« AnteriorContinuar »
certain conclusion, partly I suppose because the ter delays so long to gratify your expectation. It subject is in itself uncertain, and partly because we is a state of mind that is apt to tire and disconcert are not furnished with the means of understand- us; and there are but few pleasures that make ing it. I find the politics of times past far more us amends for the pain of repeated disappointment. intelligible than those of the present. Time has I take it for granted you have not received thrown light upon what was obscure, and decided the volume, not having received it myself, nor what was ambiguous. The characters of great indeed heard from Johnson, since he fixed the men, which are always mysterious while they first of the month for its publication. live, are ascertained by the faithful historian, and What a medley are our public prints, half the sooner or later receive their wages of fame or in- page filled with the ruin of the country, and the famy, according to their true deserts. How have I other half filled with the vices and pleasures of seen sensible and learned men burn incense to the it—here an island taken, and there a new comedy memory of Oliver Cromwell, ascribing to him, as -here an empire lost, and there an Italian opera, the greatest hero in the world, the dignity of the or a Lord's rout on a Sunday! British empire during the interregnum. A cen- May it please your lordship! I am an Englishtury passed before that idol, which seemed to be man, and must stand or fall with the nation. Reof gold, was proved to be a wooden one. The ligion, its truc palladium, has been stolen away; fallacy however was at length detected, and the and it is crumbling into dust. Sin ruins us, the honour of that detection has fallen to the share sins of the great especially, and of their sins espeof a woman. I do not know whether you have cially the violation of the Sabbath, because it is read Mrs. Macaulay's history of that period. She naturally productive of all the rest. If you wish has handled him more roughly than the Scots did well to our arms, and would be glad to see the at the battle of Dunbar. He would have thought kingdom emerging again from her ruins, pay more it little worth his while to have broken through all respect to an ordinance that deserves the deepest ! obligations divine and human, to have wept croco- I do not say pardon this short remonstrance !dile tears, and wrapped himself up in the obscu- The concern I feel for my country, and the inrity of speeches that nobody could understand, terest I have in its prosperity, give me a right to could he have foreseen that in the ensuing centu- make it. I am, &c." tury a lady's scissars would clip his laurels close, Thus one might write to his lordship, and (I and expose his naked villany to the scorn of all suppose) might be as profitably employed in whistposterity. This however has been accomplished, ling the tune of an old ballad. and so effectually, that I suppose it is not in the I have no copy of the preface, nor do I know power of the most artificial management to make at present how Johnson and Mr. Newton havo them grow again. Even the sagacious of man- seuled it. In the matter of it there was nothing kind are blind when Providence leaves them to be offensively peculiar; but it was thought too pious. deluded; so blind, that a tyrant shall be mistaken
Yours, my dear friend, W. C.* for a true patriot, true patriots (such were the Long Parliament) shall be abhorred as tyrants, and almost a whole nation shall dream, that they
TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON. have the full enjoyment of liberty, for years after such a complete knave as Oliver shall have stolen MY DEAR FRIEND,
March 14, 1782. it completely from them. I am indebted for all I can only repeat what I said sometime since, this show of historical knowledge to Mr. Bull, that the world is grown moro foolish and careless who has lent me five volumes of the work I men- than it was when I had the honour of knowing it. tion. I was willing to display it while I have it; Though your preface was of a serious cast, it was in a twelve-month's time I shall remember almost yet free from every thing that might, with pronothing of the matter. .
W. C. priety, expose it to the charge of Methodism, be
ing guilty of no offensive peculiarities, nor contain
ing any of those obnoxious doctrines at which the TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.
world is so apt to be angry, and which we must
give her leave to be angry at, because we know she MY DEAR FRIEND,
March 7, 1782 can not help it. It asserted nothing more than We have great pleasure in the contemplation of every rational creature must admit to be trueyour Northern journey, as it promises us a sight" that divine and earthly things can no longer of you and yours by the way, and are only sorry stand in competition with each other
, in the judgMiss Shuttleworth can not be of the party. A line ment of any man, than while he continues ignoto ascertain the hour when we may expect you, by the next preceding post, will be welcome.
