and so much too, that I question if, in that case, to me in a letter that I received from him in Februwe should publish sooner than in August. To ary, are the best months for publication. Theresay truth, I am not perfectly sure that there will fore now it is determined that Homer shall come be any necessity to hang him at all! though that out on the first of July; that is to say, exactly at is a matter which I desire to leave entirely at your the moment when, except a few lawyers, not a discretion, alleging only in the mean time, that creature will be left in town who will ever care the man does not appear to me during the last one farthing about him. To which of these two half-year to have been at all in fault. His re-friends of mine I am indebted for this managemittance of sheets in all that time has been punc-ment, I know not. It does not please; but I would tual, save and except while the Easter holidays be a philosopher as well as a poet, and therefore lasted, when (I suppose) he found it impossible to make no complaint, or grumble at all about it. keep his devils to their business. I shall however You, I presume, have had dealings with them receive the last sheet of the Odyssey to-morrow, and both-how did they manage for you? And if as have already sent up the Preface, together with they have for me, how did you behave under it? all the needful. You see therefore that the pub-Some who love me complain that I am too passive; lication of this famous work can not be delayed and I should be glad of an opportunity to justify much longer. myself by your example. The fact is, should I As for politics, I reck not, having no room in thunder ever so loud, no efforts of that sort will my head for any thing but the Slave-bill. That avail me now; therefore like a good economist of is lost; and all the rest is a trifle. I have not seen my bolts, I choose to reserve them for more proPaine's book, but refused to see it when it was fitable occasions. offered to me. No man shall convince me that I am improperly governed, while I feel the contrary. Adieu! W. C.

Weston, June 1, 1791.


I am glad to find that your amusements have been so similar to mine; for in this instance too I seemed to have need of somebody to keep me in countenance, especially in my attention and attachment to animals. All the notice that we lords of the creation vouchsafe to bestow on the creatures, is generally to abuse them; it is well therefore that here and there a man should be found a little womanish, or perhaps a little childish in this Now you may rest-Now I can give you joy matter, who will make some amends, by kissing, of the period, of which I gave you hope in my and coaxing, and laying them in one's bosom. last; the period of all your labours in my service. You remember the little ewe lamb, mentioned by —But this I can foretell you also, that if you per- the prophet Nathan; the prophet perhaps invented severe in serving your friends at this rate, your the tale for the sake of its application to David's life is likely to be a life of labour:-yet persevere! conscience; but it is more probable that God inyour rest will be the sweeter hereafter! In the mean time I wish you, if at any time you should find occasion for him, just such a friend as you have proved to me!

W. C.



spired him with it for that purpose. If he did, it amounts to a proof that he does not overlook, but on the contrary much notices such little partialities and kindness to his dumb creatures, as we, because we articulate, are pleased to call them.

Your sisters are fitter to judge than I, whether assembly rooms are the places of all others, in which the ladies may be studied to most advanWeston, June 13, 1791. tage. I am an old fellow, but I had once my I OUGHT to have thanked you for your agreeable dancing days, as you have now; yet I could never and entertaining letter much sooner, but I have find I learned half so much of a woman's real many correspondents, who will not be said, hay; character by dancing with her, as by conversing and have been obliged of late to give my last atten- with her at home, where I could observe her betions to Homer. The very last indeed; for yes-haviour at the table, at the fireside, and in all the terday I despatched to town, after revising them trying circumstances of domestic life. We are all carefully, the proof sheets of subscribers' names, good when we are pleased; but she is the good among which I took special notice of yours, and woman, who wants not a fiddle to sweeten her. am much obliged to you for it. We have con- If I am wrong, the young ladies will set me right; trived, or rather my bookseller and printer have in the mean time I will not tease you with graver contrived (for they have never waited a moment arguments on the subject, especially as I have a for me,) to publish as critically at the wrong time, hope that years, and the study of the Scripture, as if my whole interest and success had depended and His Spirit, whose word it is, will, in due time, upon it. March, April, and May, said Johnson bring you to my way of thinking. I am not one

of those sages, who require that young men should and should not have wanted one so long had not be as old as themselves before they have time to circumstances so fallen out since I received them be so.

