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TO THOMAS MITCHELL, ESQ.
Late Fellow of Sydney College, Cambridge.
MY DEAR MITCHELL, Allow me to surprise you with a Dedication. It is not quite so disinterested a one as you may imagine, for it is a cheap way of paying my debts for many an hour of enjoyment in health, and refreshment in sickness; and besides, I wish to shew that alarming body of people, called “some persons,” that the most unaccommodating
politician need not absolutely want friends, and warm ones, even among those who have minds of their own. You and I differ upon more than one point of importance, public as well as private; but on the subject of poetry, with some little exception perhaps as to your old friend Ben Jonson, we are generally agreed ; and no two persons can be more firmly persuaded, that there is but one thing happier than friendship, and nothing better than principle.
Your's most sincerely,
SURREY JAIL, January 10th, 1814.
As the following little piece, which was first published in a magazine* privately set up and not enjoying the usual means of continuance, attracted a degree of attention which was thought to promise still more for it if presented to the public in a different manner, the author has been induced to give it such revision and enlargement, as may strengthen, perhaps, its claims on their good opinion. For this purpose he has considerably increased the text, and ad
ded almost the whole of the present notes. The latter, it is true, after all, are rather results of criticism, than criticism itself; and the smallness of the poem perhaps hardly warranted even this; but he was anxious to shew that he had at least considered the subjects of which he talked, and was particularly desirous of doing justice to a great living poet, of whom, in the first instance, led away by the impatience of seeing him pervert his genius, he had suffered himself to speak with unqualified and therefore unbecoming distaste.
What praise or censure he may have bestowed on any one, has at least the merit of being sincere. He has many warm feelings upon every subject of public concern, poetical as well as political; bụt none, he trusts, of an ill-tempered, still less of a
personal nature*, and least of all, if possible, towards such persons as might be supposed the most to have excited them. For some of these persons, who are men of
* It is an unpleasant thing for an author to baulk the humour of one of his passages. For the modern dramatists, as a body, it is almost needless in the present writer to express his contempt; and some of them, even as men, deserve to be handled with little ceremony for their fopperies or vulgarities. But a line has escaped him respecting one of them, for which he is sorry, both on account of the general character of the individual, and the nature of the allusion, which involves a personality not warrantable by any circumstances but those of coxcomical pretension, or gross origin. It is the first of the kind, he believes, that ever came from his pen. Mr. Cobb however, though not a good dramatist, is said to be a sensible and good-tempered man, and has probably thought nothing about the passage, or felt more for the writer than for himself in seeing it. -Should the publication go to press a second time, it shall be altered.