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Gray would not have asserted that imagination resided, many hundred years since, in all her pomp, on the bleak and barren mountains of Scotland. So, in despite of Gray, is the Nouvelle Heloise an exquisite performance, or it could not, like the writings of Sterne, have delighted numbers who are familiar with the requisites of fine writing, and know how to separate the dross of composition from its gold.
Forgive this second struggle for the fame of Sterne. With less honour for your judgment I had not molested your disapprobation. If your dislike is invincible, we will mention him no more-since, were I to become your proselyte on this subject, it must be at the expence of my gratitude, for many an hour that has been softened by his pathos, and gilded by his wit. Adieu!
WILLIAM HAYLEY, Esq. on his REVOLUTION POEM.
Lichfield, Nov. 9, 1788.
My dear Bard, after having been vainly looking and longing, through four whole months, for a letter from Eartham, permit me to thank you for your billet, and for the kindness of its style. For the intelligence it conveyed, that your health was somewhat amended, my heart offered up its." instant thanks to Heaven.
It is with unclouded gratitude, that I acknowledge the receipt of your infinitely welcome poetic present. The centennial birth-day of English liberty, and the memory of Doctor Johnson's rascal (blistered should have been the tongue that called him so) had a just claim upon the pen of Britain's darling bard. Well has it discharged the debt it owed. I feel assured, that the poetic beauties are more numerous than any other lyrist could have given to a subject so hackneyed, and where the calm phlegmatic character of its hero, restrained the efflorescence of the imagination, under the guid
ance of a judgment, chaste and veritable as Mr Hayley's.
Mr Mason I see advertises an ode on the same occasion. I long to read it. Interesting indeed is the poetic race, when two such coursers start a-breast,
"With necks in thunder cloth'd, and long resounding pace."
His muse has given an impression not much in favour of the heart of our deliverer, in the first book of his English Garden:
"Great Nature lay,
Defac'd, deflower'd, thro' many a ruthless year,
For your ode my dear bard-Poetry, in all her stores, has no sublimer painting, than the conclusion of the 5th stanza. After that grand picture, which, to the muse-directed eye, comes so forward in the composition, my next favourite parts, are the nervous conclusion of the 2d stanza; and, in the 9th, the just exaltation of the plain, honest, brave, moderate spirit of William, over the oppressive selfishness of that polished despot, Lewis
XIV., also the very fine picture of the Tornado; only that "science-pointed steel" does not ininstantly present the image of a gun being fired.
Amidst a succession of sweet passages in the epistle, those which charm me most, are the eight lines, which begin, " Yet, yet I mount"-the four that begin, "No, when the infernal spirit of despair"—his name breaking the spells, how charming that is!-nor less charming the beautiful allusion to the dove and the ark.
Nothing can be finer than the anathema poured forth, with so much rapid fire, against the boasted rising sun of France. You, even you, never gave us a more gloriously poetic passage.
Your portrait of William, at the battle of the Boyne, in this poem, displays another sort of image than that presented by West's pencil, which I never liked. The short abrupt hint, given by filial tenderness, is charming; but forgive me for owning that I could have wished the two lines, which bring the humanity of William into competition with the mercy of God, had been omitted. The spirited tenderness of the last twelve lines delights me.
It is curious, that the Jacobite, Sam Wesley, left a spirited eulogium on the courage of William in Holland.
"Thus great Nassau oppos'd the Gallic reign,
Our friend Nichols has published Cary's sonnets. They might have been corrected to advantage, had he employed the hand of friendship in a task, of which you have finely described the use, even to the best poets, in your epistles on epic poetry. In spite of now and then a little hardness in the expressions, I dare believe you will think them charming, since you will recollect the blossoming age of their author. When he brought them to me last week, he said, with a deep sigh," I wish Mr Hayley may look at a few of them." Send him a copy, said I: "Ah no! . I cannot be so obtrusive. If he should take no notice of even a tribute so worthless I should be wounded, nor can I wish he should have the trouble of writing one line of acknowledgment for what perhaps he might not endure to read."
We have another self-taught genius, of very considerable strength, from the banks of the Avon, his name, Weston, organist of Solihul. In