(286) Miss Caroline Campbell, eldest daughter of Lord William Campbell.
Mr. Garrick returned but two days ago, Sir, and I did not receive your tragedy(288) till this morning; so I could only read it once very rapidly and without any proper attention to particular passages though, even so, some struck me as very fine. You have encouraged me rather to criticise than flatter you; and you are in the right, for you have even profited of so weak a judgment as mine, and always improved the passages I objected to. Indeed, this is not quite a fair return, as it was inverting my method, by flattering instead of finding fault with me; and a critic that meets with submission, is apt to grow vain, and insolent, and capricious. Still as I am persuaded that all criticisms, though erroneous, before an author appeals to the public, are friendly, I will fairly tell you what parts of your tragedy have struck me as objectionable on so superficial a perusal.
In general, the language appears to me too metaphoric; especially as used by all the characters. You seem to me to have imitated Beaumont and Fletcher, though your play is superior to all theirs. In truth, I think the diction is sometimes obscure from being so figurative, especially in the first act. Will you allow me to mention two instances?
“And craven Sloth, moulting his sleepless plumes,
Nods drowsy wonder at th’ adventurous wing
That soars the shining azure o’er his head.”
I own I do not understand why Sloth’s plumes are sleepless; and I think that nodding wonder, and soaring azure, are expressions too Greek to be so close together, and too poetic for dialogue. The other passage is—