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your priority in my attentions, though in other occupied as you, though in a different way; but it is respects likely to be of little value.
not so with me. Mrs. Unwin's great debility (who You do well to sit for your picture, and give is not yet able to move without assistance) is of very sufficient reasons for doing it; you will also, itself a hindrance such as would eflectually disaI doubt not, take care that when future genera- ble me. Till she can work and read, and fill up tions shall look at it, some spectator or other shall her time as usual (all which is at present entirely say, this is the picture of a good man, and a use- out of her power,) I may now and then find time
to write a letter, but I shall write nothing more. And now God bless you, my dear Johnny. 1 I can not sit with my pen in my hand, and my proceed much after the old rate; rising cheerless books before me, while she is in effect in solitude, and distressed in the morning, and brightening a silent, and looking at the fire. To this hindrance little as the day goes on.
Adieu. W. C. that other has been added, of which you are al
ready aware, a want of spirits, such as I have
never known, when I was not absolutely laid by, TO WILLIAM HALEY, ESQ.
since I commenced an author. How long I shall Weston, Oct. 28, 1792. be continued in these uncomfortable circumstances Nothing done, my dearest brother, nor likely is known only to Him who, as he will, disposes to be done at present; yet I purpose in a day or of us all. I may be yet able perhaps to prepare two to make another attempt, to which however I the first book of the Paradise Lost for the press shall address myself with fear and trembling, like before it will be wanted; and Johnson himself a man who, having sprained his wrist, dreads to seems to think there will be no haste for the seuse it. I have not, indeed, like such a man, in- cond. But poetry is my favourite employment, jured myself by any extraordinary exertion, but and all my poetical operations are in the mean time seem as much enfeebled as if I had. The con- suspended, for while a work to which I have sciousness that there is so much to do, and nothing bound myself remains unaccomplished I can do done, is a burthen that I am not able to bear. nothing else. Milton especially is my grievance, and I might Johnson's plan of prefixing my phiz to the new almost as well be haunted by his ghost, as goaded edition of my Poems is by no means a pleasant with such continual reproaches for neglecting him. one to me, and so I told him in a letter I sent him I will therefore begin; I will do my best; and if, from Eartham, in which I assured him that my after all, that best prove good for nothing, I will objections to it would not be easily surmounted. even send the notes, worthless as they are, that I But if you judge that it may really have an effect have made already, a measure very disagreeable in advancing the sale, I would not be so squeamto myself, and to which nothing but necessity ish as to suffer the spirit of prudery to prevail in shall compel me. I shall rejoice to see those new me to his disadvantage. Somebody told an author, samples of your biography, which you give me to I forgot whom, that there was more vanity in reexpect.
fusing his picture, than in granting it, on which Allons! Courage!-Here comes something how- he instantly complied. I do not perfectly feel all ever; produced after a gestation as long as that of the force of the argument, but it shall content me a pregnant woman. It is the debt long unpaid; that he did. the compliment due to Romney; and if it has your I do most sincerely rejoice in the success of your approbation, I will send it, or you may send
for publication, and have no doubt that my prophecy me. I must premise, however, that I intended concerning your success in greater matters will nothing less than a sonnet when I began. I know be fulfilled. We are naturally pleased when our not why, but I said to myself, it shall not be a friends approve what we approve ourselves; how sonnet; accordingly I attempted it in one sort of much then must I be pleased, when you speak so measure, then in a second, then in a third, till I kindly of Johnny! I know him to be all that you had made the trial in half a dozen different kinds think him, and love him entirely. of shorter verse, and behold it is a sonnet at last. Adieu! We expect you at Christmas, and shall The fates would have it so.*
W.C. therefore rejoice when Christmas comes.
Ever yours, W. C.
TO SAMUEL ROSE, ESQ.
TO JOHN JOHNSON, ESQ.
Weston, Nov. 9, 1792.
Weston, Nov. 20, 1792.
