia, is the high value which you say that yourself and your intelligent friends set upon my letters. I cannot doubt your sincerity, else I should be ipcline^ to exclaim, — *i How is it that a train of reasoning can please, Digitized by Google JLETTEB LVI. tS^ oince it does not conyince T Henceforth I shall be disposed to dunk idl critidd intesdgation useless, flinee a woman of your fine understanding can ^fiaifititin her prejudices against a proposition so veiy self-evident, as ditot all which is worthy to please an enlightened mind, as truth of character; interest of situation; the force of imi^fety; the g | im of description ; the animation of apos- trophe, and the pathos of complaint ; may be al- most equally well conveyed in one form of com- )K>sition as in another. But if from the measure, ita nature, and its arrangements, rather than from diose essentiab, resulcs the material charm of the poetic science, then is that science but ''as sound- ing brass, or a tinkling cymbal.'^ I cannot resist making one more effort to con*- Tince you that you have placed your sensatiomi to a wrong cause, and are unjust to yourself in avow- ing and persisting in a prejudice, which one quar** ter of an hour^s reflection woidd enable you to eradicate. You have often declared a particular fondness for Lord Lyttleton's lovely monody on the deadi of his wife ; — ^yet it is a Pindaric Ode. Beattie's Minstrel also I know you love, which is also writ- ten in a species of the lyric measure. Tasting the beauty of those compoMtions, you prove that it is not the ode-measures which of themselves Digitized by Google !S60 LETTER LVI. displease your ear, or'peqifex your atteotion. If Gray's Ode to the Lyre, which, charming as those poems are, is poetically superior to them both, does not charm you, since all the three are equally od^s, it must be that the objects of Gray's ode are presented to the imagination; those of X^yttleton to the heart; those of Beattie's to the understanding. Hiis difference between them would have subsisted in the same degree if each had written their poem in Pope's general mea- sure, the ten feet couplet, which is your favourite style. Those high and picturesque graces of the art, to which you are more insensible than I can account for, do, it is certain, generally wear the lyric dress. It is therefore the nature of the ob- jects often presented in odes, not the style of composition, which fails to interest and please you. The odes of Horace in Latin, and the odes of Akenside in English, are taken in a much lower tone than those of the Grecian Pindar, and those of our native Gray — ^that is, their subjects are more familiar, and common-life. I should think they would please, and at length iuduce you to cry out with Juliet, ** What's in a name ?*'— these, iwhich are surely odes, To sense, and to affection, speak as plain A$ Pope's twin couplet,'? Digitized by Google LETTER tVI. fitfi Suffer me to make an experiment upon your su- preme aversion^ the measure of the legitimate son- net. Most of the stanzas in jour darling mono- dy by Lyttleton^ are capable of forming a dis- tinct sonnet in the Miltonic numbers, and in the manner of Petrarch's, who wrote chiefly in that metre, though his fame as a poet has augmented through so many ages. FIRST SONI^ET* " At length have I eicap'd each hmnan eye, E8cap*d from every duty, every care, That in my moumfal thoughts might daim a share, Importunate ; arrest the bursting sigh, Or force my tears their flowing stream to dry ! Screened by these cypress shades from every glare Of evemng lustres, that so vainly ^r Gild the green valley ; let me now supply, Beneath this lone retreat, which sorrow need^, All that- may give my burden*d heart relief^ And suffer it to pour its tide of grief ; Of grief, alas ! that other grief exceeds Far as love's tender throb, and vivid glow. Transcend in joy's fine zest all other joys below/' Digitized by Google «eS LBJT«» I-VI.. SKCONB SONNET. << O ! Shades of Hagley ! Y/here is now your boast i Your bright inhabitant for ever flown; Yoor once delighted master left alone. And aU the interert of yoor gnwes lo0t f Yon she prefenr'4 to all that danles musty In scenes where pleasure rears her gilded throne^ The eye of thoughtless beaoty ; charmed to own That yonr coy dells, and floweiy vales engrossed Her raptni'd choice ; while eveiy passion there From the recesses of her spotless breast She chas'd, save those the gentlest, and the best, bevotion high, and admiration fair Of GkNJi, and natnre, with the soft desfaes That wedded lov6 augments, maternal love inspires.** THIRD SONNET. << O'er the known vale I rove, with many a sigh, To find the footsteps of my vanished biide^ Where oft we strayM, 'mid evening^s rosy ptide, In converse sweet, and with adnuriog cgre Beheld the sommer son go down the sky. Nor in the wood, nor by the fountain's side^ Nor where its soft loquacious waters glide Along the valley, can I now deseiy One trace of Lucy j— yet, O ! heavy hoar I All desolate ci heart, I just discern. Dim gleaming through yon thicket, the grey tower, Silent and solemn, which protects her um ; That pale memorial of those matdiless charmsy That gave an heaven of love to tiiese now widow'd 8 Digitized by Google I know not if this experiment will answer. I had not time to do it justice by polishing higher. It is an extempore experiment^ and I grant that this measure^ being of more difficult construction^ is less calculated for an heart in the paroxysms of tender aiq^uish^ than the wilder Pindarics in which Lytdeton warbled. Tell me, however, widi in- genuousness, if this alteration in the construction of the verse, has divested the ideas of their pathos. If you shall tell me that it has, I shall believe your prejudice against the sonnet at least uncon- querable ; and weary you no more with my la- bours for your poetical conversion. You object to Ossian from its often appearing to you bombastic. That bombast may be often found in the Ossianic volumes is certain. — ^Mao* pherson doubtless extended the fragments he col* lected far beyond their original limits. I always conclude the bombast to be his own, the sublime to be Ossian. You desire a specimen of the celebrated Geoige Hardinge's style of letter-writing. I insert, for that purpose, the copy of a very short one, which I received from him lately. You will, I think, confess that it is at once singular and brilliant, and that his flattery is not common-place, — ecce ! '' A charming letter from you, this instant re- ceived. Bless you for it. A letter once in two Digitized by Google 264 LETTEB LVI. mouths, then, is to be my utmost hope. Well I embrace jour two months with their '< Sweety relnetanl^ indolent delay.'^ No epithets in Milton, to be sure ! Come^ I must at last confess your contention in their favour triumphant, from the propfs you produce of their fjpequency on the pages of that verse d^ni-god. . You write like an angd, and I would go to the end of the world for a lock of your hair ; and so pray send me one at the two months' end — and let me carry off your picture by force from Rom- ney. '^ It's rather impudent, after all, that you should be so eloquent, so able, yet so feminine, so touch- ing. It is not fair ; — you ought to be an elephant, and you are a charming woman, dear to me as any one of your enchanting sex, though I never, saw you but once; exactly an hundred and nine years ago. Farewel, Urganda!'' Digitized by Google LBTTBB LVII. S65 LETTER LVII. Mbs Cotton. Lichfield, March 23, 1787. You Hiisiuiderstood me if, in speaking of the refined) the learned and eloquent Mr ^'s union with a woman of such mere common-life talents^ you thought I meant that happidess was confined to people of exalted intellect. So far from asserting that idea^ I am inclined to believe those the happiest who mutually plod on in the narrow circle of every-day minds^ and adopt pre- judices for principles. No; I said, and I still, think it ill for married happiness, where the abili- ties, ac^quirements, and pursuits are very unequal. Rochefoucault says, we cannot long love those by whom we are despised, or for whom we feel any d^ee of contempt. Something very like con- tempt must arise where the disparity is extreme, and the pursuits wholly dissimilar. My life has not been very short, or by any means unobservant. ^ Muiy miseries have I witnessed consequent upon nitellectual inequality, where people have a great. deal of time for companionable purposes. Where. Digitized by Google S66 JLETTSR LYIl. they have not, it matters less. One happjr couple only have I known, where there was the leisure without the powers for companionship. The lat§ Mr and Mrs V. of this city. He was a man of wit and learning ; — she the veriest intellectual blank imaginable ; — ^but then Mr V. wished not so much to converse with people, as to be heard. He was not jbstidious about the ability of hi3 lis- teners. I have known him go on for houra, talking $ with infinite wit and humour, about himself, his connections, his wife's simplidty, and his cfaik drens' good qualities — and this without seeming at all to want or expect respondent animadv^^ sion. Mrs V. was beautiful, good humouied, asid silent. The last was an alKatoning merit, which does not often belong to so narrow a mind. The noise of the shallow stream is proverbial. Tli]i> couple were happy ;^-but how rare is it that pre* ty idiots are quiet and silent ! The new bride is not likely to be either. I have this morning seen a very (dd acquaint* ance, unbeheld since my thirteenth year. I believe you know him : that shadow of a shade. Sir 6. C. Hia figure is not an atom more formidable than in those my heedless and very youthful years, when, about seven years older than myself, the sight of him, and his tiny brother, dispersed my father's apprehettflii<»is about my accepting their Digitized by Google I^BTTBB LVII. 267 moAis^B iimtetion to paws a month with her at the old fiunfly seat at B- n ; — apprehensioiu, yfihkSn had arisen hem her odd declaration^ that sha hopad her sons 3n^ould be men of gallantry and intrigue. ^' Ah, ha f said my father, seeing them alif^t wkh their mamma from the coach, '^ what have we here f these Coldbrandi the giants ! these same mighty men ! — ^In the name of chastity let the girl go. If she can be in danger from such heroes, idie must be infinitely too seducible to e9c«pe by any possible restraints parratal pru« dence can impose.^ I, who had been educated in die stricter temperance of diet, and who had run about the fidds in die bounding vigour of health, and widi the gay hopes of dawning woman- hood, was yet charmed with the novel ideas of B ■ p luxuries, and of bowling thither in a coach and four, with two out-riders. Deuce take my Eveish deshre of rambling from my pleasant home, and healthy deprivations. Mrs C ^n fed me up m that iatal month, like a porket, widi chocolate, drank in bed at eight; a nap till ten ; tea and hot-rolls at eleven; pease soup at one; a luxurious dinner at four ; and an hot and splen- did supper at midnight — ^the day-light intervals filled up with slow airings in the old coach, along the dusty roads, for it was in the heats of a blaz- kig summer; and with lying on a couch, picking Digitized by Google 268 Settee lvii. honesty for madam's flower-pots^ widiout any. danger of molestation from .her puny sons* .1. wanted to read to her :. '^ No child, I jdetest xeadr ing." — I begged permission to walk about die. gardens ; no, that would spoil ray complexion; — ; to pursue niy needle-works in her presence ; no,, that was vulgar. You will imi^ine how. soon I sickened of the joyless luxury, and unsocial gran- • deur, for they visited but little with the nrigk-. bourin^ families, who were too rational to please,, or be pleased with the fine town-lady, who pro-, fessed to think the months of country-residence, worse than annihilation — ^Alas ! my month of ve-. getation was pledged, and .during its .oppressive, progress, the change of diet, and total want of .ex--, ercise, gave my constitution its first propensity to. plumpuess, which, tu^ my regret, no future tem^. perance, or resumed activity, could subdue. — -Tilli this luckless excursion I was light as a wood-nymph. The very many intervenii^ years, and the change, of effeminate youth into more 4ec(epitude than, usually appears in middle life, had not so oblite-. rated the remembered traces of that pale and pen- knife face, that shadowy form, which '^ the blasts of January must blow through and through," but that I instantly knew Sir George C. If he is not. more corporally consequential than he was at twenty, he is much more interesting. His : Digitized by Google LfilTTES LVII. nervare &ose of fiisbibnable life; his language fluenV and correct ; and bis even afilectioBate re* eogmzance of our youthful acquaintance, slight as it had been; seemed to spring front a warmth of heart more valuable than exterior grace. I remembered nothing of these agremens about the Master Marmoset of B n. That long com- merce with the world should give ease to the ad- dress; and readiness to the conversational powers, is nothing rare, but sensibility and cordial ingenu- ousness, are not presents that time generally miakes : Yet I see no reason why it should not. Sickness, disapppintm.ent, the tombs of our friends rising arouud lis 1 — ^^all these things have a natural ten- dency to soften the heart, and to expand its affec- tions. Why they so commonly produce a con- trary effect surpasses my philosophy to trace. As to Lady Fane, it seems strange that the close impure air of a vast city, reeking with noi- some exhalations from the dead, the dying, and the diseased multitude, should beVound more salutary to her constitution than the mountain winds, and breezes of the valley. One should suppose that the rudest breath of the hills would be less de- atructiye, while the milder gales must sorely bear more renovating powe^ upon their wings, moist with the fresh dews of morning, and wafting the spring, the summer, and autumnal fragrance* Digitized by Google £70 LBTTEB LVIl. However, when we reflect upon the close qnnpa*r thy between the body and mind, npon the tendency of corpcmd debility to deaden the taste for simple pleasures, and for the charms of Nature, we per- ceive the necessity of city resources, for that va^ ried amnsement, which is necessary to every de- gree of health* ** If Nature pleases not, we fly to Art.** I^or myself, I should be sorry to live in any pkwce where the freshness, sweetness, and beauty of the vegetable world, might not daily meet my senses, apd pour their soft balms over the pains of disap* pointment, and the griefs of deprivation. Na- ture, even in her wintry garb, delights me. You know my situation, though on the edge of a little city, is perfectly rural, unheard its din, and sur- rounded by fields and groves. While amongst them <* I find in winter many a scene to please ; The nide stone fence, with ftagratit walUlowen p^, The son at noon, seen thro' Uie lealless trtes, The dear calm ether at the dose of day." You have not, any more than myself, lost your taste for these pure delights of the eye and spirit. I regret that it has so seldom been allowed us to share them' together. Digitized by Google LETTER LYIII. ft7i LETTER LVIII. George Hardinxje^ Esq. Lichfield, March 9,5 y 1787. Your objection to the little discords which are, in some degree, inevitable to every language, and whicb> blending with the concords, rather increase than lessen the general harmony ; yom- pettish quarrel with the letter 5, which has very pictu- resque powers of sound ; these, and other preju- dices of the same sickly complexion, are unfortu* nate for your poetic pleasures, and render you, who are a man of genius and knowledge, a bad. critic. Shakespeare, Milton, Gray, &c. — even Pope, who is allowed to have carried the delicacy of harmonic refinement as far as it can safely go, — these poets have, in th0ir best passnges, a number of lines, which contain similar discords to those with which you quarrel in this verse of Dryden's, ^ Fed on the lawns, and in the forests rang'd.*' It is agreed that the ne plus ultra of verbal me« jody^ exists in the Eloisa to Abelard ; yet, conr Digitized by Google tJZ LETTEB LYIII. taining lines like these, your coy ear will doubt- less scarie endure it. ^ Wbat means this tumult in a vestal's veins ^ ^ No weeping orphan saw its Other's stores.