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experience, that the familiar style is of all styles son's Seasons might afford him some useful lesthe most difficult to succeed in. To make verse sons. At least they would have a tendency to speak the language of prose, without being prosaic, give his mind an observing and a philosophical to marshall the words of it in such an order, as turn. I do not forget that he is but a child. But they might naturally take in falling from the lips I remember, that he is a child favoured with talof an extemporary speaker, yet without meanness; ents superior to his years. We were much pleasharmoniously, elegantly, and without seeming to ed with his remarks on your almsgiving, and doubt displace a syllable for the sake of the rhyme, is one not but it will be verified with respect to thetwoguiof the most arduous tasks a poet can undertake. neas you sent us, which have made four Christian He that could accomplish this task was Prior; people happy. Ships I have none, nor have many have imitated his excellence in this particu- touched a pencil these three years; if ever I take lar, but the best copies have fallen far short of the it up again, which I rather suspect I shall not (the original. And now to tell us, after we and our employment requiring stronger eyes than mine), fathers have admired him for it so long, hat he is it shall be at John's service. an easy writer indeed, but that his ease has an air
Yours, my dear friend, W.C of stiffness in it, in short, that his ease is not ease, but only something like it, what is it but a selfcontradiction, an observation that grants what it is
TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON. just going to deny, and denies what it has just granted, in the same sentence, and in the same MY DEAR FRIEND,
Feb. 2, 1782. breath ?—But I have filled the greatest part of my Though I value your correspondence highly sheet with a very uninteresting subject. I will on its own account, I certainly value it the more only say, that as a nation we are not much indebt- in consideration of the many difficulties under cd, in point of poctical credit, to this too sagacious which you carry it on. Having so many other and unmerciful judge; and that for myself in par- engagements, and engagements so much more ticular, I have reason to rejoice that he entered worthy your attention, I ought to esteem it, as I upon and exhausted the labours of his office, be- do, a singular proof of your friendship, that you fore my poor volume could possibly become an ob- so often make an opportunity to bestow a letter ject of them. By the way, you can not have a book upon me; and this, not only because mine, which at the time you mention; I have lived a fortnight I write in a state of mind not very favourable to or more in expectation of the last sheet, which is religious contemplations, are never worth your not yet arrived.
reading, but especially because while you consult You have already furnished John's memory my gratification and endeavour to amuse my mewith by far the greatest part of what a parent could lancholy, your thoughts are forced out of the only wish to store it with. If all that is merely trivial, channel in which they delight to flow, and conand all that has an immoral tendency, were ex- strained into another so different and so little inpunged from our English poets, how would they teresting to a mind like yours, that but for me, shrink, and how would some of them completely and for my sake, they would perhaps never visit vanish. I believe there are some of Dryden's Fa- it. Though I should be glad therefore to hear hles, which he would find very entertaining; they from you every week, I do not complain that I are for the most part fine compositions, and not enjoy that privilege but once in a fortnight, but above his apprehension ; but Dryden has written am rather happy to be indulged in it so often. few things, that are not blotted here and there I thank you for the jog you gave Johnson's with an unchaste allusion, so that you must pick elbow; communicated from him to the printer it his way for him, lest he should tread in the dirt. has produced me two more sheets, and two more You did not mention Milton's Allegro and Pense- will bring the business, I suppose, to a conclusion. roso, which I remember being so charmed with 'I sometimes feel such a perfect indifference with when I was a boy that I was never weary of them. respect to the public opinion of my book, that I There are even passages in the paradisiacal part am ready to flatter myself no censure of reviewof the Paradise Lost, which he might study with crs, or other critical readers, would occasion me advantage. And to teach him, as you can, to de- the smallest disturbance. But not feeling myself liver some of the fine orations made in the Pan- constantly possessed of this desirable apathy, I am dæmonium, and those between Satan, Ithuriel, sometimes apt to suspect, that it is not altogether and Zephon, with emphasis, dignity, and proprie- sincere, or at least that I may lose just in the moty, might be of great use to him hereafter. The ment when I may happen most to want it. Be sooner the car is formed, and the organs of speech it however as it may, I am still persuaded that it are accustomed to the various inflections of the is not in their power to mortify me much. I have voice, which the rehearsal of those passages de intended well, and performed to the best of my mands, the better. I should think too, that Thom- ability so far was right, and this is a boast of
