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takes, such as will of course escape the most dili-finishing hand to the seventh book. Fuseli does gent and attentive labourer in such a work. 1 me the honour to say that the most difficult, and ought to ald, because it affords the best assu- most interesting parts of the poem, are admirably rance of his zeal and fidelity, that he does not rendered. But because he did not express himtoil for hire, nor will accept of any premium, but self equally pleased with the more pedestrian parts has entered on this business merely for his of it, my labour therefore has been principally given
In the last instance my sheets will to the dignification of them; not but that I have pass through the hands of our old schoolfellow Col-retouched considerably, and made better still the man, who has engaged to correct the press, and best. In short I hope to make it all of a piece, make any little alterations that he may see expe- and shall exert myself to the utmost to secure that dient. With all this precaution, little as I in- desirable point. A storyteller, so very circumstantended it once, I am now well satisfied. Expe- tial as Homer, must of necessity present as often rience has convinced me that other eyes than my with much matter in itself capable of no other emown are necessary, in order that so long and ar-bellishment than purity of diction, and harmony duous a task may be finished as it ought, and may of versification, can give to it. Hic labor,
opus neither discredit me, nor mortify and disappoint est. For our language, unless it be very severely my friends. You, who I know interest yourself chastised, has not the terseness, nor our measure much and deeply in my success, will I dare say the music of the Greek. But I shall not fail be satisfied with it too. Pope had many aids, and through want of industry. he who follows Pope ought not to walk alone. We are likely to be very happy in our connexion
Though I announce myself by my very under- with the Throckmortons. His reserve and mine taking to be one of Homer's most enraptured ad- wear off; and he talks with great pleasure of the mirers, I am not a blind one. Perhaps the speech comfort that he proposes to himself from our winof Achilles given in my specimen is, as you hint, ter-evening conversations. His purpose seems to rather too much in the moralizing strain, to suit so be, that we should spend them alternately with young a man, and of so much fire. But whether each other. Lady Ilesketh transcribes for me at it be or not, in the course of the close application present. When she is gone, Mrs. Throckmorton that I am forced to give to my author, I discover takes up that business, and will be my lady of the inadvertencies not a few; some perhaps that have ink-bottle for the rest of the winter. She solicited escaped even the commentators themselves; or per-herself that office, haps in the enthusiasm of their idolatry, they resolved that they should pass for beauties. Homer My dear William, truly yours, W.C. however, say what they will, was man, and in all the works of man, especially in a work of such Mr. Throckmorton will (I doubt not) procure length and variety, many things will of necessity Petre's name, if he can, without any hint from occur, that might have been better. Pope and Ad-me. He could not interest himself more in my dison had a Dennis; and Dennis, if I mistake not, success, than he seems to do. Could he get the held up as he has been to scorn and detestation, pope to subscribe, I should have him; and should was a sensible fellow, and passed some censures be glad of him and the whole conclave. upon both those writers that, had they been less just, would have hurt them less. Homer had his Zoilus; and perhaps if we knew all that Zoilus
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN. said, we should be forced to acknowledge that sometimes at least he had reason on his side. But MY DEAR FRIEND, it is dangerous to find any fault at all with what You are my mahogany box, with a slip in the the world is determined to esteem faultless. lid of it, to which I commit my productions of the
I rejoice, my dear friend, that you enjoy some lyric kind, in perfect confidence that they are safe, composure, and cheerfulness of spirits: may God and will go no farther. All who are attached to preserve and increase to you so great a blessing! the jingling art have this peculiarity, that they I am affectionately and truly yours, W.C. would find no pleasure in the exercise, had they
not one friend at least to whom they might pub
lish what they have composed. If you approve TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.