** ^ Priest^ tapers* teinplos^swim before my sight." ^ No silver saints by dying misers given." AV1A9 ** If ever chance two wand'ring lovers brings.** Also, in Gray, *^ And you that from the st^ilely heights OfWmdsor*sbrow." Your unclassical aversion to the letter s, for the Latin has it abundantly as our own language, must, J conclude, deaden your ear to the music of this line of Gray, f* fields, that cool Ilissus Uvea.** ^d to these Uaes of Milton^ ** Down toe swift Hebms to the Lesbian shore,** And, ^' On whose fresh lap the swart star sparely looks.** Digitized by Google L'iTTEB LTHI. tfS Also, to the celebrated couplet of Diyden^s, when the l^ve of Ximotheiis changes from rude and martial to delightfid sounds. SktoA he «oati>*4 the ioid to i X faK>w not Jones in whidi the letter s is more li- berattj need, andlkqr ^^ere dhosen by Dryden to express the moat agroeaUe sensa^ioBs. Those who desire to have a just perception of poetic esceU«ice, must, with manly spirit, look for general harmony, superior to sickly niceties aboNi: veribal auvaageiBeBt. Tbey must have no agttCiWiiiphaeis ;»bout the letter s, «ince no cobso«- oafil has »^re power of patnting to die ear-T^-ia^r atwice i6com die Peiweroso.of Milton, a wintry nieiiriiing^f &pm^f *" IJflhei'd withfl thovorfltil], When the gust has blown its filL" In that first fine it is the repetition of the letter s, whidh enables it so exactly to represent, by soimd, s ^eiBt ^wer; as it descends. I .wbq not afraid to assert, that »tber^ is a aimUar wst^vcfi of sound echoing ^en^e in m^ poem hfma^, thus VOL. I, » 5 Digitized by Google £74 LSTTSB LVIII. ^ And towing the green sea-weed o'er and o'er, Creeps the hndi'd billow mi the iheUy shore." When a calm sea advances on the sands, we al- ways hear a sound spelt thus, ush — ush — ush. Garrick, whose ear was indisputable, certainly, since he composed the Jubilee himself, and was to speak it, took care diat it contained no verse whose dissonance must unav thaV.in whatever transieBtly eclipsing clouds dtthiesis or envy maj. involve them, yet that fame shall one day conaecrate to immortality the dakns of the fofsi, " If she be right iovok'd m ivaibled song.'* Adio! LETTER LXI. Joseph Sykes, Esq.^ Lichfield, Jpril 13, 1787- Right glad am I to perceive, in your last let-* ter, the sprightly glow of your fancy ; and for a reason more material than my own amusement, since well I know the son's danger incompatible vnth the father's vivacity. Silent as you are up- on the subject,. I see, in the guety of your style, Mr J. Svkes's recovery — ^yes, as in a mirror. On your own late indisposition^ I will not con*- dole with you. The recollection of past suffer- ings, merely bodily, and that have left behind them no vestige of pain or danger, give to re- * Of WesteDa, near HoIL Digitized by Google LETTER LXI. turning health the zest of delight The advan- cing year will, I trust, perfectly restore your - strength, though spring is at present somewhat sullen, and conies on shivering, and with a tardy step ; but I tnist she will brighten on her pro- gress, diffusing health and gladness from her wings, amidst the bowers of West Ella. With all Mr 's genius, knowlec^e, and varied eloquence of intellect, I cannot per- sist in recommending it to my friends to put their sons under his tuition. Alas ! he has not one ounce of ballast to those full sails of wit and in- genuity ^ith which he steers amidst the dange* rous shoals of life. His taste for expence hais been, beyond all measuie, inconsistent with the retired situation in which he fixed himself;' with the narrowness of his certain income, and with his plan of pupilage. That taste involved him in perplexities, from which he will find it difficult to emerge. The consequences of this infeituation have unhinged his mind, and incapacitated him for the energetic and assiduous attention necessary in the education of youth, particularly at the period of life when he would receive pupils, during the ambiguous years of conmiencing manhood. My father, then in the full vigour of his mind, warmUy remonstrated with Mr '■, when first he took a house in Eyam for that purpo^. Digitized by Google LETTER LXI. £83 against the superfluous^ nay^ absurd elegance with which he was furnishing it ; — ^whiite fringed beds for schbol-boys^ azure stained papers^ with gilt mouldings^ and fine prints, framed and glazed, to be spattered over with the ink of their exercises, and broken by their robust plays ! He talks much of having '^ built his nest in the rocks/' He was certainly at liberty so to do, but not to hazard the contraction of debts he might never be able to pay, by lining with purple and fine linen, that eyrie for his eaglets. Your friend's loss has been great indeed ; — ^her brother, her beloved and constant companion, the soother of her vndowed years ! How are such ties entwined around the heart ! When they break, our peace, our cheerfulness, burst like bubbles. Youth easily blows more of those soft, shining meteors. Hope supplies the materials, and decks dieir forms with a thousand gay and agreeable co- lours. But in declining life, she no longer pre- sents them — at least for this world. Alas, no ! Time cannot make me cease to re- gret my changed, uiy lost Honora. Few days pass away, some portion of which is not tinged with sadness, from the consciousness of her extinction. From year to year, musing on her idea, I often seem inclined to reproach the scoies tdie loved so well for pouring forth their vernal and summer Digitized by Google S84 LETTER LXU graces lavisblj, a»- when her dear eyes used to glist^i with the effusions of s^isibility as they gazed upon them. It is then that affection s^hs amidst the smiles of vegetable beau^ : '' Since not for her the radiant mom retorns. Since not for her the golden summer bums.** — ^On my life those people you mention have made, a fine return to the kindness of you and yours. Re- fleetion presents* few things so painful to an elevated and feeling mind, as the frequency of human ingra:^ titude, by whicb our confidence in society is un- avoidafaly weakened. The instances you mention excite my indignation* Some years past they would have astonished me ; but since my own experience can more than parallel them, won* der is changed into a regretful sigh. But never may the:mp4t repeated proofis of this dark depra- vity in the human heart, petrify ours with joyless selfishness, and listless, unconcern, for the welfare 'of our fellow-creatures ! Mr Saville thanks you for the Dandelion pana- cea. He win resort to it on the first returning, symptom of the '^ yelk>w-tingii]^ plague/' as Dr Armstrong eraphatieally called that sick disteai}* per the jaundice. I am not surprised by what you telLme of Mia^. ■ Vnew attachment*. Your pale;and peevish: Digitized by Google LETrrBE xxn.. £85 njinphs are always mnoroits. Tbe isnow abont dieir hearts resembles that of our Engli^ moim- lains, radier than the jsnows of Taurus or Mount Jvra. Sun«-beamft from a lover's eye, sddom play in vain luponthe white bosom of a prucb. Aidieu! LETTER hXll. Miss Weston. Lichfield, April 17, 1787. You know Mr Saville to be a man of sense and a sdiolar, besides being completely master of bis professional science. We have together, and mfice.tiian .«iice, read,ivil!h:atteBtion, the passage yxm qnoie from Mr Salary on the music of the Egyptians, and that of the. ancaeni Greeks. Mr •Saville affirms, «diat it is mot only inipossiSile to jform any ratimuilidea of this writer's meaning in those passages, but -that he tiid not ^understand himself. It is certain Aat those languages, whidi are rendered jmi* A by biemig composed of a great number of -consonant, are yet better adapted to nmsical equnesnon iSum a.^&dect coald.ibe which Digitized by Google 2d6 LETTEB LXII. was wholly composed of vowels. — ^Mr Savary's idea of expressing our meaningby sounds fonned of vowels chiefly, if not totally, is like that of the farmer, who, when he gave a dinner to the judge on circuit, with his council, insisted that they should eat plumb*cake to their roast-meat instead of bread. Variety is the soul of pleasure in nature, and in all the arts. Prospects without hills ; pictures with- out a due proportion of shadow ; music without discords, and a language without consonants, must have inevitable monotony, and prove insupport- ably wearying to those who have been accustom- ed to the great eflPects produced by contrast in prospects, in pictures, in music, and in lan^age. That influence upon the passions, which his- toiy boasts of having been produped, in former ageS) by the simple melodies of which only they were possessed; was naturally, T think, accounted for in one of my late letters to you. FdmiUarity with excellence has a prevailing tendency to chill and blunt th^ sensibility of its graces, and to ren- der die judgment coy and fastidious. Upon two people, whose taste for music was by nature per- haps equally keen, if one of them has been in the constant custom of hearing the best music, and the other has had but seldom opportunity of lis- tening even to the most moderate, probably the Digitized by Google LSTTfiB LXII. €87 jsimjJest air^ of perhaps but indiiereiit jnerit, would have more effect upon the passions of the novice^ than the sublimest air of Pergolezzi's or Handel's, upon the feelings of him v^hose ear had been habituated to their admirable compositions. Every adept in the science of music knowS| that it is impossible for melody alone to have pro- duced musical effects, that could^ i|i excellence, bear any comparison with those which she has displayed since her association, in later ages, widi the mightier powers of harmony. The English language may have too many con* sonants; yet who, that listens to Milton's poetry^ finely read, or to Johnson's best prose, or to Handel's oratorio airs, sung with expression, will pronounce it inharmonious i In the amoroso style, we have beautifiil music from Italy; more voluptuous certainly, but not more tender, more touching, more sweet, than the pathetic songs of Handel. That truth is now pretty universally felt and acknowledged ; while none dispute the immense superiority of that great master in the more energetic harmonies. Thus 18 it proved, that our lai^age, though less soft than the Italian, is yet sufficiently liquid for the most melting purposes of melody and harmony. To descend from science and its professors, to individuals and their concerns. The world judges Digitized by Google t88 I^BTTEB XXII. of Mr 'm affiun as it does of thoie of j otber people^ with very rash cfecisioiu So gener- OttSy so himiaDe, so a&ctioiiate a friend, as Mr W " has loi^ proved himsdif towards Mr B., is not, I dare aasure joiy^elfi transfonned into the hard and merciless creditor, Tliat business has been nttsrepreaented io you, and is one amongst the d«ly instanoes Wihich ought to warn us of the in»- pradmceof lending moo^, in considerable sums, even to onr dearest friends; since, if payoEwnt ia ever required, it. is almost smre to be considerad as a -cmel hardship ; and, what is the jEtomgest thbg imagmaUe, by die public, a« well as by the individud^ who has been, somudi in vain, obUged* Mr W. was perfectly ri^t in obtttning evevy pos- sible security that might oblige his friend io live npon his income, incsea^ed to a clear 600I. per ann., by the posses^ioii of his new Jiving, and diia liU he had paid,'by instidmettts, his debt pf two Aonsand pounds to Mr W., contracted fidl twen* ty years before ; a debt, the paym^it of which that gentleman, in justice to his own mqi^eaaing family, om^ ii^ loqger to. neglect.. People in debt will not, if they have H^ principles, nllow tfaemsekes more.ihaaamaiatenaiice till they are fir^ of all obligations. Wantmg those self4nH pellmg principles, it is Ihe kindest ihing their fiiends can do to ohtigb ihem to be just. 4 Digitized by Google LETTER LXIl. - 2B9 Addison lent Sir Richard Steele a few hun- dreds. Perceiving that he was blazing away in <^ureless profiision^ that led to nun^ he remon^ strated upon the infatuation ; and finding him iu-' corrigible^ and Mrith a view to stop a career so dangerous, arrested Sir Richard. It answered the end. The startling prospect of a prison, for he was wholly unable to discharge the demand, awakened him from bis dream of dissipation; and Addison withdrew his claim, upon his friend les* sening the establishment of his household; and their amity, much to the honour of each^ remain- ed undissolved. With all that absurd prejudice which frequent- ly darkened the judgment pf Dr Johnson, he vio- lently condemns this action of Addison, in his life of that good man; an action which saved his friend from the ruin into which he was thought* lessly plunging. That the undisceming many should, at the time, condemn it as cruel, might have been expected : — ^from a philosopher and a moralist, we look for wiser decisions ; — but John- son always greedily caught at every circutnstance which wore the least ambiguity of appearance, when he was displaying a whig character to the world, that he might turn to posterity the darkest side of the fact, and thus cast a shadow where he might more fairly have thrown an illumination. VOL. I. T Digitized by Google 290 LETTER LXIII. As for the anecdote you sent me of Mr H, I never had esteem enough for his heart to won- der that sudden prosperity should have produced its usual effect upon narrow minds, and rendered him insolent and overbearing; little appearance as his manners wore of those propensities in his years of at least comparative indigence. Those vices of the heart often lie torpid in the winter of adversity — *< It is the 8uiDnier*s day brings forth the adder." Adieu! LETTER LXIIL Ma W* Newton^ the Peak Minstrel^ Lichfield, May 10, 1787. No, my friend, it is in vain to expect it — hap- piness is not of mortal growth. Every situatioii has its irksome circumstances ; its griefs^ its anxie- ties, and its regrets. I have mine-^-yet is my share of good much more ample than that of many who better merit the bounties of Heaven. Digitized by Google LETTEB tXIlI. fiQl It gives me pleasure to hear you acknowledge, that the reflections I made in my last upon your destiny, its pains and its consolations, have soften- ed the first, and added force to' the latter. I re- joice that you succeed in the cotton business, to which your talents for inventive mechanism first introduced you. Heaven, who gave you ingenui- ty^ of so many speoiei, will, I trust, prosper the iDchntriotts effort .that virtue inspired, and that wisdom .has directed. Successful labour braces the. nerves, and is favourable to health and to cheerfulness/ even, more, perhaps, than Indepen dence herself, in. whose train luxury, lassitude, and apathy, ate too often found ; and they canker all her roses.. Mr Cunninghaiiii's * sonnet, addressed to your^ * Somut to Mr W. Newtim^ by the Rev. P. Cvnmngham. Of late, as Clio left the mittes' grove, To place on modest self-tanght Edwin^s brows A pliant wreath of glossy laarel, wove Where Aganippe's silver fountain flows. A rival hir-oue claim*d him as her own; With fignr'd ivory planes, that fill'd her hand. And golden compasses, the liiuses' crown She deck'd ;-^-and thns she spoke, in accents bland ; ^ Let not tiie iairy muses* syren train Tiinpt thee to slight my less engaging lore, Digitized by Google ^99 .hETTKR LXIII. self, is not without bfeauty^ though I hare some objections to it besides its illegitimacy. The id^ is good of the contention between the genius of mechanism and the miis^ : — ^but it is ndt in &e nature of those passions from which contending ladies, however incorporeiail their siibstance, ougkt not to be suppose exempt) that the fonner should deck the crown of her rival with the sjm^ bol of her own arts; Besides it paiiits Ul ; figured ivory planes and golden conipilsses upon a laurel wreath, form a straiige contrast. Fairy is an illr judged epithet for the muse> when her train ate termed syren. It makfes a jumble of myihol<^ cal allusion is»toi\idhing in a leartied aqd classical writer. The fourth line is one of mine, without any quotation-hiark. He toc^ it from an ode which he copied from my manuscript-book some years ago. The five last verses of this sonnet are beautiful. You must get above idle scruples about shew- ing, or sending to your friends verses written in your own praise. The bard, like the vi^arrior, is privileged to display the trophies he has won : And swell the luckless, disregarded traiOy Wreck'd on her floM^ery, bnt her faithless shore ; Be mine thy aims to |>rospery—- and to shine, And Archimedes' fame, but not his fate, be thine ! " Digitized by Google LETTER I^III; 9QS' . .C^aroljiie de Liqhfiejd 19 tt^e only pew publica- tjcm in whic)i I |iave fj^lt iutere3ted — ^a nqviel — ^but exquisite in its Vvf^y tboi^g)^ |the English trmislation equals not the original in French. It is^ however^ sufficiently enchanting from tbe pen of Hol- croft. You must not suppose that \ make a practice of reading noy/els. I open nonie that h^ve not been highly recommended to me by those whom I believe judges of fine writing. Caroline made my imagination, and my heart, its instant captives. Simplicity, wit, and pathos, and the most exalted generosity, are to be founid iv^ the characters, plan, conduct, and sentiments of this fascinating story. . Disavowing a propeQsity to read, and to love novels, yet have 1 always considered the Clarissa and Grandison of Richardson, as the highest ef- forts of gemus in our language, next to Shake- speare's plays. \ live in constant familiarity with their graces. Devoted to them in my earliest youth, they set my taste too high eyer after to endure mediocrity in that line of writing. Fielding's romances are also excellent,, though I abjure the coarse unfeeling taste of those who prefer tbem to the glories of the Richardsonian pen. ^ Yesterday I had the pleasure of conversing with a valued friend> whose late dangerous illness forbade me to hope that we should ever more Digitized by Google 294 I.STTEB LXIY. converse together. When those we esteem have emei^ed from the valley and diadow of death, we meet them with redoubled satisfaction ^ In the WBtnn prednets of the cfaeerfbl day.