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TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
June 17, 1783.
the same great teacher who taught him to embroider for the service of the sanctuary, and which amounts almost to as great a blessing as the gift of tongues.
YOUR letter reached Mr. SThe summer is passing away, and hitherto has was with him; whether it wrought any change in hardly been either seen or felt. Perpetual clouds his opinion of that gentleman, as a preacher, I intercept the influence of the sun, and for the most know not, but for my own part I give you full part there is an autumnal coldness in the weather, credit for the soundness and rectitude of yours. No though we are almost upon the eve of the longest man was ever scolded out of his sins. The heart, day. corrupt as it is, and because it is so, grows angry
We are well, and always mindful of you; be if it be not treated with some management and mindful of us, and assured that we love you.
good manners, and scolds again. A surly mastiff
Yours, my dear friend, W. C.
TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON.
July 27, 1783.
You can not have more pleasure in receiving a He thinks that he is skilfully searching the hearts letter from me, than I should find in writing it, of others, when he is only gratifying the malignity were it not almost impossible in such a place to of his own, and charitably supposes his hearers find a subject. destitute of all grace, that he may shine the more I live in a world abounding with incidents, upon in his own eyes by comparison. When he has which many grave, and perhaps some profitable performed this notable task, he wonders that they observations might be made; but those incidents are not converted: 'he has given it them soundly, never reaching my unfortunate ears, both the enand if they do not tremble, and confess that God tertaining narrative and the reflection it might is in him of a truth, he gives them up as reprobate, suggest are to me annihilated and lost. I look incorrigible, and lost for ever. But a man that back to past week, and say, what did it proloves me, if he sees me in an error, will pity me, duce? I ask the same question of the week preand endeavour calmly to convince me of it, and eeding, and duly receive the same answer from persuade me to forsake it. If he has great and both-nothing!-A situation like this, in which I good news to tell me, he will not do it angrily, and am as unknown to the world, as I am ignorant in much heat and discomposure of spirit. It is not of all that passes in it, in which I have nothing to therefore easy to conceive on what ground a minis-do but to think, would exactly suit ine, were my ter can justify a conduct which only proves that subjects of meditation as agreeable as my leisure is he does not understand his errand. The absurdity uninterrupted. My passion for retirement is not of it would certainly strike him, if he were not at all abated, after so many years spent in the himself deluded. most sequestered state, but rather increased. A A people will always love a minister, if a minis- circumstance I should esteem wonderful to a deter seems to love his people. The old maxim, Si-gree not to be accounted for, considering the conmile agit in simile, is in no case more exactly veri-dition of my mind, did I not know, that we think fied: therefore you were beloved at Olney, and as we are made to think, and of course approve and if you preached to the Chickesawes, and Chach- prefer, as Providence, who appoints the bounds taws, would be equally beloved by them.
TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON.
June 19, 1783.
