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tified that dark passion, even to luxury. The illiberal propensity of mankind in general, to be gratified by the degradation of eminent talents, favoured his purpose. Wit and eloquence gilded injustice, and it was eagerly swallowed *.

Thomson lived in better times. There were, doubtless, many as willing, but none so able as Johnson, to spread the Gothic 'mantle over poetic taste. Verse, even superior to Thomson's,

Miss Seward's strictures, in this and some of the preceding letters, on Dr Johnson's character as a critic, may, to many readers, appear perhaps to be carried too far: yet they have lately received a sanction from a writer of the highest authori. ty, whose candour is no less conspicuous than liis penetration or his eloquence, and whose situation precludes him from all suspicion of being here influenced by local prejudices. It is in the following fine strain of moral indignation that Mr Stewart expresses himself upon this subject.

“ Among our English poets, who is more vigorous, correct, and polished than Dr Jolinson, in the few poetical compositions which he has left? Whatever may be thought of his claims to originality of genius, no person who reads his verses can deny that he possessed a sound taste in this species of composition; and yet how wayward and perverse, in many instances, are his decisions, when he sits in judgment on a political adversary, or when he treads on the ashes of a departed rival! To myself (much as I admire his great and various merils, both as a critic and as a writer), human nature never appears in a more humiliating form, than when I read his Lives of the Poets; a performance which exhibits a more faithful, expressive, and curious

would not thus speed through multiplied editions

now.

The dire and inevitable conseqnences of this crusading and subsidizing war, are beginning to press heavily on the people. Requisition is commenced. Mr Pitt may have occasion to rue the obstinate and unwarned rashness by which he has put the safety of these realms into peril so imminent. Yet the demonstrated Quixotism of his attempts to balance the power of Europe, at a price so ruinous to Great Britain, did not prevent their being sanctioned by a large majority of the people of property. They could not be taught to feel that momentous truth, viz. that public distress and poverty, resulting from the exactions of the state, form the real and sole cause of overturned empires. In their approbation of measures that must bring on these exactions, they shook the pillars of ours, far more dangerously than Jacobin principles, while the people were easy and their property safe, could ever have shaken them. Misery is restless, and naturally rushes on change, at every hazard of changing bad to worse. Peace, state-economy, and a more liberal tolerance extended to the Christian sectaries in both islands, would have enabled government securely to have scorned the dread of Jacobin principles, so justly, so odiously characterized by atheism, tyranny, slavery, and murder. But, to shun that imaginary danger, we have embraced the prophecied and increasing perils of the present hour. Every rising day witnesses my prayers for their dispersion! Adieu.

picture of the author, than all the portraits attempted by his biographers; and which, in this point of view, compensates fully, by the moral lessons it may suggest, for the critical er. rors which it sanctions. The errors, alas! are not such as any one who has perused his imitations of Juvenal can place to the account of a bad taste; but such as had their root in weaknesses, which a noble mind would be still more unwilling to acknowledge."--Philosophical Essays, hy Dugald Stewart, Esq.

p. 491.

VOL. v.

LETTER VI.

DAVID SAMWELL, Esq.

Lichfield, Dec. 31, 1797. I THANK you for the amusing particulars of your summer's tour in your native principality. The grateful enthusiasm of the Cambrian Tonsor delights me. Such warm veneration for the unbeheld

possessors of distinguished intellect, or virtue,

evinces congenial elevation and nobleness of mind. I love your ingenuous confession, that his tribute of unconscious praise gave you pleasure. Horace, in the Ode to Melpomene, avows the value he sets upon such artless proofs of admiration.

In climes and periods, and such there have been, in which reverence of existing genius is prevalent amongst people of education, not only rustic minds, rich in the native vigour of thought and perception, but even the stupid many catch, from their superiors, a portion of this reverence. They wonder and exclaim, with a foolish face of praise, and, like the Romans in Horace's time, point out to strangers their celebrated countryman, in whose fame, by local affinity, they conceive themselves in a degree honoured.

That period in England is long past away. I am glad that it still prevails in Cambria. The fastidious coldness of the higher classes to living genius, keeps the vulgar in ignorance of its claims to distinction. Where the sun of celebration has not shone, there can be no rainbows.

Is it possible that Wales may justly boast the greatest poetic genius of an age that has been so rich in that rare emanation? What! transcend the Burns of Caledonia ? the English miracle, Chatterton ?-and even equal Shakespeare! Unless you are immeasurably partial, why are powers

of such magnitude locked up from general approach, and confined to a language which, from the insurmountable difficulties, when infancy is past, of acquiring it, never can overleap the local bounds, except by means of translation. You who write English verse with facility and elegance, should emancipate the Cambrian muse. I must not hear from you the cant of pedants about untranslatable excellence. That excellence can be only verbal, and consequently not first-rate, the mere felicities of expression, evaporating in transfusion, which the chemic powers of genius cannot convey, with undiminished force, into another language. All the grand poetic constituents are transmutable,-as pathos of sentiment, strength and magnificence of thought, allusion, metaphor, simile, and imagery. If your Edwards possesses these intrinsics, convince us that he does, and teach us to admire him, as the German writers teach their countrymen to admire the boast of England, to whom you venture to compare your Cambrian.

If I have doubts of that country producing the greatest poet of this age, I have none that it has produced the finest harper in Europe. Randall of Wrexham is the Meonides of the pedal harp, not more kindred to that bard in the doom of occular darkness, than in the richness and variety of

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