Tantissimi classici della letteratura e della cultura politica,
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Abbe Prevost - MANON LESCAUT
Alcott, Louisa M. - AN OLDFASHIONED GIRL
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE MEN
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE WOMEN
Alcott, Louisa May - JACK AND JILL
Alcott, Louisa May - LIFE LETTERS AND JOURNALS
Andersen, Hans Christian - FAIRY TALES
Anonimo - BEOWULF
Ariosto, Ludovico - ORLANDO ENRAGED
Aurelius, Marcus - MEDITATIONS
Austen, Jane - EMMA
Austen, Jane - MANSFIELD PARK
Austen, Jane - NORTHANGER ABBEY
Austen, Jane - PERSUASION
Austen, Jane - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Austen, Jane - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Authors, Various - LETTERS OF ABELARD AND HELOISE
Authors, Various - SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS
Autori Vari - THE WORLD ENGLISH BIBLE
Bacon, Francis - THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING
Balzac, Honore de - EUGENIE GRANDET
Balzac, Honore de - FATHER GORIOT
Baroness Orczy - THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
Barrie, J. M. - PETER AND WENDY
Barrie, James M. - PETER PAN
Bierce, Ambrose - THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
Blake, William - SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE
Boccaccio, Giovanni - DECAMERONE
Brent, Linda - INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL
Bronte, Charlotte - JANE EYRE
Bronte, Charlotte - VILLETTE
Buchan, John - GREENMANTLE
Buchan, John - MR STANDFAST
Buchan, John - THE 39 STEPS
Bunyan, John - THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
Burckhardt, Jacob - THE CIVILIZATION OF THE RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
Burnett, Frances H. - A LITTLE PRINCESS
Burnett, Frances H. - LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
Burnett, Frances H. - THE SECRET GARDEN
Butler, Samuel - EREWHON
Carlyle, Thomas - PAST AND PRESENT
Carlyle, Thomas - THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
Cellini, Benvenuto - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Cervantes - DON QUIXOTE
Chaucer, Geoffrey - THE CANTERBURY TALES
Chesterton, G. K. - A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND
Chesterton, G. K. - THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE
Chesterton, G. K. - THE INNOCENCE OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Chesterton, G. K. - THE WISDOM OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - TWELVE TYPES
Chesterton, G. K. - WHAT I SAW IN AMERICA
Chesterton, Gilbert K. - HERETICS
Chopin, Kate - AT FAULT
Chopin, Kate - BAYOU FOLK
Chopin, Kate - THE AWAKENING AND SELECTED SHORT STORIES
Clark Hall, John R. - A CONCISE ANGLOSAXON DICTIONARY
Clarkson, Thomas - AN ESSAY ON THE SLAVERY AND COMMERCE OF THE HUMAN SPECIES
Clausewitz, Carl von - ON WAR
Coleridge, Herbert - A DICTIONARY OF THE FIRST OR OLDEST WORDS IN THE ENGLISH
Coleridge, S. T. - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Coleridge, S. T. - HINTS TOWARDS THE FORMATION OF A MORE COMPREHENSIVE THEORY
Coleridge, S. T. - THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER
Collins, Wilkie - THE MOONSTONE
Collodi - PINOCCHIO
Conan Doyle, Arthur - A STUDY IN SCARLET
Conan Doyle, Arthur - MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE SIGN OF THE FOUR
Conrad, Joseph - HEART OF DARKNESS
Conrad, Joseph - LORD JIM
Conrad, Joseph - NOSTROMO
Conrad, Joseph - THE NIGGER OF THE NARCISSUS
Conrad, Joseph - TYPHOON
Crane, Stephen - LAST WORDS
Crane, Stephen - MAGGIE
Crane, Stephen - THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
Crane, Stephen - WOUNDS IN THE RAIN
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: HELL
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PARADISE
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PURGATORY
Darwin, Charles - THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES DARWIN
Darwin, Charles - THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
Defoe, Daniel - A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE PYRATES
Defoe, Daniel - A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR
Defoe, Daniel - CAPTAIN SINGLETON
Defoe, Daniel - MOLL FLANDERS
Defoe, Daniel - ROBINSON CRUSOE
Defoe, Daniel - THE COMPLETE ENGLISH TRADESMAN
Defoe, Daniel - THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE
Deledda, Grazia - AFTER THE DIVORCE
Dickens, Charles - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Dickens, Charles - A TALE OF TWO CITIES
Dickens, Charles - BLEAK HOUSE
Dickens, Charles - DAVID COPPERFIELD
Dickens, Charles - DONBEY AND SON
Dickens, Charles - GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Dickens, Charles - HARD TIMES
Dickens, Charles - LETTERS VOLUME 1
Dickens, Charles - LITTLE DORRIT
Dickens, Charles - MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT
Dickens, Charles - NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
Dickens, Charles - OLIVER TWIST
Dickens, Charles - OUR MUTUAL FRIEND
Dickens, Charles - PICTURES FROM ITALY
Dickens, Charles - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
Dickens, Charles - THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP
Dickens, Charles - THE PICKWICK PAPERS
Dickinson, Emily - POEMS
Dostoevsky, Fyodor - CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
Du Maurier, George - TRILBY
Dumas, Alexandre - THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Dumas, Alexandre - THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
Dumas, Alexandre - THE THREE MUSKETEERS
Eliot, George - DANIEL DERONDA
Eliot, George - MIDDLEMARCH
Eliot, George - SILAS MARNER
Eliot, George - THE MILL ON THE FLOSS
Engels, Frederick - THE CONDITION OF THE WORKING-CLASS IN ENGLAND IN 1844
Equiano - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Esopo - FABLES
Fenimore Cooper, James - THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
Fielding, Henry - TOM JONES
France, Anatole - THAIS
France, Anatole - THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
France, Anatole - THE LIFE OF JOAN OF ARC
France, Anatole - THE SEVEN WIVES OF BLUEBEARD
Frank Baum, L. - THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ
Frank Baum, L. - THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
Franklin, Benjamin - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Frazer, James George - THE GOLDEN BOUGH
Freud, Sigmund - DREAM PSYCHOLOGY
Galsworthy, John - COMPLETE PLAYS
Galsworthy, John - STRIFE
Galsworthy, John - STUDIES AND ESSAYS
Galsworthy, John - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
Galsworthy, John - THE FORSYTE SAGA
Galsworthy, John - THE LITTLE MAN
Galsworthy, John - THE SILVER BOX
Galsworthy, John - THE SKIN GAME
Gaskell, Elizabeth - CRANFORD
Gaskell, Elizabeth - MARY BARTON
Gaskell, Elizabeth - NORTH AND SOUTH
Gaskell, Elizabeth - THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE
Gay, John - THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
Gentile, Maria - THE ITALIAN COOK BOOK
Gilbert and Sullivan - PLAYS
Goethe - FAUST
Gogol - DEAD SOULS
Goldsmith, Oliver - SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
Goldsmith, Oliver - THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD
Grahame, Kenneth - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
Grimm, Brothers - FAIRY TALES
Harding, A. R. - GINSENG AND OTHER MEDICINAL PLANTS
Hardy, Thomas - A CHANGED MAN AND OTHER TALES
Hardy, Thomas - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Hardy, Thomas - JUDE THE OBSCURE
Hardy, Thomas - TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
Hardy, Thomas - THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE
Hartley, Cecil B. - THE GENTLEMEN'S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - LITTLE MASTERPIECES
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - THE SCARLET LETTER
Henry VIII - LOVE LETTERS TO ANNE BOLEYN
Henry, O. - CABBAGES AND KINGS
Henry, O. - SIXES AND SEVENS
Henry, O. - THE FOUR MILLION
Henry, O. - THE TRIMMED LAMP
Henry, O. - WHIRLIGIGS
Hindman Miller, Gustavus - TEN THOUSAND DREAMS INTERPRETED
Hobbes, Thomas - LEVIATHAN
Homer - THE ILIAD
Homer - THE ODYSSEY
Hornaday, William T. - THE EXTERMINATION OF THE AMERICAN BISON
Hume, David - A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE
Hume, David - AN ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
Hume, David - DIALOGUES CONCERNING NATURAL RELIGION
Ibsen, Henrik - A DOLL'S HOUSE
Ibsen, Henrik - AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
Ibsen, Henrik - GHOSTS
Ibsen, Henrik - HEDDA GABLER
Ibsen, Henrik - JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN
Ibsen, Henrik - ROSMERHOLM
Ibsen, Henrik - THE LADY FROM THE SEA
Ibsen, Henrik - THE MASTER BUILDER
Ibsen, Henrik - WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN
Irving, Washington - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
James, Henry - ITALIAN HOURS
James, Henry - THE ASPERN PAPERS
James, Henry - THE BOSTONIANS
James, Henry - THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
James, Henry - THE TURN OF THE SCREW
James, Henry - WASHINGTON SQUARE
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN IN A BOAT
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN ON THE BUMMEL
Jevons, Stanley - POLITICAL ECONOMY
Johnson, Samuel - A GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE
Jonson, Ben - THE ALCHEMIST
Jonson, Ben - VOLPONE
Joyce, James - A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN
Joyce, James - CHAMBER MUSIC
Joyce, James - DUBLINERS
Joyce, James - ULYSSES
Keats, John - ENDYMION
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1817
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1820
King James - THE BIBLE
Kipling, Rudyard - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
Kipling, Rudyard - INDIAN TALES
Kipling, Rudyard - JUST SO STORIES
Kipling, Rudyard - KIM
Kipling, Rudyard - THE JUNGLE BOOK
Kipling, Rudyard - THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
Kipling, Rudyard - THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK
Lawrence, D. H - THE RAINBOW
Lawrence, D. H - THE WHITE PEACOCK
Lawrence, D. H - TWILIGHT IN ITALY
Lawrence, D. H. - AARON'S ROD
Lawrence, D. H. - SONS AND LOVERS
Lawrence, D. H. - THE LOST GIRL
Lawrence, D. H. - WOMEN IN LOVE
Lear, Edward - BOOK OF NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - LAUGHABLE LYRICS
Lear, Edward - MORE NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - NONSENSE SONG
Leblanc, Maurice - ARSENE LUPIN VS SHERLOCK HOLMES
Leblanc, Maurice - THE ADVENTURES OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE CONFESSIONS OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
Leblanc, Maurice - THE RETURN OF ARSENE LUPIN
Lehmann, Lilli - HOW TO SING
Leroux, Gaston - THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER
Leroux, Gaston - THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM
Leroux, Gaston - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
London, Jack - MARTIN EDEN
London, Jack - THE CALL OF THE WILD
London, Jack - WHITE FANG
Machiavelli, Nicolo' - THE PRINCE
Malthus, Thomas - PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION
Mansfield, Katherine - THE GARDEN PARTY AND OTHER STORIES
Marlowe, Christopher - THE JEW OF MALTA
Marryat, Captain - THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST
Maupassant, Guy De - BEL AMI
Melville, Hermann - MOBY DICK
Melville, Hermann - TYPEE
Mill, John Stuart - PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY
Milton, John - PARADISE LOST
Mitra, S. M. - HINDU TALES FROM THE SANSKRIT
Montaigne, Michel de - ESSAYS
Montgomery, Lucy Maud - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
More, Thomas - UTOPIA
Nesbit, E. - FIVE CHILDREN AND IT
Nesbit, E. - THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET
Nesbit, E. - THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
Nesbit, E. - THE STORY OF THE AMULET
Newton, Isaac - OPTICKS
