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cousin Harriet. She and I have been many a time merry at Catfield, and have made the parsonage ring with laughter. Give my love to her. Assure yourself, my dearest cousin, that I shall receive you as if you were my sister; and Mrs. Unwin is, for my sake, prepared to do the same. When she has seen you, she will love you for your own.
I am much obliged to Mr. Bodham for his kindness to my Homer, and with my love to you all, and with Mrs. Unwin's kind respects, am,
My dear, dear Rose, ever yours, W. C.
love you much, both for her sake, and for your stead, and has a share in my warmest affections. own. The world could not have furnished you Pray tell her so! Neither do I at all forget my with a present so acceptable to me, as the picture which you have so kindly sent me. I received it the night before last, and viewed it with a trepidation of nerves and spirits somewhat akin to what I should have felt, had the dear original presented herself to my embraces. I kissed it, and hung it where it is the last object that I see at night, and of course the first on which I open my eyes in the morning. She died when I had completed my sixth year, yet I remember her well, and am an ocular witness of the great fidelity of the copy. I remember too a multitude of the maternal tendernesses which I received from her, and which have endeared her memory to me P. S.-I mourn the death of your poor brother beyond expression. There is in me, I believe, Castres, whom I should have seen had he lived, more of the Donne than of the Cowper; and and should have seen with the greatest pleasure. though I love all of both names, and have a thou-He was an amiable boy, and I was very fond of sand reasons to love those of my own name, yet I feel the bond of nature draw me vehemently to your side. I was thought in the days of my childhood much to resemble my mother, and in my natural temper, of which at the age of fifty-eight I must be supposed a competent judge, can trace both her, and my late uncle, your father. Somewhat of his irritability, and a little I would hope both of his and of her I know not what to call it, without seeming to praise myself, which is not my intention, but speaking to you, I will even speak out, and say good nature. Add to all this, I deal much in poetry, as did our venerable ancestor, the Dean of St. Paul's, and I think I shall have proved myself a Donne at all points. The truth is, that whatever I am, I love you all.
I account it a happy event, that brought the dear boy, your nephew, to my knowledge, and that breaking through all the restraints which his natural bashfulness imposed on him, he determined to find me out. He is amiable to a degree that I have seldom seen, and I often long with impatience to see him again.
Still another P. S-I find on consulting Mrs. Unwin, that I have underrated our capabilities, and that we have not only room for you and Mr. Bodham, but for two of your sex, and even for your nephew into the bargain. We shall be happy to have it all so occupied.
Your nephew tells me that his sister, in the qualities of the mind, resembles you: that is enough to make her dear to me, and I beg you will assure her that she is so. Let it not be long before I hear from you.
TO JOHN JOHNSON, ESQ.
MY DEAR COUSIN JOHN,
Weston, Feb. 28, 1790.
I HAVE much wished to hear from you, and though you are welcome to write to Mrs. Unwin as often as you please, I wish myself to be numbered among your correspondents.
I shall find time to answer you, doubt it not! Be as busy as we may, we can always find time to do what is agreeable to us. By the way, had you a letter from Mrs. Unwin? I am witness that she addressed one to you before you went into Norfolk; but your mathematico-poetical head forgot to acknowledge the receipt of it.
My dearest cousin, what shall I say in answer to your affectionate invitation? I must say this, I can not come now, nor soon, and I wish with all my heart I could. But I will tell you what may be done perhaps, and it will answer to us just as well: you and Mr. Bodham can come to Weston, can you not? The summer is at hand, there are roads and wheels to bring you, and you are nei- I was never more pleased in my life than to ther of you translating Homer. I am crazed that learn, and to learn from herself, that my dearest I can not ask you all together for want of house- Rose* is still alive. Had she not engaged me to room; but for Mr. Bodham and yourself, we have love her by the sweetness of her character when a good room, and equally good for any third, in the child, she would have done it effectually now, by shape of a Donne, whether named Hewitt, Bod- making me the most acceptable present in the ham, Balls, or Johnson, or by whatever name dis- world, my own dear mother's picture. I am pertinguished. Mrs. Hewitt has particular claims upon me; she was my playfellow at Berkham
Mrs. Anne Bodham.
