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since it does not convince ?" Henceforth I shall be disposed to think all critical investigation useless, since a woman of your fine understanding can maintain her prejudices against a proposition so very self-evident, as that all which is worthy to please an enlightened mind, as truth of character; interest of situation; the force of imagery; the glow of description; the animation of apostrophe, and the pathos of complaint; may be almost equally well conveyed in one form of composition as in another. But if from the measure, its nature, and its arrangements, rather than from those essentials, results the material charm of the poetic science, then is that science but “as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”
I cannot resist making one more effort to convince
that you have placed your sensations to a wròng cause, and are unjust to yourself in avowing and persisting in a prejudice, which one quarter of an hour's reflection would enable you to eradicate.
You have often declared a particular fondness for Lord Lyttleton's lovely monody on the death of his wife ;-yet it is a Pindaric Ode. Beattie's Minstrel also I know you love, which is also written in a species of the lyric measure. Tasting the beauty of those compositions, you prove that it is not the ode-measures which of themselves
displease your ear, or perplex your attention. If Gray's Ode to the Lyre, which, charming as those poems are, is poetically superior to them both, does noť charm you, since all the three are equally odes, it must be that the objects of Gray's ode are presented to the imagination ; those of Lyttleton to the heart; those of Beattie's to the understanding. This difference between them would have subsisted in the same degree if each had written their poem in Pope's general measure, the ten feet couplet, which is your favourite style. Those high and picturesque graces of the art, to which you are more insensible than I can account for, do, it is certain, generally wear the lyric dress. It is therefore the nature of the objects often presented in odes, not the style of composition, which fails to interest and please you. The odes of Horace in Latin, and the odes of Akenside in English, are taken in a much lower tone than those of the Grecian Pindar, and those of our native Gray—that is, their subjects are more familiar, and common-life. I should think they would please, and at length induce you to cry out with Juliet,
“ Whal's in a name ?”—these, which are surely odes,
Suffer me to make an experiment upon your supreme aversion, the measure of the legitimate sonnet. Most of the stanzas in
darling monody by Lyttleton, are capable of forming a distinct sonnet in the Miltonic numbers, and in the manner of Petrarch’s, who wrote chiefly in that metre, though his fame as a poet has augmented through so many ages.
" At length have I escap'd each human eye,
Escap'd from every duty, every care,
Importunate; arrest the bursting sigh,
Screen'd by these cypress shades from every glare
Gild the green valley ; let me now supply,
All that may give my burden'd heart relief,
And suffer it to pour its tide of grief ;
Far as love's tender throb, and vivid glow,
« O! Shades of Hagley! where is now your boast ?
Your bright inhabitant for ever flowu;
And all the interest of your graces lost !
In scenes where pleasure rears her gilded throne,
That your coy dells, and flowery vales engross'd
From the recesses of her spotless breast
She chas'd, save those the gentlest, and the best,
Of God, and nature, with the soft desires
O'er the known vale I rove, with many a sigh,
To find the footsteps of my vanished bride,
In converse sweet, and with admiring eye
Nor in the wood, nor by the fountain's side,
Along the valley, can I now descry
All desolate of heart, I just discern,
Dim gleaming through yon thicket, the grey tower,
That pale memorial of those matchless charms,
I know not if this experiment will answer. I had not time to do it justice by polishing higher. It is an extempore experiment, and I grant that this measure, being of more difficult construction, is less calculated for an heart in the paroxysms of tender anguish, than the wilder Pindaries in which Lyttleton warbled. Tell me, however, with ingenuousness, if this alteration in the construction of the verse, has divested the ideas of their pathos. If you
shall tell me that it has, I shall believe your prejudice against the sonnet at least unconquerable; and weary you no more with my labours for your poetical conversion.
You object to Ossian from its often appearing to you bombastic. That bombast may be often found in the Ossianic volumes is certain.-Macpherson doubtless extended the fragments he collected far beyond their original limits. I always conclude the bombast to be his own, the sublime to be Ossian.
You desire a specimen of the celebrated George Hardinge's style of letter-writing. I insert, for that purpose, the copy of a yery short one, which I received from him lately. You will, I think, confess that it is at once singular and brilliant, and that his flattery is not common-place, ecce!
“ A charming letter from you, this instant received. Bless you for it. A letter once in two