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George HARDINGE, Esg.
Lichfield, Nov. 11, 1787. SEDUCER!-thou hast made me what I thought to have left the world without having ever been— in love with a Lord. His last letter, which you inclosed, concerning his opinion on capital punishments, has fairly done the business, and I had rather be honoured with Lord Camelford's amity, than with the marked attention and avowed esteem of most other of the titled sons of our land.
Lord C.'s wit, his ease, and those descriptive powers, which bring scenery to the eye with the precision of the pencil, had previously delighted me; but with the heart, sweetly shining out in his last epistle, I am so intemperately charmed, that his idea often fills my eyes with those delicious tears, which, beneath the contemplation of virtues, that emulate what we conceive of Deity, instantaneous spring to the lids, .without falling from them ; tears, which are at once prompted, and exhaled by pleasurable sensations. Suffer me to detain, yet a little longer, these scriptures of genius and of mercy.
And now for a little picking at our everlasting bone of contention. Hopless love is apt to make folk cross ; so you must expect me to snarl a little.
I am not to learn that there is a large mass of bad writing in Shakespeare; of stiff, odd, affected phrases, and words, which somewhat disgrace him, and would ten times more disgrace a modern writer, who has not his excuses to plead. AN I contend for, and it is a point on which I have the suffrage of most ingenious men, that his best language, being more copious, easy, glowing, bold, and nervous, than that of perhaps any other writer, is the best model of poetic language to this hour, and will remain so “ to the last sylTable of recorded time;" that his bold licences, when we feel that they are happy, ought to be adopted by other writers, and thus become estàblished privileges; and that present and future English poets, if they know their own interest, will, by using his phraseology, prevent its ever becoming obselete.
Amid the hurry in which I wrote last, mý thankless pen made no comment upon the wel
come information you had given, that Mr Wyatt liked me a little. Assure yourself I like him a great deal more than a little. There's fine style for you! Next to benevolent Virtue, thou Genius, art my earthly divinity. To thy votaries, in every line, I look up with an awe-mixed pleasure which it is delicious to feel.
When he was first introduced to me, the glories of our Pantheon rushing on my recollection, my heart beat like a love-sick girl's, on the sight of her inamorato ;
6 A different cause, says Parson Sly,
I am glad you like Hayley's countenance. How have I seen those fine eyes of his sparkle, and melt, and glow, as wit, compassion, or imagination had the ascendance in his mind!
Mrs Hardinge seems to have as much wit as yourself; the conversational ball must be admirably kept up between you. One of your characteristic expressions about her is as complete a panegyric as ever man made upon woman. “ She is of all hours.” If it is not in Shakespeare, and I do not recollect it there, it is like, it is worthy
of his pen.
About the Herva of my friend Mathias, we
are for once in unison ; but you are not half so candid as I am. Ever have you found me ready to acknowledge the prosaism of many lines which you have pointed out in my most favourite poets. I sent you some of my late friend's, and your idol, Davies, which you could not but feel were unclassical, and inelegant in the extreme; yet no such concession have you 'made to those instances.
I have frequently mentioned Cowper's Task to you ; but you are invincibly silent upon that subject. Have I not reason to reproach? How should an enthusiast in the art she loves bear to see her friend thus coldly regardless of such a poet as Cowper, while he exalts Davies above a Beattie, an Hayley ; above the author of Elfrida and Caractácus —for said not that friend, that no modern poet was so truly a poet as Davies ?
He who can think so, would, I do believe, peruse, with delectable stoicism, a bard who should now rise up with all the poetic glories that lived on the lyres of Shakespeare and Milton.. “ If ye believe not Moses and the Prophets, neither shall ye be persuaded by me, though one arose from the dead;"--and so much at present for prejudice and criticism.
As for the last sentence in your letter, my friend, I meddle not with politics ;—yet confess myself delighted with our juvenile minister, of whom, I trust, we may say of his political, as well as natural life, for many years to come,
“ Our young Marcellus was not born to die."
Rev. Dr GREGORY *, on his Translation of Bishop Lowth's Lectures on Hebraic Poetry.
Lichfield, Nov. 13, 1787. ENTERTAINED, instructed, and delighted as I have been by your valuable work, I cannot resist the desire of writing to you on the subject.
I have read these volumes, and their notes, with attention, many parts of them aloud to my ingenious friend, Mr Saville, of this place, who has science, classical knowledge, and who is a devoted adnirer of the Scriptural poetry.
* Of East-Ham, Essex, who died in 1808. VOL. I