* May you, dear Edwin, never find them wintered by the bleak gusts pf disuse or sorrow ! LETTER LXIV. Miss Scott. ILichfield, May 27, 1787 ' Mutually prevented from writing to each odier often, I yet hope thb inevitable seldomness of intercourse will not chill our friendship. Mr Taylor's ''^ visit gave me pleasure. He has read, and. thought deeply. Few of our clei^ prove such able champions for the great cause in which they are enlisted. My poor father grows more infirm than ever; but his temper is become so tranquil, and satis? * A diflflentmg minister to whom Mias Scott was eiigage flictiiig pain, upon brutes. I have not unfre- quently observed this extreme affeotion for the lower, orders of the animal wprld, accompanied by a cruel aptness to look on the dark side of human characters, and to aggravate folly into baseness, and frailty into vice. In other great men, we have seen pity for the miseries of cold and hunger exist, with a lamentable degree of spleen and envy rankling over every contemplation of the fortunate and the celebrated amongst mankind: — Digitized by Google LETTER LX^V. £97 Yet, even as men, Swift had his admirers — Cow- per h«s his, and Johnson his idolaters. This is the sununary of my ideas for all three : ^ I noarn their oatare, bat admire tbeir art, Adore their head, while I abjure their heart." Yon plead Cowper's constitutioDal melancholy m excuse for his misanthropy. That plea is of* ten made for Johnson also ; but if it is possible that melancholy .can so narrow the mind, as to render a man of geniusi like Mr Cowper, the avowed satirical foe of national gratitude, and of honour to the manes of such beii^s ^ Shak^peare and Handel, it then becomes a vice, against which every generous reader will bear the most renouncing testimony. I have just sent a short Ode to Cadell for piid>lication, on the sp^dily expected return of General Elliot from Gibraltar. His private vir* tues, the bravery of his defence of that garrison,! which threw such lustre on the termination of a war, unjust, ill-managed, and every way inglori- • rous, entitle him to fa%higher poetical distinctions, than it is in my power to confer. My literary friends here assure me, that this Ode is inferior to nothing of mine which preceded it. Thai is some recompense for the trouble, ever irksome to me| Digitized by Google 296 LETTEK LXIV. of publication. It would be trebled, were it ac- compauied by a consciousness of poetic d^ene- racy. Be this little poem what it may, it is sure to receive the darts of malice from some one's pen, shot from behind the screen of anonymous publi- cations. Soon after our troops returned from Gibraltar, leaving their glorious General, intent upon the restoration of the ravaged fortifications, a mili- tary gentleman, of pleasing appearance, announ- ced himself Lieutenant Seward, the son of a mer- diant at Southampton, to whom we knew our- selves related. He told us he had travelled from' that place purposely to see me, whom he consi- dered as the source of one the most important, as well as flattering circumstances of his life. I was much surprised. He continued, — ^^ I was at the siege of Gibraltar, adoring the vir- tues and the abilities of the Commander in Chief, without the most distant hope of obtainii^ the honour of his notice, much less of his friendship, tp which high rank, or particular recommenda- tion, were considered as the only chanpels, unless an officer could be fortunate enough to render - very conspicuous service to the British cause. '^ I received an invitation to dine with Goieral Elliot, and was charmed and surprised at my good Digitized by Google LETTEB LXIY. 9&9 fortune^ without an i<)ea to what circumstance I cojjdd possibly owe it. *' The General met me half-way on my en- trance into his apartment, where he was surround- ed by officers of distinction. His eyes shone with bencTolent pleasure ; and he held in his hand the Monody on Major Andr6. *' Mr Seward," sjaid he, " I am glad to see you. The instant I read this poem, it occurred to me, that I had seen the name of Seward on my list of iiie garrison's officers. I inquired your cha- racter. It was answerable to my wishes. Are you related to the author of the Monody on Ma- jor Andr^f" " I replied, that I had the honour of being very distantly related, but had not the happiness of her acquaintance." *' It is sufficient, Mr Seward, that you bear her name, and a fair reputation, to en- title you to the notice of every soldier, who has it in his power to serve and oblige a military bro- ther. You will always find a cover for you at my table, and a sincere welcome ; and n^'heiiever it may be in my power to serve you essentially, I •shall not wakit the inclination." You will not wonder that this narration gave me unutterable pleasure, and that individual gra- titude, uniting with patriot admiration, stimulated my miise to her best efforts. O ! that she had Digitized by Google 300 JUBTTEH IXV. possesaed the powers of Gray^ or Masooi or Iby- ley, to have embalmed his laureb in the bligbt de^^s of inunortal cdebmtioD ! Fwrewell ! LETTER LXV. Miss Pqwys. Lichftdd, May 28, 1787. I PURPOSE venturing to forsake my bouse- bold-godsy dear friepd, for 4 few weeks, and do i^ot like to leave your letter, unansweied, in their protecdop. Miss Weston b^ been long desirous that I should visit h^r at Luudlow. Fr/CMn year to year I have designed it, but always thought my dear father'^ health too precarious for the experi- ment. Since be has passed the last six months without actual disease, and as Ludlow will next winter cease to be the home of my friend, who removes to town, I have resolved upon the jouiiiey, Sophia is, like myself, an enthusiast in scenery; und she has set her heart upon shewing me the sublime and luxuriant beauty of that which surt Digitized by Google LETTER LXV, 301 rounds Ludlow. With all my passion for wind-, ing rivers^ curtained rocks, devious Tallies, and sheltering mountains, I am too indolent to search for them in distant parts df the kingdom, with- out the stimulus of friendship. Never did hart pant for the water-brooks more thait I long for quiet exemption from intellectual as well as bo- dily exertions. I»wai«1taufch Amused by your account df Mifo -, that being, Whdse brain seems, from your description, a whirf[iool, the eddies of which have opposite currents, hurrying the ideas that entet it different wdys ; but whose virtues are lis stesldy as her thoughts are confused and veering. And so Mr talks methodistically ; but he was born to be what b^ hks always been, ^ Every thing by starts, and notliing long." Jacob's description of Reuben may be applied to him, << Unstable as iTvater, thon shalt not exceL" How much the reverse of such a wandering fire is the light of her mind whom I have now the pleasure of addressing ! Digitized by Google 908 Ii£TTES XXYU LETTER LXVI. WiLUAM Hatley, Esq.. Lichfield, July 15, 1787. Thank you, my dear bard, for your letter, hoiwever short; and assure yourself, that I am hig^y obliged by your kiiid present of, the ad- mirable * little volume on CbeSteifield and JcJin- son. A letter, lately received from Miss H. Williams, mentions it in the most glotving terms of approbation. This lettrar preceded the arrival of the work itself a few days. The grace, the spirit, the discriminating justice which breathe through its pages, more than fulfil her animated testunony. Well does she observe, that it is impossible to mistake the author, though die wofk is nameless. You must learn to write below yourself, to veil those rays of imagination, wit, and knowledge, * Entitled '* Two Dnlogaes, cootaiiiing a compamdve view •f the lives, C3iaractersy and WritingB of FhOip, the late Earl . ci Chesterfield, and Dr Samoel Johnson.'' Printed for C»« dell in the Strand, 1787.P— 5. Digitized by Google LETTER LXYI. 303 which illuminate ydur writings, or it will always be in vain that you write anonymously. The dial<^e appears to me, in general, as just as it b eloquient. We find the author putting forth equally the full strength of argument in each disputant, alike when, in the character of the Arch-Deacon, he expresses the erroneous ideas of Jdinson's nearly faultless merit as a mo- ral and religious man ; and when, in that of the Colonel^ he combats and disarms the fallacy* The want of this fairness has generally disgusted me with dialogues, where one of the parties never say half that might be said in defence of their opinion^ and only speak to be confuted. The Arch-Deacon says^ and finely says, every thing that can possibly be suggested to support the mi^nary moral perfection of this great lite- rary idol; yet, perhaps, i^ot all that might be said for him as a poet. Since it is confessed that there is poetiy, though not pathos in the Irene, surely no fair conclusion can be drawn firom its failure on the stage against the poetic ta- lents of its author. We must all feel, that with- out the aid of music, Sampson Agonistes would, in representation, have little effect on the passions of the audience ; and if any judgment may be formed from translations^ the celebrated trage* Digitized by CjOOQIC 304 LEtTER IXVI. dies of Sophocles and Knripides ate cold as the Irene. Entirely do I believe^ that the pride of J6hn- son, wounded by the ill success of that work, was the reason why he did not often throw the splen- dours of his imagination into verse. Nor less is it probable^ that this mortification whetted the £Emg8 of his envy against the whole poetic face. It isy with exact veracity^ asserted by ilie Colo*- nely in this flialogue, that Johnson had no empire over the risible ideas, through the course of hiil compositions. That^ in conversation, he Was by no means deficient in that power, the toUoqufid records of that wonderful man bear ample testi- mony. But, totally forsaking his pen, trotn which also scarce any thing pathetic ever descended, he certainly could never have been esteemed a ^eat dramatic writer, amongst a people accustomed to the wit, the humour, and spiHt of Shakespeare, and to the impassioned tenderness of Otway. But then, it is only over the gay and the Com- miserating sensations of his readers that Johnson wanted empire. The assertion, therefore, ap- pears to me too general, that he had no dominion over the passions ; and that the simile of a king without subjects cannot strictly be applicable to him< Th&t, «s a poet, he is able to rouse and 8 Digitized by Google LBTTBE UVI. 305 fire, though not to exhilarate and melt the soul| his character of Charles the Twelftl^ of Sweden^ in the Vanity of Human Wiahes^ bears resistless proof. V If want of the pathetic powers, .necesmrily ren- der a man a -^^ misierable poet/' I apprehend Ju- venal, and even Pindar^ resign th.eir laurels, since scholars t^U me there \a, not a gleam of pathos in all their writings*, i, • Johnson's Satiras prpve that he bad neryous-aud harmonious veiisificatio^ atccwnmand. The. Cp^ lonel grants him a quick and vigorous imagina* tiop, elevated sentiments, * striking imagery, and splendid language*. Of the at^thor who possessed those great essentials, it is. surely not too much tp say that he might, had he chosen it, have be^ perpetually a poet — ^a stern and gloomy one cei^ tainly ; but yet a poet, a sublime poet^ however the want of tender sensibilities might have closed all the pathetic avenues against his muse. I think it possible to make fine poems of i^ost of the Ramblers, were they put into equally good verse with Johnson's Vanity of Human Wishes ; yet I know not if vierse could improve them. You are conscious how warm an admirer I have ever been of his best style in prose ; that, for ab« stract disquisition, I think it. not onlj nervous, VOL. I. u Digitized by Google d06 LETTItR LXVI. but gracefiil and harmoiiious in the first d^ree ; and that even the most beautiful poetiy is not more gratifyii^ to mj ear than the rich and finely- rounded periods of Johnson's essays. In these, yoiu: exquisite dialogues, the critical arms of the Goliath are most ably and justly tum-> ed upon himself. £Tery one of the Colonel's re- marks on his criticisms are so convincing, that noting less than the weakest and most supersti- tious idolatry can be insensible of thdr tnitb. Indeed, I have always despised the admirers of Johnson as an equitable critic, assured that they had not strength of understanding to think, or sensibility to feel for themselves ; puppets to be danced upon the intellectual wires at the whistle of a great name, smd by the hand of an envious sophist. Considerii^ this work as an whole, I am con- vinced it will be of inestimable value to poetic li- terature. It is the kind of composition for which my heart panted. Justice did very loudly demand that the bloody inquisitor himself should bleed. And now let me thank you for the kind notice you have taken of my Ode on General Elliot's return from Gibraltar. The hackneyed nature of * militaiy victories ; the unapproachable happiness with which you had pourtrayed the picturesque Digitized by Google LETTEB LXVl. 307 feature of the Gibraltar defence ; and, in short, aelf-distrust of all sorts, combated my gratitude to the truly great General for his kindness to my Relation on my account, and- combated it so loi^ at U^ lane me only a very few days for the com- position of my poem. By the narrow straight, as to tune, into which this struggle had driven me, I was deprived of the power to solicit your pre- vious criticisms, or that of any other lettered cor- respondent. However, it has pleased the hero whom it celebrates; and it obtains your warm praise. Thus successful, I can never repent send- ing it forth to run the gauntlet of review and ma- gazine criticism, or perhaps abuse, or to meet the frost of their faint commendations. My kind friends, Mr and Mrs Whalley met me at Ludlow Aus early, on their return from the Continent. Ludlow is the most beautiful town I ever beheld, in a country which unites the mountainous graces of the least barren part of the peak, with the rich cultivation of the midland counties. The pleasure of exploring its roman- tic and lovely scenery, was he^htened by the consciousness ofleing on classic ground, beneath the ivy-mantled ruins of that castle, where the Masque of Comus had been written, and first performed ; that we walked Digitized by Google S0$ LBTTBU LXVU ^ Amid the winding lanes, and alleys gieei^ Dingles, and boshy dells of that wild wood ; And scal'd with eager step the hilly crafts ; And Btray'd o*er banks where fair iSabrina sits Under the glassy, cool, translnceBt wave, The loose train of her amber-dropping hair Twisting with braids of liUies." Doubtless I have wearied you by the length of my epistle, though £ sat down resolved to follow your laconic example ; but, fascinated by the con- sciousness of addressing you, I knew not how or when to take my hand from the paper ; yet you, amid the exhaustless riches of your imagination, plead poverty of subject. But be still, thou re- pining heart of mine ; stifle thy selfish regrets; and, with a sincere benediction on thy favourite bard, that health, peace, and fame may long be his ! arrest the pen thou art so prone to lead through thy mazes, governing it, as thou dost, with resistless despotism ! Digitized by Google MTTEE LXVIl. 