* At this period, the first volume of the writer's poems It is not much for my advantage that the prin- issued from the press
rant of their respective value; and that the mo-Ito London. No sooner was he gone, than the ment the eyes are opened, the latter are always Chateau, being left without a garrison, was becheerfully relinquished for the sake of the former.” sieged as regularly as the night came on. VilNow I do most certainly remember the time when lains were both heard and seen in the garden, and such a proposition as this would have been at least at the doors and windows. The kitchen window supportable, and when it would not have spoiled in particular was attempted, from which they took the market of any volume, to which it had been a complete pane of glass, exactly opposite to the prefixed, ergo —the times are altered for the iron by which it was fastened ; but providentially
the window had been nailed to the woodwork, in I have reason to be very much satisfied with my order to keep it close, and that the air might be publisher-he marked such lines as did not please excluded; thus they were disappointed, and being him, and as often as I could, I paid all possible discovered by the maid, withdrew. The ladies respect to his animadversions. You will accord- being worn out with continual watching, and ingly find, at least if you recollect how they stood repeated alarms, were at last prevailed upon to in the MS., that several passages are better for take refuge with us. Men furnished with firehaving undergone his critical notice. Indeed I do arms were put into the house, and the rascals, not know where I could have found a bookseller having intelligence of this circumstance, beat a who could have pointed out to me my defects with retreat. Mr. Jones returned ; Mrs. Jones and more 'discernment; and as I find it is a fashion for Miss Green, her daughter, left us, but Lady Ausmodern bards to publish the names of the literati, ten's spirits having been too much disturbed, to be who have favoured their works with a revisal, able to repose in a place where she had been so would myself most willingly have acknowledged much terrified, she was left behind. · She remains my obligations to Johnson, and so I told him. I with us till her lodgings at the vicarage can be ar to thank you likewise, and ought to have done made ready for her reception. I have now sent it in the first place, for having recommended to you what has occurred of moment in our history me the suppression of some lines, which I am now since my last. more than ever convinced would at least have done I say ainen, with all my heart, to your obserme no honour.
W. C. vation on religious characters. Men who profess
themselves adepts in mathematical knowledge, in
astronomy, or jurisprudence, are generally as well TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN. qualified as they would appear. The reason may
be, that they are always liable to detection, should MY DEAR WILLIAM,
they attempt to impose upon mankind, and thereThe modest terms in which you express your-fore take care to be what they pretend. In reliself on the subject of lady Austen's commendation gion alone, a profession is often slightly taken up, embolden me to add my suffrage to hers, and to and slovenly carried on, because forsooth candor confirm it by assuring you I think her just and and charity require us to hope the best, and to well founded in her opinion of you. The compli- judge favourably of our neighbour, and because ment indeed glances at myself; for were you less it is easy to deceive the ignorant, who are a great than she accounts you, I ought not to afford you majority, upon this subject. Let a man attach that place in my esteem which you have held so himself to a particular party, contend furiously long. My own sagacity therefore and discern- for what are properly called evangelical doctrines, ment are not a little concerned upon the occasion, and enlist himself under the banner of some pofor either you resemble the picture, or I have pular preacher, and the business is done. Behold strangely mistaken my man, and formed an erro- a Christian! a Saint! a Phænix!-In the mean neous judgment of his character. With respect to time perhaps his heart, and his temper, and even your face and figure indeed, there I leave the ladies his conduct, are unsanctified; possibly less exemto determine, as being naturally best qualified to plary than those of some avowed infidels. No decide the point; but whether you are perfectly the matter-he can talk-he has the Shibboleth of the man of sense, and the gentleman, is a question in true church-the Bible in his pocket, and a which I am as much interested as they, and which, head well stored with notions. But the quiet, you being my friend, 1 am of course prepared to humble, modest, and peaceable person, who is in settle in your favour. The lady (whom, when his practice what the other is only in his profesyou know her as well, you will love as much as sion, who hates a noise, and therefore makes we do) is, and has been during the last fortnight, none, who knowing the snares that are in the a part of our family. Before she was perfectly world, keeps himself as much out of it as he can, restored to health, she returned to Clifton. Soon and never enters it, but when duty calls, and even after she came back, Mr. Jones had occasion to go 'then with fear and trembling—is the Christian
that will always stand highest in the estimation /wrong, were I to omit mentioning the great comof those, who bring all characters to the test of placency with which I read your narrative of Mrs. true wisdom, and judge of the tree by its fruit. Unwin's smiles and tears; persons of much sen