MY DEAREST JOHNNY, ITere followed the Sonnet to George Romney, Esq. See
I give you many thanks for your rhymes, and Poems.
for your verses without rhyme; for your poetical
dialogue between wood and stone; between Ho|new clerk; he came to solicit the same service as mer's head, and the head of Samuel; kindly in- I had rendered his predecessor, and I reluctantly tended, I know well, for my amusement, and that complied; doubtful, indeed, whether I was capaamused me much.
ble. I have however achieved that labour, and I The successor of the clerk defunct, for whom I hope nothing more. I am just sent for up to Mary, used to write mortuary verses, arrived here this dear Mary! Adieu ! she is as well as when I left morning, with a recommendatory letter for Joe you, I would I could say better. Remember us both Rye, and an humble petition of his own, entreat- affectionately to your sweet boy, and trust me for ing me to assist him as I had assisted his prede- being
Most truly yours, W. C. cessor. I have undertaken the service, although with no little reluctance, being involved in many arrears on other subjects, and having very little
TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ. dependence at present on my ability to write at all. I proceed exacty as when you were here—a letter MY DEAR SIR, Weston, Dec. 16, 1792. now and then before breakfast, and the rest of my We differ so little, that it is pity we should not time all holiday; if holiday it may be called, that agree. The possibility of restoring our diseased is spent chiefly in moping and musing, and “ fore- government is, I think, the only point on which casting the fashion of uncertain erils."
we are not of one mind. If you are right, and it The fever on my spirits has harassed me much, can not be touched in the medical way, without and I have never had so good a night, nor so quiet danger of absolute ruin to the constitution, keep a rising, since you went, as on this very morning. the doctors at a distance, say I--and let us live as A relief that I account particularly seasonable and long as we can. But perhaps physicians might propitious, because I had, in my intentions, de- be found of skill sufficient for the purpose, were voted this morning to you, and could not have ful- they but as willing as able. Who are they ? Not filled those intentions, had I been as spiritless as those honest blunderers the mob, but our governors I generally am.
themselves. As it is in the power of any indiviI am glad that Johnson is in no haste for Mil- dual to be honest if he will, any body of men are, ton, for I seem myself not likely to address myself as it seems to me, equally possessed of the same presently to that concern, with any prospect of option. For I can never persuade myself to think success; yet something now and then, like a se- the world so constituted by the author of it, and cret whisper, assures and encourages me that it human society, which is his ordinance, so shabby will yet be done.
W.C. a business, that the buying and selling of votes
and consciences should be essential to its existence.
As to multiplied representation, I know not that TO WILLIAM HAYLEY ESQ. I foresee any great advantage likely to arise from
that. Provided there be but a reasonable number Weston, Nor. 25, 1792. of reasonable heads laid together for the good of How shall I thank you enough for the interest the nation, the end may as well be answered by you take in my future Miltonic labours, and the five hundred, as it would be by a thousand, and assistance you promised me in the performance perhaps better. But then they should be honest of them? I will some time or other, if I live, and as well as wise; and in order that they may be live a poet, acknowledge your friendship in some so, they should put it out of their own power to be of my best verse; the most suitable return one otherwise. This they might certainly do, if they poet can make to another; in the mean time, I love would; and would they do it, I am not convinced you, and am sensible of all your kindness. You that any great mischief would ensue. You say, wish me warm in my work, and I ardently wish "somebody must have influence," but I see no the same; but when I shall be so, God only knows. necessity for it. Let integrity of intention and a My melancholy, which seemed a little alleviated due share of ability be supposed, and the influence for a few days, has gathered about me again, with will be in the right place, it will all centre in the as black a cloud as ever; the consequence is abso- zeal and good of the nation. That will influence lute incapacity to begin.