which they can not rob me. If they condemn miy| spoke them, I should have trembled for the boy, poetry, I must even say with Cervantes, “Let lest the man should disappoint the hopes such them do better if they can!"—if my doctrine, they early genius had given birth to. It is not comjudge that which they do not understand; I shall mon to see so lively a fancy so correctly managed, except to the jurisdiction of the court, and plead, and so free from irregular exuberance, at so unCoram non judice. Even Horace could say, he experienced an age; fruitful, yet not wanton, and should neither be the plumper for the praise, nor gay without being tawdry. When schoolboys the leaner for the condemnation of his readers; write verse, if they have any fire at all, it generaland it will prove me wanting to myself indeed, if, ly spends itself in flashes, and transient sparks, supported by so many sublimer considerations which may indeed suggest an expectation of than he was master of, I can not sit loose to po- something better hercaster, but deserve not to be pularity, which, like the wind, blowcth where it much commended for any real merit of their own. listeth, and is equally out of our command. If Their wit is generally forced and false, and their you, and two or three more such as you, say, sublimity, if they affect any, bombast. I rememwell done, it ought to give me more contentment ber well when it was thus with me, and when a than if I could earn Churchill's laurels, and by turgid, noisy, unmeaning speech in a tragedy, the same means.
which I should now laugh at, afforded me rapI wrote to Lord Dartmouth to apprise him of tures, and filled me with wonder. It is not in my intended present, and have received a most general tilt reading and observation have settled affectionate and obliging answer.
the taste, that we can give the prize to the best I am rather pleased that you have adopted other writing, in preference to the worst. Much less sentiments respecting our intended present to the arc we able to execute what is good ourselves. critical Doctor. I allow him to be a man of gi- But Lowth seems to have stepped into excellence gantic talents, and most profound learning, nor at once, and to have gained by intuition what we have I any doubts about the universality of his little folks are happy if we can learn at last, after knowledge. But by what I have seen of his ani- much labour of our own, and instruction of others. madversions on the poets, I feel myself much dis- The compliments he pays to the memory of King posed to question, in many instances, either his Charles, he would probably now retract, though candour or his taste. He finds fault too often, he be a bishop, and his majesty's zeal for episcolike a man that, having sought it very industrious-paey was one of the causes of his ruin. An age ly, is at last obliged to stick it on a pin's point, or two must pass, before some characters can be and look at it through a microscope; and I am properly understood. The spirit of party emsure I could easily convict him of having denied ploys itself in veiling their faults, and ascribing many beauties, and overlooked more. Whether to them virtues which they never possessed. See his judgment be in itself defective, or whether it Charles's face drawn by Clarendon, and it is a be warped by collateral considerations, a writer handsome portrait. See it more justly exhibited upon such subjects as I have chosen would pro- by Mrs. Macauley, and it is deformed to a degree bably find but little mercy at his hands. that shocks us. Every feature expresses cunning,
No winter since we knew Olney has kept us employing itself in the maintaining of tyrannymore confined than the present. We have not and dissimulation, pretending itself an advocate more than three times escaped into the fields, for truth. since last autumn. Man, a changeable creature My letters have already apprized you of that in himself, seems to subsist best in a state of va- close and intimate connexion that took place beriety, as his proper element-a melancholy man at tween the lady you visited in Queen Ann-street, least is apt to grow sadly weary of the same walks, and us. Nothing could be more promising, though and the same pales, and to find that the same sudden in the commencement. She treated us scene will suggest the same thoughts perpetually. with as much unreservedness of communication,
Though I have spoken of the utility of changes, as if we had been born in the same house, and we neither feel nor wish for any in our friend- educated together. At her departure, she herself ships, and consequently stand just where we did proposed a correspondence, and because writing with respect to your whole self.
does not agree with your mother, proposed a corYours, my dear sir, W. C. respondence with me. By her own desire I wrote
to her under the assumed relation of a brother, and
she to me as my sister. TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.