Nietsche, Friedrich - BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
Nietsche, Friedrich - THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
Nightingale, Florence - NOTES ON NURSING
Owen, Wilfred - POEMS
Ozaki, Yei Theodora - JAPANESE FAIRY TALES
Pascal, Blaise - PENSEES
Pellico, Silvio - MY TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT
Perrault, Charles - FAIRY TALES
Pirandello, Luigi - THREE PLAYS
Plato - THE REPUBLIC
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 1
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 2
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 3
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 4
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 5
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
Potter, Beatrix - THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
Proust, Marcel - SWANN'S WAY
Radcliffe, Ann - A SICILIAN ROMANCE
Ricardo, David - ON THE PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY AND TAXATION
Richardson, Samuel - PAMELA
Rider Haggard, H. - ALLAN QUATERMAIN
Rider Haggard, H. - KING SOLOMON'S MINES
Rousseau, J. J. - THE ORIGIN AND FOUNDATION OF INEQUALITY AMONG MANKIND
Ruskin, John - THE SEVEN LAMPS OF ARCHITECTURE
Schiller, Friedrich - THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN
Schiller, Friedrich - THE PICCOLOMINI
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE ART OF CONTROVERSY
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE WISDOM OF LIFE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
Scott, Walter - IVANHOE
Scott, Walter - QUENTIN DURWARD
Scott, Walter - ROB ROY
Scott, Walter - THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR
Scott, Walter - WAVERLEY
Sedgwick, Anne Douglas - THE THIRD WINDOW
Sewell, Anna - BLACK BEAUTY
Shakespeare, William - COMPLETE WORKS
Shakespeare, William - HAMLET
Shakespeare, William - OTHELLO
Shakespeare, William - ROMEO AND JULIET
Shelley, Mary - FRANKENSTEIN
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - A DEFENCE OF POETRY AND OTHER ESSAYS
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Sheridan, Richard B. - THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
Sienkiewicz, Henryk - QUO VADIS
Smith, Adam - THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
Smollett, Tobias - TRAVELS THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY
Spencer, Herbert - ESSAYS ON EDUCATION AND KINDRED SUBJECTS
Spyri, Johanna - HEIDI
Sterne, Laurence - A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
Sterne, Laurence - TRISTRAM SHANDY
Stevenson, Robert Louis - A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
Stevenson, Robert Louis - ESSAYS IN THE ART OF WRITING
Stevenson, Robert Louis - KIDNAPPED
Stevenson, Robert Louis - NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE BLACK ARROW
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
Stevenson, Robert Louis - TREASURE ISLAND
Stoker, Bram - DRACULA
Strindberg, August - LUCKY PEHR
Strindberg, August - MASTER OLOF
Strindberg, August - THE RED ROOM
Strindberg, August - THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
Strindberg, August - THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES
Swift, Jonathan - A MODEST PROPOSAL
Swift, Jonathan - A TALE OF A TUB
Swift, Jonathan - GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
Swift, Jonathan - THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS AND OTHER SHORT PIECES
Tagore, Rabindranath - FRUIT GATHERING
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE GARDENER
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE HUNGRY STONES AND OTHER STORIES
Thackeray, William - BARRY LYNDON
Thackeray, William - VANITY FAIR
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE BOOK OF SNOBS
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE ROSE AND THE RING
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE VIRGINIANS
Thoreau, Henry David - WALDEN
Tolstoi, Leo - A LETTER TO A HINDU
Tolstoy, Lev - ANNA KARENINA
Tolstoy, Lev - WAR AND PEACE
Trollope, Anthony - AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Trollope, Anthony - BARCHESTER TOWERS
Trollope, Anthony - FRAMLEY PARSONAGE
Trollope, Anthony - THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS
Trollope, Anthony - THE MAN WHO KEPT HIS MONEY IN A BOX
Trollope, Anthony - THE WARDEN
Trollope, Anthony - THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
Twain, Mark - LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
Twain, Mark - SPEECHES
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER
Twain, Mark - THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
Vari, Autori - THE MAGNA CARTA
Verga, Giovanni - SICILIAN STORIES
Verne, Jules - 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS
Verne, Jules - A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH
Verne, Jules - ALL AROUND THE MOON
Verne, Jules - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
Verne, Jules - FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
Verne, Jules - FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
Verne, Jules - MICHAEL STROGOFF
Verne, Jules - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
Voltaire - PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY
Vyasa - MAHABHARATA
Wallace, Edgar - SANDERS OF THE RIVER
Wallace, Edgar - THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
Wallace, Lew - BEN HUR
Webster, Jean - DADDY LONG LEGS
Wedekind, Franz - THE AWAKENING OF SPRING
Wells, H. G. - KIPPS
Wells, H. G. - THE INVISIBLE MAN
Wells, H. G. - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU
Wells, H. G. - THE STOLEN BACILLUS AND OTHER INCIDENTS
Wells, H. G. - THE TIME MACHINE
Wells, H. G. - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
Wells, H. G. - WHAT IS COMING
Wharton, Edith - THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
White, Andrew Dickson - FIAT MONEY INFLATION IN FRANCE
Wilde, Oscar - A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
Wilde, Oscar - AN IDEAL HUSBAND
Wilde, Oscar - DE PROFUNDIS
Wilde, Oscar - LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
Wilde, Oscar - SALOME
Wilde, Oscar - SELECTED POEMS
Wilde, Oscar - THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
Wilde, Oscar - THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
Wilde, Oscar - THE HAPPY PRINCE AND OTHER TALES
Wilde, Oscar - THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
Wilde, Oscar - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY
Wilde, Oscar - THE SOUL OF MAN
Wilson, Epiphanius - SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST
Wollstonecraft, Mary - A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
Woolf, Virgina - NIGHT AND DAY
Woolf, Virgina - THE VOYAGE OUT
Woolf, Virginia - JACOB'S ROOM
Woolf, Virginia - MONDAY OR TUESDAY
Wordsworth, William - POEMS
Wordsworth, William - PROSE WORKS
Zola, Emile - THERESE RAQUIN
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ISTRUZIONI D'USO DETTAGLIATE
SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS (XV-XIX CENTURIES)
by VARIOUS AUTHORS
ARRANGED BY M. DUCKITT & H. WRAGG
This anthology has been compiled with rather mixed motives. First,
'all for our delight'--a rule that editors sometimes observe, and
occasionally acknowledge; then, with the desire to interest as large
a section of the public as may be. Here is a medley of gay, grave,
frivolous, homely, religious, sociable, refined, philosophic, and
feminine,--something for every mood, and for the proper study
of mankind. We do not hope to satisfy all critics, but we do not
anticipate that we shall please none. Our difficulty has been that
of choice. Many pleasant companions we have had to pass by; to strike
from our list many excellent letters. Those that remain are intended
to present as complete a portrait of the writer as space permits.
Occasionally it was some feature of the age, some nicety of manners,
some contrast in point of view, that obtained inclusion.
Into such an anthology the ordinary reader prefers to dip at random,
looking for old friends or new faces, and has his reward. But if he
is resolute to read letters in chronological order, he will also,
we hope, find in our selection some trace of the development of the
Epistolary art, as, rising through earlier naiveties and formalities
to the grace and "bel air" of the great Augustans, it slides into the
freer, if less dignified, utterance of an age which, startled by cries
of 'Equality' at its birth, has concerned itself less with form than
with individuality and sincerity of expression.
Three letters are included of which the originals were penned
in Latin. In a few cases the spelling and punctuation have been
Our best thanks are due to Mr. J.C. Smith, whose kind criticism and
inspiring suggestions have been of inestimable service to us in the
preparation of this work.
SIR THOMAS MORE, 1478-1535--
To Margaret Roper. 'Wyth a cole' from prison.
MARGARET ROPER, 1505-1544--
To Sir Thomas More. Reply to the above.
ROGER ASCHAM, 1515-1568--
To Lady Jane Grey. A most accomplished maiden.
To Lady Clarke. An offer of assistance.
FRANCIS BACON, 1561-1626--
To Sir Thomas Bodley. With a copy of his book.
SIR THOMAS BROWNE, 1605-1682--
To his son Thomas. Fatherly commendations.
To his son Edward. Centenarians.
JOHN MILTON, 1608-1674--
To a Cambridge friend. The choice of a profession.
To Leonard Philaras. The blind poet.
JOHN EVELYN, 1620-1706--
To Samuel Pepys. In retirement at Wotton.
To the same. An old man's occupations.
DAME DOROTHY BROWNE, 1621-1685--
To her daughter in London. Three interesting
GEORGE, LORD BERKELEY, 1628-1698--
To Samuel Pepys. Honourable acquittal.
DOROTHY OSBORNE, 1628-1698--
To Sir William Temple. Passing the time.
To the same. Another pretender.
To the same. A disappointing preacher.
To the same. The ideal husband.
To the same. The growth of friendship.
To the same. Wilful woman.
KATHARINE PHILIPS, 1631-1664--
To the Honourable Berenice. Yielding to opinion.
JOHN LOCKE, 1632-1704--
To William Molyneux. A philosopher's confidences.
To Dr. Molyneux. True friendship.
SAMUEL PEPYS, 1633-1703--
To George, Lord Berkeley. An explanation.
To Mrs. Steward. A wedding in the City.
To John Evelyn. Reply to an old friend.
JONATHAN SWIFT, 1667-1745--
To Stella. The Dean at home.
To Lord Treasurer Oxford. The Dean makes his bow.
To Dr. Sheridan. News from the country.
To Alexander Pope. Mostly about "Gulliver".
To John Gay. Enquiries into Mr. Gay's pursuits.
JOSEPH ADDISON, 1672-1719--
To Alexander Pope. Translation of Homer.
To Mr. Secretary Craggs. A bequest.
SIR RICHARD STEELE, 1672-1729--
To Mary Scurlock. An explicit declaration.
To the same. A pleasing transport.
To the same. A lover betrays himself.
To his wife. He proposes an outing.
To the same. His greatest affliction.
To the same. Four characteristic notes.
To the same. The natural slave of beauty.
JOHN GAY, 1685-1732--
To Jonathan Swift. Concerning "Gulliver".
ALEXANDER POPE, 1688-1744--
To William Wycherley. Dryden and his critics.
To Joseph Addison. A few thoughts from a rambling head.
To Jonathan Swift. Friends to posterity.
To the same. A farming friend, and "The Dunciad".
To the same. An invitation to England.
SAMUEL RICHARDSON, 1689-1761--
To Miss Mulso. A discussion on love.
LADY MARY WORTLEY MONTAGU, 1689-1762--
To the Countess of Mar. The Viennese court.
To Miss Sarah Chiswell. Ingrafting for small-pox.
To the Countess of Bristol. The Grand Signior a slave.
To the Countess of Mar. The Grand Vizier's lady.
To the Countess of Bute. Her grand-daughter's education.
To the same. Fielding and Steele.
PHILIP DORMER STANHOPE, EARL OF CHESTERFIELD, 1694-1773--
To his son. Dancing.
To the same. A good enunciation.
To the same. Keeping accounts.
To the same. A father's example.
To the same. Public speaking.
To the same. The new Earl of Chatham.
SAMUEL JOHNSON, 1709-1784--
To Bonnet Langton. Postponement of a visit.
To Miss Porter. A mother's death.
To Joseph Baretti. A letter of counsel.
To Mrs. Thrale. Travel in Scotland.