my Latin, and your wife and sister my English,
this, together with the approbation of your moMY DEAR FRIEND,
August 24, 1786. ther, is fame enough for me. I catch a minute by the tail and hold it fast, He who can not look forward with comfort, while I write to you. The moment it is fled I must must find what comfort he can in looking backgo to breakfast. I am still occupied in refining ward. Upon this principle, I the other day sent and polishing, and shall this morning give the my imagination upon a trip thirty years behind
me. She was very obedient, and very swift of foot, derstand me at the first reading, I am sure the presently performed her journey, and at last set lines are obscure, and always alter them; if she me down in the sixth form at Westminster. I laughs, I know it is not without reason; and if fancied myself once more a school-boy, a period she says, “that's well, it will do," I have no fear of life in which, if I had never tasted true happi- lest any body else should find fault with it. She ness, I was at least equally unacquainted with its is my lord chamberlain who licenses all I write.* contrary. No manufacturer of waking dreams If you like it, use it; if not, you know the reever succeeded better in his employment than 1 medy. It is serious, yet epigrammatic—like a do. I can weave such a piece of tapestry in a few bishop at a ball.
W.C. minutes, as not only has all the charms of reality, but is embellished also with a variety of beauties which, though they never existed, are more capti
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN. vating than any that ever did—accordingly I was a schoolboy in high favour with the master, re- MY DEAR FRIEND, ceived a silver groat for my exercise, and had the I AM sensibly mortified at finding myself obpleasure of seeing it sent from form to form, for liged to disappoint you; but though I have had the admiration of all who were able to understand many thoughts upon the subject you propose to it. Do you wish to see this highly applauded per- my consideration, I have had none that have been formance? It follows on the other side. favourable to the undertaking. I applaud your (torn of)
purpose, for the sake of the principle from which it springs; but I look upon the evils you mean to
animadvert upon, as too obstinate and inveterate TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.
ever to be expelled by the means you mention.
The very persons to whom you would address MY DEİR WILLIAM,
your remonstrance, are themselves sufficiently You are sometimes indebted to bad weather, aware of their enormity: years ago, to my knowbut more frequently to a dejected state of mind, ledge, they were frequently the topics of conversafor my punctuality as a correspondent. This was tion at polite tables; they have been frequently the case when I composed that tragi-comic ditty mentioned in both houses of parliament; and I for which you thank me; my spirits were exceed- suppose there is hardly a member of either, who ing low, and having no fool or jester at hand, I re-would not immediately assent to the necessity of solved to be my own. The end was answered; I reformation, were it proposed to him in a reasonalaughed myself, and I made you laugh. Some- ble way. But there it stops; and there it will for times I pour out my thoughts in a mournful strain, ever stop till the majority are animated with a zeal but those sable effusions your mother will not suf- in which they are at present deplorably defective. fer me to send you, being resolved that nobody A religious man is unfeignedly shocked, when he shall share with me the burthen of my melancholy reflects upon the prevalence of such crimes ; a mobut herself. In general you may suppose that I ral man must needs be so in a degree, and will am remarkably sad when I seem remarkably merry. affect to be much more so than he is. But how The effort we make to get rid of a load is usually many do you suppose there are among our worviolent in proportion to the weight of it. I have thy representatives, that come under either of these seen at Sadler's Wells a tight little fellow dancing descriptions? If all were such, yet to new model with a fat man upon his shoulders; to those who the police of the country, which must be done in looked at him, he seemed insensible of the incum- order to make even unavoidable perjury less frebrance, but if a physician had felt his pulse, when quent, were a task they would hardly undertake, the feat was over, I suppose he would have found on account of the great difficulty that would attend the effect of it there. Perhaps you remember the it. Government is too much interested in the undertakers' dance in the rehearsal, which they consumption of malt liquor, to reduce the number perform in crape hat-bands and black cloaks, to of venders. Such plausible pleas may be offered the tune of “Hob or Nob," one of the sprightliest in defence of travelling on Sundays, especially by airs in the world. Such is my fiddling, and such the trading part of the world, as the whole bench is my dancing; but they serve a purpose which at of bishops would find it difficult to overrule. And some certain times could not be so effectually pro- with respect to the violation of oaths, till a certain moted by any thing else.
name is more generally respected than it is at I have endeavoured to comply with your re- present, however such persons as yourself may be quest, though I am not good at writing upon a grieved at it, the legislature are never likely to lay given subject. Your mother however comforts me by her approbation, and I steer myself in all that
The verses to Miss C on her birth-day, (vide Poems) 1 produce by her judgment. If she does not un- were inserted here.
