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LETTER TO THE PRINTER
ST. JAMES'S CHRONICLE.
INSERTED IN THAT PAPER, IN JUNE 1767.
As there is nothing I dislike so much as newspaper controversy, particularly upon trifles, permit me to be as concise as possible in informing a correspondent of yours, that I recommended Blainville's Travels, because I thought the book was a good one; and I think so still. I said, I was told by the bookseller that it was then first published; but in that, it seems, I was misinformed, and my reading was not extensive enough to set me right.
Another correspondent of yours accuses me of having taken a ballad, I published some time ago, from one* by the ingenious Mr. Percy. I do not
* The Friar of Orders Gray. “Reliq. of Anc. Poetry," vol. i. p. 243.
think there is any great resemblance between the two pieces in question. If there be any, his ballad is taken from mine. I read it to Mr. Percy some years ago; and he (as we both considered these things as trifles at best) told me, with his usual good humour, the next time I saw him, that he had taken my plan to form the fragments of Shakspeare into a ballad of his own. He then read me his little Cento, if I may so call it, and I highly approved it. Such petty anecdotes as these are scarce worth printing: and, were it not for the busy disposition of some of your correspondents, the Public should never have known that he owes me the hint of his ballad, or that I am obliged to his friendship and learning for communications of a much more important nature.
I am Sir,
“ TURN, gentle Hermit of the dale,
“ And guide my lonely way
“ To where yon taper cheers the vale
“ With hospitable ray.
« For here forlorn and lost I tread,
“ With fainting steps and slow; “ Where wilds immeasurably spread,
“ Seem length’ning as I go.”
“ Forbear, my son,” the Hermit cries,
“ To tempt the dangerous gloom ; • For yonder faithless phantom flies,
« To lure thee to thy doom.