To the Earl of Chesterfield. Patronage.
To James Boswell. A silent friend.
To Mrs. Thrale. A great man's fortitude.
LAURENCE STERNE, 1713-1768--
To Miss Lumley. The disconsolate lover.
To David Garrick. Le Chevalier Shandy.
To Mr. Foley. An adventure on the road.
THOMAS GRAY, 1716-1771--
To Richard West. Scenery at Tivoli.
To the same. A poet's melancholy.
To Horace Walpole. The fate of Selima.
To the same. Publication of the "Elegy".
To the same. At Burnham.
To the Rev. William Mason. The Laureateship.
To Dr. Wharton. A holiday in Kent.
HORACE WALPOLE, 1717-1797--
To Richard West. Floods in the Arno.
To Richard Bentley. Pictures, and Garrick.
To Lord Lyttelton. Gray's Odes.
To George Montagu. At Lady Suffolk's.
To Lady Hervey. A quiet life.
To the Rev. William Cole. Gray's death.
To the Rev. William Mason. The quarrel with Gray.
To the Countess of Upper-Ossory. Fashionable intelligence.
To the Rev. William Cole. Antiquaries and authors.
To the Miss Berrys. Their first meeting.
OLIVER GOLDSMITH, 1728-1774--
To his mother. At Cork.
To Robert Bryanton. In Scotland.
To his uncle Contarine. In Holland.
To his brother Henry. Family matters.
WILLIAM COWPER, 1731-1800--
To the Rev. John Newton. Escapade of Puss.
To the Rev. William Unwin. A laugh that hurts nobody.
To the Rev. John Newton. Village politicians.
To the same. Village justice.
To the same. A candidate's visit.
To Lady Hesketh. An acquaintance reopened.
To the same. The kindliness of thanks.
To the same. Arrival of the desk.
To the same. Anticipations of a visit.
To the same. Commissions and thanks.
To Mrs. Bodham. His mother's portrait.
EDMUND BURKE, 1729-1797--
To Matthew Smith. First impressions of London.
To James Barry. A friend's infirmities.
To Lord Auckland. An old stag at bay.
To Mary Leadbeater. His last letter.
EDWARD GIBBON, 1737-1794--
To Mrs. Porten. His daily life.
To Lord Sheffield. A great work.
FRANCES D'ARBLAY, 1752-1840--
To Susan Burney. An excited Unknown.
To Samuel Crisp. Mrs. Thrale and Dr. Johnson.
To Mrs. Lock. A royal commission.
GEORGE CRABBE, 1754-1832--
To Mary Leadbeater. The only survivors.
To the same. Comparisons.
WILLIAM BLAKE, 1757-1827--
To John Flaxman. Friends 'from eternity'.
To Thomas Butts. Trouble in the path.
To the same. The wonderful poem.
To the same. The poet and William Hayley.
MARY LEADBEATER, 1758-1826--
To Edmund Burke. Reply to his last letter.
To George Crabbe. She writes to remind him.
ROBERT BURNS, 1759-1796--
To Miss Chalmers. Marriage with Jean.
To Mr. R. Ainslie. A gauger.
To Francis Grose. Witch tales.
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH, 1770-1850--
To Sir George Beaumont. A brother's character.
To Walter Scott. Dryden.
To Lady Beaumont. The destiny of his poems.
To Sir George Beaumont. The language of poetry.
SIR WALTER SCOTT, 1771-1832--
To his mother. Marriage with Miss Carpenter.
To Miss Seward. "The Lay of the Last Minstrel".
To Lady Louisa Stuart. An amiable blue-stocking.
To Robert Southey. Congratulations.
To J.B.S. Morritt. A small anonymous sort of a novel.
To the same. Acceptance of a baronetcy.
To Lord Montagu. Prince Leopold's visit.
To Daniel Terry. Progress at Abbotsford.
To J.B.S. Morritt. A brave face to the world.
To Maria Edgeworth. Time's revenges.
SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE, 1772-1834--
To Charles Lamb. A sympathetic reply.
To Joseph Cottle. Literary adventurers.
To Josiah Wade. A public example.
To Thomas Allsop. Himself and his detractors.
To the same. The Great Work described.
To the same. Reminiscences.
ROBERT SOUTHEY, 1774-1843--
To Joseph Cottle. Question of copyrights.
To John May. Waterloo.
To Henry Taylor. Anastasius Hope.
To Edward Moxon. Recollections of the Lambs.
CHARLES LAMB, 1775-1834--
To Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Temporary frenzy.
To the same. A friend in need.
To the same. The tragedy.
To William Wordsworth. The delights of London.
To Thomas Manning. At the Lakes.
To the same. Dissuasion from Tartary.
To Mrs. Wordsworth. Friends' importunities.
To Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The famous pigling.
To Bernard Barton. A blessing in disguise.
To the same. A cold.
WILLIAM HAZLITT, 1778-1830--
To Miss Sarah Stoddart. A love-letter.
To his son. Marriage, and the choice of a profession.
To Charles Cowden Clarke. The "Life of Napoleon".
LEIGH HUNT, 1784-1859--
To Joseph Severn. A belated letter.
To Percy Bysshe Shelley. Outpourings of gratitude.
To Horace Smith. Shelley's death.
To Mrs. Procter. Accepting an invitation.
To a friend. Offence and punishment.
GEORGE GORDON NOEL, LORD BYRON, 1788-1824--
To Mr. Hodgson. Travel in Portugal.
To Thomas Moore. Announces his engagement.
To John Murray. No bid for sweet voices.
To the same. The cemetery at Bologna.
To the same. In rebellious mood.
To Percy Bysshe Shelley. A trio of poets.
To Lady Byron. A plain statement of facts.
To Mr. Barff. Sympathy with the Greeks.
PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY, 1792-1822--
To T.J. Hogg. His first marriage.
To William Godwin. An introduction.
To Thomas Hookham. A subscription for Hunt.
To Mr. Ollier. An article by Southey.
To Mrs. Hunt. Keats and some others.
To Leigh Hunt. A literary collaboration.
JOHN KEATS, 1795-1821--
To John Hamilton Reynolds. Burns's cottage.
To Richard Woodhouse. The poetic character.
To Percy Bysshe Shelley. Returning advice.
To Charles Brown. A despairing cry.
THOMAS HOOD, 1799-1845--
To Charles Dickens. "American Notes".
To the "Manchester Athenaeum". The uses of literature.
To Dr. Moir. A humourist to the last.
To Sir Robert Peel. A farewell letter.
ROBERT BROWNING, 1812-1889, and
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING, 1806-1861--
To Leigh Hunt. A joint epistle.
CHARLOTTE BRONTË, 1816-1855--
To a friend. Trials of a governess.
To William Wordsworth. Thanks for advice.
To a friend. At school abroad.
To a friend. Curates to tea.
To George Henry Lewes. Herself and Miss Austen.
To the same. The argument continued.
To a friend. Illness and death of Emily Brontë.
To Mr. G. Smith. Thackeray and "Esmond"
To the same. "Esmond" again.
SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS
SIR THOMAS MORE
To MARGARET ROPER
"'Wyth a cole' from prison"
Myne owne good doughter, our lorde be thanked I am in good helthe of
bodye, and in good quiet of minde: and of worldly thynges I no more
desyer then I have. I beseche hym make you all mery in the hope of
heaven. And such thynges as I somewhat longed to talke with you all,
concerning the worlde to come, our Lord put theim into your myndes, as
I trust he dothe, and better to, by his holy spirite: who blesse
you and preserve you all. Written wyth a cole by your tender loving
father, who in his pore prayers forgetteth none of you all, nor
your babes, nor your nurses, nor your good husbandes, nor your good
husbandes shrewde wyves, nor your fathers shrewde wyfe neither, nor
our other frendes. And thus fare ye hartely well for lack of paper.
THOMAS MORE, knight.
Our Lorde kepe me continuallye true, faithfull and playne, to the
contrarye whereof I beseche hym hartelye never to suffer me live. For
as for longe life (as I have often tolde the Megge) I neyther looke
for, nor long for, but am well content to goe, yf God call me hence
to morowe. And I thanke our lorde, I knowe no person living, that I
woulde had one philippe for my sake: of whiche minde I am more gladde
then of all the worlde.
Recommend me to your shrewde wil, and mine other sonnes, and to John
Harris my frende, and your selfe knoweth to whome els, and to my
shrewde wife above all, and God preserve you all and make and kepe you
his servantes all.
TO SIR THOMAS MORE
"Reply to the above"
Myne owne moste entierelye beloved father, I thynke my self never
hable to geve you sufficiente thankes, for the inestimable coumforte
my poore hearte received in the readyng of youre moste lovynge and
godlye letter, representing to me, the cleare shynyng bryghtenesse
of youre soule, the pure temple of the holy spirite of God, which I
doubte not shall perpetuallye reste in you and you in hym. Father, if
all the worlde hadde bene geven to me, as I be saved it hadde bene
a small pleasure, in comparison of the pleasure I conceived of the
treasure of youre letter, whiche thoughe it were written with a cole,
is woorthye in myne opinion to be wrytten in letters of golde. Father,
what moved them to shytte you uppe againe, we can nothynge heare.
But surelye I coniecture that when they considered that you wer of so
temperate mind, that you were contented to abyde there all your lyfe
with suche libertie, they thought it wer never possible to enclyne you
to theyr will, excepte it were by restrayning you from the church, and
the companye of my good mother youre deare wyfe and us youre chyldren
and bedesfolke. But father this chaunce was not straunge to you. For
I shal not forgeat howe you tolde us when we were with you in the
gardeyne, that these thinges wer like ynoughe to chaunce you shortlye
after. Father I have manye tymes rehearsed to myne owne coumfort and
dyvers others, your fashyon and wordes ye hadde to us when we were
laste with you: for which I trust by the grace of god to be the better
while I live, and when I am departed oute of this frayle life, which
I praye God I maye passe and ende in his true obedient service, after
the wholesome counsayle and fruitful exaumple of living I have had
(good father) of you, whom I pray god geve me grace to folowe: which
I shal the better thorow the assistaunce of your devoute prayers,
the speciall staye of my frayltie. Father I am sory I have no lenger
laysure at this time to talke with you, the chief comfort of my life,
I trust to have occasion to write again shortly. I trust I have your
daily prayer and blessing.
Your most loving obedient daughter and bedeswoma Margaret Roper, which
daily and howrely is boude to pray for you, for whom she prayeth
in this wise, that our lord of his infinite mercye geve you of hys
hevenly comfort, and so to assist you with hys speciall grace, that ye
never in any thing declyne from hys blessed will, but live and dye his
true obedient servaunt. Amen.
To Lady Jane Grey
"A most accomplished maiden"
Augsberg, 18 "Jan". 1551.
Most Illustrious Lady,
In this long travel of mine, I have passed over wide tracts of
country, and seen the largest cities, I have studied the customs,
institutes, laws, and religion of many men and diverse nations, with
as much diligence as I was able: but in all this variety of subjects,
nothing has caused in me so much wonder as my having fallen upon you
last summer, a maiden of noble birth, and that too in the absence of
your tutor, in the hall of your most noble family, and at a time
when others, both men and women, give themselves up to hunting and
pleasures, you, a divine maiden, reading carefully in Greek the
"Phaedo" of the divine Plato; and happier in being so occupied than
because you derive your birth, both on your father's side, and on your
mother's, from kings and queens! Go on then, most accomplished maiden,
to bring honour on your country, happiness on your parents, glory to
yourself, credit to your tutor, congratulation to all your friends,
and the greatest admiration to all strangers!
