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for their inferiority to his earlier productions. Another dramatic work, written however at a much earlier period of his life, (for I see mention made of it in a letter from Mr James M'Pherson, in 1774,) is indeed of so inferior a kind, and so utterly unworthy of Mr Home, that I should not have mentioned it at all, but for that obligation which biographical truth imposes on me. This is a comedy called the Surprise; or, Who would have Thought it? It is a tame and spiritless dialogue, without any wit, or even sentiment, to give pleasure to the reader, or any incident in the scenes to give amusement on the stage. It might have fairly been doubted indeed, even without this proof, if Mr Home, even in his most vigorous days, or in his happiest moods of composition, could have produced a good comedy. Though his conversation was always pleasing, and frequently amusing, from the anecdotes with which his memory was furnished; yet he appeared to me not endowed with that vivacity or creative humour fitted to inspire comedy. His very epilogues are always grave and serious, even with a cast of melancholy ; and I have rarely found in any of the fragments of his composition, or in his letters, any sparks of humour or of gaiety.
I have taken up so much of the Society's time, that I cannot encroach upon it more at present by reading some of the correspondence which passed between Mr Home and his friends, among whom were some men whose letters the Society would hear with considerable interest. If they think it worth while to afford me another evening, or part of another evening, I may accomplish that purpose, or attempt another, which I conceived on comparing Mr Home's poetry with that of his immediate predecessors and contemporaries. This comparison induced me to take a short review of the older dramatists of England, who wrote before the poets of the era immediately preceding Mr Home; I was thence imperceptibly led to a consideration of the general state of poetry in this country, and that change which it has undergone in recent times; but several interruptions, both of leisure and of health, have hitherto prevented my finishing those remarks. If I can render them any way deserving the attention of the Society, I will take the liberty of reading them at some subsequent meeting.
LETTERS TO AND FROM HIS FRIENDS.
I AM sorry to find myself considerably disappointed in the Letters which I hoped to lay before the Society, as an Appendix to the Account of Mr Home's Life. In looking carefully over those with which his nephew, Mr John Home, was so kind as to furnish me, I found much fewer than I had expected of sufficient consequence to induce me to read them in this place. This was owing, I believe, to the circumstance which I mentioned formerly, of Mr Home's careless habit with regard to papers, particularly during the concluding years of his life.
There are still, however, some letters which I think will interest the Society, both from the characters of the writers, and the subjects to which they relate. These I will read in the order of their dates, as far as that order allows of dividing them into the subjects of the narrative which I formerly submitted to the Society, taking first those which relate to the early period of Mr Home's life, the openings of his genius, and its subsequent developement in the productions of his muse; next, those which have reference to the patronage, I might rather say the warm attachment, of Lord Bute, his connexion with whom had the most important effects on his circumstances and situation; and, if the Society's time or patience will allow, I shall conclude by submitting to it some letters from, and relating to, his illustrious friend Mr David Hume, chiefly written towards the close of that celebrated author's life.
One thing I may fairly say, and with the most perfect sincerity, that there is not one sentence of all that correspondence which I have perused, however private or confidential, that does not afford the strongest proof of those amiable dispositions, that warmth of heart, that cordiality of friendship, that perfect disinterestedness with regard to himself, and generosity with regard to others, which I have formerly mentioned as belonging particularly to the character of Mr Home. '• •