« AnteriorContinuar »
means me such a favour, I should disappoint him who want money as much as any mandarin in by asking it.
China? Rousseau would have been charmed to I repeat my thanks for your suggestion; you have seen me so occupied, and would have exsee a part of my reasons for thus conducting my- claimed with rapture, " that he had found the self; if we were together I could give you more.* Emilius who (he supposed) had subsisted only in Yours affectionately, W. C. his own idea." I would recommend it to you to
follow my example. You will presently qualify
yourself for the task, and may not only amuse TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN. yourself at home, but may even exercise your skill
in mending the church windows; which, as it May 26, 1779.
would save money to the parish, would conduce, I am obliged to you for the Poets; and though I together with your other ministerial accomplishlittle thought I was translating so much money ments, to make you extremely popular in the out of your pocket into the bookseller's, when I place. turned Prior's poem into Latin, yet I must needs I have eight pair of tame pigeons. When I say that, if you think it worth while to purchase first enter the garden in a morning, I find them the English Classics at all, you can not possess perched upon the wall, waiting for their breakfast; yourself of them upon better terms. I have looked for I feed them always upon the gravel-walk. If into some of the volumes, but not having yet finish- your wish should be accomplished, and you should ed the Register, have merely looked into them. A find yourself furnished with the wings of a dove, few things I have met with, which if they had I shall undoubtedly find you amongst them. Only been burned the moment they were written, it be so good, if that should be the case, to announce would have been better for the author, and at yourself by some means or other. For I imagine least as well for his readers. There is not much your crop will require something better than tares of this, but a little too much. I think it a pity to fill it. the editor admitted any; the English muse would Your mother and I last week made a trip in a have lost no credit by the omission of such trash. post chaise to Gayhurst, the seat of Mr. Wright, Some of them again seem to me to have but a very about four miles off. He understood that I did not disputable right to a place among the Classics; much affect strange faces, and sent over his serand I am quite at a loss when I see them in such vant on purpose to inform me that he was going company, to conjecture what is Dr. Johnson's idea into Leicestershire, and that, if I chose to see the or definition of classical merit. But if he inserts gardens, I might gratify myself without danger of the poems of some who can hardly be said to de- seeing the proprietor. I accepted the invitation, serve such an honour, the purchaser may comfort and was delighted with all I found there. The himself with the hope that he will exclude none situation is happy, the gardens elegantly disposed, that do.
W. C. the hot-house in the most flourishing state, and
the orange-trees the most captivating creatures of
the kind I ever saw. A man, in short, had need TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.
have the talents of Cox or Langford, the auc
tioneers, to do the whole scene justice. Our love AMICO MIO,
Sept. 21, 1779.
Yours, W.C. Be pleased to buy me a glazier's diamond pencil. I have glazed the two frames designed to receive my pine plants. But I can not mend the kitchen windows, till by the help of that imple
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN. ment I can reduce the glass to its proper dimen
MY DEAR FRIEND,
1779. sions. If I were -a plumber I should be a com
I wrote my last letter merely to inform you that plete glazier; and possibly the happy time may I had nothing to say, in answer to which you have . come, when I shall be seen trudging away to the said nothing. I admire the propriety of your conneighbouring towns with a shelf of glass hanging duct, though I am a loser by it. I will endeavour at my back. - If government should impose ano
to say something now, and shall hope for sometax upon that commodity, I hardly know a busi
thing in return. ness in which a gentleman might more success
I have been well entertained with Johnson's fully employ himself. A Chinese, of ten times
biography, for which I thank you; with one exmy fortune, would avail himself of such an oppor- ception, and that a swinging one, I think he has tunity without scruple; and why should not I, acquitted himself with his usual good sense and * The allusion in this letter is to Lord Thurlow, who was
sufficiency. His treatment of Milton is unmercipromoted to the Lord High Chancellorship of England in the ful to the last degree. He has belaboured that early part of the month in which it was written.