You are desirous of visiting the prisoners; you sibility are always persons of taste, and a taste for wish to administer to their necessities, and to give poetry depends indeed upon that very article more them instruction. This task you will undertake, than upon any other. If she had Aristotle by though you expect to encounter many things in heart, I should not esteem her judgment so highly, the performance of it, that will give you pain. were she defective in point of feeling, as I do, and Now this I can understand-you will not listen must esteem it, knowing her to have such feelings to the sensibilities that distress yourself, but to as Aristotle could not communicate, and as half the distresses of others. Therefore, when I meet the readers in the world are destitute of. This it with one of the specious praters above-mentioned, is that makes me set so high a price upon your I will send him to Stock, that by your diffidence mother's opinion. She is a critic by nature, and he may be taught a lesson of modesty; by your not by rule, and has a perception of what is good generosity, a little feeling for others; and by your or bad in composition, that I never knew deceive general conduct, in short, to chatter less, and to her; insomuch, that when two sorts of expression do more.
have pleaded equally for the precedence, in my Yours, my dear friend, W. C. own esteem, and I have referred, as in such cases
I always did, the decision of the point to her, 1
never knew her at a loss for a just one. TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.
Whether I shall receive any answer from his
Chancellorship or not, is at present in ambiguo, MY DEAR FRIEND,
March 18, 1782. and will probably continue in the same state of Nothing has given me so much pleasure, since ambiguity much longer. He is so busy a man, the publication of my volume, as your favourable and at this time, if the papers may be credited, so opinion of it. It may possibly meet with accept- particularly busy, that I am forced to mortify myance from hundreds, whose commendation would self with the thought, that both my book and my afford me no other satisfaction than what I should letter may be thrown into a corner as too insignififind in the hope that it might do them good. I cant for a statesman’s notice, and never found till have some neighbours in this place, who say they his executor finds them. This affair however like it—doubtless I had rather they should than is neither at my libitum nor his. I have sent him that they should not—but I know them to be per- the truth. He that put it into the heart of a cersons of no more taste in poetry, than skill in the tain eastern monarch, to amuse himself one sleepmathematics; their applause therefore is a sound less night with listening to the records of his kingthat has no music in it for me. But my vanity dom, is able to give birth to such another occasion, was not so entirely quiescent when I read your and inspire his lordship with a curiosity to know friendly account of the manner it had affected what he has received from a friend he once loved you. It was tickled, and pleased, and told me in and valued. If an answer comes, however, you à pretty loud whisper, that others perhaps of shall not long
be a stranger to the contents of it. whose taste and judgment I had a high opinion, I have read your letter to their worships, and would approve it too. As a giver of good coun- much approve of it. May it have the effect it sels, I wish to please all-as an author, l-am per- ought! If not, still you have acted a humane and fectly indifferent to the judgment of all, except becoming part, and the poor aching toes and finthe few who are indeed judicious. The circum-gers of the prisoners will not appear in judgment stance however in your letter which pleased me against you. I have made a slight alteration in most was, that you wrote in high spirits, and the last sentence, which perhaps you will not disthough you said much, suppressed more, lest you , approve. should hurt my delicacy-my delicacy is obliged
W. C. to you—but you observe it is not so squeamish, but that after it has feasted upon praise expressed, it can find a comfortable dessert in the contem
TO THE REV. WILLIAM BULL. plation of praise implied. I now feel as if I should be glad to begin another volume, but from the will
March 24, 1782. to the power is a step too wide for me to take at Your letter gave me great pleasure, both as a at present, and the season of the year brings with testimony of your approbation, and of your reit so many avocations into the garden, where gard. I wrote in hopes of pleasing you, and such I am my own fac totum, that I have little or no as you; and though I must confess that, at the leisure for the quill. I should do myself much same time, I cast a side-long glance at the good
liking of the world at large, I believe I can say it was more for the sake of their advantage and
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN. instruction than their praise. They are children; MY DEAR WILLIAM, April 27, 1782. if we give them physic, we must sweeten the rim of the cup with honey—if my book is so far ho- have taken up their quarters at Olney, since you
A PART of Lord Harrington's new-raised corps noured as to be made the vehicle of true knowledge to any that are ignorant, I shall rejoice; and
left us. They have the regimental music with
them. The men have been drawn up this morndo already rejoice that it has procured me a proof of your esteem.
