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to which seven pages were granted in the magazine, though they had limited the allowance of room to three. Shortly afterwards he won several books for exercises on different subjects. Such honours were of great importance to him; they were testimonies of his ability, which could not be suspected of partiality, and they prepared his father to regard with less reluctance that change in his view's and wishes which afterwards took place.
He now became a correspondent in the Monthly Mirror, a magazine which first set the example of typographical neatness in periodical publications, which has given the world a good series of portraits, and which deserves praise also on other accounts, having among its contributors some persons of extensive erudition, and acknowledged talents. Magazines are of great service to those who are learning to write; they are fishing boats, which the Buccaneers of Literature do not condescend to sink, burn, and destroy; young poets may safely try their strength in them, and that they should try their strength before the public, without danger of any shame from failure, is highly desirable. Henry's rapid improvement was now as remarkable as his unwearied industry. The pieces which had been rewarded in the Juvenile Preceptor, might have been rivalled by many boys; but what he produced a year afterwards, few men could equal. Those which appeared in the Monthly Mirror attracted some notice, and introduced him to the acquaintance of Mr. Capel Lofft, and of Mr. Hill, the proprietor of the work, a gentleman who is himself a lover of English
literature, and who has probably the most copious collection of English poetry in existence. Their encouragement induced him, about the close of the year 1802, to prepare a little volume of poems for the press. It was his hope that this publication might either, by the success of its sale, or the notice which it might excite, enable him to prosecute his studies at college, and fit himself for the Church. For though so far was he from feeling any dislike to his own profession, that he was even attached to it, and had indulged a hope that one day or other he should make his way to the Bar: a deafness, to which he had always been subject, and which appeared to grow progressively worse, threatened to preclude all possibility of advancement; and his opinions, which had at one time inclined to deism, had now taken a strong devotional bias.
Henry was earnestly advised to obtain, if possible, some patroness for his book, whose rank in life, and notoriety in the literary world, might afford it some protection. The days of dedications are happily well nigh at an end; but this was of importance to him, as giving his little volume consequence in the eyes of his friends and townsmen. The Countess of Derby was first applied to, and the manuscript submitted to her perusal. She returned it with a refusal, upon the ground that it was an invariable rule with her never to accept a compliment of the kind : but this refusal was couched in language as kind as it was complimentary, and he felt more pleasure at the kindness which it expressed, than disappointment at the
failure of his application: a 21.'note was inclosed as her subscription to the work. The Margravine of Anspach was also thought of. There is among his papers the draught of a letter addressed to her upon the subject, but I believe it was never sent. He was then recommended to apply to the Dutchess of Devonshire. Poor Henry felt a fit repugnance at courting patronage in this way, but he felt that it was of consequence in his little world, and submitted; and the manuscript was left, with a letter, at Devonshire House, as it had been with the Countess of Derby. Some time elapsed, and no answer arrived from her Grace; and as she was known to be pestered with such applications, apprehensions began to be entertained for the safety of the papers. His brother Neville (who was now settled in London), called several times; of course he never obtained an interview; the case at last became desperate, and he went with a determination not to quit the house till he had obtained them. After waiting four hours in the servant's hall, his perseverance conquered their idle insolence, and he got possession of the manuscript. And here he, as well as his brother, sick of "dancing attendance" upon the great, would have relinquished all thoughts of the dedication; but they were urged to make one more trial;-a letter to her Grace was procured, with which Neville obtained audience, wisely leaving the manuscript at home; and the Dutchess, with her usual good nature, gave permission that the volume should be dedicated to her. Accordingly her name appeared in the title page, and a copy was transmitted to her in due form, and in its due Morocco
livery, of which no notice was ever taken. Involved as she was in an endless round of miserable follies, it is probable that she never opened the book; otherwise her heart was good enough to have felt a pleasure in encouraging the author. Oh, what a lesson would the history of that heart hold out!
Henry sent his little volume to each of the then existing Reviews, and accompanied it with a letter, wherein he stated what his disadvantages had been, and what were the hopes which he proposed to himself from the publication: requesting from them that indulgence of which his productions did not stand in need, and which it might have been thought, under such circumstances, would not have been withheld from works of less promise. It may be well conceived with what anxiety he looked for their opinions, and with what feelings he read the following article in the Monthly Review for February, 1804.
Monthly Review, February, 1804.
"The circumstances under which this little volume is offered to the public, must, in some measure, disarm criticism. We have been informed that Mr. White has scarcely attained his eighteenth year, has hitherto exerted himself in the pursuit of knowledge under the discouragements of penury and misfortune, and now hopes, by this early authorship, to obtain some assistance in the prosecution of his studies at Cambridge. He appears, indeed, to be one of those young men of talents and application who merit encouragement; and it would be gratifying to us, to hear that this publication had obtained for him a respectable patron, for we fear that the mere profit arising from the sale cannot be, in any measure, adequate to his exigencies as a student at the university.
A subscription, with a statement of the particulars of the author's case, might have been calculated to have answered his purpose; but, as a book which is to "win its way" on the sole ground of its own merit, this poem cannot be contemplated with any sanguine expectation. The author is very anxious, however, that critics should find in it something to commend, and he shall not be disappointed; we commend his exertions, and his laudable endeavours to excel; but we cannot compliment him with having learned the difficult art of writing good poetry.
Such lines as these will sufficiently prove our assertion:
"Here would I run, a visionary Boy,
When the hoarse thunder shook the vaulted Sky,
If Mr. White should be instructed by Alma-mater, he will, doubtless, produce better sense, and better rhymes."
I know not who was the writer of this precious article. It is certain that Henry could have no personal enemy; his volume fell into the hands of some dull man, who took it up in an hour of ill humour, turned over the leaves to look for faults, and finding that Boy and Sky were not orthodox rhymes, according to his wise creed of criticism, sate down to blast the hopes of a boy, who had confessed to him all his hopes and all his difficulties, and thrown himself upon his mercy. With such a letter before him, (by mere accident I saw that which had been sent to the Critical Review), even though the poems had been bad, a good man would not have said so; he would have avoided censure if he had found it impossible