O happy Elmar in having such a pupil, and happier still you, in having
such a tutor ... I ask two things of you, my dear Elmar, for I suppose
you will read this letter, that you will persuade the Lady Jane to
write me a letter in Greek as soon as possible; for she promised she
would do so ... I have also lately written to John Sturm, and told him
that she had promised. Take care that I get a letter soon from her as
well as from you. It is a long way for letters to come, but John Hales
will be a most convenient letter-carrier and bring them safely....
To LADY CLARKE
"An offer of assistance"
[London], 15 "Jan". 1554.
Your remarkable love of virtue and zeal for learning, most illustrious
lady, joined with such talents and perseverance, are worthy of great
praise in themselves, and greater still because you are a woman, but
greatest of all because you are a lady of the court; where there are
many other occupations for ladies, besides learning, and many other
pleasures besides the practice of the virtues. This double praise
is further enhanced by the two patterns that you have proposed to
yourself to follow, the one furnished you by the court, the other
by your family. I mean our illustrious queen Mary, and your noble
grandfather, Thomas More--a man whose virtues go to raise England
above all other nations....
I am led to write thus not altogether by my admiration of you, but
partly by my own wish and more from the nature of my own office. It
was I who was invited some years ago from the University of Cambridge
by your mother, Margaret Roper--a lady worthy of her great father,
and of you her daughter--to the house of your kinsman, Lord Giles
Alington, to teach you and her other children the Greek and Latin
tongues; but at that time no offers could induce me to leave the
University. It is sweet to me to bear in mind this request of your
mother's, and I now not only remind you thereof, but would offer you,
now that I am at court, if not to fulfil her wishes, yet to do my
best to fulfil them, were it not that you have so much learning
in yourself, and also the aid of those two learned men, Cole and
Christopherson, so that you need no help from me, unless in their
absence you make use of my assistance, and if you like, abuse it.
I write thus not because of any talents I possess (for I know they are
very small) but because of my will (which I know is very great), and
because of the opportunity long wished for and now granted me. For
by favour of that great bishop the Lord Stephen of Winchester, I have
been fetched away from the University to serve our illustrious queen
at court, and that too in such a post, that I can there follow the
same mode of life for the discharge of my duties as I did at the
University for study. My office is to write Latin letters for the
queen, and I hope I shall fulfil that office, if not with ability,
yet faithfully, diligently, and unblameably ... Farewell, most
SIR FRANCIS BACON
To Sir Thomas Bodley
"With a copy of his book"
I think no man may more truly say with the Psalm "Multum incola
fuit anima mea", than myself. For I do confess, since I was of any
understanding, my mind hath in effect been absent from that I have
done; and in absence are many errors which I do willingly acknowledge;
and amongst the rest this great one that led the rest; that knowing
myself by inward calling to be fitter to hold a book than to play a
part, I have led my life in civil causes; for which I was not very fit
by nature, and more unfit by the preoccupation of my mind. Therefore
calling myself home, I have now for a time enjoyed myself; whereof
likewise I desire to make the world partaker. My labours (if I may so
term that which was the comfort of my other labours) I have dedicated
to the King; desirous, if there be any good in them, it may be as the
fat of a sacrifice, incensed to his honour: and the second copy I have
sent unto you, not only in good affection, but in a kind of congruity,
in regard of your great and rare desert of learning. For books are the
shrines where the saint is, or is believed to be; and you having built
an Ark to save learning from deluge, deserve propriety in any new
instrument or engine, whereby learning should be improved or advanced.
SIR THOMAS BROWNE
To HIS SON THOMAS
I Receaved yours, and would not deferre to send vnto you before you
sayled, which I hope will come vnto you; for in this wind, neither can
Reare-admirall Kempthorne come to you, nor you beginne your voyage.
I am glad you like Lucan so well. I wish more military men could read
him; in this passage you mention, there are noble straynes; and such
as may well affect generous minds. Butt I hope you are more taken with
the verses then the subject, and rather embrace the expression then
the example. And this I the rather hint unto you, because the like,
though in another waye, is sometimes practised in the king's shipps,
when, in desperate cases, they blowe up the same. For though I know
you are sober and considerative, yet knowing you also to be of great
resolution; and having also heard from ocular testimonies with what
vndaunted and persevering courage you have demeaned yourself in great
difficulties; and knowing your captaine to bee a stout and resolute
man; and with all the cordiall friendshippe that is between you; I
cannot omitt my earnest prayers vnto God to deliver you from such a
temptation. Hee that goes to warre must patiently submitt vnto the
various accidents thereof. To bee made prisoner by an vnequall and
overruling power, after a due resistance, is no disparagement; butt
upon a carelesse surprizall or faynt opposition; and you have so good
a memorie that you cannot forgett many examples thereof, even of the
worthiest commanders in your beloved Plutark. God hath given you a
stout, butt a generous and mercifull heart withall; and in all your
life you could never behold any person in miserie butt with compassion
and relief; which hath been notable in you from a child: so have you
layd up a good foundation for God's mercy; and, if such a disaster
should happen, Hee will, without doubt, mercifully remember you. How
euer, let God that brought you in the world in his owne good time,
lead you through it; and in his owne season bring you out of it; and
without such wayes as are displeasing vnto him. When you are at Cales,
see if you can get a box of the Jesuits' powder at easier rate, and
bring it in the bark, not in powder. I am glad you haue receaued the
bill of exchange for Cales; if you should find occasion to make vse
thereof. Enquire farther at Tangier of the minerall water you told
mee, which was neere the towne, and whereof many made use. Take notice
of such plants as you meet with, either upon the Spanish or African
coast; and if you knowe them not, putt some leaves into a booke,
though carelessely, and not with that neatenesse as in your booke at
Norwich. Enquire after any one who hath been at Fez; and learne what
you can of the present state of that place, which hath been so famous
in the description of Leo and others. The mercifull providence of God
go with you. "Impellant animae lintea Thraciae".
TO HIS SON EDWARD
15 "Dec". [1679.]
Some thinck that great age superannuates persons from the vse of
physicall meanes, or that at a hundred yeares of age 'tis either a
folly or a shame to vse meanes to liue longer, and yet I haue knowne
many send to mee for their seuerall troubles at a hundred yeares of
age, and this day a poore woeman being a hundred and three yeares
and a weeke old sent to mee to giue her some ease of the colick. The
"macrobii" and long liuers which I haue knowne heere haue been of
the meaner and poorer sort of people. Tho. Parrot was butt a meane or
rather poore man. Your brother Thomas gaue two pence a weeke to John
More, a scauenger, who dyed in the hundred and second yeare of his
life; and 'twas taken the more notice of that the father of Sir John
Shawe, who marryed my Lady Killmorey, and liueth in London, I say that
his father, who had been a vintner, liued a hundred and two yeares, or
neere it, and dyed about a yeere agoe. God send us to number our dayes
and fitt ourselves for a better world.
TO A CAMBRIDGE FRIEND
"The choice of a profession"
Besides that in sundry other respects I must acknowledge me to profit
by you whenever we meet, you are often to me, and were yesterday
especially, as a good watchman to admonish that the hours of the night
pass on (for so I call my life, as yet obscure and unserviceable to
mankind), and that the day with me is at hand, wherein Christ commands
all to labour, while there is light. Which because I am persuaded you
do to no other purpose than out of a true desire that God should be
honoured in every one, I therefore think myself bound, though unasked,
to give you account, as oft as occasion is, of this my tardy moving,
according to the precept of my conscience, which I firmly trust is not
without God. Yet now I will not strain for any set apology, but only
refer myself to what my mind shall have at any time to declare herself
at her best ease.
But if you think, as you said, that too much love of learning is in
fault, and that I have given up myself to dream away my years in the
arms of studious retirement, like Endymion with the moon, as the tale
of Latmus goes; yet consider that if it were no more but the mere
love of learning--whether it proceed from a principle bad, good,
or natural--it could not have held out thus long against so strong
opposition on the other side of every kind. For, if it be bad, why
should not all the fond hopes that forward youth and vanity are fledge
with, together with gain, pride, and ambition, call me forward more
powerfully than a poor, regardless, and unprofitable sin of curiosity
should be able to withhold me; whereby a man cuts himself off from all
action, and becomes the most helpless, pusillanimous, and unweaponed
creature in the world, the most unfit and unable to do that which
all mortals most aspire to--either to be useful to his friends or to
offend his enemies? Or, if it be to be thought a natural proneness,
there is against that a much more potent inclination inbred, which
about this time of a man's life solicits most--the desire of house and
family of his own; to which nothing is esteemed more helpful than the
early entering into credible employment, and nothing more hindering
than this affected solitariness. And though this were enough, yet
there is to this another act, if not of pure, yet of refined nature,
no less available to dissuade prolonged obscurity--a desire of honour
and repute and immortal fame, seated in the breast of every true
scholar; which all make haste to by the readiest ways of publishing
and divulging conceived merits--as well those that shall, as those
that never shall, obtain it. Nature, therefore, would presently work
the more prevalent way, if there were nothing but this inferior bent
of herself to restrain her. Lastly, the love of learning, as it is the
pursuit of something good, it would sooner follow the more excellent
and supreme good known and presented, and so be quickly diverted from
the empty and fantastic chase of shadows and notions, to the solid
good flowing from due and timely obedience to that command in the
Gospel set out by the terrible seasing of him that hid the talent.
It is more probable, therefore, that not the endless delight of
speculation, but this very consideration of that great commandment,
does not press forward, as soon as many do, to undergo, but keeps
off, with a sacred reverence and religious advisement how "best" to
undergo--not taking thought of being "late", so it give advantage
to be more "fit"; for those that were latest lost nothing, when the
master of the vineyard came to give each one his hire. And here I am
come to a stream-head, copious enough to disburden itself, like Nilus,
at seven mouths into an ocean. But then I should also run into a
reciprocal contradiction of ebbing and flowing at once, and do that
which I excuse myself for not doing--'preach and not preach.' Yet,
that you may see that I am something suspicious of myself, and do take
notice of a certain belatedness in me, I am the bolder to send you
some of my nightward thoughts some while since, because they come in
not altogether unfitly, made up in a Petrarchian stanza, which I told
How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,
Stol'n on his wing my three-and-twentieth year!
My hasting days fly on with full career,
But my late spring no bud or blossom shew'th.
Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth
That I to manhood am arrived so near;
And inward ripeness doth much less appear
That some more timely-happy spirits endu'th.
Yet be it less, or more, or soon, or slow,
It shall be still in strictest measure even
To that same lot, however mean or high,
Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heaven.
All is, if I have grace to use it so,
As ever in my great taskmaster's eye.
By this I believe you may well repent of having made mention at all of
this matter; for, if I have not all this while won you to this, I
have certainly wearied you of it. This, therefore, alone may be a
sufficient reason for me to keep me as I am, lest having thus tired
you singly, I should deal worse with, a whole congregation, and spoil
all the patience of a parish; for I myself do not only see my own
tediousness, but now grow offended with it, that has hindered me thus
long from coming to the last and best "period" of my letter, and
that which must now chiefly work my pardon, that I am your true and
TO LEONARD PHILARAS, THE ATHENIAN
"The blind poet"
Westminster, 28 "Sept". 1654.
I have always been devotedly attached to the literature of Greece, and
particularly to that of your Athens; and have never ceased to cherish
the persuasion that that city would one day make me ample recompense
for the warmth of my regard. The ancient genius of your renowned
country has favoured the completion of my prophecy in presenting me
with your friendship and esteem. Though I was known to you only by my
writings, and we were removed to such a distance from each other, you
most courteously addressed me by letter; and when you unexpectedly
came to London, and saw me who could no longer see, my affliction,
which causes none to regard me with greater admiration, and perhaps
many even with feelings of contempt, excited your tenderest sympathy
and concern. You would not suffer me to abandon the hope of recovering
my sight; and informed me you had an intimate friend at Paris, Dr.
Thevenot, who was particularly celebrated in disorders of the eyes,
whom you would consult about mine, if I would enable you to lay before
him the causes and the symptoms of the complaint. I will do what you
desire, lest I should seem to reject that aid which perhaps may be
offered me by Heaven. It is now, I think, about ten years since I
perceived my vision to grow weak and dull; and at the same time I
was troubled with pain in my kidneys and bowels, accompanied with
flatulency. In the morning, if I began to read, as was my custom,
my eyes instantly ached intensely, but were refreshed after a little
corporeal exercise. The candle which I looked at, seemed as it were
encircled with a rainbow. Not long after the sight in the left part of
the left eye (which I lost some years before the other) became quite
obscured, and prevented me from discerning any object on that
side. The sight in my other eye has now been gradually and sensibly
vanishing away for about three years; some months before it had
entirely perished, though I stood motionless, everything which I
looked at seemed in motion to and fro. A stiff cloudy vapour seemed
to have settled on my forehead and temples, which usually occasions a
sort of somnolent pressure upon my eyes, and particularly from dinner
till the evening. So that I often recollect what is said of the poet
Phineas in the "Argonautics":
A stupor deep his cloudy temples bound,
And when he walked he seemed as whirling round,
Or in a feeble trance he speechless lay.
I ought not to omit that while I had any sight left, as soon as I lay
down on my bed and turned on either side, a flood of light used to
gush from my closed eyelids. Then, as my sight became daily more
impaired, the colours became more faint and were emitted with a
certain inward crackling sound; but at present, every species of
illumination being, as it were, extinguished, there is diffused around
me nothing but darkness, or darkness mingled and streaked with an
ashy brown. Yet the darkness in which I am perpetually immersed seems
always, both by night and day, to approach nearer to white than black;
and when the eye is rolling in its socket, it admits a little particle
of light, as through a chink. And though your physician may kindle
a small ray of hope, yet I make up my mind to the malady as quite
incurable; and I often reflect, that as the wise man admonishes,
days of darkness are destined to each of us, the darkness which I
experience, less oppressive than that of the tomb, is, owing to the
singular goodness of the Deity, passed amid the pursuits of literature
and the cheering salutations of friendship. But if, as is written,
'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth
from the mouth of God,' why may not any one acquiesce in the privation
of his sight, when God has so amply furnished his mind and his
conscience with eyes? While He so tenderly provides for me, while
He so graciously leads me by the hand, and conducts me on the way, I
will, since it is His pleasure, rather rejoice than repine at being
blind. And, my dear Philaras, whatever may be the event, I wish you
adieu with no less courage and composure than if I had the eyes of a
[Footnote 1: From the Latin.]
To SAMUEL PEPYS
"In retirement at Wotton"
Wotton, 2 "Aug". 1692.
I have been philosophizing and world-despising in the solitudes of
this place, whither I am retired to pass and mourn the absence of my
worthiest friend. Here is wood and water, meadows and mountains, the
Dryads and Hamadryads; but here's no Mr. Pepys, no Dr. Gale. Nothing
of all the cheer in the parlour that I taste; all's insipid, and all
will be so to me, till I see and enjoy you again. I long to know what
you do, and what you think, because I am certain you do both what
is worthy the knowing and imitation. On Monday next will Mr. Bentley
resume his lecture, I think, at Bow Church: I fear I shall hardly
get through this wilderness by that time. Pray give him your wonted
confidence if you can, and tell him how unhappily I am entangled. I
hope, however, to get home within this fortnight, and about the end of
October to my hyemation in Dover Street. My son is gone with the Lord
Lieutenant, and our new relation, Sir Cyril Wych, into Ireland: I look
they should return wondrous statesmen, or else they had as well have
stayed at home. I am here with Boccalini, and Erasmus's "Praise of
Folly", and look down upon the world with wondrous contempt, when
I consider for what we keep such a mighty bustle. "O fortunate" Mr.
Pepys! who knows, possesses, and enjoys all that's worth the seeking
after. Let me live among your inclinations, and I shall be happy.
To THE SAME
"An old man's occupations"
Wotton, 22 "July", 1700.
I could no longer suffer this old servant of mine to pass and repass
so near Clapham without a particular account of your health and all
your happy family. You will now inquire what I do here? Why, as the
patriarchs of old, I pass the days in the fields, among horses and
oxen, sheep, cows, bulls, and sows, "et cetera pecora campi". We have,
thank God! finished our hay harvest prosperously. I am looking after
my hinds, providing carriage and tackle against reaping time and
sowing. What shall I say more? "Venio ad voluptates agricolarum",
which Cicero, you know, reckons amongst the most becoming diversions
of old age; and so I render it. This without: now within doors, never
was any matron more busy than my wife, disposing of our plain
country furniture for a naked old extravagant house, suitable to
our employments. She has a dairy, and distaffs, for "lac, linum, et
lanam", and is become a very Sabine. But can you thus hold out? Will
my friend say; is philosophy, Gresham College, and the example of Mr.
Pepys, and agreeable conversation of York Buildings, quite forgotten
and abandoned? No, no! "Naturam expellas furca tamen usque recurret".
Know I have been ranging of no fewer than thirty large cases of books,
destined for a competent standing library, during four or five days
wholly destitute of my young coadjutor, who, upon some pretence of
being much engaged in the mathematics, and desiring he may continue
his course at Oxford till the beginning of August, I have wholly left
it to him. You will now suspect something by this disordered hand;
truly I was too happy in these little domestic affairs, when, on the
sudden, as I was about my books in the library, I found myself sorely
attacked with a shivering, followed by a feverish indisposition, and
a strangury, so as to have kept, not my chamber only, but my bed, till
very lately, and with just so much strength as to scribble these lines
to you. For the rest, I give God thanks for this gracious warning, my
great age calling upon me "sarcinam componere" every day expecting it,
who have still enjoyed a wonderful course of bodily health for forty
DAME DOROTHY BROWNE
TO HER DAUGHTER IN LONDON
"Three interesting postscripts"
[Norfolk, 28 "June, c". 1679.]
I have received all the things, to the great content of the owners,
who returne you many thankes. Thay ar indeed very well chose things of
all sorts: and I give you many thanks for the troble you have had with
them: I sent you Tomey's scurt and long slevs of his ould cott; I hope
you have them. On Mr. Felden it seemes took it last Wadinsday, and
sayd hee would deliver it him selfe. Wee dayly wish for the new
cloths; all our linen being worne out but shefts, and Tomey would give
all his stock to see his briches. I bless God wee ar all well as
I hope you ar. Tomey presents his dutty, your sisters all love and
I must troble you once more abought my cosen Tenoson. She would
macke a manto gown of the grene and whight silke you sent down for a
peticot, but she wants two yards, and as much slit grene sarsinat as
will line it in sight. I pray send nurs to gett it and lett mee
know what it com to, and I will send you the mony. I sayes my Cossen
Cradock might send it me by the choch for she would have it as sonne
as possible. I bless God wee ar all in helth, and Tomey much longing
for his briches.
Tomey have received his cloues, and is much delighted, and sends you
and his mother and grandmother dutty and thanckes, and meanes to war
GEORGE, LORD BERKELEY
To SAMUEL PEPYS
Berkeley House, 23 "Feb". 1677-8.
GOOD MR. PEPYS,
Though I thank you for the favour of your letter, yet I confess myself
both much surprised and troubled to receive a letter from you upon
such an occasion: so is my wife, who professes herself wholly innocent
of any crime of charging you in thought, word, or deed, and hopes you
will do her that right to believe so of her. My daughter Berkeley says
she expressed some trouble that the friend she recommended had not
success, and that she was told the Commissioners of the Navy did
report they had given the same recommendations of the person she
proposed, as they did of him that was accepted, for the lieutenant's
place; which my daughter, supposing to be true, wondered the more he
lost the preferment: but, by the copies enclosed in your's, it appears
her Ladyship was very much misinformed. As for Mrs. Henrietta, she
is extremely troubled in saying any thing that gave you offence; and
though she did not in the least intend it, yet she begs your pardon.
And now, my good friend, though I am not under any accusation, and
therefore need not say any thing to vindicate myself, yet give me
leave, upon this occasion, to assure you, that there is no person
has a better opinion of you than myself, nor is more sensible of your
particular civilities to me; which I should be very glad to make a
return of when in my power to serve you: and give me leave to add
further, without flattery to you, and with great sincerity, that I
believe our gracious master, His Majesty, is so fortunate in employing
you in his service, that, if he should lose you, it would be very
difficult for His Majesty to find a successor so well qualified in
all respects for his service, if we consider both your integrity, vast
abilities, industry, and zealous affections for his service; and,
if His Majesty were asked the question, I will hold ten to one His
Majesty declares himself of my opinion; so will I believe all that
know you, more especially our fellow-traders that are so conversant
with you and obliged by you.
This is asserted as a great truth by, Sir, your very affectionate and
hearty friend and Servant.
[Footnote 1: Cf. Letter on p. 45.]
To SIR WILLIAM TEMPLE
"Passing the time"
[No date; c. 1653.]
I have been reckoning up how many faults you lay to my charge in your
last letter, and I find I am severe, unjust, unmerciful, and unkind!
O me! how should one do to mend all those! 'Tis work for an age, and
I fear that I shall be so old before I am good, that 'twill not be
considerable to any body but myself whether I am so or not.... You ask
me how I pass my time here. I can give you a perfect account, not only
of what I do for the present, but what I am likely to do this seven
years if I stay here so long. I rise in the morning reasonably early,
and before I am ready I go round the house till I am weary of that,
and then into the garden till it grows too hot for me. I then think of
making me ready; and when that's done I go into my father's chamber;
from thence to dinner, where my cousin Molle and I sit in great state
in a room and at a table that would hold a great many more. After
dinner we sit and talk till Mr. P. comes in question, and then I am
gone. The heat of the day is spent in reading or working; and about
six or seven o'clock I walk out into a common that lies hard by the
house, where a great many young wenches keep sheep and cows, and
sit in the shade singing of ballads; I go to them, and compare their
voices and beauty to some ancient shepherdesses that I have read of,
and find a vast difference there; but, trust me, I think these are
as innocent as those could be. I talk to them, and find "they
want nothing to make them the happiest people in the world but the
knowledge that they are so". Most commonly, while we are in the middle
of our discourse, one looks about her, and spies her cows going into
the corn, and then away they all run as if they had wings at their
heels. I that am not so nimble stay behind, and when I see them
driving home their cattle think it is time for me to return too. When
I have supped I go into the garden, and so to the side of a small
river that runs by it, where I sit down and wish you with me (you
had best say this is not kind, neither). In earnest, it is a pleasant
place, and would be more so to me if I had your company, as I sit
there sometimes till I am lost with thinking; and were it not for some
cruel thoughts of the crossness of my fortune, that will not let me
sleep there, I should forget there were such a thing to be done as
going to bed. Since I writ this, my company is increased by two, my
brother Harry, and a fair niece, my brother Peyton's daughter. She is
so much a woman that I am almost ashamed to say I am her aunt, and so
pretty, that if I had any design to gain a servant I should not like
her company; but I have none, and therefore I shall endeavour to keep
her here as long as I can persuade her father to spare her, for she
will easily consent to it, having so much of my humour (though it
be the worst thing in her) as to like a melancholy place, and little
company.... My father is reasonably well, but keeps his chamber still;
but will hardly, I am afraid, ever be so perfectly recovered as to
come abroad again.
