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TO LADY HESKETH.
Weston, June 3, 1790.
letters, or at least with a letter; when I mention that if the boy should be lost, together with his despatches, past all possibility of recovery, you may yet know that the Doctor stands acquitted of not writing. That he is utterly lost (that is to You will wonder when I tell you that I, even I, say the boy, for the Doctor being the last antece-am considered by people, who live at a great disdent, as the grammarians say, you might other- tance, as having interest and influence sufficient wise suppose he was intended) is the more proba- to procure a place at court for those who may ble, because he was never four miles from his home happen to want one. I have accordingly been before, having only traveled at the side of a plough- applied to within these few days by a Welshman, team; and when the Doctor gave him his direc-with a wife and many children, to get him made tion to Buckland's, he asked, very naturally, if poet-laureat as fast as possible. If thou wouldst that place was in England. So what has become wish to make the world merry twice a year, thou of him Heaven knows! canst not do better than to procure the office for him. I will promise thee, that he shall afford thee a hearty laugh in return, every birth day, and every new year. He is an honest man.
Adieu! W. C.
I do not know that any adventures have presented themselves since your departure worth mentioning, except that the rabbit, that infested your wilderness, has been shot for devouring your carnations; and that I myself have been in some danger of being devoured in like manner by a great dog, viz. Pearson's. But I wrote him a letter on TO JOHN JOHNSON, ESQ. Friday (I mean a letter to Pearson, not to his dog, which I mention to prevent mistakes-for the said MY DEAR JOHN, Weston, June 7, 1790. last antecedent might occasion them in this place You know my engagements, and are consequent also) informing him, that unless he tied up his ly able to account for my silence. I will not there great mastiff in the day-time, I would send him a fore waste time and paper in mentioning them, worse thing, commonly called and known by the but will only say that added to those with which name of an attorney. When I go forth to ramble you are acquainted, I had other hindrances, such in the fields, I do not sally like Don Quixote, with as business, and a disorder of my spirits, to which a purpose of encountering monsters, if any such I have been all my life subject. At present I am, can be found; but am a peaceable poor gentleman, thank God! perfectly well both in mind and body. and a poet, who mean nobody any harm, the fox-Of you I am always mindful, whether I write or hunters and the two universities of this land ex-not, and very desirous to see you. You will recepted.
I can not learn from any creature whether the Turnpike bill is alive or dead. So ignorant am I, and by such ignoramuses surrounded. But if I know little else, this at least I know, that I love you, and Mr. Frog; that I long for your return, and that I am, with Mrs. Unwin's best affections, Ever yours, W. C.
TO LADY HESKETH."
The Lodge, May 28, 1790.
member, I hope, that you are under engagements to us, and, as soon as your Norfolk friend can spare you, will fulfil them. Give us all the time you can, and all that they can spare to us!
You never pleased me more than when you told me you had abandoned your mathematical pursuits. It grieved me to think that you were wasting your time merely to gain a little Cambridge fame, not worth your having. I can not be contented that your renown should thrive nowhere but on the banks of the Cam. Conceive a nobler ambition, and never let your honour be circumscribed by the paltry dimensions of an university? MY DEAREST COZ, It is well that you have already, as you observe, I THANK thee for the offer of thy best services acquired sufficient information in that science, to on this occasion. But heaven guard my brows enable you to pass creditably such examinations as from the wreath you mention, whatever wreath I suppose you must hereafter undergo. Keep beside may hereafter adorn them! It would be a what you have gotten, and be content. More is leaden extinguisher clapped on all the fire of my genius, and I should never more produce a line: worth reading. To speak seriously, it would make me miserable, and therefore I am sure that thou of all my friends, wouldst least wish me to wear it.
Adieu, ever thine-in Homer-hurry, W. C.
