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MY DEAR FRIEND,
glad to have had an opportunity of learning more the other freeholders followed it: and in five minthan (I suppose) he would have taught me, from utes twenty-eight out of thirty ragamuffins were the writings of two modern critics. I felt myself safely lodged in gaol. Adieu, my dear friend, too a little disposed to compliment my own acumen We love you, and are yours, W. & M. upon the occasion. For though the art of writing and composing was never much my study, I did not find that they had any great news to tell me. TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN. They have assisted me in putting my observations into some method, but have not suggested many, May 3, 1784. of which I was not by some means or other preTHE subject of face-painting may be considered viously apprised. In fact, critics did not origin- (I think) in two points of view. First, there is ally beget authors. But authors made critics. room for dispute with respect to the consistency Common sense dictated to writers the necessity of the practice with good morals; and secondly, of method, connexion, and thoughts congruous to whether it be on the whole convenient or not, the nature of their subject; genius prompted them may be a matter worthy of agitation. I set out with embellishments, and then came the critics. with all the formality of logical disquisition, but Observing the good effects of an attention to these do not promise to observe the same regularity any items, they enacted laws for the observance of them further than it may comport with my purpose of in time to come, and, having drawn their rules for writing as fast as I can. good writing from what was actually well written, As to the immorality of the custom, were I in boasted themselves the inventors of an art which France, I should see none. On the contrary, it yet the authors of the day had already exempli- seems in that country to be a symptom of modest fied. They are however useful in their way, giv-consciousness, and a tacit confession of what all ing us at one view a map of the boundaries which know to be true, that French faces have in fact This humble propriety sets to fancy; and serving as judges to neither red nor white of their own. whom the public may at once appeal, when pes- acknowledgment of a defect looks the more like a tered with the vagaries of those who have had the virtue, being found among a people not remarkahardiness to transgress them. ble for humility. Again, before we can prove the
The candidates for this country have set an ex-practice to be immoral, we must prove immorality ample of economy, which other candidates would in the design of those who use it; either that they do well to follow, having come to an agreement on intend a deception, or to kindle unlawful desires both sides to defray the expenses of their voters, in the beholders. But the French ladies, so far but to open no houses for the entertainment of the as their purpose comes in question, must be acrabble; a reform, however, which the rabble did quitted of both these charges. Nobody supposes not at all approve of, and testified their dislike of their colour to be natural for a moment, any more it by a riot. A stage was built, from which the than if it were blue or green: and this unambiguous orators had designed to harangue the electors. judgment of the matter is owing to two causes: This became the first victim of their fury. Hav- first, to the universal knowledge we have, that ing very little curiosity to hear what gentlemen French women are naturally brown or yellow, could say, who would give them nothing better with very few exceptions, and secondly, to the inthan words, they broke it in pieces, and threw the artificial manner in which they paint: for they do fragments upon the hustings. The sheriff, the not, as I am most satisfactorily informed, even atmembers, the lawyers, the voters, were instantly tempt an imitation of nature, but besmear themput to flight. They rallied, but were again routed selves hastily, and at a venture, anxious only to lay by a second assault, like the former. They on enough. Where therefore there is no wanton then proceeded to break the windows of the intention, nor a wish to deceive, I can discover no inn to which they had fled; and a fear prevailing immorality. But in England (I am afraid) our that at night they would fire the town, a proposal painted ladies are not clearly entitled to the same was made by the freeholders to face about and en- apology. They even imitate nature with such deavour to secure them. At that instant a rioter, exactness, that the whole public is sometimes didressed in a merry Andrew's jacket, stepped for- vided into parties, who litigate with great warmth ward and challenged the best man among them. the question, whether painted or not? this was reOlney sent the hero to the field, who made him markably the case with a Miss B, whom I repent of his presumption. Mr. A- was he. well remember. Her roses and lilies were never Seizing him by the throat, he shook him-he discovered to be spurious, till she attained an age, threw him to the earth, and made the hollowness that made the supposition of their being natural of his skull resound by the application of his fists, impossible. This anxiety to be not merely red and dragged him into custody without the least and white, which is all they aim at in France, damage to his person.-Animated by this example, but to be thought very beautiful, and much more