TO THE SAME
[No date; c. 1653.]
I could tell you such a story (it is too long to be written), as would
make you see what I never discovered in my life before, that I am
a valiant lady. In earnest, we have had such a skirmish and upon so
foolish an occasion, as I cannot tell which is strangest. The Emperor
and his proposals began it; I talked merrily on it till I saw my
brother put on his sober face, and could hardly then believe he was
in earnest. It seems he was; for when I had spoke freely my meaning it
wrought so with him, as to fetch up all that lay upon his stomach: all
the people that I had ever in my life refused were brought again upon
the stage, like Richard the Third's ghosts, to reproach me withal, and
all the kindness his discoveries could make I had for you was laid to
my charge; my best qualities, if I have any that are good, served
but for aggravations of my fault, and I was allowed to have wit, and
understanding, and discretion, in all other things, that it might
appear I had none in this. Well, 'twas a pretty lecture, and I grew
warm with it after a while. In short, we came so near to an absolute
falling out that 'twas time to give over, and we said so much then
that we have hardly spoken a word together since. But 'tis wonderful
to see what courtesies and legs pass between us, and as before we were
thought the kindest brother and sister, we are certainly now the most
complimental couple in England: it is a strange change, and I am very
sorry for it, but I'll swear I know not how to help it....
TO THE SAME
"A disappointing preacher"
[No date; c. 1653.]
... God forgive me, I was as near laughing yesterday where I should
not: would you believe that I had the grace to go to hear a sermon
upon a week-day? In earnest, 'tis true, and Mr. Marshall was the man
that preached, but never any body was so defeated. He is so famed that
I expected rare things from him, and seriously I listened to him at
first with as much reverence and attention as if he had been St. Paul.
And what do you think he told us? why, that if there were no kings, no
queens, no lords, no ladies, no gentlemen or gentlewomen in the world,
it would be no loss at all to God Almighty: this he said over some
forty times, which made me remember it, whether I would or not.
The rest was much at this rate, entertained with the prettiest odd
phrases, that I had the most ado to look soberly enough for the place
I was in that ever I had in my life. He does not preach so always,
sure; if he does, I cannot believe his sermons will do much towards
the bringing anybody to heaven more than by exercising their patience;
yet I'll say that for him, he stood stoutly for tithes, though in
my opinion few deserve them less than he, and it may be he would be
better without them. Yet you say you are not convinced that to be
miserable is the way to be good; to some natures I think it is not;
but there are many of so careless and vain a temper that the least
breath of good fortune swells them with so much pride, that if they
were not put in mind sometimes by a sound cross or two that they are
mortal, they would hardly think it possible; and though it is a sign
of a servile nature, when fear produces more of reverence in us
than love, yet there is more danger of forgetting one's self in a
prosperous fortune than in the contrary; and affliction may be the
surest though not the pleasantest guide to heaven. What think you,
might I not preach with Mr. Marshall for a wager?...
TO THE SAME
"The ideal husband"
[No date; "c". 1653.]
There are a great many ingredients must go to the making me happy in
a husband. My cousin F. says our humours must agree, and to do that he
must have that kind of breeding that I have had, and used to that kind
of company; that is, he must not be so much a country gentleman as to
understand nothing but hawks and dogs, and be fonder of either than of
his wife; nor of the next sort of them, whose time reaches no farther
than to be justice of peace, and once in his life high sheriff, who
reads no book but statutes, and studies nothing but how to make a
speech interlarded with Latin, that may amaze his disagreeing poor
neighbours, and fright them rather than persuade them into quietness.
He must not be a thing that began the world in a free school, was sent
from thence to the university, and is at his farthest when he reaches
the inns of court; has no acquaintance but those of his form in those
places; speaks the French he has picked out of old laws, and admires
nothing but the stories he has heard of the revels that were kept
there before his time. He must not be a town gallant neither, that
lives in a tavern and an ordinary; that cannot imagine how an hour
should be spent without company unless it be in sleeping; that makes
court to all the women he sees, thinks they believe him, and laughs
and is laughed at equally. Nor a travelled Monsieur, whose head is
feathered inside and outside, that can talk of nothing but of dances
and duels, and has courage enough to wear slashes, when every body
else dies with cold to see him. He must not be a fool of no sort, nor
peevish, nor ill-natured, nor proud, nor courteous; and to all this
must be added, that he must love me, and I him, as much as we are
capable of loving. Without all this his fortune, though never so
great, would not satisfy me, and with it a very moderate one would
keep me from ever repenting my disposal....
TO THE SAME
"The growth of friendship"
[No date; c. 1653.]
... I must find you pleased and in good humour; merry as you were
wont to be, when we first met, if you will not have me show that I am
nothing akin to my cousin Osborne's lady. But what an age it is since
we first met, and how great a change it has wrought in both of us!
if there had been as great a one on my face, it would be either very
handsome or very ugly. For God's sake, when we meet, let us design one
day to remember old stories in, to ask one another by what degrees
our friendship grew to this height 'tis at. In earnest, I am lost
sometimes in thinking of it, and though I can never repent of the
share you have in my heart, I know not whether I gave it you willingly
or not at first. No; to speak ingenuously, I think you got an interest
there a good while before I thought you had any, and it grew so
insensibly and yet so fast, that all the traverses it has met with
since have served rather to discover it to me than at all to hinder
TO THE SAME.
[No date; c. 1653.]
I was carried yesterday abroad to a dinner that was designed for
mirth, but it seems one ill-humoured person in the company is enough
to put all the rest out of tune, for I never saw people perform what
they intended worse, and could not forbear telling them so; but to
excuse themselves and silence my reproaches they all agreed to say
that I spoiled their jollity by wearing the most unseasonable looks
that could be put on for such an occasion. I told them I knew no
remedy but leaving me behind them; that my looks were suitable to
my fortune though not to a feast. Fie, I am got into my complaining
humour that tires myself as well as every body else, and which (as you
observe) helps not at all; would it would leave me and that I should
not always have occasion for it, but that's in nobody's power, and my
Lady Talmash, that says she can do whatever she will, cannot believe
whatsoever she pleases. 'Tis not unpleasant, methinks, to hear her
talk how at such a time she was sick, and the physicians told her she
would have the small-pox and showed her where they were coming out
upon her, but she bethought herself that it was not at all convenient
for her to have them at that time; some business she had that required
her going abroad, and so she resolved she would not be sick nor was
not. Twenty such stories as these she tells, and then falls into
discourses of the strength of reason and power of philosophy till she
confounds herself and all that hear her. You have no such ladies in
Ireland.... My poor Lady Vavasor is carried to the Tower, and her
situation could not excuse her, because she was acquainted by somebody
that there was a plot against the Protector, and did not discover it.
She has told now all that was told her, but vows she will never say
from whence she had it; we shall see whether her resolutions are as
unalterable as those of my Lady Talmash. I wonder how she behaved
herself when she was married; I never yet saw anybody that did not
look simply and out of countenance, nor ever knew a wedding well
designed but one, and that was of two persons who had time enough I
confess to contrive it, and nobody to please in it but themselves. He
came down into the country where she was upon a visit, and one morning
married her; as soon as they came out of the church, they took coach
and came for the town, dined at an Inn by the way, and at night came
into lodgings that were provided for them, where nobody knew them,
and where they passed for married people of seven years' standing. The
truth is I could not endure to be Mrs. Bride in a public wedding, to
be made the happiest person on earth; do not take it ill, for I would
endure it if I could, rather than fail, but in earnest I do not think
it were possible for me; you cannot apprehend the formalities of a
treaty more than I do, nor so much the success of it. Yet in earnest
your father will not find my brother Peyton wanting in civility
(though he is not a man of much compliment unless it be in his letters
to me), nor an unreasonable person in any thing so he will allow him,
out of his kindness to his wife, to set a higher value upon his
sister than she deserves. I know not how he may be prejudiced upon the
business, but he is not deaf to reason when it is civilly delivered,
and is as easily gained with compliance and good usage as any body
I know, but no other way; when he is roughly used he is like me ten
times the worse for it. I make it a case of conscience to discover my
faults to you as fast as I know them, that you may consider what you
have to do: my aunt told me no longer ago than yesterday, that I was
the most wilful woman that ever she knew, and had an obstinacy of
spirit nothing could overcome. Take heed, you see I give you fair
warning. I have missed a letter this Monday, what is the reason?
By the next I shall be gone into Kent, and my other journey is laid
aside, which I am not displeased at, because it would have broken our
intercourse very much. Here are some verses of Cowley's; pray tell me
how you like them. It is only a piece taken out of a new thing of
his. The whole is very long, and is a description of, or rather a
paraphrase upon, the friendships of David and Jonathan. 'Tis I think
the best I have seen of his, and I like the subject because it is that
I would be perfect in. Adieu!
ORINDA TO THE HONOURABLE BERENICE
"Yielding to opinion"
Priory of Cardigan, "25 June"
Your Ladyship's last favour from Coll. P----'s was truly obliging,
and carried so much of the same great soul of yours, which loves to
diffuse itself in expressions of friendship to me, that it merits
a great deal more acknowledgement than I am able to pay at my best
condition, and am less now when my head aches, and will give me no
leave to enlarge, though I have so much subject and reason; but really
if my heart ached too, I could be sensible of a very great kindness
and condescension in thinking me worthy of your concern, though
I visibly perceive most of my letters have lost their way to your
Ladyship. I beseech you be pleased first to believe I have written
every post; but, secondly, since I came, and then to enquire for them,
that they may be commended into your hands, where alone they can hope
for a favourable residence; I am very much a sharer by sympathy, in
your Ladyship's satisfaction in the converse you had in the country,
and find that to that ingenious company Fortune hath been just, there
being no person fitter to receive all the admiration of persons best
capable to pay them, than the great "Berenice"....
