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with head-aches and vertigo and other nervous symptoms, which disqualify me almost entirely for reading and writing. I have at the same time the duties of a laborious employment to attend to; and I have, besides, some private concerns to look after, which have engrossed me very much of late. This must plead my excuse for my long silence, as well as for the shortness of what I now write. I believe I shall be obliged to give up the writing of letters altogether; at least for some time, and till I have more health and leisure. I am greatly obliged to you for your favorable opinion of me, and heartily wish you success in poetry, and in all your other studies.
Stanza I. Could you not alter the last line of the stanza ? If the poet is led by Contemplation in the beginning, what occasion is there to introduce that Being afterwards ? Besides, led by Contemplation, a source, looks like a mixture of figures.
VII. 4. “Till all his form engaged my pensive mind," seems to be put in to make out the verse. In the case supposed, we cannot imagine that the poet would take notice of a part only of Contemplation's form. It is therefore superfluous to say that he took notice of the whole of it.
XI. “ When from its fall thou rather should'st to gain Instruction learn.” This order is harsh.
XIII. Now (first line) and know (third line) is a
XXI. “And taught ev'n cold reserve how to be free." The conclusion of the line should have more energᎩ•
NEW STANZA.—"High-soaring lyre.” This figure, I think, is harsh and unnecessary.—Lute and shout is a false rhyme. Is not the flute the instrument here alluded to? A lute is a stringed instrument resembling a guitar.
XXVIII. “Save those which virtue firm deigns to support.” Is not this line heavy and somewhat harsh ? I approve of your inserting the two stanzas marked XXXIII. and XXXIV. instead of XXIX. XXX. XXXI. Only “ now lies drowned in silence" is not so elegant as I could wish. The two lines on the curfew are excellent.
Do not expunge the sleeping moonlight. It is, as you justly observe, extremely poetical and elegant. Shakspeare's authority will justify its boldness.
XXXIX. Does not the word nature occur rather too frequently in this stanza ? And is not the second line harsh in the sound-Joys which nature's scenes ? Too much hissing. The frequency of s and ch is very troublesome to an English writer who attends to harmony.
XL. “ I gain’d my way.” I do not like this phrase. I suppose the meaning is, I resumed my journey or my wulk. But the phrase is not explicit. The two last lines of the poem, “ The pleasures of the good,” &c. are very prosaic. The conclusion of a poem ought to be particularly energetic. “ Dread fall their tottering basis seems to lour”-is a line which I do not understand.
MR, DODSLEY TO MR. PINKERTON..
London, Feb. 14th, 1778.
I am sorry you have had the trouble to send up your MS.; but, though your copies of these ballads may be more correct and perfect than those which are already printed, yet there are so many of them in Dr. Percy's and other collections, that I fear the public would not be likely to give that degree of encouragement which would be requisite, especially as the collection is not general, but confined to Scottish pieces only.
I will take care of the MS. till I receive your further orders; and, if I can be of any use or service to you in this or any other affair, you may command me.
DR. PERCY TO MR. PINKERTON.
Northumberland House, March 25th, 1778.
Nothing but a very dangerous illness in a person
* This is not the first letter which had passed between Mr. Dodsley and Mr. Pinkerton. There is in my collection another from Mr. Dodsley, dated 10th January 1778, in which he thanks him for the offer of Hardy knute, with other ancient Scottish Poems, &c. but declines to give any consideration for the
copy, though he thinks that the addition of Mr. Pinkerton's Dissertation, and the fact of their being more perfect transcripts than had previously appeared, might warrant their publication,
with whom I am nearly connected, and for whose fate I am exceedingly anxious, could have made me guilty of such apparent incivility as to remain silent so long after having received the honor of your very genteel letter, and been favored with the communication of pieces so truly acceptable as are contained in your valuable manuscript. I have hardly leisure, or a disposition of mind sufficiently disengaged from anxiety, to relish so much as I shall do hereafter, the songs, the critical pieces, and your learned and ingenious notes. In my last edition of the Reliques, I had inserted a passage from Archbishop Spotswood's History of the Church of Scotland, which much illustrates the Ballad of Edom or Adam O'Gordon, (vide Spotswood, p. 259.); but your quotation from Crawford's Nemoirs is still more satisfactory, as it accounts for the name of Captain Carr, which occurs in some copies. Pray can you account for Carr being styled the “Lord of Westerton Town;" the Lady's Castle being called " Bitton's Borough,” or “ Diactone's Borough,” as I find them in an old Ms. ?
I must be so ingenuous as to confess that I think the second part of Hardyknute hardly equal to the first : perhaps a further inquiry among the reciters in Lanarkshire may produce some improvements. However, with your permission, I shall certainly insert it and the other new pieces, whenever I give an additional volume; and, in the mean time, must be allowed to acknowledge myself, Sir, &c.
DR. BEATTIE TO MR. PINKERTON.
Aberdeen, June 20th, 1778. I am to blame for not acknowledging sooner the receipt of your last favor. Since it came to hand I have been ill, and out of town, and employed in a variety of little matters, which, though not important, did however require a good deal of time.
It gives me pleasure to hear that Dr. Percy is to oblige the world with a fourth volume of ancient poems.* We are much indebted to him for the former three, which display at once a good taste and great knowledge of antiquity. You may believe that, if I had had any thing worthy of a place in his collection, I would have sent it before this time ; but the truth is, I have nothing of that sort. I sent a little song to Dr. Percy some years ago, merely because it was Scotch, and because I thought it had merit, thoughı I plainly saw, that it was modern.
All the Scotch poems of merit that I have seen are already in print; and many are imputed to us, wbicli do us no honor; which you must be sensible of, if ever you looked into that collection which is called the Evergreen. To say the truth, I believe all the poetry in the Scotch dialect that
* Such was evidently Dr. Percy's intention by the closing paragraph, and indeed the whole tenor, of the last letter; and every lover of our early literature must sincerely lament, that this very acute, ingenious, learned, and excellent man, did not carry his intention into execution.