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Each to his task: all different ways retire;
Whence is this taste, the furnish'd hall forgot,
Hark, while below the village bells ring round,
Adown the vale, in lone sequester'd nook,
To the high Temple would my stranger go, (/9)
Nor be the Parsonage by the Muse forgot:
(a.) The ruins of a Priory founded by Peter de Rupibus, Bishop of Winton.
(£.) The remains of a supposed lodge belonging to the Knights Templars.
Now climb the steep, drop now your eye below,
Me, far above the rest, Selbornian scenes,
When deep'ning shades obscure the face of day,
Each rural sight, each sound, each smell combine;
The chilling night-dews fall: . . . . away, retire,
Selborne: Nov: 3: 1774.
When I sat down to write to you in verse, my whole design was to shew you at once how easy a thing it might be with a little care for a Nephew to excell his Uncle in the
(y.) In hot summer nights woodlarks soar to a prodigious height, and hang singing in the air.
(J.) The light of the glow-worm is a signal to her paramour, a slender dusky scarab.
business of versification: but as you have fully answered that intent by your late excellent lines; you must for the future excuse my replying in the same way, and make some allowance for the difference of our ages.
However, when at any time you find yr muse propitious, I shall always rejoice to see a copy of yr performance; and shall be ready to commend; and what is more rare, yet more sincere, even to object and criticize where there is occasion.
A little turn for English poetry is no doubt a pretty accomplishment for a young Gent: and will not only enable him the better to read and relish our best poets; but will, like dancing to the body, have an happy influence even on his prose compositions. Our best poets have been our best prose-writers: of this assertion Dryden and Pope are notorious instances. It would be in vain to think of saying much here on the art of versification: instead of the narrow limits of a letter such a subject would require a large volume. However, I may say in few words, that the way to excell is to copy only from our best writers. The great grace of poetry consists in a perpetual variation of yr cadences: if possible no two lines following ought to have their pause at the same foot. Another beauty should not be passed over, and that is the use of throwing the sense and pause into the third line, which adds a dignity and freedom to yr expressions. Dryden introduced this practice, and carryed it to great perfection: but his successor Pope, by his over exactness, corrected away that noble liberty, and almost reduced every sentence within the narrow bounds of a couplet. Alliteration, or the art of introducing words beginning with the same letter in the same or following line, has also a fine effect when managed with discretion. Dryden and Pope practised this art with wonderful success. As, for example, where you say "The polish'd beetle," . . the epithet "burnish'd" would be better for the reason above. Put then you must avoid affectation in this case, and let the alliteration slide-in as it were without design: and this secret will make your lines appear bold and nervous.
There are also in poetry allusions, similes, and a thousand nameless graces, the efficacy of which nothing can make you sensible of but the careful reading of our best poets, and a nice and judicious application of their beauties. I need not add that you should be careful to seem not to take any pains about y rhimes; they should fall-in as it were of themselves. Our old poets laboured as much formerly to lug-in two chiming words, as a butcher does to drag an ox to be slaughtered: but Mr: Pope has set such a pattern of ease in that way, that few composers now are faulty in the business of rhiming. When I have the s pleasure of meeting you we will talk over these and many other matters too copious for an Epistle. I had like to have forgotten to add that Jack copied your verses, and sent them to yr Uncle John who commended them much: you will be pleased to be commended by one that is the best performer and the best critic inI that way that I know. With respects to your father and mother and all the family,
I remain Yr affect: Uncle, Gil.: WHITE.
Nanny White mends apace: she is still at Newtou.
(To Mrs Barker.)
Selbornc : Dee: 2~>: 7S.
My Nep: Edmd who is now at Newton, brings a most sad account of his mother, whose state of health is very deplorable, and her infirmities and sufferings very great. As to our poor brother in Lancashire, I have not heard from him for some time: the last account was but bad.
Next week we expect at this place a great navigator, or rather naci'jatress, who within these 20 months has sailed 20,000 miles. The person alluded to is Miss Shutter, Mrs. Etty's niece, who set out for Madras in March, 1777; and, returning to Europe this autumn in the Camatic India-man, was taken byher own countrymen near the coast of France and carried to the Downs, and landed at Deal. This Lady appears in great splendor; and is, it is supposed, to be married to a Gent: now on the seas in his way from India. Bad fevers and sore throats obtain much in these parts, and many children die. A person at Harkley buryed
three, his whole stock, in one grave last Tuesday. When I was down at Iiingmer I found that district was sickly. Mrs. Sn: wrote herself some time since, and did not complain of any particular infirmities. My great parlor turns out a fine warm winter-room, and affords a pleasant equal warmth. In blustering weather the chimney smokes a little 'til the shaft becomes hot. The chief fault that 1 find is the strong echo, which, when many people are talking, makes confusion to my poor dull ears. Your money is disposed of among poor neighbours. I have no doubt but that yr son will turn out a valuable young man; and will be far from being injured by a public education. "Omnes omnia bona dicere, et laudare fortunas tuas, qui filium haberes tali ingenio pneditum." With respects and the good wishes of the season I remain
Your affect: brother,
Deai! Niece Anne,
After I had experienced the advantage of two agreeable young house-keepers, I was much at a loss when they left me; and have nobody to make whipp'd syllabubs, and grace the upper end of my table. Molly and her father came again, and stayed near a month, during which we made much use of my great room: but they also have left me some time. Whether they carryed-off any Ladics Traces I cannot recollect: but it is easy to distinguish them at this season: for soon after they are out of bloom they throw-out radical leaves, which abide all the winter. The plant is rare; but happens to abound in the Long Lithe, and will be enumerated in the list of more rare plants about Selborne. I wish we could say we had y4 Parnasia; I have sowed seeds in our bogs several times, but to no purpose. Please to let me know how many inches of rain fell in the late wet fit, which lasted about 5 weeks. The springs from being very low mounted-up to a vast rate; and our lavants at Faringdon began to appear last week. My Bar1 is this evening at 30 - 3 - 1034, the air thick, and warm, and still. Hepaticas, and winter-aconites blossom; and Helleborm fietidus in the