great poet's character with the most industrious
cruelty. As a man, he has hardly left him the now you have nothing to do but to chink your shadow of one good quality. Churlishness in his purse, and laugh at what is past. Your delicacy private life, and a rancorous hatred of every thing makes you groan under that which other men royal in his public, are the two colours with which never feel, or feel but lightly. A fly that settles he has smeared all the canvas. If he had any vir- upon the tip of the nose, is troublesome; and this tues, they are not to be found in the doctor's pic- is a comparison adequate to the most that manture of him, and it is well for Milton that some kind in general are sensible of, upon such tiny ocsourness in his temper is the only vice with which casions. But the flies that pester you, always get his memory has been charged; it is evident enough between your eye-lids, where the annoyance is althat if his biographer could have discovered more, most insupportable. he would not have spared him. As a poet, he has I would follow your advice, and endeavour to furtreated him with severity enough, and has plucked nish Lord North with a scheme of supplies for the one or two of the most beautiful feathers out of ensuing year, if the difficulty I find in answering his Muse's wing, and trampled them under his the call of my own emergencies did not make me great foot. He has passed sentence of condemna- despair of satisfying those of the nation. I can say tion upon Lycidas, and has taken occasion, from but this; if I had ten acres of land in the world, that charming poem, to expose to ridicule (what is whereas I have not one, and in those ten acres indeed ridiculous enough) the childish prattlement should discover a gold mine, richer than all Mexico of pastoral compositions, as if Lycidas was the and Peru, when I had reserved a few ounces for prototype and pattern of them all. The liveliness my own annual supply, I would willingly give the of the description, the sweetness of the numbers, rest to government. My ambition would be more the classical spirit of antiquity that prevails in it, gratified by annihilating the national incumbrances go for nothing. I am convinced, by the way, that than by going daily down to the bottom of a mine he has no car for poetical numbers, or that it was to wallow in my own emolument. This is patriotstopped by prejudice against the harmony of Mil-ism—you will allow; but alas, this virtue is for the ton's. Was there ever any thing so delightful as most part in the hands of those who can do no good the music of the Paradise Lost? It is like that with it! He that has but a single handful of it, of a fine organ; has the fullest and the deepest catches so greedily at the first opportunity of growtones of majesty, with all the softness and elegance ing rich, that his patriotism drops to the ground, of the Dorian flute. Variety without end, and and he grasps the gold instead of it. He that never equalled, unless perhaps by Virgil. Yet the never meets with such an opportunity, holds it fast doctor has little or nothing to say upon this co- in his clenched fist, and says,—"Oh, how much pious theme, but talks something about the unfit-good I would do if I could!" ness of the English language for blank verse, and Your mother says_"Pray send my dear love." how apt it is in the mouth of some readers, to de- There is hardly room to add mine, but you will generate into declamation.
Yours, W.C. I could talk a good while longer, but I have no room; our love attends you. Yours affectionately, W.C.
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN. MY DEAR FRIEND,
Feb. 27, 1780. TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.
As you are pleased to desire my letters, I am
the more pleased with writing them, though, at MY DEAR FRIEND,
Dec. 2, 1779. the same time, I must needs testify my surprise How quick is the succession of human events! that you should think them worth receiving, as I The cares of to-day are seldom the cares of to- seldom send one that I think favourably of myself. murow; and when we lie down at night, we inay This is not to be understood as an imputation safely say to most of our troubles “ Ye have done upon your taste or judgment, but as an encomium your worst, and we shall meet no more.”