it to heart. I do not rnean, nor would by any the battering ram. It was long before the stroke means attempt to discourage you in so laudable of that engine made any sensible impression, but an enterprise; but such is the light in which it the continual repetition at length communicated a appears to me, that I do not feel the least spark of slight tremor to the wall, the next, and the next, courage qualifying or prompting me to embark in and the next blow increased it. Another shock it myself. An exhortation therefore written by puts the whole mass in motion, from the top to the me, by hopeless, desponding me, would be flat, in- foundation: it bends forward, and is every moment
pid, and uninteresting, and disgrace the cause driven farther from the perpendicular, till at last instead of serving it. If after what I have said, the decisive blow is given, and down it comes. however you still retain the same sentiments, Macte Every million that has been raised within the last esto rirtute tua, there is nobody better qualified century has had an effect upon the constitution than yourself, and may your success prove that I like that of a blow from the aforesaid ram upon despaired of it without a reason.
the aforesaid wall. The impulse becomes more Adieu, my dear friend, W.C. and more important, and the impression it makes
is continually augmented; unless therefore some
thing extraordinary intervenes to prevent it--you TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.
will find the consequence at the end of my simile.
Yours, W.C.. MY DEAR FRIEND,
I write under the impression of a difficulty not easily surmounted, the want of something to say.
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN. Letter-spinning is generally more entertaining to the writer than the reader; for your sake therefore As I promised you verse, if you would send me I would avoid it, but a dearth of materials is very a frank, I am not willing to return the cover withapt to betray one into a trifling strain, in spite of out some, though I think I have already wearied all our endeavours to be serious.
you by the prolixity of my prose.* I left off on Saturday, this present being Mon- I must refer you to those unaccountable gadday morning, and I renew the attempt, in hopes dings and caprices of the human mind, for the that I may possibly catch some subject by the end, cause of this production; for in general I believe and be more successful.
there is no man who has less to do with the ladies'
cheeks than I have. I suppose it would be best So have I seen the maids in vain
to antedate it, and to imagine that it was written Tumble and tease a tangled skein. They bite the lip, they scratch the lead,
twenty years ago, for my mind was never more in And cry—the deuce is in the thread! a trifling butterfly trim than when I composed it, They torture it, and jerk it round,
even in the earliest parts of my life. And what is Till the right end at last is found,
worse than all this, I have translated it into Latin, Then wind, and wind, and wind away, But that some other time. Yours, W.C.
And what was work is changed to play. When I wrote the two first lines, I thought I had engaged in a hazardous enterprise; for, thought TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN. I, should my poetical vein be as dry as my prosaic, I shall the sheet, and send nothing at all;
MY DEAR WILLIAM, for I could on no account endure the thought of
How apt we are to deceive ourselves where self beginning again. But I think I have succeeded is in question: you say I am in your debt, and I to admiration, and am willing to flatter myself that accounted you in mine: a mistake to which you I have seen even a worse impromptu in the news must attribute my arrears, if indeed I owe you any, papers.
for I am not backward to write where the upperThough we live in a nook, and the world is most thought is welcome. quite unconscious that there are any such beings
I am obliged to you for all the books you have in it as ourselves, yet we are not unconcerned occasionally furnished me with: I did not indeed about what passes in it. The present awful crisis, read many of Johnson's Classics—those of estabig with the fate of England, engages much of blished reputation are so fresh in my memory, our attention. The action is probably over by though many years have intervened since I made this time, and though we know it not, the grand them my companions, that it was like reading what question is decided, whether the war shall roar in 1 read yesterday over again: and as to the minor our once peaceful fields, or whether we shall still Classics, I did not think them worth reading at only hear of it at a distance. I can compare the all-1 tasted most of them, and did not like them nation to no similitude more apt than that of an ancient castle that had been for days assaulted by • Here followed his poem, the Lily and the Rose.
