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TO THE SAME.
September 25, 1788. On reflection, I was very angry with myself for my foolish behaviour at your house the other evening. I have not forgiven myself; and for that reason, hope you will forgive me.
If you do not remain impenetrable, you will give me your free opinion of the little Ode I send you with this.
Mr. Muckleston told me the Muses had gained two new votaries in a Mr. Homer and a blacksmith's wife, about which you can give me some information. Genius should not be neglected, even though it is found in the workshops of Vulcan.
We have, I think, exchanged sentiments about all our blank-verse writers, except T. Phillips and Armstrong; these two are by no means contemptible, and I should like to have your opinion with regard to their degree of merit.
You see I seize every opportunity of improving by your means. Believe me to remain, Yours most faithfully and affectionately,
H. F. CARY.
There should I love to rest,
In this melancholy ditty I have used two words that I believe are not to be found in any of our English writers,—" unwaking,” and “chittring.” You remember how much we admired the latter in Burns' Poems.
Though the plan which the three schoolfellows had formed for the translation of the Greek poets had been put an end to in the manner before mentioned, the friendship of two of them at least was by no means interrupted. An almost daily literary correspondence sprung up between Lister and Cary; in which the former assumed the name of Lycidas, the latter of Marcellus. The letters of Marcellus have unfortunately perished, but those of his friend show that their attachment to each other bore much the character of romance.
Lister had also become a frequent contributor to the “Gentleman's Magazine;" and the united efforts of the two friends (for they revised and corrected each other's verses) were deemed of sufficient importance to be publicly noticed in the following sonnet inserted in the “Gentleman's Magazine" for September, 1788. Its author was at first supposed to be Hayley, but, as we learn from Miss Seward *, it was the production of a Mr. Weston, organist of Solihull, in Warwickshire :
TO H. CARY AND T. LISTER.
Yet, yet, your unpolluted stores withhold,
Bright buds of genius, bursting into day !
Spite of propitious Phæbus' fostering ray, Parnassian climes are chilling-chilling cold.
* Letters, vol ii. p. 192.
In vain ye glad th' enamoured breeze ; unfold
In vain your rich luxuriant foliage, gay
Unconscious, hapless pair !) shall aught avail;
Shall gnaw ; Detraction's instant blight assail
The answer to the foregoing sonnet, subjoined to the following letter, appeared in the Magazine for October of the same year.
TO MISS SEWARD.
Oct. 21, 1788. I am very much gratified by the idea of the sonnet in the Magazine being Mr. Hayley's, and that it is so, I think you have fully proved. The beauty of those verses in defence of Louisa struck me a long time ago very forcibly, and the circumstance of the initials intimating it to be from the same pen as the sonnet, as well as the similarity of style, did not escape me.
My pleasure, however, here is not without alloy. Alas! I have written a sonnet in answer to the sweet warning, in a tone very different from what I should have used had I known it was no less a person than my Sovereign to whom I was addressing myself.
But this is not the worst part of the story. I have involved poor Lycid in the scrape, by prefixing his name as well as my own.
This most unfortunate production I send you at the end of my scrawl, and if you think it can give any serious offence, you would perhaps be so kind as to send me a single line, if possible, on the reception of this, that I may endeavour to recal it.
I am glad you have renewed your contributions to the “Gentleman's Magazine,” as I really think it rather hard that Mr. Nichols should suffer for his reviewers' ignorance.
Before many more weeks are elapsed, I hope to have the pleasure of seeing you, when, exclusive of the enjoyment I receive from your company in preference to any other, I promise myself no small delight from the poem you mention, and trust that by that time a letter will have arrived from Eartham, which will fully dissipate all suspicions of any abatement of your “dear Bard's" affections.
As you preserve a silence with regard to Mr. Seward's indisposition, you give me room to hope that he is not in a worse state than usual.
The first time you write to Mr. Whaley, I should be glad to be remembered to him with all respect and tenderness. Never did I meet with a person who appeared to me to form so strong an exception to that received opinion, of the impossibility of human nature's arriving at perfection.