« AnteriorContinuar »
dawn of the dreary mornings, than on our servants to give me the comfortable means of enlivening their darkness.
Within these six weeks, Mr
me again into a suspension of our correspondence. If there had been any moderation in his attentions, he has wit enough to have made me sorry.
One of his last packets inclosed a letter from a friend, dated Rome. It describes that ever-interesting city, and its environs, with an animated accuracy, that places me in one of their highest elevations, and shews me the relics of ancient magnificence; her splendid modern palaces-the immense plain that spreads so wide around her; and, amidst her distant and mountainous horizon, the Soracte, immortalized by Horace, in full view, and white with the snows he describes.
When I read of your purposed tour to Madrid and Valladolid, I felt that thrill, which, from the operation of enthusiasm upon associated ideas, brings water into the eyes, and which I have often seen you feel. Few sensations are so pleaOf these thrills of sensibility, I hope you will have many, as you journey onward, to reward the fatigues and inconveniencies of the expedition.
Mr Hayley has seldom received an higher or more delicate compliment, than that conveyed in your manner of inquiring after him. I heard from him lately; he is well, but speaks not of any literary work upon the anvil; yet, as he tells me, he writes very few letters. I conclude there is one; a genius, creative and facile as his, cannot slumber in the plenteous leisure of his chosen retirement.
Curiosity to see the Pageant of mock justice in Westminster-Hall, drew him to town for a short time. Mine is but little awakened over the fuss, parade, and national expence of this unmeaning scrutiny. Justice has nothing to hope from the flames of senatorial philippics, that are kindled on every side of the accused; but as for the vanity of the incendiaries, over the brightness of their oratoric blaze, it is not so with them ;— that vanity has much to hope from a theme so fruitful in pathos and in horror.
This trial prevents the Abbey music this year. So inadequately are the performers rewarded, that most of them will be glad. Mr Saville crows over the idea of being, in consequence, at liberty to pay his devoirs to Flora, during the weeks in which she holds her courts of vernal preparation, well knowing, that when they are duly attended,
she is as bountiful of her gems, as the Cecilia would have been niggardly with her guineas. He is much flattered by your kind remembrance, His daughter's concert-room, to the profits of which you so kindly contributed, was very full,-her own performance that evening sweet and applauded.
Last week, your friend, Mr Crowe, and my friend, Mr Whalley, took the literary field, much to the honour of both. Mr C.'s Lewesdon Hill is in blank-verse, and often wears the Shakespearean, and often the Miltonic air; and also breathes no inconsiderable portion of their charming spirit; but I am talking to you of a work with which you are, probably, perfectly acquainted. He was so good to send me a Lewesdon. In my letter of thanks, I ventured to express the admiring esteem in which I held his muse. I wish he may not feel a little scholastic scorn over the presumption of such praise.
And now, ere I say adieu, I must fight you a little more upon the old ground. I feel a zeal, something like that of patriotism, for the honour of my own times, since I also feel assured, that their claim to poetic splendour transcends that of any former period. What you say, however, is perfectly just about the lack of poetic patronage. In that respect, but in that only, is our age less
Augustan than that of Anne.
comparison can demonstrate, that all sort of fine writing is in much greater abundance. Perhaps that very abundance forms the chief reason why genius is so much less distinguished than it was in those days. Its radiant lights, running into confluence, are not so conspicuous as when they were fewer in number. The times of Swift and
Pope had no lyric poet. Ours have four very resplendent ones, Collins, Gray, Mason, and Warton. One of those four, considering the superiority of his subjects to those of Pindar, and the at least equality of his imagery and numbers, may fairly be styled the greatest lyrist the world has produced. Shenstone excelled all his rivals in the pastoral walk. In professed satire, we have a Juvenal and an Horace in Churchill and Johnson; since, though the former was Johnson's model, the polished elegance of his verse is Horatian; while a new species of satire, in the heroic epistles of Mason, has perhaps hit the true tone of satire better than any of them. In blankverse, Cowper disputes the palm with Thomson in his descriptions; with Young, in the nervous rage of moral philippics. Surely Mr Hayley's verse breathes a more creative and original genius, than even the brilliant Pope, who excels him in nothing but in the high and laboured po
lish of his enchanting numbers; while Mr H.'s prose has the ease and wit of Addison, with much more strength and spirit. Amidst all Johnson's faults, the greatness of his abilities has amazed and dazzled the whole literary world. Then, what a mine of original wit are the writings of Sterne ? How brilliant in that property the comedies of Hayley and Sheridan! To the names of all these eminent men, that have adorned the last half century, we may add those of Akenside, Lyttleton, Beattie, Langhorne, Dr Warton, Holme, Jephson, Jerningham, Owen, Cambridge, Whalley, and our new star, Mr Crowe, to say nothing of our many Sapphos to the single one of Pope's time. Surely, surely you are prejudiced against our day a little, after the manner in which Lord Shaftesbury was prejudiced against his, who asserts, in the Characteristics, that the period which you call transcendent, was wholly barren of genius and wit.
And now for closing this voluminous epistle. May the eyes for which it is intended shine upon its blotted pages in the serene light of health and cheerfulness !-Yours.