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fearful admission against Pope, that his defence requires the confounding of the probability with the reality of an action. The most poetical of Pope's works is, "the Rape of the Lock,' and all that is poetical in it, is a " lie," my Lord. Would John Milton make affidavit, that
"Before their eyes, in sudden view appear,
Would he swear that—
"Into this wild abyss the wary fiend
After lamenting the lying declension and tale-telling signs of the times, you naturally and fervently conjure us to "make our calling and election sure." Truth, sense, reason, are flustered, and then comes upon us the raving importunity to fly for our lives, and to grasp Pope as the only anchor of salvation, amid the convulsion that overwhelms our country and our language. Let the Reverend W. L. Bowles tremble for his professional fame. Really, my Lord, it is too much for your Lordship to say, with reverend gravity of face, that Pope is a higher poet than Shakspeare and Milton. Tell us that robin-red-breast is a much more melodious warbler than the nightingale, but tell us not that Pope is a higher "poet" than "sweetest Shakspeare, fancy's child." It were deplorable if the mysterious gentleman in asterisks, to whom your letter is addressed, should have contrived to get your Lordship's authority to assertions wild and monstrous as these, as a puff for his forth-coming edition of Pope.
Your charge of plagiarism against Mr. Campbell is invidious, and unworthy of your Lordship.
"As yon summits, soft and fair,
"Is not this," you ask, " the original of the far-famed-".
The question, my Lord, might well admit of a negative answer; but if the six lines had been the original of the majestic two, it was the glance of the poet's eye that gave the enchantment to the farfamed lines.
"At jam non domus accipiet te læta: neque uxor
Is not this the original of the touching lines:
"For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Your Lordship has styled the Elegy "the corner-stone of Gray's glory," and the above lines are indisputably the finest ethical image in the poem, yet far be it from me to think less of the merit of the elegy because I find this accidental coincidence or unconscious translation. Surely a poet will never depreciate Virgil for the living beauty he bestowed on incidents which he had found in Homer.
In Pliny's Panegyric, I find a most eloquent account of the expulsion of spies from human society. They were committed, not to steeds bound for the desert, but to ships left to the caprice of the winds of heaven and the waves of the sea; they flung back their curses, and the multitude on the shore were loud in their joy. Who would not deride with contemptuous indignation the attempt to depreciate your Lordship's characteristic lines as borrowed from Pliny?
"The last of human sounds which rose,
Virgil writes ;
"Spem vultu similat, premit altum corde dolorem." Is this the original of
"To force of cheer a greater show
And seem above both wounds and woe?"
Dr. Johnson's "London" contains the couplet
"And fix'd on Cambria's solitary shore,
Is this the original of
"One freeman more, America, to thee?"
Deranged and unpoetical Cowper addresses Liberty:
"Incomparable gem! thy worth untold;
Cheap, though blood-bought; and thrown away when sold."
Does your Lordship descend to an imitation of Cowper, the translator of Homer, when you write,—
""whose red right-hands have bought Rights, cheaply earn'd with blood?"
But I shall not remark further upon a species of criticism more becoming the character of Zoilus than your Lordship's. You are eloquent and convincing when you vindicate the poetry of mighty productions of genius and art, whether presented to our view or recalled by association to our memory; you do great discredit to your own temper and taste, when you affect to find no poetry in Cowper, and endeavour to question the originality of Campbell. Pope requires not the sacrifice which your Lordship would offer. Horace's satires and epistles would have derived no benefit from the destruction of Virgil's poetry. In "the dead language" of those unrivalled poets, the wit, and wisdom, and ethics of Horace are studied with intense delight, but far higher is the delight with which we read the pathetic dreams of Dido, the fervent but unavailing prayers of Evander, and the frantic exclamations of the agonized mother of Euryalus. Posterity will admire the elegance, the spirit, and the wit of Pope, but they will weep with "Conrad," and delight in the holiest sympathy with "O'Connor's pale and lovely child." When the Epistles of Horace shall cease to excite attention, and give delight by felicity of expression and familiarity of description, on human character and conduct, then, but not till then, will the writings of Cowper become uninteresting. In Cowper's personal character we feel much of the interest that is excited by the most poetical of persons:
"I am a very foolish fond old man,
"Divided from herself and her fair judgment,"
does not on that account affect us less by her poetry. Who delights not to "wheel the sofa round," and converse with the bard of Olney? Who can see him feeding his hares in the evening, or hear him
"Sighing say, "I knew at least one hare that had a friend," without feeling emotions of no ordinary nature?
Collins was a poet, and yet the most poetical words he ever uttered are: "I have but one book, but that is the best." The heart of an intelligent and honest reader is a more correct critic than the proudest idol of popular applause, and the heart of such a reader will repose with delight on the pages of Cowper, in defiance of all the laws and decisions of the favored poets of the present day. Zoilus might have said, that Homer lived at a happy time for his fame; and, leaving no monument of his mind but his criticism, might be too much despised to be execrated. I believe your Lordship pronounced Cowper no poct, not in the insolence of rank or
fame, but because you regarded only the rank and fame of Pope : believing so, I am confident you will be ready to do justice to Cowper, when your professional duty can leave you at liberty to act worthily of your poetical renown.