With my love to your fair sisters, I remain,
Dear sir, most truly yours, W. C.



The Lodge, June 15, 1791.

as to make it impossible for me to write sooner. It is indeed but within this day or two that I have heard how, by the help of my bookseller, I may transmit an answer to you.

My title page, as it well might, misled you. It speaks me of the Inner Temple, and so I am, but a member of that society only, not as an inhabitant. I live here almost at the distance of sixty Ir it will afford you any comfort that you have miles from London, which I have not visited these a share in my affections, of that comfort you may eight and twenty years, and probably never shall avail yourself at all times. You have acquired it again. Thus it fell out that Mr. Morewood had by means which, unless I should become worthless sailed again for America before your parcel reached myself, to an uncommon degree, will always se- me, nor should I (it is likely) have received it at cure you from the loss of it. You are learning all, had not a cousin of mine, who lives in the what all learn, though few at so early an age, that Temple, by good fortune, received it first, and man is an ungrateful animal; and that benefits opened your letter; finding for whom it was intoo often, instead of securing a due return, operate tended, he transmitted to me both that and the rather as provocations to ill treatment. This I parcel. Your testimony of approbation of what I take to be the summum malum of the human have published, coming from another quarter of heart. Towards God we are all guilty of it more the globe, could not but be extremely flattering, as or less; but between man and man, we may thank was your obliging notice, that the Task had been God for it, there are some exceptions. He leaves reprinted in your city. Both volumes, I hope, have this peccant principle to operate in some degree a tendency to discountenance vice, and promote against himself in all, for our humiliation I sup- the best interests of mankind. But how far they pose; and because the pernicious effects of it in shall be effectual to these invaluable purposes, dereality can not injure him, he can not suffer by pends altogether on his blessing, whose truths I them; but he knows that unless he should restrain have endeavoured to inculcate. In the mean time its influence on the dealings of mankind with each I have sufficient proof that readers may be pleased, other, the bonds of society would be dissolved, and may approve, and yet lay down the book unedified. all charitable intercourse at an end amongst us. It was said of Archbishop Cranmer, "Do him an ill turn, and you make him your friend for ever;" of others it may be said, "Do them a good one, and they will be forever your enemies." It is the Grace of God only that makes the difference.

During the last five years I have been occupied with a work of a very different nature, a translation of the Iliad and Odyssey into blank verse, and the work is now ready for publication. I undertook it partly because Pope's is too lax a version, which has lately occasioned the learned lately The absence of Homer (for we have now shaken of this country to call aloud, for a new one, and hands and parted) is well supplied by three rela- partly because I could fall on no better expedient tions of mine from Norfolk. My cousin Johnson, to amuse a mind too much addicted to melanan aunt of his, and his sister. I love them all dearly, and am well contented to resign to them I send you in return for the volumes with which the place in my attentions so lately occupied by the you favoured me, three on religious subjects, popuchiefs of Greece and Troy. His aunt and I have lar productions that have not been long published, spent many a merry day together, when we were and that may not therefore yet have reached your some forty years younger; and we makeshift to be country; The Christian Officer's Panoply, by a merry together still. His sister is a sweet young marine officer-The Importance of the Manners woman, graceful, good-natured, and gentle, just of the Great, and an Estimate of the Religion of what I had imagined her to be before I had seen the Fashionable World. The two last are said to her. Farewell. W.C.



be written by a lady, Miss Hannah More, and are universally read by people of that rank to which she addresses them. Your manners I suppose may be more pure than ours, yet it is not unlikely that even among you may be found some to whom her strictures are applicable. I return you my thanks, Weston Underwood, near Olney, Bucks, sir, for the volumes you sent me, two of which I June 15, 1791. have read with pleasure, Mr. Edwards' book, and YOUR letter and obliging present from so great the Conquest of Canaan. The rest I have not a distance deserved a speedier acknowledgment, had time to read, except Dr. Dwight's Sermon,



[ocr errors]

which pleased me almost more than any that I or not well, or because I stay till something occur, have either seen or heard. that may make my letter at least a little better

I shall account a correspondence with you an than mere blank paper. I therefore write speedily honour, and shall remain, dear sir, in reply to yours, being at present neither much occupied, nor at all indisposed, nor forbidden by a dearth of materials.