TO LADY HESKETH.
haps the only person living who remembers her,|
exactly was her own; she was one of the tender- I thank thee much and oft for negotiating so
est parents, and so just a copy of her is therefore to me invaluable.
I wrote yesterday to my Rose, to tell her all this, and to thank her for her kindness in sending it! Neither do I forget your kindness, who intimated to her that I should be happy to possess
well this poetical concern with Mrs. and for sending me her opinion in her own hand. I should be unreasonable indeed not to be highly gratified by it, and I like it the better for being modestly expressed. It is, as you know, and it shall be some months longer, my daily business to polish and improve what is done, that when the She invites me into Norfolk, but alas she might whole shall appear she may find her expectations as well invite the house in which I dwell; for all answered. I am glad also that thou didst send other considerations and impediments apart, how her the sixteenth Odyssey, though, as I said beis it possible that a translator of Homer should fore, I know not at all at present whereof it is lumber to such a distance! But though I can not made: but I am sure that thou wouldst not have comply with her kind invitation, I have made my-sent it, hadst thou not conceived a good opinion self the best amends in my power by inviting her, of it thyself, and thought that it would do me creand all the family of Donnes, to Weston. Per-dit. It was very kind in thee to sacrifice to this haps we could not accommodate them all at once, Minerva on my account. but in succession we could; and can at any time find room for five, three of them being females, and one a married one. You are a mathematician; tell me then how five persons can be lodged in three beds (two males and three females), and I shall have good hope, that you will proceed a senior optime? It would make me happy to see our house so furnished. As to yourself, whom I know to be a subscalarian, or a man that sleeps under the stairs, I should have no objection to all, nei- Mrs. Unwin bids me return thee many thanks ther could you possibly have any yourself, to the for thy inquiries so kindly made concerning her garret, as a place in which you might be disposed health. She is a little better than of late, but has of with great felicity of accommodation.
I thank you much for your services in the transcribing way, and would by no means have you despair of an opportunity to serve me in the same way yet again-write to me soon, and tell me when I shall see you. ·
I have not said the half that I have to say, but breakfast is at hand, which always terminates my epistles.
For my sentiments on the subject of the Test Act, I can not do better than refer thee to my poem, entitled and called " Expostulation." I have there expressed myself not much in its favour; considering it in a religious view; and in a political one I like it not a jot the better. I am neither Tory nor High Churchman, but an old Whig, as my father was before me; and an enemy consequently to all tyrannical impositions.
been ill continually ever since last November. Every thing that could try patience and submission she has had, and her submission and patience have answered in the trial, though mine on her account have often failed sadly.
I have a letter from Johnson, who tells me that he has sent his transcript to you, begging at the same time more copy. Let him have it by all means; he is an industrious youth, and I love him What have you done with your poem? The dearly. I told him that you are disposed to love trimming that it procured you here has not, I hope, him a little. "A new poem is born on the receipt put you out of conceit with it entirely, you are of my mother's picture. Thou shalt have it.
more than equal to the alteration that it needs. Only remember, that in writing, perspicuity is al ways more than half the battle. The want of it is the ruin of more than half the poetry that is published. A meaning that does not stare you in the face is as bad as no meaning, because nobody will take the pains to poke for it. So now adieu for the present. Beware of killing yourself with problems; for if you do, you will never live to be another Sir Isaac.