I thank you for the search you have made after
my intended motto, but I no longer need it. Our MY DEAR FRIEND,
Feb. 9, 1782. love is always with yourself and family. I THANK you for Mr. Lowth's verses. They
Yours, my dear friend, W. C. are so good, that had I been present when he
the contemplation of his own faculties and powers TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON.
as a never-failing spring of comfort and content
Feb. 16, 1782. He speaks even of the natural man as made in CARACCIOLI says,—"There is something very the image of God, and supposes a resemblance bewitching in authorship, and that he who has of God to consist in a sort of independent selfonce written will write again.” It may be so—I sufficing and self-complacent felicity, which can can subscribe to the former part of his assertion hardly be enjoyed without the forfeiture of all hufrom my own experience, having never found an mility, and a flat denial of some of the most imamusement, among the many I have been obliged portant truths in Scripture. to have recourse to, that so well answered the “As a philosopher he refines to an excess, and purpose for which I used it. The quieting and his arguments, instead of convincing others, if composing effect of it was such, and so totally ab- pushed as far as they would go, would convict him sorbed have I sometimes been in my rhyming oc- of absurdity himself. When for instance he would cupation, that neither the past nor the future depreciate earthly riches by telling us that gold (those themes which to me are so fruitful in red and diamonds are only matter modified in a partigret at other times), had any longer a share in my cular way, and thence concludes them not more contemplation. For this reason I wish, and have valuable in themselves than the dust under our often wished, since the fit reft me, that it would feet, his consequence is false, and his cause is hurt seize me again; but hitherto I have wished it in by the assertion. It is that very modification that vain. I see no want of subjects, but I disability to diseuss them. Whether it is thus with and a beauty recognised in Scripture, and by the other writers or not, I am ignorant, but I should universal consent of all well informed and civilized suppose my case in this respect a little peculiar. nations. It is in vain to tell mankind, that gold The voluminous writers at least, whose vein of and dirt are equal
, so long as their experience confancy seems always to have been rich in propor- vinces them of the contrary. It is necessary theretion to their occasions, can not have been so unlike, fore to distinguish between the thing itself and the and so unequal to themselves. There is this dif- abuse of it. Wealth is in fact a blessing, when ference between my poetship and the generality honestly aequired, and conscientiously employed; of them—they have been ignorant how much they and when otherwise, the man is to be blamed and have stood indebted to an Almighty power for the not his treasure. How does the Scripture combat exercise of those talents they have supposed their the vice of covetousness" not by asserting that own. Whereas I know, and know most perfectly, gold is only earth exhibiting itself to us under a and am perhaps to be taught it to the last, that my particular modification, and therefore not worth power to think, whatever it be, and consequently seeking; but by telling us that covetousness is my power to compose, is, as much as my outward pidolatry, that the love of money is the root of all form, afforded to me by the same hand that makes evil
, that it has occasioned in some even the shipme, in any respect, to differ from a brute. This wreck of their faith, and is always, in whomsoever lesson, if not constantly inculcated, might perhaps it obtains, an abomination. be forgotten, or at least too slightly remembered. “A man might have said to Caraccioli, Givo me
your purse full of ducats, and I will give you my old wig; they are both composed of the same mat
ter under different modifications. What could "Caraccioli* appears to me to have been a wise the philosopher have replied ? he must have made man, and I believe he was a good man in a reli- the exchange, or have denied his own principles. gious sense. But his wisdom and his goodness
Again, when speaking of sumptuous edifices, both savour more of the philosopher than the he calls a palace an assemblage of sticks and Christian. In the latter of these characters he stones, which a puff of wind may demolish, or a seems defective principally in this—that instead spark of fire consume; and thinks he has reduced of sending his reader to God as an inexhaustible a magnificent building and a cottage to the same source of happiness to his intelligent creatures, and level
, when he has told us that the latter viewed exhorting him to cultivate communion with his through an optic glass may be made to appear as Maker, he directs him to his own heart, and to large as the former, and that the former seen
through the same glass inverted may be reduced
