« AnteriorContinuar »
I hope that now our correspondence has suf- that I spent in lodgings at Huntingdon, in which fered its last interruption; and that we shall go time, by the help of good management, and a clear down together to the grave, chatting and chirping notion of economical matters, I contrived to spend as merrily as such a scene of things as this will the income of a twelvemonth. Now, my beloved permit.
cousin, you are in possession of the whole case as I am happy that my poems have pleased you. fit stands. Strain no points to your own inconveMy volume has afforded me no such pleasure at nience or hurt, for there is no need of it, but inany time, either while I was writing it, or since its dulge yourself in communicating (no matter what) publication, as I have derived from yours and my that you can spare without missing it, since by só uncle's opinion of it. I make certain allowances doing you will be sure to add to the comforts of for partiality, and for that peculiar quickness of my life one of the sweetest that I can enjoy-a taste, with which you both relish what you like, token and proof of your affection. and after all drawbacks, upon those accounts duly In the atlair of my next publication, toward made, find myself rich in the measure of your ap- which you also offer me so kindly your assistance, probation that still remains. But upon all I hor there will be no need that you should help me in nour John Gilpin, since it was he who first encou- the manner that you propose. It will be a large raged you to write. I made him on purpose to work, consisting, I should imagine, of six volumes laugh at, and he served his purpose well; but I am at least. The twelfth of this month I shall have now in debt to him for a more valuable acquisition spent a year upon it, and it will cost me more than than all the laughter in the world amounts to, the another. I do not love the booksellers well enough recovery of my intercourse with you, which is to to make them a present of such a labour, but inme inestimable. My benevolent and generous tend to publish by subscription. Your vote and cousin, when I was once asked if I wanted any interest, my dear cousin, upon the occasion, if you thing, and given delicately enough to understand please, but nothing more! I will trouble you with that the inquirer was ready to supply all my occa- somc papers of proposals, when the time shall sions, I thankfully and civilly, but positively, de- come, and am sure that you will circulate as many clined the favour. I neither sufier, nor have suf- for me as you can. Now, my dear, I am going to fered any such inconveniences as I had not much tell you a secret. It is a great sccret, that you rather endure, than come under obligations of that must not whisper even to your cat. No crcature sort to a person comparatively with yourself a is at this moment apprised of it but Mrs. Unwin stranger to me. But to you I answer otherwise. and her son. I am making a new translation of I know you thoroughly, and the liberality of your Homer, and am on the point of finishing the disposition; and have that consummate confidence twenty-first book of the Iliad. The reasons upin the sincerity of your wish to serve me, that de- on which I undertake this Herculean labour, and livers me from all awkward constraint, and from by which I justify an enterprise in which I seem all fear of trespassing by acceptance. To you, so effectually anticipated by Pope, although in fact therefore, I reply, yes. Whensoever and whatso- he has not anticipated me at all, I may possibly ever, and in what manner soever you please; and give you, if you wish for them, when I can find add moreover, that my affection for the giver is nothing more interesting to say. A period which such, as will increase to me tenfold the satisfaction I do not conceive to be very near! I have not anthat I shall have in receiving. It is necessary, swered many things in your letter, nor can I do it however, that I should let you a little into the state at present for want of room. I can not believe but of my finances, that you may not suppose them that I should know you, notwithstanding all that more narrowly eircumscribed than they are. Since time may have done. There is not a feature of Mrs. Unwin and I have lived at Olney, we have your face, could I meet it upon the road by itself, had but one purse, although during the whole of that I should not instantly recollect. I should say, that time, till lately, her income was nearly double that is my cousin's nose, or those are her lips and mine. Her revenues indeed are now in some mea- her chin, and no woman upon earth can claim them sure reduced, and do not much exceed my own; but herself. As for me, I am a very smart youth the worst consequence of this is, that we are fore- of my years. I am not indeed grown gray so ed to deny ourselves some things which hitherto much as I am grown bald. No matter. There we have been better able to afford, but they are was more hair in the world than ever had the hosuch things as neither life, nor the well-being of nour to belong to me. Accordingly having found life depend upon. My own income has been bet- just enough to curl a little at my ears, and to inter than it is, but when it was best, it would not termix with a little of my own that still hangs behave enabled me to live as my connexions demand-hind, I appear, if you see me in the afternoon, to ed that I should, had it not been combined with a have a very decent head-dress, not easily distinbetter than itself
, at least at this end of the king-guished from my natural growth; which being dom. Of this I had full proof during three months worn with a small bag, and a black riband about
my neck, continues to me the charms of my youth, told me that your stay in this country would be even on the verge of age. Away with the fear of short, you should be gone before it could reach writing too often.