of our habitation, chooses for us. Thus am I both free and a prisoner at the same time. The world is before me; I am not shut up in the Bastile; there are no moats about my castle, no locks upon my gates, of which I have not the key-but an MY DEAR FRIEND, invisible, uncontrollable agency, a local attachTHE translation of your letters into Dutch was ment, an inclination more forcible than I ever felt, news that pleased me much. I intended plain even to the place of my birth, serves me for prison prose, but a rhyme obtruded itself, and I became walls, and for bounds which I can not pass. In poetical when I least expected it. When you former years I have known sorrow, and before I wrote those letters you did not dream that you had ever tasted of spiritual trouble. The effect were designed for an apostle to the Dutch. Yet was an abhorrence of the scene in which I had so it proves, and such among many others are the suffered so much, and a weariness of those objects advantages we derive from the art of printing: an which I had so long looked at with an eye of des art in which indisputably man was instructed by pondency and dejection. But it is otherwise with
me now. The same cause subsisting, and in a binet of perfumes? It is at this moment fronted much more powerful degree, fails to produce its with carnations and balsams, with mignionette and natural effect. The very stones in the garden- roses, with jessamine and woodbine, and wants walls are my intimate acquaintance. I should nothing but your pipe to make it truly Arabian; miss almost the minutest object, and be disagreea- a wilderness of sweets! The sofa is ended but bly affected by its removal, and am persuaded that not finished, a paradox which your natural acuwere it possible I could leave this incommodious men, sharpened by habits of logical attention, will nook for a twelvemonth, I should return to it again enable you to reconcile in a moment. Do not imwith rapture, and be transported with the sight agine, however, that I lounge over it-on the conof objects which to all the world beside would be trary, I find it severe exercise to mould and fashion at least indifferent; some of them perhaps, such as if to my mind!* the ragged thatch and the tottering walls of the neighbouring cottages, disgusting. But so it is, and it is so, because here is to be my abode, and because such is the appointment of Him that placed me in it
Iste terrarum mihi præter omnes
I was always an admirer of thunder-storms, even before I knew whose voice I heard in them; but especially an admirer of thunder rolling over the great waters. There is something singularly majestic in the sound of it at sea, where the eye and the ear have uninterrupted opportunity of observation, and the concavity above being made spa
those bursts of ethereal music.-The peals have been as loud, by the report of a gentleman who lived many years in the West Indies, as were ever heard in those islands, and the flashes as splendid. But when the thunder preaches, an horizon bounded by the ocean is the only sounding-board.
It is the place of all the world I love the most, not cious reflects it with more advantage. I have confor any happiness it affords me, but because here sequently envied you your situation, and the enI can be miserable with most convenience to my-joyment of those refreshing breezes that belong to self, and with the least disturbance to others. it. We have indeed been regaled with some of You wonder, and (I dare say) unfeignedly, because you do not think yourself entitled to such praise, that I prefer your style, as an historian, to that of the two most renowned writers of history the present day has seen. That you may not suspect me of having said more than my real opinion will warrant, I will tell you why. In your style I have had but little leisure, strange as it may I see no affectation. In every line of theirs I see seem, and that little I devoted for a month after nothing else. They disgust me always, Robertson your departure to Madame Guion. I have made with his pomp and his strut, and Gibbon with his fair copies of all the pieces I have produced on this finical and French manners. You are as correct last occasion, and will put them into your hands as they. You express yourself with as much pre- when we meet. They are yours, to serve as you cision. Your words are ranged with as much please; you may take and leave, as you like, for propriety, but you do not set your periods to a my purpose is already served; they have amused tune. They discover a perpetual desire to exhibit me, and I have no further demand upon them. themselves to advantage, whereas your subject en- The lines upon friendship, however, which were grosses you. They sing, and you say; which, as not sufficiently of a piece with the others, will not history is a thing to be said, and not sung, is, in now be wanted. I have some other little things, my judgment, very much to your advantage. A which I will communicate when time shall serve; writer that despises their tricks, and is yet neither but I can not now transcribe them.
inelegant nor inharmonious, proves himself, by that single circumstance, a man of superior judg ment and ability to them both You have my reasons. I honour a manly character, in which good sense, and a desire of doing good, are the predominant features-but affectation is an emetic. W. C.
TO THE REV. WILLIAM BULL.
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.
August 4, 1783.
MY DEAR WILLIAM,
August 3, 1783. YOUR seaside situation, your beautiful prospects, your fine rides, and the sight of the palaces which you have seen, we have not envied you; but are glad that you have enjoyed them. Why should The prosecution of the Task seems to have been deferred we envy any man? Is not our green-house a ca-till towards the end of October.
