One piece, Coleridge, I have ventured to publish in its original form, though I have heard you complain of a certain over-imitation of the antique in the style. If I could see any way of getting rid of the objection, without rewriting it entirely, I would make some sacrifices. But when I wrote John Woodvil, I never proposed to myself any distinct deviation from common English. I had been newly initiated in the writings of our elder dramatists: Beaumont and Fletcher, and Massinger, were then a first love; and from what I was so freshly conversant in, what wonder if my language imperceptibly took a tinge? The very time which I had chosen for my story, that which immediately followed the Restoration, seemed to require, in an English play, that the English should be of rather an older cast than that of the precise year in which it happened to be written. I wish it had not some faults, which I can less vindicate than the language.
My dear Coleridge,
With unabated esteem,
* * * * *
When maidens such as Hester die,
Their place ye may not well supply,
Though ye among a thousand try,
With vain endeavor.
A month or more hath she been dead,
Yet cannot I by force be led
To think upon the wormy bed,
And her together.
A springy motion in her gait,
A rising step, did indicate
Of pride and joy no common rate,
That flush’d her spirit.
I know not by what name beside
I shall it call:—if ’twas not pride,
It was a joy to that allied,
She did inherit.
Her parents held the Quaker rule,
Which doth the human feeling cool,
But she was train’d in Nature’s school,
Nature had blest her.
A waking eye, a prying mind,
A heart that stirs, is hard to bind,
A hawk’s keen sight ye cannot blind,
Ye could not Hester.
My sprightly neighbor! gone before
To that unknown and silent shore,
Shall we not meet, as heretofore,
Some summer morning,
When from thy cheerful eyes a ray
Hath struck a bliss upon the day,
A bliss that would not go away,
A sweet fore-warning?
* * * * *
TO CHARLES LLOYD.
AN UNEXPECTED VISITOR.
Alone, obscure, without a friend,
A cheerless, solitary thing,
Why seeks, my Lloyd, the stranger out?
What offering can the stranger bring
Of social scenes, home-bred delights,
That him in aught compensate may
For Stowey’s pleasant winter nights,
For loves and friendships far away?
In brief oblivion to forego
Friends, such as thine, so justly dear,
And be awhile with me content
To stay, a kindly loiterer, here: