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mention the circumstance on that occasion. This letters are the joy of my heart, and I can not enincident pleases me the more, because I have au-dure to be robbed, by I know not whom, of half my thentic intelligence of his being a critical character treasure. But there is no comfort without a drawin all its forms, acute, sour, and blunt; and so back, and therefore it is that I, who have unknown incorruptible withal, and so unsusceptible of bias friends, have unknown enemics also. Ever since from undue motives, that, as my correspondent I wrote last I find myself in better health, and my informs me, he would not praise his own mother, nocturnal spasms and fever considerably abated. did he not think she deserved it. I intend to write to Dr. Kerr on Thursday, that
The said Task is likewise gone to Oxford, con- I may gratify him with an account of my amendveyed thither by an intimate friend of Dr.ment; for to him I know that it will be a gratifiwith a purpose of putting it into his hands. My cation. Were he not a physician I should regret friend, what will they do with me at Oxford? Will that he lives so distant, for he is a most agreeable they burn me at Carfax, or will they anathema- man; but being what he is, it would be impossible tize me with bell, book, and candle? I can say to have his company, even if he were a neighbour, with more truth than Ovid did-Parve nec in- unless in time of sickness; at which time, whatever video. charms he might have himself, my own must necessarily lose much of their effect on him."
The said Dr.
has been heard to say, and I give you his own words (stop both your ears When I write to you, my dear, what I have alwhile I utter thent)" that Homer has never been ready related to the General, I am always fearful translated, and that Pope was a fool." Very ir-lest I should tell you that for news with which you reverent language to be sure, but in consideration are well acquainted. For once however I will of the subject on which he used them, we will par- venture.-On Wednesday last I received from don it, even in a dean. One of the masters of Johnson the MS. copy of a specimen, that I had Eton told a friend of mine lately, that a translation of Homer is much wanted. So now you have all my news Yours, my dearest friend, cordially, W. C.
TO LADY HESKETH.
sent to the General; and, enclosed in the same cover, notes upon it by an unknown critic., Johnson, in a short letter, recommended him to me as a man of unquestionable learning and ability. On perusal and consideration of his remarks I found him such; and having nothing so much at heart as to give all possible security to yourself and the General, that my work shall not come forth unfiɲished, I answered Johnson that I would gladly submit my MS. to his friend. He is in truth a very clever fellow, perfectly a stranger to me, and one who I promise you will not spare for severity of animadversion, where he shall find occasions It
Olney, Jan. 31, 1786. Ir is very pleasant, my dearest cousin, to receive a present so delicately conveyed as that which I received so lately from Anonymous; but it is also very painful to have nobody to thank for it. A find myself therefore driven by stress of necessity is impossible for you, my dearest Cousin, to exto the following resolution, viz. that I will consti- press a wish that I do not equally feel a wish to tute you my Thank-receiver general for whatso- gratify. You are desirous that Maty should see ever gift I shall receive hereafter, as well as for a book of my Homer, and for that reason if Maty those that I have already received from a nameless will see a book of it, he shall be welcome, although benefactor. I therefore thank you, my cousin, for time is likely to be precious, and consequently any a most elegant present, including the most elegant delay that is not absolutely necessary, as much as compliment that ever poet was honoured with; for possible to be avoided. I am now revising the a snuff-box of tortoiseshell, with a beautiful land- had. It is a business that will cost me four scape on the lid of it, glazed with crystal, having months,, perhaps five; for I compare the very the figures of three hares in the fore-ground, and words as I go, and if much alteration should ocinscribed above with these words, The Peasant's cur, must transcribe the whole. The first book I Nest-and below with these-Tiney, Pass, and have almost transcribed already. To these five Bess. For all and every of these I thank you, months Johnson says that nine more must be addand also for standing proxy on this occasion. Nor ed for printing, and upon my own experience I must I forget to thank you, that so soon after I will venture to assure you, that the tardiness of had sent you the first letter of Anonymous, I re- printers will make those nine months twelve. ceived another in the same hand.-There, now I There is danger therefore that my subscribers may am a little easier.
I have almost conceived a design to send up half a dozen stout country fellows, to tie by the leg to their respective bedposts the company that so abridges your opportunity of writing to me. Your
think that I make them wait too long, and that they who know me not may suspect a bubble. How glad shall I be to read it over in an evening, book by book, as fast as I settle the copy, to you, and to Mrs. Unwin! She has been my touch
LET. 207, 208.
stone always, and without reference to her taste and judgment I have printed nothing. With one of you at each elbow, I should think myself the happiest of all poets.
The General and I, having broken the ice, are upon the most comfortable terms of correspondence. He writes very affectionately to me, and I say every thing to him that comes uppermost. I could not write frequently to any creature living, upon any other terms than those. He tells me of infirmities that he has, which makes him less active than he was: I am sorry to hear that he has any such. Alas! alas! he was young when I saw him, only twenty years ago.
I have the most affectionate letter imaginable from Colman, who writes to me like a brother. The Chancellor is yet dumb.
May God have you in his keeping, my beloved
make you a bouquet of myrtle every day. Sooner
My dear, I have told Homer what you say about casks and urns, and have asked him, whether he is sure that it is a cask, in which Jupiter keeps his wine. He swears that it is a cask, and that it will never be any thing better than a cask to eternity. So if the god is content with it, we must even wonder at his taste, and be so too..
Adieu! my dearest, dearest cousin, W. C.
Olney, Feb. 9, 1786. I HAVE been impatient to tell you that I am impatient to see you again. Mrs. Unwin partakes with me in all my feelings upon this subject, and longs also to see you. I should have told you so by the last post, but have been so completely occupied by this tormenting specimen, that it was impossible to do it. I sent the General a letter on Monday, that would distress and alarm him; I sent him another yesterday, that will I hope quiet him again. Johnson has apologized very civilly for the multitude of his friend's strictures; and his friend has promised to confine himself in future to a comparison of me with the original, so that (I Olney, Feb. 11, 1786. doubt not) we shall jog on merrily together. And MY DEAREST COUsin, Ir must be (I suppose) a fortnight or thereabout now, my dear, let me tell you once more, that your kindness in promising us a yisit has charmed since I wrote last, I feel myself so alert and so us both. I shall see you again. I shall hear your ready to write again. Be that as it may, here I voice. We shall take walks together. I will come. We talk of nobody but you. What we show you my prospects, the hovel, the alcove, the Ouse, and its banks, every thing that I have described. I anticipate the pleasure of those days not very far distant, and feel a part of it at this moment. Talk not of an inn! Mention it not I have every reason for writing to you as often for your life! We have never had so many visiters, but we could easily accommodate them all; as I can, but I have a particular reason for doing though we have received Unwin, and his wife, it now. I want to tell you that by the Diligence and his sister, and his son, all at once. My dear, on Wednesday next, I mean to send you a quire I will not let you come till the end of May, or of my Homer for Maty's perusal. It will contain beginning of June, because before that time my the first book, and as much of the second as brings greenhouse will not be ready to receive us, and it us to the catalogue of the ships, and is every moris the only pleasant room belonging to us. When sel of the revised copy that I have transcribed. the plants go out, we go in. I line it with mats, and My dearest cousin, read it yourself, let the Genespread the floor with mats; and there you shall sit ral read it, do what you please with it, so that it with a bed of mignonette at your side, and a hedge reach Johnson in due time. But let Maty be of honeysuckles, roses, and jasmine; and I will the only critic that has any thing to do with it.
Adieu, whom I love entirely, W. C.
TO LADY HESKETH.
