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The oval elegance of its delicate and beauteous contour, made the exclamation trebly absurd. How could Miss More so apply a phrase, always expressive of effrontery ? and how could so learned a lady suffer the pleonasm of the following line to escape her pen ?
“ With truth to mingle fables feign'd.”
The character of Celia is pretty, but in the satirical strokes lie all the genius of the work.
As for the Bas bleu.-You have heard me sigh after the attainment of other languages with hopeless yearning ; yet I had rather be ignorant of them, as I am, if I thought their acquisition would induce me to clap my wings and crow in Greek, Latin and French, through the course of a poem which ought to have been written in an unaffected and unmingled English. I am diverted with its eulogies on Garrick, Mason, and Johnson, who all three hated each other so heartily. Not very pleasantly, I trow, would the two former have sat in the presence of Old Cato, as this poem oddly terms the arrogant Johnson, surrounded by the worshipful and worshipping Blue StockingHad the cynic lived to hear his Whig-title, Cato, I could fancy him saying to the fair author,
“ You had better have called me the first Whig, Madam, the father of the tribe, who got kicked out of Heaven for his republican principles.” To the lady president herself, I fancy the cynic would not now, were he living, be the most welcome guest, since the publication of Mr Boswell's Tour. Miss More puts him to bed to little David.' Their mutual opiates are pretty powerful, else her quondam friend, Garrick, would not thank her for his companion ;-but misery, matrimony, and mortality, make strange bed-fellows.
Who is the Hortensius of this work, Burke, Fox, or Sheridan ? and who the Lelius ?
I thank you for your elegant prose translation of Horace's ode to Ligurinus. It convinces me that Smart was very incompetent to the task he undertook, with his “ unexpected plume coming upon vanity, colour changing into a wrinkled face, and the question why the former cheeks of the youth cannot return to his present sentiments." Such strange misrendering of a poet's sense is surely most disgraceful to a scholastic pen. In my attempt to give this ode the poetic dress of our language, can you forgive a somewhat lavish expansion of the Horatian ideas ? —Speak to me ingenuously concerning the manner in which
you VOL. I.
think I have performed this your welcome task. Whatever you may dislike in the execution, I will endeavour to correct; and, when you have a leisure hour, favour me with a prose translation of the ode to. Sallust. In Smart the ideas seem pretty, but there is to me an inscrutable obscurity in one part of his translation.
When I last wrote, I did not recollect that Falconer's Shipwreck stood so high in your good graces. I now recollect your having honoured that interesting poem with very warm applause, before I even knew of its existence. It was ungrateful in me, for a single instant, to have forgotten to whose taste I was first indebted for the melancholy pleasure of its perusal. The highly ingenious author ought to have had a place in the Hayleyan apotheosis of our epic poets. The Shipwreck has a better claim to be styled an epic poem than the Araucana, since, from Mr Hayley's translation, the latter appears to be rather a string of episodes, than one regular connected story.
I understand, that poetically to record any single event, diversified with different and discriminated characters, with noble sentiments, and with contrasted circumstances of pathos and horror, would entitle any composition to the name of
epic. So Falconer, by implication, terms his Shipwreck, in these lines,
“ A tale from dull oblivion to restore,
Unknown to fame, and new to epic lore.”
Mr Hayley denies the essentiality of supernatural machinery to epic poetry; he recognizes the Rape of the Lock as epic; he cannot, therefore, refuse that title to the more elevated poem of Falconer. In another edition, therefore, I hope to see the marine bard enrolled and characterized in that thrice-beautiful work, the Essays on Epic Poetry. Its author has not yet answered my letter on the subject of that witty, but ungenerous sport of fancy, the Old Maids. He is, I fear, displeased with my ingenuousness on that subject; yet I cannot repent of it.
How erroneously do the undiscerning many judge of character! My enemies say,
“ Miss Seward flatters." That is the construction which their spleen and coldness of heart puts upon a warm desire to please and oblige those I think estimable ; upon the vivid glow of that praise which my heart delights to pour, when it can sincerely pour it. Truth can never be flattery. Alas! to the utter incapacity of flattering, even those I esteem and admire, I have, through life,
owed the loss of much fayour that was, in itself, most desirable to my affections—but sincerity is the first duty of friendship; I should blush commend, if I had not courage to confess my disapprobation. Should dear Mr Hayley be offended, I shall be deeply grieved, since words are weak to say how much I love, admire, and honour his genius and his virtues. Well! his continued silence, or the style of his next letter will shew;
“ And come what may,
I was much shocked lately to find, by the papers, that the mortal course of the excellent Dr John Jebb had closed. Never were the graces of conciliation, resulting from warm and ingenuous benevolence, more engagingly blended with superior talents, and high-strung virtues, than in that extraordinary man.
When we met at Buxton, two years ago, and I perceived the languor of life-wasting disease in his graceful form, and pale, but sweet and interesting countenance, I lamented that I had not earlier known him, disposed, as he seemed, to honour me with his confidence and friendship. He indulged me with some long and kind letters since we parted alas ! to meet po more, My heart aches for his