to the pitiful dimensions of the latter; has he in* These cursory remarks of Cowper appear highly worthy deed carried his point ? is he not rather imposing of preservation. They were written on several scraps of pa- on the judgment of his readers, just as the glass per, without any title
, and find perhaps their most suitable would impose upon their senses? How is it posplace as a sequel to the letter in which he quoted the writer, whose character he has here sketched at full length, and with sible to deduce a substantial argument in this case a masterly hand,
from an acknowledged deception of the sight? The
objects continue what they were, the palace is printer to be punctual, I shall come forth on the still a palace, and the cottage is not at all ennobled first of March. I have ordered two copies to in reality, though we contemplate them ever so Stock; one for Mr. John Unwin. It is possible, long through an illusive medium. There is in after all, that my book may come forth without a fact a real difference between them, and such a Preface. Mr. Newton has written (he could inone as the Scripture itself takes very emphatical deed write no other) a very sensible as well as a notice of, assuring us that in the last day, much very friendly one; and it is printed. But the bookshall be required of him to whom much was given; seller, who knows him well, and esteems him highthat every man shall be then considered as a stew- ly, is anxious to have it cancelled, and, with my ard, and render a strict account of the things with consent first obtained, has offered to negociate that which he was intrusted. This consideration in- matter with the author.-He judges, that though deed may make the dwellers in palaces tremble, it would serve to recommend the volume to the who, living for the most part in the continued religious, it would disgust the profane, and that abuse of their talents, squandering and wasting there is in reality no need of any Preface at all. I and spending upon themselves their Master's trea-have found Johnson a very judicious man on other sure, will have reason enough to envy the cottager, occasions, and am therefore willing that he should whose accounts will be more easily settled. But determine for me upon this. to tell mankind, that a palace and a hovel are the There are but few persons to whom I present same thing, is to affront their senses, to contradict my book. The lord chancellor is one. I enclose their knowledge, and to disgust their understand- in a packet I send by this post to Johnson a letter ings.
to his lordship which will accompany the volume; “Herein seems to consist one of the principal and to you I enclose a copy of it, because I know differences between Philosophy and Scripture, or you will have a friendly curiosity to see it. An the Wisdom of Man and the Wisdom of God. author is an important character. Whatever his The former endeavours indeed to convince the merits may be, the mere circumstance of authorjudgment, but it frequently is obliged to have re- ship warrants his approach to persons, whom course to unlawful means, such as misrepresenta- otherwise perhaps he could hardly address withtion and the play of fancy. The latter addresees out being deemed impertinent. He can do me itself to the judgment likewise, but it carries its no good. If I should happen to do him a little, I point by awakening the conscience, by enlighten- shall be a greater man than he. I have ordered a ing the understanding, and by appealing to our copy likewise to Mr. S. own experience. As Philosophy therefore can not I hope John continües to be pleased, and to give make a Christian, so a Christian ought to take pleasure. If he loves instruction, he has a tutor care that he be not too much a Philosopher. It is who can give him plentifully of what he loves; mere folly instead of wisdom, to forego those ar- and with his natural abilities his progress must be guments, and to shut our eyes upon those motives such as you would wish. Yours, W.C. which Truth itself has pointed out to us, and which alone are adequate to the purpose, and to busy ourselves in making vain experiments on the
TO LORD THURLOW. strength of others of our own invention. In fact, the world which, however it has dared to contro
(ENCLOSED TO MR. UNWIN.) vert the authenticity of Scripture, has never been MY LORD, Olney, Bucks, Feb. 25, 1782. able to impeach the wisdom of its precepts, or the I MAKE no apology for what I account a duty. reasonableness of its exhortations, has sagacity I should offend against the cordiality of our forenough to see through the fallacy of such reason- mer friendship should I send a volume into the ings, and will rather laugh at the sage, who de- world, and forget how much I am bound to pay clares war against matter of fact, than become pro- my particular respects to your lordship upon that selytes to his opinion.”
occasion. When we parted, you little thought of hearing from me again; and I as little that I
should live to write to you, still less, that I should TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.
wait on you in the capacity of an author.