you. Yours, my dearest cousin, W.C. I wish, as you do, that the charge in question P.S. - That the view I give you of my could find its way into all the parsonages in the self may be complete, I add the two following nation. It is so generally applicable, and yet so items, That I am in debt to nobody, and that i pointedly enforced, that it deserves the most ex
tensive spread. I find in it the happiest mixture : of spiritual authority, the meekness of a Christian,
and the good manners of a gentleman. It has TO LADY HESKETH.
convinced me, that the poet, who, like myself,
shall take the liberty to pay the author of such valMY DEAREST COUSIN,
uable admonition a compliment, shall do at least I am glad that I always loved you as I did. It as much honour to himself as to his subject. releases me from any occasion to suspect that my
Yours, W. C. present affection for you is indebted for its existence to any selfish considerations. No, I am sure I love you disinterestedly, and for your own sake, TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN. because I never thought of you with any other sensations than those of the truest affection, even MY DEAR FRIEND,
Dec. 24, 1785. while I was under the influence of a persuasion You would have found a letter from me at Mr. that I should never hear from you again. But -'s, according to your assignation, had not with my present feelings, superadded to those that the post, setting out two hours sooner than the I always had for you, I find it no easy matter to usual time, prevented me. The Odyssey that you do justice to my sensations. I perceive myself in sent has but one fault, at least but one that I have a state of mind similar to that of the traveller, de discovered, which is, that I can not read it. The scribed in Pope's Messiah, who, as he passes through very attempt, if persevered in, would soon inake a sandy desert, starts at the sudden and unexpect- me as blind as Homer was himself. I am now ed sound of a waterfall. You have placed me in in the last book of the Iliad; shall be obliged to a situation new to me, and in which I feel myself you therefore for a more legible one by the first somewhat puzzled how I ought to behave. At the opportunity. same time that I would not grieve you, by putting I wrote to Johnson lately, desiring him to give a check upon your bounty, I would be as careful me advice and information on the subject of pronot to abuse it, as if I were a miser, and the ques- posals for a subscription; and he desired me in tion not about your money, but my own. his answer not to use that mode of publication,
Although I do not suspect that a secret to you, but to treat with him; adding, that he could make my cousin, is' any burthen, yet having maturely me such offers, as (he believed) I should approve. considered that point, since I wrote my last, I feel I have replied to his letter, but abide by my first myself altogether disposed to release you from the purpose. injunction, to that effect, under which I laid you. Having occasion to write to Mr. I have now made sush a progress in translation, cerning his princely benevolence, extended this that I need neither fear that I shall stop short of year also to the poor of Olney, I put in a good the end, nor that any other rider of Pegasus shou!d word for my poor self likewise, and have received overtake me. Therefore if at any time it should a very obliging and encouraging answer. . He fall fairly in your way, or you should feel your promises me six names in particular, that (he self invited to say I am so occupied, you have my 'says) will do me no discredit, and expresses a wish poetship’s free permission. Dr. Johnson read, and to be served with papers as soon as they shall be recommended my first voluine. WC. printed.
I meet with encouragement from all quarters,
such as I find need of indeed in an enterprise of TO THE REV. WALTER BAGOT. such length and moment, but such as at the same
time I find effectual. Homer is not a poet to be MY DEAR FRIEND,
Nov. 9, 1785. translated under the disadvantages of doubts and You desired me to return your good brother the dejection. bishop's charge as soon as I conveniently could, Let me sing the praises of the desk which and the weather having forbidden us to hope for has sent me. In general, it is as elegant as possithe pleasure of seeing you, and Mrs. Bagot with ble. In particular, it is of cedar, beautifully you, this morning, I return it now, lest, as you 'lacquered. When put together, it assumes the
conMY DEAR FRIEND,
form of a handsome small chest, and contains alls he was here, with much earnestness and affection sorts of accommodations; it is inlaid with ivory, intreated me to do so, as soon as I should have setand serves the purpose of a reading desk. tled the conditions. If I could get Sir Richard Your affectionate, W.C. Sutton's address, I would write to him also, though
I have been but once in his company since I left
Westininster, where he and I read the Iliad and TO JOSEPII HILL, ESQ.
