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this erudite assembly, who, risen from the counter and the cobbler's stall by their sanctified looks and long prayers to the assumption of scholars and gentlemen, had been sneering at my epic.
"Dear me!" cried one of the chief of these tender-hearted saints," it looks so, to see a man hawking about his own works. Besides, he should have come strongly recommended. How can be expect any countenance, running about in this way." Now it so happened, that I had actually presented a recommendatory letter to this very person, from the Rev. Mr. D of P———————, in D——————shire.
Oh," said another, with an attempt to be witty, "it is the Pilgrimage of Childe -." "And what are his works," said a third," that they are thus hawked about? I am sure I would not give the lumber house room.'
"Nor I either," added a fourth. "I was foolish enough to purchase a copy, and sat down with a friend, who is a very clever judge of poetical talent, to see if it really possessed any claim to merit. But our labour, as we expected, was in vain we read through several pages, and could not possibly discover a single line of poetry, or any thing like it in the whole farrago of rubbish. And then to call it an epic! What
presumption! 1 question very much if the author, poor young man, knows what is meant by the term, any more than he understands the common rules of English grammar, which he has wofully violated. My brother minister, Mr. A. of Exeter, was very right when he declared he had never read such a mess of wild bombastic nonsense in all his life."
"Dear me! and founded on the Scriptures too!" returned another of these godly worthies, "what a pity such stuff should be permitted to be published. I think the man ought to be taken up, really.But I believe, gentlemen, that it is time we should attend divine worship. My bowels yearn with compassion for the poor dear heathen negroes abroad, and I hope we shall have a liberal contribution for them this evening."
Discerning, candid young men! I should presume to give them the advice of Apelles to the cobbler, Ne sutor ultra crepidam. I am of opinion that they are about as good judges of the merits or demerits of my poem, as a Jack Tar is of the difference between the Alaric of Scuderi, the Pucelle of Chapelain, or the Saxon Beowulf, and the classic strains of a Homer and a Virgil; or how far the Phedra of Racine, the Macbeth of
Shakspeare, and the Caractacus of Mason excel in dramatic excellence and poetic beauty, the Taha-o-chi-cou-Ell, the glory and boast of the Chinese stage. But let them pass. Time will discover who are the best judges of my ambitious Muse.
How forcibly, my dear friend, does every part of this country recal to my memory. by-gone days and scenes. I recollect every thing, but no one recollects me. On my journey from Dartmouth to Kingsbridge, I passed again the very spot where last I parted with Mary. Do not laugh at my weakness. I knew it well; and I could not restrain a flood of tears that burst involuntarily from my eyes. How vivid, at that painful moment, were my recollections of the past. I saw her again before me, plain as the sunbeam, embodied in her beauty and her tears. I thought on her last words. I closed my eyes, but I saw her still. I fled the spot, but still her lovely form seemed to follow me. Forgive me :I shall never behold that spot again!
And was it here we parted? Was it here
While to my fond adoring eyes her form,
And was it here that her last vows she spoke? Here from each others arms we tearful broke To meet no more? O, how thy flashing gleams, Remembrance of the past, like painful dreams Come o'er my soul! Could I view thee, Mary, now, How changed wouldst thou appear! But never more Shall I behold that sadly faded brow.
The pangs I suffered for thy sake are o'er ;
Yet they have left a melancholy shade
E'en on life's brightest scenes, like clouds that oft invade The summer sunbeams, which steal faintly through Their misty skirts to drink the noontide dew.
O, mine has been a life of care and pain,
One friend I had, that o'er life's sickening gloom
He, too, for ever from my sight is torn,
The gallant soldier. In some western isle,
I ne'er shall cross the wild Atlantic wave,
Nor roam a pilgrim to that distant shore
But from this spot, O let me fly!
For evening reigns, and before my eye
I have parted from those I love the best;
I have obtained many subscribers here, and two literary and warm-hearted friends in Mr. Welch of Stonehouse, and Mr. Carrington of Dock,* who received me with so much hospitality and kindness, that I cannot express to you how
* Mr. Welch is the author of a very ingenious Theory of the Earth, reconciling the Mosaic account of the creation with modern philosophy. Mr. Carrington is the author of The Banks of Tamar, a poem of great and acknowledged merit; as also of Dartmoor, a poem far surpassing anything ever written on that subject, and possessing legitimate claims to universal patronage,