309 LETTER LXVIL Mrs Stokes. lAchfield, July 17, 1787. I BEG BET that we did not meet at Shenton on my return from Ludlow. Nothing should have prevented it on my part, if I had not so recently oeoi you at Shrewsbury, where my heart rejoiced in the happiness which it felt you possessed, and which left roe nothing to desire for you but its permanence. ... Sophia received me .with hospitality warm as yojur ovita.. When dear Mr and Mrs Whalley jjpiiied us, it seemed as if we were all actuated by one spirit. You will imagine our enthusiasm ovier a scene, with whose graces you are so well acqjuaipted ; yet Sophia tells me you have never been at Downton Castle. We passed an whole day in that .charming seclusion. The scenery cpnsists of a deep, winding, and narrow valley, which, in several places, for many hundred yards together, is wholly occupied by the bed of the niost pellucid river I ever beheld. The rocks, riafiQg tp an immense height on either hand, are Digitized by Google 310 LETTEE LXVII. curtained by soft and luxuriant foliage, whose latest fringe dips in the stream. We pass through this valley, over terraces cut in the rocks on each side, somewhat above the mid-way of dieir eleva- tion on one shore, and near the top of them on the other. From these terraces we often descend where the valley widens into opening lawns, yet secluded, and lovely as those of Juan-Fernandez, vvhich travellers so lavishly describe, or wander along green banks, where tiie scenery exactly re- sembles the celebrated walk at Ileham. Then passing over the river by rustic bridges, we scale the rocks to their very summit on the opposite shore, and see the wood opening its soft bosom to show the river gliding before us in a long straight line of light. In other points of view, the woods also divide to disclose distant vales of less coy grace, or the stem contrast of bare and bnlgii^ mountains. ' In the highest elevation of the rocks, the ma^*- ter of this Cden has formed a rustic grotto and cold-bath, with very exquisite taste. We pene- trate the recesses of these rocks, by a narrow winding passage, which coinducts us into their centre, where they form a rotunda, filled with wa- ter, except a mossy bank about a yard wide, which encircles the bath. Its water is of the most per- fect clearness, though of shadowy gloom; aad Digitized by Google IiETTBR hXVlU 311 the scanty lights admitted from above, is yet suf- ficient to shew to advantage the moss, the shells, and fossils, which cover the sides, and the beauti- ful little marble Naiad, who lies reclined, aud bend^ log over the brink, with pendant tresses, and a pensive sweetness in her coiintenance, that well becomes the magic seclusion of that watery con** cave. You who love to lay your head upon beds of ooze and crystal pillows — ^You who have so much imagination, how would you luxuriate in such a hath, ^ When the jSeree swis of summer qooos invade P* A young Scotch gientleman, of the name of Christie *, lately called upon me, mtroduced by a recommendatory letter from Mr Nichols, editor of the Gentleman's Magazine. This interesting young stranger is in very intimate correspondence with the celebrated Dt Beattie, from whom he shewed me a letter that breathed hi^h esteem^ and paternal affection. Mr Christie's sprightly wit, scientific acquirenients, ingenious manners, and literary ardour, exceed any thing I have met of * Afterwards the planner and editor of the* Analytical Re- Vtew*. De died in LmmImi at an tally age. Digitized by Google did Ik&TVBR I.KYIII. early excelleiice since I first >kiiew lifajor Aodr€, in his eigbteentfa year^ M^hieli I ^ess to be about die age of this literary wanderer. He was on his road into the Peak of Derbyshire/ \vhich he pui- posed to explore with philosophic Examination. I tremble for his health, appearmg, as he does, to have out-groWn his strength; for he is very tall, and thin almost to transparency, *' While (raioolli as Hebe's his iiiiiB»»*d lip." You have heard of the success of that worthless time-serving supple flatterer, Mr • These are the people who obtain patrons and preferment; ** And tfa^ take place when yirtoe% steely booes^ Look bleak in the cold wind." LETTER LXyill. Miss Wkston. Lichfield, My 19, 1787. After the delight of passing a month with you, dear Sophia, amid your classic and lovely Digitized by Google LSTTEIl LXTIIU 313 enviFons^ you win be glad that I found my be- lovedy-my aged nursling, as well- as when we se- pointed. I must ever feel a trembling gratitude te- Heaven, that none of those dire attacks, to ivhich.his feeble frame has long been subject, as- sailed him when I was «o distant. You saw how my anxiety to receive intelligence of his safety^ from day. to day, hurried' my spirits, shook my nerves, and interrupted the dear satisfaction of finding myself in such society* Upon so long an dbsence I.never more will venture till the hour of everlas^g absence. For an existence so feeble and deprived, it is perhaps a weakness to dread that hoar so veiy passionately; * yet, O! we may h^ve more iriends than one, but we have only one father. I have had a kind letter from our excellent Mr Whalley. It is dated Bewdley, and I think de* crees the palm of victory to Sir Edward Win- nington's scenes near that place, from my darlmg Downton. Were I to see them, they would not, I bdiieve, obtain my suffrage for such a pre«emi« nence. The smiling, the varied, the grand ar^ raiigement of objects, may be found in almost eveiy country which is in any degree mountain- ous, and where wealth has been lavished to pro- cure picturesque disposition ;^-^but the Juan-Ferr Digitized by Google 314 LSTTEB LX Villi nandez s^iuion — ^th^ coy^ jet luxuriant and ro- mantic graces of nature ; the total invisibility of art ; these charms are perfect at Downton ;•— and^ in comparison, magnificence, beauty, and even sublimity itself, are almost little in my estimation. Often do £ think of your lovely friend. Miss " ', and of those cruel anxieties which prey up* on a mind so intelligent, affectionate, and gentle. Colonel Barry of Worcester is in Lichfield. He says few women have had more admirers — ^that she might have married extremely well more than once in the military line. What pity that she should have reserved her tenderness for a cold half-attached being, who so little feels its value. The once devoted assiduities by which it was won, were bom of vanity, not passion, or they had not thus slackened in their course ; at one time ex- erted, and at another withheld, as Richardson makes Belle Harlowe say of Lovelace, a mere ague*like lover. The sickly fever-fit returns only wfaen.alarmed pride fears that the just indignation its negligence has excited, may be chilled into in- difference in that heart whose artless affection it will never ingenuously meet. Mrs Todd is very good to remember me with such warm partiality. Her unaffected sensibilb- ties and pleasing talents live in my remembrance. Digitized by Google LETTER LXVni. 315 Pray remind Mr Bains about inquiring die price of that picture* which hung in his drawing* room, and which he said was to be sold. If it should not be very high, I should like to becoua the purchaser, though, as a picture, I know it has glaring faults. The gay drapery is totally incon* sistent with the story, and harmonizes ill with the character of the countenance — ^but the head is divine — the expression in all its lovely features exactly answers my idea of that ingenuous child of genhis, of which the poet says, ^ Deep thought oft seemM to fix his yonthfnl eye.** I long to possess this portrait ; the sooner the belr ter. The sight of it must be always connected with a train of agreeable ideas ; for the imagina* ti; but.tha- ligbts pf reason, imagination, and memory, are ex^ tremely faded. ^ Darimess gatben on tbe last of his dsyi.*' Farewell ! VOL. J. Digitized by Google 522 JsETTEB LXX.T LETTER LXX; Captain Sew abb. Lichjield, Sept. 2, 1787- Yes, my dear Sir, I have been honoured widr a visit from your truly great General^ <1 With all his fall-blown bonoan tlnck upon inm." The blended dignity, and kindness of his man- ners, p^fecdy iuiswered the idea I had formed o§ the noble Elliot from: your and Mr Vernon's de- scription, super-added to that of public report. Yqu excited the flattering hope of his staying a few days with me. Could that have been ful- filled, — ^nay, had he passed only one night in Lich- field, the compliment of a general illumination through our little city had been paid. The words Elliot, Gibraltar, Victory, enwreathed with flowers^ were to have shone in phosphorus upon the walls of our town-hall, and over the arms of the city. It was the contrivance of an ingenious young sur- geon, of the name of Green, who prepared it when you taught n^ to expect one of the most flattering distinctionsof my life ; but arriving on Digitized by Google TrETTEH IiXX. S25 a Sonday :moniiiigy and departiiig in the after- noon, he frustrated the wish of our inhabitants to have welcomed, with public eclat, the restorer of the nation's glory. Captain Cayleur and Mr Vernon accompanied his lorddiip. The former .is a graceful youiq^ gentleman, strongly resembling the brave unfortu- nate Andr6. It gives me pleasure that my, neighbour, Mr V^en»m, -stands so high in Lord Heathfield's es- teem. He has considerable talents and exertion ; and die wafm, and entirely voluntary praise of so great and good a man, proves that they have been, at least of late years, directed to noble pur- poses. .Nor did Lord H. wait for- my intended men* tion of you. > We had not been t^oi minutes toge- ther before he entered upon a theme so agreeable, declaring hii? high opinion of your professional merit, of your domestic virtues; adding, ^' hih wife will be a happy woman, and she deserves him.'' My father had not sufficiently recovered from a recent epileptic fit for me to venture introduc- ing him to my noble guest. Greatly was I dis- tappointed.that he could not have the happiness .of paying his. respects to one^ y^hose naine he at Digitized by Google 324 ^ LETTER IiXX. vrays menticNia with a tear glistenu^.io.liiB dear: eyes. I had. presented all my pid»lications. to Loid Heathfield^ elegantly bound* He would not suf- fer his «id-. as he walked dirougb oar streets. I know your friendship will take a lively interest in these little circumstances, which do me so much honour« The public critics are so venal^ or so partid ; so perpetually suffer their : publications to he the channel through which private malice may. trans- mit ita venom; so often .riender. their venality no- torious by e3(tolling..the most worthless camposiT tions, that I feel it impossible to be flatterckl bf their praise, should they extend it to my writings ; which is very improbid>le^.as I know I am notia their favour^ Siacei,i,tbei^(Mre> I could not be gratified by tbw applause^ yet niigbt be hecticked by their abusf^yj never look into. any review; and advise evoy author, who caqoot iitoop to bribe these gentry, to follow my example in that re^ spect. Thus shutting my ear9 to the critical owls, hootr ing in the darkness of an^iqnnous. spleen, I on say nothing to the strictui^. you allude to in the M(Hithly Review, I have jurt received an high. Digitized by Google ISTTER LXXI.. 325 tod most 'B^enious compliment in yerse^ upon tke ode (o EUioti which, by ^wfaat you say, I con- dude the Monthly Review abuses. It is from Mr Mimdjr of Marton, author of Needwood Fo- rest, the best loeal poem in diis language, and €«mtain8 a sovere^ balm for levi^w abuse, if I permitted it to approach near enough to wound me. : I thafik you for the tribute of love and esteem piml by Mr def Crosne to the virtues of your General. Crosne must be a good man. It is m degree of virtue next to that of doing great and gkxrioiis actions, to love those whose performance (df them hasbeeq inimical to our interest; whether generally or individually. Farewell. LETTER LXXI. Mr W. Nbwton, thb Peak Minstrel. Lichfield, Sept. 26, 1787. I AM very tony tor your declming health, and farokoi and perturbed rest. Peihaps your ener- gies^ die united force of your manual and mental industry bean too lutfd upon the vkal springs Digitized by GoogFe 996 UTITBB. XiXXr. Let me intreat you to acquire a tsistetfor the. sweets of tender indolence, whea there arejio.in^ dispensable demands upon your altoition^ . Have you seen the poems of the Scotch pear sant Bums ? They abound with the irregidar firea of genius whenever they describe rural scenery^ oc the customs and characters of village-life. Wq find that he has looked at Nature, in her wild and rustic operations, with his owu eyes, and he is particularly happy in his winter landscapes^ But when he grows sentimental he has little that is new, tod his plagiarisms are notorious.. There is great originality in the allegoric ode which per- sonifies a Caledonian muse; but he says there was about her << A hair-brainM sentimental trace." The line is specked as a quotation. How a sentimental trace should be hair-brained, which means wild, giddy, unthinkhig, there can be no guess. Mr Hayley thus replies to my inquiring after his opinion of Bums's compositions — ** I admire lUie Scotch peasant, but do not think liim superior •to your poetical carpenter.". '. f romthene^hbourhoodof Edinburgh^ ajouog Digitized by Google I.ETTEB LXXII. 327 prodigy in science and literktiuey of the name of Christie, brightened ¥^ith his society a sullen even- ing of this summer. Scotland produces more of tfaeiie. eariy enthusiasts in the arts and in know«^ ledge than England, or than, perhaps, any other nation. High of spirit, patient of toil, and emu- lous of fame, they travel far and wide, and do their country honour in every part of the world, as soldiers, statesmen, legislators, historians, phi- losophers, and poets: ^ Afl fipm their pwn dear north, in mdinit streams, Bns^t over Europe bants the Boreal mom.'* LETTER LXXIL George Hardinge, Esq. Lichfield, Oct. 1, 1787. . I AM enchanted mih your last letter of so much joyous veit;— circumstances so truly burlesque ;-r: characters «o -singularly marked;-— pathetic narra- ti matchless valley; ■■* We obtained p^mdsMfm to eat our cold flieat, and drink 'opir winerandwaterin the Jowor apart- iMntof ^th^ milMioiasBp; dE4iiiUMBd.3|is|dLiwtic ^ Digitized by Google CETTEK XXXII* 399' gmce. TlieiwadowB>JoofcammffHi«triy which,. cir* cling round the glen, and shuttk^ put eTCiy other paospect, make the lavely- solitude aivery Jnanr Fersamlez; Idiouldhavelikedto have met you in dus 8fel«dad ddl,:and4here.]iitroduoed you to our part]F» Suiely the yearg whidi^hare passed away since ourM>iily and transient personal- interviewy have not been so obliviotis> but v^ should have loMMTii <;ach others Why do you think me cold to the idea of mcetingiyou i You have no reason for such » suspicion, unless you put that odd coiw fllmction upon my deBire, that you Aonld bring your Mrife widi you. A little more about thi» same party of- ours to Downton.. One of ^ nymphs ihat formed ii, eontributedi by an -happy froUc, to make us fancy ocursdves in oneof Ae beautiful wilds of the aontfaem latitudes. She has immense animri spirits, and at tunes a great deal of genuine archness. Her sprightliness, and die command of her father's, horses andser- vants, make^her an inevitable ingredient in all the Ludlow paities^'of ^xcBf8ion.r. She is brunette, almost to swarthiness; and, though her features wre not dis^igreeable, there are the thick lips, an4 tigitized by Google Sao LBTTfiR Lxxri;^ the large> ihrk, heavy eyes of the torrid zone. She; had^ that day, no powder in her aable. locks, (tool which the heat, and riding- on horsdback, had t^en every degree of curl. In anothei: seclusion, romantic as that of the mill, and more absolute, since it contained no. trace of human habitation, or even footstep, the valley again vndaiii^ into a circular glei\, we 9at down, beneath one of the surrounding rocks, to. shelter ourselves from the noon-beams* Wbedier the idea struck our little nymph of making the scene. more perfecdy Otaheitean I know not, but she ran to the river-brmk, tthrewr off ber riding-hat, and^ parting her long coarse black hair down the sides of her face, danced to her own purposely dissonant singing, in all sort of antic postures, and became the very .figure yre had seen represented in Cook's Voy^a^es. Vlp ivere all seized with the s^me idea, and exclaimed to each other '^ what a complete little savage — ; yire sure certainly in Otaheite.