ing upon the Market-hill, and a concert such as we have not heard these many years, has been performed at no great distance from our window. Your mother and I both thrust our heads into the
coldest east-wind that ever blew in April, that we TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN. might hear them to greater advantage. The band
acquitted themselves with taste and propriety, not MY DEAR FRIEND,
April 1, 1782
blairing, like trumpeters at a fair, but, producing I could not have found a better trumpeter. gentle and elegant symphony, such as charmed Your zeal to serve the interest of my volume, to- our ears, and convinced us that no length of time gether with your extensive acquaintance, qualify can wear out a taste for harmony; and that though you perfectly for that most useful office. Me-plays, balls, and masquerades have lost all their thinks I see you with the long tube at your mouth, power to please us, and we should find them not proclaiming to your numerous connexions my only insipid but insupportable, yet sweet music is poetical merits
, and-at proper intervals levelling it sure to find a corresponding faculty in the soul, a at Olney, and pouring into my ear the welcome sensibility that lives to the last, which even relisound of their approbation. I need not encourage gion itself does not extinguish. you to proceed, your breath will never fail in such When we objected to your coming for a single a cause; and thus encouraged, I myself perhaps night, it was only in the way of argument, and in may proceed also, and when the versifying fit re- hopes to prevail on you to contrive a longer abode turns, produce another volume. Alas! we shall with us. But ratlier than not see you at all, we never receive such commendations from him on should be glad of you though but for an hour. the woolsack, as your good friend has lavished If the paths should be clean enough, and we are upon us. Whence I learn, that however impor- able to walk (for you know we can not ride), we tant I may be in my own eyes, I am very insig- will endeavour to meet you in Weston-park. But nificant in his. 'To make me amends however I mention no particular hour, that I may not lay for this mortification, Mr. Newton tells me, that you under a supposed obligation to be punctual, my book is likely to run, spread, and prosper; that which might be difficult at the end of so long a the grave can not help smiling, and the gay are journey. Only if the weather be favourable, you struck with the truth of it; and that it is likely shall find us there in the evening. It is winter in to find its way into his Majesty's hands, being put the south, perhaps therefore it may be spring at into a proper course for that purpose. Now if the least, if not summer, in the north. For I have King should fall in love with my Muse, and with read that it is wamest in Greenland when it is you for her sake, such an event would make us coldest here. Be that as it may, we may hope at ample amends for the Chancellor's indifference, the latter end of such an April that the first change and you might be the first divine that ever reached of wind will improve the season. a mitre from the shoulders of a poet. But (I be- The curate's simile Latinizedlieve) we must be content, I with my gains, if I Sors adversa gerit stimulum, sed tendit et alas : gain any thing, and you with the pleasare of Pungit, api similis, sed, velut ista, fugit. knowing that I am a gainer.
What a dignity there is in the Roman language! We laughed heartily at your answer to little and what an idea it gives us of the good sense and John's question; and yet I think you might have masculine mind of the people that spoke it! The given him a direct answer—"There are various same thought which clothed in English seems sorts of cleverness, my dear-1 do not know that childish, and even foolish, assumes a different air mine lies in the poetical way, but I can do ten in Latin, and makes at least as good an epigram times more towards the entertainment of company as some of Martial's. in the way of conversation than our friend at I remember your making an observation, when Olney. He can rhyme, and I can rattle. If he here, on the subject of parenthesis, to which I achad my talent, or I had his, we should be too ceded without limitation; but a little attention will charming, and the world would almost adore us." convince us both, that they are not to be univer
Yours, W.C. sally condemned. When they abound, and when
Vir. Æn. 8.
