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poet, I admire Johnson, as a man of great erudition, and sense, but when he sets himself up for a judge of writers upon the subject of love, a passion which I suppose he never felt in his life, he might as well think himself qualified to pronounce upon a treatise on horsemanship, or the art of fortification. midt
The next pacquet I receive, will bring me, I imagine, the last proof sheet of my volume, which will consist of about three hundred and fifty pages, honestly printed. My public entrée therefore is not far distant,
Dante p a ló gondolats 1 in Wol Etialira piuttos to di Yours, sem sve . ....... . . . ..olc W. C.
5 ?! To the Revd. WILLIAM UNWIN,
i rigire . January 17, 1782.
I am glad we agree in our opinion of king critic, and the writers on whom he has bestowed his animadversions. It is a matter of indifference to me whether I think with the world at large or not, but I wish my friends to be of my
mind. The same work will wear a different appearance, in the eyes of the same man, according to the different views with which he reads it; if merely for his amusement, his candour being in less danger of a twist from interest or prejudice, he is pleased with what is really pleasing, and is not over curious to discover a blemish, because the exercise of a minute exactness is not consistent with his purpose. But if he once becomes a critic by trade, the case is altered. He must then, at any rate, establish'if he can, an opinion in every mind, of his uncommon discernment, and his exquisite taste. This great end, he can never accomplish by thinking in the track that has been beaten, under the hoof of public judgment. He must endeavour to convince the world, that their favourite authors have more faults than they are aware of, and such as they have never suspected. Having marked out a writer universally esteemed, whom he finds it for that very reason, convenient to depreciate and traduce, he will overlook some of his beauties, he will faintly praise others, and in such a manner as to make thousands, more modest, though quite as judicious as himself, question wheteher they are beauties at all. Can there be a stronger illustration of all that I have said, than the severity of Johnsons's remarks upon Prior, I might have said the injustice ?!. His reputation as an author, who, with much labour indeed, but with admirable success, has embellished all his poems with the most charming ease, stood unshaken 'till Johnson thrust his head against it. i And how does he attack him in this his principal fort? I cannot recollect his very words, but I am much mistaken indeed, if my memory fails me with respect to the purport of them." His words,” he says, “appear to be forced " into their proper places: There indeed we find “ them, but fịnd likewise, that their arrangement has “ been the effect of constraint, and that without vio“ lence, they would certainly have stood in a differ“ent order.” By your leave, most learned Doctor, this is the most disingenuous remark I ever met with, and would have come with a better grace from Curl, or Dennis. Every man conversant with verse-writing, knows, and knows by painful experience, that the familiar stile, is of all stiles the most difficult to succeed in. To make verse speak the language of prose, without being prosaic, to marshal the words of it in such an order, as, they might naturally, take in falling from the lips of an extemporary speaker, yet without meanness; harmoniously, elegantly, and without seeming to displace a syllable for the sake of
the rhyme, is one of the most arduous tasks a poet
sentence, and in the same breath ?----But I have filled
wish to store it with. If all that is merely trivial, and. all that has an immoral tendency were expunged from our English poets, how would they shrink, and how would some of them completely vanish. I be. lieve there are some of Dryden's Fables, which he would find very entertaining ; they are for the most part fine compositions, and not above his apprehension ; but Dryden has written few things that are not blotted here and there with an unchaste allusion, so that you must pick his way for him, lest he should tread in the dirt. You did not mention Milton's Allegro and Penseroso, which I remember being so charmed with when I was a boy, that I was never weary of them. There are even passages in the paradisiacal part of the Paradise Lost, which he might study with advantage. And to teach him, as you can, to de liver some of the fine orations made in the Pandæmonium, and those. between Satan, Ithuriel, and Zephon, with emphasis, dignity, and propriety, might be of great use to him hereafter. The sooner the ear is formed, and the organs of speech are accustomed to the various infections of the voice, which the rehearsal of those passages demands, the better...) should think too, that Thomson's Seasons might afford him some useful lessons. At least they would have a