^' . I have procured the handsomest fraqie our n^hbpurhood prpduces.fcM' the*" Armida-Imogen, as you .oddly term your Liucy. , You were very good to. th^ family you mention t * Print of ^n Hardinge, and her little nephew* Digitized by Google . LETTER. LXX^f. 331; shivering on the. Cam|>ri^ moimtaiiist The liar-, barity they met from the fat Plursdity pf Wind- sor; amply fUtitled hkn tq the la^es he r^eiy^ from your avenging wit:. I have been infinitely diverted with .your imi^e, presented to me walking solemnly up Brecon church, in your large flowing wig, while the re- quisite gravity of your judgeship's countenance was put to so severe a trial by the organ striking upy on your entrance, ** God save great * George our King." — O! it was irresistible. Nor less ludicrous the choice of au- selected by your pre- ceding trumpeters, who played before you, ^* Youth's the season made for joy," as prelusive to the hanging sentences. These same trumpe- ters certainly understood * the disposition of the judge, or else had received a private hint from you to make that odd experiment upon the risibili^ of your council. It flatters m^ that my sonnet, which begins ** Since dark December shrouds the transient day, And stormy winds are bowling in their ire, Wby com'st not thou P' &c. Has, on tiier whole, pleased you so much — but I ' * Mr Hardmge's name is Cfreorge ; he is one of the Weldi Judges. ♦ Digitized by Google 53£ • LBtTEft LXXII. ciun< a&ffa^ desired me to bnbg any of my friends in Ae jtf»> temoon, I took bis timid PhiloA^la in. my handt Never had Mr Piozsi two beings of bis atidieBce who were moi^ charmed with his perfect enpres^ sion im his instrument^ and witfi ike touching and ever-varying grace with which he sii^. * Sufdy the finest sensibiiitfes. must 'vibrate /through his frame, since they breathe so sweetly through his songi though his imperfect knowle<%e of eur lan- guage prevents their appearing hi conversatiom I am sure he vakies/as he ought^ the hoftdur and happiness he has ^btitined, of whidi the^cjIegaMii of w«alth^ and th« bleti^s of imiq^ttldea^ Digitized by Google LETTER LXXTIl. 837 form the smallest part. He seemed much pleased with Mrs Smithes voice^ and the melting sweet- ness of her manner in singings amidst all the dis- advantages of her timidity. Your letter has this moment reached me. I am concerned for your late illness, and fear that your life is less tranquil, and your sympathy more keen than suits the delicacy of your constitution. Mrs Siddons' and Mrs Jackson's unhappiness have grieved you. That of the former I hope is past. May the life, above all others, .precious to Mrs Jackson, and which, when you wrote, hung in fearful balance, have, ere this time, preponder- ated on the vital side ! — ^that it may not be her ftitCi " like the weak and widowed vine, « To wind her blasted tendrib o'er the pldn !'^ I cannot help being glad that Sophia's London scheme is, at la^t, realized, whatever clouds and shadows rest upon it. Time, 1 hope, will dis- perse them, and cheerfulness, that sun of the mind, gild the long wish of her heart, metropoli- tan society. She is certainly more formed for that than to muse in silent glades, and court the sylvan pictures — she will not say, apostrophise ing them, vot. I. Y ' Digitized by Google SS8 LETTER LXXIV, /< jO ! tafce aie to ^Mf haniits 40ri% ^lie rocky spring, the greenwood's shade ! ^ Autumn is now gSding them with her last smiles* Adku! LETTER LXXIV. Wm. Hayuet, Ese- Lichfidd, Oct. 6, 1787. The teazin^ demon of petit iU^liick, irfiich so frequently presides over my speeches, has, it s^ms, raised a mist on^r your recollection also ; so that you cannot direct my search where to find, aiaad the bright maaes of ^Four cotrnposilions, &at heautifirf compliment you certainly have aome- ^ribere paid to our ^gieat ardbiteot. Hius am E doomed to the 'vexation of faavmg.excited the most flatteriag of aU ideas in the breant of an amiaMr man^ without Ihe posatbiUty 9S gratify]]^ it. A iriend in Shropshire has latdiy shewa ne the wondens of Go]ehroo3ce Dale. We paaaed a fine autumnal day in exploring the features of ihat scene, where we find, in such uncommon muon. Digitized by Google LETTER LXXIT. 359 die dusky, Hoisy, assiduoufly and indeed. ifeipen- dbus efforts of art, with romantic nature ;**-4ni»e ' the CyclofMS usurp the dwellmgs of the N^uids and Dryads, and -drown, with their disioimnoe, die woodlwd'song; light dieir Uaztng fires on each of the many hilU, andt, widi their thick' hbck smoke, shroud> as with a saUe crape, the lavish wocids and >£mt»tic tocks ; sully die pure waters et the Severn, 9od Am die sfdsodDur of the sum* BUBT^s sun; while die shouts of their croudii^ barges, and the clai^ of their numerous engines, din through evety winding of the valley. In shorty WB there saw a town, noisy and smouldering^ and afasost as populous as Binaingham, amidst sylvan hills, lofty rocks, and meandering v^^aters. You have heard of die lately^discov^ed hituminous fluid, distilUng. through the subterraneous diffii. We fouild the iton bndge very stupendous in the art of its construction, and very beautiful in the grace and lightness of its appearance— but it is repiesenied so exacdy in die prints, as to leave the eye litde to ac^ire by actual contemplation. I am become -acquainted with Mr amd Mrs. Kozzi^ Dr Johnsoi^ told me truth when he said die had more colloquial wit than most of our li- terary women. It is indeed a fountain of perpe- tual flow ; — ^but he did not tell me truth when he asserted diat Piozzi was an ugly dog, widiout Digitized by Google 540 LETTER LXXIT. plUrticular skill in his profession. Mr Piozzi is a& handsome man, in middle life,. with gentle, pleas- ing, and unaffected manners, and with veiy emi- nent skill in his profession. Though he has not a powerful or fine toned voice, he sings with tran- scending grace and expression. Dr Darwin's Botanic Gard^i is contracted for with the booksellers, and we may expect its ap- pearance next spring. Splendid and charmiug as is this poem, yet, written upon the, I think, mh^ taken system, that nothing which is not iijnagciry should find a place in poetry, the incessant pro^ fusion of ornament will peifaaps be a disadvan^ tage to the work in general, as to the pleasure and attention, it has, from the genius of its author; so just a r^ht to expect every reader will feel and express. The Botanic Garden, is a string of poe- tic brilliants, and they are of the first water ; but the eye will be apt to want the mtersticial black velvet to give effect to their lustre. Ah ! my dear bard, I would to Friendship, that I. might find your letters less the reverse in their infrequency to the pictures of the Botanic Gar- den, kindred as they are to fhem in the bri^test tints of imagination. a Digitized by Google LBTTE9 I.XZT. 341 LETTER LXXV. F. N. C. MuNDY, Ess •. JAcl^ld, Oct. 10, 1787. I CANNOT help once more intruding on your utbmtion, widi my thanks that you have granted a request which I had set my heart on obtaining. My gratitude will not brook delay, even diough my heart yet trembles from yesterda/s storm; another dangerous attack on the life of my dear aged frither'; but danger, for the present, is once 9gsaa passed away. A perusal of the posthumous works of that sweet suffering samt, Miss Bowdler, has pleased me much. If they contain no great resplendence of genius, nor curious novelty of ideas, we yet feel our hearts and our understandings serenely wanned and gratified by the effusions of a pure, a gentle, a cultivated mind, which throws a soft, agreeable, and useful light over every subject on which it descants. * This Gentlemaii, author of the Poem on Needwood Fo- ' rest, 18 still alive^ and resides at Marit-eatqn, near Derby.<-^ 1810. Digitized by Google 5M LETTEE LXXV. So your learned pedant asserted, that nothing cotdd be more absurd than the idea, in Gray's Welch Bard, that the victorious army of Edward were alarmed, and diat one of iM chiefs stood en- tranced, at the voice of an old man from a rock. He who could talk thus of Gray'a Old Man, must have an imagination dull as that of an old woman, whose yout^ had been occupied in mak- ing pies and puddiii^, and nursing rickety chil- dren. He an admirer (rf Shakespeare I Whip me such critics, and such admirers, roimd Pamassiis, O ye muses ! . Your other dogmatist^ who dechred that no- thing was so easy as to write weU in rhyme, like the fpx ccmtemplating the high-hung grapes, speaks lightly, but not sincerely, of a tieasnre which he finds himself unable to obtain* The use of rhymes must necessarily increase the diffi- culty of writing in measure ; andwhenitisremein- bered that die great critic, Cicero, tried, iq vain, to write good poetry, we find the ass^ted ease of the art presumptuous and ridiculous, because evi dently &lse* Merely to jin^e common-place ideas in rhyme, ikiay be easy enough ; but to make fine sense, animated and appropriate descripdoo, and beautiful imi^ery, recline gracefully on that Procrustean bed, is about as easy as to compose music like Handel or Hedyen, and to paint like Reynolds, Ronmey, and Fuzeli. Digitized by Google tETTER LXXV. i 943 When Mrs Knowles^ who knows the di£GicuI- ties and the merits of the pencil/ saw Romney's Circe, she exclaimed, ^^ What a number of bad, indiffei-ent, moderate, godd^ and very good pic- tures must the hand paint ere it attains the subli- mity of that figure V So ma^t be said of Allegro Penseroso, the Tri- umphs of Temper, and the Needwood Forest* If I am any judge of poetiy, the Imt-mmed work 19^ as a descriptiTe poem, litde inferior to the two first. Publish it at large, I aii|)ure you, yet again ; and reflect upon this truth for your comfort^ re?- specting the publication of your juvenile compo-. aitions, — that they have not, by many dq^rees, the inferiority to your Needwood, that the poem» is the 2d volume of Milton, which were written be- tween his eighteenth and twenty-third years, have to his Allegro and II Penseroso* Poems that are pretty, dioii^ not perhapa first-rate, move, in the eyes of posterity, like satellites round the orb of a great work, and adorn its appearance, though they may not mcrease its lustre. Remember !-^ and do not continue to wrap your talents in a napkin, unfcdding them only to individual iaspec* tioB. Digitized by Google 344 LBTTSR LXXVI. LETTER LXXVL Gborge Hakdinge, Esg. Lichfield, Oct. 25, 1787. Ab to your verbal aversions, fii^ad. of mine^ and witty son of Themis, notliiog in nature, science, or fashion itself, w^ ever so unaccountr able. Your protest against the words mossy, breezy, turfy, steepy, windy, &c. mpst, in com? mon justice, extend to all their brethren of the y termination— 4o gloomy, glassy, airy, flowery, wintry, angry, 8lc. ^ No more Uie grotts shall I behold yoa dimb, Or iteepff hills, to ctop Que flowery fhyme/^-^JDrydeiu Whence can the dislike sprii^ i. Have we too many vowels in our language, that you seek to r^ndi^r it harsher, by depriving us of a privily by which we are at once enabled to condense our sense, to give picture with fewer strokes of the pen, and to soften our terminations i It was necessary to the appropriation of Mr Mund/s description, tbaj: be should shew the Digitized by Google LETTER LXXVI. 345 torfiness of the forest-glades, since glades are not all turfy ; and why should he circumambulate the vocabulary for another couplet, to talk in harsher diction about glades of turf, lest there should be a mortal, whose ear was so whimsically con- structed, that it could not endure the epithet turfy^ How was he to divine-a possibility so im- probable ? You are, in truth, a very presbyterian as to language, ^^ blaspheming custard and plumb- porridge/' Alterations in pretj/y verses, made in the pa- roxysins of the toothach, were not likely to be worth much, and you are welcome to shoot them out of existence with the arrows of your wit. I always considered yearning as a stronger expres- sion, but synonymous to longing. I know it is a scriptural phrase ; but I did not know, till you informed me, that it had an inseparable connec- ticn with the abdominal fiddle-stritigs. Spence's rules for the fabrication of poetry are good; but when he applies them to criticising particular passages, he blunders horribly. Some two months since. Sir James Lake recommend- ed to my attention Spence's Dissertation on the Odyssey. Till then, I knew not of its existence lliis request has led me into the composition of a critical tract, which covers seventeen sheets of Digitized by Google 346 LETTER LXXVII. fttfer, and enters tbe lists agungt moie than one 2U>ilu8. Adio! LETTER LXXVIL Mrs Knowles. LichJieM, Oct. 29, 1787. The intelligencer of former tunes. Captain Wolesley, has been here, alter having, during veij many yetun, ceased to exhibit himself in this I^ce, yfiih his meaping smile, and nod of confir- mation, ivhich gives rumour so much the air of truth. He told me of mamage^vestments pre- paring for you ; announced Bath the scene vvhere the warp' and viroof of your bridal-sheets were casting ; that a man of large fortune had set tbe Lady Destinies at work, who was en train to re^ nounce the great "^ Diana of Ephesus for tbe Mary of the Meeting-House. * Mrs Knowlesy who is a Quaker, used to give tbat term to •ur Established Church.— 5. Digitized by Google LETTEB LXXVll. 347 The moment die.iteard of yom* ^nridowhood, dxewd Mrs Cobb pronounced you a bank-bill^ whom any man would accept at sight Ah me ! my heart smites me that I diould write thus spor- tively of a situation, in which you are placed by an event which has cost me many s^hs, and which I shall always regi-et. Your letter from Buxton, so all yourself in wit and spirit, made me hope and look from day to day, to see you here in your road to town. Its pictures of Buxton have science in them to de- list a philoitophic amateur, and grotesque or^-^ nal humour to divert the merest John Bull, if thero should be an atom of risibility in his com- position. ' I told you of llie groundless idea taken up in this place about your being left in narrow cir** cumstances, solely to obtain your own authority for contradicting it^ and without a shadow of ap- prehension that it had any basis. I, who had been a witness, during some weeks, at different times, to Dr Knowles's immense practice ; who also knew that nothing resembling luxury or un- necessary expence prevailed in your family ; I, to whom he had mentioned having realised ten thou- sand pounds in the year 1783, could not but be assured, you had a much larger income left you than you ever would expend. Digitized by Google 348 LETTER LXXVII.* Mr Sneyd said a great deal to me of ms^e- tism, but treated it as an artful imposition, mar- velling much how it could obtain a moment's credit with you ; yet be expressed a wish that I BJiould obtain from yourself the grounds of your belief. To make me hold my opinions in sus- pense upon the experiments^ it was sufficient diat they had the sanction of your triutt and confi- dence^ whatever air of wild improbability they wore. I always considered General EUiot's defence of Gibraltar as a truly great, patriotic, and heroic action ; that it restored a large portion of our credit in the eyes of Europe, sullied, and indeed almost annihilated by the deep disgrace of an un- just, a foolish, direfuUy^ expensive, long, and di- sastrous war ; that, by this action alone, we were enabled to make a creditable peace, and, in some degree, regain our prosperity as a nation. Mili- tajy victories, in general, are by no means the darling themes of my mu^e ; but,' with these ideas, it was impossible I could think that of the Gib- raltar defence any way inimical to morality. Adieu ! Digitized by Google LiTTUt uxyxii. d4§ LETTER LXXVIII* Geobob Habbinge, Esg. Lichfield, Nov. 11,1787. Sebu c EB !