their debates and decisions, and nothing else ought I was for some years dirge writer to the town to do it. You will say perhaps that, wise men of Northampton, being employed by the clerk of and honest men as they are supposed, they are the principal parish there, to furnish him with an yet liable to be split into almost as many differannual copy of verses proper to be printed at the ences of opinion as there are individuals: but I foot of his bill of mortality; but the clerk died, rather think not. It is observed of Prince Eugene and hearing nothing for two years from his suc-, and the Duke of Marlborough, that each always cessor, I well hoped that I was out of my office. approved and seconded the plans and views of the The other morning however Sam announced the other: and the reason given for it is, that they were men of equal ability. The same cause that school, however, that we must learn, if we ever could make two unanimous, would make twenty truly learn it, the natural depravity of the human so; and would at least secure a majority among heart, and of our own in particular, together with the as many hundreds. As to the reformation of the consequence that necessarily follows such wretchchurch, I want none, unless by a better provisioned premises; our indispensable need of the atonefor the inferior clergy; and if that could be brought ment, and our inexpressible obligations to him who about by emaciating a little some of our too corpu- made it. This reflection can not escape a thinklent dignitaries, I should be well contented. ing mind, looking back on those ebullitions of fret
The dissenters, I think, catholics and others, fulness and impatience, to which it has yielded in have all a right to the privileges of all other Eng- a season of great affliction. lishmen, because to deprive them is persecution; Having lately had company who left us only on and persecution on any account, but especially on the fourth, I have done nothing indeed, since my a religious one, is an abomination. But after all, return from Sussex, except a trifle or two, which valeat respublica. I love my country, I love my it was incumbent upon me to write. Milton hangs king, and I wish peace and prosperity to Old Eng- in doubt, neither spirits nor opportunity suffice me land.
Adieu. W.C. for that labour. I regret continually that I ever
suffered myself to be persuaded to undertake it.
The most that I hope to effect is a complete revi. TO WILLIAM HAYLEY, ESQ.
sal of my own Homer. Johnson told my friend,
who has just left me, that it will begin to be reWeston, Dec. 26, 1792. viewed in the next Analytical, and that he hoped That I may not be silent till my silence alarms the review of it would not offend me. By this I you, I snatch a moment to tell you that although understand that if I am not offended, it will be toujours triste I am not worse than usual, but my owing more to my own equanimity, than to the opportunities of writing are paucified, as perhaps mildness of the critic. So be it! He will put an Dr. Johnson would have dared to say, and the few opportunity of victory over myself into my hands, that I have are shortened by company.
and I will endeavour not to lose it! Adicu. W.C. Give my love to dear Tom, and thank him for his very apposite extract, which I should be happy indeed to turn to any account. How often do I wish, in the course of every day, that I could be
TO WILLIAM HAYLEY, ESQ employed once more in poetry, and how often of
MY DEAR BROTHER, Weston, Jan. 20, 1793. course that this Miltonic trap had never caught me!
Now I know that you are safe, I treat you, as The year ninety-two shall stand chronicled in my you see, with a philosophical indifference, not acremembrance as the most melancholy that I have knowledging your kind and immediate answer to ever known, except the few weeks that I spent at anxious inquiries, till it suits my own convenience. Eartham; and such it has been principally, because I have learned, however, from my late solicitude, being engaged to Milton, I felt myself no longer that not only you, but yours, interest me to a defree for any other engagement. That ill-fated gree, that, should any thing happen to either of work, impracticable in itself, has made every thing you, would be very inconsistent with my peace. else impracticable.
Sometimes I thought that you were extremely ill, I am very Pindaric, and obliged to be and once or twice that you were dead. As often so by the hurry of the hour. My friends are come some tragedy reached my ear concerning little Tom. down to breakfast. Adieu.
“ O, vanæ mentes hominum!" How liable are we to a thousand impositions, and how indebted to ho
nest old Time, who never fails to undeceive us! TO THE REV. MR. HURDIS.
Whatever you had in prospect you acted kindly
by me not to make me partaker of your expectaMY DEAR SIR,
Weston, Jan. 6, 1793. tions, for I have a spirit, if not so sanguine as I sEize a passing moment merely to say that I yours, yet that would have waited for your coming feel for your distresses, and sincerely pity you; and with anxious impatience, and have been dismally I shall be happy to learn from your next, that your mortified by the disappointment. Had you come, sister's amendment has superseded the necessity and come without notice too, you would not have you feared of a journey to London. Your candid surprised us more, than (as the matter was manaccount of the effect that your afflictions have both aged) we were surprised at the arrival of your picon your spirits and temper I can perfectly under-ture. It reached us in the evening, after the shutstand, having laboured much in that fire myself, ters were closed, at a time when a chaise might and perhaps more than any man. It is in such a actually have brought you without giving us the
least previous intimation. Then it was, that Sa-| muel, with his cheerful countenance, appeared at
TO SAMUEL ROSE, ESQ. the study door, and with a voice as cheerful as his looks, exclaimed, “ Mr. Hayley is come, Madam!"
