Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

a

of a rapid river is the justest of all emblems to express the variableness of our scene below. Shakspeare says, none ever bathed himself twice in the same stream, and it is equally true that the world upon which we close our eyes at night is never the same with that on which we open them in the morning

I do not always say, give my love to my uncle, * because he knows that I always love him. I do not always present Mrs. Unwin's love to you, partly for the same reason, (deuce take the smith and the carpenter,) and partly because I forget it. But, to present my own, I forget never, for I always have to finish my letter, which I know not how to do, my

dearest Coz, without telling you, that I am

Ever yours,

W. C.

TO SAMUEL ROSE, ESQ.

Weston, Dec. 13, 1787. Dear Sir—Unless my memory deceives me, I forewarned

you

that I should prove a very unpunctual correspondent. The work that lies before me engages unavoidably my whole attention. The length of it, the spirit of it, and the exactness that is requisite to its due performance, are so many most interesting subjects of consideration to me, who find that my best attempts are only introductory to others, and that what to-day I suppose finished,

I
Ashley Cowper, Esq.

[ocr errors]

to-morrow I must begin again. Thus it fares with a translator of Homer. To exhibit the majesty of such a poet in a modern language is a task that no man can estimate the difficulty of till he attempts it. To paraphrase him loosely, to hang him with trappings that do not belong to him, all this is comparatively easy. But to represent him with only his own ornaments, and still to preserve his dignity, is a labour that, if I hope in any measure to achieve it, I am sensible can only be achieved by the most assiduous and most unremitting attention. Our studies, however different in themselves, in respect of the means by which they are to be successfully carried on, bear some resemblance to each other. A perseverance that nothing can discourage, a minuteness of observation that suffers nothing to escape, and a determination not to be seduced from the straight line that lies before us by any images with which fancy may present us, are essentials that should be common to us both. There are, perhaps, few arduous undertakings that are not in fact more arduous than we at first supposed them. As we proceed, difficulties increase upon us, but our hopes gather strength also, and we conquer difficulties which, could we have foreseen them, we should never have had the boldness to encounter. May this be your experience, as I doubt not that it will. You possess by nature all that is necessary to success in the profession that you have chosen. What remains is in your own power. They say of poets that they must be born such : so must mathematicians, so must great generals, and so must lawyers, and so indeed

66

a

Mr.

[ocr errors]

must men of all denominations, or it is not possible that they should 'excel. But, with whatever faculties we are born, and to whatever studies our genius may direct us, studies they must still be. I am persuaded that Milton did not write his “ Paradise Lost," nor Homer his « Iliad," nor Newton his

Principia," without immense labour. Nature gave them a bias to their respective pursuits, and that strong propensity, I suppose, is what we mean by genius. The rest they gave themselves.

6 Macte esto," therefore have no fears for the issue ! I have had a second kind letter from your friend,

which I have just answered. I must not, I find, hope to see him here, at least, I must not much expect it. He has a family that does not permit him to fly southward. I have also a notion that we three could spend a few days comfortably together, especially in a country like this, abounding in scenes with which

a

am sure you would both be delighted. Having lived till lately at some distance from the spot that I now inhabit, and having never been master of any sort of vehicle whatever, it is but just now that I begin myself to be acquainted with the beauties of our situation. To may hope one time or other to show them, and shall be happy to do it when an opportunity offers. Yours, most affectionately,

W. C.

you I

TO LADY HESKETH.

The Lodge, Jan. 1, 1788. Now for another story almost incredible ! A story that would be quite such, if it was not certain that you give me credit for any thing. I have read the poem for the sake of which you sent the paper, and was much entertained by it. You think it perhaps, as very well you may, the only piece of that kind that was ever produced. It is indeed original, for I dare say Mr. Merry never saw mine ; but certainly it is not unique. For most true it is, my dear, that ten years since, having a letter to write to a friend of mine to whom I could write

any

thing, I filled a whole sheet with a composition, both in measure and in manner, precisely similar. I have in vain searched for it. It is either burnt or lost. Could I have found it, you would have had double postage to pay. For that one man in Italy and another in England, who never saw each other, should stumble on a species of verse, in which no other man ever wrote (and I believe that to be the case) and upon a style and manner too of which, I suppose, that neither of them had ever seen an example, appears to me so extraordinary a fact that I must have sent you mine, whatever it had cost you, and am really vexed that I cannot authenticate the story by producing a voucher. The measure I re* collect to have been perfectly the same, and as to the manner I am equally sure of that, and from this circumstance, that Mrs. Unwin and I never laughed

more at any production of mine, perhaps not even at John Gilpin. But for all this, my dear, you must, as I said, give me credit, for the thing itself is gone to that limbo of vanity where alone, says Milton, things lost on earth are to be met with. Said limbo is, as you know, in the moon, whither I could not at present convey myself without a good deal of difficulty and inconvenience.

This morning, being the morning of new year's day, I sent to the Hall a copy of verses, addressed to Mrs. Throckmorton, entitled, “ The Wish, or the Poet's New Year's Gift.” We dine there to-morrow, when I suppose

I shall hear news of them.* Their kindness is so great, and they seize with such eager

* The poet's wish is so expressive of the poet's taste, and there is so beautiful a turn in these complimentary verses, that we cannot resist the pleasure of inserting them.

THE POET'S NEW YEAR'S GIFT

TO MRS. THROCKMORTON.

“ Maria! I have every good

For thee wish'd many a time,
Both sad and in a cheerful mood,

But never yet in rhyme.

To wish thee fairer is no need,

More prudent, or more sprightly,
Or more ingenious, or more freed

From temper-flaws unsightly.

Wbat favour then not yet possess'd

Can I for thee require,
In wedded love already blest,

To thy whole heart's desire ?

« ForrigeFortsæt »