— thou hast made me what I thought to have left the world without having ever been-r- in love with a Lord. • His last letter, which you inclosed, concerning his opinion on capital pu- nishments, has fairly done the business ; and I had rather be honoured with Lord Camelford's amity, than with the marked attention and aivow- ed esteem of most other of the titled sons of our land. Lord C/s wit, his ease, and those descriptive powers, which bring scenery to the eye with the precision of the pencil, had previously delighted me ; but with the heart, sweetly shining out in his last epistle, I am so intemperately charmed, that his idea often fills my eyes with those deli^ cious tears, which, beneath the contemplation of virtues, that emulate what we conceive of Deity, instantaneous spring to the lids, without falling from them ; tears, which are at once pnHupted, Digitized by Google 850 tSTTEB IXXYIII. and exhaled by pleasurable sensations. Suffer me to detain, yet a little longer, these scriptures of genius and of mercy. And now for a little picking at our everlastii^ bone of contention. Hopless love is apt to make folk cross ; so you must expect me to snarl a little. I am«ot to learn that there is a large mass of bad writii^ in Shakespeare; of stiff, odd, affected phrases, and -words, which lomewhat diagiace him, and would ten times more disgrace a mo* dem writer, who has not his excuscji to plead. AU I contend for, and it is a point on which I have the suffrage of most ingenicniiB men, Amt his best lai^age, being more copious, msy, glowing, bold, and nervous, than that of perhaps aqr other writer, is the best model of pontic- language to diis hour, and will remain so ^ to the last syl- laUe of recorded time ;'^ that his bold lieenoesy when i^e feel that they are happy, ought to be adopted by other writers, and thus become esto- blished privileges ; and that present and fiituie Ei^lish poets, if diey know ih&r own interest^ will, by using his jghraseology, prevent its ever be- coming obselete. Amid the hurry in whidi X wrote last, my thankless pen made no conunent upon the wdt* Digitized by Google LETTER LXXVfll. 351 come infonnation you had gmn, that Mr Wyatt liked me a little. Assoie yourself I Uke him m great deal more than a little. There'a fine style for you ! Next to benevolent Virtue^ thoa 6e« waum, art my earthly divinity. To thy votaries^ in eyeryliiie, Z look up with an awe-mixed pleft* aimei which it is ddicioas to feel. \if1ien he was first introduced to me, the glo« ries of our Pantheon rushing on my recoUe^KMi^ no^ heart beat like a love-sick girl's, on the sight of her .inamorato ; ^ A different cause, says Parson Sly, The same effect may ghre." I am glad you like Hayley's countenance. How have I seen those fine eyes of his sparkle, and melt, and glow, as wit, compassion, or knagintk- tiuon hsA the asc^idance in his mind ! Mrs Hardinge seems to have as much wit as yourself; the conversational ball must be ad- mimi^ kqit up between you. One of your cbi^ tacteristic expressions about h^ is as compkte a panegyric as ever man made upon woman. '^ She is 4>f all hours.'' If it is not in Shakespeare, and I do not recollect it there, it is like, it is worthy - ef ins pen. About the Herva of my friend Mathias, we Digitized by Google 352 LETTER LXXVItl. are for once in unison ; but you are not half so candid as I am. Ever have you found me ready to acknowledge the prosaism of many lines which yoii have pointed out in my most favourite poets. I sent you some 6f my late friend's, anci your idol, Davies, which yon coiild not but feel were unclassical^ and itiel^ant in the extreme ; yet no such concession have you made' to those instances. I have fitequently mentioned Cowper's Task to you ; but you are invincibly silent upon that sub- ject. Have I not reason to reproach ? How should an enthusiast in the art she loves bear to see her friend thus coldly regardless of such a poet as Cowper, while he exalts Davies above a Beattie, an.Hayley ; above the author of El- frida and Caractacus ! — ^for said not that friend, that no modern poet was so truly a po^t as Davies ? He who can think so, would, I do believe, pe- ruse, with delectable stoicism, a bard who diould now rise up with all the poetic glories that lived on the lyres of Shakespeare and Milton. " If ye believe not Moses and the Prophets, neither shall ye be persuaded by me, though one arose from the dead ;" — ^and so much at present for pre- judice and criticism. Digitized by Google LETTEB LXXIX. 353 As for dbe last sentence in your letter, my. friend, I meddle not with politics ; — ^yet contess myself delighted widi our juvenile minister, of whom, I trusty we may say of his political, as well as natu- isl life, for many years to come, ■^ Our yomig MarceUns wm not bom to die.** . Adieu! LETTER LXXIX. Rev. Dr Gregoby*, on his Translation of Bishop Lowth's Lectures on Hebraic Poetry^ Lichfield, Nov. IS, 1787. Entebtained, instructed, and delighted as I have been by your valuable work, I cannot resist the desire of writing to you on the subject. I have read these volumes, land their notes, with attention, many parts of them aloud to my inge- nious fiiend, Mjt Saville, of this place, who has science, classical knowledge, and who is a devoted admirer of the Scriptural poetry. * Of East-Ham, iSgaex, wbo died io 180B, VOL. I z Digitized by Google 354 LETTER LXXIX. We examined also, in our progress^ the various parts of the Bible which are praisl^, analysed^ or referred to. This pleasing invcfstigatioti engaged; through several tveeks, %he chief portion of my too scanty leisure for reading; 'J'dtftermined to complete it. before I addressed you upon the pleasures it has given me. They will, I hope, be often renewed, since I have purchased the volumes, and consider them as one of die chief treasures of my book-shelves. I often wonder how it is possible to accom- plish the very transcribing such volumes as these, amidst the engrossing business, and society of a life like yours ; — but I congratulate you up '' Ol all ye works of the Lord^bfen ye the Loidypniie bim, and magnify him for eyer!** ^ These are thy glorious works, parent of good. Almighty! — ^thine this nuiTereal frame, Tbns wond*roas iau' ;— thyself how wond'roas tbeo. Unspeakable ;— who sifst above these Heavens To OS invisible, or dimly seen In these thy lowest' works ; — ^yet all declare Thy goodness beyond thought, and power divine.*' ^ O ! all ye angels of the Lord, bless ye the Loid, praise him, and magnify him for ever T ^ Speak, ye who best can tell, ye sons of light, Angels, — for ye behold him, and with songs And choral symphonies, day, without night, Ch*o]e his throne rejoidng. Ye in Heaven ; On earth— jom all ye creatores to extol Him first, him last, him midst, and vrithout end.** '* O! all ye Stan of Heaven, bless ye the Lord, praise hnn» and magnify him for ever T ** Fiarest of stars, last in the tram of nigfat, If better thon belong not to the dawn, Sure pledge of day, that crown'st the smiling With thy bright circlet^ pi-aise him in thy sphere While day arises, that sweet bonr of pihne." Digitized by Google LETTEB LXXIX. 3fll It is thus that, by filling up what are mere out- lines in the Hebraic poetry, Milton, through the whole course of the Paradise Lost, proves that amplification may be, and yery frequently is, the leadii^ excellence of poetry^ and that the poetry of a much later day can do more than approach the acknowledged excellence of the Hebrew bards. I was beyond measure astonished at the Pro- fessor's note, vol. ii: p^ 242, upon the sublime ex- clamation of David, sw^ in chorus, by. the priests and Levites, when the ark had arrived at the top of Mount Sinai: ^ lift op yonr heads, O ye gatesi flmd be ye lift np ye erer- lasting doom, and the King of Glory sbaU come in 1" With a literality most miserably groveling, does this annotator endeavour to extract all the noble enthusiasm from tbb soul-exalting address — ^first, by changing the word everlasting to ancient ; and then by telling us that the real meaning of the passage b, ^' The gates, which were mean and narrow before, and unworthy of Jehovah, should be heightened and extended." The plain sense of which intepretation is, '' send for the carpenter to widen the door-place, or the ark vtrill never get m." But if, in general, I do not think Professor Digitized by Google 362 LBTTBR LXXIX. MichafiUs^^tyytui]^/ means a just or feeUoig decider .upott the constitueotexoeUeociea of poetry^ I. am charmed by his. bislorio* and geographic ehieidar tions of several parts of our BiUei particiilariiy with those in the first- Tolume^ which conuo^Bce page 140. A note of youths entbely does away hi^rcimdii^ sion upon, the imaginary: «8troii(miic ignoiaiice of the Hebrew faardsy drawn from their poetiy behig so little stellar; Thestarsarecertaiiily too'miHio<- •tonoiiS' in their^appearaace to form a friiitfiBl *n^ source of poetic imagery. Amongst a number of Mr Henl/s admirable notes^ I ani particularly pleased with the sensible comments upon Virgil's eclogue to Pollio. Most rationally do they accoimt for the similarity of its passages to the prophecies of our Saviour, and for their being >ap|died to the expected, though yet unbcHii son, of Augustus^ whidi, unfoctuiiately for the poet and his prophecy, proved a daii^ter. The JBishop> however, seems to lean to the strange fancy of some enthusiasts, that Virgil was writing he knew not what, about he knew not whom^ which proved an unconscious inspiration from^die true God, shadowing forth the birth of die Mes^ siah, and the blessings of his reign. Your poetic translation of the 42d psahn is erai^ nently beautiful :-i— yet I think you will agree with Digitized by VjOOQIC LETTBR hXXlX. 363 me, that, in general, our pniyer>book translation of those. Hebraic hymns, t mean' the readily one, unfettered by rhyme and measure, is the best ve« hide for the bold, sublime, yet wild ideas, and dhadowy, rather than distinct resendilafices, of the Jewish lyrists. To have put the whole of Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Esekiel^ Job, or their twin spirit in poetry, Ossian, into, measure,, and especially if rhyme were added, would have been as uijudieious as to drape the Phameze Hercules, or the Apollo Belvidere. The graceful flow of the vestments could not have recompensed the in* evitable diminution of strengdi and elegance, re- sulting from an injudicious attempt to increase diem. But your version, mentioned above, has acquired height^ied beauty by the change, and I often re- peat to myself two of its lines, ^ Sigr where is now thy great deliTerer fled, Thy mighty God, deserted waaderer, where P" The repetition of those harmonious and pathetic lines towards the close, has a sweet eflFect. David's lamentation over Saul and Jonathan, makes a fine poem in. verse — ^yet I think it wholly impossible, that it should not, beneatli any hand, however masterly, lose much of its grace and spi- rit, from the restrictions of measure and rhyme. Digitized by Google ' 364 LETTER hXXlX. Over that lamentatioo I am inclined to echo the Bishop, and say, that it is, as given in our Bible, above all other poetry, pathetic and sublime. Self-love and gratitude vrill here intrude their acknowledgemients, that my muse never received such distinguishing honour as you have done her. in this work, by complimentii^ the exordium to Cook's Elegy, with a nearer. approach to that matchless lamentation, than any thing you have seen in modem composition ; — and also by pla- cing the exordium to the -Monody on Andr6 amongst the selected instances of excellence in the Prosopopeia. I am delighted with your notes on the 5th lec- ture, which commence page 106 — and which so ably demonstrate the fidlacy of Ahat rule by which our periodical critics, with .Midas4ike decision, condemn beautiful passages in the poets of this day, viz. that metaphoric language is not natural, when the mind is agitated. They persist in this stupidly false iassertion, though daily experience might shew them, if they were capable of obser- vation, that the most unlettered ignorance speaks in metaphor when heated by anger, or pierced by affliction. Nothing can be more true than your observation, that ^ the associating principle is the source of all figurative language, and that the greatest excess of figurative language, the hyber* Digitized by Google LETTE& LXXX. 565 hole, Tequires impassicHied situations to preserve it from producing coldness in the style by the very attempt to give it warmth/' But if I were to descant upon all the critical notes to this work which are signed T«| and which have pleased and instructed me^ my letter, alreac^ too long, would be voluminous indeed. The path in which I dissent from you has a very limited extent, though its opposition is toto/.— It is on the subject of Sterne. I throw down my warder, but, if you please, the day of combat shall be a little time hence ; till when, repose upon your laurels ! LETTER LXXX, George Hardinge, Esq. Lichfield, Nov. 21, 1787. Your ep^ram from Martial is elegant; yet, t confess, the idea seems to me not expressed widi sufficient clearness ; if indeed it is meant that not duration, but a certain character in friendship proves it genuine. Digitized by Google 966 XSTTEE JLXXX. s la the year 1785^ I wrote a poem^ addressed to Mr Wfralley, thai on Ae C&o!tiDeat, It contains the same thought. I kaew not diat jt had been iitpressed' by Martial. Mr.Whaileyfattlpassed a kng and severe wiifter in Cbamboy, induced byai friendship whidi be had formed at Di- jon with an jimiafale Savo^ramd nobiennn^ the Banoo deOiatilion. The 'secondof the follow- ing stanzas you will find expressing 'die idea in quiestion: What iBurv^ Wballey, that a soul Ijke tiuBe, Shoa*d biftTe the bitter sioraa, that ceaseiew bowl Where winter shivers on his rocky afarine^ With'nitroas breath, and petrifying scowl ! What manrel, drawn bytliAt ttOigQetic power Which soul to sonl so instantly endears^ Investing friendship's yonng and blossoming hour. With all the r^^ess of experiencM years. I devoured Lord Canielford's* descripticm of Vaucluse. My friend, Mr Whalley, visited it twice, exploring, With thfe most es^er curiosity, ev^ feBtaze' of the so^. < HisLfdesmptiQii of it, alter itlie>^fi]i9t -^it, made^earUeciii the summer, t>efdre the snows were melted, ^ies very exact- * See a Letter to Mr Whalley dated DeceofberfOlli 1787. Digitized by Google LETTEB LXXX. 867 ly wkfa his ]UHr(MnpV;«ject, inevitably in- teresting; bnt do not expect that I can leam to egteem diat fastidious and unfeeling being to whose insensibility we owe the extinction of the * '' I faaye received tlie drawings of Grignao, and know not hew to express my gratitnde sufficiently ; bat, by a ally witticism in the style of some of the quaint novels of the last age, they are so mnch more beantifol than I expected. Hat I am not sarprised at your having sarprised me by exceed- ing even what I expected from your weU4QD0wn kindneii to me. ^ They are charmingly executed, and with great taste. Grignan, too, is in a much nobler situation than i expected; as I concluded that the witchery of Madame Sevign^'s ideas and style had spread the fine leaf-gold over Places, with which she gilded all her Friends. *' AU that has appeared of them since the publication of her letters, has lowered them. A single letter of Madame de Grignan's, that which describes the Duchess of Boafboiifk toilette, is alone worthy of the mother. Panliiia^s own letten fymtain not a tittle that is worth reading. One just perceives that she might have written well if she had had any thing to write about, which, however, would not have sigmfiied to her grandmotiier. ** Couhinges was a silly good'hnmonred ^tton, wiio 6attered a rich widow for her dumers. His wife was sensible, but diy, peevisli, and growing old. Unluckily nothing more is come to light of Madame Sevign^^s son, whose short letters in the collection, I am atanost profine enough to prefer to fait