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I am so disgusted with
for allowing him
TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
March 8, 1784.
liberal turn, to employ a heretic in such a service. [ I wish you a further acquaintance with him, not self to be silent, when so loudly called upon to doubting that the more he knows you he will find write to you, that I do not choose to express my you the more agreeable. You despair of becoming feelings. Wo to the man whom kindness can not a prebendary for want of certain rhythmical ta- soften! lents, which you suppose me possessed of. But what think you of a cardinal's hat? Perhaps his lordship may have interest at Rome, and that greater honour may await you. Seriously, however, I respect his character, and should not be sorry if there were many such Papists in the land. I THANK you for the two first numbers of the Mr. has given free scope to his generosi-Theological Miscellany. I have not read them rety, and contributed as largely to the relief of Ol- gularly through, but sufficiently to observe that ney, as he did last year. Soon after I had given they are much indebted to Omicron. An essay, you notice of his first remittance, we received a se- signed Parvulus, pleased me likewise; and I shall cond to the same amount, accompanied indeed with be glad if a neighbour of ours, to whom I have an intimation that we were to consider it as an an- lent them, should be able to apply to his own use ticipated supply, which, but for the uncommon se- the lesson it inculcates. On further consideration, verity of the present winter, he should have re- I have seen reason to forego my purpose of transserved for the next. The inference is, that next lating Caraccioli. Though I think no book more winter we are to expect nothing. But the man calculated to teach the art of pious meditation, or and his beneficent turn of mind considered, there is some reason to hope that, logical as the inference seems, it may yet be disappointed.
to enforce a conviction of the vanity of all pursuits, that have not the soul's interests for their object, I can yet see a flaw in his manner of instructing, Adverting to your letter again, I perceive that that in a country so enlightened as ours would esyou wish for my opinion of your answer to his cape nobody's notice. Not enjoying the advantalordship. Had I forgot to tell you that I approve ges of evangelical ordinances, and Christian comof it, I know you well enough to be aware of the munion, he falls into a mistake natural in his situainterpretation you would have put upon my silence. tion; ascribing always the pleasures he found in a I am glad, therefore, that I happened to cast my holy life to his own industrious perseverance in a eye upon your appeal to my opinion, before it was contemplative course, and not to the immediate too late. A modest man, however able, has always agency of the great Comforter of his people; and some reason to distrust himself upon extraordinary directing the eye of his readers to a spiritual prinoccasions. Nothing so apt to betray us into ab-ciple within, which he supposes to subsist in the surdity, as too great a dread of it; and the appli- soul of every man, as the source of all divine encation of more strength than enough is sometimes joyment, and to Christ, as he would gladly have as fatal as too little; but you have escaped very done, had he fallen under Christian teachers. Alwell. For my own part, when I write to a stran-lowing for these defects, he is a charming writer, ger, I feel myself deprived of half my intellects. and by those who know how to make such allowI suspect that I shall write nonsense, and I do so. ances, may be read with great delight and improveI tremble at the thought of an inaccuracy, and be- ment. But with these defects in his manner, come absolutely ungrammatical. I feel myself though (I believe) no man ever had a heart more sweat. I have recourse to the knife and the pounce. devoted to God, he does not seem dressed with sufI correct half a dozen blunders, which in a com- ficient exactness to be fit for the public eye, where mon case I should not have committed, and have man is known to be nothing, and Jesus all in all. no sooner despatched what I have written, than He must, therefore, be dismissed as an unsuccessrecollect how much better I could have made it; ful candidate for a place in this Miscellany, and how easily and genteelly I could have relaxed the will be less mortified at being rejected in the first stiffness of the phrase, and have cured the insuf- instance, than if he had met with a refusal from ferable awkwardness of the whole, had they struck the publisher. I can only therefore repeat what me a little earlier. Thus we stand in awe of we I said before, that when I find a proper subject, know not what, and miscarry through mere desire and myself at liberty to pursue it, I will endeavour to contribute my quota.
TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON.
Olney, March 11, 1784.
TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
which I have read with great pleasure.* You | know of old that your style always pleases me: and having in a former letter given you the reasons for which I like it, I spare you now the pain of a repetition. The spirit too, in which you I WISH it were in my power to give you any write, pleases me as much, But I perceive that account of the Marquis Caraccioli. Some years in some cases it is possible to be severe, and at since I saw a short history of him in the Review, the same time perfectly good-tempered; in all of which I recollect no particulars, except that he cases I suppose where we suffer by an injurious was (and for aught I know may be still) an officer and unreasonable attack, and can justify our con- in the Prussian service. I have two volumes of duct by a plain and simple narrative. On such his works, lent me by Lady Austen. One is occasions, truth itself seems a satire, because by upon the subject of self-acquaintance, and the implication at least it convicts our adversaries of other treats of the art of conversing with the same the want of charity and candour. For this rea- gentleman; had I pursued my purpose of transson perhaps you will find that you have made lating him, my design was to have furnished mymany angry, though you are not so; and it is self, if possible, with some authentic account of possible that they may be the more angry upon him, which I suppose may be procured at any that very account. To assert, and to prove, that bookseller's who deals in foreign publications. an enlightened minister of the gospel may, without any violation of his conscience and even upon the ground of prudence and propriety, continue in the establishment; and to do this with the most absolute composure, must be very provoking if it were occasional only, and never occurred but to the dignity of some dissenting doctors; and to nettle them still the more, you in a manner impose upon them the necessity of being silent, by declaring that you will be so yourself. Upon the whole however I have no doubt that your apology will do good. If it should irritate some, who have more zeal than knowledge, and more of bigotry than of either, it may serve to enlarge the views of others, and to convince them, that there may be grace, truth, and efficacy, in the ministry of a church of which they are not members. I wish it success, and all that attention to which, both from the nature of the subject, and the manner in which you have treated it, it is so well entitled.
The patronage of the East Indies will be a dangerous weapon in whatever hands. I have no prospect of deliverance for this country, but the same that I have of a possibility that we may one day be disencumbered of our ruinous possessions in the East.
But for the reasons given in my last I have laid aside the design. There is something in his style that touches me exceedingly, and which I do not know how to describe. I should call it pathetic,
when his subject happened to be particularly affecting. But it is universal; he has not a sentence that is not marked with it. Perhaps therefore I may describe it better by saying, that his whole work has an air of pious and tender melancholy, which to me at least is extremely agreeable. This property of it, which depends perhaps altogether upon the arrangement, of his words, and the modulation of his sentences, it would be very difficult to preserve in a translation. I do not know that our language is capable of being so managed, and rather suspect that it is not, and that it is peculiar to the French, because it is not unfrequent among their writers, and I never saw any thing similar to it in our own.
My evenings are devoted to books. I read aloud for the entertainment of the party, thus making amends by a vociferation of two hours for my silence at other times. We are in good health, and waiting as patiently as we can for the end of this second winter.
Yours, my dear friend,
Our good neighbours, who have so successfully knocked away our Western crutch from under us, seem to design us the same favour on the opposite side; in which case we shall be poor, but I think we shall stand a better chance to be free; and I had rather drink water-gruel for breakfast, and be no man's slave, than wear a chain, and MY DEAR FRIEND, drink tea as usual.
TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON.
Ir being his majesty's pleasure that I should I have just room to add, that we love you as yet have another opportunity to write before he usual, and are your very affectionate William and Mary. W. C.
The book alluded to is entitled "Apologia. Four Letters to a Minister of an Independent Church. By a Minister of the Church of England."
dissolves the parliament, I avail myself of it with all possible alacrity. I thank you for your last, which was the less welcome for coming, like an extraordinary gazette, at a time when it was not expected.
