« PreviousContinue »
FROM MR. NICHOLS.
Nov. 17, 1788. I am much obliged by your polite note of the 12th, and for the kindness you express in wishing to have seen me. My post-haste flight deprived me of that pleasure, which I should otherwise gladly have enjoyed. My visit to the delightful Muse * was not of half an hour.
Your Ode shall certainly have place immediately. And now let me make you a request in behalf of our old acquaintance, Mr. Urban—that you would try your Ulysses' bow in a sonnet, or any other mode of address you may prefer, to prefix to his Preface to the “Gentleman's Magazine.
It is a task which Mr. Duncombe used to delight in, and which Johnson himself has not disdained to engage in. Perhaps your friend Mr. Weston might turn his thoughts that way, or even the Muse herself, if such a bagatelle happened to be in leisure. Believe me, sir, with much esteem,
Your faithful servant,
In compliance with Mr. Nichols's request he wrote a Sonnet, which is prefixed to the 58th Volume of the “Magazine," and is submitted for revisal in the following letter :
* Miss Seward.
TO MISS SEWARD.
Dec. 2, 1788. LISTER has left me, too, to be informed of his happiness from common rumour, but I do not impute this to any neglect of his own, but rather to the whim of his parents; so convinced am I that he would not willingly be deficient in any duty of friendship or gratitude. One of the warmest wishes of my heart is to see him. Good God! that this alteration for which I have so often wept, so often prayed, though at the same time I totally despaired of its ever happening, should at length take place! When I think of it, it appears more like a dream than a reality.
The amiable Mr. Whaley took a warm interest in the fate of my friend. I know you will not delay telling him what a happy and unexpected turn it has taken.
While this circumstance so entirely occupies my thoughts, it is with a fainter degree of pleasure than usual that I recur to literary subjects. I have just read a Sonnet that you have done Mr. Weston the honour to address to him, in the “Gentleman's Magazine.”
It glows with your usual fire, and oversets the tyrannic claim you assigned to the Solihull Bard. Yet in spite of its excellence has my microscopic
criticism contrived to find an objection to it. What is that? Promise you won't laugh at me and I'll tell you—the repetition of two words !
Mr. Nichols has written to request that I would write some verses to prefix to his Magazine; he adds that you, perhaps, might not disdain such a task. But I do not think it at all fit for you, though if
you will engage in it I shall be happy in burning the underwritten nonsense; if you will not, please to put your chisel to this rude piece of work.
Urban ! thy volume, whose instruction join'd
In happy mixture with delight appears,
To improve and captivate the human mind,
To dark oblivion--if as now it steers
Of Malice, from such base alloy refined,
To thy blest toils allots this meed of praise,
May kind success attend thy gen'rous aim,
The lofty verse another Seward build,
I have been endeavouring to get your Louisa at the booksellers', but they tell me it is out of print: how happens this?
Your faithful servant,
H. F. CARY.
TO MISS SEWARD.
Birmingham, January 26, 1789. Many thanks, dearest Madam, for the delightful packet which you were so kind as to send by Lister. I should not have procrastinated my acknowledgment of the pleasure I received from it so long, had not incessant and unavoidable occupations constantly employed me from that time to the present.
First to your Sonnet. It is with sincerity I declare you never wrote anything that pleased my fancy so well. It is sententious, simple, and sublime, and a perfect model of that species of composition.
The break in the eighth line has a wonderfully striking effect, and the image in your two last lines is in my darling Spenser's best style.
The epithet “moon-eyed,” for “idiotism," charms me; yet, as is often the case in poetical beauties, I can assign no reason why it does so.
In the use of compound epithets you have been often uncommonly happy. How have I dwelt with rapture on the following S
Where sun-clad Poesy the strain inspires,
Yet, highly beautiful as this composition is, I cannot read it without a certain degree of pain. I have frequently imagined I have perceived in you suspicions that the affections of those who are bound to you by the dearest ties of gratitude are on the decline, and that your charms and talents have no longer the power of securing those attentions which they formerly so implicitly commanded. Reading this passage in one of my Odes,
Seward, though her eye diffuse
Must find her every charm decay : you exclaimed, “Ah! my friend ! already gone!” and as you spoke the tear started unbidden into your eyes. This sonnet, which seems to be the language of the soul, serves to confirm my opinion. Do not, I beseech of you, my dear and amiable Patroness, suffer such unhappy and totally groundless suspicions to take possession of your mind. Reflect on what real foundations you can possibly build them, reflect how injurious they may prove to your peace, and you will be convinced it is a duty you owe to yourself and your friends to discard them for ever.
If I am either presumptuous or unjust in what I have said, forgive me, and impute it to a good intention. It is with unfeigned delight I find, from his last affectionate letter, that those did slander the dear Bard who said his affection was subject to ague fits.
How flattered am I by the notice Mr. Hayley has condescended to take of me!
His advice, though I trust unnecessary, gratifies me exceedingly. No bright illusions seize me, I VOL. I.