--it is a great thing to be indeed a poct, and does ting that he died so soon. Those words of Virgil, not happen to more than one man in a century. upon the immature death of Marcellus, inight Churchill, the great Churchill, deserved the name serve for his epitaph. of poet-I have read him twice, and some of his
"Ostendent terris hunc tantum fata, neque ultra pieces three times over, and the last time with Esse sincntmore pleasure than the first. The pitiful scribbler
Yours, W.C. of his life seems to have undertaken that task, for which he was entirely unqualified, merely because it afforded him an opportunity to traduce him. He
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN. has inserted in it but one anecdote of consequence, for which he refers you to a novel, and introduces MY DEAR WILLIAM, the story with doubts about the truth of it. But I find the Register in all respects an entertaining his barrenness as a biographer I could forgive if medley, but especially in this, that it has brought the simpleton had not thought himself a judge of to my view some long forgotten pieces of my own his writings, and, under the erroneous influence production. I mean by the way two or three. of that thought, informed his reader that Gotham, Those I have marked with my own initials, and you Independence, and the Times, were catch-pennies. may be sure I found them peculiarly agreeable, as Gotham, unless I am a greater blockhead than he, they had not only the grace of being mine, but 'which I am far from believing, is a noble and that of novelty likewise to recommend them. It beautiful poem, and a poem with which I make is at least twenty years since I saw them. You I no doubt the author took as much pains as with think was never a dabbler in rhyme. I have been any he ever wrote. Making allowance (and Dry- one ever since I was fourteen years of age, when I den in his Absalom and Achitophel stands in began with translating an elegy of Tibullus. I have need of the same indulgence) for an unwarranta- no more right to the name of a poet, than a maker ble use of Scripture, it appears to me to be a mas- of mouse-traps has to that of an engineer, but my terly performance. Independence is a most ani- little exploits in this way have at times amused me mated piece, full of strength and spirit, and mark- so much, that I have often wished myself a good ed with that bold masculine character which I one. Such a talent in verse as mine is like a think is the great peculiarity of this writer. And child's rattle, very entertaining to the trifler that the Times (except that the subject is disgusting to uses it, and very disagreeable to all beside. But the last degree) stands equally high in my opin- it has served to rid me of some melancholy moion. He is indeed a careless writer for the most ments, for I only take it up as a gentleman perpart; but where shall we find in any of those au- former does his fiddle. I have this peculiarity bethors who finish their works with the exactness longing to me as a rhymist, that though I am of a Flemish pencil, those bold and daring strokes charmed to a great degree with my own work, of fancy, those numbers so hazardously ventured while it is on the anvil
, I can seldom bear to look upon, and so happily finished, the matter so com- at it when it is once finished. The more I conpressed, and yet so clear, and the colouring so template it, the more it loses of its value, till I am sparingly laid on, and yet with such a beautiful at last disgusted with it. I then throw it by, take. effect? In short, it is not his least praise that he it up again perhaps ten years after, and am as is never guilty of those faults as a writer which much delighted with it as at the first. he lays to the charge of others. A proof that he Few people have the art of being agreeable when did not judge by a borrowed standard, or from they talk of themselves; if you are not weary thererules laid down by critics, but that he was quali- fore you pay me a high compliment. fied to do it by his own native powers, and his I dare say Miss S- was much diverted great superiority of genius. For he that wrote so with the conjecture of her friends. The true key much, and so fast, would through inadvertence and to the pleasure she found at Olney was plain hurry unavoidably have departed from rules which enough to be seen, but they chose to overlook it. he might have found in books, but his own truly She brought with her a disposition to be pleased, poetical talent was a guide which could not suffer which whoever does is sure to find a visit agreeahim to err. A race-horse is graceful in his swiftest ble, because they make it so. pace, and never makes an awkward motion, though
Yours, W.C.* he is pushed to his utmost speed. A cart-horse might perhaps be taught to play tricks in the riding school, and might prance and curvet like his *This dateless letter, which is probably entitled to a very betters, but at some unlucky time would be sure carly place in this collection, was reserved to close the corto betray the baseness of his original. It is an respondence with Mr. Unwin, from the hope that before the affair of very little consequence perhaps to the verses of Cowper, to which the letter alludes, but all researches
press advanced so far, the editor might recover those unknown well-being of mankind, but I can not help regret-' for this purpose have failed. Hayley.
