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for a priest in drink," &c. by daily custom, never exceeds three glasses of wine, unless he dines from home, once or twice in a month!
Though you, who never saw me, have laid to my charge things that I most abhor; with being affectedly sensitive, vulgarly insulting, adulating the rich, regardless of the poor," a fool," "an equivocator," and "a devil," I think the charge upon which you seem to dwell with most apparent chuckling," to be worse than all. Nor can I conceive any thing in a Christian minister more publicly scandalous, or more justly to be held in abhorrence, than the crime you more than insinuated; a crime which can only be exceeded by any man, calling himself a Christian, publishing such a slanderous aspersion, without knowing whether it be true or false.
However unpleasant it may be to speak on such a subject, the positive and peremptory denial of the truth of the representation you have made, ought to be as public as the charge.
I have enumerated a very few of your own flowers of oratory, with which you have presented me; and why is all this vulgar obloquy, this insolent slander, poured forth, without regard to charity, decency, or truth?
Conceiving you to be the author of the criticism in the Quarterly Review, which spoke of the beauties of "In-door Nature," an anonymous publication in burlesque, certainly not with the most
HER, Slow consumption smote in life's fair bloom!
Now, I solemnly assure you, though I have no right to suppose you will believe it, that this was written with a" sigh;" for I watched and prayed over the poor woman's death-bed; and that it was not accompanied with a" hiccup!"
Let me call your critical decision to another epitaph, on the father of a large family, who, for twelve years, winter and summer, from two miles distance, regularly came, every Sunday, to the vicar's church! which “dab,” to please you more, has not a single "he said," or " I said," in it:
"How awful is the bed of death,
Where the departing Christian lies!
With eyes perhaps by weeping dim!
THAT YOU MAY LIVE AND DIE LIKE HIM!"
distant idea of injuring or affecting your private character, made a comparison, in illustration of the subject of " In-door Nature," between a row of green canisters and a grove of green trees!! &c.
I defy you, I defy all my enemies upon earth, to charge me with habitual or occasional intemperance of any kind, at any time, or under any circumstances!
Now, Sir, as I have certainly exceeded my allowance, upon particular occasions, so, if you should ever think you had done me injustice in your first criticism, I should be most ready to believe, that not malice or unkindness made you write in terms so unmeasurably severe; that you were led away by an honest but indiscreet warmth, in vindication of a great poet, whose name and fame are dear to you; that what you said, in your two last intemperate publications, was owing to personalities, which, I am truly sorry were ever admitted in a publication attributed to me. If these things could be, and you would favor me with a call, No. 62, Piccadilly, "at the fullest tide of metropolis," I promise you, upon such an occasion, I would not confine myself strictly to my allowance, but would offer my hand; and perhaps, if our own particular opinions of Pope's character should not be shaken, we could come at least to a better knowledge of each other, and a more liberal and charitable mode of dissent, and drop these unprofitable and uncharitable bickerings upon paper.
But, at all events, before you indulge in your charitable reflections again, inquire of those who know me; inquire in London, or at the place where I have been a resident clergyman for nearly twenty years!
It is indeed irksome to say this of myself; but your very unjust and ungentlemanly, and unchristian aspersions, have obliged me to speak plainly and ingenuously. I have expressed publicly my regret that any personalities were admitted in the first hasty pamphlet: whether you will act as fairly, I know not, but I have spoken truly and ingenuously.
As to the character of Pope, be assured, Sir, your idol was not a god, but had, with many virtues, many infirmities. If another edition of your favorite bard were consigned to your care, and he were to sit to you for his portrait, I fear some ugly smutches would still baffle your skill to wash out, or turn into beauties. I fear your" praise undeserved" would do your favorite as much injury my prejudice." Balance fairly what you have given and what you have received. Put also into the balance Pope's blemishes as well as virtues, and do not shut your eyes to the sin that besets yourself.
I am not to be debarred from speaking my opinion, deliberately
formed, and the result of conscientious conviction. Your pert friend, the bibliopolist, might as well keep to himself his city slang about the "blister," as some of the blister, intended for me, may stick on his face as well as I think it will on yours.
For what has been said about your trading criticisms or your situation in life, I am sorry.
What you have done in regard to Ben Jonson, may reflect credit on you as a scholar and intelligent man. May you be as successful with Pope! Be assured I shall not be sorry, however severely you may reckon with me, for "I have done nought in malice."
One more observation will conclude what I have to say. You hint at my trading criticisms being rejected! You are mistaken.
What you allude to is this -Ï, who am so indifferent to those of talents in obscurity, have never withdrawn my hand from serving, to the best of my power, all I could! Among these is a young woman of genius, of unblemished reputation, yet endeavouring, in vain, to procure some comfortable and independent provision for herself and mother, being the only daughter of a British officer. She has written some beautiful and affecting verses. I wished to procure an occasional corner in some Magazine that might perhaps bring her forward. I tried in vain. By way of serving her, not on account of wishing to trade in criticism, I took the pains of trying my hand, in commencing a review of a large work. If it should procure any payment, I meant it for her. But not one half was finished when I showed it to Mr. Gifford. I had not leisure to proceed with it, and left it with the person whom [ wished to serve; and this was the composition which Mr. Gifford repeated did' as much honor to my head as heart. It never was finished, and that was the reason it was not published.
This is the plain tale of my critical" trade," which your friend will witness. I am sorry, not knowing this private friendship, I said what I did.
The most unpleasant circumstance in these disputes has been the misunderstanding with the editor of the London Magazine, which I fear it has occasioned; but as no one more respects his character and attainments, if he should not forgive me, I hope nothing that has passed will make him less friendly with you.
For myself, I most heartily forgive what I am willing to think an eager but imprudent zeal has caused, and though prepared to repel insolent aggression, I bear a disposition towards you, and all, as remote from rancour and vindictiveness, as from being actuated at any time by the base motives you have attributed to me; and, with these feelings, shall at all times be ready to offer you the right VOL. XVIII. Pam. NO. XXXV. R
hand of "forgiveness," and add, in consideration of any personalities harshly fallen into, from provocation of undeserved treatment,
Hanc veniam petimus, damus ;
and so I bid you FAREWELL!
I assume, and have assumed no "airs." I am conscious of that advantage which TRUTH ALONE gives me, and woULD give, if your abilities were more formidable.
Bremhill, Feb. 17, 1821.
W. L. BOWLES.
P. S. Before I lay down my pen, I might just hint to the writer in the Quarterly Review, that in the Critical Review for 1797, on certain "Romances," the identical words "SUBJECT" and "EXECUTION" occur. Possibly, they may have appeared somewhat mystic" ever since. Nor, if the author of the "Romances" be the writer in the Quarterly, was he at that time so ignorant of "external nature," if we may judge by the accuracy with which he has described the "Erotic Fever of Two SWANS!" But this may be a "right pleasaunte" subject hereafter: nunc, manum de tabulâ.