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admonitions, and the solicitous care of both his TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN. parents, are no longer before his eyes-year after
year he feels himself more and more detached from MY DEAR FRIEND,
Sept. 17, 1780.
them, till at last he is so effectually weaned from Yoc desire my further thoughts on the subject the connexion, as to find himself happier any of education. I send you such as had for the most where than in their company. part occurred to me when I wrote last, but could I should have been glad of a frank for this letter, not be comprised in a single letter. They are in- for I have said but little of what I could say upon deed on a different branch of this interesting theme, this subject, and perhaps I may not be able to but not less important than the former.
catch it by the end again. If I can, I shall add to I think it your happiness, and wish you to think it hercafter.
Yours, W.C. it so yourself, that you are in every respect qualified for the task of instructing your son, and preparing him for the university, without committing
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN. him to the care of a stranger. In my judgment, a domestic education deserves the preference to a MY DEAR FRIEND,
Oct. 5, 1780. public one on a hundred accounts, which I have Now for the sequel--you have anticipated one neither time nor room to mention. I shall only of my arguments in favour of a private education, touch upon two or three that I can not but con- therefore I need say but little about it. The folly sider as having a right to your most earnest atten- of supposing that the mother-tongue, in some retion.
spects the most difficult of all tongues, may be acIn a public school, or indeed in any school, his quired without a teacher, is predominant in all the morals are sure to be but little attended to, and his public schools that I have ever heard of. To proreligion not at all. If he can catch the love of vir- nounce it well, to speak and to write it with fluency rue from the fine things that are spoken of it in and elegance, are no easy attainments; not one in the classics, and the love of holiness from the cus- fifty of those who pass through Westminster and tomary attendance upon such preaching as he is Eton, arrive at any remarkable proficiency in these likely to hear, it will be well; but I am sure you accomplishments; and they that do are more inhave had too many opportunities to observe the debted to their own study and application for it, inefficacy of such means, to expect any such ad- than to any instruction received there. In general, vantage from them. In the mean time, the more there is nothing so pedantic as the style of a schoolpowerful influence of bad example, and perhaps boy, if he aims at any style at all; and if he does bad company, will continually counterwork these not, he is of course inelegant, and perhaps unonly preservatives he can meet with, and may pos- grammatical. A defect, no doubt, in great measure sibly send him home to you, at the end of five or owing to want of cultivation; for the same lad that six years, such as you will be sorry to see him. is often commended for his Latin, frequently would You escaped indeed the contagion yourself; but a deserve to be whipped for his English, if the fault few instances of happy exemption from a general were not more the master's than his own. I know malady are not sufficient warrant to conclude, that not where this evil is so likely to be prevented as it is therefore not infectious, or may be encoun- at home-supposing always, nevertheless, (which tered without danger.
is the case in your instance) that the boy's parents, You have seen too much of the world, and are and their acquaintance, are persons of elegance a man of too much reflection, not to have ob- and taste themselves. For to converse with those served that in proportion as the sons of a family who converse with propriety, and to be directed to approach to years of maturity, they lose a sense of such authors as have refined and improved the lanobligation to their parents, and seem at last almost guage by their productions, are advantages which divested of that tender affection which the nearest he can not elsewhere enjoy in an equal degree. of all relations seems to demand from them. I And though it requires some time to regulate the have often observed it myself, and have always taste, and fix the judgment, and these effects thought I could sufficiently account for it, without must be gradually wrought even upon the best unlaying all the blame upon the children. While derstanding, yet I suppose much less time will be they continue in their parents' house, they are necessary for the purpose than could at first be every day obliged, and every day reminded how imagined, because the opportunities of improvemuch it is their interest, as well as duty, to be ment are continual. obliging and affectionate in return. But at eight A public education is often recommended as the or nine years of age the boy goes to school. From most effectual remedy for that bashful and awkthat moment he becomes a stranger in his father's ward restraint, so epidemical among the youth of house. The course of parental kindness is inter- our country. But I verily believe that instead of rupted. The smiles of his mother, those tender being a cure, it is often the cause of it. For seven
or eight years of his life, the boy has hardly seen' worthy and unfit for the place he once held in our or conversed with a man, or a woman, except the affections. maids at his boarding-house. A gentleman or a To close this article, as I did the last, by applylady are consequently such novelties to him, that ing myself immediately to the present concern he is perfectly at a loss to know what sort of be- little John is happily placed above all occasion for haviour he should preserve before them. He plays dependence on all such precarious hopes, and need with his buttons, or the strings of his hat, he not be sent to school in quest of some great men blows his nose, and hangs down his head, is con- in embryo, who may possibly make his fortune. scious of his own deficiency to a degree that makes
Yours, my dear friend, W.C. him quite unhappy, and trembles lest any one should speak to him, because that would quite overwhelm him. Is not all this miserable shyness the effect of his education? To me it appears to
TO MRS. NEWTON. be so. If he saw good company every day, he DEAR MADAM,
Oct. 5, 1780. would never be territied at the sight of it, and a When a lady speaks, it is not civil to make her room full of ladies and gentlemen would alarm him wait a week for an answer-I received your letter no more than the chairs they sit on. Such is the within this hour, and, foreseeing that the garden effect of custom.
