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has so amply bestowed upon her. You will also be glad to learn, that, since I commenced my letter, a lady of this place, Miss Mary Beauford, whose good sense and kind heart are ever active in promoting the welfare of the humbler classes, called upon me, and expressed her readiness to assist in any plan that might be set on foot for Mary's benefit. Mary's worthy master, Mr. Hughes, has likewise, in the most generous manner, expressed the same resolution; so I hope on my return from London, which I am soon about to visit, that we shall be able to bring out a little volume of her poems to do credit to Tavistock.
* “She has this moment sent me a beautiful plant from her garden, and a copy of verses, expressive of her grateful feelings for the little kindness I have shown her. Could there be a more graceful mode of returning it?”— pp. 15–19.
As we love beauty in every shape, and, above all, the beauty of woman, we must add, that the portrait prefixed to the volume, fully answers the description which Mrs. Bray has given of Mary’s features. We have seldom seen a more perfectly handsome countenance, and there are decided indications of intelligence about it, which render it peculiarly interesting. We wish with all our hearts that the girl were happily married, and placed in a useful station, in which she might earn a decent maintenance. Beautiful though she be, we should, for her own sake, much rather see her selling fruits and flowers from her own garden, than wasting her time in writing verses about them. For that it is a waste of time, we think a very few specimens of her composition will abundantly shew. We pass over several more common-place verses, whose only merit is, that they do not absolutely offend good taste. But what mark of poetical inspiration, or of self-taught genius can be traced, we should like to know, in the following fable of the two foxes 7 “Upon a spacious plain, one day, Two foxes met, as fores may : “Behold I" cries one, “I’ve had good luck, To-day I’ve killed this well-fed duck.”
The writer of this precious specimen of English fabulous poetry, has been compared by Mrs. Bray to La Fontaine. Pray did Mrs. Bray ever read La Fontaine ! We should say not; otherwise it would be incomprehensible by what process she had brought her mind to recognize, in such a production as this, the delicacy, the point, the graceful simplicity of expression, which have rendered the French fabulist immortal. It is confessed that Mary Colling was a good deal envied in her neighbourhood, and that she vented in verse, the feelings to which the gossip of her slanderers gave rise. Several of her fables bear the decided marks of this angry and vindictive spirit, which reflects little credit upon any person, who professes to be guided by the precepts of the Bible. When we look at her pretty face, we are astounded to find masked beneath it, the spirit of a fierce termagant. We suppose, that in her fable of the eagle and the toad, the former represents herself, and the latter some one of her enemies.
* “Oh who but a fool such a gewgaw would be,
Mrs Bray's defence of her protegée, upon this point, is curious, considering that she is herself the wife of the vicar of Tavistock, whose sermons are so full of every sort of inspiration.
* “I have already mentioned, that Mary had complained to me of having suffered a good deal by the envy of certain persons in her own class of life; and that it was her custom to give vent to her indignation by making such attacks the subject of her fables. I have remarked in her, that, like most persons endowed with acute feelings and a lively imagination, she is very sensitive in respect of an injury as well as a benefit. I have seen her cheek flushed, and her eyes sparkle, when she related to me many little instances of unprovoked malevolence. I have also seen them overflow with tears, when her heart has been full in grateful acknowledgment of any kindness that has been shown to her. There is in her no disguise of her real feelings; whatever they may be, they are manifest.
* “However she may occasionally have indulged in this poetical mode of revenge, it has proceeded, I am satisfied, from no natural inclination to satire, or illiberal spirit of remark. These, indeed, are vices more frequently found in the higher than in the lower classes. In what is called refined or fashionable society, we too often observe a practised love of satire, a quick sense of the ludicrous, and but little perception of what is elevated in feeling, or great and noble in action. Every speck in the character of another is detected and ridiculed, whilst the real worth of the person thus censured is too frequently overlooked: just as he would do who forgot, that though a diamond might have flaws, it was still a precious stone.
* “Very different from this has been the motive that awakened any thing like a spirit of satire in poor Mary Colling; nor has she, I believe, ever exercised it, but when provoked to do so by the malice of others.-pp. 66, 67. . So then, according to this doctrine, the malice of others is sufficient to justify in the person who is the object of it, even though that person be a Christian and a woman, the most unamiable and most uncharitable of all vices, that of attacking her assailants in return. We are ashamed to introduce such trash, as the following, to our readers; but it is necessary that they should know how much there is of natural malignity and of bad temper in this village girl, who had the Bible by heart, and how little there is in her genuine feelings of the true poetical temperament. The discreet and amiable editor must be allowed to give the “argument” of the following fable.
* “Every country town, perhaps, can boast of certain gossips and busy-bodies, who are fond of employing their time in idle talk, and meddling with the affairs of their neighbours. Tavistock is not deficient in sundry persons of this description. One old woman, in particular, is very celebrated for this plague of the tongue. It appears she once managed to insinuate herself into the friendship, and in some degree to win the confidence, of Mary : and afterwards, without any cause of offence being given, very ill-naturedly said, ‘That for her part she thought Mary Colling knew so little of the world, and was so great a fool, she could get any thing out of her.' ... Mary was fired with displeasure on hearing this, and gave vent to her feelings in the following lines; ending them with a fable, in which her false friend is characterised as the spaniel dog, ‘Craft,’ and herself under that of ‘Snap, the ‘inexperienced pup.””
• THE TWO SPANIELS.
‘Yes, traitor of my thoughtless youth !
Revenge, say you, should be represt,
• Near Tavy's bank, one summer's day,
Need we observe, that such low disputes as these, between the detractors of a country town, are hardly fit to be made the subject of poetical composition: that even if they were, the treatment of them comes with an ill grace from one of the parties, and that verses such as these, betray very little indeed of that “deep sense
of religion,” and those “elevated feelings of character,” for which
Mrs. Bray has given her heroine so much credit.
literature, will venture to praise the poetry of such verses as these :—
“A Goat, a Monkey, and a Fox,
“Until it fell upon a day
“The Monkey did no anger lack,
* “You are a false dissembling rogue !
“The Fox replied—“Your charge is true;
“The Goat said, “Both are in the wrong,
* “Hold s” cries the Monkey, “master Shag
“An Owl, that yet had silence kept,
‘‘‘My friends,” she said, “from what has past,
Take here a specimen of Miss Colling's grandiloquent strains:–
“From the dark north, in fury's form,
* “To flatter,” &c. Wide Johnson's Dictionary, a word commonly used in Devonshire. WOL. II. W. N. O. I I I. P P