You could not apply to a worse than I am to advise you concerning your studies. I was never a regular student myself, but lost the most valuable years of my life in an attorney's office, and in the Temple. I will not therefore give myself airs, and affect to know what I know not. The affair
is of great importance to you, and you should be of raiment by it, as Samson did by his, let me tell directed in it by a wiser than I. To speak how-you, they will be no contemptible acquisition to a ever in very general terms on the subject, it seems young beginner.
TO LADY HESKETH.
to me that your chief concern is with history, na- You will not, I hope, forget your way to Westural philosophy, logic, and divinity. As to meta- ton, in consequence of your marriage, where you physics, I know little about them. But the very and yours will be always welcome. little that I do know has not taught me to admire them. Life is too short to afford time even for serious trifles. Pursue what you know to be attainable, make truth your object, and your studies will make you a wise man! Let your divinity, if I may advise, be the divinity of the glorious Re- MY DEAREST COZ, formation: I mean in contradistinction to Arminianism, and all the isms that were ever broached in this world of error and ignorance.
The Lodge, June 17, 1790.
HERE am I, at eight in the morning, in full dress, going a visiting to Chicheley. We are a strong party, and fill two chaises; Mrs. F. the elder, and Mrs. G. in one; Mrs. F. the younger, and myself in another. Were it not that I shall find Chesters at the end of my journey, I should be inconsolable. That expectation alone supports my spirits; and even with this prospect before me, when I saw this moment a poor old woman coming up the lane opposite my window, I could not help sighing, and saying to myself" Poor, but happy old woman! thou art exempted by thy situation in life from riding in chaises, and making thyself fine in a morning, happier therefore in my account than I, who am under the cruel necessity of doing both. Neither dost thou write verses, neither hast thou ever heard of the name of Homer, whom I am miserable to abandon for a whole morning!" This, and more of the same sort, passed in my mind on seeing the old woman above said.
AMONG the many who love and esteem you, there is none who rejoices more in your felicity The troublesome business, with which I filled than myself. Far from blaming, I commend you my last letter, is (I hope) by this time concluded, much for connecting yourself, young as you are, and Mr. Archdeacon satisfied. I can, to be sure, with a well-chosen companion for life. Entering but ill afford to pay fifty pounds for another man's on the state with uncontaminated morals, you have negligence, but would be happy to pay a hundred the best possible prospect of happiness, and will rather than be treated as if I were insolvent; be secure against a thousand and ten thousand threatened with attorneys and bums. One would temptations, to which, at an early period of life, think that, living where I live, I might be exin such a Babylon as you must necessarily inha-empted from trouble. But alas! as the philosobit, you would otherwise have been exposed. I phers often affirm, there is no nook under heaven see it too in the light you do, as likely to be ad- in which trouble can not enter; and perhaps had vantageous to you in your profession. Men of there never been, one philosopher in the world, business have a better opinion of a candidate for this is a truth that would not have been always employment, who is married, because he has given altogether a secret. bond to the world, as you observe, and to himself, I have made two inscriptions lately at the refor diligence, industry, and attention. It is alto- quest of Thomas Gifford, Esq. who is sowing twengether therefore a subject of much congratulation: ty acres with acorns on one side of his house, and and mine, to which I add Mrs. Unwin's, is very twenty acres with ditto on the other. He erects sincere. Samson at his marriage proposed a rid-two memorials of stone on the occasion, that when dle to the Philistines. I am no Samson, neither posterity shall be curious to know the age of the are you a Philistine. Yet expound to me the following, if you can.
What are they, which stand at a distance from each other, and meet without ever moving?
Should you be so fortunate as to guess it, you may propose it to the company, when you celebrate your nuptials; and if you can win thirty changes
oaks, their curiosity may be gratified.*
My works therefore will not all perish, or will not all perish soon, for he has ordered his lapidary to cut the characters very deep, and in stone extremely hard. It is not in vain then, that I have
*The Inscriptions were inserted here. See Poems.
so long exercised the business of a poet. I shall | at least reap the reward of my labours, and be immortal probably for many years.
