Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

LETTERS.

LETTER I.

CHRISTIE, Esg. OF EDINBURGH.

as

ever

Lichfield, Jan. 15, 1788. My sense of obligation is lively for * packets rich I received in all that can amuse the fancy, enlarge the stock of ideas, and interest the heart.

The few short hours in which I was gratified by your society, are registered in the volume of my memory, in characters that will be coeval with its existence. Long has it been my creed that, with minds and hearts of a congenial temperament, hours may supply the place of years, and the fibres of friendship take root ere the next day's sun arise. · Though performance was delayed, I did not doubt the fidelity of the promise ;-but looked forward to the delight I have now received from the perusal of your journals.

* A tour through Derhyshiré by Mr Christie, in which the character of the people, the soil, produce, and appearance of the country, its toil and manufactures, are investigated with philosophic accuracy, and with a lively perception of scenic beauty.-S.

With your mind, its pursuits, studies, and acquirements, the rich pages now on my table seem to have given me a perfect acquaintance. Apprehensive, from the style of your address to me, that you

estimate mine too highly, I feel disposed to be, what, I trust, I have not often been, an absolute egotist; for I had rather voluntarily reveal to you the scantiness of my stores, than that time should betray them.

To maintain household economy, social intercourse, and the established claims of a very large correspondence, I am obliged but very seldom to admit the visits of the Muses. With great fondness for literature, my life has been too much devoted to feminine employments to do much more than study, in every short and transient opportunity, but with eager avidity, and intense attention, that science, the first and fairest,

« Which set on fire my youthful heart, And all my dreams, and all my wanderings shar'd And bless'd.”

And with those various essentials, which form its

1

excellence, at least in the writings of others, I fatter myself that I am not unacquainted.

Without time to have attained any degree of skill in the practical part of music, which I never attempted till I had passed my twentieth year, yet my taste for it has been cultivated and refined, by listening to frequent conversations on the subject, not from arrogant and comparatively ignorant dilettantis, but from ingenious professors ;-and by living in the almost daily habit of hearing vocal music, in those perfectly fine tones, and with that elegance, pathos, energy, and varied powers, which marries it to poetry.

The leading principles of fine painting are so similar to those of fine poetry, that my imagination has always interwoven those sciences, and instructed me to look at the painting in poetry, and at the poetry in picture.

I have no scientific, or rather experimental, philosophy; but moral philosophy was always the - favourite subject of my meditations. Ever have I been delighted to look at it through the light medium of Addison's writings, the grand sombre mirror of Johnson's, and the faithful and clear lens through which they shine in Beattie's. In that line of writing, Mr Aikin, and his celebrated sister, have given us a little volume, of priceless value. It's essays are in Johnson's best manner,

possess his energy and finely-rounded periods, without the uncomfortable gloom of his sentiments, or any of that pedantry which sometimes encumbers his magnificent style.

Upon a stock of knowledge so limited, you see how impossible it is that I should accept your proposal of contributing to the Analytic Review. The sketch of its plan is extremely well drawn up; and if only men of ability shall be employed, and if they will hold fast the integrity it promises, shunning all blended interest with the corrupted, or incompetent brethren of their profession, the public may perhaps see, what it has yet seldom seen, a literary journal superior to the meanness of celebrating worthless publications, and to the injustice which tempts to vilify genius, or to degrade its claims by faint and inadequate praise ; through motives venal in the first instance, and venal, or envious, or probably both, in the second. Reviewers may be venal without directly marting out their decisions for money; and this by obeying the pusillanimous fear of disobliging such of their professional brethren as do, and suffering that fear to influence their criticisms.

This ingenious sketch speaks with respect of Matty's Review. I suppose its author might be learned, industrious, and furnish good intelligence of foreign literature; but he was a contemptibly

[ocr errors]

for me.

tasteless and arrogant decider upon works of genius in his own language. He was unable to write English with any tolerable degree of elegance, or even of grammatic accuracy. Never shall I forget his long, elaborate, confused, and stupid critique upon Hayley's beautiful Triumphs of Temper. This same critique places its author amongst the minor poets of the present period. O! the Midas! the Midas! From that moment I never looked into Matty-trash. It was no meat

I should think my time ill-bestowed upon the Analytic Review if it is not to be infinitely more able than that publication. I dare assure myself it will, and of all things I approve of its being a day-light business! To have the names of its authors and compilers known, will be the great guards of its integrity.

The sketch promises a view of the present state of the polite arts, Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, and Music. Pray what has Poetry done, the eldest, the loveliest, the most intellectual, the most elevated of the arts, that her name is not enrolled with that of her sisters ?

Ingenious is your parallel between the elder and the modern Erasnius. If to a creative genius, a splendid constellation of various acquirements and a generous attention to the indigent, the grace of iugenuous manners had been added,

« AnteriorContinuar »