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because of the second line, which has too much of the bold simplicity of the elder writers in its metaphor to please a taste of so much modern refinement-and yet you do not like the specimens I inclosed from Darwin's refined and splendidly ornamented poem, in which there is nothing of that simplicity which you will not endure in poetry of this day-in truth it is hard to please you.
In the 39th I have changed, at your suggestion, the word Omnific for Almighty;—but not because I can agree with you that omnific is quaint, since to me it appears the reverse, but because, on strict examination, it does not suit the sense so well as almighty, since the precise meaning of omnific is all-creating-but how fine is the word in Milton!
"Silence, ye troubled waves, and thou deep, peace!
You will be glad to apply that command to this review of your criticisms; nor shall I be sorry to enforce its obedience ;-but suffer me to assure you that I am extremely obliged by your attention to my poem. It has been to its advantage in several instances.
Lichfield, Jan. 24, 1788.
If life was not so short, if time did not fly so fast, if connections did not increase so rapidly, I might not have been forced, two years ago, to make a resolution of avoiding to enter into any new correspondences. That resolution has, in the interim, withstood many powerful temptations, and upon its future firmness my ease, and I have reason to think my health, depends. In the apparent quietness of Lichfield, my hours of leisure are few. Filial cares and attentions ;-the transacting all my father's business, social claims, and long-established correspondence with a number of friends;-what, alas, of time so swiftly whirled away, remains to me for needful exercise, and for the beloved employment of reading? Pity therefore, I intreat, the regret I feel when talents, and dispositions, esteemed, and interesting to me as yours, offer me pleasures which I am obliged to decline.
Your last letter, like your former, gratified me
by its kindness and amused me by its wit. My mind imaged you in your little lonely parsonage, listening to the loud winds, and beating rain;— but they were innoxious storms; and memory, presenting those to which you were so lately exposed, would make their loudest howl music in the comparison.
Whenever you retire to your vicarial mansion, I certainly wish for you the society of a friend :yet the solitude of minds enabled to gild it by their own resources, is to me no object of pity. Do you not think me strangely unfeeling, that I commiserate, as yet, none of the evils of which you complained? Assure yourself, however, that I should lose my philosophy were you to speak of any circumstance that sickened at your heart, and strewed your pillow with thorns;—but never for misfortunes; during the narration of which, Wit peeps over your shoulder, puts his hand before your mouth, and tells the story himself.
I once wrote a sonnet in such an hour as you describe. If it pleases you I shall be gratified. Suppose it does not, you say. Why then Heaven forbid I should be quite so much the author as to like you instead of it the worse for such disapprobation. Such as it is behold it :
INVITATION TO A FRIEND.
When dark December shrouds the transient day,
But to resume your misfortunes.-I recollect something for which I do commiserate you ;—the vanity and impertinent intrusion of an everlasting dabbler in the drains of Parnassus, which he believes the purest streams of its fountains; and imagines that when he bespatters you with their mud, he is pouring forth elegant libations. It is thus that I am often anointed, through the epistolary channel; and thus am doomed to augment continually the number of my rhyming foes, because I cannot stoop to flatter them that their dusky streams are pellucid.
Lichfield has been very dissipated through the
winter. Plays thrice in the week-balls and suppers at our inns, cards and feasting within our houses. No mode of amusement neglected, except that in which we are best calculated to excel-our concerts. Unluckily for me they are the only Lichfield public amusement I can partake with delight.
The late rains, leaving our fields a swamp, have prevented my winter's walk to the mansion on the hill, where I always find recompence for having breasted the cutting blasts;—that mansion so soon, alas! to be deserted!-over which, as I shall just discern it at closing day from the windows of my drawing-room, I shall often sigh and exclaim,
"There's no light in my lady's bower!"
Adieu! I hope the period at which we may see you again in Lichfield, is at no immeasurable dis