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the dusky, noisy, assiduous, and indeed stupendous efforts of art, with romantic nature;-where the Cyclops usurp the dwellings of the Naiads and Dryads, and drown, with their dissonance, the woodland song; light their blazing fires 'on each of the many hills, and, with their thick black smoke, shroud, as with a sable crape, the lavish woods and fantastic rocks; sully the pure waters of the Severn, and dim the splendour of the sum mer's sun; while the shouts of their crouding barges, and the clang of their numerous engines, din through every winding of the valley. In short, we there sáw à town, noisy and smouldering, and almost as populous as Birmingham, amidst sylvan hills, lofty rocks, and meandering waters. You have heard of the lately-discovered bituminous fluid, distilling through the subterraneous cliffs. We found the iron bridge very stupendous in the art of its construction, and very beautiful in the grace and lightness of its appearance—but it is represented so exactly in the prints, as to leave the eye little to acquire by actual contemplation.
I am become acquainted with Mr and Mrs Piozzi. Dr Johnson told me truth when he said she had more colloquial wit than most of our literary women.
It is indeed a fountain of perpe tual flow;
but he did not tell me truth when he asserted that Piozzi was an ugly dog, without
particular skill in his profession. Mr Piozzi is an handsome man, in middle life, with gentle, pleasing, and unaffected manners, and with very eminent skill in his profession. Though he has not a powerful or fine toned voice, he sings with transcending grace and expression.
Dr Darwin's Botanic Garden is contracted for with the booksellers, and we may expect its appearance next spring. Splendid and charming as is this poem, yet, written upon the, I think, mistaken system, that nothing which is not imagery should find a place in poetry, the incessant profusion of ornament will perhaps be a disadvantage to the work in general, as to the pleasure and attention it has, from the genius of its author,'80 just a right to expect every reader will feel and express. The Botanic Garden is a string of
poetic brilliants, and they are of the first water ; but the eye will be apt to want the intersticial black velvet to give effect to their lustre.
Ah! my dear bard, I would to Friendship, that I might find your letters less the reverse in their infrequency to the pictures of the Botanic Garden, kindred as they are to them in the brightest tints of imagination.
F. N. C. MUNDY, Esg*.
Lichfield, Oct. 10, 1787. I CANNOT help once more intruding on your attention, with my thanks that you have granted a request which I had set my heart on obtaining. My gratitude will not brook delay, even though my heart yet trembles from yesterday's storm; another dangerous attack on the life of my dear aged father; but danger, for the present; is once again passed away.
A perusal of the posthumous works of that sweet suffering saint, Miss Bowdler, has pleased me much. If they contain no great resplendence of genius, nor curious novelty of ideas, we yet feel our hearts and our understandings serenely warmed and gratified by the effusions of a pure, a gentle, a cultivated mind, which throws a soft, agreeable, and useful light over every subject on which it descants.
* This Gentleman, author of the Poem on Needwood Forest, is still alive, and resides at Mark-eaton, near Derby.1810.
So your learned pedant asserted, that nothing could be more absurd than the idea, in Gray's Welch Bard, that the victorious army of Edward were alarmed, and that one of its chiefs stood entranced, at the voice of an old man from a rock. He who could talk thus of Gray's Old Man, must have an imagination dull as that of an old woman, whose youth had been occupied in making pies and puddings, and nursing rickety children. He an admirer of Shakespeare! Whip me such critics, and such admirers, round Parnassus, 0 ye
muses ! Your other dogmatist, who declared that nothing was so easy as to write well in rhyme, like the fox contemplating the high-hung grapes, speaks lightly, but not sincerely, of a treasure which he finds himself unable to obtain. The use of rhymes must necessarily increase the difficulty of writing in measure ; and when it is remembered that the great critic, Cicero, tried, in vain, to write good poetry, we find the asserted ease of the art presumptuous and ridiculous, because evidently false. Merely to jingle common-place ideas in rhyme, may be easy enough; but to make fine sense, animated and appropriate description, and beautiful imagery, recline gracefully on that Procrustean bed, is about as easy as to compose music like Handel or Hedyen, and to paint liko Reynolds, Romney, and Fuzeli.
When Mrs Knowles, who knows the difficulties and the merits of the pencil, saw Romney's Circe, she exclaimed, “ What a number of bad, indifferent, moderate, good, and very good pictures must the hand paint ere it attains the sublimity of that figure !"
So may it be said of Allegro Penseroso, the Triumphs of Temper, and the Needwood Forest. If I am any judge of poetry, the last-named work is, as a descriptive poem, little inferior to the two first. Publish it at large, I adjure you, yet again; and reflect upon this truth for your comfort, respecting the publication of your juvenile compositions,-that they have not, by many degrees, the inferiority to your Needwood, that the poems in the 2d volume of Milton, which were written between his eighteenth and twenty-third years, have to his Allegro and Il Penseroso. Poems that are pretty, though not perhaps. first-rate, move, in the eyes of posterity, like satellites round the orb of a great work, and adorn its appearance, though they may not increase its lustre. Remember! and do not continue to wrap your talents in a napkin, unfolding them only to individual inspection.