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either of those learned bodies thinks fit to move, | At any rate we shall not, I hope, hereafter be the other always makes it a point to sit still, thus known to each other as poets only, for your writproving its superiority. ings have made me ambitious of a nearer approach
I shall send up your letter to Lady Hesketh in to you. Your door, however, will never be opena day or two, knowing that the intelligence con-ed to me. My fate and fortune have combined tained in it will afford her the greatest pleasure. with my natural disposition to draw a circle round Know likewise for your own gratification, that all me which I can not pass; nor have I been more the Scotch universities have subscribed, none ex- than thirteen miles from home these twenty years, cepted. and so far very seldom. But you are a younger
We are all as well as usual; that is to say, as man, and therefore may not be quite so immoveawell as reasonable folks expect to be on the crazy ble; in which case, should you choose at any time side of this frail existence. to move Weston-ward, you will always find me happy to receive you; and in the mean time I remain, with much respect,
I rejoice that we shall so soon have you again at our fireside. W. C.
TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.
Your most obedient servant, critic, and friend,
TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.
P. S. I wish to know what you mean to do with Sir Thomas. For though I expressed doubts Weston, March 6, 1791. about his theatrical possibilities, I think him a very AFTER all this ploughing and sowing on the respectable person, and with some improvement plains of Troy, once fruitful, such at least to my well worthy of being introduced to the public. translating predecessor, some harvest I hope will arise for me also. My long work has received its last, last touches; and I am now giving my preface its final adjustment. We are in the fourth Odyssey in the course of our printing, and I expect that I and the swallows shall appear together. They have slept all the winter, but I, on the contrary, have been extremely busy. Yet if I can "viram volitare per ora" as swiftly as they through the air, I shall account myself well requited. .Adieu! W. C.
TO THE REV. MR. HURDIS.
Weston, March 6, 1791.
March 10, 1791.
GIVE my affectionate remembrances to your sisters, and tell them I am impatient to entertain them with my old story new dressed.
I have two French prints hanging in my study, both on Iliad subjects; and I have an English one in the parlour, on a subject from the same poem. In one of the former, Agamemnon addresses Achil"les exactly in the attitude of a dancing-master turning miss in a minuet; in the latter the figures are plain, and the attitudes plain also. This is, in some considerable measure I believe, the difference I HAVE always entertained, and have occasion-between my translation and Pope's; and will serve ally avowed, a great degree of respect for the abi- as an exemplification of what I am going to lay lities of the unknown author of the Village Curate, before you and the public. unknown at that time, but now well known, and not to me only, but to many. For before I was favoured with your obliging letter, I knew your name, your place of abode, your profession, and that you had four sisters; all which I learned neither from our bookseller, nor from any of his connexions; you will perceive, therefore, that you are no longer an author incognito. The writer indeed of many passages that have fallen from your pen could not long continue so. Let genius, true genius, conceal itself where it may, we may say of it, as the young man in Terence of his beautiful mistress, "Diu latere non potest."
TO THE REV. WALTER BAGOT.
MY DEAR FRIEND, Weston, March 18, 1791.
I am obliged to you for your kind offers of service, and will not say that I shall not be trouble- I did not call in question Johnson's true spirit some to you hereafter; but at present I have no of poetry, because he was not qualified to relish need to be so. I have within these two days given blank verse (though, to tell you the truth, I think the very last stroke of my pen to my long Translation, and what will be my next career I know not.
Sir Thomas More, a Tragedy.
that but an ugly symptom;) but if I did not ex- Norwich maiden? To which I reply, it will be press it I meant however to infer it from the per- by no means improper. On the contrary, I am verse judgment that he has formed of our poets in persuaded that she will give her name with a very general; depreciating some of the best, and mak- good will, for she is much an admirer of poesy ing honourable mention of others, in my opinion that is worthy to be admired, and such I think, not undeservedly neglected. I will lay you six- judging by the specimen, the poesy of this maidpence that, had he lived in the days of Milton, and en, Elizabeth Bentley of Norwich, is likely to by any accident had met with his Paradise Lost, he would neither have directed the attention of others to it, nor have much admired it himself. Good sense, in short, and strength of intellect, seem to me, rather than a fine taste, to have been his distinguished characteristics. But should you still think otherwise, you have my free permission; for so long as you yourself have a taste for the beauties of Cowper, I care not a fig whether Johnson had a taste or not.
Not that I am myself inclined to expect in general great matters, in the poetical way, from persons whose ill fortune it has been to want the common advantages of education; neither do I account it in general a kindness to such, to encourage them in the indulgence of a propensity more likely to do them harm in the end, than to advance their interest. Many such phenomena have arisen within my remembrance, at which all the world has wondered for a season, and has then forgot them.
