« PreviousContinue »
fore, to conclude, with respects to yourself and Mrs. Booth, by assuring you that I am, according to custom, from time immemorial, and in due form,
HENRY KIRKE WHITE.
TO MR. CHARLESWORTH.
DEAR SIR, I AM sure you will excuse me for not having iminediately answered your letter, when I relate the cause. -I was preparing, at that moment when I received yours, a volume of poems for the press, which I shall shortly see published. I finished and sent them off for London last night; and I now hasten to acknowledge
I am very happy that any poem of mine shonld meet with your approbation. I prefer the cool and dispassionate praise of the discriminate few, to the boisterous applause of the crowd.
Our professions, neither of them leave much leisure for the study of polite literature; I myself have, however, coined time, if you will allow the metaphor, and while I have made such a proficiency in the law, as has ensured me the regard of my governors, I have paid my secret devoirs to the ladies of Helicon. My draughts, at the “ fountain Arethuse," it is true, have been principally made at the hour of midnight, when even the guardian nymphs of the well may be supposed to have slept; they are, consequently, stolen and forced. I do not see any thing in the confinement of our situations, in the meantime, which should separate congenial minds. A literary acquaintance is, to me, always valuable; and a friend, whether lettered or unlettered, is highly worth cultivation. I hope we shall both of us have enough leisure to keep up an intimacy, which began very agreeably for me, and has been suffered to decay with regret.
I am not able to do justice to your unfortunate friend Gill; I knew him only superficially, and yet I saw enough of his unassuming modesty, and simplicity of manners, to feel a conviction that he had a valuable heart. The verses on the other side are perhaps beneath mediocrity; they are, sincerely, the work of thirty minutes this morning, and I send them to you with all their imperfections on their head.
Perhaps they will have sufficient merit for the Nottingham
paper, at least their locality will shield them a little in that situation, and give them an interest they do not otherwise possess.
Do you think calling the Naiads of the fountains “ Nymphs of Pæon,” is an allowable liberty? The allasion is to their healthy and bracing qualities.
The last line of the seventh stanza contains an apparent pleonasm, to say no worse of it, and yet it was not written as such. The idea was from the shriek of Death (personified), and the scream of the dying man.
ELEGY Occasioned by the Death of Mr. Gill, who was drowned in the
river Trent, while bathing, 9th August, 1802.
HE sunk-th' impetuous river rolld along,
The sullen wave betray'd his dying breath *;
The gale of evening touch'd the cords of death.
Nymph of the Trent! why didst not thou appear
To snatch the victim from thy felon wave?
And deck with water flags his early grave.
* This line may appear somewbat obscure.—It alludes to the last bubbling of the water, after a person has sunk, caused by the final expiration of the air from the lungs; inhalation, by intro. ducing the water, produces suffocation.
Triumphant, riding o'er its tumid prey,
Rolls the red stream in sanguinary pride; While anxious cronds, in vain, expectant stay,
And ask the swoln corse froin the murdering tide.
The stealing tear-drop stagnates in the eye,
The sudden sigh by friendship’s bosom prov'd, I mark them rise-I mark the gen'ral sigh;
Unhappy youth! and wert thou so belov’d?
On thee, as lone I trace the Trent's green brink,
When the dim twilight slumbers on the glade; On thee, my thoughts shall dwell, nor Fancy shrink
To hold mysterious converse with thy shade.
Of thee, as early I, with vagrant feet,
Hail the grey-sandald morn in Colwick's vale, Of thee, my sylvan reed shall warble sweet,
And wild-wood echoes shall repeat the tale.
And oh! ye nymphs of Pæon! who preside
O’er running rill and salutary stream, Guard ye in future well the Halcyon tide,
From the rude Death-chriek and the dying scream. TO HIS BROTHER NEVILLE.
Nottingham, 10th February, 1803.
NOW with regard to the subscription, I shall certainly agree to this mode of publication, and I am very much obliged to you for wliat you say regarding it. But we must wait (except among your private friends) until we get Lady Derby's answer, and Proposals are printed. I think we shall readily raise 350, though Nottingham is the worst place imaginable for any thing of that kind. Even envy will interfere. I shall send proposals to Chesterfield, to my uncle; to Sheffield, to Miss Gales's, (hooksellers), whom I saw at Chesterfield, and who have lately sent me a pressing invitation to
Saccompanied with a desire of Montgomery, (the Poet Paul Positive), to see me; to Newark -Allen and Wright, my friends there, (the latter a bookseller), and I think if they were stitched up with all the Monthly Mirrors, it would promote the subscription. You are not to take any money; that would be absolute begging: the subscribers put down their names, and pay the bookseller of whom they get the copy.