Mrs. Unwin's affectionate remembrances attend you; Lady Hesketh is much disposed to love you; perhaps most who know you have some little tendency the same way.
mation upon that subject more from your looks the other half, or the upper part of it, continuing than from your own acknowledgments To com- still unoccupied. My artist in this way at Olney plain much and often of our indispositions does has however undertaken to make the whole of it not always ensure the pity of the hearer, perhaps tenantable, and then I shall be twenty years youngsometimes forfeits it; but to dissemble them alto-er than you have ever seen me.
gether, or at least to suppress the worst, is attended I heard of your birthday very early in the mornultimately with an inconvenience greater still; the ing; the news came from the steeple.
TO LADY HESKETH.
secret will out at last, and our friends, unprepared to receive it, are doubly distressed about us. In saying this I squint a little at Mrs. Unwin, who will read it; it is with her as with you, the only subject on which she practises any dissimulation The Lodge, March 22, 1790. at all; the consequence is, that when she is much I REJOICE, my dearest cousin, that my MSS. indisposed I never believe myself in possession of have roamed the earth so successfully, and have the whole truth, live in constant expectation of met with no disaster. The single book excepted hearing something worse, and at the long run am that went to the bottom of the Thames and rose seldom disappointed. It seems therefore, as on again, they have been fortunate without exception. all other occasions, so even in this, the better I am not superstitious, but have nevertheless as course on the whole to appear what we are; not good a right to believe that adventure an omen, to lay the fears of our friends asleep by cheerful and a favourable one, as Swift had to interpret, as looks, which do not properly belong to us, or by he did, the loss of a fine fish, which he had no letters written as if we were well, when in fact sooner laid on the bank, than it flounced into the we are very much otherwise. On condition how-water again. This he tells us himself, he always ever that you act differently toward me for the fu- considered as a type of his future disappointments; ture, I will pardon the past, and she may gather from my clemency shown to you, some hopes, on the same conditions, of similar clemency to herself W. C.
TO MRS. THROCKMORTON.
The Lodge, March 27, 1790.
and why may not I as well consider the marvel lous recovery of my lost book from the bottom of the Thames, as typical of its future prosperity? To say the truth, I have no fears now about the success of my Translation, though in time past I have had many. I knew there was a style somewhere, could I but find it, in which Homer ought to be rendered, and which alone would suit him. Long time I blundered about it, ere I could attain MY DEAREST MADAM, to any decided judgment on the matter; at first I I SHALL only observe on the subject of your ab- was betrayed by a desire of accommodating my sence that you have stretched it since you went, language to the simplicity of his, into much of the and have made it a week longer. Weston is sadly quaintness that belonged to our writers of the fifunked without you; and here are two of us, who teenth century. In the course of many revisals I will be heartily glad to see you again. I believe have delivered myself from this evil, I believe, enyou are happier at home than any where, which tirely; but I have done it slowly, and as a man is a comfortable belief to your neighbours, because separates himself from his mistress when he is it affords assurance that since you are neither going to marry. I had so strong a predilection in likely to ramble for pleasure, nor to meet with any avocations of business, while Weston shall continue to be your home, it will not often want you.
favour of this style at first, that I was crazed to find that others were not as much enamoured with it as myself. At every passage of that sort which I The two first books of my Iliad have been sub-obliterated, I groaned bitterly, and said to myself, mitted to the inspection and scrutiny of a great I am spoiling my work to please those who have critic of your sex, at the instance of my cousin, as no taste for the simple graces of antiquity. But you may suppose. The lady is mistress of more in measure as I adopted a more modern phraseotongues than a few (it is to be hoped she is single), logy, I become a convert to their opinion, and in and particularly she is mistress of the Greek. She the last revisal, which I am now making, am not returned them with expressions that if any thing sensible of having spared a single expression of the could make a poet prouder than all poets naturally obsolete kind. I see my work so much improved are, would have made me so. I tell you this, be- by this alteration, that I am filled with wonder at cause I know that you all interest yourselves in my own backwardness to assent to the necessity the success of the said Iliad. of it, and the more when I consider that Milton, My periwig is arrived, and is the very perfection with whose manner I account myself intimately of all periwigs, having only one fault; which is, acquainted, is never quaint, never twangs through that my head will only go into the first half of it, the nose, but is every where grand and elegant,
without resorting to musty antiquity for his beau-| have said composed. Very likely-but 1 am not ties. On the contrary, he took a long stride for- writing to one of that snarling generation. ward, left the language of his own day far behind My boy, I long to see thee again. It has haphim, and anticipated the expressions of a century pened some way or other, that Mrs. Unwin and yet to come. I have conceived a great affection for thee. That
I have now, as I said, no longer any doubt of I should, is the less to be wondered at (because the event, but I will give thee a shilling if thou wilt thou art a shred of my own mother); neither is tell me what I shall say in my preface. It is an the wonder great that she should fall into the same affair of much delicacy, and I have as many predicament: for she loves every thing that I love. opinions about it as there are whims in a weather- You will observe that your own personal right to cock. be beloved makes no part of the consideration.