Your obliged and obedient servant, W. C.

I wish always when I have a new piece in hand to be as secret as you, and there was a time when TO THE REV. WALTER BAGOT. I could be so. Then I lived the life of a solitary, MY DEAR FRIEND, Weston, Aug. 2, 1791. was not visited by a single neighbour, because I I was much obliged, and still feel myself much had none with whom I could associate; nor ever obliged to Lady Bagot, for the visit with which had an inmate. This was when I dwelt at Olshe favoured me. Had it been possible that I ney; but since I have removed to Weston the case could have seen Lord Bagot too, I should have is different. Here I am visited by all around me, been completely happy. For, as it happened, I and study in a room exposed to all manner of inwas that morning in better spirits than usual; and roads. It is on the ground floor, the room in which though I arrived late, and after a long walk, and we dine, and in which I am sure to be found by all extremely hot, which is a circumstance very apt who seek me. They find me generally at my desk, to disconcert me, yet I was not disconcerted half so and with my work, whatever it be, before me, unmuch as I generally am at the sight of a stranger, less perhaps I have conjured it into its hiding especially of a stranger lady, and more especially place before they have had time to enter. This at the sight of a stranger lady of quality. When however is not always the case, and consequently, the servant told me that lady Bagot was in the sooner or later, I can not fail to be detected. Posparlour, I felt my spirits sink ten degrees; but the sibly you, who I suppose have a snug study, would moment I saw her, at least when I had been a find it impracticable to attend to any thing closely minute in her company, I felt them rise again, in an apartment exposed as mine; but use has and they soon rose above their former pitch. I made it familiar to me, and so familiar, that neither know two ladies of fashion now, whose manners servants going and coming disconcert me; nor even have this effect upon me. The lady in question, if a lady, with an oblique glance of her eye, catches and the lady Spencer. I am a shy animal, and two or three lines of my MS., do I feel myself inwant much kindness to make me easy. Such I clined to blush, though naturally the shyest of manshall be to my dying day.


Here sit I, calling myself shy, yet have just pub- You did well, I believe, to cashier the subject lished by the by, two great volumes of poetry. of which you gave me a recital. It certainly wants This reminds me of Ranger's observation in the those agremens, which are necessary to the sucSuspicious Husband, who says to somebody, I for- cess of any subject in verse. It is a curious story, get whom "There is a degree of assurance in and so far as the poor young lady was concerned you modest men, that we impudent fellows can a very affecting one; but there is a coarseness in never arrive at!”—Assurance indeed! Have you the character of the hero, that would have spoiled seen 'em? What do you think they are? Nothing all. In fact, I find it myself a much easier matter less I can tell you than a translation of Homer. Of to write, than to get a convenient theme to write on. the sublimest poet in the world. That's all. Can I I am obliged to you for comparing me as you go ever have the impudence to call myself shy again? both with Pope and with Homer. It is impossible You live, I think, in the neighbourhood of Bir- in any other way of management to know whether mingham? What must you not have felt on the the Translation be well executed or not, and if late alarming occasion! You I suppose could see well, in what degree. It was in the course of such the fires from your windows. We, who only heard a process, that I first became dissatisfied with the news of them have trembled. Never sure was Pope. More than thirty years since, and when I religious zeal more terribly manifested, or more to the prejudice of its own cause. Adieu, my dear friend. I am, with Mrs. Unwin's best compliments, Ever yours, W C.



Weston, Aug. 9, 1791.

was a young Templar, I accompanied him with his original, line by line, through both poems. A fellow student of mine, a person of fine classic taste, joined himself with me in the labour. We were neither of us, as you may imagine, very diligent in our proper business.

I shall be glad if my Reviewers, whosoever they may be, will be at the pains to read me as you do.