beautiful than nature has made them, is a symp-| a bill of female mortality, of a length that would tom not very favourable to the idea we would wish astonish us. to entertain of the chastity, purity, and modesty For these reasons, I utterly condemn the pracof our country-women. That they are guilty of tice, as it obtains in England: and for a reason a design to deceive, is certain. Otherwise why so superior to all these, I must disapprove it. I can much art? and if to deceive, wherefore and with not indeed discover that Scripture forbids it in so what purpose? Certainly either to gratify vanity many words. But that anxious solitude about the of the silliest kind, or, which is still more criminal, person, which such an artifice evidently betrays, to decoy and inveigle, and carry on more success- is, I am sure, contrary to the tenor and spirit of it fully the business of temptation. Here therefore throughout. Show me a woman with a painted my opinion splits itself into two opposite sides face, and I will show you a woman whose heart upon the same question. I can suppose a French is set on things of the earth, and not on things woman, though painted an inch deep, to be a vir- above. But this observation of mine applies to it tuous, discreet, excellent character; and in no instance should I think the worse of one because she was painted. But an English belle must pardon me, if I have not the same charity for her. She is at least an impostor, whether she cheats me or not, because she means to do so; and it is thoughts upon the matter. well if that be all the censure she deserves.
only when it is an imitative art. For in the use
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.
May 8, 1784.
This brings me to my second class of ideas upon this topic: and here I feel that I should be fearfully puzzled, were I called upon to recommend the practice on the score of convenience. If a husband chose that his wife should paint, perhaps it might be her duty, as well as her interest, to comYou do well to make your letters merry ones, ply. But I think he would not much consult his though not very merry yourself, and that both for own, for reasons that will follow. In the first my sake and your own; for your own sake, beplace, she would admire herself the more; and in cause it sometimes happens, that by assuming an the next, if she managed the matter well, she air of cheerfulness we become cheerful in reality; might be more admired by others; an acquisition and for mine, because I have always more need that might bring her virtue under trials, to which of a laugh than a cry, being somewhat disposed otherwise it might never have been exposed. In to melancholy by natural temperament, as well as no other case, however, can I imagine the practice by other causes. in this country to be either expedient or conve- It was long since, and even in the infancy of nient. As a general one, it certainly is not expe- John Gilpin, recommended to me by a lady now dient, because in general English women have no at Bristol, to write a sequel. But having always occasion for it. A swarthy complexion is a rarity observed that authors, elated with the success of here; and the sex, especially since the inocula- a first part, have fallen below themselves, when tion has been so much in use, have very little they have attempted a second, I had more prucause to complain that nature has not been kind dence than to take her counsel. I want you to to them in the article of complexion. They may read the history of that hero, published by Bladon, hide and spoil a good one, but they can not (at and to tell me what it is made of. But buy it not. least they hardly can) give themselves a better. For, puffed as it is in the papers, it can be but a But even if they could, there is yet a tragedy in bookseller's job, and must be dear at the price of the sequel, which should make them tremble. I two shillings. In the last pacquet but one that I reunderstand that in France, though the use of ceived from Johnson, he asked me if I had any rouge be general, the use of white paint is far from improvements of John Gilpin in hand, or if I debeing so. In England, she that uses one, com- signed any; for that to print only the original monly uses both. Now all white paints, or lotions, again would be to publish what has been hacknied or whatever they be called, are mercurial, conse- in every magazine, in every newspaper, and in quently poisonous, consequently ruinous in time every street. I answered, that the copy which I to the constitution. The Miss B- above men- sent him contained two or three small variations tioned was a miserable witness of this truth, it from the first, except which I had none to probeing certain that her flesh fell from her bones pose, and that if he thought him now too trite to before she died. Lady C- was hardly a less make a part of my volume, I should willingly acmelancholy proof of it; and a London physician quiesce in his judgment. I take it for granted perhaps, were he at liberty to blab, could publish therefore that he will not bring up the rear of my
Poems according to my first intention, and shall for evangelical truth, whether in prose or verse. not be sorry for the omission. It may spring from therefore enclose a short acknowledgment, which, a principle of pride; but spring it from what it if you see no impropriety in the measure, you can may, I feel, and have long felt, a disinclination to I imagine without much difficulty convey to him a public avowal that he is mine; and since he be- through the hands of Mr. Latrobe. If on any ac came so popular, I have felt it more than ever; count you judge it an inexpedient step, you can not that I should have expressed a scruple, if very easily suppress the letter. Johnson had not. But a fear has suggested itself to me, that I might expose myself to a charge of vanity by admitting him into my book, and that some people would impute it to me as a crime. Consider what the world is made of, and you will not find my suspicions chimerical. Add to this, that when, on correcting the latter part of the fifth book of the Cask, I came to consider the solemnity and sacred nature of the subjects there handled, it seemed to me an incongruity at the least, not to call it by a hasher name, to follow up such premises with such a conclusion. I am well content therefore with having laughed, and made others laugh, and will build my hopes of success, as a poet, upon more important matter.