will engross much of my time for some days to I need add nothing further on this subject, be- come, have seized the present opportunity to accause I believe little John is as likely to ex- knowledge it. I congratulate you on Mr. Newempted from this weakness as most young gentle- ton's safe arrival at Ramsgate, making no doubt men we shall meet with. He seems to have his but that he reached that place without difficulty father's spirit in this respect, in whom I could or danger, the road thither from Canterbury being never discern the least trace of bashfulness, though so good as to afford room for neither. He has I have often heard him complain of it. Under now had a view of the element, with which he was your management, and the influence of your ex- once so familiar, but which I think he has not ample, I think he can hardly fail to escape it. seen for many years. The sight of his old acIf he docs, he escapes that which has made many quaintance will revive in his mind a pleasing rea man uncomfortable for life; and ruined not a collection of past deliverances, and when he looks at few, by forcing them into mean and dishonourable him from the beach, he may say— You have forcompany, where only they could be free and merly given me trouble enough, but I have cast checrful.
anchor now where your billows can never reach Connexions formed at school are said to be last- me.'-It is happy for him that he can say so. ing, and often beneficial. There are two or three Mrs. Unwin returns you many thanks for your stories of this kind upon record, which would not anxiety on her account. Her health is considerbe so constantly cited as they are, whenever this ably mended upon the whole, so as to afford us a subject happens to be mentioned, if the chronicle hope that it will be established. Our love attends that preserves their remembrance had many be- you. Yours, dear madam, W. C. sides to boast of. For my own part, I found such friendships, though warm enough in their commencement, surprisingly liable to extinction; and TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN of seven or eight, whom I had selected for inti
Nov. 9, 1780. mates out of about three hundred, in ten years I wrote the following last summer. The tratime not one was left me. The truth is, that there gical occasion of it really happened at the next may be, and often is, an attachment of one boy to house to ours. I am glad when I can find a subanother, that looks very like a friendship; and ject to work upon; a lapidary I suppose accounts while they are in circum.stances that enable them it a laborious part of the business to rub away the mutually to oblige and to assist each other, pro- roughness of the stone ; but it is my amusement, mises well, and bids fair to be lasting. But they and if after all the polishing I can give it, it disare no sooner separated from each other, by enter- covers some little lustre, I think myself well reing into the world at large, than other connexions, warded for my pains.* and new employments, in which they no longer I shall charge you a halfpenny a-piece for every share together, efface the remembrance of what copy I send you, the short as well as the long. passed in earlier days, and they become strangers. This is a sort of afterclap you little expected, but to each other for ever. Add to this, that the man I can not possibly afford them at a cheaper rate. frequently differs so much from the boy; his prin- If this method of raising money liad occurred to ciples, manners, temper, and conduct, undergo so me sooner, I should have made the bargain sooner: great an alteration, that we no longer recognise in l.im our old playfellow, but find him utterly un- • Verses on a Goldfinch starved to death in a cage.