And now (madam) why was that a cruel question, When will you come to
"Wales"? 'Tis cruel to me, I confess, that it is yet in question, but
I humbly beg your Ladyship to unriddle that part of your letter, for
I cannot understand why you, madam, who have no persons alive to whom
your birth hath submitted you, and have already by your life secured
to yourself the best opinion the world can give you, should create an
awe upon your own actions, from imaginary inconveniences: Happiness,
I confess, is two-faced, and one is opinion; but that opinion is
certainly "our own"; for it were equally ridiculous and impossible
to shape our "actions" by others' "opinions". I have had so much (and
some sad) reason to discuss this principle, that I can speak with some
confidence, That "none will ever be happy, who make their happiness to
consist in, or be governed by the votes of other persons." I deny
not but the approbation of wise and good persons is a very necessary
satisfaction; but to forbear innocent contentments, only because it's
possible some fancies may be so capricious as to dispute whether I
should have taken them, is, in my belief, neither better nor worse
than to fast always, because there are some so superstitious in the
world, that will abstain from meat, upon some score or other, upon
every day in the year, that is, some upon some days, and others
upon others, and some upon all. You know, madam, there is nothing so
various as "vulgar opinion", nothing so untrue to itself. Who shall
then please since none can fix it? 'Tis heresy (this of submitting to
every blast of popular extravagancy) which I have combated in persons
very dear to me; "Dear madam", let them not have your authority for a
relapse, when I had almost committed them; but consider it without a
bias, and give sentence as you see cause; and in that interim put me
not off ("Dear madam") with those chimeras, but tell me plainly what
inconvenience is it to come? If it be one in earnest, I will submit,
but otherwise, I am so much my own friend, and my friend's friend,
as not to be satisfied with your Ladyship's taking measure of your
actions by others' opinion, when I know too that the severest could
find nothing in this journey that they could condemn, but your excess
of charity to me, and that censure you have already supported with
patience, and (notwithstanding my own consciousness of no ways
deserving your sufferance upon that score) I cannot beg you to recover
the reputation of your judgement in that particular, since it must be
my ruin. I should now say very much for your most obliging commands to
me, to write, and should beg frequent letters from your Ladyship with
all possible importunity, and should by command from my "Lucasia"
excuse her last rudeness (as she calls it) in giving you account of
her honour for you under her own hand, but I must beg your pardon now,
and out-believing all, I can say upon every one of these accounts, for
really, madam, you cannot tell how to imagine any person more to any
one, than I am,
most faithful servant,
and passionate friend",
TO WILLIAM MOLYNEUX
"A philosopher's confidences"
Oates, 26 "April", 1695.
You look with the eyes, and speak the language of friendship, when you
make my life of much more concern to the world than your own. I take
it, as it is, for an effect of your kindness, and so shall not accuse
you of compliment; the mistakes and over-valuings of good-will being
always sincere, even when they exceed what common truth allows. This
on my side I must beg you to believe, that my life would be much more
pleasant and useful to me, if you were within my reach, that I might
sometimes enjoy your conversation, and, upon twenty occasions, lay
my thoughts before you, and have the advantage of your judgement. I
cannot complain that I have not my share of friends of all ranks, and
such, whose interest, assistance, affection, and opinions too, in fit
cases, I can rely on. But methinks, for all this, there is one place
vacant, that I know nobody that would so well fill as yourself; I want
one near me to talk freely with, "de quolibet ente"; to propose to
the extravagancies that rise in my mind; one with whom I would debate
several doubts and questions, to see what was in them. Meditating by
one's self, is like digging in the mine; it often, perhaps, brings up
maiden earth, which never came near the light before; but whether it
contains any metal in it, is never so well tried as in conversation
with a knowing judicious friend who carries about with him the true
touchstone, which is love of truth in a clear-thinking head. Men of
parts and judgement the world usually gets hold of, and by a great
mistake (that their abilities of mind are lost, if not employed in the
pursuit of wealth or power) engages them in the ways of fortune and
interest, which usually leave but little freedom or leisure of thought
for pure disinterested truth. And such who give themselves up frankly,
and in earnest to the full latitude of real knowledge, are not
everywhere to be met with. Wonder not, therefore, that I wish so much
for you in my neighbourhood; I should be too happy in a friend of your
make, were you within my reach. But yet I cannot but wish that some
business would once bring you within distance; and it is a pain to me
to think of leaving the world without the happiness of seeing you.
I do not wonder that a kinsman of yours should magnify civilities that
scarce deserve the name; I know not wherein they consisted, but in
being glad to see one that was in any way related to you, and was
himself a very ingenious man; either of those was a title to more than
I did, or could show him. I am sorry I have not yet had an opportunity
to wait on him in London; and I fear he should be gone before I am
able to get thither. This long winter, and cold spring, has hung very
heavy upon my lungs, and they are not yet in a case to be ventured in
London air, which must be my excuse for not waiting upon him and Dr.
The third edition of my essay has already, or will be speedily, in the
press. But what perhaps will seem stranger, and possibly please you
better, an abridgement is now making (if it be not already done) by
one of the university of Oxford, for the use of young scholars, in the
place of the ordinary system of logic. From the acquaintance I had of
the temper of that place I did not expect to have it get much footing
there. But so it is, I some time since received a very civil letter
from one, wholly a stranger to me there, concerning such a design; and
by another from him since, I conclude it near done. He seems to be an
ingenious man, and he writes sensibly about it, but I can say nothing
of it till I see it; and he, of his own accord, has offered that it
shall be wholly submitted to my opinion, and disposal of it. And thus,
sir, possibly that which you once proposed may be attained to, and I
was pleased with the gentleman's design for your sake.
You are a strange man, you oblige me very much by the care you take
to have it well translated, and you thank me for complying with your
offer. In my last, as I remember, I told you the reason why it was
so long before I writ, was an expectation of an answer from London,
concerning something I had to communicate to you: it was in short
this; I was willing to know what my bookseller would give for a good
latin copy; he told me, at last, twenty pounds. His delay was, because
he would first have known what the translator demanded. But I forced
him to make his proposal, and so I send it to you, to make what use of
it you please. He since writ me word, that a friend of his at Oxford
would, in some time, be at leisure to do it, and would undertake it. I
bid him excuse himself to him, for that it was in hands I approved of,
and some part of it now actually done. For I hope the essay (he was to
show you the next week after you writ to me last) pleased you. Think
it not a compliment, that I desire you to make what alterations you
think fit. One thing particularly you will oblige me and the world in,
and that is, in paring off some of the superfluous repetitions, which
I left in for the sake of illiterate men, and the softer sex, not used
to abstract notions and reasonings. But much of this reasoning will
be out of doors in a latin translation. I refer all to your judgement,
and so am secure it will be done as is best.
What I shall add concerning enthusiasm, I guess, will very much agree
with your thoughts, since yours jump so right with mine, about the
place where it is to come in, I having designed it for chap. 18, lib.
iv, as a false principle of reasoning often made use of. But, to give
an historical account of the various ravings men have embraced for
religion, would, I fear, be besides my purpose, and be enough to make
an huge volume.
My opinion of P. Malebranche agrees perfectly with yours. What I
have writ concerning 'seeing all things in God', would make a little
treatise of itself. But I have not quite gone through it, for fear
I should by somebody or other be tempted to print it. For I love not
controversies, and have a personal kindness for the author. When I
have the happiness to see you, we will consider it together, and you
shall dispose of it.
I think I shall make some other additions to be put into your latin
translation, and particularly concerning the 'connection of ideas',
which has not, that I know, been hitherto considered, and has, I
guess, a greater influence upon our minds than is usually taken notice
of. Thus, you see, I make you the confident of my reveries; you would
be troubled with a great many more of them, were you nearer.
TO DR. MOLYNEUX
Oates, 27 "Oct." 1698.
Death has, with a violent hand, hastily snatched from you a dear
brother. I doubt not but, on this occasion, you need all the
consolation can be given to one unexpectedly bereft of so worthy and
near a relation. Whatever inclination I may have to alleviate your
sorrow, I bear too great a share in the loss, and am too sensibly
touched with it myself, to be in a condition to discourse with you on
this subject, or do any thing but mingle my tears with yours. I have
lost, in your brother, not only an ingenious and learned acquaintance,
all that the world esteemed; but an intimate and sincere friend, whom
I truly loved, and by whom I was truly loved: and what a loss that is,
those only can be sensible who know how valuable, and how scarce,
a true friend is, and how far to be preferred to all other sorts of
treasure. He has left a son, who I know was dear to him, and deserved
to be so as much as was possible, for one of his age. I cannot think
myself wholly incapacitated from paying some of the affection and
service that was due from me to my dear friend, as long as he has a
child, or a brother, in the world. If, therefore, there be any thing,
at this distance, wherein I, in my little sphere, may be able to serve
your nephew or you, I beg you, by the memory of our deceased friend,
to let me know it, that you may see that one who loved him so well,
cannot but be tenderly concerned for his son, nor be otherwise than I
am, Sir, etc.
TO GEORGE, LORD BERKELEY
Derby House, 22 "Feb." 1677-8
I am greatly owing to your Lordship for your last favour at St.
John's, and did, till now, reckon myself under no less a debt to my
Ladies for the honour at the same time done me, in their commands
touching Mr. Bonithan. But, my Lord, I have lately had the misfortune
of being undeceived in the latter, by coming to know the severity with
which some of my Ladies are pleased to discourse of me in relation
thereto. I assure your Lordship, I was so big with the satisfaction of
having an opportunity given me by my Ladies at once of obliging them,
paying a small respect to you, and doing a good office to a deserving
gentleman, that I did not let one day pass before I had bespoke and
obtained His Majesty's and Royal Highness's promise of favour in Mr.
Bonithan's behalf: and was so far afterwards from failing him in my
further assistances with Captain Trevanion and others, that I took
early care to secure him a lieutenancy, by a commission actually
signed for him by the King, in the ship "Stavereene", relying upon the
character Captain Trevanion had given me of his capacity to abide
the examination, established by the King, upon the promotion of
lieutenants; which was not only the most I should have done in the
case of a brother, but more than ever I did in any man's case before,
or, for his sake, do think I shall ever do again. True it is, my Lord,
that when, upon his examination by the officers of the Navy, he was
found not so fully qualified for the office of lieutenant as was
requisite, I did with all respect, and to his seeming satisfaction,
advise him to pass a little longer time in the condition he was
then in, under a stricter application of himself to the practice of
navigation. And, in pursuance of my duty to the King, I did acquaint
him also with Mr. Bonithan's present unreadiness; and had, therefore,
a command given me for conferring the commission prepared for him upon
another, who, upon examination, at the same time with Mr. Bonithan,
was found better qualified for it. As to what I understand my Ladies
are pleased to entertain themselves and others with, to my reproach,
as if money had been wanting in the case, it is a reproach lost upon
me, my Lord, who am known to be so far from needing any purgation in
the point of selling places, as never to have taken so much as my fee
for a commission or warrant to any one officer in the Navy, within
the whole time, now near twenty years, that I have had the honour of
serving His Majesty therein--a self-denial at this day so little in
fashion, and yet so chargeable to maintain, that I take no pride,
and as little pleasure, in the mentioning it, further than it happily
falls in here to my defence against the mistake the Ladies seem
disposed to arraign me by on this occasion. Besides that, in the
particular case of this gentleman, Lieut. Beele, who enjoys the
commission designed for Mr. Bonithan, he is one whose face I never
saw either before or since the time of his receiving it, nor know one
friend he has in the world to whom he owes this benefit, other than
the King's justice and his own modest merit: which, having said, it
remains only that I assure your Lordship what I have so said, is not
calculated with any regard to, much less any repining at, the usage
the Ladies are pleased to show me in this affair, for 'tis fit I bear
it, but to acquit myself to your Lordship in my demeanour towards
them, as becomes their and, my Lord,
Your Lordship's most obedient Servant.
TO MRS. STEWARD
"A wedding in the city"
20 "Sept." 1695.
You are very good, and pray continue so, by as many kind messages as
you can, and notices of your health, such as the bearer brings you
back my thanks for, and a thousand services. Here's a sad town, and
God knows when it will be a better, our losses at sea making a very
melancholy exchange at both ends of it; the gentlewomen of this, to
say nothing of the other, sitting with their arms across, without a
yard of muslin in their shops to sell, while the ladies, they tell
me, walk pensively by, without a shilling, I mean a good one, in their
pockets to buy. One thing there is indeed, that comes in my way as a
Governor, to hear of, which carries a little mirth with it, and indeed
is very odd. Two wealthy citizens that are lately dead, and left their
estates, one to a Blue Coat boy, and the other to a Blue Coat girl, in
Christ's Hospital. The extraordinariness of which has led some of
the magistrates to carry it on to a match, which is ended in a public
wedding; he in his habit of blue satin, led by two of the girls, and
she in blue, with an apron green and petticoat yellow, all of sarsnet,
led by two of the boys of the house, through Cheapside to Guildhall
Chapel, where they were married by the Dean of St. Paul's, she given
by my Lord Mayor. The wedding dinner, it seems, was kept in the
Hospital Hall, but the great day will be tomorrow, St Matthew's; when,
so much I am sure of, my Lord Mayor will be there, and myself also
have had a ticket of invitation thither, and if I can, will be there
too, but, for other particulars, I must refer you to my next, and so,
Dear madam, Adieu.
