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If you send me franks, I shall write long let- especially lest some French hero should call me to ters-Valete, sicut et nos valemus! Amate, sicut account for it-I add it on the other side. An et nos amamus.
author ought to be the best judge of his own meaning; and whether I have succeeded or not, I can
not but wish, that where a translator is wanted, TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.
the writer was always to be his own.
False, cruel, disappointed, stung to the heart, MON AMI,
July 8, 1780. France quits the warrior's for the assassin's part; If you ever take the tip of the chancellor's ear
To dirty hands, a dirty bride conveys,
Bids the low street and lofty palace blaze. between your finger and thumb, you can hardly
Her sons too weak to vanquish us alone, improve the opportunity to better purpose, than if
She hires the worst and basest of our own, you should whisper into it the voice of compassion Kneel, France! a suppliant conquers us with ease, and lenity to the lace-makers. I am an eye-wit We always spare a coward on his knees. ness of their poverty, and do know that hundreds I have often wondered that Dryden's illustrious in this little town are upon the point of starving, epigram on Milton (in my mind the second best and that the most unremitting industry is but that ever was made) has never been translated into barely sufficient to keep them from it. I know Latin, for the admiration of the learned in other that the bill by which they would have been so countries. I have at last presumed to venture upon fatally affected is thrown out: but lord Stormont the task myself. The great closeness of the orithreatens them with another; and if another like ginal, which is equal in that respect to the most it should pass, they are undone. We lately sent compact Latin I ever saw, made it extremely diffia petition from hence to lord Dartmouth; I signed cult. it, and am sure the contents are true. The pur
Tres, tria, &c.' port of it was to inform him that there are very
I have not one bright thought upon the channear one thousand two hundred lace-makers in
cellor's recovery; nor can I strike off so much as this beggarly town, the most of whom had reason enough, while the bill was in agitation, to look is not when I will, nor upon what I will, but as a
one sparkling atom from that brilliant subject. It upon every loaf they bought as the last they should thought happens to occur to me; and then I verever be able to earn. I can never think it good policy to incur the certain inconvenience of ruin- sify, whether I will or not. I never write but for
my amusement; and what I write is sure to aning thirty thousand, in order to prevent a remote
swer that end, if it answers no other. If, besides and possible damage though to a much greater this purpose, the more desirable one of entertainnumber. The measure is like a scythe, and the ing you be effected, I then receive double fruit of poor lace-makers are the sickly crop that trembles before the edge of it. The prospect of peace with my labour, and consider this produce of it as a
crop, the more valuable, because less exAmerica is like the streak of dawn in their horizon; but this bill is like a black cloud behind it, that sition to you, I have done with it. It is pretty
pected. But when I have once remitted a compothreatens their hope of a comfortable day with certain that I shall never read it or think of it again. utter extinction.
From that moment I have constituted you sole I did not perceive, till this moment, that I had tacked two similes together; a practice which, of its defects, which it is sure to have.
judge of its accomplishments, if it has any, and though warranted by the example of Homer, and
For this reason I decline answering the quesallowable in an epic poem, is rather luxuriant and
tion with which you concluded your last, and can licentious in a letter; lest I should add another, I
not persuade myself to enter into a critical examen conclude.
of the two pieces upon lord Mansfield's loss, either with respect to their intrinsic or comparative merit;
and indeed after having rather discouraged that TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN. use of them which you had designed, there is no
occasion for it.
W.C. July 11, 1780. I ACCOUNT myself sufficiently commended for my Latin exercise, by the number of translations it has undergone. That which you distinguished
TO MRS. COWPER. in the margin by the title of “better," was the
MY DEAR COUSIN,
July 20, 1780. production of a friend; and, except that for a
MR. Newton having desired me to be of the modest reason he omitted the third couplet, I think
party, I am come to meet him. You see me sixteen it a good one. To finish the group, I have translated it myself; and though I would not wish you to give it to the world, for more reasons than one,
. Vid. Poems,
years older at the least, than when I saw you last; but one blows his nose, and the other rubs his eye the effects of time seem to have taken place rather brows; (by the way this is very much in Homer's on the outside of my head, than within it. What manner) such seems to be the case between you was brown is become gray, but what was foolish, and me. After a silence of some days I write you a remains foolish still. Green fruit must rot before long something, that (I suppose) was nothing to it ripens, is the season is such as to afford it nothing the purpose, because it has not afforded you mabut cold winds and dark clouds, that interrupt every terials for an answer. Nevertheless, as it often ray of sunshine. My days steal away silently, happens in the case above-stated, one of the disand march on (as poor mad King Lear would have tressed parties, being deeply sensible of the awkmade his soldiers march) as if they were shoul with wardness of a dumb duet, breaks silence again, felt; not so silently but that I hear them; yet and resolves to speak, though he has nothing to were it not that I am always listening to their say. So it fares with me, I am with you again in flight, having no infirmity that I had not when I the form of an epistle, though, considering my was much younger, I should deceive myself with present emptiness, I have reason to fear that your an imagination that I am still young.
