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discriminating praise. I knew not, at the time, to whom I was so much obliged.
That charming writer, Miss More, has given the world a poem on the Slave Trade ; so has her ungrateful pupil Lactilla. I have not yet seen either of those compositions ; but I cannot prevail upon myself to give my scribbling foes new opportunity of venting their spleen, by speaking to the world of the inferiority of my attempt to that of the unlettered milk-woman's. So, I am sure, they would say, were I to write as well as Milton on the theme.
How should these reflections fail to extinguish the ardour of my exertion, when it feels inclined to struggle for an escape from common-life avocations to Aonian employments! My only stimulus, from without, to an attempt on this occasion, is the consciousness that you, and a few other ingenious friends, are predisposed in its favour. I confess that to be a powerful one. During an whole hour after I received your letter, it maintained its ground ere it sunk beneath the snow-drifts of opposing recollections.
Rev. T. S. WHALLEY.
Lichfield, March 1, 1788. I REJOICE that Mont Blanc lifts its majestic head in the poetic world. Several of my * late letters have mentioned this poem, and the charitable reason for publishing it, more meritorious than the thirst of fame.
I have mentioned it also in our Lichfield circles ; but while those who form them seek my society, they pay no attention either to my wishes or opinions respecting books, and often express their dislike of poetry in my presence, or parade, with their silly affectation of not understanding it; as if sense, sentiment, or description, could be obscured by the graces of measure, or the harmony of rhyme.
But, emerging from these mists of spleen rather than of ignorance, let me turn my eyes to the stupendous mountain of Savoy, which you have gilded with a light so radiant.
* The passages that announce it have been omitted in the transcript, on account of the strictures upon it in this epistle.-S. My imagination met your poem with that sort of delight with which I met you last summer at Ludlow; and which no stranger, however brilliant, however estimable, could inspire in the fancy on one hand, in the heart on the other.
My convictions of the merit of this various, glowing, and spirited poetic picture, are confirmed on every new examination.
If it is not ardently acknowledged by the whole class of modern readers, their injustice will, in part, result from the stupidity, jealousy, or venality of the public critics. Your and my friend will perhaps bestow a few guineas, gliding to them in a channel, secret even from themselves, but which shall have power to purchase the insertion of those sort of critiques, upon which his envy shall banquet in private.
I said, in part, for the locusts of anonymous criticism are not the sole causes of that blight, beneath which I have observed many a rich poetic harvest to wither uncropt in its first season. Poetry is not the fashionable study of the present age. We have plenty of fine writers, but there is a dearth of readers.
A few lines in this poem I could wish elevated, which are, perhaps, a little too prosaic for the general tenor of the style ; but these blemishes, if blemishes they are, seem but dust in the ba
lance against its noble enthusiasm, the strength and glow of appropriated description, so, novel and so magnificent. Your Lemyr-Gegar rises in poetic sublimity above the Eagle of Pindar and of Gray. He is shewn in more energetic action, and in more various points of view. When, wheeling round the cliffs, he pursues the Chamois, as it bounds, terrified, from rock to rock, the whole scene is alive; and when, after the storm, he soars to the emerging sun, the passage is of rarely excelled grandeur.
Last Friday morning brought me a visitor, whom I received, and to whom I listened with that awe-mixed delight, which Milton has assigned to Adam,
“ When Raphael, the celestial visitant, deign'd
Yes, my dear Mr Whalley, the Christian hero, Mr Howard, sat with me great part of Friday morning, leading me through scenes of infinite interest to the heart, and which I should like to retrace with you.
You wish to see something new of mine. There is no possibility that I should obtain leisure to raise new poetic fabrics. I only wish for time to arrange and publish the large materials for my Miscellany. Could that be done, it would be only standing one running fire from the Dennises and Gildons of the present day ;-it would be only feeling the anxieties of publication once, and then delivering up to the justice of posterity my whole stock of pretensions :-Posterity, which seldom fails, sooner or later, to recal what is worth recalling from the shades of oblivion; in which, for a time, many superior works to any I can produce have been enveloped, by the neglect of that ungrateful age which they adorned.
That my writings should ever experience this regeneration, I am far from depending ; but I believe they will, if they deserve it. It has long been my wish to « leave my
name in life's visit.” Should the ink in which it is written prove of a fading and perishable quality, there is no help for that, you know.
As to the present age, which sits listening to its critical Cerberuses, that it may echo their barkings, vain are the hopes of poetic genius to meet its applause. Jephson! the fate of thy three last admirable tragedies,—the Law of Lombardy, the Count of Narbonne, and Julia, can witness how vain! Abused as contemptible bombast by all the reviewers; and, in consequence, neglected by an unfeeling public, though the true dramatic spirit glows through every scene; though