I wonder where you find all your quotations, pat as they are to the present condition of France. Do you make them yourself, or do you actually find The fact is, that though strong natural genius them? I am apt to suspect sometimes, that you is always accompanied with strong natural tenimpose them only on a poor man who has but twen-dency to its object, yet it often happens that the ty books in the world, and two of them are your tendency is found where the genius is wanting. brother Chester's. They are however much to the purpose, be the author of them who he may.
In the present instance, however (the poems of a certain Mrs. Leapor excepted, who published I was very sorry to learn lately that my friend some forty years ago) I discern, I think, more at Chicheley has been sometimes indisposed, either marks of a true poetical talent than I rememwith gout or rheumatism, (for it seems to be un- ber to have observed in the verses of any certain which) and attended by Dr. Kerr. I am other, male or female, so disadvantageously cirat a loss to conceive how so temperate a man cumstanced. I wish her therefore good speed, should acquire the gout, and am resolved therefore and subscribe to her with all my heart.
to conclude that it must be the rheumatism, which,
You will rejoice when I tell you that I have bad as it is, is in my judgment the best of the two; some hopes, after all, of a harvest from Oxford and will afford me besides some opportunity to also; Mr. Throckmorton has written to a person sympathize with him, for I am not perfectly ex- of considerable influence there, which he has deempt from it myself. Distant as you are in situa-sired him to exert in my favour; and his request, tion, you are yet perhaps nearer to him in point I should imagine, will hardly prove a vain one. of intelligence than I; and if you can send me any particular news of him, pray do it in your
I love and thank you for your benediction. If God forgive me my sins, surely I shall love him much, for I have much to be forgiven. But the quantum need not discourage me, since there is One whose atonement can suffice for all.
Adieu. W. C.
TO SAMUEL ROSE, ESQ.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
You apologize for which affords me so not but be satisfied.
Weston, March. 24, 1791. your silence in a manner much pleasure, that I can Let business be the cause, That is a cause to which I would even be accessary myself, and would increase yours by any means, except by a lawsuit of my own, at the expense of all your opportunities of writing oftener than thrice in a twelvemonth.
Τι δε καθ' αιμα μεν, και σοι, και εμοι και αδελφοις and I am contented.
Accept our joint remembrances, and believe me affectionately yours, W. C.
TO JOHN JOHNSON, ESQ.
MY DEAREST JOHNNY,
You ask if it may not be improper to solicit
Your application to Dr. Dunbar reminds me of two lines to be found somewhere in Dr. Young:
"And now a poet's gratitude you see:
"Grant him two favours, and he'll ask for three."
Lady Hesketh's subscription to the poems of the In this particular therefore I perceive that a poet,
and a poet's friend, bear a striking resemblance to Our thanks are due to you for the book you each other. The Doctor will bless himself that sent us. Mrs. Unwin has read me several parts the number of Scotch universities is not larger, of it, which I have much admired. The obserassured that if they equalled those in England, in vations are shrewd and pointed; and there is number of colleges, you would give him no rest much wit in the similes and illustrations. Yet a till he had engaged them all. It is true, as Lady remark struck me, which I could not help making Hesketh told you, that I shall not fear in the vivâ voce on the occasion. If the book has any matter of subscription a comparison even with real value, and does in truth deserve the notice Pope himself; considering (I mean) that we live taken of it by those to whom it is addressed, its in days of terrible taxation, and when verse, not claim is founded neither on the expression, nor on being a necessary of life, is accounted dear, be it the style, nor on the wit of it, but altogether on what it may, even at the lowest price. I am no the truth that it contains. Now the same truths very good arithmetician, yet I calculated the other are delivered, to my knowledge, perpetually from day in my morning walk, that my two volumes, the pulpit by ministers, whom the admirers of this at the price of three guineas, will cost the pur- writer would disdain to hear. Yet the truth is chaser less than the seventh part of a farthing not the less important for not being accompanied per line. Yet there are lines among them, that and recommended by brilliant thoughts and exhave cost me the labour of hours, and none that pressions; neither is God, from whom comes all have not cost me some labour. W. C. truth, any more a respecter of wit than he is of persons. It will appear soon whether they applaud the book for the sake of its unanswerable arguments, or only tolerate the argument for the sake of the splendid manner in which it is enforced. I wish as heartily that it may do them good, as if I were myself the author of it. But JOHNSON writes me word that he has repeated-alas! my wishes and hopes are much at variance. ly called on Horace Walpole, and has never It will be the talk of the day, as another publicafound him at home. He has also written to him, tion of the same kind has been; and then the and received no answer. I charge thee therefore noise of Vanity-fair will drown the voice of the on thy allegiance, that thou move not a finger preacher. more in this business. My back is up, and I can I am glad to learn that the Chancellor does not not bear the thought of wooing him any further, forget me, though more for his sake than my own; nor would do it, though he were as pig a gentle-for I see not how he can ever serve a man like man (look you!) as Lucifer himself. I have me. Welch blood in me, if the pedigree of the Donnes say true, and every drop of it says "Let him alone!"
