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birthplace. The writer was clearly imbued with the love if not with the spirit of Gray, and the poem itself is remarkable, as showing by internal evidence, that its author had read and, according to his capacity, appreciated, Pindar*.
Nor was this, his first effort, left without encouragement : it was favourably noticed in several periodicals; amongst the rest the “Monthly Review" said of it: “We expected to meet with many, and perhaps material imperfections in the verses of so young an author; but this extraordinary piece affords the critic very little occasion for the rod of correction. On the contrary, there is as much to commend as can well be imagined in so small a poem. We may, therefore, look for a considerable degree of excellence in the more mature productions of General Elliott's youthful panegyrist.'
This successful attempt both encouraged continued exertion, and gave him access to channels for appearing in public, through the medium of the periodical press, which otherwise he might not have been able to enjoy. Early in the following year, he began to
* Since writing the above I have found among the young author's books a volume consisting of Selecta ex Poetis Græcis, published for the use of Eton School, and of which he became possessed on the 1st of February, 1788. This publication contains several odes of Pindar, and among them those of which the traces are observable in the Ode to General Elliott. The same volume also contains two odes by the Grecian poetess Erinna ; and of one of these he made a metrical translation, which was inserted in the “ Gentleman's Magazine" for January, 1789.
write in the “Gentleman's Magazine,” and during the year he contributed to that publication several sonnets, a translation of some odes of Horace, and one short original ode.
Anna Seward was then at the height of her popularity; and though at this distance of time we are able to appreciate her according to her real merit, yet so rare and so attractive are intellectual accomplishments in females, that their contemporaries seldom fail to rank their literary productions far higher than the less biassed judgment of posterity will sanction. It is not matter of surprise, therefore, that a youthful poet should be won over by the blandishments and the praises of one who then occupied a distinguished station in the world of letters. Her countenance and friendship would be an object of ambition that a youthful follower of the Muses would naturally desire to compass.
Lister, whose family was already intimate with Miss Seward, was now at Lichfield, and probably drew her attention to his friend Cary's first published effort, his Ode to General Elliott*: at all events, that poem attracted her notice, and she gave its author all the
Miss Seward, in a Letter to Thos. Swift, Esq., says :-( Cary, literally but just fifteen, is a miracle. I never saw him, nor heard of him till after his Ode to General Elliott' came out. My acquaintance with him is not of four months' date. His schoolfellow and friend, Lister, an inhabitant of this place, has poetic talents of nearly twin excellence. There is only a month's difference in their age.You suspect my having assisted Cary. Upon my honour, I never saw
encouragement that her own eminent position enabled her to give. Nichols dignified her with the title of “ The Muse; ” her more youthful admirer styled her his * Muse and his “Mistress.” Several of her letters to her protégée have been thought worthy of insertion in her published correspondence; most of his to her, that still remain, (though he labours under the disadvantages of a yet unformed style, and an obvious awe of his patroness's endowments), are deserving of a place among his writings, chiefly as showing the early growth of that purity of taste and critical discrimination which, if I mistake not, will be found to be among his chief excellences.
The following bears the earliest date of any that now remain :
TO MISS SEWARD.
Sutton Coldfield, July 20, 1788. MY DEAREST MADAM, I have, much against my inclination, refrained from writing to you till now, through a fear of unnecessarily intruding upon your time, any moment of which is better employed than it would be in reading my nonsense. I should abuse
very much, if I indulged myself in my almost perpetual propensity to scribble to you.
anything of his that has been published before it was sent away to be printed. The strength and solidity of that y's mind, his judgment, astonish me, if possible, even more than the vigour and grace of his fancy.”—Letters, vol. ii. p. 131.
Since I had last the pleasure of being with you, I have made a most delicious feast upon your translations from Horace. I do speak my real sentiments when I declare, there are few of the odes that do not please me more than in the original.
If anything could make me a convert to diffuse translation, it would be your version of Horace. My Muse has attempted to pay her little tribute to its excellence, but I am afraid in strains very undeserving the object of her praise.
“ Hear, honour'd Flaccus, from the vocal shades,”
Or, whether in the bright Elysian bowers,
Hear, happy Bard,—to wake thy slumb’ring lyre,
Then, as thou hear'st the sweet Enthusiast-own
I have given Horace what he was always fond of,—his arbour, his bowl crowned with roses, and his murmuring stream.
You may perhaps wonder that I have put him in no other company but that of Anacreon and Prior,--would not Pindar, Gray, and Collins have done as well ? Excuse me if I say, the Ausonian Bard had not a Pindaric feather in his wing: he seems quite out of his element whenever he gets into the azure deep of air. He has a peculiar vein of sportive elegance, that you look for in vain in any other writer,
Of what I am now (perhaps you may think) rashly advancing, he himself was conscious, as appears from that ode in which he says
“ Pindar is imitable by none,"
and compares himself to the sedulous bee, &c.
I hear Mrs. Knowles (or Noles), with whom I was so unlucky as not to meet at your house, is doing a great deal of good. If she can cure Lycid's misfortune, I shall think myself under inexpressible obligations to her.
It is well for you my paper will hold no more nonsense. Adieu.
Your affectionate and faithful servant,
H. F. CARY.