Ever thine, W.C.
TO THE REV. WALTER BAGOT.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
Weston, June 22, 1790.
TO MRS. BODHAM.
The Lodge, June 29, 1790.
MY DEAREST COUSIN, It is true that I did sometimes complain to Mrs. Unwin of your long silence. But it is likewise true, that I made many excuses for you in my own mind, and did not feel myself at all inclined to be angry, nor even much to wonder. There is an *awkwardness, and difficulty in writing to those *whom distance and length of time have made in a manner new to us, that naturally gives us a Villoison makes no mention of the serpent, check, when we would otherwise be glad to adwhose skin, or bowels, or perhaps both, were ho- dress them. But a time, I hope, is near at hand, noured with the Iliad and Odyssey inscribed upon when you and I shall be effectually delivered from them. But I have conversed with a living eye- all such constraints, and correspond as fluently as witness of an African serpent long enough to have if our intercourse had suffered much less interrupafforded skin and guts for the purpose. In Africa tion. there are ants also, which frequently destroy those
You must not suppose, my dear, that though I monsters. They are not much larger than ours, may be said to have lived many years with a pen but they travel in a column of immense length, in my hand, I am myself altogether at my ease on and eat through every thing that opposes them. this tremendous occasion. Imagine rather, and Their bite is like a spark of fire. When these you will come nearer to the truth, that when I serpents have killed their prey, lion or tiger or any placed this sheet before me I asked myself more other large animal, before they swallow him, they than once, "how shall I fill it?" One subject intake a considerable circuit round about the car- deed presents itself, the pleasant prospect that case, to see if the ants are coming, because when opens upon me of our coming once more together, they have gorged their prey, they are unable to but that once exhausted, with what shall I proescape them. They are nevertheless sometimes ceed? Thus I questioned myself; but finding surprised by them in their unwieldy state, and the neither end nor profit of such questions, I bravely ants make a passage through them. Now if you resolved to dismiss them all at once, and to engage thought your own story of Homer, bound in snake- in the great enterprise of a letter to my quondam skin, worthy of three notes of admiration, you can Rose at a venture There is great truth in a not do less than add six to mine, confessing at the rant of Nat. Lee's, or of Dryden's, I know not same time, that if I put you to the expense of a which, who makes an enamoured youth say to his letter, I do not make you pay your money for no- mistress, thing. But this account I had from a person of most unimpeached veracity.
And nonsense shall be eloquence in love.
I rejoice with you in the good Bishop's removal For certain it is, that they who truly love one anto St. Asaph, and especially because the Norfolk other are not very nice examiners of each other's parsons much more resemble the ants above-men-style or matter; if an epistle comes, it is always tioned, than he the serpent. He is neither of vast welcome, though it be perhaps neither so wise nor size, nor unwieldy, nor voracious; neither, I dare so witty as one might have wished to make it. say, does he sleep after dinner, according to the And now, my cousin, let me tell thee how much practice of the said serpent. But, harmless as he I feel myself obliged to Mr. Bodham, for the readiis, I am mistaken if his mutinous clergy did not ness he expresses to accept my invitation. Assure sometimes disturb his rest, and if he did not find him that, stranger as he is to me at present, and their bite, though they could not actually eat natural as the dread of strangers has ever been to through him, in a degree resembling fire. Good me, I shall yet receive him with open arms, bemen like him, and peaceable, should have good cause he is your husband, and loves you dearly. and peaceable folks to deal with, and I heartily That consideration alone will endear him to me, wish him such in his new diocese. But if he will and I dare say that I shall not find it his only rekeep the clergy to their business, he shall have commendation to my best affections. May the trouble, let him go where he may; and this is health of his relation (his mother, I suppose) be boldly spoken, considering that I speak it to one soon restored, and long continued, and may nothing of that reverend body. But ye are like Jeremiah's melancholy, of what kind soever, interfere to prebasket of figs. Some of you could not be better, vent our joyful meeting. Between the present and some of you are stark naught. Ask the bishop moment and September our house is clear for your himself, if this be not true! W. C. reception, and you have nothing to do but to give
us a day or two's notice of your coming. In Sep-| tember we expect Lady Hesketh, and I only regret that our house is not large enough to hold all together, for were it possible that you could meet, you would love each other.