a wise one.
I pity Mr. Bull. What harder task can any man undertake than the management of those, who have reached the age of manhood without having ever felt the force of authority, or passed through any of the preparatory parts of education? I had either forgot, or never adverted to the circumstance, that his disciples were to be men. At present, however, I am not surprised that, being such, they are found disobedient, untractable, insolent, and conceited; qualities, that generally prevail in the minds of adults in exact proportion to their ignorance. He dined with us since I received your last. It was on Thursday that he was here. He came dejected, burthened, full of complaints. But we sent him away cheerful. He is very sensible of the prudence, delicacy, and attention to his character, which the society have discovered in their conduct towards him upon this occasion; and indeed it does them honour; for it were past all enduring, if a charge of insufficiency should obtain a moment's regard, when brought by five such coxcombs against a man of his erudition and ability. Lady Austen is gone to Bath. Yours, my dear friend, W. C.
In our printing business we now jog on merrily enough. The coming week will I hope bring me to an end of the Task, and the next fortnight to an end of the whole. I am glad to have Paley on my side in the affair of education. He is certainly on all subjects a sensible man, and on such, But I am mistaken, if Tirocinium do not make some of my friends angry, and procure me enemies not a few. There is a sting in verse, that prose neither has, nor can have; and I do not know that schools in the gross, and especially public schools, have ever been so pointedly condemned before. But they are become a nuisance, a pest, an abomination, and it is fit that the eyes and noses of mankind should, if possible, be opened to per-volume was written, though not by Dr. Johnson ceive it.
This is indeed an author's letter; but is it not an author's letter to his friend. If you will be the friend of an author, you must expect such letters. Come July, and come yourself, with as many of your exterior selves as can possibly come with you. Yours, my dear William, affectionately, and with your mother's remembrances, W. C.
TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON. MY DEAR FRIEND, May 22, 1784. I AM glad to have received at last an account of Dr. Johnson's favourable opinion of my book. I thought it wanting, and had long since concluded that, not having had the happiness to please him, I owed my ignorance of his sentiments to the tenderness of my friends at Hoxton, who would not mortify me with an account of his disapprobation. It occurs to me that I owe him thanks for interposing between me and the resentment of the Reviewers, who seldom show mercy to an advocate
TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON. June 5, 1784. WHEN you told me that the critique upon my
himself, yet by a friend of his, to whom he recommended the book and the business, I inferred from that expression that I was indebted to him for an active interposition in my favour, and consequently that he had a right to thanks. But now I concur entirely in sentiment with you, and heartily second your vote for the suppression of thanks which do not seem to be much called for. Yet even now were it possible that I could fall into his company, I should not think a slight acknowledgment misapplied. I was no other way anxious about his opinion, nor could be so, after you and some others had given a favourable one, than it was natural I should be, knowing, as I did, that his opinion had
I am affectionately yours, W. C.
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.
cred, and that to tax a people already so necessitous, is but to discourage the little industry that is left among us, by driving the laborious to despair.