only joy upon the occasion will be, that it is conI am fond of writing as an amusement, but do veyed to you in a frank. not always find it one. Being rather scantily fur When I began, I expected no interruption. But nished with subjects that are good for any thing, if I had expected interruptions without end, I and corresponding only with those who have no should have been less disappointed. First came relish for such as are good for nothing, I often find the barber; who, after having embellished the outmyself reduced to the necessity, the disagreeable side of my head, has left the inside just as unfurnecessity, of writing about myself. This does nished as he found it. Then came Olney bridge, not mend the matter much; for though in a de- not into the house, but into the conversation. The scription of my own condition, I discover abundant cause relating to it was tried on Tuesday at Buckmaterials to employ my pen upon, yet as the task ingham. The judge directed the jury to find a is not very agreeable to me, so I am sufficiently verdict favourable to Olney. The jury consisted aware that it is likely to prove irksome to others, of one knave and eleven fools. The last-mentionA painter who should confine himself in the ex- cd followed the afore-mentioned, as sheep follow a ercise of his art to the drawing of his own picture, bell-wether, and decided in direct opposition to the must be a wonderful coxcomb, if he did not soon said judge. Then a flaw was discovered in the ingrow sick of his occupation; and be peculiarly for- dictment. The indictment was quashed, and an tunate, if he did not make others as sick as him- order made for a new trial. The new trial will be self.
in the King's Bench, where said knave and said Remote as your dwelling is from the late scene fools will have nothing to do with it. So the mnen of riot and confusion, I hope that though you could of Olney fling up their caps, and assure themselves not but hear the report, you heard no more, and of a complete victory. A victory will save me and that the roarings of the mad multitude did not your mother many shillings, perhaps some pounds, reach you. That was a day of terror to the innocent, which, except that it has afforded me a subject to and the present is a day of still greater terror to the write upon, was the only reason why I said so much guilty. The law was for a few moments like an about it. I know you take an interest in all that arrow in the quiver, seemed to be of no use, and concerns us, and will consequently rejoice with us did no execution; now it is an arrow upon the in the prospect of an event in which we are constring, and many, who despised it lately, are trem- cerned so nearly. Yours affectionately, W.C. bling as they stand before the point of it.
I have talked more already than I have formerly done in three visits—you remember my taciturnity,
TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON. never to be forgotten by those who knew me; not to depart entirely from what might be, for aught I MY DEAR 81R,
July 30, 1780. know, the most shining part of my character—I You may think perhaps that I deal more liberalhere shut my mouth, make my bow, and return to ly with Mr. Unwin, in the way of poetical export, Olney.
than I do with you, and I believe you have reason -the truth is this—if I walked the streets with a
fiddle under my arm, I should never think of perTO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.
forming before the window of a privy counsellor,
or a chief justice, but should rather make free with MY DEAR FRIEND,
July 27, 1780.
ears more likely to be open to such amusement.-As two men sit silent, after having exhausted The trifles I produce in this way are indeed such all their topics of conversation : one says— It is trifles, that I can not think them seasonable prevery fine weather,'—and the other says— Yes;'— sents for you. Mr. Unwin himself would not be
offended if I was to tell him that there is this dif- |-My good sir, a man has no right to do either.' ference between him and Mr. Newton; that the But it is to be hoped that the present century has latter is already an apostle, while he himself is on- nothing to do with the mouldy opinions of the last, ly undergoing the business of an incubation, with and so good Sir Launcelot, or Sir Paul, or whata hope that he may be hatched in time. When ever be your name, step into your picture frame my muse comes forth arrayed in sables, at least in again, and look as if you thought for another cena robe of graver cast, I make no scruple to direct tury, and leave us moderns in the mean time to her to my friend at Hoxton. This has been one think when we can, and to write whether we can reason why I have so long delayed the riddle. But for not, else we might as well be dead as you are. lest I should seem to set a value upon it, that I When we look back upon our forefathers, we do not, by making it an object of still further in- seem to look back upon the people of another naquiry, here it comes.
tion, almost upon creatures of another species. I am just two and two, I am warm, I am cold, Their vast rambling mansions, spacious halls, and And the parent of numbers that can not be told, painted casements, the gothic porch smothered with I am lawful, unlawful—a duty, a fault,
honeysuckles, their little gardens and high walls, I am often sold dear, good for nothing when bought, their box-edgings, balls of holly, and yew-tree staAn extraordinary boon, and a matter of course,
tues, are become so entirely unfashionable now, And yielded with pleasure—when taken by force. that we can hardly believe it possible, that a peo
W.C. ple who resembled us so little in their taste, should
resemble us in any thing else. But in every thing else, I suppose, they were our counterparts exact
ly; and tiine, that has sewed up the slashed sleeve, TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.