As when the sea is uncommonly agitated, the water finds it way into creeks and holes of rocks,
end of preaching. It is a misapplication of his powers, which it also cripples, and teases away his hearers. But he is a good man, and may perhaps outgrow it.
which in its calmer state it never reaches, in like sued; and for which, had I been possessed of it, manner the effect of these turbulent times is felt with my present views of the dispute between even at Orchardside, where in general we live as the Crown and the Commons, I must have reundisturbed by the political element, as shrimps fused him, for he is on the side of the former. It or cockles that have been accidentally deposited in is comfortable to be of no consequence in a some hollow beyond the water mark, by the usual world where one can not exercise any without dashing of the waves. We were sitting yester disobliging somebody. The town however seems day after dinner, the two ladies and myself, very to be much at his service, and if he be equally composedly, and without the least apprehension successful throughout the county, he will unof any such intrusion in our snug parlour, one doubtedly gain his election. Mr. A— perhaps lady knitting, the other netting, and the gentle- was a little mortified, because it was evident that man winding worsted, when to our unspeakable I owed the honour of this visit to his misrepresurprise a mob appeared before the window; a sentation of my importance. But had he thought smart rap was heard at the door, the boys halloo'd proper to assure Mr. G. that I had three heads, I and the maid announced Mr G. Puss* was should not I suppose have been bound to produce unfortunately let out of her box, so that the can- them. didate, with all his good friends at his heels, was Mr. S, who you say was so much admired refused admittance at the grand entry, and refer- in your pulpit, would be equally admired in his red to the back door, as the only possible way of own, at least by all capable judges, were he not approach. so apt to be angry with his congregation. This Candidates are creatures not very susceptible hurts him, and had he the understanding and eloof affronts, and would rather I suppose climb in quence of Paul himself, would still hurt him. He at a window, than be absolutely excluded. In a seldom, hardly ever indeed, preaches a gentle, minute, the yard, the kitchen, and the parlour well-tempered sermon, but I hear it highly comwere filled. Mr. G- advancing toward me mended; but warmth of temper, indulged to a shook me by the hand with a degree of cordiality degree that may be called scolding, defeats the that was extremely seducing. As soon as he and as many as could find chairs were seated, he began to open the intent of his visit. I told him I had no vote, for which he readily gave me credit. I assured him I had no influence, which he was not equally inclined to believe, and the less, no doubt, because Mr. A-, addressing himself to me at that moment, informed me that I had a great deal. Supposing that I could not be possessed of such a treasure without knowing it, 1 April, 1783. ventured to confirm my first assertion, by saying PEOPLE that are but little acquainted with the that if I had any I was utterly at a loss to ima- terrors of divine wrath, are not much afraid of gine where it could be, or wherein it consisted. trifling with their Maker. But for my own part Thus ended the conference. Mr. · squeezed I would sooner take Empedocle's leap, and fling me by the hand again, kissed the ladies, and with myself into Mount Etna, than I would do it in drew. He kissed likewise the maid in the kitchen, the slightest instance, were I in circumstances to and seemed, upon the whole, a most loving, kiss- make an election. In the Scripture we find a ing, kind-hearted gentleman. He is very young, broad and clear exhibition of mercy, it is displaygenteel, and handsome. He has a pair of very ed in every page. Wrath is in comparison but good eyes in his head, which not being sufficient slightly touched upon, because it is not so much as it should seem for the many nice and difficult a discovery of wrath as of forgiveness. But had purposes of a senator, he has a third also, which the displeasure of God been the principal subject he wore suspended by a ribband from his button- of the book, and had it circumstantially set forth hole. The boys halloo'd, the dogs barked, Puss that measure of it only which may be endured scampered, the hero, with his long train of obse- even in this life, the Christian world perhaps quious followers, withdrew. We made ourselves would have been less comfortable; but I believe very merry with the adventure, and in a short presumptuous meddlers with the Gospel would time settled into our former tranquillity, never have been less frequently met with.—The word probably to be thus interrupted more. I thought is a flaming sword; and he that touches it with myself however happy in being able to affirm unhallowed fingers, thinking to make a tool of it, truly that I had not that influence for which he will find that he has burnt them.
TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON.
