(44) Lieutenant-colonel Sloper, of Bland’s dragoons.
Sir, As I have very little at present to trouble you with myself, I should have deferred writing, till a better opportunity, if it were not to satisfy the curiosity of a friend; a friend whom you, Sir, will be glad to have made curious, as you originally pointed him out as a likely person to be charmed with the old Irish poetry you sent me. It is Mr. Gray, who is an enthusiast about those poems, and begs me to put the following queries to you; which I will do in his own words, and I may say truly, Poeta loquitur.
“I am so charmed with the two specimens of Erse poetry, that I cannot help giving you the trouble to inquire a little farther about them, and should wish to see a few lines of the original, that I may form some slight idea of the language, the measure, and the rhythm.
“Is there any thing known of the author or authors, and of what antiquity are they supposed to be?
“Is there any more to be had of equal beauty, or at all approaching to it?
“I have been often told, that the poem called Hardykanute (which I always admired and still admire) was the work of somebody that lived a few years ago.(46) This I do not at all believe, though it has evidently been retouched in places by some modern hand; but, however, I am authorized by this report to ask, whether the two poems in question are certainly antique and genuine. I make this inquiry in quality of an antiquary, and am not otherwise concerned about it; for if I were sure that any one now living in Scotland had written them, to divert himself and laugh at the credulity of the world, I would undertake a journey into the Highlands only for the pleasure of seeing him.”
You see, Sir, how easily you may make our greatest southern bard travel northward to visit a brother. young translator had nothing to do but to own a forgery, and Mr. Gray is ready to pack up his lyre, saddle Pegasus, and set out directly. But seriously, he,’ Mr. Mason, my Lord Lyttelton, and one or two more, whose taste the world allows, are in love with your Erse elegies — I cannot say in general they are so much admired—but Mr. Gray alone is worth satisfying.
The “Siege of Aquileia,” of which you ask, pleased less than Mr. Home’s other plays.(47) In my own opinion, Douglas far exceeds both the other. Mr. Home seems to have a beautiful talent for painting genuine nature and the manners of his country. There was so little nature in the manners of both Greeks and Romans, that I do not wonder at his success being less brilliant when he tried those subjects; and, to say the truth, one is a little weary of them. At present, nothing is talked of, nothing admired, but what I cannot help calling a very insipid and tedious performance: it is a kind Of novel, called