but am glad I have hit upon it at last. It will be circumlocution, and the endless embarrassment in a considerable encouragement to my muse, and which they are involved by it, they would become act as a powerful stimulus to my industry. If the surprisingly intelligible, in comparison with their American war should last much longer, I may be present obscurity. And lastly, they would by this obliged to raise my price, but this I shall not do means be rendered susceptible of musical embelwithout a real occasion for it—it depends much lishment, and instead of being quoted in the counupon lord North’s conduct in the article of sup- try, with that dull monotony, which is so weariplies if he imposes an additional tax on any thing some to by-standers, and frequently lulls even the that I deal in, the necessity of this measure, on my judges themselves to sleep, might be rehearsed in part, will be so apparent, that I dare say you will recitation; which would have an admirable effect, not dispute it.
•W.C. in keeping the attention fixed and lively, and could In the interval between this and the following not fail to disperse that heavy atmosphere of sadletter, the writer commenced the First Volume of ness and gravity, which hangs over the jurispruhis Poems.
dence of our country. I remember many years ago being informed by a relation of mine, who in
his youth had applied himself to the study of the TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.
law, that one of his fellow-students, a gentleman MY DEAR FRIEND,
December 25, 1780.
of sprightly parts, and very respectable talents of
the poetical kind, did actually engage in the proWEARY with rather a long walk in the snow, I
secution of such a design; for reasons I suppose am not likely to write a very sprightly letter, or to produce any thing that may cheer this gloomy have now suggested. He began with Coke's In
somewhat similar to, if not the same with those I season, unless I have recourse to my pocket-book,
stitutes; a book so rugged in its style, that an atwhere perhaps I may find something to transcribe, something that was written before the sun had tempt to polish it seemed an Herculean labour,
and not less arduous and difficult, than it would taken leave of our hemisphere, and when I was less fatigued than I am at present.
be to give the smoothness of a rabbit's fur to the Happy is the man who knows just so much of prickly back of a hedge-hog. But he succeeded the law, as to make himself a little merry now and
to admiration, as you will perceive by the followthen with the solemnity of juridical proceedings.
ing specimen, which is all that my said relation
could recollect of the performance. I have heard of common law judgments before
* Tenant in fee now, indeed have been present at the delivery of
Simple, is he, some, that, according to my poor apprehension,
And need neither quake nor quiver, while they paid the utmost respect to the letter of
Who hath his lands, a statute, have departed widely from the spirit of
Free from demands, it; and, being governed entirely by the point of
To him, and his heirs for ever. law, have left equity, reason, and common sense, You have an ear for music, and a taste for verse, behind them at an infinite distance. You will which saves me the trouble of pointing out with a judge whether the following report of a case, critical nicety the advantages of such a version. I drawn up by myself, be not a proof and illustra- proceed, therefore, to what I at first intended, and tion of this satirical assertion.*
to transcribe the record of an adjudged case thus Yours affectionately, W. C.
managed, to which indeed what I premised was
intended merely as an introduction.*
TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.
Feb. 15, 1781. should be so. Many advantages would accrue I am glad you were pleased with my report of from such a measure. They would in the first soextraordinary a case. If the thought of versifying place be more commodiously deposited in the me- the decisions of our courts of justice had struck mory, just as linen, grocery, or other such matters, me, while I had the honour to attend them, it when neatly packed, are known to occupy less would perhaps have been no difficult matter to room, and to lie more conveniently in any trunk, have compiled a volume of such amusing and chest, or box, to which they may be committed. interesting precedents; which, if they wanted the In the next place, being divested of that infinite eloquence of the Greek or Roman oratory, would
• The 'Report of an adjudged case, not to be found in any of the books,' concluded this letter. Vide Poems.
