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Lest you be unprovided found,
Bound up with my copy of the above, but unfortunately imperfect at the beginning, is the Father's Blessing. I do not know the author, but from the similarity of type, &c. I conclude that it forms a part of the other work. There are two or three pieces of poetry, from which I select the following.
"David's account of Man's life, from seventie yeares to a spanne.
"Threescore and ten the age and life of man,
In holy David's eyes seem'd but a span;
For halfe that time wee waste away in sleepe,
So only thirtie five for use we keepe,
In sorrow then, which wastes, and suckes veines drie,
In youth and age; our child-hoods both doth kisse,
So that sleepe deducted, youth, and age, and sorrow,
Art. XV. The Ruminator. Containing a series
of moral, sentimental, and critical Essays.
Letter to the Ruminator.
MR. AUMINA TOP,
I write from an impulse of gratitude. At this delightful season, when a poetic imagination acquires redoubled influence, I reflect with enthusiasm on the many hours of enjoyment which your lucubrations have bestowed on me. In those essays, Sir, I have ever met with sentiments with which it has afforded me the purest pleasure to feel my own ideas in unison; though I know not with what propriety I now trouble you with this declaration, coming from an unknown and obscure individual. Sir, there is a certain mode of life, and peculiarity of situation, which is more likely than any other to produce and cherish poetic enthusiasm. To be accustomed from infancy to the deepest seclusion, and to the wild and majestic scenery of nature, though accompanied with some disadvantages, is perhaps the greatest means of laying a foundation for this temper of mind. The placid tranquillity of verdant woods, the roaring of the mountain torrent, the sweet interchange, and inexpressible influence of morn and evening, contemplated in the bosom of magnificent scenery, must sooner or later, produce, in a mind possessed of any feeling, a correspondent glow of sentiment and imagination. Even Johnson, whose indifference to rural beauty is well known, has yet borne testimony in one of the most striking passages of his Journey through Scotland to its powerful influence. I have not the book within reach, and therefore cannot
quote; but the passage is probably known to every reader whom I should wish to interest.
From my earliest recollections, I have been familiarized to seclusion, in a beautiful and sequestered corner of the country. To you, Sir, it is unnecessary to describe the various enjoyments, which, in a situation of this kind, must await a mind attached to contemplation, and which can employ itself in pursuit of the Muses. It has been my supreme delight to wander through groves, and sequestered vallies, where no intruder was ever known to disturb the freedom of solitary meditation; and to indulge myself in pouring forth, amid the blast that swept over the neighbouring forest, innumerable attempts at poetical composition, with but little consideration of their fate, or regard to correctness. But heavens! how boundless are the intentions! how wild and impossible the designs! and above all, how glorious and transporting the poetical visions, which have adorned the day-dreams in which I so much delighted to indulge! Even now, I cannot help reflecting with enthusiasm on the unmixed happiness which I then enjoyed. One remark very forcibly occurs to my recollection, which is, that of all the classical authors known to me at present, those which formerly became my associates, in wandering through the woods, and which I was accustomed to `read aloud to the dashing waterfall, are recollected with most gratitude, and above all others most forcibly imprinted on the memory. I cannot however, when talking of a country life, use the words of Cowper,
"I never framed a wish, or formed a plan,
or having been told that it was most commendable to follow some profession, I conquered, in idea, every obstacle, and established my abode in cities, amid the hum of men,' with as little difficulty as I had before entered the court of the Fairy Queen, or quaffed ale along with warriors, in the hall of Odin. But the time has at last arrived, when these threats were to be put into execution; and when that which is commonly called life began to dawn — Alas, Mr. Ruminator! I have here found a brilliant imagination to be but a deceitful guide. My gulden visions have fled like the morning cloud: I have entered the crowded ball-rooni, mingled with the train of orators and statesmen; and returned fevered with disappointment, to search again for repose in the bosom of the forest, where alone it could be found. In this situation I now am. After having once given the reins to poetical fancy, it is difficult indeed to stop its career; and I remain at present in doubt whether to struggle against its influence, by mingling again with the world, or to follow, without further hesitation, the precepts contained in an epigram of Martial, elegantly translated in a late number of your essays.
It was my intention to wind up this letter with a very. juvenile effusion in verse, which seemed not inapplicable to the present subject; but recollecting that a copy of these verses may exist in the possession of a friend, I dread the risk, (notwithstanding my insignificance) of becoming in any degree known, until I find what reception you may give to this feeble and hurried transcript of my feelings.
MUSARUM AMATOR. May 9, 1809.
On the deceitfulness of Hope. Farewell of the Ruminator.
The delusions of hope have been among the most trite topics of the moralist. The Ruminator feels them on the present occasion with no common force. He had flattered himself that his lucubrations might have proceeded to at least double their present length. But to plan and to act are widely different. He has deferred the execution of half his purposes till it is too late, and the close of the CENSURA brings them to a termination before their time.
Thus disheartened, he has wanted energy sufficient to perform the little that might still have been done, and passed two or three months in a state of listlessness and idleness such as he has not experienced for years. A number of favourite subjects remain untouched; and a number of fragments unused.
Even this last paper has been deferred, from the wish to execute it well, till the languor of over wearied thought has diminished the usual degree of ability; and time scarcely remains to execute it at all.
To look back on what is past, is an employment too fearful for the present spirits of the Author. "The toil," says Johnson, "with which performance struggles after idea, is so irksome and disgusting, and so frequent is the necessity of resting below that perfection, which we imagined within our reach, that seldom any man obtains more from his endeavours, than a painful conviction of his defects, and a continual resuscitation