Weston, Feb. 5, 1793. We both started, and in the same moment cried, In this last revisal of my work (the Homer) I “Mr. Hayley come! and where is he?". The have made a number of small improvements, and next moment corrected our mistake, and finding am now more convinced than ever, having exercisMary's voice grow suddenly tremulous, I turned ed a cooler judgment upon it than before I could, and saw her weeping.
that the translation will make its way. There I do nothing, notwithstanding all your exhorta- must be time for the conquest of vehement and tions: my idleness is a proof against them all, or long rooted prejudice; but without much self-parto speak more truly, my difficulties are so. . Some- tiality, I believe that the conquest will be made; thing indeed I do. I play at pushpin with Homer and am certain that I should be of the same opievery morning before breakfast, fingering and po- nion, were the work another man's. I shall soon lishing, as Paris did his armour. I have lately had have finished the Odyssey, and when I have, will a letter from Dublin on that subject, which has send the corrected copy of both to Johnson. Adicu. pleased me. W.C.
TO WILLIAM HAYLEY, ESQ.
TO LADY HESKETH. MY DEAREST HAYLEY, Weston, Jan. 29, 1793.
Feb. 10, 1793. I TRULY sympathize with you under your weight My pens are all split, and my inkglass is dry; of sorrow for the loss of our good Samaritan. But Neither wit, common sense, nor ideas have I. be not broken-hearted, my friend! Remember, In vain has it been that I have made several atthe loss of those we love is the condition on which tempts to write since I came from Sussex; unless we live ourselves; and that he who chooses his more comfortable days arrive than I have the confriends wisely froin among the excellent of the fidence to look for, there is an end of all writing earth, has a sure ground to hope concerning them with me. I have no spirits : when the Rose came, when they die, that a merciful God has made them I was oblig to prepare for his coming by a nightfar happier than they could be here, and that we ly dose of laudanum-twelve drops suffice; but shall join them soon again. This is solid comfort, without them I am devoured by melancholy. could we but avail ourselves of it; but I confess A-propos of the Rose! His wife in her political the difficulty of doing so. Sorrow is like the deaf notions is the exact counterpart of yourself—loyal adder,“ that hears not the voice of the charmer, in the extreme. Therefore, if you find her thus charm he never so wisely;" and I feel so much inclined, when you become acquainted with her, myself for the death of Austin, that my own chief you must not place her resemblance of yourself to consolation is, that I had never seen him. Live the account of her admiration of you, for she is yourself, I beseech you, for I have seen so much of your likeness ready made. In fact, we are all of you, that I can by no means spare you, and will one mind, about government matters, and notlive as long as it shall please God to permit. I withstanding your opinion, the Rose is himself a know you set some value on me, therefore let that Whig, and I am a Whig, and you, my dear, are promise comfort you, and give us not reason to say, a Tory, and all the Tories now-a-days call all the like David's servant, “We know that it would Whigs Republicans. How the deuce you came have pleased thee more if all we had died, than to be a Tory is best known to yourself; you have this one, for whom thou art inconsolable.” You to answer for this novelty to the shades of your have still Romney and Carwordine, and Guy, and ancestors, who were always Whigs ever since we me, my poor Mary, and I know not how many had any. Adieu.