A neighbour of mine, in Silver-end, keeps an ass; the ass lives on the other side of the gardenwall, and I am writing in the green-house: it happens that he is this morning most musically disposed, whether cheered by the fine weather, or by
Believe me ever yours, W. C.
had no occasion for a physician, we are glad that, would visit the miserable huts of our lace-makers having had need of one, you had the good fortune at Olney, and see them working in the winter to find him. Let us hear soon that his advice has months, by the light of a farthing candle, from four proved effectual, and that you are delivered from in the afternoon till midnight: I wish he had laid all ill symptoms. his tax upon the ten thousand lamps that illumiThanks for the care you have taken to furnish nate the Pantheon, upon the flambeaux that wait me with a dictionary. It is rather strange that at upon ten thousand chariots and sedans in an my time of life, and after a youth spent in classical evening, and upon the wax candles that give light pursuits, I should want one; and stranger still to ten thousand card tables. I wish in short that that, being possessed at present of only one Latin he would consider the pockets of the poor as saauthor in the world, I should think it worth while to purchase one. I say that it is strange, and indeed I think it so myself. But I have a thought that when my present labours of the pen are ended, I may go to school again, and refresh my spirits by a little intercourse with the Mantuan and the Sabine bard, and perhaps by a reperusal of some others, whose works we generally lay by at that period of life when we are best qualified to read some new tune which he has just acquired, or by them, when, the judgment and the taste being finding his voice more harmonious than usual. It formed, their beauties are least likely to be over- would be cruel to mortify so fine a singer, therelooked. fore I do not tell him that he interrupts and hinThis change of wind and weather comforts me, ders me, but I venture to tell you so, and to plead and I should have enjoyed the first fine morning his performance in excuse of my abrupt conclusion. I have seen this month with a peculiar relish,| I send you the goldfinches, with which you will if our new tax-maker had not put me out of tem- do as you see good. We have an affectionate reper. I am angry with him, not only for the mat-membrance of your last visit, and of all our friends ter, but for the manner of his proposal. When at Stock. he lays his impost upon horses, he is jocular, and laughs, though considering that wheels, and miles, and grooms, were taxed before, a graver countenance upon the occasion would have been more decent. But he provoked me still more by reasoning as he does on the justification of the tax upon MY DEAR FRIEND, candles. Some families, he says, will suffer little A DEARTH of materials, a consciousness that my by it-Why? because they are so poor, that they subjects are for the most part, and must be unincan not afford themselves more than ten pounds teresting and unimportant, but above all a poverty in the year. Excellent! They can use but few, of animal spirits, that makes writing such a great therefore they will pay but little, and consequently fatigue to me, have occasioned my choice of smaller will be but little burthened, an argument which paper. Acquiesce in the justness of these reasons for its cruelty and effrontery seems worthy of a hero-but he does not avail himself of the whole force of it, nor with all his wisdom had sagacity Homer says on a certain occasion, that Jupiter, enough to see that it contains, when pushed to its when he was wanted at home, was gone to partake utmost extent, a free discharge and acquittal of the of an entertainment provided for him by the Ethipoor from the payment of any tax at all; a com- opians. If by Jupiter we understand the weather, modity, being once made too expensive for their or the season, as the ancients frequently did, we pockets, will cost them nothing, for they will not may say that our English Jupiter has been absent buy it. Rejoice therefore, O ye pennyless! the on account of some such invitation: during the minister will indeed send you to bed in the dark, whole month of June he left us to experience albut your remaining halfpenny will be safe; in- most the rigours of winter. This fine day howstead of being spent in the useless luxury of can- ever affords us some hope that the feast is ended, dlelight, it will buy you a roll for breakfast, which and that we shall enjoy his company without the you will eat no doubt with gratitude to the man interference of his Æthiopian friends again. who so kindly lessens the number of your dis- Is it possible that the wise men of antiquity bursements, and, while he seems to threaten your could entertain a real reverence for the fabulous money, saves it. I wish he would remember, that rubbish, which they dignified with the name of the halfpenny, which government imposes, the religion? We, who have been favoured from our shopkeeper will swell to two-pence. I wish he infancy with so clear a light, are perhaps hardly
TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON.