TO JOHN JOHNSON, ESQ.
MY DEAR JOHNNY,
Weston, July 8, 1790. You do well to perfect yourself on the violin. Only beware, that an amusement so very bewitching as music, especially when we produce it ourselves, do not steal from you ALL those hours, that should be given to study. I can be well content,
Mrs. Unwin bids me offer you her best love. She is never well, but always patient, and always cheerful, and feels beforehand that she shall be loth to part with you. My love to all the dear Donnes of every name!-that it should serve you as a refreshment after write soon, no matter about what.
TO LADY HESKETH.
July 7, 1790. INSTEAD of beginning with the saffron-vested morning, to which Homer invites me, on a morning that has no saffron vest to boast, I shall begin with you.
It is irksome to us both to wait so long as we must for you, but we are willing to hope that by a longer stay you will make us amends for all this tedious procrastination.
Mrs. Unwin has made known her whole case to Mr. Gregson, whose opinion of it has been very consolatory to me: he says indeed it is a case perfectly out of the reach of all physical aid, but at the same time not at all dangerous. Constant pain is a sad grievance, whatever part is affected, and she is hardly ever free from an aching head, as well as an uneasy side, but patience is an anodyne of God's own preparation, and of that he gives her largely.
severer exercises, but not that it should engross you wholly. Your own good sense will most probably dictate to you this precaution, and I might have spared you the trouble of it; but I have a degree of zeal for your proficiency in more important pursuits, that would not suffer me to suppress it.
Having delivered my conscience by giving you this sage admonition, I will convince you that I am a censor not over and above severe, by acknowledging in the next place that I have known very good performers on the violin very learned also; and my cousin, Dr. Spencer Madan, is an instance.
I am delighted that you have engaged your sister to visit us; for I say to myself, if John be amiable, what must Catharine be? For we males, be we angelic as we may, are always surpassed by the ladies. But know this, that I shall not be in love with either of you, if you stay with us only a few days, for you talk of a week or so. Correct this erratum, I beseech you, and convince us by a much longer continuance here, that it was one.
Mrs. Unwin has never been well since you saw
writing, I perceive, who have dropped a lady; but you will be a loser by the bargain; for one letter of hers in point of real utility, and sterling value, is worth twenty of mine, and you will never
TO JOHN JOHNSON, ESQ.
The French, who like all lively folks are extreme in every thing, are such in their zeal for freedom; and if it were possible to make so noble her. You are not passionately fond of lettera cause ridiculous, their manner of promoting it could not fail to do so. Princes and peers reduced to plain gentlemanship, and gentles reduced to a level with their own lackeys, are excesses of which they will repent hereafter. Difference of rank have another from her, till you have earned it. and subordination are, I believe, of God's appointment, and consequently essential to the well-being of society: but what we mean by fanaticism in religion is exactly that which animates their politics; and unless time should sober them, they will, after all, be an unhappy people. Perhaps it Weston, July 31, 1790. deserves not much to be wondered at, that at their You have by this time, I presume, answered first escape from tyrannic shackles they should act Lady Hesketh's letter? If not, answer it without extravagantly, and treat their kings as they have delay; and this injunction I give you, judging that sometimes treated their idols. To these however it may not be entirely unnecessary; for though they are reconciled in due time again, but their I have seen you but once, and only for two or respect for monarchy is at an end. They want no- three days, I have found out that you are a scatthing now but a little English sobriety, and that ter-brain. I made the discovery perhaps the sooner, they want extremely: I heartily wish them some because in this you very much resemble myself, wit in their anger, for it were great pity that so who in the course of my life have, through mere many millions should be miserable for want of it. carelessness and inattention, lost many advan
tages: and insuperable shyness has also deprived | rine's unseasonable indisposition has also cost us me of many. And here again there is a resem- a disappointment, which we much regret; and blance between us. You will do well to guard were it not that Johnny has made shift to reach against both, for of both, I believe, you have a considerable share as well as myself.