W. C. beside; as many, I suppose, as ever had an opportunity of spending a day with you. He who has the most friends must necessarily lose the most,
TO SAMUEL ROSE, ESQ. and he whose friends are numerous as yours may the better spare a part of them. It is a changing MY DEAR FRIEND,
Feb. 17, 1793. transient scene: yet a little while, and this poor I have read the critique of my work in the Anadream of life will be over with all of us—The liv- lytical Review, and am happy to have fallen into ing, and they who live unhappy, they are indeed the hands of a critic, rigorous enough indeed, but subjects of sorrow. Adieu, my beloved friend, a scholar and a man of sense, and who does not
Ever yours, W. C. deliberately intend me mischief I am better
pleased indeed that he censures some things, than tertaining notices and remarks in the natural way I should have been with unmixed commendation, The hurry in which I write would not suffer me for his censure will (to use the new diplomatic to send you many in return, had I many to send, term) accredit his praises. In his particular re- but only two or three present themselves. marks he is for the most part right, and I shall Frogs will feed on worms. I saw a frog gatherbe the better for them; but in his general ones I ing into his gullet an earth-worm as long as himthink he asserts too largely, and more than he self; it cost him time and labour, but at last he could prove. With respect to inversions in parti- succeeded. cular, I know that they do not abound. Once they Mrs. Unwin and I, crossing a brook, saw from did, and I had Milton's example for it, not dis- the foot-bridge somewhat at the bottom of the waapproved by Addison. But on — 's remon- ter which had the appearance of a flower. Obstrance against them, I expunged the most, and serving it attentively, we found that it consisted in my new edition shall have fewer still. I know of a circular assemblage of minnows; their heads that they give dignity, and am sorry to part with all met in a centre; and their tails diverging at them, but, to parody an old proverb, he who lives equal distances, and being elevated above their in the year ninety-three, must do as in the year heads, gave them the appearance of a flower half ninety-three is done by others. The same remark blown. One was longer than the rest; and as often I have to make on his censure of inharmonious as a straggler came in sight, he quitted his place lines. I know them to be much fewer than he as- to pursue him, and having driven him away, he serts, and not more in number than I accounted returned to it again, no other minnow offering to indispensably necessary to a due variation of ca- take it in his absence. This we saw him do sedence. I have, however, now in conformity with veral times. The object that had attached them modern taste, (overmuch delicate in my mind) all was a dead minnow, which they seemed to be given to a far greater number of them a flow as devouring. smooth as oil. A few I retain, and will, in com- After a very rainy day, I saw on one of the pliment to my own judgment. He thinks me too flower borders what seemed a long hair, but it faithful to compound epithets in the introductory had a waving, twining motion. Considering more lines, and I know his reason. He fears, lest the nearly, I found it alive, and endued with spontaEnglish reader should blame Homer, whom he neity, but could not discover at the ends of it either idolizes, though hardly more than I, for such con- head or tail, or any distinction of parts. I carried stant repetition. But them I shall not alter. They it into the house, when the air of a warm room are necessary to a just representation of the origi- dried and killed it presently.
W. C. nal. In the affair of Outis, I shall throw him flat on his back by an unanswerable argument, which I shall give in a note, and with which I am
TO WILLIAM HAYLEY, ESQ. furnished by Mrs. Unwin. So much for hypercriticism, which has run away with all my paper.
Feb. 24, 1793. This critic by the way is I know him by Your letter (so full of kindness, and so exactly infallible indications,
W.C. in unison with my own feelings for you) should
have had, as it deserved to have, an earlier an
swer, had I not been perpetually tormented with TO THE REV. MR. HURDIS.
inflamed eyes, which are a sad hindrance to me in every thing
But to make amends, if I do not MY DEAR SIR,
Weston, Feb. 23, 1793. send you an early answer, I send you at least a My eyes, which have long been inflamed, will speedy one, being obliged to write as fast as my hardly serve me for Homer, and oblige me to make pen can trot, that I may shorten the time of poring all my letters short. You have obliged me much upon paper as much as possible. Homer too has by sending me so speedily the remainder of your been another hindrance, for always when I can notes. I have begun with them again, and find see, which is only about two hours every morning, them, as before, very much to the purpose. More and not at all by candlelight, I devote myself to to the purpose they could not have been, had you him, being in haste to send him a second time to been poetry professor already. I rejoice sincerely the press, that nothing may stand in the way of in the prospect you have of that office, which, Milton. By the way, where are my dear Tom's whatever may be your own thoughts of the mat- remarks, which I long to have, and must have ter, I am sure you will fill with great sufficiency. soon, or they will come too late? Would that my interest and power to serve you Oh! you rogue! what would you give to have were greater! One string to my bow I have, and such a dream about Milton, as I had about a week one only, which shall not be idle for want of my since? I dreamed that being in a house in the city, exertions. I thank you likewise for your very en-land with much company, looking towards the