I NEVER make a correspondent wait for an an- I want no praise that I am not entitled to; but swer through idleness or want of proper respect of that to which I am entitled I should be loth to for him; but if I am silent it is because I am busy, lose a tittle, having worked hard to earn it.

W. C.

I would heartily second the bishop of Salisbury | Italian poems, and to give a correct text. I shall in recommending to you a close pursuit of your have years allowed me to do it in. Hebrew studies, were it not that I wish you to publish what I may understand. Do both, and I shall be satisfied.

Your remarks, if I may but receive them soon enough to serve me in case of a new edition, will be extremely welcome. W. C.




Weston, Sept. 21, 1791. Or all the testimonies in favour of my Homer that I have received, none has given me so sincere a pleasure as that of Lord Bagot. It is an unmixed pleasure and without a drawback: because I know him to be perfectly, and in all reMY DEAREST JOHNNY, spects, whether erudition, or a fine taste be in THE little that I have heard about Homer my-question, so well qualified to judge me, that I can self has been equally, or more flattering than Dr. neither expect nor wish a sentence more valuable -'s intelligence, so that I have good reason than his

Weston, Aug. 9, 1791.

[ocr errors]

Ἐν στήθεσσι μενει, και μοι φίλα γενατό ορωρείο

to hope that I have not studied the old Grecian, and how to dress him, so long, and so intensely, to no purpose. At present I am idle, both on account of my eyes, and because I know not to what I hope by this time you have received your voto attach myself in particular. Many different lumes, and are prepared to second the applauses plans and projects are recommended to me. Some of your brother-clse, wo be to you! I wrote to call aloud for original verse, others for more trans-Johnson immediately on the receipt of your last, lation, and others for other things. Providence, I giving him a strict injunction to despatch them to hope, will direct me in my choice; for other guide you without delay. He had sold some time since I have none, nor wish for another. a hundred of the unsubscribed-for copies,

God bless you, my dearest Johnny, W. C.*


MY DEAR FRIEND, The Lodge, Sept. 14, 1791. WHOEVER reviews me will in fact have a laborious task of it, in the performance of which he ought to move leisurely, and to exercise much critical discernment. In the mean time my courage is kept up by the arrival of such testimonies in my favour, as give me the greatest pleasure; coming from quarters the most respectable. I have reason therefore to hope that our periodical judges will not be very adverse to me, and that

I have not a history in the world except Baker's Chronicle, and that I borrowed three years ago from Mr. Throckmorton. Now the case is this; I am translating Milton's third Elegy-his Elegy on the death of the Bishop of Winchester. He begins it with saying that while he was sitting alone, dejected, and musing on many melancholy themes; first, the idea of the plague presented it self to his mind, and of the havoc made by it among the great.-Then he proceeds thus;

Tum memini clarique ducis, fratrisque verendi
Intempestivis ossa cremata rogis;

Et memini Heroum, quos vidit ad æthera raptos.
Flevit et amissos Belgia tota duces.

perhaps they may even favour me. If one man I can not learn from my only oracle, Baker, who

of taste and letters is pleased, another man so qualified can hardly be displeased; and if critics of a different description grumble, they will not however materially hurt me.

this famous leader and his reverend brother were. Neither does he at all ascertain for me the event alluded to in the second of these couplets. I am not yet possessed of Warton, who probably exYou, who know how necessary it is to me to be plains it, nor can be for a month to come. Conemployed, will be glad to hear that I have been sult him for me if you have him, or if you have called to a new literary engagement, and that I him not consult some other. Or you may find have not refused it. A Milton that is to rival, the intelligence perhaps in your own budget; no and if possible to exceed in splendour Boydell's matter how you come by it, only send it to me if Shakspeare, is in contemplation, and I am in the you can, and as soon as you can, for I hate to editor's office. Fuseli is the painter. My busi- leave unsolved difficulties behind me. In the ness will be to select notes from others, and to first year of Charles the First, Milton was sevenwrite original notes; to translate the Latin and teen years of age, and then wrote this Elegy. The period therefore to which I would refer you, is the two or three last years of James the First.

