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TO THOMAS MITCHELL, ESQ.
LATE FELLOW OF SYDNEY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE.
MY DEAR MITCHELL,
Allow me to surprise you 'with a Dedication. It is not quite so disinterested a one as you may imagine, for it is a cheap way of paying my debts for many an hour of enjoyment in health, and refreshment in sickness; and besides, I wish to show that alarming body of people, called “ some persons," that the most unaccommodating politician need not absolutely want friends, and warm ones, even among those who have minds of their own. You and I differ upon more than one point of importance, public as well as private; but on the subject of poetry, with some little exception perhaps as to your old friend Ben Jonson, we are generally agreed; and no two persons can be more firmly persuaded, that there is but one thing happier than friend ship, and nothing better than principle.
LIKE most of the poetical inventions of modern times,
Poet Laureať by Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham. They are for the most part vulgar and poor ; though Suckling and Rochester, it is evident, could have done much better had they pleased. But there is a strange affectation of slovenliness about the lower species of satire in those times, which appears to have been mistaken for a vigorous negligence or gallant undress.
The attempt above-mentioned has met with the approbation of the public; and the little poem, which is now brought to a second edition, would have made its reappearance earlier, but for a series of occupations and indispositions, which are at once the best and most unexplainable of excuses. The text bas again been increased; and three poets added to the dining-table, whom the author could give no sufficient reason for not having seated before. One of them indeed he had already declared in the notes, to be, in his opinion, the first poet of the day; another, in the same place, he had mentioned as of kindred genius; and the third he had only omitted in the text, because it was originally written without him. If these are very bad explanations, they are like many other bad things, very true ones; and the Author can only bope, that the additions may be found entertaining enough to do away any very rigid inquiries as to their previous non-appearance.
As to the principal poet alluded to, the Author does not scruple to confess, that his admiration of him has become greater and greater between every publication of · The Feast of the Poets. He has become a convert, not indeed to what he still considers as his faults, but, to use a favourite phrase of these times, to the “ immense majority" of his beauties ;-and here, it seems to him, lies the great mistake, which certain intelligent critics persist in sharing with others of a very different description. It is to be observed, by the way, that the defects of Mr. Wordsworth are the result of theory, not incapacity; and it is with their particular effect on those most calculated to understand him that we quarrel, rather than with any thing else. But taking him as a mere author to be criticised, the writers in question seem to regard him as a stringer of puerilities, who has so many faults that you can only wonder now