upon my own modesty and humility, which I This observation was suggested to me by read- desire you to remark well. It is a just observation ing your last letter; which though I have written of Sir Joshua Reynolds, that though men of ordisince I received it, I have never answered. When nary talents may be highly satisfied with their that epistle passed under your pen, you were mi- own productions, men of true genius never are. serable about your tithes, and your imagination Whatever be their subject, they always seem to was hung round with pictures, that terrified you themselves to fall short of it, even when they seem to such a degree as made even the receipt of mo- to others most to excel. And for this reasonney burdensome. But it is all over now. You because they have a certain sublime sense of persent away your farmers in good humour (for you fection which other men are strangers to, and can make people merry whenever you please), and which they themselves in their performances are
not able to exemplify. Your servant, Sir Joshua!| however wedded to his own purpose, to resent so I little thought of seeing you when I began, but gentle and friendly an exhortation as you sent him. as you have popped in you are welcome. Men of lively imaginations are not often remarka
When I wrote last, I was little inclined to send ble for solidity of judgment. They have generyou a copy of verses entitled the Modern Patriot, ally strong passions to bias it, and are led far but was not quite pleased with a line or two which away from their proper road, in pursuit of pretty I found it difficult to mend, therefore did not. At phantoms of their own creating. No law ever night I read Mr. Burke's speech in the newspaper, did or can effect what he has ascribed to that of and was so well pleased with his proposals for a Muses; it is reserved for mercy to subdue the correformation, and with the temper in which he rupt inclinations of mankind, which threatenings made them, that I began to think better of his and penalties, through the depravity of the heart, cause, and burnt my verses. Such is the lot of have always had a tendency rather to inflame. the man who writes upon the subject of the day: The love of power seems as natural to kings, as the aspect of affairs changes in an hour or two, the desire of liberty is to their subjects; the excess and his opinion with it; what was just and well- of either is vicions, and tends to the ruin of both. deserved satire in the morning, in the evening There are many, I believe, who wish the present becomes a libel; the author commences his own corrupt state of things dissolved, in hope that the judge, and while he condemns with unrelenting pure primitive constitution will spring up from the severity what he so lately approved, is sorry to ruins. But it is not for man, by himself man, to find that he has laid his leaf-gold upon touch-wood, bring order out of confusion; the progress from which crumbled away under his fingers. Alas! one to the other is not natural, much less necessawhat can I do with my wit? I have not enough ry, and without the intervention of divine aid, to do great things with, and these little things are impossible; and they who are for making the so fugitive, that while a man catches at the sub-hazardous experiment, would certainly find themject, he is only filling his hand with smoke. I must selves disappointed. do with it as I do with my linnet; I keep him for
Affectionately yours, W. C. the most part in a cage, but now and then set open the door that he may whisk about the room a little, and then shut him up again. My whisking wit
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN. has produced the following, the subject of which is more important than the manner in which I MY DEAR FRIEND,
March 28, 1780. have treated it seems to imply, but a fable may I have heard nothing more from Mr. Newton, speak truth, and all truth is sterling; I only pre- upon the subject you mention; but I dare say that mise, that in a philosophical tract in the Register, having been given to expect the benefit of your I found it asserted that the glow-worm is the nomination in behalf of his nephew, he still denightingale's food.*
pends upon it. His obligations to Mr. have • An officer of a regiment, part of which is quar- been so numerous, and so weighty, that though he tered here, gave one of the soldiers leave to be has, in a few instances, prevailed upon himself to drunk six weeks, in hopes of curing him by satie- recommend an object now and then to his patronty-he was drunk six weeks, and is so still, as age, he has very sparingly, if at all, exerted his often as he can find an opportunity. One vice interest with him in behalf of his own relations. may swallow up another, but no coroner in the With respect to the advice you are required to state of Ethics ever brought in his verdict, when a give to a young lady, that she may be properly vice died, that it was-felo de se.
instructed in the manner of keeping the sabbath, Thanks for all you have done, and all you in- I just subjoin a few hints that have occurred to me tend; the biography will be particularly welcome. upon the occasion; not because I think you want
Yours, W.C. them, but because it would seem unkind to with
hold them. The sabbath then, I think, may be
considered, first, as a commandment, no less bindTO THE REV. J. NEWTON.
ing upon modern christians than upon ancient
Jews, because the spiritual people amongst them did March 18, 1780.
not think it enough to abstain from manual occuI am obliged to you for the communication of pations upon that day; but, entering more deeply your correspondence with It was impossi- into the meaning of the precept, allotted those ble for any man, of any temper whatever, and hours they took from the world, to the cultivation
of holiness in their own souls, which ever was,
and ever will be a duty incumbent upon all who * This letter contained the beautiful fable of the Nightin- ever heard of a sabbath, and is of perpetual obligale and Glow-worm.