TO LADY HESKETH.
Friday night, March 25, 1791.
MY DEAREST COZ,
I should have dined at the Hall to-day, having engaged myself to do so; but an untoward occurrence, that happened last night, or rather this morning, prevented me. It was a thundering rap at the door, just after the clock struck three. First, I thought the house was on fire. Then I thought the Hall was on fire. Then I thought it was a house-breaker's trick. Then I thought it was an express. In any case I thought that if it should be repeated, it would awaken and terrify Mrs. Unwin, and kill her with spasms. The consequence of all these thoughts was the worst nervous fever I ever had in my life, although it was the shortest. The rap was given but once, though a multifarious one. Had I heard a second, I should have risen myself at all adventures. It was the only minute since you went, in which I have been glad that you were not here. Soon after I came down, I learned that a drunken party had passed through the village at that time, and they were no doubt the authors of this witty, but troublesome invention.
Adieu, my dearest Coz, W. C.
TO MRS. THROCKMORTON.
April 1, 1791.
Could Homer come himself, distress'd and poor,
I have read your husband's pamphlet through and through. You may think perhaps, and so may he, that a question so remote from all concern of mine could not interest me; but if you think so, you are both mistaken. He can write nothing
that will not interest me; in the first place, for | Homer has no news to tell us; and when, all other the writer's sake; and in the next place because comforts of life having risen in price, poetry has he writes better and reasons better than any body, of course fallen. I call it a "comfort of life;" it with more candour, and more sufficiency; and is so to others, but to myself it has become even a consequently with more satisfaction to all his necessary. readers, save only his opponents. They, I think, by this time, wish that they had let him alone.
These holiday times are very unfavourable to the printer's progress. He and all his demons are Tom is delighted past measure with his wooden making themselves merry, and me sad, for I mourn nag, and gallops at a rate that would kill any at every hindrance.
horse that had a life to lose.
Adieu, W. C.
TO JOHN JOHNSON, ESQ.'
MY DEAR JOHNNY,
TO THE REV. WALTER BAGOT. MY DEAR FRIEND,
Weston, May 2, 1791. MONDAY being a day in which Homer has now no demands on me, I shall give part of the present Monday to you. But it this moment occurs to me that the proposition with which I begin will be obscure to you, unless followed by an explanation. You are to understand therefore that Monday being no postday, I have consequently no proof-sheets to correct, the correction of which is nearly all that I have to do with Homer at present: I say nearly all, because I am likewise occasionally employed in reading over the whole of what is already printed, that I may make a table of errata to each of the poems. How much is already printed say you?-I answer-the whole Iliad, and almost seventeen books of the Odyssey.
Αλλο δέ τοι ερέω συ δ' ενι φρεσι βάλλεο σητί. Stay not an hour beyond the time you have mentioned, even though you should be able to add a thousand names by so doing! For I can not afford to purchase them at that cost. I long to see About a fortnight since, perhaps three weeks, I you, and so do we both, and will not suffer you to had a visit from your nephew, Mr. Bagot, and his postpone your visit for any such consideration. tutor, Mr. Hurlock, who came hither under conNo, my dear boy! in the affair of subscriptions duct of your niece, Miss Barbara. So were the we are already illustrious enough; shall be so at friends of Ulysses conducted to the palace of Anleast, when you shall have enlisted a college or two tiphates, the Læstrigonian, by that monarch's more, which perhaps you may be enabled to do in daughter. But mine is no palace, neither am I the course of the ensuing week. I feel myself a giant, neither did I devour any one of the parmuch obliged to your university, and much dis- ty-on the contrary, I gave them chocolate, and posed to admire the liberality of spirit they have permitted them to depart in peace. I was much shown on this occasion. Certainly I had not de- pleased both with the young man and his tutor. served much favour of their hands, all things con- In the countenance of the former I saw much sidered. But the cause of literature seems to have Bagotism, and not less in manners. I will leave some weight with them, and to have superseded you to guess what I mean by that expression. the resentment they might be supposed to enter- Physiognomy is a study of which I have almost tain on the score of certain censures, that you wot as high an opinion as Lavater himself, the profesof. It is not so at Oxford.
