« ZurückWeiter »
They are of a nature to make one regret his celibacy. A younger brother of his changed the name of Dewes to that of Granville for a large fortune, left him by his uncle. I have heard, had Mr Granville chosen it, he might have obtained the Lansdown title, being descended from that family. His lovely lady, with a mind well cultivated, and adorned by every feminine virtue, has the most ingenuous and charming manners imaginable. She and her equally excellent husband, and another brother of Mr Dewes, with the respective children of each, formed our party.
These agreeable families reside in the village, and several in the neighbourhood, with whom we had much social intercourse. Our short day and long evening were divided with a regularity that husbanded the hours. They were, in turn, enlivened by music and poetry, by some agreeable evening card-parties, and by convivial sprightli
Thus it was that we scarce heard the howling of those sleety storms that made the without scene so total a contrast to that within. The village of Wellsburn almost borders on the park of the Lucy family, from whence Shakespeare stole the deer. To the many other pleasures of that excursion, was added an ineffably pleasing sensation, the result of finding myself, for the first time of
my life, in the Shakesperian region; in meet
ing, on our visits, the waves of the Avon, though they were crusted over with ice.
No, dear Miss Scott, Johnson's mind was not originally perverted by applause; though, when his literary fame became established, the dread of his merciless wit infused into the feelings of his auditors a servility which fed the diseases of his nature, arrogance and envy; but they were inherent propensities, which“grew with his growth, and strengthened with his strength."
The rigid, nay the uncharitable orthodoxy of his avowed opinions, was the source of that flood of adulation which has been poured upon
his tomb. He stood forth the vengeful champion of the established hierarchy. It became necessary to put upon his character the whole armour of virtue, to give weight to his applauses, and force to his anathemas. The clergy are a numerous class, and, in general, the most literary of all other classes. They seek to make Johnson a saint, after the same manner, and for similar reasons, that the monks canonized very frail kings, when Popery was in force amongst us.
Miss Reeves' * reply to my Stricture on her Richardsonian absurdity, is at once weak and artful. Her Treatise on Romances is, in every re
* Gent. Mag. Feb. 1786.
spect, a work extremely below the level of those talents to which we believe ourselves indebted for the admirable English Baron. The former seems chiefly written to court the favour of our reviewers, whom it meanly invests with that justice and ability of decision to which their general strictures have so little pretension. How should they be able, and how are they likely to be just, composed, as the general class of them are, of hireling authors, whose own works have not merit, or celebrity to afford them a maintenance ? Hence are they naturally the foes of their superior and more fortunate rivals. Miss Reeves, in her work on romances, exposes her ignorance in terming H. Cleveland an original, and the composition of an unknown writer; since it is well understood to be a translation from the celebrated Abbé Prevost. We are this
threatened with as long a dreariness as banished from the last our genial hours of fresh prelusive sweetness; robbed our banks of their primroses and violets, and our fields and hills of their golden king-cups.
Lichfield, March 28, 1786. . You seem surprised, dear Sophia, at my idea that there is the same sort of difference between Mr W.'s letters and those of a certain friend of yours, that exists in their mutual poetry. In characterising the talents of poetic writers, I always rate their claim by the merit of their best work. Such of their writings as have marked inferiority to that never occur to me on the estimate. In mentioning this difference, I thought solely of the interesting and beautiful Edwy and Edilda. Mr W. is there in verse what he is in prose; when his spirit takes the wings of the morning, and flies to those it loves, from distant regions of the earth, infused in all her tender dews, and arrayed in all her orient colours. But to drop the metaphor ; that dear poem is surely the exact counterpart of his letters, often diffuse, and often heedless of elegance, in particular expressions, but always abounding with the most touching pathos, the most exalted sentiments, the
most glowing and picturesque descriptions ; ner vous at times, but not habitually nervous. He has now been silent longer than usual ; and I begin to grow anxious for tidings of his and Mrs Whalley's welfare. Our avidity to hear from those we love, is always, in some degree, proportioned to the consciousness of their distance, especially when Imagination sets her hour-glass on the ocean's edge.
Mr Saville's spirits begin to recover the deep shock they received in the strange death of his unfortunate daughter.-His Elisabeth, whose life and manners form so amiable a contrast to that of her sister, is gone to Bath, to imbibe more of that honied elegance, which Mr Rauzzini infuses into her tones and manner of singing Italian.
Ah! Sophia, it will be in vain that you expect trust in friendship, against appearances, from her to whose devoted affection, of twenty years' duration, an
could be ungrateful. Friendship is a serious sentiment; and, however the imagination may be charmed, the heart sighs when it perceives its affectionate enthusiasms repaid only by the light flourishings of gallantry, and the sparkling explosion of wit. On perusing such gay, such short, such seldom epistles from the dear and ever-honoured bard, I exclaim, with Ophelia, “ No more, but so !”-remembering