gation both upon Jews and christians; (the com
mandment, therefore, enjoins it; the prophets have because it is so. He means to do his duty, and by also enforced it; and in many instances, both doing it he earns his wages. The two rectories scriptural and modern, the breach of it has been being contiguous to each other, and following punished with providential and judicial severity easily under the care of one pastor, and both so that may make by-standers tremble): secondly, as near to Stock that you can visit them witha privilege, which you well know how to dilate out difficulty, as often as you please, I see no upon, better than I can tell you: thirdly, as a sign reasonable objection, nor does your mother. As of that covenant by which believers are entitled to to the wry-mouthed sneers and illiberal miscona rest that yet remaineth: fourthly, as the sine structions of the censorious, I know no better shield qua non of the christian character; and upon this to guard you against them, than what you are head I should guard against being misunderstood already furnished with--a clear and unoffending to mean no more than two attendances upon pub- conscience. lic worship, which is a form complied with by I am obliged to you for what you said upon the thousands who never kept a sabbath in their lives. subject of book-buying, and am very fond of availConsistence is necessary, to give substance and ing myself of another man's pocket, when I can solidity to the whole. To sanctify the day at do it creditably to myself, and without injury to church, and to trifle it away out of church, is pro-him. Amusements are necessary, in a retirement fanation, and vitiates all. After all, I could ask like mine, especially in such a sable state of mind my catechumenone short question-Do you love the as I labour under. The necessity of amusement day, or do you not? If you love it, you will never makes me sometimes write verses—it made me a inquire how far you may safely deprive yourself carpenter, a bird-cage maker, a gardener-and has of the enjoyment of it. If you do not love it, and lately taught me to draw, and to draw too with you find yourself obliged in conscience to ac- such surprising proficiency in the art, considering knowledge it, that is an alarming symptom, and my total ignorance of it two months ago, that when ought to make you tremble. If you do not love it, I show your mother my productions, she is all adthen it is a weariness to you, and you wish it was miration and applause. over. The ideas of labour and rest are not more You need never fear the communication of what opposite to each other than the idea of a sabbath, you entrust to us in confidence. You know your and that dislike and disgust with which it fills the mother's delicacy in this point sufficiently; and as souls of thousands to be obliged to keep it. It is for me, I once wrote a Connoisseur upon the subworse than bodily labour.'
W. C. ject of secret keeping, and from that day to this I
believe I have never divulged one.
We were much pleased with Mr. Newton's apTO THE REY. WILLIAM UNWIN.
plication to you for a charity sermon, and with
what he said upon that subject in his last letter, MY DEAR FRIEND,
April 6, 1780. that he was glad of an opportunity to give you I NEVER was, any more than yourself, a friend that proof of his regard.' to pluralities; they are generally found in the
Believe me yours, W. C. hands of the avaricious, whose insatiable hunger after preferment proves them unworthy of any at all. They attend much to the regular payment of their TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON. dues, but not at all to the spiritual interest of their parishioners. Having forgot their duty, or never
Olney, April 16, 1780. known it, they differ in nothing from the laity, ex- SINCE I wrote my last we have had a visit cept their outward garb, and their exclusive right from
I did not feel myself vehemently to the desk and pulpit. But when pluralities seek disposed to receive him with that complaisance, the man, instead of being sought by him; and from which a stranger generally infers that he is when the man is honest, conscientious, and pious; welcome. By his manner, which was rather bold careful to employ a substitute in those respects than easy, I judged that there was no occasion for like himself; and, not contented with this, will see it, and that it was a trifle which, if he did not meet with his own eyes that the concerns of his parishes with, neither would he feel the want of. He has are decently and diligently administered; in that the air of a traveled man, but not of a traveled case, considering the present dearth of such cha- gentleman; is quite delivered from that reserve racters in the ministry, I think it an event advan- which is so common an ingredient in the English tageous to the people, and much to be desired by all character, yet does not open himself gently and who regret the great and apparent want of sobriety gradually, as men of polite behaviour do, but bursts and earnestness among the clergy. A man who upon you all at once. He talks very loud, and does not seek a living merely as a pecuniary emol- when our poor little robins hear a great noise, they ument has no need, in my judgment, to refuse one are immediately seized with an ambition to surpass
it; the increase of their vociferation occasioned an fine estate, a large conservatory, a hot-house rich increase of his, and his in return acted as a stimu- as a West-Indian garden, things of consequence; lus upon theirs; neither side entertained a thought visit them with pleasure, and muse upon them of giving up the contest, which became continually with ten times more. I am pleased with a frame more interesting to our ears, during the whole of four lights, doubtful whether the few pines it visit. The birds however survived it, and so did contains will ever be worth a farthing; amuse my. we. They perhaps flatter themselves they gained self with a greenhouse which lord Bute's gardener a complete victory, but I believe Mr. -could could take upon his back, and walk away with; have killed them both in another hour. W. C. and when I have paid it the accustomed visit, and
watered it, and given it air, I say to myself— This is not mine, 'tis a plaything lent me for the present; I must leave it soon.'
