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either of those learned bodies thinks fit to move, | At any rate we shall not, I hope, hereafter be the other always makes it a point to sit still, thus known to each other as poets only, for your writproving its superiority.
ings have made me ambitious of a nearer approach I shall send up your letter to Lady Hesketh in to you. Your door, however, will never be opena day or two, knowing that the intelligence con- ed to me. My fate and fortune have combined tained in it will afford her the greatest pleasure. with my natural disposition to draw a circle round Know likewise for your own gratification, that all me which I can not pass; nor have I been more the Scotch universities have subscribed, none ex- than thirteen miles from home these twenty years, cepted.
and so far very seldom. But you are a younger We are all as well as usual; that is to say, as man, and therefore may not be quite so immoveawell as reasonable folks expect to be on the crazy ble; in which case, should you choose at any time side of this frail existence.
to move Weston-ward, you will always find me I rejoice that we shall so soon have you again at happy to receive you; and in the mean time I reour fireside.
W.C. main, with much respect,
P.S. I wish to know what you mean to do with TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.
Sir Thomas.* For though I expressed doubts Weston, March 6, 1791. about his theatrical possibilities, I think him a very After all this ploughing and sowing on the respectable person, and with some improvement plains of Troy, once fruitful, such at least to my well worthy of being introduced to the public. translating predecessor, some harvest I hope will arise for me also. My long work has received its last, last touches; and I am now giving my pre
TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ. face its final adjustment. We are in the fourth Odyssey in the course of our printing, and I ex
March 10, 1791. pect that I and the swallows shall appear together. Give my affectionate remembrances to your sisThey have slept all the winter, but I, on the con- ters, and tell them I am impatient to entertain them trary, have been extremely busy. Yet if I can with my old story new dressed. "virim volitare per ora" as swiftly as they through I have two French prints hanging in my study, the air, I shall account myself well requited. both on Iliad subjects; and I have an English one
Adieu! W. C. in the parlour, on a subject from the same poem.
In one of the former, Agamemnon addresses Achil
les exactly in the attitude of a dancing-master TO THE REV. MR. HURDIS.
turning miss in a minuet; in the latter the figures
are plain, and the attitudes plain also. This is, in SIR,
Weston, March 6, 1791. some considerable measure I believe, the difference I HAVE always entertained, and have occasion-between my translation and Pope's; and will serve ally avowed, a great degree of respect for the abi- as an exemplification of what I am going to lay lities of the unknown author of the Village Curate, before you and the public.
W.C. unknown at that time, but now well known, and not to me only, but to many. For before I was favoured with your obliging letter, I knew your TO THE REV. WALTER BAGOT. name, your place of abode, your profession, and that you had four sisters; all which I learned nei- MY DEAR FRIEND, Weston, March 18, 1791. ther from our bookseller, nor from any of his con- I Give you joy that you are about to receive nexions; you will perceive, therefore, that you are some more of my elegant prose, and I feel myself no longer an author incognito. The writer in- in danger of attempting to make it even more eledeed of many passages that have fallen from your gant than usual, and thereby of spoiling it, under pen could not long continue so. Let genius, true the influence of your commendations. But my genius, conceal itself where it may, we may say old helter-skelter manner has already succeeded so of it, as the young man in Terence of his beauti- well, that I will not, even for the sake of entitling ful mistress, “ Diu latere non potest."
myself to a still greater portion of your se, I am obliged to you for your kind offers of ser- abandon it. vice, and will not say that I shall not be trouble- I did not call in question Johnson's true spirit some to you hereafter; but at present I have no of poetry, because he was not qualified to relish need to be so. I have within these two days given blank verse (though, to tell you the truth, I think the very last stroke of my pen to my long Translation, and what will be my next career I know not.