July 5, 1784.
for the present; and if ever the times should mend with me, I sincerely promise to amend with them.
I have bought a great dictionary, and want nothing but Latin authors to finish me with the use of it. Had I purchased them first, I had begun at the right end. But I could not afford it: I beseech you admire my prudence.
competent to decide the question, and may strive into his budget, when he produced from it this tax, in vain to imagine the absurdities that even a good and such an argument to support it. Justly transunderstanding may receive as truths, when totally lated it seems to amount to this- Make the neunaided by revelation. It seems however that men, cessaries of life too expensive for the poor to reach whose conceptions upon other subjects were often them, and you will save their money. If they buy sublime, whose reasoning powers were undoubted- but few candles, they will pay but little tax; and ly equal to our own, and whose management in if they buy none, the tax, as to them, will be anmatters of jurisprudence that required a very in- nihilated.' True. But, in the mean time they dustrious examination of evidence, was as acute and will break their shins against their furniture, if subtle as that of a modern attorney-general, could they have any, and will be but little the richer, not be the dupes of such imposture as a child when the hours, in which they might work, if among us would detect and laugh at. Juvenal, I they could see, shall be deducted. remember, introduces one of his satires with an observation that there were some in his day who had the hardiness to laugh at the stories of Tartarus, and Styx, and Charon, and of the frogs that croak upon the banks of Lethe, giving his reader at the same time cause to suspect that he was himself one of that profane number. Horace, on the other hand, declares in sober sadness that he would not for all the world get into a boat with a man who had divulged the Eleusinian mysteries. Yet we know that those mysteries, whatever they might be, were altogether as unworthy to be esteemed divine as the mythology of the vulgar. How then must we determine? If Horace were I THINK with you that Vinny's line is not pure. a good and orthodox heathen, how came Juvenal If he knew any authority that would have justified to be such an ungracious libertine in principle, as his substitution of a participle for a substantive, to ridicule the doctrines which the other held as he would have done well to have noted it in the sacred? Their opportunities of information, and margin. But I am much inclined to think that their mental advantages were equal. I feel myself he did not rather inclined to believe, that Juvenal's avowed infidelity was sincere, and that Horace was no better than a canting hypocritical professor.
Vivite, valete, et mementote nostrum.
Yours affectionately, W. C.
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.
Poets are sometimes exposed to difficulties insurmountable by lawful means, whence I imagine was originally derived that indulgence that allows them the use of what is called the You must grant me a dispensation for saying poetica licentia. But that liberty, I believe, conany thing, whether it be sense or nonsense, upon tents itself with the abbreviation or protraction of a the subject of politics. It is truly a matter in word, or an alteration in the quantity of a syllable, which I am so little interested, that were it not and never presumes to trespass upon grammatical that it sometimes serves me for a theme when I propriety. I have dared to attempt to correct my can find no other, I should never mention it. I master, but am not bold enough to say that I have would forfeit a large sum if, after advertising a succeeded. Neither am I sure that my memory month in the gazette, the minister of the day, who- serves me correctly with the line that follows; but ever he may be, could discover a man that cares when I recollect the English, am persuaded that it about him or his measures so little as I do. When can not differ much from the true one. This thereI say that I would forfeit a large sum, I mean to fore, is my edition of the passage
have it understood that I would forfeit such a sum,
Si Pergama dextrâ
Defendi possent, etiam hac defensa fuissent.
Basia amatori tot tum permissa beato.
Basia quæ juveni indulsit Susanna beato
The preceding lines I have utterly forgotten, and am consequently at a loss to know whether Be he what he may, I do not like his taxes. At the distich, thus managed, will connect itself with least I am much disposed to quarrel with some of them easily, and as it ought.
them. The additional duties upon candles, by We thank you for the drawing of your house. which the poor will be much affected, hurts me most. He says indeed that they will but little feel it, because even now they can hardly afford the use of them. He had certainly put no compassion
I never knew my idea of what I had never seen resemble the original so much. At some time or other you have doubtless given me an exact account of it, and I have retained the faithful im