• This letter concludles with the poetical law case of "Nose plaintiff-Eyes, defendants,” before referred to
have amply compensated that deficiency by the address should take great care, that they be always harmony of rhyme and metre.
in the right; the justness and propriety of their Your account of my uncle and your mother sentiments and censures being the only tolerable gave me great pleasure. I have long been afraid apology that can be made for such a conduct, espeto inquire after some in whose welfare I always cially in a country where civility of behaviour is feel myself interested, lest the question should pro- inculcated even from the cradle. But in the induce a painful answer. Longevity is the lot of so stance now under our contemplation, I think you few, and is so seldom rendered comfortable by the a sufferer under the weight of an animadversion associations of good health and good spirits, that I not founded in truth, and which, consequently, you could not very reasonably suppose either your re- did not deserve. I account him faithful in the lations or mine so happy in those respects, as it pulpit, who dissembles nothing, that he believes, seems they are. May they continue to enjoy those for fear of giving offence. To accommodate a disblessings so long as the date of life shall last. I course to the judgment and opinion of others, for do not think in these costermonger days, as I have the sake of pleasing them, though by doing so a notion Falstaff calls them, an antediluvian age we are obliged to depart widely from our own, is is at all a desirable thing; but to live comfortably, to be unfaithful to ourselves at least, and can not while we do live, is a great matter and comprehends be accounted fidelity to him, whom we profess to in it every thing that can be wished for on this serve. But there are few men who do not stand side the curtain that hangs between Time and in need of the exercise of charity and forbearance ; Eternity.
and the gentleman in question has afforded you an Farewell my better friend than any I have to ample opportunity in this respect, to show how boast of cither among the Tords, or gentlemen of readily, though differing in your views, you can the house of commons. Yours ever, W.C. practise all that he could possibly expect from you,
if your persuasion corresponded exactly with his
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.
With respect to Monsieur le Cure, I think you
not quite excusable for suffering such a man to MY DEAR FRIEND,
April 2, 1781. give you any uneasiness at all. The grossness Fine weather, and a variety of extraforaneous and injustice of his demand ought to be its own occupations (search Johnson's dictionary for that antidote. If a robber should miscall you a pitiful word, and if not found there, insert it—for it saves fellow for not carrying a purse full of gold about a deal of circumlocution, and is very lawfully com-you, would his brutality give you any concern? pounded) make it difficult (excuse the length of I suppose not. Why then have you been disthe parenthesis, which I did not foresee the length tressed in the present instance ? of when I began it, and which may perhaps a lit
Yours, W.C. tle perplex the sense of what I am writing, though, as I seldom deal in that figure of speech, I have the less need to make an apology for doing it at
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN. present) make it difficult (I say) for me to find opportunities for writing. My morning is en
May 1, 1781. grossed by the garden; and in the afternoon, till I Your mother says I must write, and must adhave drunk tea, I am fit for nothing. At five we mits of no apology; I might otherwise plead that walk; and when the walk is over, lassitude recom- I have nothing to say, that I am weary, that I am mends rest, and again I become fit for nothing. The dull, that it would be more convenient therefore current hour therefore, which (I need not tell you) is for you, as well as for myself, that I should let it comprised in the interval between four and five, is alone; but all these pleas, and whatever pleas bedevoted to your service, as the only one in the sides either disinclination, indolence, or necessity twenty-four which is not otherwise engaged. might suggest, are overruled, as they ought to be,
I do not wonder that you have felt a great deal the moment a lady adduces her irrefragable arguupon the occasion you mention in your last, espe- ment, you must. You have still however one comcially on account of the asperity you have met fort left, that what I must write, you may, or may with in the behaviour of your friend. Reflect, not read, just as it shall please you, unless lady however, that as it is natural to you to have very Anne at your elbow should say, you must read it, fine feelings, it is equally natural to some other and then, like a true knight, you will obey withtempers, to leave those feelings entirely out of the out looking for a remedy. question, and to speak to you, and to act towards In the press, and speedily will be published, in you, just as they do towards the rest of mankind, one volume octavo, price three shillings, Poems, without the least attention to the irritability of by William Cowper, of the Inner Temple, Esq. your system. Men of a rough and unsparing You may suppose, by the size of the publication
Let. 76, 77.
