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COME

TOMPOSITIONS resembling those of the

present volume are not unfrequently condemned for their querulous egotism. But egotism is to be condemned then only when it offends against time and place, as in a history or an epic poem. To censure it in a monody or sonnet is almost as absurd as to dislike a circle for being round. Why then write Sonnets or Monodies ?

Because they give me pleasure when perhaps nothing else could. After the more violent emotions of sorrow, the mind demands amusement, and can find it in employment alone : but full of its late sufferings, it can endure no employment not in some measure connected with them. Forcibly to turn away our attention to general subjects is a painful and most often an unavailing effort.

i To the first and second editions.

b

“But 0 ! how grateful to a wounded heart
The tale of misery to impart-
From others' eyes bid artless sorrows flow,
And raise esteem upon the base of woe!”

SHAW.

The communicativeness of our nature leads us to describe our own sorrows; in the endeavour to describe them, intellectual activity is exerted ; and from intellectual activity there results a pleasure, which is gradually associated, and mingles as a corrective, with the painful subject of the description. “ True !" (it may be answered)" but how is the Public interested in your sorrows or your description ?" We are for ever attributing personal unities to imaginary aggregates. What is the Public, but a term for a number of scattered individuals ? Of whom as many will be interested in these sorrows, as have experienced the same or similar.

Holy be the lay Which mourning soothes the mourner on his way.” If I could judge of others by myself, I should not hesitate to affirm, that the most interesting passages in all writings are those in which the author developes his own feelings? The sweet voice of Conal never sounds so sweetly, as when it speaks

i Ossian.

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