We long to see you again, and are only concerned at the short stay you propose to make with us. If time should seem as short to you at Weston, as it seems to us, your visit here will be gone "as a dream when one awaketh, or as a watch in the night."
us, we should think ourselves completely unfortunate. But him we have, and him we will hold as long as we can, so expect not very soon to see him in Norfolk. He is so harmless, cheerful, gentle, and good-tempered, and I am so entirely at my ease with him, that I can not surrender him without a needs must, even to those who have a superior claim upon him. He left us yesterday
It is a life of dreams, but the pleasantest one morning, and whither do you think he is gone, naturally wishes longest.
and on what errand? Gone, as sure as you are I shall find employment for you, having made alive, to London, and to convey my Homer to the already some part of the fair copy of the Odyssey bookseller's. But he will return the day after toá foul one. I am revising it for the last time, and morrow, and I mean to part with him no more, spare nothing that I can mend. The Iliad is till necessity shall force us asunder. Suspect me finished. not, my cousin, of being such a monster as to
If you have Donne's poems, bring them with have imposed this task myself on your kind neyou, for I have not seen them many years, and phew, or even to have thought of doing it. It should like to look them over. happened that one day, as we chatted by the fireYou may treat us too, if you please, with a lit-side, I expressed a wish, that I could hear of some tle of your music, for I seldom hear any, and de- trusty body going to London, to whose care I light much in it. You need not fear a rival, for might consign my voluminous labours, the work we have but two fiddles in the neighbourhoodone a gardener's, the other a tailor's: terrible performers both! W. C.
[TO MR. JOHNSON.]
Sept. 7, 1790.
of five years. For I purpose never to visit that city again myself, and should have been uneasy to have left a charge, of so much importance to me, altogether to the care of a stage-coachman. Johnny had no sooner heard my wish, than offering himself to the service, he fulfilled it, and his offer was made in such terms, and accompanied with a countenance and manner expressive of so much alacriIr grieves me that after all I am obliged to go ty, that unreasonable as I thought it at first, to into public without the whole advantage of Mr. give him so much trouble, I soon found that I Fuseli's judicious strictures. My only considera- should mortify him by a refusal. He is gone tion is, that I have not forfeited them by my own therefore with a box full of poetry, of which I impatience. Five years are no small portion of think nobody will plunder him. He has only to man's life, especially at the latter end ofit; and in say what it is, and there is no commodity I think a those five years, being a man of almost no en- freebooter would covet less. W. C. gagements, I have done more in the way of hard work, than most could have done in twice the number. I beg you to present my compliments to Mr. Fuseli, with many and sincere thanks for the services that his own more important occupations would allow him to render me.
TO MRS. BODHAM.
TO SAMUEL ROSE, ESQ.
The Lodge, Sept. 13, 1790.
MY DEAR FRIEND, YOUR letter was particularly welcome to me, not only because it came after a long silence, but because it brought me good news-news of your marriage, and consequently, I trust, of your happiness. May that happiness be durable as your lives, and may you be the Felices ter et amplius of whom Horace sings so sweetly! This is my sincere wish, and, though expressed in prose, shall serve as your epithalamium. You comfort me when you say that your marriage will not deprive us ⚫ The revisal was completed on the 25th of August follow that I should regret your union, you must make of the sight of you hereafter. If you do not wish ing; five years and one month (exclusive of the period of illness before-mentioned) from the writer's entering on the that assurance good as often as you have oppor
MY DEAREST COUSIN, Weston, Sept. 9, 1790.
translation of Homer.