and reduced the large trunk hose to a neat pair of MY DEAR FRIEND,
August 6, 1780. silk stockings, has left human nature just where You like to hear from me e–This is a very good it found it. The inside of the man at least has reason why I should write-But I have nothing undergone no change. His passions, appetites, to say—This seems equally a good reason why 1 and aims are just what they ever were. They should not.—Yet if you had alighted from your wear perhaps a handsomer disguise than they did horse at our door this morning, and at this present in days of yore: for philosophy and literature will writing being five o'clock in the afternoon, had have their effect upon the exterior ; but in every found occasion to say to me-Mr. Cowper, you other respect a modern is only an ancient in a difhave not spoke since I came in, have you resolved ferent dress.
W.C never to speak again ?' it would be but a poor reply, if in answer to the summons I should plead inability as my best and only excuse. And this
TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON. by the way suggests to me a seasonable piece of instruction, and reminds me of what I am very
August 21, 1780. apt to forget, when I have any epistolary business The following occurrence ought not to be passin hand, that a letter may be written upon any ed over in silence, in a place where so few notable thing or nothing just as that any thing or nothing ones are to be met with. Last Wednesday night, happens to occur. A man that has a journey be- while we were at supper, between the hours of fore him twenty miles in length, which he is to eight and nine, I heard an unusual noise in the perform on foot, will not hesitate and doubt whe-back parlour, as if one of the hares was entangled, ther he shall set out or not, because he does not and endeavouring to disengage herself. I was just readily conceive how he shall ever reach the end going to rise from table, when it ceased. In about of it; for he knows, that by the simple operation five minutes, a voice on the outside of the parlour of moving one foot forward first, and then the door inquired if one of my hares had got away. I other, he shall be sure to accomplish it. So it is immediately rushed into the next room, and found in the present case, and so it is in every similar that my poor favourite Puss had made her escape.
A letter is written as a conversation is main- She had gnawed in sunder the strings of a lattice tained, or a journey performed, not by preconcert- work, with which I thought I had sufficiently seed or premeditated means, a new contrivance, or an cured the window, and which I preferred to any invention never heard of before, but merely by other sort of blind, because it admitted plenty of maintaining a progress, and resolving as a postil- air. From thence I hastened to the kitchen, where lion does, having once set out, never to stop till we I saw the redoubtable Thomas Freeman, who told reach the appointed end. If a man may talk with-me, that having seen her, just after she had dropout thinking, why may he not write upon the same ped into the street, he attempted to cover her with terms ? A grave gentleman of the last century, his hat, but she screamed out, and leaped directly a tie-wig, square-toe, Steinkirk figure, would say, over his head. I then desired him to pursue as fast
TY DEAR COUSIN,
as possible, and added Richard Coleman to the saw them last, are old still; but it costs me a good chase
, as being nimbler, and carrying less weight deal sometimes to think of those who were at that than Thomas ; not expecting to see her again, but time young, as being older than they were. Not desirous to learn, if possible, what became of her. having been an eyewitness of the change that time In something less than an hour, Richard returned, has made in them, and my former idea of them not almost breathless, with the following account. being corrected by observation, it remains the That soon after he began to run, he left Tom be- same; my memory presents me with this image
hind him, and came in sight of a most numerous unimpaired, and while it retains the resemblance en ehunt, of men, women, children, and dogs; that he of what they were, forgets that by this time the Besplatna did his best to keep back the dogs, and presently picture may have lost much of its likeness, through ife outstripped the crowd, so that the race was at last the alteration that succeeding years have made in a disputed between himself and Puss-she ran right the original. I know not what impressions Time
through the town, and down the lane that leads to may have made upon your person, for while his Dropshort-a little before she came to the house, he claws (as our grannams called them) strike deep
got the start and turned her; she pushed for the furrows in some faces, he seems to sheathe them *** town again, and soon after she entered it sought with much tenderness, as if fearful of doing injury
shelter in Mr. Wagstaft's tan-yard, adjoining to to others. But though an enemy to the person,
you, can stand a tiptoe on the mountain top of This frolic cost us four shillings, but you may human life, look down with pleasure upon the believe we did not grudge a farthing of it. The valley they have passed, and sometimes stretch poor creature received only a little hurt in one of their wings in joyful hope of a happy flight into her claws, and in one of her ears, and is now al. eternity. Yet a little while and your hope will be most as well as ever.
accomplished. I do not call this an answer to your letter, but When you can favour me with a little account such as it is 1 send it, presuming upon that interest of your own family, without inconvenience, I shall which I know you take in my minutest concerns, be glad to receive it; for though separated from which I can not express better than in the words of my kindred by little more than half a century of Terence a little varied--Nihil mei a te alienum miles, I know as little of their concerns as if oceans putas. Yours, my dear friend, W.C. and continents were interposed between us.
