Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

ners are those of fashionable life; his language fluent, and correct; and his even affectionate recognizance of our youthful acquaintance, slight as it had been, seemed to spring from a warmth of heart more valuable than exterior grace.

I remembered nothing of these agremens about the Master Marmoset of B -n. That long commerce with the world should give ease to the address, and readiness to the conversational powers, is nothing rare, but sensibility and cordial ingenuousness, are not presents that time generally makes : Yet I see no reason why it should not. Sickness, disappointment, the tombs of our friends rising around us all these things have a natural tendency to soften the heart, and to expand its affections. Why they so commonly produce a contrary effect surpasses my philosophy to trace.

As to Lady Fane, it seems strange that the close impure air of a vast city, reeking with noisome exhalations from the dead, the dying, and the diseased multitude, should be found more salutary to her constitution than the mountain winds, and breezes of the valley. One should suppose that the rudest breath of the hills would be less destructive, while the milder gales must surely bear more renovating power upon their wings, moist with the fresh dews of morning, and wafting the spring, the summer, and autumnal fragrance,

However, when we reflect upon the close sympathy between the body and mind, upon the tendency of corporal debility to deaden the taste for simple pleasures, and for the charms of Nature, we perceive the necessity of city resources, for that varied amusement, which is necessary to every de

gree of health.

“ If Nature pleases not, we fly to Art."

For myself, I should be sorry to live in any place where the freshness, sweetness, and beauty of the vegetable world, might not daily meet my senses, and pour their soft balms over the pains of disappointment, and the griefs of deprivation. Nature, even in her wintry garb, delights me. You know my situation, though on the edge of a little city, is perfectly rural, unheard its din, and surrounded by fields and groves. While amongst them

“ I find in winter many a scene to please;

The rude stone fence, with fragrant wall-flowers gay, The sun at noon, seen thro' the leafless trees,

The clear calm ether at the close of day."

You have not, any more than myself, lost your taste for these pure delights of the eye and spirit, I regret that it has so seldom been allowed us to share them together.

LETTER LVIII.

GEORGE HARDINGE, Esg.

Lichfield, March 25, 1787. Your objection to the little discords which are, in some degree, inevitable to every language, and which, blending with the concords, rather increase than lessen the general harmony; your pettish quarrel with the letter s, which has very picturesque powers of sound; these, and other prejudices of the same sickly complexion, are unfortunate for your poetic pleasures, and render you, who are a man of genius and knowledge, a bad critic.

Shakespeare, Milton, Gray, &c.—even Pope, who is allowed to have carried the delicacy of harmonic refinement as far as it can safely go, these poets have, in their best passages, 'a number of lines which contain similar discords to those with which you quarrel in this verse of Dryden's,

“ Fed on the lawns, and in the forests rangʻd.”

It is agreed that the ne plus ultra of verbal melody, exists in the Eloisa to Abelard; yet, con

taining lines like these, your coy ear will doubtless scari'e endure it.

" What means this tumult in a vestal's veins ?”

“ No weeping orphan saw its father's stories."

Priests, tapers, temples, swim before my sight." “ No silver saints by dying misers given.”

And,

“ If ever chance two wand'ring lovers brings."

Also, in Gray,

“ And you that from the stately heights
Of Windsor's brow.”

Your unclassical aversion to the letter s, for the Latin has it abundantly as our own language, must, I conclude, deaden your ear to the music of this line of Gray,

“ Fields, that cool Ilissus laves."

And to these lines of Milton,

« Down the swift Hebrus to the Lesbian shore."

And,

« On whose fresh lap the swart star sparely looks."

Also, to the celebrated couplet of Dryden's, when the lyre of Timotheus changes from rude and martial to delightful sounds.

* Softly sweet in Lydian measures, Soon he sooth'd the soul to pleasures.”

I know not lines in which the letter s is, more liberally used, and they were chosen by Dryden to express the most agreeable sensations.

Those who desire to have a just perception of poetic excellence, must, with manly spirit, look for general harmony, superior to sickly niceties about verbal arrangement. They must have no squeamishness about the letter s, since no consonant has more power of painting to the ear—instance from the Penseroso of Milton, a wintry morning of Spring,

[merged small][ocr errors]

In that first line it is the repetition of the letter s, which enables it so exactly to represent, by sound, a silent shower, as it descends. I am not afraid to assert, that there is a similar instance of sound echoing sense in my poem Louisa, thus

[blocks in formation]
« ПредишнаНапред »