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Do not be angry with me for not giving yourself the palm, as you forfeit entirely all pretensions to it by the weakness you display in paying so much regard to Your worthless though faithful servant,
H. F. CARY.
T. LISTER AND H. CARY'S ANSWER TO J. W.
Whoe'er thou be that wouldst, with friendly art,
Quench in our bosoms their poetic fire,
Nor dread Detraction's venom-spitting dart;
To feeling breasts, unwarp'd by base desire ;
Pour its sweet comfort on our bleeding heart.
Ambition's height to some more restless soul ;
Its quickly-circling currents in our veins,
TO MISS SEWARD.
Sutton Coldfield, Nov. 14, 1788. My best thanks for your kind packet, and a hundred apologies for not having thanked you for it sooner, which I certainly should have done, had they not neglected to send it to me from Birmingham till to-day.
The story about Milton does not appear deficient in any point. I had it in my head to turn it into a short dramatic piece, but my imagination (I fear) has cooled by delay, and my wild fancies are perhaps almost all flown. You will laugh at me for saying this, for I know it is your creed that one may write at one time as well as another, if one sets doggedly to it, and that there is no such thing as temporary inspiration. But I confess experience forces me here to differ from you, who ought to know much better than I do—I could no more write when the fit is not on me than I could fly. I long very impatiently, and yet dread, to hear the air you have sent me played, as I am afraid it will have a great effect on my spirits, which are yet scarcely recovered from a violent indisposition.
You have no doubt been informed of the happy change in Lycid's friends. You can better imagine than I describe the joy I feel on the occasion. My Muse has not been silent, but as usual has contributed to heighten my pleasure; the following stanzas are the produce of her little labour :
Hail to my friend ! from Stygian gloom abhorr’d,
The name by which he himself characterises the counting-house.
A sad exemption from the joys that wait
If you happen to see Lycid alone soon, be so kind as to shew him these verses. They are not, as Cowley says, warm from the brain, but warm from the heart. I am much flattered by your good opinion of my Odes, which you like a great deal better than their own Daddy does.
* His health had been affected by the confinement.
+ This alludes to the Sonnet which you were pleased to admire so much.
I want to find some method of returning you Miss Williams's letter, which I have read over and over with repeated pleasure. One passage pleased me particularly, where she says she wishes to retire from the noise and folly of the world to a rural retirement.
My bosom beats in unison with hers.
Hayley and Mason have both written on the Revolution !—what a feast shall we have !
I am at present devouring the Nouvelle Heloise; when I have finished, I will tell you my sentiments about it—at present they perfectly correspond with yours. You will do me a great favour by keeping that copy of my sonnets which I designed for you.
H. F. Cary. The Sonnets and Odes alluded to in the preceding letter had just been published in a small 4to volume consisting of twenty-eight Sonnets and three Odes, the first “On the Spring,” the second, “ To Inspiration,” the third without a title, but on the delights of Poesy.
Of the Sonnets I subjoin two, not as being the best, but as best evidencing the tone and temper of the writer's mind.
I ask not riches, and I ask not power,
Nor in her revel rout shall Pleasure view
Where fair Content has spread her loveliest flower,
Of more enduring, though less gaudy hue,
Nor let aught break upon thy sacred hour,
To such the latchet of my wicket-gate
Let me lift freely, glad to share the dole
And a warm heart, that knows not the control
Oft do I burn to snatch the epic lyre,
And from its strings to call such potent lays
And rank me in that bright celestial choir
The pious Trojan wandering through the seas,
Of our prime parents. Yet my vain desire
On which the volant youth bestowed a name,
Points timid. Scarce my sixteenth summer dawns !
Away—what higher guerdon can I crave,
That his contributions to the “ Gentleman's Magazine” were well appreciated is evident from the following letter addressed to him by Mr. Nichols, its proprietor, the well-known author of the “Literary Anecdotes.''
* The Icarian Sea.