W. C. TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON. DEAR SIR,
May 3, 1780. You indulge me in such a variety of subjects,
TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ. and allow me such a latitude of excursion in this scribbling employment, that I have no excuse for MY DEAR FRIEND, Olney, May 6, 1780. silence. I am much obliged to you for swallowing I am much obliged to you for your speedy answer such boluses as I send you, for the sake of my to my queries. I know less of the law than a gilding, and verily believe that I am the only man country attorney, yet sometimes I think I have alalive, from whom they would be welcome to a pa- most as much business. My former connexion late like yours. I wish I could make them more with the profession has got wind; and though I splendid than they are, more alluring to the eye, earnestly profess, and protest, and proclaim it at least, if not more pleasing to the taste; but my abroad that I know nothing of the matter, they leaf gold is tarnished, and has received such a tinge can not be persuaded to believe, that a head once from the vapours that are ever brooding over my endued with a legal periwig can ever be deficient mind, that I think it no small proof of your par- in those natural endowments it is supposed to tiality to that
you I will read my letters. I am cover. I have had the good fortune to be once or not fond of long-winded metaphors; I have always twice in the right, which, added to the cheapness observed, that they halt at the latter end of their of a gratuitous counsel, has advanced my credit to progress, and so do mine. I deal much in ink in- a degree I never expected to attain in the capacity deed, but not such ink as is employed by poets, of a lawyer. Indeed, if two of the wisest in the and writers of essays. Mine is a harmless fluid, science of jurisprudence may give opposite opinions and guilty of no deceptions, but such as may pre- on the same point, which does not unfrequently vail without the least injury to the person imposed happen, it seems to be a matter of indifference on. I draw mountains, valleys, woods, and streams, whether a man answers by rule or at a venture. and ducks, and dab-chicks. I admire them my. He that stumbles upon the right side of the quesself, and Mrs. Unwin admires them; and her tion is just as useful to his client as he that arpraise, and my praise put together, are fame enough rives at the same end by regular approaches, and
0! I could spend whole days and moon- is conducted to the mark he aims at by the greatest light nights in feeding upon a lovely prospect! authorities. My eyes drink the rivers as they flow. If every human being upon earth could think for one quar- These violent attacks of a distemper so often ter of an hour as I have done for many years, there fatal, are very alarming to all who esteem and remnight perhaps be many miserable men among spect the chancellor as he deserves. A life of conthem, but not an unawakened one could be found, finement, and of anxious attention to important from the Arctic to the Antarctic circle. At pre-objects, where the habit is bilious to such a terrible sent, the difference between them and me is greatly degree, threatens to be but a short orie: and I wish to their advantage. I delight in baubles, and he may not be made a text for men of reflection to know them to be so: for rested in, and viewed with-moralize upon, affording a conspicuous instance of out a reference to their auther, what is the earth, the transient and fading nature of all human acwhat are the planets, what is the sun itself but a complishments and attainments. bauble? Better for a man never to have seen them,
Yours affectionately, W. C. or to see them with the eyes of a brute, stupid and unconscious of what he beholds, than not to be able to say, “The Maker of all these wonders is
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN. my friend! Their eyes have never been opened, to see that they are trifles; mine have been, and MY DEAR FRIEND,
May 8, 1780. will be till they are closed for ever. They think a My scribbling humour has of late been entirely