• Sir Thomas More, a Tragedy.
that but an ugly symptom ;) but if I did not ex- Norwich maiden? To which I reply, it will be press it I meant however to infer it from the per- by no means improper. On the contrary, I am verse judgment that he has formed of our poets in persuaded that she will give her name with a very general; depreciating some of the best, and mak- good will, for she is much an admirer of poesy ing honourable mention of others, in my opinion that is worthy to be admired, and such I think, not undeservedly neglected. I will lay you six- judging by the specimen, the poesy of this maidpence that, had he lived in the days of Milton, and en, Elizabeth Bentley of Norwich, is likely to by any accident had met with his Paradise Lost, prove. he would neither have directed the attention of Not that I am myself inclined to expect in others to it, nor have much admired it himself. general great matters, in the poetical way, from Good sense, in short, and strength of intellect, seem persons whose ill fortune it has been to want the to me, rather than a fine taste, to have been his common advantages of education; neither do I distinguished characteristics. But should you still account it in general a kindness to such, to enthink otherwise, you have my free permission; for courage them in the indulgence of a propensity so long as you yourself have a taste for the beau- more likely to do them harm in the end, than to ties of Cowper, I care not a fig whether Johnson advance their interest. Many such phenomena had a taste or not.
have arisen within my remembrance, at which all I wonder where you find all your quotations, the world has wondered for a season, and has then pat as they are to the present condition of France. forgot them. Do you make them yourself, or do you actually find The fact is, that though strong natural genius them? I am apt to suspect sometimes, that you is always accompanied with strong natural tenimpose them only on a poor man who has but twen- dency to its object, yet it often happens that the ty books in the world, and two of them are your tendency is found where the genius is wanting. brother Chester's. They are however much to the In the present instance, however (the poems of a purpose, be the author of them who he may. certain Mrs. Leapor excepted, who published
I was very sorry to learn lately that my friend some forty years ago) I discern, I think, more at Chicheley has been sometimes indisposed, either marks of a true poetical talent than I rememwith gout or rheumatism, (for it seems to be un-ber to have observed in the verses of any certain which) and attended by Dr. Kerr. I am other, male or female, so disadvantageously cirat a loss to conceive how so temperate a man cumstanced. I wish her therefore good speed, should acquire the gout, and am resolved therefore and subscribe to her with all my heart. to conclude that it must be the rheumatism, which, You will rejoice when I tell you that I have bad as it is, is in my judgment the best of the two; some hopes, after all, of a harvest from Oxford and will afford me besides some opportunity to also; Mr. Throckmorton has written to a person sympathize with him, for I am not perfectly ex- of considerable influence there, which he has deempt from it myself. Distant as you are in situa-sired him to exert in my favour; and his request, tion, you are yet perhaps nearer to him in point I should imagine, will hardly prove a vain one. of intelligence than I; and if you can send me
Adieu. W. C. any particular news of him, pray do it in your next. I love and thank you for your benediction. If
TO SAMUEL ROSE, ESQ. God forgive me my sins, surely I shall love him much, for I have much to be forgiven. But the MY DEAR FRIEND, Weston, March. 24, 1791. quantum need not discourage me, since there is You apologize for your silence in a manner One whose atonement can suffice for all.
which affords me so much pleasure, that I can
not but be satisfied. Let business be the cause, Τα δε καθ' αιμα εεν, και σοι, και εμοι και αδελφοις and I am contented. That is a cause to which I “Ημιτεροις, αυτε σαζομενοις θανατω.
would even be accessary myself, and would in
crease yours by any means, except by a lawsuit Accept our joint remembrances, and believe me of my own, at the expense of all your opportuniaffectionately yours,
W. C. ties of writing oftener than thrice in a twelve
Your application to Dr. Dunbar reminds me TO JOHN JOHNSON, ESQ.
of two lines to be found somewhere in Dr.