Yours, my dear cousin, W. C.
TO MRS. COWPER.
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.
August 31, 1780.
Sept. 3, 1780.
I think I have read as much of the first volume is comparatively of a youthful date. You may of the Biographia as I shall ever read. I find it think of death as much as you please (you can not very amusing; more so perhaps than it would think of it too much), but I hope you will live to have been had they sifted their characters with
more exactness, and admitted none but those who It costs me not much difficulty to suppose that had in some way or other entitled themselves to my friends who were already grown old, when I'immortality, by deserving well of the public. Such
think of it many years.
a compilation would perhaps have been more ju-having exhausted his little stock of attention and dicious, though I confess it would have afforded diligence in making that noble acquisition, grows less variety. The priests and monks of earlier, weary of his task, conceives a dislike for study, and the doctors of later days, who have signalized and perhaps makes but a very indifferent progress themselves by nothing but a controversial pam- afterwards. The mind and body have in this rephlet, long since thrown by, and never to be pe- spect a striking resemblance of each other. In rused again, might have been forgotten without childhood, they are both nimble, but not strong; injury or loss to the national character for learning they can skip and frisk about with wonderful agior genius. This observation suggested to me the lity, but hard labour spoils them both. In maturer following lines, which may serve to illustrate my years they become less active, but more vigorous, meaning, and at the same time to give my criti- more capable of a fixed application, and can make cism a sprightlier air.
themselves sport with that which a little earlier
would have affected them with intolerable fatigue. Oh fond attempts, &c.*
I should recommend it to you therefore (but after Virgil admits none but worthies into the Elysian all you must judge for yourself) to allot the two Fields; I can not recollect the lines in which he next years of little John's scholarship to writing describes them all, but these in particular I well and arithmetic, together with which, for variety's remember
sake, and because it is capable of being formed into
an amusement, I would mingle geography, a sciQuique sui memores alios fecere merendo,
ence (which, if not attended to betimes, is seldom Inventas aut qui vitam excoluere per artes. made an object of much consideration) essentially A chaste and scrupulous conduct like his would
necessary to the accomplishment of a gentlernan, well become the writer of national biography.
yet (as I know by sad experience) imperfectly, if But enough of this.
at all, inculcated in the schools. Lord Spenser's Our respects attend Miss Shuttleworth, with son, when he was four years of age, knew the many thanks for her intended present. Some and remarkable mountain in the world. For this
situation of every kingdom, country, city, river
, purses derive all their value from their contents, attainment, which I suppose his father had never but these will have an intrinsic value of their own: made, he was indebted to a plaything ; having and though mine should be often empty, which is not an improbable supposition, I shall still esteem which are cut into several compartments, so as to
been accustomed to amuse himself with those maps it highly on its own account. If you could meet with a second-hand Virgil, be put together again with an exact coincidence
be thrown into a heap of confusion, that they may ditto Homer, both Iliad and Odyssey, together of all their angles and bearings, so as to form : with a Clavis, for I have no Lexicon, and all tolerably cheap, I shall be obliged to you if you will
If he begins Latin and Greek at eight, or even make the purchase.
at nine years of age, it is surely soon enough.
Seven years, the usual allowance for those acquisi
tions, are more than sufficient for the purpose, esTO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN. pecially with his readiness in learning; for you
would hardly wish to have him qualified for the MY DEAR FRIEND,
Sept. 7, 1780.
university before fifteen, a period, in my mind,
in my judgment the difficulty, as well as the wiseach other. With respect to the education of boys, back, a boy of his parts
, than in pushing him forI think they are generally made to draw in Latin ward. If therefore at the end of the two next and Greek trammels too soon.
It is pleasing, no
years, instead of putting a grammar into his hand, doubt, to a parent to see his child already in some
you should allow him to amuse himself with some sort a proficient in those languages, at an age when agreeable writers upon the subject of natural phr most others are entirely ignorant of them; but hence it often happens, that a boy, who could con- well. There is a book called Cosmotheoria Puerilis,
losophy for another year, I think it would answer strue a fable of Æsop at six or seven years of age, there are Derham's Physico, and Astrotheology
, together with several others in the same manner, Verses 'On observing some Names of little Note recorded very intelligible even to a child, and full of useful
'instruction. in the Biograpbia Britannica.'