mo- ther's ; which makes one astonished that she did not love jo natoral, nnaffeeted, and congenial a wit, and prefer it to the Digitized by Google LETTEB LXXX. 371 gi^test poetic luminary^ if we may judge from the brightness of its dawn, that ever rose in our, QV perhaps in any otfaer^ hemisphere. This fine wit of Strawberry-hill, is of that or- der of mortals who swarm, always swarmed, and always will swarm, in refined states ; whose eyes of admiration are in their backs, and who, conse- quently, see nothing worthy their attention before, m* on either side of them ; and who, therefore, ^eary, sicken, and disgust people, whose sensibi- , lities are strong and healthy, by their eternal cant about the great have beens, and the little ares. Wit, dearly as I love it, cannot atone to me for Bach envious, such hackneyed nonsense, from age to i^e tiniBsaiitted. Shaftesbiuy canted in this 0tyle during that very period .which the back-gaz- ers of ^ur time extol, and dignify with the title of eccentric and sophisticated reveries of her sublime and ill-hu- moored dangliter. Grignati alone matntains its dignity, and ahall be consecrated here among other momnnentBof that be- witching period, and amongst which one is so glad to lose onefs self, and drink oblivion of an aura so veiy unlike. The awk- ward bigots to despotism in our time, have hot Madame Se- vign^'s address, nor can, like her, paint an Indian idol, with an hundred liands,as graceful as the Apollo Belvideve. ** I shall soon want yonr pfolectioB in Weatminster-Ul against the Bishops, an odious race, whether clerical or laic Yon heard how mfilmously I have been. treated by Colonel and by Ned Bishop. Oh I they coidd not be worse if they were in orders ! Yoursy— -Horace Walpolb." Digitized by Google 372 LETTER IiXXX. Augustan. How severe is your friend upon the clergy in the close of his letter ! I have known many who reflected upon them, but have always found reasons, of various species, for dbtnisting either the soundness of their understanding, or the goodness of their hearts. A sly creature this Welch judge of ours. No man, or woman either^ better knows how to frame a sentence which she, to whom it is addressed, may interpret praise or satire, as her conscience shall dictate. Of this Janus-species is the para-, graph in your last, which says, — " Your letter of to-day is, more than all its predecessors, above this visible diurnal sphere/' I grant you, asce^ant, and not ascensitm, ought to have been the word. It was certainly climbing above the visible diurnal sphere with a stiff knee; but I always write in too much haste to pause for best-possible verbalisms; and to my pen the prompt is oftener the poetical than the prose-expression. I may say, with Cow- ley to the muse, '^ When my new mind bad no infoskm known Hkni gav*8t 60 deep a tincture of thy ow% lliat, ever fince, I vainly try To wash away thf inherent dye.** So pray have patience when I come striding Digitized by Google LETTER LXXXI. 373 along upon the stilts she gave me, because I can- not, stay lo find my shoes. As to amtVy, which you grumble at, 'tis a pretty, tender, femality word, that does not walk so tall as friendship — so pray don't kick it down fol: a stnitter. Let oiv great Sully alone — no sneers at his ice, lintreat! That frosty constitution has, perhaps, braced the nerves of England's credit and conse- quence. " What, lost Mark Antony the world ?*' Answer to yourself the question, and play the tempter no more ! LETTER LXXXI. Court Dewes, Esq. at Paw, in Berne. Lichfield, Dec. 3, 1787. I AM charmed by the alacrity' with which you have performed,' in so short a time, a journey of a thousand miles. It is an admirable sign that the Continental gales will be beneficial to your health, when, through a winter so softened, you shall breathe them, serenely and at leisure. How strange would it seem to us folk, who have been always fixed like a plant to one peculiar spot of. Digitized by Google 374 LETTER LXXXI. Eoglbh giroundy were we to see days splendid as those of our wannest summers, sink into darkness soon after five o'clock. The litde time allowed me for the luxury of reading, has, within the last three months, beep devoted to studying die Hebraic bards, allured by Dr Oregbiys admirable translation of Bidhop Lfowth's Lectured. They foto two lai^e quarto volumes, closely printed, and enriched with a v»* riety of learned and ingenious notes. An atten- tive examination of this work, with that of all die chapters, psalms, and single passages referred to, have rendered me more conversant than I ever was before with the sacred poetry, though always an admirer of its wild and daring graces ; but I cannot think with the Bishop, that, considered merely as poetry, it immeasurably, or indeed that it all transcends, the anciait and modern classics. A large portion of poetic strength, pathos, and dignity, animate the pages of David, Job, Solo- mon, and the Prophets ; and, without taking rea- Bon or religion into the scale, there is a spl^nn magnificence in the system t>f Theism, which can never belong to Polytheism; but then the former is excluded from all that beautiful play of imi^ nation, all the gayer graces which throw such soft and varied resplendence over the Pagan Theology, and the bold, but wild, and generally indistinct Digitized by Google LETTER UXXII. 975 sinulies.aBd deacripdons of prophetic compositioii) leave us little of that skillttl md happy disci:imi- nation that bringa the olgect to the ^e in ima- gery, and to which, in sentiment, eveiy feeling of the heurt Bcaponds* LETTER LXXXn. Rev. Db Gbegoey. lAc^fkld, Dec. 5, 1787. Anbuow, Sir, our day of combat is come*. — You deny Sterne originalily'-<-aod say that np das* •ic ear can endure his st^. These assetftions^ mom dian8urpri8e"-4faeyastoni4ime. What! — thstima* gination, which I have idways lloiight of such ex- quisite, such original colouring !-*-diat penetration which seems to have an hondved eyes with which to look into the hnmaa hettrt ! — that happy, thrice hiq>py, mixture of the humorous and die pathe- tic, in which he standa alone' amongst alt other writers out of the dramatic scale; resembling »pBe, and whom not one, amoi^t his numerous * See conclusion of a former letter to this gentleman, dated Not. 15, ITSr.— & ^ Digitized by Google 376 LETTER I.XXXII. imitators, have attempted to copy, witfaoat proi^ ingy by their total fidlure, the difficulty of acqoir-r ing a maimer so sipgnlarly, so curioiuiy ongmil. like ether, its spirit is too subtile and volatile to become the vdiic^ of any other person's ideas. And then that frolic fancy ! — ^that all-atonii^ wit! — that style which my ear finds so natural, easy, animated, and eloquent! — ^how could you thus scorn tKemf My dear Sir, who are they firpm whom he has borrowed i Some sli^t, very slight, resemblance perhaps exists betwe^i the best sallies of Swift's humour and Sterne's: but Swift has not any of Sterne's pathos, and Sterne has none of the filtfai- ness of Swift, — ^though too apt to sport licen- tiously with comic double-meanings. His fault, in that respect, however jusdy censurable has no tendency to injure the minds of his readers by in- flaming their passibns. Swift and Rabelais, wiioBi he is also accused of copying, never intorest the affections, while Sterne guides, turns, and preci- pitates them into any channel he pleases. . I can believe that he took the hint of character for his sub-acid philosopher from the Martinus Scriblerius of Pope, Swift, and Arbudinot ; but there is an immense superiority in the vividness with which he has coloured his Shandy ; in the dramatic spirit he has infused into* the character; Digitized by Google LETTER LXXXll. 377 in the variety of situations in whicb he has placed the hypothesis-mongery-^all natural^ probable^ and exquisitely humorous. We see and hear the lit- tle domestic group at Shandy-hall ; nor can we help an involuntary conviction, not only that they all existed, but that they hsid been of our ac« .quaintance; and where may be found even the most shadowy prototype in books, of uncle Toby and his Trim, of Mrs Shandy and Dr Slop''^ i At last this note of yours in your. great work agsdnst Sterne — this note, << At whidi my very locks have stood on end, like qoins apon the fretful porcupine," Confirms anew an observation of mine, long since made ; — ^that I never knew a man or woman of letters, however ingeniotts, ingenuous, and judici- ous|, as to their general taste, but there was some one fine writer, at least, to which their '^ Lynxs beam became the mole's dim curtain/^ Mason, Hayley, and Boothby, are moles to Ossian. Gray was a mole to Rousseau. — Darwin is a mole to Milton, and that you will say is indeed a * For a more discriminatiiig psraOel between the Scrible* tkn fragment and Tristnnn Shandy, see a letter to this guUeman further on in the collection, and dated Oct SO, Digitized by Google 378 LZTTBB L3CXXII. molism. Envy made Johnson a mole to all om* best poets, except Dryden and Pope. You aie a mole to Sterne ; — and I — ^for why should not my portly self run in amongst you iatelleetually greater folk f-— I am a mole to Spencer, so far at least, that, though I percmve the power of his ge^^ nius in the mass, and infinitely admire particolar passages, I could never read a book of the Faiiy- Queen through, without being ennuied past bear- ing by the Hydra^headed allegories. But molism of this kind always existed. Plato was a mole to Homer. — ^You are no mole to me, however, for, in truth, you have looked at the little stars of my ipiagination, through Mr Her- schel's last optic-^ass. Proceeding through your Lowth, often have I, in imagination, enjoyed the pleasures that nmstre- suit to you from the consciousness of having ho- nourably omipleted so great a work---uta* tion of which must mcrease as time rolls on. May health, and domestic happiness, be added to the sunny glow of that consciousness ! Digitized by Google J.ETTER LXXXIII. 379 LETTER LXXXIII. Captain Sewabd*. Dec. 7, 1787. Is it poasibk diat Lord Heathfield should not 0ee the impropriety of my presuming to intrude upon the Duke of Richmond's attention with an taterference, by request, in military promotions, since I can scarcely be said to have the shadow of a personal acquaintance with his Grace ? My lather's present state, the almost utter loss of all his intellectual faculties, is known. Did he possess them, impertinait surely would be an ac* koowledgepient from him, that he supposed Ae Duke meant any thing more than a polite compli- ment, by giving the name of obligation to the ci- vility of ordering our servants to make up a bed for him during three nights, and to prepare a bason of gruel for him in the morning, before he went to the field. This was literally all he could be prevailed upon to accept beneadi this roof, when, iki his years of blooim, he united the occupa* tion of Mai's tp the form of Adonis. I was then a . * This respectable character is stiU alive, and resideut at Soatfaampton.— 1810. Digitized by Google 380 LSTTEB. LXXXIII. green ^1, ** something between the woman and the child/' nor have 1 ever since beheld the JDuke of Richmond. Though I so perfectly remember hinif it is more than probable that he remembers not me ; and it would be more than impertinent to presume that I could have interest with him. As to incurring obligations, I should be very glad thus to incur them from the Duke for your advants^e ; — ^but observation, alid indeed llie re- volt I have always myself felt from officious re- commendation, invariably proveid to me that it injures instead of promoting the interests of the recommended. His Grace would certainly be disgusted by my seeming to^ suppose that any mention I could make of a relation, or friend, could operate in their favour. Disgust has a withering influence upon patrcmage. What is it I could say, that has a shadow of probability to enhance the Duke's good opinion of a military man i — ^that man already recommended to him hy Lord Heathfield, the greatest General existing, whose praise ought to be the passport to martial honours and emolument. An attempt of this sort from me would be just as likely to be of use, as if, had I been in Gibraltar during the siege^ and when our artillery was pouring on the enemy, I had thrown a bonfire-squib into the mouth of a forty-pounder to assist the force of the explosion. Digitized by Google LETTER IXXXIII. 581 Atidy lest it should be appreheoded that my poetic reputation might gi^e some degree of con- sequence to my request^ Mr Hayley, who is the' 'Duke's near neighbour, has told me that his Grace had no fondness for works of imagination. The race of Maecenas is extinct in this period. ' When my dear father was in his better days, he lived on terms of intercourse and intimacy with the Marquis of Stafford. Lord Sandwich and my father, in their mutual youth, had been on the Continent together, with the affection of brothers. On my publishing the Monody on Andr6,. he de- sired me to present one to each of these Lords, ex- pressing an assured belief that the work of an old friend's daughter would not be unacceptable. I, who ever thought that men of rank have sel- dom any taste for intellectual exertion, which serves not some purpose of their own interest ; and feeling aa invincible repugnance to payii^ at* tentions, which are likely to be repulsed with rude neglect, strongly, warmly, and even with a few proud tears, expostulated against the intrusion. My father never knew that great world, with which, in his youth, he had much intercourse. Frank, unsuspecting, inattentive to those nice diades of manners, those effects, resulting from trivial circumstances, which develop the human lieart, he judged of others by his own ingenuous Digitized by Google 562 LBTTER LXXX'III. dispotitioii. B^evolent^ infinitely good-natured, and incapable of treating his inferior with ne- glecty be tbougbt every kindness, every civility he received^ 8incerey-*-^very sligbt shewn either to himself, or others, accidental.. ' Thus be would persist in ihe idea that these Lords would be gratified by such a mark of atten- tion to them; and that I should receive their thanks. — ^I, who had been so much less in their society, knew diem better; that such little great men are as capable of impoliteness as they are incapable of taste for the arts ; — ^but my obedi- ence was insisted, upon. One condition however I tnade, that, if they should not have the good manners to write, -^ I thank you, Madam, for your poon," he w^mld ne- ver more request me to obtrude my compositions upon titled insolence. They had not the civility to make the least acknowledgement. My heart (I own it is in some respects a proud one) swelled with mdignatioB; — ^not at the neglect^ for I felt it beneath my attention, and had expected it, but because I had been obliged to give theoT reason to believe that I desired their notice. My life against sixpence, the Duke of Rich- mond would receive a letter from me in the same manner. Ah! a soul like Lord Heathfield's, attentive to intellectual exertions in the closet of Digitized by Google LBTTEB LXXXIV. 383 die sliidioiiS) as in the field of honour^ and gene- loos enough to encourage, and throw around it the lustre of his notice, is even more rare than his valour, and military skSl. I vnsh his Lordship to see diis letter. It will explain to him the nature of those convictions, and of those feelings, which must be powerfid indeed, ere I could hesitate a moment to follow his advice, thoi^h but insinu- ated on any subject. My devoted respects and good wishes are his, as they are your's, not peri- odically, but constantly. LETTER LXXXIV. Miss Weston. Lickfield, Dec. 1 2, 1 787. It itr pleasant, d^ir Sophia, to hear what odd things people assert to support their opinions. It seems a strange sort of compliment to say, that pages, covered over with disclosures of the hearty on various subjects, and addressed to absent friends, are not, what they were intended to be, letters, but something. Heaven knows what is to 'be their name, of a totally different kind. Digitized by Google 584 LETTER LXXXXV. I am at present re-reading, with Giovanni, the bj me often read scriptores of your idolaSbry, our great lyrist, Gray's Epistles ; and find, as I was wont, much to admire in them ; — yet diose. ad- dressed to Mr West, before either of Ihem.w^re twenty,*while they are foil, even to affectation, of splenetic wit, terseness, point, and classical alla- uon, have no glow, either of the heart or the imsr gination ; — and at a period of life when no&ing can recompence their absence.' Andre's letters, published with my Monody on him, have, to me, much more fascinating beauty. Their easy, play- ful, happy flow of humour, mixed with those fine, emanations of lively affection, are infinitely more engaging in youth than that satiric vein which runs through Gray's, and than that comfortless vapour- ishness, of which they complaiu. In Andre's also we find tender enthusiasm, and all those juvenile graces, of which the other are destitute. There is the same fault in the highly ingenious letters of his riper years — ^but it sits better on the man than on the boy. They are patterns of wit; but wit is too constantly the master-tint; and therefore is it that the style has not that variety necessary to the perfection of confidential letters. The first models of peifection in the epistolary style are the letters of Clarissa, Miss Howe, Digitized by Google LBTTER LXXXT. 