"And now a poet's gratitude you see:
“Grant him two favours, and he'll ask for three.” You ask if it may not be improper to solicit Lady Hesketh's subscription to the poems of the In this particular therefore I perceive that a poet, and a poet's friend, bear a striking resemblance to Our thanks are due to you for the book you each other. The Doctor will bless himself that sent us. Mrs. Unwin has read me several parts the number of Scotch universities is not larger, of it, which I have much admired. The obserassured that if they equalled those in England, in vations are shrewd and pointed; and there is number of colleges, you would give him no rest much wit in the similes and illustrations. Yet a till he had engaged them all. It is true, as Lady remark struck me, which I could not help making Hesketh told you, that I shall not fear in the vivâ voce on the occasion. If the book has any matter of subscription a comparison even with real value, and does in truth deserve the notice Pope himself; considering (I mean) that we live taken of it by those to whom it is addressed, its in days of terrible taxation, and when verse, not claim is founded neither on the expression, nor on being a necessary of life, is accounted dear, be it the style, nor on the wit of it, but altogether cn what it may, even at the lowest price. I am no the truth that it contains. Now the same truths very good arithmetician, yet I calculated the other are delivered, to my knowledge, perpetually from day in my morning walk, that my two volumes, the pulpit by ministers, whom the admirers of this at the price of three guineas, will cost the pur-writer would disdain to hear. Yet the truth is chaser less than the seventh part of a farthing not the less important for not being accompanied per line. Yet there are lines among them, that and recommended by brilliant thoughts and exhave cost me the labour of hours, and none that pressions; neither is God, from whom comes all have not cost me some labour.
W. C. truth, any more a respecter of wit than he is of
persons. It will appear soon whether they ap
plaud the book for the sake of its unanswerable TO LADY HESKETH.
arguments, or only tolerate the argument for the
sake of the splendid manner in which it is enFriday night, March 25, 1791. forced. I wish as heartily that it may do them MY DEAREST coz,
good, as if I were myself the author of it. But JOHNSON writes me word that he has repeated- alas! my wishes and hopes are much at variance. ly called on Horace Walpole, and has never It will be the talk of the day, as another publicafound him at home. He has also written to him, tion of the same kind has been; and then the and received no answer. I charge thee therefore noise of Vanity-fair will drown the voice of the on thy allegiance, that thou move not a finger preacher. more in this business. My back is up, and I can. I am glad to learn that the Chancellor does not not bear the thought of wooing him any further, forget me, though more for his sake than my own; nor would do it, though he were as pig a gentle- for I see not how he can ever serve a man like man (look you!) as Lucifer himself. I have me.
Adieu, my dearest Coz, W. C. Welch blood in me, if the pedigree of the Donnes say true, and every drop of it says—"Let him alone!"
TO MRS. THROCKMORTON. I should have dined at the Hall to-day, having engaged myself to do so; but an untoward occur- MY DEAR MRS. FROG, .
April 1, 1791. rence, that happened last night, or rather this A WORD or two before breakfast; which is all morning, prevented me. It was a thundering that I shall have time to send.—You have not, I rap at the door, just after the clock struck three. hope, forgot to tell Mrs. Frog, how much I am First, I thought the house was on fire. Then I obliged to him for his kind, though unsuccessful thought the Hall was on fire. Then I thought attempt in my favour at Oxford. It seems not a it was a house-breaker's trick. Then I thought it little extraordinary, that persons so nobly patronwas an express. In any case I thought that if it ized themselves, on the score of literature, should should be repeated, it would awaken and terrify resolve to give no encouragement to in return. Mrs. Unwin, and kill her with spasms. The Should I find a fair opportunity to thank them consequence of all these thoughts was the worst hereafter, I will not neglect it. nervous fever I ever had in my life, although it was the shortest. The rap was given but once,
Could Homer come himself, distress'd and poor,
And tune his harp at Rhedicina's door, though a multifarious one. Had I heard a second,
The rich old vixen would exclaim (I fear I should have risen myself at all adventures. It
"Begone! no tramper gets a farthing here." was the only minute since you went, in which I have been glad that you were not here. Soon I have read your husband's pamphlet through after I came down, I learned that a drunken party and through. You may think perhaps, and so may had passed through the village at that time, and he, that a question so remote from all concern of they were no doubt the authors of this witty, but mine could not interest me; but if you think so, troublesome invention.