• The translation alluded to in this letter was that of the Latin and Italian poetry of Milton, which Cowper was requested by his bookseller to undertake.

[ocr errors]

Ever yours, W. C.

[blocks in formation]

YOUR unexpected and transient visit, like every YOUR kind and affectionate letter well deserves thing else that is past, has now the appearance of my thanks, and should have had them long ago, a dream; but it was a pleasant one, and I heartily had I not been obliged låtely to give my attention wish that such dreams could recur more frequent- to a mountain of unanswered letters, which I have ly. Your brother Chester repeated his visit yes- just now reduced to a molehill; yours lay at the terday, and I never saw him in better spirits. At bottom, and I have at last worked my way down such times he has, now and then, the very look

to it. that he had when he was a boy; and when I see It gives me great pleasure that you have found it, I seem to be a boy myself, and entirely forget a house to your minds. May you all three be for a short moment the years that have intervened happier in it than the happiest that ever occupied since I was one. The look that I mean is one it before you! But my chief delight of all is to that you, I dare say, have observed.—Then we learn that you and Kitty are so completely cured are at Westminster again. He left with me that of your long and threatening maladies. I always poem of your brother Lord Bagot's, which was thought highly of Dr. Kerr, but his extraordinary mentioned when you were here. It was a treat success in your two instances has even inspired to me, and I read it to my cousin Lady Hesketh me with an affection for him. and to Mrs. Unwin, to whom it was a treat also. It has great sweetness of numbers, and much elegance of expression, and is just such a poem as I should be happy to have composed myself about a year ago, when I was loudly called upon by a certain nobleman, to celebrate the beauties of his villa. But I had two insurmountable difficulties to contend with. One was, that I had never seen his villa; and the other, that I had no eyes at that time for any thing but Homer. Should I at any time hereafter undertake the task, I shall now at least know how to go about it, which, till I had seen Lord Bagot's poem, I verily did not. I was particularly charmed with the parody of those beautiful lines of Milton.

"The song was partial, but the harmony-
(What could it less, when spirits immortal sing?)
Suspended Hell, and took with ravishment
The thronging audience."

There's a parenthesis for you! The parenthesis it seems is out of fashion, and perhaps the moderns are in the right to proscribe what they can not attain to. I will answer for it that, had we the art at this day of insinuating a sentiment in this graceful manner, no reader of taste would quarrel with the practice. Lord Bagot showed his by selecting the passage for his imitation.

My eyes are much better than when I wrote last, though seldom perfectly well many days together. At this season of the year I catch perpetual colds, and shall continue to do so, till I have got the better of that tenderness of habit with which the summer never fails to affect me.

I am glad that you have heard well of my work in your country. Sufficient proofs have reached me from various quarters, that I have not ploughed the field of Troy in vain.

Were you here I would gratify you with an enumeration of particulars; but since you are not, it must content you to be told, that I have every reason to be satisfied.

Mrs. Unwin, I think, in her letter to cousin Balls, made mention of my new engagement. I have just entered on it, and therefore can at present say little about it.

It is a very creditable one in itself; and may I but acquit myself of it with sufficiency, it will do me honour. The commentator's part however is a new one to me, and one that I little thought to appear in.

Remember your promise, that I shall see you in the spring.

The Hall has been full of company ever since you went, and at present my Catharina is there singing and playing like an angel.


W. C.

Nov. 14, 1791.

I would beat Warton if he were living, for sup posing that Milton ever repented of his compliment to the memory of Bishop Andrews. I neither do, nor can, nor will believe it. Milton's mind could not be narrowed by any thing; and though he quarrelled with episcopacy in the church of England idea of it, I am persuaded that I HAVE waited and wished for your opinion with the feelings that belong to the value I have for it, and am very happy to find it so favourable. my table drawer I treasure up a bundle of suffrages, sent me by those of whose approbation I was

a good bishop, as well as any other good man, of whatsoever rank or order, had always a share of his veneration. Yours, my dear friend,

Very affectionately, W. C.


« VorigeDoorgaan »