ment that we have suffered here for so many winTO THE REV. WALTER BAGOT. ters, has hurt us both. That we may suffer it no
longer, she stoops at Olney, lifts us from our MY DEAR FRIEND, Olney, August 31, 1786. swamp, and sets us down on the elevated grounds
I began to fear for your health, and every day of Weston Underwood. There, my dear friend, said to myself–1 must write to Bagot soon, if it I shall be happy to see you, and to thank you in be only to ask him how he does-a measure that I person for all your kindness. should certainly have pursued long since had I I do not wonder at the judgment that you form been less absorbed in Homer than I am. But such of - a foreigner; but you may assure yourare my engagements in that quarter, that they self that, foreigner as he is, he has an exquisite make me, I think, good for little else,
taste in English verse. The man is all fire, and Many thanks, my friend, for the names that an enthusiast in the highest degree on the subject you have sent me. The Bagots will make a most of Homer, and has given me more than once a conspicuous figure among my subscribers, and 1 jog, when I have been inclined to nap with my shall not I hope soon forget my obligations to author. No cold water is to be feared from him them,
that might abate my own fire, rather perhaps too The unacquaintedness of modern ears with the much combustible. divine harmony of Milton's numbers, and the Adieu! mon ami, yours faithfully, W. C. principles upon which he constructed them, is the cause of the quarrel that they have with elisions in blank verse. But where is the remedy? In TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ. vain should you or I, and a few hundreds more perhaps who have studied his versification, tell
Olney, Oct. 6, 1786. them of the superior majesty of it, and that for You have not heard I suppose that the ninth that majesty it is greatly indebted to those elisions. book of my translation is at the bottom of the In their cars, they are discord and dissonance; Thames. But it is even so. A storm overtook they lengthen the line beyond its due limits, and it in its way to Kingston, and it sunk, together are therefore not to be endured. There is a whim- with the whole cargo of the boat in which it was sical inconsistence in the judgment of modern a passenger. Not tiguratively foreshowing, I hope, readers in this particular. Ask them all round, by its submersion, the fate of all the rest. My whom do you account the best writer of blank kind and generous cousin, who leaves nothing unverse ? and they will reply to a man, Milton, to done that she thinks can conduce to my comfort, be sure; Milton against the field ! Yet if a writer encouragement, or convenience, is my transcriber of the present day should construct his numbers also. She wrote the copy, and she will have to exactly upon Milton's plan, not one in fifty of write it again- -Hers therefore is the damage. these professed admirers of Milton would endure I have a thousand reasons to lament that the time him. The case standing thus, what is to be done ? approaches when we must lose her. She has An author must either be contented to give disgust made a winterly summer a most delightful one, to the generality, or he must humour them by sin- but the winter itself we must spend without her. ning against his own judgment. This latter course,
W. C.* so far as elisions are concerned, I have adopted as essential to my success. In every other respect 1 give as much variety in my measure as I can, I
TO THE REV. WALTER BAGOT. believe I may say as in ten syllables it is possible to give, shifting perpetually the.pause and cadence,
Weston Underwood, Nov. 17, 1786. and accounting myself happy that modern refine- MY DEAR FRIEND, ment has not yet enacted laws against this also. There are some things that do not actually If it had, I protest to you I would have dropped shorten the life of man, yet seem to do so, and my design of translating Homer entirely; and frequent removals from place to place are of that with what an indignant stateliness of reluctance I number. For my own part at least I am apt to make them the concession that I have mentioned, think, if I had been more stationary, I should Mrs. Unwin can witness, who hears all my com- seem to myself to have lived longer. My many plaints upon the subject.
changes of habitation have divided my time into After having lived twenty years at Olney, we many short periods, and when I look back upon are on the point of leaving it, but shall not migrate them they appear only as the stages in a day's far. We have taken a house in the village of Weston. Lady Hesketh is our good angel, by
* In this interval, viz. on the 15th of the following month, whose aid we are enabled to pass into a better air, the day on which he completed his fifty fifth year (0.S.) Mr. and a more walkable country. The imprison. Cowper removed to Wesion Underwood.