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preceptress* Miss Williams's poems, very much ashamed of their miserable plight, particularly as I am conscious they deserve to be cased in gold. This sweet daughter of the Muses adds a most excellent heart to a vivid and glowing imagination. Her friend (connected to her as well by personal intimacy as by congeniality of sentiment), Miss Seward's poems are unfortunately lent out at present; the instant I can get them again I will send them. In the mean time the second volume of Racine's Works, which, if she has never read them before, will afford her great pleasure, is very much at Miss Lawrence's service. “The Rambler” I should far prefer to all the other writings of Johnson. “The Lives of the Poets,” though they are replete with his usual elegance and splendour of style, contain a great deal of false criticism.
I find nothing to blame in your letter on the score of correctness; but while you labour to be correct, you forget the other graces of writing. My promise was not rash; but your boasting, let me tell you,
did not fill more than two pages I am free, and make use of my freedom, in subscribing myself rather hastily,
H. F. CARY.
* Miss Lawrence, sister to Sir Thomas Lawrence, afterwards married to the Rev. A. Bloxam, one of the masters of Rugby School.
TO MISS SEWARD,
Sutton Coldfield, May 24, 1789. I TAKE the opportunity of sending by Mr. Lister's man a little didactic poem, which I wrote the other day, for the inspection of my dear mistress.
In entering upon this walk of poetry I am sensible I mistake the natural bent of my genius, and renounce it for the future. It is upon the school of Spenser and not that of Dryden, that my little talents ought to be formed.
Once again, I have been experiencing the delightful magic of that necromancer, Rousseau, who has the key to every avenue of the heart. His “Eloisa," and his “Confessions," made me admire, made me wonder at him ; but his “System of Education” has made me love him.
The congeniality of our minds (particularly in matters of religion), which I discovered in every page, at first frightened, and afterwards flattered and charmed me. I have always been a true Christian, but never knew it till I read the “ Savoyard Curate's Confession.”
But perhaps I am talking to you of a work which you have never read: if so, read it; if not, tell me what you think of it.
Could we but choose our guardian spirits, thine, Rousseau*, should ever be my guide and conductor!
Farewell, dear Madam,
H. F. C.
TO MISS SEWARD.
Sutton Coldfield, June 1, 1789, MY DEAR MISTRESS, Forgive me for obtruding upon your goodness so soon, as I wish not to lose a moment in exculpating myself from the imputation of an egregious blunder.
God knows I have a sufficient quantity of real mistakes to answer for, without being obliged to groan under any adventitious load.
I meant to say, that in entering upon the didactic line I had mistaken the natural bent of my talents, which ought to have enlisted under the banners of Spenser, Milton, and Collins, and not under those of Dryden, Pope, and Hayley.
I see however the error I was under, and re
* Few who remember having read Rousseau's writings in their early life, and can call to mind the first impressions they produced, will be surprised at the degree of praise here bestowed on them. In after life, when Mr. Cary saw some volumes of Rousseau in the library of his son Francis, which was open for the use of young men, he recommended their removal from the shelves, on the ground that they were objectionable books to be placed in the hands of youth.
nounce it for the future. Your candid disapprobation of the poem flatters me quite as much as any praises you could possibly bestow. That I did not intend to become a servile imitator even of Hayley, I am myself conscious; that I have ignorantly been betrayed into this character I believe, because you say so. I can attribute this involuntary imitation only to the impression made upon my mind by its excellent original; and as I do not wish to exhibit as a clown after so skilful a harlequin, do not think my request the effect of a splenetic fit, if I entreat you to consume my shame together with my verses in the flames. How happy am I to find that Lister is yet constant to the Muses ! I spent a day and night with him at Lady Holte's last week, and found that he is still dearer to me than ever if possible. My pen would do my heart very little justice if it were to attempt to express how much I love and esteem him.
I cannot help thinking that a distinction should be made between the Miltonic and Spenseric sonnet; the first may be used on grave and sublime, the latter on tender subjects; the diction of the former ought to be elevated yet simple, and should require a sort of majesty by the pauses and breaks peculiar to blank verse; that of the latter should be neat, polished, and smooth throughout. Two of Milton's sonnets (viz., that to Cromwell, and that which begins “ Captain or Colonel,”) and yours on
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.
Sweet are the tuneful murmurs of the spring,
Gurgling from yon high oak’s incumbent base,
Whose dark brown branches wave with savage grace ;
Through the green sloping banks the waters glide,
In the clear mirror of the glassy tide :
What heavenly raptures might these scenes impart?
And yet to his, where brooding sorrows hide
They add, alas ! nor pleasure nor relief,
Need I say that I denominate this species of sonnet the Spenseric, because Spenser's sonnets are of this construction ?