What havoc in Calabria! every house is built upon the sand, whose inhabitants have no God
or only a false one. Solid and fluid are such in the dark upon that article, I should very readily respect to each other: but with reference to the adopt their hypothesis for want of better informadivine power they are equally fixed, or equally tion. I should suppose, for instance, that man unstable. The inhabitants of a rock shall sink, made his first effort in speech in the way of an inwhile a cockboat shall save a man alive in the terjection, and that ah, or oh, being uttered with midst of the fathomless ocean. The Pope grants wonderful gesticulation, and variety of attitude, dispensations for folly and madness during the must have left his powers of expression quite excarnival. But it seems they are as offensive to him, whose vicegerent he pretends himself, at that season as at any other. Were 1 a Calabrian, I would not give my papa at Rome one farthing for his amplest indulgence, for this time forth for ever. There is a word that makes this world tremble; and the Pope can not countermand it. A fig for such a conjuror! Pharaoh's conjuror had twice his ability.
Believe me, my dear friend,
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.
MY DEAR WILLIAM,
hausted: that in a course of time he would invent names for many things, but first for the objects of his daily wants. An apple would consequently be called an apple, and perhaps not many years would elapse before the appellation would receive the sanction of general use. In this case, and upon this supposition, seeing one in the hand of another man, he would exclaim with a most moving pathos, "Oh apple!"-well and good-oh apple! is a very affecting speech, but in the mean time it profits him nothing. The man that holds it, eats it, and he goes away with oh apple in his mouth, and with nothing better. Reflecting on his disappointment, and that perhaps it arose from his not being more explicit, he contrives a term to April 5, 1784. denote his idea of transfer or gratuitous commuI THANKED you in my last for Johnson; I now nication, and the next occasion that offers of a thank you, with more emphasis, for Beattie, the similar kind, performs his part accordingly. His most agreeable and amiable writer I ever met speech now stands thus, "Oh give apple!" The with; the only author I have seen whose critical apple-holder perceives himself called upon to part and philosophical researches are diversified and with his fruit, and, having satisfied his own hunembellished by a poetical imagination, that makes ger, is perhaps not unwilling to do so. But uneven the driest subject, and the leanest, a feast fortunately there is still room for a mistake, and, for an epicure in books. He is so much at his a third person being present, he gives the apple ease too, that his own character appears in every to him. Again disappointed, and again perceiving page, and which is very rare, we see not only the that his language has not all the precision that is writer, but the man: and that man so gentle, so requisite, the orator retires to his study, and there, well-tempered, so happy in his religion, and so after much deep thinking, conceives that the inhumane in his philosophy, that it is necessary to sertion of a pronoun, whose office shall be to siglove him, if one has any sense of what is lovely. nify that he not only wants the apple to be given, If you have not his poem called the Minstrel, and but given to himself, will remedy all defects, he can not borrow it, I must beg you to buy it for uses it the next opportunity, and succeeds to a me; for though I can not afford to deal largely in wonder, obtains the apple, and by his success such so expensive a commodity as books, I must afford credit to his invention, that pronouns continue to purchase at least the poetical works of Beattie. to be in great repute ever after. I have read six of Blair's Lectures, and what do Now as my two syllablemongers, Beattie and I say of Blair? That he is a sensible man, master Blair, both agree that language was originally inof his subject, and excepting here and there a spired, and that the great variety of languages we Scotticism, a good writer, so far at least as per- find upon earth at present took its rise from the spicuity of expression, and method, contribute to confusion of tongues at Babel, I am not perfectly make one. But oh the sterility of that man's convinced that there is any just occasion to invent fancy! if indeed he has any such faculty belong- this very ingenious solution of a difficulty, which ing to him. Perhaps philosophers, or men de- Scripture has solved already. My opinion howsigned for such, are sometimes born without one; ever is, if I may presume to have an opinion of my or perhaps it withers for want of exercise. How- own so different from theirs who are so much ever that may be, Dr. Blair has such a brain as wiser than myself, that if man had been his own Shakspeare somewhere describes" dry as the re- teacher, and had acquired his words and his mainder biscuit after a voyage." phrases only as necessity or convenience had
I take it for granted that these good men are prompted, his progress must have been consideraphilosophically correct (for they are both agreed bly slower than it was, and in Homer's days the upon the subject) in their account of the origin production of such a poem as the Iliad impossible. of language; and if the Scripture had left us in On the contrary, I doubt not Adam on the very
Yours, my dear friend, W. C.
day of his creation was able to express himself in not worthy of Virgil's notice, because obvious to terms both forcible and elegant, and that he was the notice of all. But here I differ from him; at no loss for sublime diction, and logical combi- not being able to conceive that wind and rain can nation, when he wanted to praise his Maker. be improper in the description of a tempest, or how wind and rain could possibly be more poetically described. Virgil is indeed remarkable for finishing his periods well, and never comes to a stop but with the utmost consummate dignity of numbers and expression; and in the instance in question I think his skill in this respect is remarkably
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.