Among the pieces I have the honour to send, MY DEAR FRIEND,
Feb. 24, 1782. there is one for which I must entreat your pardon. IF I should receive a letter from you to-morrow, I mean that of which your lordship is the subject. you must still remember that I am not in your The best excuse I can make is, that it flowed aldebt, having paid you by anticipation-Knowing most spontaneously from the affectionate rememthat you take an interest in my publication, and brance of a connexion that did me so much honour that you have waited for it with some impatience, As to the rest, their merits, if they have any, I write to inform you that, if it is possible for a'and their defects, which are probably more than I am aware of, will neither of them escape your is a strong resemblance between the two pieces in notice. But where there is much discernment, point of matter, and sometimes the very same exthere is generally much candour; and I commit pressions are to be met with, yet I soon recollected myself into your lordship’s hands with the less that, on such a theme, a striking coincidence of anxiety, being well acquainted with yours. both might happen without a wonder. I doubt
If my first visit, after so long an interval, should not that it is the production of an honest man, it prove neither a troublesome, nor a dull one, but carries with it an air of sincerity and zeal, that is especially, if not altogether an unprofitable one, not easily counterfeited. But though I can see omne tuli punctum.
no reason why kings should not sometimes hear I have the honour to be, though with very dif- of their faults, as well as other men, I think I see ferent impressions of some subjects, yet with the many good ones why they should not be reproved same sentiments of affection and esteem as ever, so publicly. It can hardly be done with that reyour lordship’s faithful, and most obedient, hum-spect which is due to their office, on the part of ble servant,
W.C. the author, or without encouraging a spirit of un
mannerly, censure in his readers. His majesty tooʻperhaps might answer—my own personal feel
ings and offences I am ready to confess; but were TO THE REV. J. NEWTON.
I to follow your advice, and cashier the profligate MY DEAR FRIEND,
Feb. 1782. from my service, where must I seek men of faith, I ENCLOSE Johnson's letter upon the subject of and true christian piety, qualified by nature and the Preface, and would send you my reply to it, by education to succeed them? Business must be if I had kept a copy. This however was the pur- done, men of business alone can do it, and good port of it. That Mr. —, whom I described as you men are rarely found under that description. described him to me, had made a similar objection, When Nathan reproved David, he did not ernbut that being willing to hope, that two or three ploy a herald, or accompany his charge with the pages of sensible matter, well expressed, might sound of the trumpet; nor can I think the writer possibly go down, though of a religious cast, I of this sermon quite justifiable in exposing the was resolved to believe him mistaken, and to pay king's faults in the sight of the people. no regard to it. That his judgment, however,
Your answer respecting Ætna is quite satisfacwho by his occupation is bound to understand tory, and gives me much pleasure. I hate alterwhat will promote the sale of a book, and what ing, though I never refuse the task when propriety will hinder it, seemed to deserve more attention. seems to enjoin it; and an . alteration in this inThat therefore, according to his own offer written stance, if I am not mistaken, would have been sin- . on a small slip of paper now lost, I should be gularly difficult. Indeed, when a piece has been obliged to him if he would state his difficulties to finished two or three years, and an author finds you; adding, that I need not inform him, who is occasion to amend, or make an addition to it, it is so well acquainted with you, that he would find not easy to fall upon the very vein from which he you easy to be persuaded to sacrifice, if necessary, drew his ideas in the first instance; but either a what you had written, to the interests of the book. different turn of thought, or expression, will beI find he has had an interview with you upon the tray the patch, and convince a reader of discernoccasion, and your behaviour has verified my pre- ment that it has been cobbled and varnished. diction. What course he determines upon I do
Our love to you both, and to the young Euphronot know, nor am I at all anxious about it. It is syne, the old lady of that name being long since impossible for me however to be so insensible of dead; if she pleases she shall fill her vacant office, your kindness in writing the preface, as not to be and be my muse hereafter. desirous of defying all contingencies rather than
Yours, my dear sir, WC entertain a wish to suppress it. It will do me honour in the eyes of those whose good opinion is indeed an honour, and if it hurts me in the esti
TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON. mation of others, I can not help it; the fault is neither yours nor mine, but theirs. If a minister's
March 6, 1782 is a more splendid character than a poet's, and I Is peace the nearer because our patriots have think nobody that understands their value can resolved that is desirable? Will the victory they hesitate in deciding that question, then undoubted- have gained in the House of Commons be attended ly the advantage of having our names united in with any other? Do they expect the same success the same volume is all on my side.
on other occasions, and having once gained a maWe thank you for the Fast-sermon. I had not jority are they to be the majority for ever?read two pages before I exclaimed
the These are the questions we agitate by the fireside man has read Expostulation. But though there in an evening, without being able to come to any