they are long, they both embarrass the sense, and nish yourself with a better taste, if you know are a proof that the writer's head is cloudy, that he where to find it.' has not properly arranged his matter, or is not We are glad that you are safe at home again. well skilled in the graces of expression. But as Could we see at one glance of the eye what is passparenthesis is ranked by grammarians among the ing every day upon all the roads in the kingdom, figures of rhetoric, we may suppose they had a how many are terrified and hurt, how many plunreason for conferring that honour upon it. Ac- dered and abused, we should indeed find reason cordingly we shall find that in the use of some enough to be thankful for journeys performed in of our finest writers, as well as in the hands of the safety, and for deliverance from dangers we are ancient poets and orators, it has a peculiar ele- not perhaps even permitted to see. When in some gance, and imparts a beauty which the period of the high southern latitudes and in a dark temwould want without it.
pestuous night, a flash of lightning discovered to
Captain Cook a vessel, which glanced along close Hoc nemus, hunc,' inquit, ófrondoso vertice collem (Quis deus incertum est) habitat deus.'
by his side, and which, but for the lightning he
must have run foul of, both the danger, and the In this instance, the first that occurred, it is transient light that showed it, were undoubtedly graceful. I have not time to seek for more, nor designed to convey to him this wholesome instrucroom to insert them. But your own observation I tion, that a particular Providence attended him, believe will confirm my opinion.
and that he was not only preserved from evils, Yours ever, W.C. of which he had notice, but from many more of
which he had no information, or even the least sus
picion. What unlikely contingencies may neverTO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN. theless take place! How improbable that two ships
should dash against each other, in the midst of the MY DEAR FRIEND,
May 27, 1782.
vast Pacific Occan, and that steering contrary RATHER ashamed of having been at all dejected courses, from parts of the world so immensely disby the censure of the Critical Reviewers, who cer- tant from each other, they should yet move so tainly could not read without prejudice a book re-exactly in a line as to clash, fill, and go to the botplete with opinions and doctrines to which they tom, in a sea where all the ships in the world might can not subscribe, I have at present no little occa- be so dispersed as that none should see another ! sion to keep a strict guard upon my vanity, lest it Yet this must have happened but for the remarkashould be too much flattered by the following ble interference, which he has recorded. The same eulogium. I send it you for the reasons I gave Providence indeed might as easily have conducted when I imparted to you some other anecdotes of a them so wide of each other, that they should never similar kind, while we were together. Our inter- have met at all, but then this lesson would have ests in the success of this same volume are so been lost; at least, the heroic voyager would have closely united, that you must share with me in the encompassed the globe without having had occapraise or blame that attends it; and sympathizing sion to relate an incident that so naturally sugwith me under the burthen of injurious treatment, gests it. have a right to enjoy with me the cordials I now
I am no more delighted with the season than and then receive, as I happen to meet with more you are. The absence of the sun, which has favourable and candid judges.
graced the spring with much less of his presence A merchant, a friend of ours, (you will soon than he vouchsafed to the winter, has a very unguess him) sent my Poems to one of the first phi- comfortable effect upon my frame. I feel an inlosophers, one of the most eminent literary charac- vincible aversion to employment, which I am yet ters, as well as one of the most important in the constrained to fly to as my only remedy against political world, that the present age can boast of something worse. If I do nothing, I am dejected; Now perhaps your conjuring faculties are puzzled, if I do any thing, I am weary; and that weariness and you begin to ask 'who, where, and what is is best described by the word lassitude, which of he? speak out, for I am all impatience. I will not all weariness in the world is the most oppressive. say a word more, the letter in which he returned But enough of myself and the weather. his thanks for the present shall speak for him.* The blow we have struck in the West Indies We may now treat the critics as the archbishop will
, I suppose, be decisive, at least for the present of Toledo treated Gil Blas, when he found fault year, and so far as that part of our possessions is with one of his sermons.--His grace gave him a concerned in the present conflict. But the newskick, and said, ' Be gone for a jackanapes, and fur- writers, and their correspondents, 'disgust me and
make me sick. One victory, after such a long se* Here Cowper transcribed the letter written from Passy, ries of adverse occurrences, has filled them with by the American ambassador Franklin, in praise of his book. 'self-conceit, and impertinent boasting; and while