MY DEAR WILLIAM,
April 25, 1784.
I WISH I had both burning words, and bright displayed. The line is perfectly majectic in its thoughts. But I have at present neither. My march. As to the wind, it is such only as the head is not itself. Having had an unpleasant word ingeminant could describe, and the words night, and a melancholy day, and having already densissimus imber give one an idea of a shower written a long letter, I do not find myself in point indeed, but of such a shower as is not very comof spirits at all qualified either to burn or shine.mon, and such a one as only Virgil could have The post sets out early on Tuesday. The morn- done justice to by a single epithet. Far therefore ing is the only time of exercise with me. In or- from agreeing with the Doctor in his stricture, I der therefore to keep it open for that purpose, and do not think the Æneid contains a nobler line, or to comply with your desire of an immediate an- a description more magnificently finished. swer, I give you as much as I can spare of the present evening.
We are glad that Dr. C has singled you out upon this occasion. Your performance we Since I despatched my last, Blair has crept a doubt not will justify his choice: fear not-you little further into my favour. As his subjects im- have a heart that can feel upon charitable occaprove, he improves with them; but upon the whole sions, and therefore will not fail you upon this. I account him a dry writer, useful no doubt as an The burning words will come fast enough, when instructor, but as little entertaining as with so the sensibility is such as yours.
Yours, my dear friend, W. C.
TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON.
April 26, 1784.
much knowledge it is possible to be. His language is (except Swift's) the least figurative I remember to have seen, and the few figures found in it are not always happily employed. I take him to be a critic very little animated by what he reads, who rather reasons about the beauties of an author, than really tastes them; and who finds that a pasWE are glad that your book runs. It will not sage is praiseworthy, not because it charms him, indeed satisfy those whom nothing could satisfy but because it is accommodated to the laws of but your accession to their party; but the liberal criticism in that case made and provided. I have will say you do well, and it is in the opinion of a little complied with your desire of marginal an- such men only that you can feel yourself internotations, and should have dwelt in them more ested. largely, had I read the books to myself; but being I have lately been employed in reading Beattie reader to the ladies, I have not always time to set- and Blair's Lectures. The latter I have not yet tle my own opinion of a doubtful expression, much finished. I find the former the most agrecable of less to suggest an emendation. I have not cen- the two, indeed the most entertaining writer upon sured a particular observation in the book, though dry subjects that I ever met with. His imaginawhen I met with it, it displeased me. I this mo- tion is highly poetical, his language easy and element recollect it, and may as well therefore note gant, and his manner so familiar, that we seem to it here. He is commending, and deservedly, that be conversing with an old friend, upon terms of most noble description of a thunder storm in the the most sociable intercourse, while we read him. first Georgic, which ends with
Blair is, on the contrary, rather stiff, not that his Ingeminant austri et densissimus imber. style is pedantic, but his air is formal. He is a Being in haste, I do not refer to the volume for his sensible man, and understands his subjects, but very words, but my memory will serve me with the too conscious that he is addressing the public, and matter. When poets describe, he says, they should too solicitous about his success, to indulge himself always select such circumstances of the subject as for a moment in that play of fancy which makes are least obvious, and therefore most striking. He the other so agreeable. In Blair we find a scholar, therefore admires the effects of the thunderbolt in Beattie both a scholar and an amiable man; insplitting mountains, and filling a nation with as- deed so amiable, that I have wished for his actonishment, but quarrels with the closing member quaintance ever since I read his book. Having of the period, as containing particulars of a storm never in my life perused a page of Aristotle I am