Page images
PDF
EPUB

Ingratitude, form examples of perfection in one species of this writing, some of Hayley's and Mrs. Smith's in the other. As I am in the expectation of setting out for Ireland in a week's time, I fear it will not be in my power to have the pleasure of seeing you for a long space. Dear as your letters are to me, your health is infinitely more so, and for this reason I do not ask you to write. Believe me your very affectionate

Friend and Servant,

H. F. CARY.

SPENSERIC SONNET.

Sweet are the tuneful murmurs of the spring,

Gurgång from yon high oak’s incumbent base,
Whose roots around the mossy fragments cling ;

Whose dark brown branches wave with savage grace ;
Sweet o'er their pebbly bed with silent pace

Through the green sloping banks the waters glide,
While the pale moon beholds her beauteous face

In the clear mirror of the glassy tide :
To that calm breast where peace and joy reside,

What heavenly raptures might these scenes impart ?

And yet to his, where brooding sorrows hide
Their serpent stings, and point the venom'd dart,

They add, alas ! nor pleasure nor relief,
But cast in deeper shades the gloom of grief.

Need I say that I denominate this species of sonnet the Spenseric, because Spenser's sonnets are of this construction ?

TO MISS SEWARD.

Sutton Coldfield, August 27, 1789. I cannot lose a moment in exculpating myself from a charge, which, if confirmed, must for ever stamp me as the most ungrateful of beings.

All I can say is, that I am totally unconscious of having dropped any such proofs of disregard and declining affection as you accuse me of; as for the single instance you produce, it must be very much wrested to be applied to such a meaning. I believe Sir B. Boothby to be a fastidious and nice judge of literary merit, while I know from experience that through the warmth and generosity of your nature, you are ready to acknowledge a substance where there is no more than the shadow of genius. Hurried away by the first impressions you receive, you seldom can either commend or depreciate with moderation. It is for this reason that great poets in general make the worst critics in the world. This consideration, I candidly allow, was the motive of the obnoxious question ; though I might with great show of truth allege another less likely to disoblige you.

Surely the additional vote of so good a judge as Sir B. B. must at any rate enhance and give weight to your opinion. The concurrence of his approbation with yours could not fail of putting Jephson's claims beyond all doubt. I had displaced the

Salt's pro

alexandrine in Lister's sonnet by the same alteration as you suggest, but renounced it on finding the word “bright" had occurred before. duction does not answer the ideas I had formed of his talents ; I should be glad to part with my present opinion of them by reading the romance, on perusal of which your elegant verses are addressed to him.

Pray believe me the most affectionate and faithful of your admirers,

H. F. CARY.

The following sonnet was suggested by the line in Chatterton, with which you were so enraptured :

“ The sweet ribibble dinning in the dell.”

Sweet to the musing bard who winds along

This airy mountain, from yon narrow dell
The sound of rustic mirth and village bell,

That echoes with repeated din among
The hanging cliffs, while, through the social throng,

Content and pleasure breathe their magic spell ;
Yet still, as on the listening ear of fancy swell

The mingled peal, and laugh and jocund song,
A sigh of soft regret the spirit heaves

That it can ne'er partake such simple joy ;

Delight that after no contrition leaves *,
Sport without pain and love without alloy ;

If such the poor and humble peasant's state,
Alas ! what folly to be wise or great.

In mirth that after no repenting draws.-Milton.

CHAPTER II.

1790-1796. Enters at Christ Church.-His College Life.--Letters to Miss Seward

and his Sister.—Poem in Blank Verse, “ The Mountain Seat.”—
Choice of a Profession.--Lines “ On the Failure of obtaining a
Fellowship at College.”—Letters to Mr. Price and Miss Seward.
--Is ordained and presented to the Vicarage of Abbots Brom-

ley.-Commencement of his Literary Journal.- His Marriage. On the 29th of April, 1790, Mr. Cary (having obtained an exhibition of 351. a year from Birmingham School) was admitted as a commoner at Christ Church, Oxford, of which society Dr. Cyril Jackson was then dean.

During the usual period of the Oxford course, his time was spent no less diligently than it had been at school in literary pursuits. In addition to the ordinary routine of College exercises and other classical studies, to which during a residence at the University the attention is usually confined, he continued to cultivate his taste for the Italian language, with the aid or instruction of Signor U. Oliviero; and, besides this, he gave proof of an intimate acquaintance not only with the French but also the early Provençal language, by contributing to the Gentleman's Magazine" several articles on the Provençal poets, a path till then almost untrodden by the learned of our country, but to which Warton in his “History of English Poetry” had lately pointed out the way.

His chief intimates at College were Walter Birch, then demy, afterwards fellow of Magdalen College, Edward Bullock, Charles Digby (late canon of Windsor),, and William Digby (now prebendary of Worcester), all of Christ Church. The few letters that remain of his addressed to the two first and the last of these will appear in their proper places, and show how sincere and lasting were his friendships. To the last of the four I am indebted for the following account of my father's college life :

“I wish I could furnish what you wish respecting his college life (writes Mr. Digby, Nov. 14, 1845); but he was rather my senior there, and I do not know the exact line of his reading. Only this I know, that he was regularly studious, and I always understood that whatever other literary pursuits he might indulge in, he regularly pursued that line prescribed by the habit of the college and the dean's direction for his college collections, as we termed it. After his collections ceased, before his B.A. degree, he applied to the professor of Arabic and Persian for direction and instruction in the Persian language, with a view to his poetic pursuits, no doubt. Whether he continued to pursue that study * I know not. Birch, Bullock, Charles Digby

* He learned the Arabic grammar, and read a portion of Hinckelmaun (as I learn from a cotemporary letter of one of his fellowpupils), but did not prosecute the study further.

« PreviousContinue »