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GEORGE HARDINGE, Esg.
Lichfield, Oct. 23, 1786. Yes, indeed, Dr Davies * had genuine poetic fancy, and his numbers were often graceful and harmonious. So far I think with you; but must: dissent from your assertion that “ he is a poet sweet as any of modern times ;" times that boast of Gray, Mason, Collins, Hayley, Beattie, Cowper, Chatterton, Burns, with many others who hold the poetic torch much higher surely than it was lifted by the gentle, the elegant Davies.
In my girlish days I knew him well, and always shed tears of delight when I listened to him from the pulpit, for his manner of preaching was ineffable:-a voice of tremulously pathetic softness ! religious energies, struggling through constitu
* Dr Davies was, during several years, canon residentiary of Lichfield cathedral. A few of his poetic compositions enrich the 5th vol. of thé edition of Dodsley's poems printed in 1782. But a much larger number of his pieces may be found in the volume of Whaley's poems, dedicated to Horace Walpole. They are there under this title, “ By a Friend."-S.
tional timidity; but in all his words, his looks, his manners, within and without the church, there looked out of a feeble frame a spirit beatified before its time.
Amidst the much that delighted me in your last packet, not Warton's declaration, that Milton had no ear, amazed me more than yours, that you see nothing great in Hayley's compositions; and that Mason, the sweet Claude of our science, is no poet. No poet! What is it then that thrills my veins, and fills my eyes with the tears of delight, whenever I open his volumes? I never saw Mason, never desire to see him, because I believe him to be proud and fastidious; yet not the more
« Cease I to wander where his muse may haunt
Alas! I knew that the poetic laurels strike with no enduring root till they spring from the grave of genius, conscious as I was that fame is the result of many suffrages, which slowly accumulate as time rolls on. That tardiness of accumulation, I believed to be caused by the scarcity of true poetic taste, and by the envy of contemporary rivals; but I little expected to hear a man of genius, who writes poetry very finely himself, without being a candidate for public honours in that line, and who is, therefore, unlikely to be influenced by unworthy jealousy, to perceive such a correspondent slumbering on the sofa of ennui, and excluding the sun with its silken curtains but, as your heart is generous, I do not despair to convince you that decisions, which have so astonished me, were the result of indolent inattention to the writings of these two first poets of the present day.
I cannot adopt your dislike to cutting off the letter
when the elision is useful to the measure of verse; nor agree with you that Milton is remarkably merciful to that little vowel. In the exordiums of the 3d, 4th, and 5th books of the Paradise Lost, it is cut off thus :
“ Hail holy Light, offspring of Heav'n!—first born,
“ O! for that warning voice, which he who saw Th’Apocalypse heard cry in Heav'n aloud !"-Book 4.
“ Now morn her rosy steps in th' eastern clime Advancing, sow'd the earth with orient pearl.”--Book 5.
If Milton had considered this abbreviation as a barbarity in poetic discipline, would he have thus exhibited it in the very van of his armies ? A beautiful passage in the 4th book, has a line in which it is twice abbreviated :
- The sun
THE REV. DR WARNER.
Lichfield, Oct. 25,It delights me that you and Mr Hayley have the happiness of each others acquaintance. May the friendship between you be eternal! My heart glows to behold all the friends I love bound each to each in the golden chain of amity; the links of which must be indissoluble when formed by congenial ability, and by kindred worth :--yet, at this instant, is my heart smöte by the sudden recollection of having seen noble hearts disunited by fatal misconstruction and character ill-under stood. This consciousness reminds me that the word generally ought to have been prefixed, to
render the proud word indissoluble more consonant to the instability of mortal natures. Leaving axioms, then, and modestly exchanging the must for the
fervent wish that you may always enjoy Mr Hayley's esteem and warm attachment Distinctions greater, in my estimation, than monarchs have it in their power to bestow, even without excepting my favourite Joseph, and his amiable brother, the Duke of Tuscany.
Every author has a right to reject alterations of his work, made by others, if they do not meet his approbation. The pains I took with the poem you brought me, the Triumphs of Benevolence, were taken solely to oblige you; and I have no mortification from seeing them rejected. I invariably felt that, after the best that could be done for it, speedy oblivion must be its portion :
-the fate of every poem when there exists another, upon the same subject, of decided and infinite superiority. Nay, without such an undoing comparison, the paucity of its ideas involve “ a natural alacrity at sinking.”
Mr Howard's warm opposition to your plan is what I expected. As he is abroad, I hoped it might not reach his ear till after its accomplishment. Officious information has precluded that hope, and his reluctance on the subject will throw