Olney, Feb. 19, 1786 SINCE So it must be, so it shall be. If you will
The vexation, the perplexity, that attends a mul- four years have passed since the day of the date tiplicity of criticisms by various hands, many of thereof; and to mention it now would be to upwhich are sure to be futile, many of them ill- braid him with inattention to his blighted troth. founded, and some of them contradictory to others, Neither do I suppose he could easily serve such is inconceivable, except by the author, whose ill-a creature as I am, if he would. fated work happens to be the subject of them. This also appears to be self-evident, that if a work have passed under the review of one man of taste and learning, and have had the good fortune to please him, his approbation gives security for that of all others qualified like himself. I MY DEAREST COUSIN, speak thus, my dear, after having just escaped from such a storm of trouble, occasioned by end- not sleep under the roof of a friend, may you less remarks, hints, suggestions, and objections, as never sleep under the roof of an enemy! An enedrove me also to despair, and to the very verge of my however you will not presently find. Mrs. a resolution to drop my undertaking for ever. Unwin bids me mention her affectionately, and With infinite difficulty I at last sifted the chaff tell you that she willingly gives up a part, for the from the wheat, availed myself of what appeared sake of the rest, willingly, at least as far as wilto me to be just, and rejected the rest, but not till lingly may consist with some reluctance; I feel my the labour and anxiety had nearly undone all that reluctance too. Our design was, that you should Kerr had been doing for me. My beloved cousin, have slept in the room that serves me for a study, trust me for it, as you safely may, that temper, and its having been occupied by you would have vanity, and self-importance, had nothing to do in been an additional recommendation of it to me. all this distress that I suffered. It was merely But all reluctances are superseded by the thought the effect of an alarm, that I could not help taking, of seeing you: and because we have nothing so when I compared the great trouble I had with a much at heart as the wish to see you happy and few lines only, thus handled, with that which I comfortable, we are desirous therefore to accommoforesaw such handling of the whole must neces- date you to your own mind, and not to ours. Mrs. sarily give me. I felt beforehand that my consti- Unwin has already secured for you an apartment, tution would not bear it. I shall send up this or rather two, just such as we could wish. The second specimen in a box, that I have made on house in which you will find them is within thirty purpose; and when Maty has done with the copy, yards of our own, and opposite to it. The whole and you have done with it yourself, then you affair is thus commodiously adjusted;, and now I must return it in said box to my translatorship. have nothing to do but to wish for June; and Though Johnson's friend has teased me sadly, I June, my cousin, was never so wished for, since verily believe that I shall have no more such cause June was made. I shall have a thousand things to complain of him. We now understand one to hear, and a thousand to say, and they will all another, and I firmly believe that I might have rush into my mind together, till it will be so gone the world through, before I had found his crowded, with things impatient to be said, that equal in an accurate and familiar acquaintance for some time I shall say nothing. But no matwith the original.
ter-sooner or later they will all come out; and A letter to Mr. Urban in the late Gentleman's since we shall have you the longer for not having Magazine, of which F's book is the subject, pleases you under our own roof (a circumstance, that, me more than any thing I have seen in the way more than any thing, reconciles us to that meaof eulogium yet. I have no guess of the author. sure), they will stand the better chance. After I do not wish to remind the Chancellor of his so long a separation, a separation that of late promise. Ask you why, my cousin? Because I seemed likely to last for life, we shall meet each suppose it would be impossible. He has no doubt other as alive from the dead; and for my own part forgotten it entirely, and would be obliged to take I can truly say, that I have not a friend in the my word for the truth of it, which I could not other world, whose resurrection would give me bear. We drank tea together with Mrs. Ce, greater pleasure. and her sister, in King-street, Bloomsbury, and I am truly happy, my dear, in having pleased there was the promise made. I said " Thurlow, you with what you have seen of my Homer. I I am nobody, and shall be always nobody, and wish that all English readers had your unsophistiyou will be Chancellor. You shall provide for cated, or rather unadulterated taste, and could me when you are." He smiled, and replied, "I relish simplicity like you. But I am well aware surely will." "These ladies," said I, "are wit- that in this respect I am under a disadvantage, nesses." He still smiled, and said—" Let them be and that many, especially many ladies, missing so, for I will certainly do it." But alas! twenty-many turns and prettinesses of expression, that
LET. 210, 211.