Odyssey through together. I enclose Lord Dart
mouth's answer to my application, which I will
Dec. 21, 1785. get you to show to Lady Flesketh, because it will Till I had made such a progress, in my pre- please her. I shall be glad if you can make an sent undertaking, as to put it out of all doubt that, opportunity to call on her, during your present if I lived, I should proceed in, and finish it, I kept stay in town. You observe therefore that I am the matter to myself. It would have done me lit- not wanting to myself. He that is so, has no just tle honour to have told my friends that I had an claim on the assistance of others, neither shall myarduous enterprisc in hand, if afterwards I must self have cause to complain of me in other reshave told them that I had dropt it. Knowing it to pects. I thank you for your friendly hints, and have been universally the opinion of the literati, cver precautions, and shall not fail to give them the since they have allowed themselves to consider the guidance of my pen. I respect the publie, and I matter coolly, that a translation, properly so called, of respect myself, and had rather want bread than Homer is, notwithstanding what Pope has done, expose myself wantonly to the condemnation of a desideratum in the English language, it struck either. I hate the affectation so frequently found me, that an attempt to supply the deficiency would in authors, of negligence and slovenly slightness; be an honourable one; and having made myself, and in the present case am scnsible how necessary in former years, somewhat critically a master of it is to shun them, when I undertake the vast and the original, I was by this double consideration in- invidious labour of doing better than Pope has duced to make the attempt myself. I am now done before me. I thank you for all that you have translating into blank verse the last book of the said and done in my cause, and beforehand for lliad, and mean to publish by subscription. all that you shall say and do hereafter. I am sure
W.C. that there will be no deficiency on your part. In
particular I thank you for taking such jealous care
of my honour and respectability, when the man i TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN. you mention applied for samples of my transla
tion. When I deal in wine, cloth, or checse, I MY DEAR WILLIAM, Dec. 31, 1783. will give samples, but of yerse, never.
No conYou have learned from my last that I am now sideration would have induced me to comply with conducting myself upon the plan that you recom- the gentleman's demand, unless he could have asmended to me in the summer. But since I wrote sured me that his wife had longed. it, I have made still farther advances in my nego- I have frequently thought with pleasure of the ciation with Johnson. The proposals are adjusted. summer that you have had in your heart, while The proof-sheet has been printed off, corrected, you have been employed in softening the severity and returned. They will be sent abroad as soon of winter in behalf of so many who must otheras I make up a complete list of the personages and wise have been exposed to it. I wish that you persons to whom I would have them sent; which coulii make a general gaol delivery, leaving only in a few days I hope to be able to accomplish. those behind who can not elsewhere be so properly Johnson behaves very, well, at least according to disposed of. You never said a better thing in my conception of the matter, and seems sensible your life, than when you assured Mr. that I have dealt liberally with him. He wishes of the expediency of a gift of bedding to the poor me to be a gainer by my labours, in his own of Olney. There is one article of this world's comwords, 'to put something handsome into my pock- forts, with which, as Falstaff says, they are so et,' and recommends two large quartos for the heinously unprovided. When a poor woman, and whole. He would not (he says) by any means an honest one, whom we know well, carried home advise an extravagant price, and has fixed it at two pair of blankets, a pair for herself and husthree guineas; the half, as usual, to be paid at the band, and a pair for her six children; time of subscribing, the remainder on delivery. the children saw them they jumped out of their Five hundred names (he adds) at this price will stram, caught them in their arms, kissed them, put above a thousand pounds into my purse. I blessed them, and danced for joy. An old woman, am doing my best to obtain them. Mr. Newton a very old one, the first night that she found heris warm in my service, and can do not a little. I self so comfortably covered, could not sleep a wink, have of course written to Mr. Bagot; who when being kept awake by the contrary emotions, of transport on the one hand, and the fear of not be- fore, and have no need that I should suggest it as ing thankful enough on the other.