Send my MSS. and thine when thou wilt. In There is nothing that I touch with so much tena day or two I shall enter on the last Iliad. When derness as the vanity of a young man; because I I have finished it I'shall give the Odyssey one more know how extremely he is susceptible of impres reading, and shall therefore shortly have occasion sions that might hurt him in that particular part for the copy in thy possession; but you see that there is no need to hurry.
I leave the little space for Mrs. Unwin's use, who means, I believe, to occupy it.
And am evermore thine most truly, W. C.
of his composition. If you should ever prove a coxcomb, from which character you stand just now at a greater distance than any young man I know, it shall never be said that I have made you one; no, you will gain nothing by me but the honour of being much valued by a poor poet, who Postscript in the hand of Mrs. Unwin. can do you no good while he lives, and has nothing You can not imagine how much your ladyship to leave you when he dies. If you can be conwould oblige your unworthy servant, if you would tented to be dear to me on these conditions, so you be so good to let me know in what point I differ shall; but other terms more advantageous than from you. All that at present I can say is, that these, or more inviting, none have I to propose. I will readily sacrifice my own opinion, unless Farewell. Puzzle not yourself about a subject I can give you a substantial reason for adhering when you write to either of us; every thing is subject enough from those we love.
TO JOHN JOHNSON, ESQ.
Weston, March 23, 1790.
YOUR MS. arrived safe in new Norfolk Street,
TO JOHN JOHNSON, ESQ.
Weston, April 17, 1790.
YOUR letter that now lies before me is almost
and I am much obliged to you for your labours. three weeks old, and therefore of full age to reWere you now at Weston I could furnish you with ceive an answer, which it shall without delay, if employment for some weeks, and shall perhaps be the interval between the present moment and equally able to do it in summer, for I have lost my that of breakfast should prove sufficient for the best amanuensis in this place, Mr. George Throck-purpose.
morton, who is gone to Bath.
Yours to Mrs. Unwin was received yesterday,
You are a man to be envied, who have never for which she will thank you in due time. I have read the Odyssey, which is one of the most amus- also seen, and have now in my desk your letter to ing story-books in the world. There is also much Lady Hesketh; she sent it thinking it would diof the finest poetry in the world to be found in it, vert me; in which she was not mistaken. I shall notwithstanding all that Longinus has insinuated tell her when I write to her next, that you long to to the contrary. His comparison of the Iliad and receive a line from her. Give yourself no trouble Odyssey to the meridian, and the declining sun, on the subject of the politic device you saw good is pretty, but I am persuaded, not just. The pret- to recur to, when you presented me with the mantiness of it seduced him; he was otherwise too judi- uscript; it was an innocent deception, at least it cious a reader of Homer to have made it. I can could harm nobody save yourself; an effect which find in the latter no symptoms of impaired ability, it did not fail to produce; and since the punishnone of the effects of age; on the contrary, it ment followed it so closely, by me at least it may seems to me a certainty, that Homer, had he writ- very well be forgiven. You ask; how can I tell ten the Odyssey in his youth, could not have writ- that you are not addicted to practices of the deten it better; and if the Iliad in his old age, that ceptive kind? And certainly, if the little time he would have written it just as well. A critic that I have had to study you were alone to be conwould tell me, that instead of written, I should sidered, the question would not be unreasonable;
but in general a man who reaches my years finds portunity. I am in high spirits on this subject, and think that I have at last licked the clumsy cub into a shape that will secure to it the favourable notice of the public. Let notretard me,
"That long experience does attain
and I shall hope to get it out next winter.