about the sale. To aim with success at the spirit-in cleaning out their cages, I placed that which I ual good of mankind, and to become popular by had in hand upon the table, while the other hung writing on scriptural subjects, were an unreasona- against the wall: the windows and the doors stood ble ambition, even for a poet to entertain in days wide open. I went to fill the fountain at the pump, like these. Verse may have many charms, but and on my return was not a little surprised to find has none powerful enough to conquer the aversion a goldfinch sitting on the top of the cage I had of a dissipated age to such instruction. Ask the been cleaning, and singing to and kissing the goldquestion therefore boldly, and be not mortified finch within. I approached him, and he discoeven though he should shake his head and drop vered no fear; still nearer, and he discovered none. his chin; for it is no more than we have reason to I advanced my hand towards him, and he took no expect. We will lay the fault upon the vice of notice of it. I seized him, and supposed I had the times, and we will acquit the poet. caught a new bird, but casting my eye upon the I am glad you were pleased with my Latin ode, other cage perceived my mistake. Its inhabitant, and indeed with my English dirge as much as I during my absence, had contrived to find an openwas myself. The tune laid me under a disadvan-ing, where the wire had been a little bent, and tage, obliging me to write in Alexandrines; which made no other use of the escape it afforded him, I suppose would suit no ear but a French one; than to salute his friend, and to converse with neither did I intend any thing more than that the him more intimately than he had done before. I subject and the words should be sufficiently ac- returned him to his proper mansion, but in vain. commodated to the music. The ballad is a spe-In less than a minute he had thrust his little per cies of poetry I believe peculiar to this country, son through the aperture again, and again perched equally adapted to the drollest and the most tragi- upon his neighbour's cage, kissing him as at the cal subjects. Simplicity and case are its proper first, and singing, as if transported with the fortucharacteristics. Our forefathers excelled in it; nate adventure. I could not but respect such but we moderns have lost the art. It is observed, friendship, as for the sake of its gratification had that we have few good English odes. But to twice declined an opportunity to be free, and conmake amends, we have many excellent ballads, senting to their union, resolved that for the future not inferior perhaps in truc poetical merits to some one cage should hold them both. I am glad of such of the very best odes that the Greek or Latin lan- incidents. For at a pinch, and when I need enguages have to boast of. It is a sort of composi- tertainment, the versification of them serves to dition I was ever fond of, and if graver matters had vert me.
Yours ever, W. C.
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.
Sept. 7, 1783.
not called me another way, should have addicted I transcribe for you a piece of Madam Guion, myself to it more than to any other. I inherit a not as the best, but as being shorter than many, taste for it from my father, who succeeded well in and as good as most of them. it himself, and who lived at a time when the best pieces in that way were produced. What can be prettier than Gay's ballad, or rather Swift's, Arbuthnot's, Pope's, and Gay's, in the What do ye call it-""Twas when the seas were roaring?" I have MY DEAR FRIEND, been well informed that they all contributed, and. So long a silence needs an apology. I have been that the most celebrated association of clever fel- hindered by a three-weeks visit from our Hoxton lows this country ever saw, did not think it be friends, and by a cold and feverish complaint, neath them to unite their strength and abilities in which are but just removed. • the composition of a song. The success however The French poetess is certainly chargeable with answered their wishes. The ballads that Bourne the fault you mention, though I thought it not so has translated, beautiful in themselves, are still glaring in the piece I sent you. I have endeavoured more beautiful in his version of them, infinitely indeed, in all the translations I have made, to cure surpassing in my judgment all that Ovid or Ti- her of that evil, either by the suppression of pasbullus have left behind them. They are quite as sages exceptionable upon that account, or by a elegant, and far more touching and pathetic than more sober and respectful manner of expression. the tenderest strokes of either. Still however she will be found to have conversed So much for ballads, and ballad writers."A familiarly with God, but I hope not fulsomely, worthy subject," you will say, "for a man whose nor so as to give reasonable disgust to a religious head might be filled with better things:" and it is reader. That God should deal familiarly with filled with better things, but to so ill a purpose, man, or which is the same thing, that he should that I thrust into it all manner of topics that may permit man to deal familiarly with him, seems prove more amusing; as for instance I have two not very difficult to conceive, or presumptuous to goldfinches, which in the summer occupy the suppose, when some things are taken into consi green-house. A few days since, being employed deration. Wo to the sinner that shall dare to take
