Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

nandez seclusion—the coy, yet luxuriant and romantic graces of nature; the total invisibility of art; these charms are perfect at Downton ;-and, in comparison, magnificence, beauty, and even sublimity itself, are almost little in my estimation. Often do I think of your lovely friend, Miss

and of those cruel anxieties which prey upon a mind so intelligent, affectionate, and gentle. Colonel Barry of Worcester is in Lichfield. He says few women have had more admirers—that she might have married extremely well more than once in the military line. What pity that she should have reserved her tenderness for a cold half-attached being, who so little feels its value. The once devoted assiduities by which it was won, were born of vanity, not passion, or they had not thus slackened in their course ; at one time exerted, and at another withheld, as Richardson makes Belle Harlowe say of Lovelace, a mere ague-like lover. The sickly fever-fit returns only when alarmed pride fears that the just indignation its negligence has excited, may be chilled into indifference in that heart whose artless affection it will never ingenuously meet.

Mrs Todd is very good to remember me with .such warm partiality. Her unaffected sensibilities and pleasing talents live in my remembrance.

Pray remind Mr Bains about inquiring the price of that picture * which hung in his drawingroom, and which he said was to be sold. If it should not be very high, I should like to become the purchaser, though, as a picture, I know it has . glaring faults. The gay drapery is totally inconsistent with the story, and harmonizes ill with the character of the countenance-but the head is divine—the expression in all its lovely features exactly answers my idea of that ingenuous child of genius, of which the poet says,

“ Deep thought oft seem'd to fix his youthful eye.”

I long to possess this portrait; the sooner the better. The sight of it must be always connected with a train of agreeable ideas; for the imagination will instantly present, through a little glassdoor, on the left,

“ The soft umbrageous hill That brows the bottom glade;"

And the grassy path-way that winds up its ascent; and, dearer still, it will shew the friendly countenances of Mr and Mrs Bains, lighted upon with

* Beattie's Minstrel:

hospitable pleasure. Such is the power of ideal association.

Colonel Barry sends you his compliments, and talks with enthusiasm of your talents and graces.

LETTER LXIX.

WILLIAM HAYLEY, Esg.

Lichfield, August 17, 1787. THANK you, my dear bard, for your last letter. It has the kindness and the length of those former epistles, which were so much my pride and delight;-yet as I seem fated to tell you whatever arises in my mind, immediately resulting from what has fallen from your pen, I must observe, jocularly tho', that however gratified with the general kindness of your last, I am not flattered by your placing your friendship for me on a level with your esteem and respect for a certain august personage. Conscious that you see characters as they are, undazzled by rank, even by the highest rank, I am ready to exclaim, with Ophelia,

“ No more but so ! ”

5

I have certainly mentioned to you, that the rage

of alteration had laid our ancient and beautiful cathedral in temporary ruins, and shut her gates against her minstrels at least during two, and perhaps several more, years. The celebrated Wyatt is here, planning changes, which do not appear necessary, and which will be dreadfully expensive. Whatever of splendour and of beauty the unquestionable taste of the architect may achieve, the idea of them nothing recompenses to the lovers of sacred music, the silencing, during a period of such melancholy duration,

“ The pealing organ, and the full-voic'd choir.”

Mr Wyatt's manners please me. I reminded him of the beautiful compliment which

you

have paid to his genius somewhere in your works. Assured that I could find the passage, I promised to look for it. It eludes my search. Pray inform me where it is; for he, to whom it was justly paid, has never seen that gratifying tribute to his genius and art.

I have been much gratified by the reports made to me, by Mr Erasmus Darwin, of the etismation in which Lord Harrowby and Dr Darwin hold my Ode on General Elliot's return from Gibral

The Doctor has always spoken to me of that nobleman, as a man of much poetic taste. Mr E. Darwin said, that, in a strict critical scrutiny of this little poem, they praised often and warmly, and made but one objection; and that only to a single word; at last, remitting the verbal sin to the restraints and necessities of rhyme, which often compel far better poets than myself to use an expression which, writing in prose, they would perhaps reject as not the best possible. The word alluded to is here in italics,

The billows, closing o'er their trembling frames,
Are purpled by the gore, illumined by the flames."

The last line, being a striking and appropriate picture of the peculiar feature of that naval victory, in which our ungenerous foes used red-hot balls, was worth retaining by a slight sacrifice in the preceding rhyme, of a word which might have expressed bodies better than the word frames, as forms, perhaps, or limbs. I considered the couplet before I sent the

poem to press. My poetic carpenter comes to see me soon. I had the pleasure of assisting to enable him to raise a sum sufficient to acquire his admission into partnership with an opulent cotton-spinner. He tells me he never made more than 501. per

« ZurückWeiter »