I am very much of Lavater's opinion, and persuaded that faces are as legible as books, only with I am glad that thou hast sent the General those these circumstances to recommend them to our verses on my mother's picture. They will amuse perusal, that they are read in much less time, and him-only I hope that he will not miss my motherare much less likely to deceive us. Yours gave in-law, and think that she ought to have made a me a favourable impression of you the moment I third. On such an occasion it was not possible to beheld it, and though I shall not tell you in par- mention her with any propriety. I rejoice at the ticular what I saw in it, for reasons mentioned in General's recovery; may it prove a perfect one. my last, I will add that I had observed in you nothing since, that has not confirmed the opinion I then formed in your favour. In fact, I can not recollect that my skill in physiognomy has ever deceived me, and I should add more on this subject, had I room.
TO LADY HESKETH.
him also that to my heart and home he will be always welcome; nor he only, but all that are his. His judgment of my translation gave me the highest satisfaction, because I know him to be a rare old Grecian.
Weston, April 30, 1790. When you have shut up your mathematical To my old friend, Dr. Madan, thou couldst not books, you must give yourself to the study of have spoken better than thou didst. Tell him, I Greek; not merely that you may be able to read beseech you, that I have not forgotten him; tell Homer and the other Greek classics with ease, but the Greek Testament, and the Greek fathers also. Thus qualified, and by the aid of your fiddle into the bargain, together with some portion of the grace of God (without which nothing can be done) to enable you to look well to your flock, when you shall get one, you will be well set up for a parson. In which character, if I live to see you in it, I shall expect and hope that you will make a very different figure from most of your fraternity. Ever yours. W. C,
I THANK thee for my cousin Johnson's letter, which diverted me. I had one from him lately, in which he expressed an ardent desire of a line from you, and the delight he would feel in receiving it. I know not whether you will have the charity to satisfy his longings, but mention the matter, thinking it possible that you may. A letter from a lady to a youth immersed in mathematics must be singularly pleasant.
The General's approbation of my picture verses gave me also much pleasure. I wrote them not without tears, therefore I presume it may be that they are felt by others. Should he offer me my father's picture, I shall gladly accept it. A melancholy pleasure is better than none, nay verily better than most, He had a sad task imposed on him, but no man could acquit himself of such a one with more discretion, or with more tenderness. The death of the unfortunate young man reminded me of those lines in Lycidas,
It was that fatal and perfidious bark,
Built in th' eclipse, and rigg'd with curses dark,
TO MRS. THROCKMORTON.
MY DEAR MRS. FROG,* I am finishing Homer backward, having begun You have by this time (I presume) heard from at the last book, and designing to persevere in the Doctor, whom I desired to present to you our that crab-like fashion, till I arrive at the first. best affections, and to tell you that we are well. This may remind you perhaps of a certain poet's He sent an urchin (I do not mean a hedge-hog, prisoner in the Bastile (thank Heaven! in the commonly called an urchin in old times, but a Bastile now no more) counting the nails in the boy, commonly so called at present) expecting door for variety's sake in all directions. I find so that he would find you at Buckland's, whither he little to do in the last revisal, that I shall soon reach supposed you gone on Thursday. He sent him the Odyssey, and soon want those books of it charged with divers articles, and among others with which are in thy possession; the two first of the
Iliad, which are also in thy possession, much sooner; * The sportive title generally bestowed by Cowper on his thou must therefore send them by the first fair op-amiable friends the Throckmortons.