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LETTER XV.

MRS BROOKE *.

Lichfield, April 21, 1785. I DEPLORE what you tell me of our good Baron Dimsdale's illness, and am a fellow-sufferer with him, from a frequent and oppressive pain at my stomach, and shortness of breath. It has made me seem of late to neglect many of my correspondents.

It is with regret that I hear you say we are not likely soon to see another charming work of yours. I pity you for the harassing number of those complex circumstances, which force into exertion the energies of your spirit, without the power to interest yonr affections, or awaken your imagination.

" What needs a mind-illumiu'd breast for those,

Hearl-melting thoughts, or fancy like the sun?”

* Author of Lady Julia Mandeville, Emily Montague, &c. She generally resided with an annt in Lichfield, and was near relative of Dr Brooke, rector of Birmingham, the friend and contemporary of Dr Johnson.

VOL. I.

There is no parodying a passage in Milton, without speaking of the late literary treasure, Mr T. Warton's edition of Milton's juvenile poems. Its

. critical notes have all the eloquence and strength of Johnson, without his envy. Johnson told me once," he would hang a dog that read the Lyci

, das twice.” “What, then,” replied I,“ must become of me, who can say it by heart; and who often repeat it to myself, with a delight' which grows by what it feeds upon ?” “ Die,” returned the growler, “ in a surfeit of bad taste.”

Thus it was, that the wit and awless impoliteness of the stupendous creature bore down, by storm, every barrier which reason attempted to rear against his injustice. The injury that injustice bas done to the claims of genius, and the taste for its effusions, is irreparable. You, my dear Madam, I am assured, have sense to perceive, and generosity to deplore its consequences.

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LETTER XVI.

Court DEWES, Esg.

Lichfield, May 27, 1785. No, no, my ever esteemed friend, I cannot believe that Mr Hayley's friendship for Mr Sargent shews him inexisting poetic beauties in that gentleman's fine dramatic poem, the Mine; because I am perfectly sure that personal regard or dislike never raises in my own brain the illusions of prejudice for or against a literary composition. It is true, where I know that a brilliant or sublime work has proceeded from a hand I love, that consciousness increases the delight I feel in examining its features; but the delight must first spring from the merit of the author, not that of the man.

I love Mrs K- think her letters and conversation abound with genius; yet I cannot admire her verses.

Dr Johnson's character and manners always excited much more of my indignation than esteem, yet do I continually shed tears of rapture over such of his writings as are free from the envious taint of his disposition. My personal knowledge of Mr Sargent is very sligħt, were personal knowledge apt to influence me:but if the Mine is not, upon the whole, a composition of very considerable poetic merit, I have wholly mistaken the nature of poetry. When I observed to its author, that some of the lines in the dialogues had a certain roughness which might disgust the fastidiousness of modern taste, it is eurious that he accounts for this roughness exactly as you do for the many inharmonious lines in Comus, which I am very certain are more harsh, and more frequent than in the Mine. The poems being of much the same length, if the ancient judged right, as you say he did, to set. off, by contrast, the more melodious passages, the modern is justified in following his example. Mr Sargent tells me, that it was his choice to relieve his lawn by some inequalities, though he wished not to introduce into it the asperities of StoneHenge.

The Cri:ical Review does justice to the splendour of Mr Sargent's poem. Its strictures upon it breathe a poetic sensibility far more than usual with those cold gentlefolk, the public critics, and of nice and just discrimination rarely found on

their pages.

I declare to you, my dear Sir, that I am all astonishment how you can endure my poetry, if you think a work, which holds the light of genius so far above me, destitute of its great essentials. Permit me to thank you very warmly for shewing me the impropriety of my epithet swart for a sunbeam. Misled by the “swart star” of Milton, I had associated no other idea but that of sultriness to the word, nor once reflected that, in using it for noon-day heats, I'imputed the effect to the cause. I altered swart into fierce in the copy I intend for my miscellany, the instant I had read your last letter. Be assured I shall always receive your observations upon any thing I write with the most cheerful gratitude, and endeavour to avail myself of them. Never yet have I felt the slightest reluctance to kiss the rod of friendly criticism. There are strange mistakes of press in my panegyric sonnet on the Mine, which I sent to the Gentleman's Magazine.

So we have lost the poet laureat. I always thought Mr Whitehead's abilities to oconsiderable for that rhyming drudgery; and now a yet greater bard undertakes the labouring oar of the boat which is to row our Monarch over one of the Pierian rivers.

Our concerts this winter have been very delightful. Mr Saville's songs are always exquisite ; and his fair pensive Philomel improves in every exertion. Attending frequently to Mr Saville's

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