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TALE OF A MODERN GENIUS ;
THE MISERIES OF PARNASSUS.
“ Ah! who can tell how hard it is to climb
In life's low vale remote bath pined alone,
The Minstrel ; or, The Progress of Genius.
L - - Cottage.
I HAVE the felicity to inform you, that I have completed my projected poem in eleven books, at the end of two years' deep study, toil, and application; friendless, unnoticed, unassisted, and without ten useful books to consult. And now comes the trial. Will this poem obtain the
favour of the public? Shall I reap, after all my labours aud sufferings, a golden harvest of renown, a glorious immortality; or will my daring presumption be considered, as some of my kind-hearted neighbours prophesy, an abortive attempt, unworthy notice or patronage, and deep eternal oblivion be the lot of the work and its unfortunate author ? Surely great attempts, even when wholly unsuccessful, deserve some credit; and when the thousand difficulties and disadvantages with which I have had to contend are fairly brought into the account, contempt and derision will not, I trust, be cast upon me by the liberal and the learned: and I care for no other.
But I wish to make you acquainted with what has been passing, within the last few months. Having advanced as far as the ninth book of my poem, and my trifling legacy nearly exhausted, I began to consider it was high time to look out for a printer; and while trying to obtain a few subscribers in the town of D, I called on Mr.C, who proposed to undertake the work. But as I was a perfect stranger to him, and had no money to advance, or any security for payment except the subscribers' names, which would not cover half the expenses, he wished me to solicit
some gentleman in my neighbourhood to become responsible for the amount required. Heaven defend us! he might as well have desired me to ask them for half their estates ! No, I would sooner perish, than submit to the mortification to which I should be exposed by such a request. I however told him that I would go so far as to desire a gentleman of the county, a man of family, and much spoken of for his liberality, to whom I had been known many years, to write a letter to him stating all he knew of my character. This appearing satisfactory, it was agreed that on the receipt of this gentleman's letter, the printing should commence immediately, and I left with him a considerable portion of the MS. Soon after, I waited on this benevolent man, and requested he would oblige me so far; when he very coolly replied, that I might depend on his complying with my
After waiting several weeks, uncertain whether my work would be printed or not, I again set off to Dhalf hoping, half despairing. But how great was my joy, when calling on the Rev. Mr. R. I found in his hand the proof sheets of the first book of my poem, which had been sent to him for his opinion and correction. Mr. C. had waited week after week for the expected testi
monial; but somehow or other it so happened, that the kind-hearted gentleman to whom I applied either totally forgot his promise, or afterwards considered it injurious to bis dignity to let any one know that he was at all acquainted with so obscure an individual as myself. Be this as it may, Mr. C. ventured at last, on the strength of the subscribers' list, to commence printing the work.
Here I cannot but mark the gracious hand of an ever-watchful Providence. At this period my resources became totally exhausted, and I must have parted with every thing, and again fled my home; while the publication of my poem, after all my toil and hopes, would have been completely annihilated. The Catholic schoolmaster of the village, by whom also the Protestant boys were educated, was dismissed from his situation for impropriety of conduct; and on his quitting the place, I was requested to take three or four of the most respectable of the Protestant children under my care. I commenced a scbool with seven boys, which speedily increased to fifteen.
I have deferred the conclusion of my letter too long, but I waited for the satisfaction now afforded
me, of informing you that my poem has at length issued from the press. I am now engaged in the delivery of copies to my subscribers, which I find a matter of some labour. The Rev. Mr. R. who often earnestly pressed me by letter to quit the stage, and repeatedly addressed my friends on the subject, has kindly taken one copy of my poem,
which is the utmost exteut of his patronage. But how great is his liberality compared to that of some of my subscribers, who absolutely swore to my face, when I presented them with their copies, that they never subscribed to the work or even heard of it, though they gave me their names, and some of them positively set them down themselves on my list but a few months before ! " Why what a world is this !” No matter. Those honourable subscribers who chose to take their copies have received them, and I have paid my printer a certain sum : but still I am far from being happy. I have nearly four hundred copies - remaining on my hands, no means of getting my work advertised, and a heavy debt to discharge. Not a single friend or patron has the publication of my work raised up: not a smile of approbation, not a line of congratulation, kindness, or encouragement have I received from one of
my subscribers. One thing I have just learnt, which