they have admired in Pope, will account my trans- not his consolations from you. I know by expelation in those particulars defective. But I com- rience that they are neither few nor small; and fort myself with the thought, that in reality it is though I feel for you as I never felt for man before, no defect; on the contrary, that the want of all yet do I sincerely rejoice in this, that whereas such embellishments as do not belong to the ori- there is but one true comforter in the universe, ginal will be one of its principal merits with per- under afflictions such as yours, you both know him, sons indeed capable of relishing Homer. He is and know where to seek him. I thought you a the best poet that ever lived for many reasons, but man the most happily mated, that I had ever seen, for none more than for that majestic plainness that and had great pleasure in your felicity. Pardon distinguishes him from all others. As an accom- me, if now I feel a wish that, short as my acquaintplished person moves gracefully without thinking ance with her was, I had never seen her. I should of it, in like manner the dignity of Homer seems have mourned with you, but not as I do now. to cost him no labour. It was natural to him to Mrs. Unwin sympathizes with you also most sinsay great things, and to say them well, and little cerely, and you neither are, nor will be soon forornaments were beneath his notice. If Maty, my gotten in such prayers as we can make at Olney. dearest cousin, should return to you my copy with I will not detain you longer now, my poor afflicted any such strictures as may make it necessary for friend, than to commit you to the tender mercy me to see it again, before it goes to Johnson, in of God, and to bid you a sorrowful adieu! that case you shall send it to me, otherwise to Johnson immediately; for he writes me word he wishes his friend to go to work upon it as soon as possible. When you come, my dear, we will hang all these critics together. For they have worried me without remorse or conscience. At
Adieu! ever yours, W. C.
TO LADY HESKETH.
Olney, March 6, 1786.
least one of them has. I had actually murdered MY DEAREST COUSIN, more than a few of the best lines in the specimen,
YOUR opinion has more weight with me than in compliance with his requisitions, but plucked that of all the critics in the world; and to give you up my courage at last, and in that very last oppor- a proof of it, I make you a covenant, that I would tunity that I had, recovered them to life again by hardly have made to them all united. I do not restoring the original reading. At the same time indeed absolutely covenant, promise, and agree, I readily confess that the specimen is the better that I will discard all my elisions, but I hereby for all this discipline its author has undergone; bind myself to dismiss as many of them as, withbut then it has been more indebted for its improve- out sacrificing energy to sound, I can. It is inment to that pointed accuracy of examination, to cumbent upon me in the mean time to say somewhich I was myself excited, than to any proposed thing in justification of the few that I shall retain, amendments from Mr. Critic; for as sure as you that I may not seem a' poet mounted rather on a are my cousin, whom I long to see at Olney, so mule than on Pegasus. In the first place, The, surely would he have done me irritable mischief, is a barbarism. We are indebted for it to the Celts, or the Goths, or to the Saxons, or perhaps if I would have given him leave.
My friend Bagot writes to me in a most friend- to them all. In the two best languages that ever ly strain, and calls loudly upon me for original were spoken, the Greek and the Latin, there is no poetry. When I shall have done with Homer, similar incumbrance of expression to be found. probably he will not call in vain. Having found Secondly, The perpetual use of it in our language the prime feather of a swan on the banks of the is to us miserable poets attended with two great smug and silver Trent, he keeps it for me.
Adieu, dear cousin, W. C.
I am sorry that the General has such indifferent health. He must not die. I can by no means spare a person so kind to me.
inconveniences. Our verse consisting only of ten syllables, it not unfrequently happens that a fifth part of a line is to be engrossed, and necessarily too, (unless elision prevents it) by this abominable intruder; and, which is worse in my account, open vowels are continually the consequence-The element-The air, &c. Thirdly, the French, who are equally with the English chargeable with barbarism in this particular, dispose of their Le and their La without ceremony, and always take care that they shall be absorbed, both in verse and in ALAS! alas! my dear, dear friend, may God prose, in the vowel that immediately follows them. himself comfort you! I will not be so absurd as to Fourthly, and I believe lastly, (and for your sake attempt it. By the close of your letter it should I wish it may prove so) the practice of cutting seem, that in this hour of great trial he withholds short a The is warranted by Milton, who of all
TO THE REV. WALTER BAGOT.