Jyou are both mistaken. He can write nothing
that will not interest me; in the first place, for Homer has no news to tell us; and when, all other the writer's sake; and in the next place because comforts of life having risen in price, poetry has he writes better and reasons better than any body, of course fallen. I call it a “comfort of life;" it with more candour, and more sufficiency; and is so to others, but to myself it has become even a consequently with more satisfaction to all his necessary. Teaders, save only his opponents. They, I think, These holiday times are very unfavourable to by this time, wish that they had let him alone. the printer's progress. He and all his demons are
Tom is delighted past measure with his wooden king themselves merry, and me sad, for I mourn nag, and gallops at a rate that would kill any at every hindrance.
W.C. horse that had a life to lose. Adieu, W.C.
TO THE REV. WALTER BAGOT. TO JOHN JOHNSON, ESQ.'
MY DEAR FRIEND,
Weston, May 2, 1791. MY DEAR JOHNNY, Weston, April 6, 1791. Monday being a day in which Homer has now
A THOUSAND thanks for your splendid assem-no demands on me, I shall give part of the present blage of Cambridge luminaries! If you are not Monday to you. But it this moment occurs to contented with your collection it can only be be- me that the proposition with which I begin will be cause you are unreasonable; for I who may be obscure to you, unless followed by an explanation. supposed more covetous on this occasion than any You are to understand therefore that Monday bebody, am highly satisfied, and even delighted with ing no postday, I have consequently no proof-sheets it. If indeed you should find it practicable to add to correct, the correction of which is nearly all still to the number, I have not the least objection. that I have to do with Homer at present: I say But this charge I give you:
nearly all, because I am likewise occasionally emΑλλο δε τοι ερω συ δεν φρεσι βιλλεσ σητι.
ployed in reading over the whole of what is already
printed, that I may make a table of errata to each Stay not an hour beyond the time you have men- of the poems. How much is already printed say tioned, even though you should be able to add a you?-I answer-the whole Iliad, and almost thousand names by so doing! For I can not af- seventeen books of the Odyssey. ford to purchase them at that cost. I long to see About a fortnight since, perhaps three weeks, I you, and so do we both, and will not sufler you to had a visit from your nephew, Mr. Bagot, and his postpone your visit for any such consideration. tutor, Mr. Hurlock, who came hither under conNo, my dear boy! in the affair of subscriptions duct of your niece, Miss Barbara. So were the we are already illustrious enough; shall be so at friends of Ulysses conducted to the palace of Anleast, when you shall have enlisted a college or two tiphates, the Læstrigonian, by that monarch's more, which perhaps you may be enabled to do in daughter. But mine is no palace, neither am I the course of the ensuing week. , I feel myself a giant, neither did I devour any one of the parmuch obliged to your university, and much dis-ty-on the contrary, I gave them chocolate, and posed to adınire the liberality of spirit they have permitted them to depart in peace. I was much shown on this occasion. Certainly I had not de- pleased both with the young man and his tutor. served much favour of their hands, all things con- In the countenance of the former I saw much sidered. But the cause of literature seems to have Bagotism, and not less in manners. I will leave some weight with them, and to have superseded you to guess what I mean by that expression. the resentment they might be supposed to enter- Physiognomy is a study of which I have almost tain on the score of certain censures, that you wot as high an opinion as Lavater himself, the profes of. It is not so at Oxford.
W.C. sor of it, and for this good reason, because it never
yet deceived me. But perhaps I shall speak more
truly if I say that I am somewhat of an adept in TO SAMUEL ROSE, ESQ.
the art, although I have nerer studied it; for
whether I will or not, I judge of every human MY DEAR FRIEND,
April 29, 1791. creature by the countenance, and, as I I forgot if I told you that Mr. Throckmorton never yet seen reason to repent of my judgment. had applied through the medium of to Sometimes I feel myself powerfully attracted, as the university of Oxford. He did so, but without I was by your nephew, and sometimes with equal
Their answer was, “that they subscribe vehemence repulsed, which attraction and repulto nothing."