as soon as
an apology, could it have served that office, but It just occurs to me, to say, that this manuscript would have made it for me yourself. In truth, of mine will be ready for the press, as I hope, by my dear, had you known in what anguish of mind the end of February. I shall have finished the I wrote the whole of that poem, and under what Iliad in about ten days, and shall proceed imme-perpetual interruptions from a cause that has diately to the revisal of the whole. You must, if since been removed, so that sometimes I had not possible, come down to Olney, if it be only that an opportunity of writing more than three lines at you may take the charge of its safe delivery to a sitting, you would long since have wondered as Johnson. For if by any accident it should be lost, much as I do myself, that it turned out any thing I am undone—the first copy being but a lean better than Grub-street. counterpart of the second.
My cousin, give yourself no trouble to find out Your mother joins with me in love and good any of the Magi to scrutinize my Homer. I can wishes of every kind, to you, and all yours. do without them; and if I were not conscious that
Adieu, W.C. I have no need of their help, I would be the first
to call for it. Assure yourself that I intend to be
careful to the utmost line of all possible caution, TO LADY HESKETH.
both with respect to language and versification.
I will not send a verse to the press, that shall not
Jan. 10, 1786. have undergone the strictest examination. Ir gave me great pleasure that you found my A subscription is surely on every account the friend Unwin, what I was sure you would find most eligible mode of publication. When I shall him, a most agreeable man. I did not usher him have emptied the purses of my friends, and of their in with the marrow-bones and cleavers of high- friends, into my own, I am still free to levy contrisounding panegyric, both because I was certain butions upon the world at large, and I shall then that whatsoever merit he had, your discernment have a fund to defray the expenses of a new ediwould mark it, and because it is possible to do a tion. I have ordered Johnson to print the propoman material injury by making his praise his har- sals immediately, and hope that they will kiss binger. It is easy to raise expectation to such a your hands before the week is expired. pitch, that the reality, be it ever so excellent, must I have had the kindest letter from Josephus that necessarily fall below it.
I ever had. He mentioned my purpose to one of I hold myself much indebted to Mr. the Masters of Eton, who replied that such a of whom I have the first information from your work is much wanted.' self, both for his friendly disposition towards me,
w.c. and for the manner in which he marks the defects in my volume. An author must be tender indeed to wince on being touched so gently. It is un
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN. doubtedly" as he says, and as you and my uncle say. You can not be all mistakon, neither is it at MY DEAR WILLIAM,
Jan. 14, 1786 all probable that any of you should be so. I take I am glad that you have seen Lady Hesketh. it for granted therefore that there are inequalities I knew that you would find her every thing that is in the composition, and I do assure you, my dear, amiable and elegant. Else, being my relation, I most faithfully, that if it should reach a second would never have shown her to you. She also was edition, I will spare no pains to improve it. It delighted with her visiter, and expects the greatest may serve me for an agreeable amusement perhaps pleasure in seeing you again; but is under some when Homer shall be gone and done with. The apprehensions that a tender regard for the drum first edition of poems has generally been suscep- of your ear may kcep you from her. Never mind! tible of improvement. Pope, I believe, never pub- You have two drums; and if she should crack lished one in his life that did not undergo varia- both, I will buy you a trumpet. tions; and his longest pieces, many.' I will only General Cowper having much pressed me to observe, that inequalities there must be always, accompany my proposals with a specimen, I have and in every work of length. There are level sent him one. It is taken from the twenty-fourth parts of every subject, parts which we can not book of the Iliad, and is part of the interview bewith propriety attempt to elevate. They are by tween Priam and Achilles. Tell me, if it be posnature humble, and can only be made to assume sible for any man to tell me—why did Homer an awkward and uncouth appearance by being leave off at the burial of Hector? Is it possible mounted. But again I take it for granted that that he could be determined to it by a conceit, so this remark does not apply to the matter of your little worthy of him, as that, having made the objection. You were sufficiently aware of it be- number of his books completely the alphabetical
