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“ Here, little spoiler, seek the haunts of Spring,
“ For here the hare-bell gives its still retreat; “ Here ply thy cares, thy cheerful descant sing,
“ And fearless sport around my mossy seat; “ For here the violet sweet exhales its balm,
“ And here the rose-bud locks the breath of May;
“ Ruthless to tear thy treasur'd sweets away.
“ With dying lustre paints the low'ring sky:
“ Conceal some feather'd ruffian hovering nigh. “Go, and with speed unlock thy little cell,
“ And wind thy welcome horn, that friends may hcar; “Go, in thy waxen chamber peaceful dwell;
" For passion, restless passion, riots here.
Repose thy load, and sink to cloister'd rest!
“ So soothe the sorrows of my lab’ring breast !
“ How long, my dearest Love, shall I envy the repose of every thing around me, and wait the slow performance of that promise which you have made with those « lips that lock the breath of May,” to your faithful and fond
N° 19. SATURDAY, MAY 12.
Vino vendibili Olivâ suspensá nihil est opus.
The following Epistle, which comes to me from Oxford, suggests a better remedy than I could discover myself for that malady of the mind complained of in the letter that appeared in my paper of last Saturday. When I am consulted in these difficult cases, as I pretend to no panaceas or elixirs for mental infirmities, I think it fair to call in the faculty to my aid; and I do not know where to turn myself with greater confidence than to a society which I venerate, as consisting, in general, of the truest patriots in literature, and the natural protectors and promoters of
genius and of science. « Reverend Sir,
“ No apology can be necessary for communicating, to a person who has the interests of the public so much at heart, any scheme or invention by which its welfare may be materially promoted. Do not be alarmed, my good sir, at the mention of public interests, as if I were about disposition to peace and literature, by suggesting any crude ideas of political reform : very different is the subject of my letter. Discoveries which can enable ships to sail without wind, carriages to move without horses; schemes for the abridgement of pensions and pluralities; and expedients which will secure the presence of a rector in his parish, and a diocesan in his district, for at least nine months out of the twelve; are topics infinitely above the scope and pretensions of my talents; and, from a mixture of delicacy and diffidence, I confess myself extremely averse to the discussion of them.
Resigning therefore to others the wide range of political disquisition, I am content that my own poor efforts should be confined to the humble and neg. lected provinces of English literature. Now, sir, the greatest obstacle to the real improvement of the arts among us, appears to me to have arisen from an unfortunate blunder through which authors have totally mistaken the bearings of their genius, and applied it to those subjects, of all others, in which it was impossible they should excel.
“ Thus the poet affects metaphysical subtlety ; the philosopher, poetical embellishment; the divine enters the list with the painter and musician; while, to complete the climax of cross-purposes, and render • confusion worse confounded, the female politician quits the sampler and the spindle, to discover the origin of civil government, and to maintain, with senatorial eloquence, the Rights of Man! It is obvious that this unnatural perversion of genius, and misapplication of talents, must produce as much disorder in the literary world, as would result from a confusion of trades and professions to the common offices and occurrences of civil life.
“ To provide some effectual remedy for this sort of evil, has been for many years the wish of my heart, and the constant employment of my leisure; and I know not that I should ever have escaped from the embarrassments in which I have been involved by this research, had I not enjoyed the honour of a correspondence with a distinguished professor of a foreign university. My enterprise long appeared to be hopeless; for what project could be more difficult and hazardous, than the attempt to convince authors, or to furnish them with the means of convincing themselves, that they had totally misapprehended their powers, and were unqualified by nature and habits for the pursuits they had chosen? This, you will readily allow, was no very promising task; and after various schemes, successive efforts, and repeated communications on the subject, I began to despair of ever bringing my labours to a successful issue, unless something could be invented, which might decide these nice questions by an appeal to the senses, and exhibit a palpable and unfailing evidence upon the point in dispute.
Poetry has been from childhood my favourite study; and as I acquired a relish for the best productions of that divine art, from the observations of my uncle Geoffrey, a man eminent for the taste and solidity of his criticisms, my first wish was to do honour to my favourite study, by furnishing the community of poets, at present so numerous, with a just criterion whereby they might ascertain the extent of their powers, and discriminate their peculiar tendencies. This project I was upon the verge of abandoning as visionary and impracticable, when I received the enclosed letter from my ingenious friend Tiberius Vosterhusius, whom I had some months since excited to the same pursuit. The original is in the German language; but, for the benefit of a numerous description of society, I mean the poets and poetesses of our island, I beg to present it to you in an English dress.
January, 1792. • It is with the most animated satisfaction I inform
you that an infallible standard has at length
been discovered for the estimate and regulation of poetical genius. The discovery has been celebrated here with unusual rejoicings; the experiments it has given rise to, are daily tried with the most certain success; and the results in many instances have occasioned scenes the most laughable and ridiculous that the imagination can paint. Since the properties of the magnet were revealed, I know not that chance has led the votaries of science to any secret more wonderful in its nature, or important in its effects. In short, sir, a fluid has been discovered which possesses the surprising quality of showing the precise degree of genius which belongs to any pretender to poetical excellence.
• It has at present obtained no better appellation than that of the sympathetic fluid; but I hope, when it is more known, and has been submitted to the inspection of your English societies, it will be honoured with a title more expressive of its merits. The mode of using it is as follows: a certain quantity is poured into a small thermometer; and this is applied, for a few seconds, to the temporal artery: the tube is fixed upon a scale marked at certain intervals with the words,
&c. &c. &c. • If the fluid rise gradually, and remain fixed and motionless, opposite to either of the titles
the scale, the experimenter may assure himself that he possesses talents equal to that particular branch of the art.
On the contrary, if the liquor ascends with a rapid irregular motion, appears in a state of fermentation, and then falls hastily within the bulb, he cannot show his prudence more, than by acquies