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TO THE SAME.
I have often told you, my dear friend, that you had a spice of caprice in your composition, and you have as often disavowed it; even, perhaps, while your opinions were, at the moment, irrefragably proving it. Could any thing estrange me from a friend such as you ?-No! to-morrow I shall have the honour of waiting on you.
Farewell, thou first of friends, and most accomplished of women ; even with all thy little caprt. ces!
TO THE SAME.
I have pe
I return your common-place book. rused it with much pleasure, and would have continued my criticisms, but as it seems the critic has forfeited your esteem, his strictures must lose their value.
If it is true that “offences come only from the heart,” before you I am guiltless. To admire, esteem, and prize you, as the most accomplished of women, and the first of friends-if these are crimes, I am the most offending thing alive.
In a face where I used to meet the kind complacency of friendly confidence, now to find cold neglect, and contemptuous scorn-is a wrench that my heart can ill bear. It is, however, some kind of miserable good luck, that while de haut en bas rigour may depress an unoffending wretch to the ground, it has a tendency to rouse a stubborn something in his bosom, which, though it cannot heal the wounds of his soul, is at least an opiate to blunt their poignancy.
With the profoundest respect for your abilities; the most sincere esteem, and ardent regard, for your gentle heart and amiable manners; and the most fervent wish and prayer for your welfare, peace, and bliss, I have the honour to be, madam, your most devoted humble servant.
JOHN SYME, Esq.
You know that among other high dignities, you have the honour to he my supreme court of criti. cal judicature, from which there is no appeal. I inclose you a song which I composed since I saw you, and I am going to give you the history of it. Do you know that among much that I admire in the characters and manners of those great folks whom I have now the honour to call my acquaintances, the O***** family, there is nothing charms me more than Mr. O.'s unconcealable attachment to that incomparable woman. Did you ever, my dear Syme, meet with a man, who owed more to the divine Giver of all good things than Mr. ? A fine fortune ; a pleasing exterior; self-evident amiable dispositions, and an ingenuous upright mind, and that informed too, much beyond the usual run of young fellows of his rank and fortune : and to all this, such a woman !-but of her I shall say nothing at all, in despair of saying any thing adequate : in my song, I have endeavoured to do justice to what would be his feelings, on seeing in the scene I have drawn, the habitation of his Lucy. As I am a good deal pleased with my performance, I, in my first fervour, thought of sending it to Mrs. O, but, on second thoughts, perhaps what I offer as the honest incense of genuine respect, might, from the well-known character of poverty and poetry, be construed into some
modification or other of that servility which my soul abhors*.
Nothing short of a kind of absolute necessity could have made me trouble you with this letter. Except my ardent and just esteem for your sense, taste, and worth, every sentiment arising in my breast, as I put pen to paper to you, is painful. The scenes I have past with the friend of my soul, and his amiable connexions ! the wrench at my heart to think that he is gone, for ever gone from me, never more to meet in the wanderings of a weary world! and the cutting reflection of all, that I had most unfortunately, though most undeservedly, lost the confidence of that soul of worth, ere it took its flight !
These, madam, are sensations of no ordinary anguish.-However you, also, may be offended with some imputed improprieties of mine ; sensibility you know I possess, and sincerity none will deny. me.
To oppose those prejudices which have been raised against me, is not the business of this letter, Indeed it is a warfare I know not how to wage. The powers of positive vice I can in some degree calculate, and against direct malevolence I can be on my guard ; but who can estimate the fatuity of giddy caprice, or ward off the unthinking mischief of precipitate folly? I have a favour to request of
you, madam ; and of your sister Mrs.
, through your means.
* The song inclosed was that beginning,
Q wat ye wha's in yon town ?
You know that, at the wish of my late friend, I made a collection of all my trifles in verse which I had ever written. They are many of them local, some of them puerile and silly, and all of them unfit for the public eye. As I have some little fame at stake, a fame that, I trust, may live, when the hate of those, who “ watch for my halting," and the contumelious sneer of those, whom accident has made my superiors, will, with themselves, be gone to the regions of oblivion ; I am uneasy now for the fate of those manuscripts.-Will Mrs.
have the goodness to destroy them, or return them to me? As a pledge of friendship they were bestowed ; and that circumstance indeed was all their merit. Most unhappily for me, that merit they no longer possess, and I hope that Mrs. goodness, which I well know, and ever will revere, will not refuse this favour to a man whom she once held in some degree of estimation.
With the sincerest esteem, I have the honour to be, madam, &c.
To Mr. CUNNINGHAM.
25th February, 1794. Canst thou minister to a mind diseased? Canst thou speak peace and rest to a soul, tost on a sea of troubles, without one friendly star to guide her course, and dreading that the next surge may overwhelm her? Canst thou give to a frame, tremblingly alive as the tortures of suspence, the stability and hardihood of the rock that braves the blast? If thou canst not do the least of these, why wouldst thou disturb me in my miseries, with thy inquiries after me?
For these two months I have not been able to lift a pen.
My constitution and frame were, ab origine, blasted with a deep incurable taint of hy. pochondria, which poisons my existence. Of late a number of domestic vexations, and some pecuniary share in the ruin of these ***** times; losses, which, though trifling, were yet what I could ill bear, have so irritated me, that my feelings, at times, could only be envied by a reprobate spirit listening to the sentence that dooms it to perdition.
Are you deep in the language of consolation ! I have exhausted in reflection every topic of com fort. A heart at ease would have been charmed with my sentiments and reasonings ; but as to my. self, I was like Judas Iscariot preaching the gospel; he might melt and mould the hearts of those around him, but his own kept its native incorrigibility.
Still there are two great pillars that bear us up, amid the wreck of misfortune and misery. The one is composed of the different modifications of a certain noble, stubborn something in man, known by the names of courage, fortitude, magnanimity. The other is made up of those feelings and sentiments, which, however the sceptic may deny them, or the enthusiast disfigure them, are yet, I am convinced, original and component parts of the human soul; those senses of the mind, if I may be allowed the expression, which connect us with, and link us to, those awful obscure realities-an allpowerful and equally beneficent God; and a world to come, beyond death and the grave. The first gives the nerve of combat, while a ray of hope beams on the field ;-the last pours the balm of comfort into the wounds which time can never cure.
I do not remember, my dear Cunningham, that you and I ever talked on the subject of religion at all,
I know some who laugh at it, as the trick of the crafty few, to lead the undiscerning many ; or, at most, as an uncertain obscurity, which man