number, he would not for the joke's sake proceed and seven lines, and is taken from the interview any farther? Why did he not give us the death between Priam and Achilles in the last book. I of Achilles, and the destruction of Troy? Tell chose to extract from the latter end me also, if the critics, with Aristotle at their head, and as near to the close of it as possible, that I have not found that he left off exactly where he might encourage a hope in the readers of it, that should; and that every epic poem, to all genera- if they found it in some degree worthy of their tions, is bound to conclude with the burial of Hec- approbation, they would find the former parts of tor? I do not in the least doubt it. Therefore, their work not less so. For if a writer flags any if I live to write a dozen epic poems, I will always where, it must be when he is near the end. take care to bury Hector, and to bring all matters My subscribers will have an option given them at that point to an immediate conclusion. in the proposals respecting the price. My prede
I had a truly kind letter from Mr. writ- cessor in the same business was not quite so moten immediately on his recovery from the fever. I derate.— You may say perhaps (at least if your am bound to honour James's powder, not only for kindness for me did not prevent it you would be the services it has often rendered to myself, but really to say)" It is well--but do you place yourstill more for having been the means of preserving self on a level with Pope?" I answer, or rather a life ten times more valuable to society, than mine should answer—“ By no means--not as a poet; is ever likely to be.
but as a translator of Homer, if I did not expect You say—“why should I trouble you with my and believe that I should even surpass him, why troubles ?" I answer—"why not? What is a have I meduled with this matter at all? If I confriend good for, if we may not lay one end of the fess inferiority, I reprobate my own undertaking." sack upon his shoulders, while we ourselves carry When I can hear of the rest of the bishops, the other ?"
that they preach and live as your brother docs, I You see your duty to God, and your duty to will think more respectfully of them than I feel your neighbour; and you practise both with your inclined to do at present. They may be learned, best ability. Yet a certain person accounts you and I know that some of them are; but your broblind. I would that all the world were so blind ther, learned as he is, has other more powerful reeven as you are. But there are some in it, who, commendations. Persuade him to publish his like the Chinese, say—“We have two eyes; and poetry, and I promise you that he shall find as other nations have but one!" I am glad however warm and sincere an adınirer in me as in any man that in your one eye you have sight enough to dis- that lives. Yours, my dear friend, cover that such censures are not worth minding.
Very affectionately, W.C. I thank you heartily for every step you take in the advancement of my present purpose.
Contrive to pay Lady H. a long visit, for she has a thousand things to say.
TO TIIE REV. WALTER BAGOT. Yours, my dear William, W.C.
9 Jan. 23, 1786. MY DEAR AND FAITHEUL FRIEND,
TO THE REV. WALTER BAGOT.
The paragraphs that I am now beginning will MY DEAR FRIEND,
Jan. 15, 1786. contain information of a kind that I am not very I HAVE just time to give you a hasty line to fond of communicating, and on a subject that I explain to you the delay that the publication of am not very fond of writing about. Only to you my proposals has unexpectedly encountered, and I will open may, budget without reserve, because I at which I suppose that you have been somewhat know that in what concerns my authorship you surprised.
take an interest that demands my confidence, and I have a near relation in London and a warm will be pleased with every occurrence that is at friend in General Cowper; he is also a person as all propitious to my endeavours. Lady Hesketh, able as willing to render me material service. I who, had she as many mouths as Virgil's Fame, lately made him acquainted with my design of with a tongue in cach, would employ them all in sending into the world a new Translation of Ho- my service, writes me word that Dr. Maty of tho mer, and told him that my papers would soon at- Museum has read my Task. I can not even to tend him. He soon after desired that I would you relate what he says of it; though, when I beannex to them a specimen of the work. To this gan this story, I thought I had courage enough to I at first objected, for reasons that need not be tell it boldly. He designs however to give his enumerated here; but at last acceded to his adl- opinion of it in his next Monthly Review; and vice; and accordingly the day before yesterday 1 being informed that I was about to finish a transsent him a specimen. It consists of one hundred 'lation of Homer, asked her Ladyship's leave to