385 Lovdace, and Belfofd^'in the imniortaliroliiiiies of Richardsoii. With such able assistance. as Mr Potter's^ there is not much wonder that P. produces poens which contain some ^ood' passages. Mr Potter^ I am told, lives whblly in retirement.. A man of talents/upon whom the world's neglecthas borne hard. Adieu ! LETTER LXXXV. Rev.T. S. Whallet. Lichfield, Dec. 20, 1787. Alas ! my friend, that ever pain and sickness should impede the exertions of so warm, sp clear a spirit! — But the sullen fiends wer«. retreating when you tvrote ; that was a great comfort ; and Mrs Piozzi and Miss Williams speak in a style to confirm my hopes. :. The fair Helen Williams is delighted ^'^ith the visit you p^id her at Southampton. It has filled her imagination with your taints, and with th^ wonders of Mont Blanc. When will your poem VOL. I. B b .>..;:! Digitized by Google 386 LETTEU LXXXY^ on that theme appear ? I asked you this ques- tion in my last. Answer me, naughty boy ! Can't you speak when a gentlewoman asks you a civil question ? I am charmed that Mrs Piozzi likes me well enough to dream that I have beauty ; and I feel liappy in baving contributed, in the slightest de- gree, to her wishes. After poetic fame, I confess I often feel very ardent aspirations ; yet are they but a short-lived blaze, and fade away into embers, that scarcely gleam. No fuel more potent can be given them,, than your seeming interested that I should publish what I have written. It is needful enough to prevent the very embers from being extinguished by the stupidity or venality, the ma- lice or ignorance of the public critics, and by the oppressive complication of my various employ- ments. Unitmg with the constant attrition my father's weak and precarious state demands, they do not leave me an hour in a week for transcrib- ing and correcting those materials, whose some- time publication I meditate, and perhaps shall never do more than meditate. My witty and volatile correspondent, Mr Har- dinge, has lately sent me very agreeable letters from his friend and correspondent, Lord Camel- ford, now on the Continent. There 19 one de- Digitized by Google LETTER LXXXY. 387 scribing Vaucluse^ of which I have taken a copy, and; in return, sent Mr H. your so much more fully and more animated description of the same scene, made after your second visit to the conse- crated valley, and its fountain ; when its waters, in their large cavern, were rushing in torrents over its brim *. The landscape, by Lord Camelford, is inte- resting ; but the view is single, and many objects are omitted, which so much heighten the interest in your description. The colouring also is com- paratively cold ; — ^behold it :— *' From Avignon we went to Vaucluse. The intervening country is every where dry and stony, with mountains at a distance, and the phin dot* ted with olive-trees, resemblii^ our withies ; and that is all the green now in view, except here and there a patch of wheat. '^ At length we reach a small and naiTOw val- ley, vrith some little meadows, and a few olive^ trees, by the side of a pretty clear stream, and some houses, which constitute the village of Vau« cluse. A rock rises immediately behind it, crown- * This collection contains two descriptions by Mr< Whalley of this yalley and fountaio, a winter and snmmer scene : The first will be found in a letter to Mr Hayley, dated March 15, 1785 : The second, in a Letter, addressed to Mr Hardinge, and dated November 21, 1787.— S. Digitized by Google 388 LETTEK LXXXV.. ed with a ruined castle. A small path leads he* yond the village amongst the rocks, by the side of a stream, which forms itself from a variety of little springs issuing out of the foot of the mooiH tain; till a dry channel appears, rising steep, with uncouth fragments interspersed in it. Here th^ valley narrows, and leads into a recess, where .nor thing but huge maissei of stone and rock surround you,, with, here and (here, a bush of wild fig or olive growing out of the chinks of the craggy cliflF. '^ Opposite is a perpendicular, mouiitain of stone, about six hundred feet hi^h, like an im- mense quarry* The ground, slopes considerably from our feet to its base, which opeos into a lai^e cavern, filled, as far as the eye can discern,, with the purest water in the world. In Apri}. and May, this spring rises above the cavern, so as to fill the whole bason, which is ;Surround^d with cliffs, except in the front, where it tumbles dowA the rocky channel, with loud aqd tumultuous violence, and is broken into ;a thqusand cascades. The whde of the scene is msy.e9tic. and impos- ing, but not, to my feelings, such as would fill the mind with images for amorous sonnets. If Dante, if Ossian, had frequented the retreat, I should have miderstood them better than I do Petrarch, who Digitized by Google MBTTER LXXXV. 389 WOvM ba¥e been more in his place in the quiet vales of BoconolLf' And thug Lord Caimelford. — I have/ within this past week/ looked into Mrs Dobson's Pe- trarch/ which 3sou. told Ine is an abridgement of the Abb^ de Sade's Life of that Poet. Mrs Dobsoir describes the Valley of Vaucluse as lux- umntly sylvan,, and of incomparable beauty. There is no ^ayiiig what devastations time may not have made; but I wonder her original did not supply her with reflections upon its present contrasting appearance, so rude and ban-en ; that she did not inform herself, from recent visitants to a scene so remarkable, that it was shorn of its woods, and lliat not a leaf of the love-planted laurels remained. Equally strange, that she should make, no mention of the Castle de Som- mane, where Laura always resided during the summer months, and which remains to this day the property of her dii^ect descendents. The de- sire of Petrarch to be near his mistress, accounts for the time which he. habitually passed in that valley, andfbr his local devotion. If Lord Camelford had known to whom that ruined castle once, nay, to whom it yet belongs, be had surely not expressed his wonder at Pe- trarch's ch*oice of retreat, nor fancied he could Digitized by Google 390 LETTEB LXXXYI. have been more in his place in any other valley^ botvever superior in scenic beauty. Pray mention this subject when you write next^and account to me, if you can, for M19 Dobson*s omissions, and for the fidse description she gives of this scene. No romantic exagge- ration shouIdy.in all policy, have been used in des- canting upon a situation so known. With what delight, were it in my power, should I visit Vaii- cluse, and pay homage at its watery shrine ! LETTER LXXXVL Miss Helen Williams. Lichfield, Dec. 25, 1787. I AM glad you like my friend Colonel Barry. He has genius, literature, and an high sense of military honour. The laurel and the bays are en- twined around his brow. It is singular that he should have succeeded Major Andr6 as Adjutant- General to our armies in America; and that both these young soldiers ^ould, at di£Ferent times, have found the charms of Hononi Su^d so tran- Digitized by Google I.BTTEB LXXXVl. 391 scenda&t and impressive, as to have prevented any other attachment capable of extinguishing the impassioned recollection of her. Within these tluee years, Colonel Barry assured me, that she was the only vfroman he had ever seriously loved ; that he never behdd a being in whom the blend- ed charms of mind and person, could approach the lustre of those which glowed in the air, the look, the smile, the glance, and the eloquence of Honora Sneyd. Judge you, who know the ido- latry of my spirit on that theme, how Colonel Barry must have engaged my regard, by exhibit* ing, in himself, a second proof of constancy, so rare in these gross dmes, to my Madam de Grignan, — ^now mouldering in the tomb, but sur- viving, in my memory, with all her matchless en- dowments, graces, and virtues. Yes, it is very true, on the evening he mentiour ed to you, when Mrs Piozzi honoured this roof. Colonel Barry's conversation greatly contributed to its Attic spirit. Till that day, I had never con- versed with her. There has been no exaggera- tion, thei'e could be none, in the description^given you of Mrs Piozzi's talents for conversation ; at least in the powers of classic allusion and bril- liant Mrit. Comic humour, and declamatory elo- quence are Mrs Knowles's fort, and in them she Digitized by Google JQft liBTTEK LXXXTI. is unrifvdled* / I speak of our aeXyiot in Mt and ola»9ic Bfint, who may tr^nsoend'Mr Ha;^ I When Mrs Pioafci and I met the next, mornh kig, wi^ agreed, that if Colonel Barry was ulMt less s^Atentioiu^ he' woahi be. liKvine. ' I have been atlackeid with some virulence, and an- abiin.dance of absurd sophistry, in the Gentle* man's Magazine -for July 17S?,- about my letters on JohnigpB, signed Benvolip. I replied in the next number, pUge 684. ; The answer to that reply, in the November number, is too feebly and evidently sophistsoal, to be worth any farAdr notice^. . a / Jobnson^s uncandid and intolerant bluster against the Dissenters'has made every proud H^;h Piiest hi» idolater and chamj^n. Whoever; therefore, speaks impartially of him. ■ * " Calls up a^jutchy dood Of locusts, warping on the funeral * winds, That o'er Great Johnson's glaring errors hang like night, and darken all the rays of tratfa."' . You will easily procure, frpm Mr WhsiUey* an introduction to Mrs Piozzi. It will delight you to hear with what energy she speaks of her £gyp« Plwody on a teioas omile in the Fuadise Lostv— & Digitized by Google tiaii boiidage. to >.diB.8rbit|«i7. despot. Scarcely snui k. kw > severe fbr baying heidn yolualary. What a c^ompenae did ihe, iterate make her af^ ter-hec manaagey.fer :the. devotion tof hex ifortune, tier, healthy her peace^vto prevent every, waat, eveiy wish. of his ! > To a benevolent and oheei^ All temper like hers^ most oppressive must have been his habitual malignancj, when resident un« der her roof*. Peyrbaps s^he knows iio]t the oppro- brious terms in wkieh he abused her for a con* nectiouy which, however it niight lessen her con- sequence with the world, was clear from every stain of criminality towards God and towards man. He spoke of lier in company here, as a be* ing without veracity, or worth of any kind ; even she, Mrs Thrale I whom.he.tells^ ia his letters to her, after, many year's intanacy, and daily inter- course, '^ that to hear her was to hear wisd^n; to see her was to.see virtue ! " - No, indtod, I qwirrel.not with Bums for his hi^ Scotch ; sp. far fit>ni;ity that all my favourite parts of his compoidtionsi are in the broad Cale« doniai^ dialect. It is when he writes in. English that his imagination flags and dwindles into,,ill- ju^ed- plagarism* Pope, stole imi&ensely, but his thefts were from obscure English poets of earlier times, whose emlnryo-ideaa he finished up Digitized by Google S94 LETTER LXXXVU into perfect shape, and breathed over them that wadb glpw of colourings that rich harmony and luminous perspicuity, that none knew better how to impart. It is unfortunate to see in Bums such depredation as the following, made upon the very £ne and popular song in Shakespeare'a As You like It ** Blow, blow, ye winds, with heavier gna^ And freeze thou bitter biting frost I « Descend, ye chilly smothering snows 1 Not all your rage, uniting, shews Such hard unkindness unrelenting. Vengeful nnlicc unrepenting, iThat HeaTto-iUoknin'd man on brother man bestows.'* Here is asisuredly the most bare>-faced theft, and the most sickening inferiority to the plundered lines ! To be sure, I do think his Epistle to Davy, and his Ode to Despondency, the most dissonant jingles that ever tortured the ear ; and I marvel much, that he could prostitute his great genius to long uninteresting descriptions of vulgar supersti- tion, in his poem, the Hallowe'en. Not one of the iroKc or terrible graces preside over that odd composition. I feel very much, as you do, about the Years- ley and the Bums. They are both miracles. Digitized by Google LETTBR IXXXVl. SQS His imi^imtion is more luxuriant ; and if it has more weeds, it has also -more floMrers, and some of them are most beautifully and originally tmted. Perhaps she has more depth and strength of thought ; but I much oftener^ and shall continue much oftener to look into his works than to her's, for they have sweeter poetic witchery. His Vi- sion; the descriptive part of The Winter's Night, for the sentimental part is trite ; the dear Brigs of Ayr; the Cottager's Saturday Night; the Mouse ; and the Mountain Daisy, enchant me. It would here be injustice to Lactilla not to observe, that her poem On the Sudden Death of an Amiable Lad^ is original and finely imagined. Her Address to Friendship is spirited and new, upon a very hackneyed theme, and it strongly paints the jealous and gloomy energy of her mind : , ^ My sooTs ambitions, iind iU ntmmt stretdh Woa*d be to own a friend ; but that* s denied. Now at the bold avowal gaze, ye eyes, That Undly mel^ at my woe-fiiof^t tale I Start back Benevolence, and shun the charge^ Ungrateful as it seems I My abject fate Excites the willing hand of Charity, The momentary sigh, the pitying tear, To mjseiy so kind. Yetnottoyoo, Bounty, or Charity, or Mercy mild, The pensive, thought applies fair Friendship's name ; That name which never did, or can exist Bat in egwUiy* Digitized by Google 396, IiETTEH hXXXVU ,Wbe» I first read that- .passage, suirelj very findy written; while all was yet apparent ami- ty between Ijactilla and her patroness. Miss More, I exclaimed to the person to whom I was reading it, Ah Yearsley ! thou hast a proud and jealous spirit, of the- Johnsonian cast. It will be. difficult to oblige .thee^ without can- celing theoHigati6b by the manner of confer- ring it. Ere I quit the fmhject of new-arisen g^us in our art/ let me speak to you of the most amiable poem I have read this many a day. I should like much to converse wttb the youthful author. It is Ae jumor Mr Hoole's poem, The Curate, that I mean. His-description of the ceremony of or- dination is cbarrabg* The subject is new, in verse, and well becomes the chaste poetic colour- ing he has thrown upon it. My heart went widi his Edward, on his journey home. I saw thef top of Snowdon in imaginaticm, with a glow of sym- pathetic pleasure from the soft domestic source. Soon was this pleasure eltii^ished in commise- rating tears. Nothing can be more sweet and pathetic than the egotism in the opiening of this poem. But the lovely landscape of his" parsonage in the couptry ; how one longs to go and dine with • Digitized by Google LETT£R LXXXTI. 397 faim! From want bf.tuDe^. I must repress the inclination I feel to point out the numerous pas- sages in .this. poem whieh have delighted, m^ while with every part I was at leaat pleased and -satisfied. This, work is the mild green of poetic wridngon which the eye is gratified to dwcU, without being dazzled. With the father of this young bard, the inge^ nious translator of Ariosto, I had once the plear sure of passing an evening at your house* The genius of such a youth must give to such si father no common degree of delight, *' When to the sun, exulting, he nnfolds His plames, that with paternal colours glow." The happiness which results to me fir
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