Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

I have lately been reading Professor Spence's criticisms on Pope's Odyssey. His opinions do not always strike me as just, indeed much the reverse; but I entirely subscribe to the truth of what he says about epithets, thus—“The chief method of enlivening the poetic style is, the free and various use of epithets. This occasions that large and unrestrained use of them in poetry, so much beyond what we find in oratory. Homer is, above all other bards, lavish in the use of them; yet not one of the ancient critics censures him on that account. Epithets, like pictures in miniature, are often entire descriptions in one word. This may be either from their own significance, or by some immediate connection with some known object. We see the very object by the force of the epithet, when Homer says, 'the nodding crest.' We often see the whole

person

in an epithet, from our being acquainted with some statue or picture to which it refers. Thus, when, Apollo is called the archer-god, it recalls to our memory the representation the painters have given us of that deity. The complete figure is brought to our eyes by touching on that single circumstance."

So much for criticism. This is a long letter. -Adieu ! for it is more than time.

LETTER LXXIII.

Rev. T. S. WHALLEY.

Lichfield, Oct. 6, 1787. Mrs Piozzi completely answers your description;-her conversation is that bright wine of the intellects which has no lees.

Your letter, that was to have introduced us to each other, did not reach me till three days after she and Mr Piozzi had left Lichfield. Dr Falconer obligingly called to tell me that she was in our city. I had my doubts whether an unintroduced visit might not be thought a liberty. While I was balancing the idea, Mr Parker came in and laught me out of the scruple.

I shall always feel indebted to him for eight or nine radiant hours of Mr and Mrs Piozzi's society. They passed one evening here, and I the next with them at their inn.

My cousin, Mr H. White, whom 'Dr Johnson once called “ the rising strength of Lichfield,” and who, when perfectly awake from an intellectual torpor, which is apt to overcloud him, is very ingenious; and when he rubs his eyes, and

looks, has very distinct perceptions of genius in others ;-our nabob of lively records, and his relation, Colonel Barry of Worcester, whose military exertions have had eclat; who, in early youth, succeeded the unfortune André in an admiring passion for Honora Sneyd; and, after his sad fate, succeeded that gallant officer in his appointments in America; who has studied politeness from Chesterfield, poetry after our best critics, and moral philosophy and style after Johnson ; these personages met your

friends at my

little

supper. The evening was Attic.

Mr Saville being last week at Birmingham oratorios, I could not have the pleasure of introducing him to Mr and Mrs Piozzi; but, as they desired me to bring any of my friends in the afternoon, I took his timid Philomela in my hand. Never had Mr Piozzi two beings of his audience who were more charmed with his perfect expression on his instrument, and with the touching and ever-varying grace with which he sings. Surely the finest sensibilities must vibrate through his frame, since they breathe so sweetly through his song, though his imperfect knowledge of our language prevents their appearing in conversation. I am sure he values, as he ought, the honour and happiness he has obtained, of which the elegances of wealth, and the blessings of independence,

form the smallest part. He seemed much pleased with Mrs Smith's voice, and the melting sweetness of her manner in singing, amidst all the disadvantages of her timidity.

Your letter has this moment reached iné. I am concerned for your late illness, and fear that your life is less tranquil, and your sympathy more keen than suits the delicacy of your constitution. Mrs Siddons and Mrs Jackson's unhappiness have grieved you. That of the former I hope is past. May the life, above all others, precious to Mrs Jackson, and which, when you wrote, hung in fearful balance, have, ere this time, preponderated on the vital side that it may not be her fate, “ like the weak and widowed vine,

« To wind her blasted tendrils o'er the plain!"

I cannot help being glad that Sophia's London scheme is, at last, realized, whatever clouds and shadows rest upon it. Time, I hope, will disperse them, and cheerfulness, that sun of the mind, gild the long wish of her heart, metropolitan society. She is certainly more formed for that than to muse in silent glades, and court the sylvan pleasures- she will not say, apostrophising them,

y

VOL. I.

« O! take me to your haunts again,
The rocky spring, the greenwood's shade!”

Autumn is now gilding them with her last smiles.

Adieu !

LETTER LXXIV.

WM. HAYLEY, Esq.

Lichfield, Oct. 6, 1787. The teazing demon of petit ill-luck, which so frequently presides over my speeches, has, it seems, raised a mist over your recollection also; so that you cannot direct my search where to find, amid the bright mazes of your compositions, that beautiful compliment you certainly have somewhere paid to our great architect. Thus am I doomed to the vexation of having excited the most flattering of all ideas in the breast of an amiable man, without the possibility of gratifying it.

A friend in Shropshire has lately shewn me the wonders of Colebrooke Dale. We passed a fine autumnal day in exploring the features of that scene, where we find, in such uncommon union,

« ПредишнаНапред »