that the greatest part of them have been long kept respect, therefore, I and my contemporary bards secret, because you yourself have never seen them: are by no means upon a par. They write when but the truth is, that they are most of them, ex- the delightful influences of fine weather, 'fine cept what you have in your possession, the pro- prospects, and a brisk motion of the animal spiduce of the last winter. Two-thirds of the com- rits, make poetry almost the language of nature; pilation will be occupied by four pieces, the first of and I, when icicles depend from all the leaves of which sprung up in the month of December, and the Parnassian laurel, and when a reasonable the last of them in the month of March. They man would as little expect to succeed in verse, as contain, I suppose, in all about two thousand and to hear a blackbird whistle. This must be my five hundred lines; are known, or to be known in apology to you for whatever want of fire and anidue time, by the names of Table Talk-The mation you may observe in what you will shortly Progress of Error-Truth--Erpostulation. Mr. have the perusal of. As to the public, if they like Newton writes a Preface, and Johnson is the pub- me not, there is no remedy. A friend will weigh lisher. The principal, I may say the only reason and consider all disadvantages, and make as large why I never mentioned to you, till now, an affair allowances as an author can wish, and larger perwhich I am just going to make known to all the haps than he has any right to expect; but not so world, (if that Mr. All-the-world should think it the world at large; whatever they do not like, they worth his knowing) has been this; that till with- will not by any apology be persuaded to forgive, in these few days, I had not the honour to know it and it would be in vain to tell them, that I wrote myself. This may seem strange, but it is true; my verses in January, for they would immedifor not knowing where to find underwriters who ately reply, “Why did not you write them in would choose to insure them; and not finding it May ?" A question that might puzzle a wiser convenient to a purse like mine, to run any hazard, head than we poets are generally blessed with. even upon the credit of my own ingenuity, I was
W. C. very much in doubt for some weeks, whether any bookseller would be willing to subject himself to an ambiguity, that might prove very expensive in case of a bad market. But Johnson has heroically set
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN. all peradventures at defiance, and takes the whole MY DEAR FRIEND,
May 10, 1781. charge upon himself. So out I come. I shall be
It is Friday; I have just drank tea, and just glad of my translations from Vincent Bourne, in perused your letter: and though this answer can your next frank. My Muse will lay herself at your not set off' till Sunday, I obey the warm impulse feet immediately on her first public appearance. I feel, which will not permit me to post pone the Yours, my dear friend, W. C. business till the regular time of writing.
I expected you would be grieved; if you had
not been so, those sensibilities which attend you TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ. upon every other occasion, must have left you
upon this. I am sorry that I have given you pain, MY DEAR SIR,
May 9, 1781.
but not sorry that you have felt it. A concern of I am in the press, and it is in vain to deny it. that sort would be absurd, because it would be to But how mysterious is the conveyance of intelli- regret your friendship for me and to be dissatisfied gence from one end to the other of your great with the effect of it. Allow yourself however city !--Not many days since, except one man, and three minutes only for reflection, and your penehe but little taller than yourself, all London was tration must necessarily dive into the motives of ignorant of it; for I do not suppose that the public my conduct. In the first place, and by way of prints have yet announced the most agreeable preface, remember that I do not (whatever your tidings, the title page, which is the basis of the partiality may incline you to do) account it of advertisement, having so lately reached the pub- much consequence to any friend of mine, whether lisher; and now it is known to you, who live at he is, or is not employed by me upon such an ocleast two miles distant from my confidant upon casion. But all affected renunciations of poetical the occasion.
merit apart, (and all unaflected expressions of the My labours are principally the production of sense I have of my own littleness in the poetical the last winter; all indeed, except a few of the character too) the obvious and only reason why I minor pieces. When I can find no other occupa. resorted to Mr. Newton, and not to my friend tion, I think, and when I think, I am very apt to Unwin, was this—that the former lived in Londo it in rhyme. Hence it comes to pass that the don, the latter at Stock; the former was upon the season of the year which generally pinches off the spot to correct the press, to give instructions reflowers of poetry, unfolds mine, such as they are, specting any sudden alterations, and to settle with and crowns me with a winter garland. In this the publisher every thing that might possibly occur