English poets that ever lived, had certainly the will of course pass into your hands before they LET. 212. finest ear. Dr. Warton indeed has dared to say are sent to Johnson. The quire that I sent is that he had a bad one; for which he deserves, as now in the hands of Johnson's friend. I intended far as critical demerit can deserve it, to lose his to have told you in my last, but forgot it, that Johnown. I thought I had done, but there is still a son behaves very handsomely in the affair of my fifthly behind, and it is this, that the custom of two volumes. He acts with a liberality not often abbreviating The belongs to the style in which, found in persons of his occupation, and to mention in my advertisement annexed to the specimen, I it, when occasion calls me to it, is a justice due to profess to write. The use of that style would have him. warranted me in the practice of much greater liberty of this sort than I ever intended to take. In ter-several compliments were paid me, on the I am very much pleased with Mr. Stanley's letperfect consistence with that style I might say, subject of that first volume, by my own friends> I' th' tempest, I' th' door-way, &c., which however but I do not recollect that I ever knew the opinion I would not allow myself to. do, because I was of a stranger about it before, whether favourable aware that it would be objected to, and with rea- or otherwise; I only heard by a side wind, that son. But it seems to me for the causes above said, it was very much read in Scotland, and more than that when I shorten The, before a vowel, or before here. wh, as in the line you mention,
Farewell, my dearest cousin, whom we expect, of whom we talk continually, and whom we continually long for. W. C.
"Than th' whole broad Hellespont in all its parts," my license is not equally exceptionable, because W though he rank as a consonant in the word and you may rest assured, my dear, that I have all Your anxious wishes for my success delight me, whole, is not allowed to announce himself to the the ambition on the subject that you can wish me ear; and H is an aspirate. But as I said at the to feel. I more than admire my author. I often beginning, so say I still, I am most willing to con- stand astonished at his beauties. I am for ever form myself to your very sensible observation, that amused with the translation of him, and I have it is necessary, if we would please, to consult the received a thousand encouragements. These are taste of our own day; neither would I have pelted all so many happy omens, that I hope shall be you, my dearest cousin, with any part of this vol- verified by the event. ley of good reasons, had I not designed them as an answer to those objections which you say you have heard from others. But I only mention them. Though satisfactory to myself, I waive them, and will allow to The his whole dimensions, whenso ever it can be done.
Thou only critic of my verse that is to be found in all the earth, whom I love, what shall I say in answer to your own objection to that passage,
"Softly he plac'd his hand
On the old man's hand, and push'd it gently away?"
MY DEAR FRIEND,
March 13, 1786.
that it will not be a letter, but a scrap that I I SEEM to be about to write to you, but I foresee shall send you. I could tell you things that, knowing how much you interest yourself in my success, I am sure would please you, but every moment of my leisure is necessarily spent at Troy. I can say neither more nor less than this, that more labour than at first. At the repeated soliciI am revising my translation, and bestowing on it when our dear friend, the General, sent me his tation of General Cowper, who had doubtless irreopinion of the specimen, quoting those very few fragable reason on his side, I have put my book words from it, he added, "With this part 1 was into the hands of the most extraordinary critic particularly pleased; there is nothing in poetry that I have ever heard of. He is a Swiss; has more descriptive." Such were his very words. an accurate knowledge of English, and for his Taste, my dear, is various: there is nothing so knowledge of Homer has, I verily believe, no felvarious; and even between the persons of the best low. Johnson recommended him to me. taste there are diversities of opinion on the same to send him the quires as fast as I finish them off, subject, for which it is not possible to account. So and the first is now in his hands. I have the comI am much for these matters. pleased with what he has seen. fort to be able to tell you, that he is very much Johnson wrote
You advise me to consult the General, and to confide in him. I follow your advice, and have to me lately on purpose to tell me so. done both. By the last post I asked his permis- having taken this turn, I fear that I must beg a sion to send him the books of my Homer, as fast release from my engagement to put the MS. into as I should finish them off. I shall be glad of his your hands. I am bound to print as soon as three remarks, and more glad than of any thing, to do hundred shall have subscribed, and consequently that which I hope may be agreeable to him. They have not an hour to spare.