TO SAMUEL ROSE, ESQ.
sor of it, and for this good reason, because it never yet deceived me. But perhaps I shall speak more truly if I say that I am somewhat of an adept in the art, although I have never studied it; for whether I will or not, I judge of every human creature by the countenance, and, as I say, have never yet seen reason to repent of my judgment. to Sometimes I feel myself powerfully attracted, as I was by your nephew, and sometimes with equal vehemence repulsed, which attraction and repulsion have always been justified in the sequel.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
I have lately read, and with more attention than
Pope's subscriptions did not amount, I think, to six hundred; and mine will not fall very far short I ever gave them before, Milton's Latin poems. of five. Noble doings, at a time of day when But these I must make the subject of some future
letter, in which it will be ten to one that your| friend Samuel Johnson gets another slap or two at the hands of your humble servant. Pray read them yourself, and with as much attention as I did; then read the Doctor's remarks if you have them, and then tell me what you think of both. It will be pretty sport for you on such a day as this, which is the fourth that we have had of almost incessant rain. The weather, and a cold, the effect of it, have confined me ever since last Thursday. Mrs. Unwin however is well, and joins me in every good wish to you and your family. I am, my good friend, Most truly yours, W. C.
You will wonder perhaps, my Johnny, that Mrs. Unwin, by my desire, enjoined you to secrecy concerning the translation of the Frogs and Mice. Wonderful it may well seem to you that I should wish to hide for a short time from a few, TO THE REV. MR. BUCHANAN.. what I am just going to publish to all. But I had more reasons than one for this mysterious manMY DEAR SIR, Weston, May 11, 1791. agement; that is to say, I had two. In the first You have sent me a beautiful poem, wanting place, I wished to surprise my readers agreeably; nothing but metre. I would to Heaven that and secondly, I wished to allow none of my friends you would give it that requisite yourself; for he an opportunity to object to the measure, who might who could make the sketch, can not but be well think it perhaps a measure more bountiful than qualified to finish. But if you will not, I will; prudent. But I have had my sufficient reward, provided always nevertheless, that God gives me ability, for it will require no common share to do justice to your conceptions.
I am much yours, W. C. Your little messenger vanished before I could
TO LADY HESKETH.
though not a pecuniary one. It is a poem of much humour, and accordingly I found the translation of it very amusing. It struck me too, that I must either make it part of the present publication, or never publish it at all; it would have been so terribly out of its place in any other volume.
I long for the time that shall bring you once more to Weston, and all your et ceteras with you. O! what a month of May has this been! Let never poet, English poet at least, give himself to the praises of May again. W. C.
MY DEAREST COZ, Has another of my letters fallen short of its destination; or wherefore is it, that thou writest not? One letter in five weeks is a poor allowance for your friends at Weston. One that MY DEAREST COZ, The Lodge, May 27, 1791.
TO LADY HESKETH.
I, WHO am neither dead, nor sick, nor idle, should have no excuse, were I as tardy in answering, as you in writing. I live indeed where leisure abounds; and you, where leisure is not: a difference that accounts sufficiently both for your silence and my loquacity.
When you told Mrs.
I received two or three days since from Mrs. Frog, has not at all enlightened me on this head. I wander in a wilderness of vain conjecture. I have had a letter lately from New York, from a Dr. Cogswell of that place to thank me for my fine verses, and to tell me, which pleased me particularly, that after having read the Task, my first -, that my Homer volume fell into his hands, which he read also, and would come forth in May, you told her what you was equally pleased with. This is the only in- believed, and therefore no falsehood. But you told stance I can recollect of a reader, who has done her at the same time what will not happen, and justice to my first effusions: for I am sure, that in therefore not a truth. There is a medium between point of expression they do not fall a jot below my second, and that in point of subject they are for the most part superior. But enough, and too much of this. The Task, he tells me, has been reprinted in that city.
Adieu! my dearest coz.
truth and falsehood; and (I believe) the word mistake expresses it exactly. I will therefore say that you were mistaken. If instead of May you had mentioned June, I flatter myself that you would have hit the mark. For in June there is every probability that we shall publish. You will
We have blooming scenes under wintry skies, say, "hang the printer!--for it is his fault!" But and with icy blasts to fan them. stay, my dear, hang him not just now! For to execute him, and find another, will cost us time,
Ever. thine, W. C.