a liberty with him that is not warranted by his fortable evidence of the predominant bias of your word, or to which he himself has not encouraged heart and mind to the best subjects. I had none him. When he assumed man's nature, he revealed such-indeed I was in no degree delirious, nor has himself as the friend of man, as the brother of any thing less than a fever really dangerous ever every soul that loves him. He conversed freely made me so. In this respect, if in no other, I with man while he was on earth, and as freely may be said to have a strong head; and perhaps with him after his resurrection. I doubt not there- for the same reason that wine would never make fore that it is possible to enjoy an access to him me drunk, an ordinary degree of fever has no even now unincumbered with ceremonious awe, effect upon my understanding. The epidemic beeasy, delightful, and without constraint. This gins to be more mortal, as the autumn comes on, however can only be the lot of those who make it and in Bedfordshire it is reported, how truly I can the business of their lives to please him, and to not say, to be nearly as fatal as the plague. I cultivate communion with him. And then I pre-heard lately of a clerk in a public office, whose sume there can be no danger of offence, because chief employment it was for many years to admisuch a habit of the soul is of his own creation, and nister oaths, who being light-headed in a fever, of near as we come, we come no nearer to him than which he died, spent the last week of his life in he is pleased us. If we address him as night-" So children, it is because he tells us he is our father, the book- give me a shilling. What a wretch in If we unbosom ourselves to him as to a friend, it comparison with you! is because he calls us friends; and if we speak to Mr. S- has been ill almost ever since you him in the language of love, it is because he first left us; and last Saturday, as on many foregoing used it, thereby teaching us that it is the language Saturdays, was obliged to clap on a blister by way he delights to hear from his people. But I con- of preparation for his Sunday labours. He can fess that through the weakness, the folly, and cor- not draw breath upon any other terms. If holy ruption of human nature, this privilege, like all orders were always conferred upon such condiother Christian privileges, is liable to abuse. There tions, I question but even bishopricks themselves is a mixture of evil in every thing we do, indul- would want an occupant. But he is easy and gence encourages us to encroach, and while we cheerful.
exercise the rights of children, we become childish. I beg you will mention me kindly to Mr. BaHere I think is the point in which my authoress con, and make him sensible that if I did not write failed, and here it is that I have particularly guard- the paragraph he wished for, it was not owing to ed my translation, not afraid of representing her any want of respect for the desire he expressed, as dealing with God familiarly, but foolishly, irre- but to mere inability. If in a state of mind that verently, and without due attention to his majesty, of which she is somewhat guilty. A wonderful fault for such a woman to fall into, who spent her life in the contemplation of his glory, who seems to have been always impressed with a sense of it, and sometimes quite absorbed by the views she had of it.
TO THE REV. J. NEWTON.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
almost disqualifies me for society, I could possibly wish to form a new connexion, I should wish to know him; but I never shall, and things being as they are, I do not regret it. You are my old friend, therefore I do not spare you; having known you in better days, I make you pay for any pleasure I might then afford you, by a communication of my present pains. But I have no claims of this sort upon Mr. Bacon.
Be pleased to remember us both, with much affection, to Mrs. Newton, and to her and your Sept. 8, 1783. Eliza; to Miss C- likewise, if she is with MRS. UNWIN would have answered your kind you. Poor Eliza droops and languishes, but in note from Bedford, had not a pain in her side pre- the land to which she is going, she will hold up vented her. I, who am her secretary upon such her head and droop no more. A sickness that occasions, should certainly have answered it for leads the way to everlasting life is better than the her, but was hindered by illness, having been my health of an antediluvian. Accept our united self seized with a fever immediately after your departure. The account of your recovery gave us great pleasure, and I am persuaded that you will feel yourself repaid by the information that I give you of mine. The reveries your head was filled with, while your disorder was most prevalent, though they were but reveries, and the offspring MY DEAR FRIEND, of a heated imagination, afforded you yet a com
My dear friend,
Sincerely yours, W. C.
TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON.
