Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

Addison lent Sir Richard Steele a few hundreds. Perceiving that he was blazing away in careless profusion, that led to ruin, he remonstrated upon the infatuation; and finding him incorrigible, and with a view to stop a career so dangerous, arrested Sir Richard. It answered the end. The startling prospect of a prison, for he was wholly unable to discharge the demand, awakened him from his dream of dissipation; and Addison withdrew his claim, upon his friend lessening the establishment of his household; and their amity, much to the honour of each, remained undissolved.

With all that absurd prejudice which frequently darkened the judgment of Dr Johnson, he violently condemns this action of Addison, in his life of that good man; an action which saved his friend from the ruin into which he was thoughtlessly plunging. That the undiscerning many should, at the time, condemn it as cruel, might have been expected from a philosopher and a moralist, we look for wiser decisions ;—but Johnson always greedily caught at every circumstance which wore the least ambiguity of appearance, when he was displaying a whig character to the world, that he might turn to posterity the darkest side of the fact, and thus cast a shadow where he might more fairly have thrown an illumination. VOL. I.

T

As for the anecdote you sent me of MrHI never had esteem enough for his heart to won der that sudden prosperity should have produced its usual effect upon narrow minds, and rendered him insolent and overbearing; little appearance as his manners wore of those propensities in his years of at least comparative indigence. Those vices of the heart often lie torpid in the winter of adversity

“ It is the summer's day brings forth the adder."

Adieu !

LETTER LXIIJ.

Mr W. NEWTON, THE PEAK MINstrel.

Lichfield, May 10, 1787. No, my friend, it is in vain to expect it-happiness is not of mortal growth. Every situation has its irksome circumstances; its griefs, its anxieties, and its regrets. I have mine-yet is my share of good much more ample than that of many who better merit the bounties of Heaven.

It gives me pleasure to hear you acknowledge, that the reflections I made in my last upon your destiny, its pains and its consolations, have softened the first, and added force to the latter. I rejoice that you succeed in the cotton business, to which your talents for inventive mechanism first introduced you. Heaven, who gave you ingenuity of so many species, will, I trust, prosper the industrious effort that virtue inspired, and that wisdom has directed. Successful labour braces the nerves, and is favourable to health and to cheerfulness, even more, perhaps, than Indepen dence herself, in whose train luxury, lassitude, and apathy, are too often found; and they canker all her roses.

Mr Cunningham's * sonnet, addressed to your

* Sonnet to Mr W. Newton, by the Rev. P. Cunningham,

Of late, as Clio left the muses' grove,

To place on modest self-taught Edwin's brows A pliant wreath of glossy laurel, wove

Where Aganippe's silver fountain flows. A rival fair-one claim'd him as her own;

With figur'd ivory planes, that filld her hand, And golden compasses, the muses' crown

She deck'd ;~and thus she spoke, in accents bland : « Let not the fairy muses' syren train

Tempt thee to slight my less engaging lore,

self, is not without beauty, though I have some objections to it besides its illegitimacy. The idea is good of the contention between the genius of mechanism and the muse :--but it is not in the nature of those passions from which contending ladies, however incorporeal their substance, ought not to be supposed exempt, that the former should deck the crown of her rival with the symbol of her own arts. Besides it paints ill ; figured ivory planes and golden compasses upon a laurel wreath, form a strange contrast.

Fairy is an illjudged epithet for the muse, when her train are termed syren. It makes a jumble of mythological allusion astonishing in a learned and classical writer. The fourth line is one of mine, without any quotation-mark. He took it from an ode which he copied from my manuscript-book some years ago. The five last verses of this sonnet are beautiful.

You must get above idle scruples about shewing, or sending to your friends verses written in your own praise. The bard, like the warrior, is privileged to display the trophies he has won :

And swell the luckless, disregarded train,

Wreck’d on her flowery, but her faithless shore; Be mine thy aims to prosper,—and to shine,

And Archimedes' fame, but not his fate, be thine ! ”

Caroline de Lichfield is the only new publication in which I have felt interested-a novel-but exquisite in its kind, though the English translation equals not the original in French. It is, however, sufficiently enchanting from the pen of Holcroft.

You must not suppose that I make a practice of reading novels. I open none that have not been highly recommended to me by those whom I believe judges of fine writing. Caroline made my imagination, and my heart, its instant captives. Simplicity, wit, and pathos, and the most exalted generosity, are to be found in the characters, plan, conduct, and sentiments of this fascinating story.

Disavowing a propensity to read, and to love novels, yet have I always considered the Clarissa and Grandison of Richardson, as the highest efforts of genius in our language, next to Shakespeare's plays. I live in constant familiarity with their graces. Devoted to them in my earliest youth, they set my taste too high ever after to endure mediocrity in that line of writing.

Fielding's romances are also excellent, though I abjure the coarse unfeeling taste of those who prefer them to the glories of the Richardsonian pen,

Yesterday I had the pleasure of conversing with a valued friend, whose late dangerous illness forbade me to hope that we should ever more

« ПредишнаНапред »