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the levee and the court dress, are to a fine young
Has she beauty and grace, though we may prefer one dress, and think it more becoming than another, it is not in any of them to annihilate the elegance of her form, the glow of her complexion, the symmetry of her features, or the expression of her countenance. So in poetic composition, are lovely, or terrible objects strongly brought to the eye ?-are the metaphors, similes, and allusions, ingenious and happy ?-does the sentiment speak to the heart, or the understanding ?-and is every line in itself harmonious,-how little can it matter whether that line rhymes to its inmediate predecessor, or to one farther removed, as in odes, or whether it is precisely of the same length with the verses that precede, or follow?
Fain would I have Sophia fix her taste on a more rational basis, by discarding a groundless aversion. It is not a singular one certainly, but it will be disgraceful to a mind of any expansion.
As to Mr-, he is utterly incorrigible, and so decisive that, maugre all his wit, it transcends my patience to listen to him. He sets out well, with an enthusiastic veneration for Shakespeare and Milton. He thinks the best of Milton's sonnets equal to any thing he has written, and I am almost of his opinion; believes him, what he certainly was, the greatest poet the world has produced, Homer. and Shakespeare..only-excepted After them he admires Dryden, Gray, Addison, and Prior-does not admire Pope; utterly despises Mason ; affects to think Mr Hayley a Alimsy poet, and Dr Johnson a mere bombastic pedant, with moderate learning, and no genius ; asserts that Miss Williams, and myself, write better both in verse and prose than any of the three. Now this makes me sick, and so angry, that his letters become a perpetual blister upon that love of literary, as well as moral justice, which is one of the best qualities about me.
And so you fancy you do not like Ossian. You, who are so alive to the sweet, the majestic, and the terrible graces in actual prospect, to be insensible when they are finely presented by the old Bard to your internal sight!!! Surely it is whimsical. The poetry of Ossian is not perhaps®very valuable as a story; and though many of the speeches of the heroes have fine dramatic spirit, with true and exquisite touches of the pathetic, yet the dissimilarity of customs and manners, to those of our day; the chain of events, so broken by the perpetual episodes, prevent very awakened sympathy with the heroes and heroines. The scenic painting in Ossian's works gives them their high and exquisite value. They represent, in every variety possible, amidst an uncultivated, and naturally barren
country, its wild and solemn features. The mythology, if less various, and less interesting than the Pagan machinery of Homer, is much more grand, awful, and impressive.
I confess, however, that inevitable weariness attends a long perusal of Ossian. We should not attempt to read him regularly, but to contemplate him in detached passages. We should look attentively at his landscapes, but perhaps not consider them for a much longer time than we could, without weariness, gaze at a landscape of Claude's, or Salvator's. Could I persuade you thus to take up Ossian, at intervals, I am persuaded you would grow accustomed to his manner, and feel the truth of the poet Gray's assertion respecting these poems, that “ imagination resided, in all her pomp, many centuries ago, upon the bleak and barren mountains of Scotland.” Adieu! !
GEORGE HARDINGE, Esg.
Lichfield, Dec. 29, 1786. “I BLUSH, and hide my sword.” You have disarmed me by the kindness of your letter, which I received yesterday. The love, respect, and veneration which I feel for my superiors in the science most dear to me; the gratitude which burns in my bosom for the delight their works have afforded
me, and which will not admit my hearing, with unwounded ear, or without indignant justification, their just claims to admiration disputed; these, I know are amongst the best qualities of my heart; yet I begin to fear that this, I hope, generous zeal may have carried me, in my late letters to you, somewhat beyond the bounds of politeness.
Beneath your preceding reproofs for what I perceived you considered as arrogance, I could pout and be sullen ; wrap myself up in conscious integrity of spirit, and say to myself,“ He is a fine gentleman, and lives with senators, judges, and lords ; he looks down upon contemporary genius in the poetic line, upon existing bards, and me,
their handmaid ;-let him leave us our beads and our maple dish, with which he twits us ; they will one day, perhaps, be more honourable to our memories than “stars and strings.” We will remember how the genius of Collins was, while he lived, neglected and despised, till the poverty and disappointment, produced by that neglect and scorn, made a chaos of his brain, and an ice-stone of his heart. We will reflect that such contumely is no longer disgraceful to him, but shames the times in which it was inflicted; and thus the love of fames that spur which raises the clear spirit, shall not be blunted by the fastidious disdain of any of our contemporaries. In the shelter of independence, we can smile at literary injustice, and commit our pretensions to posterity. If they are cogent they will prevail, and we shall be remembered when those who despise us shall be forgotten ;-if they are not cogent, the dismission of them into the limbo of vanity will be nothing to us. Provided we have taken care of better things, we shall be spared the mortification of seeing them tossed about in that windy region, and finally sinking in its oblivious gulf.”
Thus could I philosophize away all the mortification of your disdain—but against your kindness can find no shield.