sion have always been justified in the sequel. Pope's subscriptions did not amount, I think, to I have lately read, and with more attention than six hundred ; and mine will not fall very far short I ever gave them before, Milton's Latin poems. of five. Noble doings, at a time of day when But these I must make the subject of some future
letter, in which it will be ten to one that your friend Samuel Johnson gets another slap or two
TO JOHN JOHNSON, ESQ. at the hands of your humble servant. Pray read them yourself, and with as much attention as I
Weston, May 23, 1791. did; then read the Doctor's remarks if you have MY DEAREST JOHNNY, them, and then tell me what you think of both. Did I not know that you are never more in your It will be pretty sport for you on such a day as this, element, than when you are exerting yourself in which is the fourth that we have had of almost my cause, I should congratulate you on the hope incessant rain. The weather, and a cold, the there seems to be that your labour will soon have effect of it, have confined me ever since last Thurs- an end. day. Mrs. Unwin however is well, and joins me You will wonder perhaps, my Johnny, that in every good wish to you and your family. I am, Mrs. Unwin, by my desire, enjoined you to secremy good friend, Most truly yours, W.C. cy concerning the translation of the Frogs and
Mice. Wonderful it may well seem to you that I
should wish to hide for a short time from a few, TO THE REV. MR. BUCHANAN.. what I am just going to publish to all. But I had
more reasons than one for this mysterious manMY DEAR SIR, Weston, May 11, 1791.
agement; that is to say, I had two. In the first Yoo have sent me a beautiful poem, wanting place, I wished to surprise my readers agreeably; nothing but metre. I would to Heaven that and secondly, I wished to allow none of my friends you would give it that requisite yourself; for he an opportunity to object to the measure, who might who could make the sketch, can not but be well think it perhaps a measure more bountiful than qualified to finish. But if you will not, I will; prudent. But I have had my sufficient reward, provided always nevertheless, that God gives me though not a pecuniary one. It is a poem of much ability, for it will require no common share to do humour, and accordingly I found the translation justice to your conceptions.
of it very amusing. It struck me too, that I must I am much yours, W. C. either make it part of the present publication, or Your little messenger vanished before I could never publish it at all; it would have been so tercatch him.
ribly out of its place in any other volume.
I long for the time that shall bring you once more to Weston, and all your et ceteras with you.
O! what a month of May has this been! Let TO LADY HESKETH.
never poet, English poet at least, give himself to The Lodge, May 18, 1791. the praises of May again.
W.C. MY DEAREST coz,
Has another of my letters fallen short of its destination; or wherefore is it, that thou writ
TO LADY HESKETH. est not? One letter in five weeks is a poor allowance for your friends at Weston. One that MY DEAREST coz, The Lodge, May 27, 1791. I received two or three days since from Mrs. Frog, I, who am neither dead, nor sick, nor idle, has not at all enlightened me on this head. But should have no excuse, were I as tardy in answerI wander in a wilderness of vain conjecture. ing, as you in writing. I live indeed where leisure
I have had a letter lately from New York, from abounds; and you, where leisure is not: a differa Dr. Cogswell of that place to thank me for my ence that accounts sufficiently both for your silence fine verses, and to tell me, which pleased me par- and my loquacity. ticularly, that after having read the Task, my first When you told Mrs. that my Homer volume fell into his hands, which he read also, and would come forth in May, you told her what you was equally pleased with. This is the only in- believed, and therefore no falsehood. But you told stance I can recollect of a reader, who has done her at the same time what will not happen, and justice to my first effusions: for I am sure, that in therefore not a truth. There is a medium between point of expression they do not fall a jot below my truth and falsehood; and (I believe) the word missecond, and that in point of subject they are for take expresses it exactly. I will therefore say the most part superior. But enough, and too that you were mistaken. If instead of May you much of this. The Task, he tells me, has been had mentioned June, I flatter myself that you reprinted in that city.
would have hit the mark, For in June there is Adieu! my dearest coz.
every probability that we shall publish. You will We have blooming scenes under wintry skies, say, "hang the printer!—for it is his fault!" But and with icy blasts to fan them.
stay, my dear, hang him not just now! For to Ever. thine, W.C. execute him, and find another, will cost us time,