WE are glad that having been attacked by a
fever, which has often proved fatal, and almost | rited, and I can not but suspect that his situation always leaves the sufferer debilitated to the last helps to make him so. degree, you find yourself so soon restored to health, I shall be obliged to you for Hawkesworth's and your strength recovered. Your health and Voyages when it can be sent conveniently. The strength are useful to others, and in that view im- long evenings are beginning, and nothing shortportant in his account who dispenses both, and ens them so effectually as reading aloud.
by your means a more precious gift than either. For my own part, though I have not been laid up, I have never been perfectly well since you left us. A smart fever, which lasted indeed but a few hours, succeeded by lassitude and want of spirits, that seemed still to indicate a feverish habit, has made for some time, and still makes me very unfit for my favourite occupations, writing and reading so that even a letter, and even a letter to you, is not without its burthen.
Yours, my dear friend, W. C.
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.
MY DEAR WILLIAM,
Sept. 29, 1783.
WE are sorry that you and your household partake so largely of the ill effects of this unhealthy season. You are happy however in having hitherto escaped the epidemic fever, which has prehas had the epidemie, and has it vailed much in this part of the kingdom, and carstill, but grows better. When he was first seized ried many off. Your mother and I are well. Afwith it, he gave notice that he should die, but in this ter more than a fortnight's indisposition, which only instance of prophetic exertion he seems to slight appellation is quite adequate to the descriphave been mistaken; he has however been very tion of all I suffered, I am at length restored by near it. I should have told you, that poor John has a grain or two of emetic tartar. It is a tax I been very ready to depart, and much comforted generally pay in autumn. By this time, I hope, through his whole illness. He, you know, though a purer ether than we have seen for months, and a silent, has been a very steady professor. He these brighter suns than the summer had to boast, indeed fights battles, and gains victories, but makes have cheered your spirits, and made your existence no noise. Europe is not astonished his feats, more comfortable. We are rational. But we are foreign academies do not seek him for a member; animal too, and therefore subject to the influences he will never discover the art of flying, or send a of the weather. The cattle in the fields show eviglobe of taffeta up to heaven. But he will go dent symptoms of lassitude and disgust in an unthither himself. pleasant season; and we, their lords and masters, are constrained to sympathize with them: the only had sent him notice of our visit a week before, difference between us is, that they know not the which like a contemplative, studious man, as he is, cause of their dejection, and we do, but for our ne put in his pocket and forgot. When we arrived, humiliation, are equally at a loss to cure it. Upthe parlour windows were shut, and the house had on this account I have sometimes wished myself a the appearance of being uninhabited. After wait-philosopher. How happy, in comparison with ing some time, however, the maid opened the door, myself, does the sagacious investigator of nature and the master presented himself. It is hardly seem, whose fancy is ever employed in the invenworth while to observe so repeatedly that his gar- tion of hypotheses, and his reason in the support them! While he is accounting for the origin
Since you went we dined with Mr.
den seems a spot contrived only for the growth of he winds, he has no leisure to attend to their
melancholy, but being always affected by it in the same way, I can not help it. He showed me a influence upon himself-and while he considers nook, in which he had placed a bench, and where what the sun is made of, forgets that he has not he said he found it v very refreshing to smoke his shone for a month. One project indeed supplants pipe and meditate. Here he sits, with his back another. The vortices of Descartes gave way to against one brick wall, and his nose against ano- the gravitation of Newton, and this again is ther, which must you know be very refreshing, and threatened by the electrical fluid of a modern. One greatly assist meditation. He rejoices the more generation blows bubbles, and the next breaks in this niche, because it is an acquisition made at them. But in the mean time your philosopher is some expense, and with no small labour; several a happy man. He escapes a thousand inquietudes loads of earth were removed in order to make it, to which the indolent are subject, and finds his which loads of earth, had I the management of occupation, whether it be the pursuit of a butterthem, I should carry thither again, and fill up a fly, or a demonstration, the wholesomest exercise in place more fit in appearance to be a repository for the world. As he proceeds he applauds himself. the dead than the living. I would on no account His discoveries, though eventfully perhaps they put any man out of conceit with his innocent en- prove but dreams, are to him realities. The world joyments, and therefore never tell him my thoughts gaze at him, as he does at new phenomena in the upon this subject, but he is not seldom low spi- heavens, and perhaps understands him as little.