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The following Letter, addressed to the Printer of the
St. James's Chronicle, appeared in that Paper, in June, 1767.
As there is nothing I dislike so much as newspaper controversy, particularly upon triftes, permit me to be as concise as possible in informing a correspondent of yours, that I recommended Blainville's Travels, because I thought the book was a good one ; and I think so still. I said, I was told by the bookseller that it was then first published; but in that, it seems, I was misinformed, and my reading was not extensive enough to set me right.
Another correspondent of yours accuses me of having taken a ballad, I published some time ago, from one by the ingenious Mr. Percy.* I do not think there is any great resemblance between the two pieces in question. If there be any, his ballad is taken from mine. I read it to Mr. Percy some years ago;
* The Friar of Orders Gray. “Reliq. of Anc. Poetry," vol. i. p. 243.
and he (as we both considered these things as trifles at best) told me, with his usual good-humour, the next time I saw him, that he had taken my plan to form the fragments of Shakspeare into a ballad of his own. He then read me his little cento, if I may so call it, and I highly approved it. Such petty anecdotes as these are scarce worth printing: and, were it not for the busy disposition of some of your correspondents, the public should never have known that he owes me the hint of his ballad, or that I am obliged to his friendship and learning for communications of a much more important nature.
I am Sit,
"TURN, gentle hermit of the dale,
And guide my lonely way,
With hospitable ray.
With fainting steps and slow; Where wilds, immeasurably spread,
Seem length’ning as I go.' 'Forbear, my son,' the Hermit cries,
"To tempt the dangerous gloom; For yonder faithless phantom flies
To lure thee to thy doom. • Here to the houseless child of want
My door is open still ; And though my portion is but scant,
I give it with good will. "Then turn to-night, and freely share
Whate'er my cell bestows; My rushy couch and frugal fare, My blessing and repose.
*No flocks that range the valley free,
To slaughter I condemn:
I learn to pity them :
A guiltless feast I bring ;
And water from the spring.
All earth-born cares are wrong ;
Nor wants that little long.'
His gentle accents fell:
And follows to the cell.
The lonely mansion lay;
And strangers led astray.
Requir'd a master's care ;
Received the harmless pair.
To take their evening rest,
And cheer'd his pensive guest :