1784 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Elizabeth Montagu

James Beattie to Elizabeth Montagu, 2 February 1784; Forbes, Life and Writings of James Beattie (1806) 2:131-32.



I have another favour to ask, which is, that, as I have mentioned the name of our lamented friend, Dr. Gregory, in the concluding stanza of the second book of the "Minstrel," you will not forbid me to insert yours in the last stanza of the first. I had not the honour to be known to you when I published the first book; and, intending to put the name of a friend in the last stanza, but being then undetermined with respect to the person, I left in one of the lines a blank space, which had been continued in all the editions. That blank, with your permission, shall now be filled up; and then the stanza will run thus:

Here pause, my Gothic lyre, a little while;
The leisure hour is all that thou canst claim:
But on this verse if Montagu should smile,
New lays ere long shall animate thy frame:
And her applause to me is more than fame,
For still with truth accords her taste refined.
At lucre or renown let others aim;
I only wish to please the gentle mind,
Whom nature's charms inspire, and love of human kind.

It would give me no little pleasure to see in the same poem the names of Mrs. Montagu and Dr. Gregory; two persons so dear to mme, and who had so sincere a friendship for one another. Besides, Madam, I beg leave to put you in mind, that the first book of the poem was published at his desire, and the second at yours. So that I have more reasons than one for making this request. When this affair is settled, and the volume revised once more, I bid adieu to poetry for ever.