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One morning lately as I was out pretty early in the fields sowing some grass seeds, I heard the burst of a shot from a neighbouring plantation, and presently a poor little wounded hare came crippling by me. You will guess my indignation at the inhuman fellow who could shoot a hare at this season, when they all of them have young ones. Indeed there is something in that business of destroying for our sport individuals in the animal creation that do not injure us materially, which I could never réconcile to my ideas of virtue.

On seeing a Fellow wound a Hare with a Shot,

April 1789.

INHUMAN man ! curse on thy barb'rous art,

And blasted be thy murder-aiming eye,

May never pity soothe thee with a sigh, Nor ever pleasure glad thy cruel heart.

Go live, poor wanderer of the wood and field,

The bitter little that of life remains ;

No more the thickening brakes or verdant plains, To thee a home, or food, or pastime yield.

Seek, mangled innocent, some wonted form;

That wonted form, alas ! thy dying bed,

The sheltering rushes whistling o'er thy head, The cold earth with thy blood-stained bosom warm.


Perhaps a mother's anguish adds its woe ;

The playful pair croud fondly by thy side :

Ah! helpless nurslings, who will now provide That life a mother only can bestow?

Oft as by winding Nith, I musing, wait

The sober eve, or hail the cheerful dawn,

I'll miss thee sporting o'er the dewy lawn, And curse the ruthless wretch, and mourn thy hap

less fate.

Let me know how you like my poem.

my poem. I am doubtful whether it would not be an improvement to keep out the last stanza but one altogether.

C-is a glorious production of the author c

You, he, and the noble Colonel of the C-F-are to me

of man.

“Dear as the ruddy drops which warm my breast."

I have a good mind to make verses on you all, to the tune of thrée gude fellows ayont the glen.


The poem in the preceding letter, had also been sent

by our bard to Dr. Gregory for his criticism. The following is that gentleman's reply.


Edinburgb, 2d June, 1789.


I TAKE the first leisure hour I could command, to thank you for your letter, and the copy of verses enclosed in it. As there is real poetic merit, I mean both fancy, and tenderness, and some happy expressions, in them, I think they well deserve that you should revise them carefully,




and polish them to the utmost. This I am sure you can do if you please, for you have great command both of expression and of rhymes : and you may judge from the two last pieces of Mrs. Hunter's poetry, that I gave you, how much correctness and high polish enhance the value of such compositions. As


desire it, I shall with great freedom, give you my most rigorous criticisms on your verses.

I wish you would give me another edition of them, much amended, and I will send it to Mrs. Hunter, who I am sure will have much pleasure in reading it. Pray give me likewise for myself, and her too, a copy (as much amended as you please) of the Water Fowl on Loch Turit.

The Wounded Hare is a pretty good subject ; but the measure or stanza you have chosen for it, is not a good one : it does not flow well ; and the rhyme of the fourth line is almost lost by its distance from the first; and the two interposed, close rhymes. If I were you, I would put it into a different stanza yet.

Stanza 1. The execrations in the first two lines, are too strong or coarse; but they may pass, “ Murder-aiming" is a bad compound epithet, and not very intelligible. “ Blood-stained,” in stanza iii, line 4, has the same fault: Bleeding bosom is


infinitely better. You have accustomed yourself to such epithets, and have no notion how stiff and quaint they appear to others, and how incongruous with poetic fancy, and tender sentiments. Suppose Pope had written, “Why that blood-stained bosom gored,” how would you have liked it ? Form is neither a poetic, nor a dignified, nor a plain, common word : it is a mere sportsman's word ; unsuitable to pathetic or serious poetry.

Mangled” is a coarse word. “ Innocent" in this sense is a nursery word; but both may pass.

Stanza 4. “ Who will now provide that life a mother only can bestow,” will not do at all : it is not grammar-it is not intelligible. Do you mean “ provide for that life which the mother had bestowed and used to provide for ?"

« Feel

There was a ridiculous slip of the

pen, ing” (I suppose) for “ Fellow,” in the title of your copy of verses ; but even fellow would be wrong: it is but a colloquial and vulgar word, unsuitable to your sentiments.

“ Shot" is improper too.On seeing a person (or a sportsman) wound a hare; it is needless to add with what weapon ; but if you think otherwise, you should say, with a fowlingpiece.


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