Bow Bells are just now ringing, ding dong, but whether for this, I
cannot presently tell; but it is likely enough, for I have known them
ring upon much foolisher occasions, and lately too.
TO JOHN EVELYN
"Reply to an old friend"
Clapham, 7 "Aug." 1700.
I have no herds to mind, nor will my Doctor allow me any books here.
What then, will you say, too, are you doing? Why, truly, nothing that
will bear naming, and yet I am not, I think, idle; for who can, that
has so much of past and to come to think on, as I have? And thinking,
I take it, is working, though many forms beneath what my Lady and you
are doing. But pray remember what o'clock it is with you and me; and
be not now, by overstirring, too bold with your present complaint, any
more than I dare be with mine, which, too, has been no less kind in
giving me my warning, than the other to you, and to neither of us,
I hope, and, through God's mercy, dare say, either unlooked for or
unwelcome. I wish, nevertheless, that I were able to administer any
thing towards the lengthening that precious rest of life which God has
thus long blessed you, and, in you, mankind, with; but I have always
been too little regardful of my own health, to be a prescriber to
others. I cannot give myself the scope I otherwise should in talking
now to you at this distance, on account of the care extraordinary I am
now under from Mrs. Skinner's being suddenly fallen very ill; but ere
long I may possibly venture at entertaining you with something from
my young man in exchange--I don't say in payment, for the pleasure you
gratify me with from yours, whom I pray God to bless with continuing
but what he is! and I'll ask no more for him.
"The Dean at home"
London, 16 "Jan." 1710-11.
O faith, young women, I have sent my letter N. 13, without one crumb
of an answer to any of MD's; there is for you now; and yet Presto
ben't angry faith, not a bit, only he will begin to be in pain next
Irish post, except he sees MD's little handwriting in the glass frame
at the bar of St. James's Coffee-house, where Presto would never go
but for that purpose. Presto's at home, God help him, every night from
six till bed time, and has as little enjoyment or pleasure in life at
present as anybody in the world, although in full favour with all the
ministry. As hope saved, nothing gives Presto any sort of dream of
happiness, but a letter now and then from his own dearest MD. I love
the expectation of it, and when it does not come, I comfort myself,
that I have it yet to be happy with. Yes faith, and when I write to
MD, I am happy too; it is just as if methinks you were here, and I
prating to you, and telling you where I have been: Well, says you,
Presto, come, where have you been to-day? come, let's hear now. And so
then I answer; Ford and I were visiting Mr. Lewis, and Mr. Prior, and
Prior has given me a fine Plautus, and then Ford would have had me
dine at his lodgings, and so I would not; and so I dined with him at
an eating-house; which I have not done five times since I came here;
and so I came home, after visiting Sir Andrew Fountaine's mother and
sister, and Sir Andrew Fountaine is mending, though slowly.
17. I was making, this morning, some general visits, and at twelve I
called at the coffee-house for a letter from MD; so the man said he
had given it to Patrick; then I went to the Court of requests and
treasury to find Mr. Harley, and after some time spent in mutual
reproaches, I promised to dine with him; I stayed there till seven,
then called at Sterne's and Leigh's to talk about your box, and to
have it sent by Smyth; Sterne says he has been making inquiries,
and will set things right as soon as possible. I suppose it lies at
Chester, at least I hope so, and only wants a lift over to you....
Well, so I came home to read my letter from Stella, but the dog
Patrick was abroad; at last he came, and I got my letter; I found
another hand had superscribed it; when I opened it, I found it written
all in French, and subscribed Bernage: faith, I was ready to fling
it at Patrick's head. Bernage tells me, he had been to desire your
recommendation to me to make him a captain; and your cautious answer,
'That he had as much power with me as you,' was a notable one; if you
were here, I would present you to the ministry as a person of ability.
Bernage should let me know where to write to him; this is the second
letter I have had without any direction; however, I beg I may not have
a third, but that you will ask him, and send me how I shall direct
to him. In the meantime, tell him, that if regiments are to be raised
here, as he says, I will speak to George Granville, secretary at war,
to make him a captain; and use what other interest I conveniently can.
I think that is enough, and so tell him, and do not trouble me with
his letters when I expect them from MD; do you hear, young women,
write to Presto.
18. I was this morning with Mr. Secretary St. John, and we were to
dine at Mr. Harley's alone, about some business of importance; but
there were two or three gentlemen there. Mr. Secretary and I went
together from his office to Mr. Harley's, and thought to have been
very wise; but the deuce a bit: the company stayed, and more came,
and Harley went away at seven, and the secretary and I stayed with the
rest of the company till eleven; I would then have had him come away,
but he was in for it; and though he swore he would come away at that
flask, there I left him. I wonder at the civility of these people;
when he saw I would drink no more, he would always pass the bottle by
me, and yet I could not keep the toad from drinking himself, nor he
would not let me go neither, nor Masham, who was with us. When I
got home, I found a parcel directed to me, and opening it, I found
a pamphlet written entirely against myself, not by name, but against
something I writ: it is pretty civil, and affects to be so, and I
think I will take no notice of it; it is against something written
very lately; and indeed I know not what to say, nor do I care; and so
you are a saucy rogue for losing your money to-day at Stoyte's; to let
that bungler beat you, my Stella, are not you ashamed? well, I forgive
you this once, never do so again; no, noooo. Kiss and be friends,
sirrah.--Come, let me go sleep, I go earlier to bed than formerly; and
have not been out so late these two months; but the secretary was in a
drinking humour. So good night, myownlittledearsaucyinsolentrogues.
19. Then you read that long word in the last line, no faith have not
you. Well, when will this letter come from our MD? to-morrow or next
day without fail; yes faith, and so it is coming. This was an insipid
snowy day, and I dined gravely with Mrs. Vanhomrigh, and came home,
and am now got to bed a little after ten; I remember old Culpepper's
Would you have a settled head,
You must early go to bed:
I tell you, and I tell it again,
You must be in bed at ten.
20. And so I went to-day with my new wig, o hoao, to visit Lady
Worsley, whom I had not seen before, although she was near a month in
town. Then I walked in the Park to find Mr. Ford, whom I had promised
to meet, and coming down the Mall, who should come towards me but
Patrick, and gives me five letters out of his pocket. I read the
superscription of the first, Pshoh, said I; of the second, pshoh
again; of the third, pshah, pshah, pshah; of the fourth, a gad, a gad,
a gad, I am in a rage; of the fifth and last, O hoooa; ay marry
this is something, this is our MD, so truly we opened it, I think
immediately, and it began the most impudently in the world, thus; Dear
Presto, we are even thus far. Now we are even, quoth Stephen, when he
gave his wife six blows for one. I received your ninth four days after
I had sent my thirteenth. But I'll reckon with you anon about that,
young women. Why did not you recant at the end of your letter when you
got your eleventh? tell me that, huzzies base, were we even then, were
we, sirrah? but I will not answer your letter now, I will keep it for
another time. We had a great deal of snow to-day, and it is terrible
21. "Morning". It has snowed terribly all night, and is vengeance
cold. I am not yet up, but cannot write long; my hands will freeze. Is
there a good fire, Patrick? Yes, sir, then I will rise; come take away
the candle. You must know I write on the dark side of my bedchamber,
and am forced to have a candle till I rise, for the bed stands between
me and the window, and I keep the curtains shut this cold weather.
So pray let me rise, and, Patrick, here, take away the candle.--"At
night." We are now here in high frost and snow, the largest fire can
hardly keep us warm. It is very ugly walking, a baker's boy broke his
thigh yesterday. I walk slow, make short steps, and never tread on my
heel. It is a good proverb the Devonshire people have:
Walk fast in snow,
In frost walk slow,
And still as you go,
Tread on your toe:
When frost and snow are both together,
Sit by the fire and spare shoe leather.
22. "Morning". Starving, starving, uth, uth, uth, uth, uth.--Do not
you remember I used to come into your chamber, and turn Stella out of
her chair, and rake up the fire in a cold morning, and cry uth, uth,
uth? O faith, I must rise, my hand is so cold I can write no more....
26, 27, 28, 29, 30. I have been so lazy and negligent these last four
days, that I could not write to MD. My head is not in order, and yet
it is not absolutely ill, but giddyish, and makes me listless; I walk
every day, and hope I shall grow better. I wish I were with MD; I long
for spring and good weather, and then I will come over. My riding in
Ireland keeps me well. I am very temperate, and eat of the easiest
meats as I am directed, and hope the malignity will go off; but
one fit shakes me a long time. I dined to-day with Lord Mountjoy,
yesterday at Mr. Stone's in the city, on Sunday at Vanhomrigh's,
Saturday with Ford, and Friday I think at Vanhomrigh's, and that's all
the journal I can send MD; for I was so lazy while I was well that I
could not write. I thought to have sent this to-night, but it is ten,
and I'll go to bed, and write on the other side to Parsivol to-morrow,
and send it on Thursday; and so good night my dears, and love Presto,
and be healthy, and Presto will be so too.
To LORD TREASURER OXFORD
"The Dean makes his bow"
1 "July", 1714.
When I was with you, I have said more than once, that I would never
allow quality or station made any real difference between men. Being
now absent and forgotten, I have changed my mind: you have a thousand
people who can pretend they love you, with as much appearance of
sincerity as I, so that, according to common justice, I can have but
a thousandth part in return of what I give. And this difference is
wholly owing to your station. And the misfortune is still the greater,
because I always loved you just so much the worse for your station:
for, in your public capacity, you have often angered me to the heart,
but, as a private man, never once. So that, if I only look toward
myself, I could wish you a private man to-morrow: for I have nothing
to ask; at least nothing that you will give, which is the same thing:
and then you would see whether I should not with much more willingness
attend you in a retirement, whenever you please to give me leave, than
ever I did at London or Windsor. From these sentiments I will never
write to you, if I can help it, otherwise than as to a private person,
or allow myself to have been obliged to you in any other capacity.
The memory of one great instance of your candour and justice, I will
carry to my grave; that having been in a manner domestic with you
for almost four years, it was never in the power of any public or
concealed enemy to make you think ill of me, though malice and envy
were often employed to that end. If I live, posterity shall know that,
and more; which, though you, and somebody that shall be nameless, seem
to value less than I could wish, is all the return I can make you.
Will you give me leave to say how I would desire to stand in your
memory? As one, who was truly sensible of the honour you did him,
though he was too proud to be vain upon it; as one, who was neither
assuming, officious, nor teasing; who never wilfully misrepresented
persons or facts to you, nor consulted his passions when he gave
a character; and lastly, as one, whose indiscretions proceeded
altogether from a weak head, and not an ill heart. I will add one
thing more, which is the highest compliment I can make, that I never
was afraid of offending you, nor am now in any pain for the manner
I write to you in. I have said enough; and, like one at your levee,
having made my bow, I shrink back into the crowd.
TO DR. SHERIDAN
"News from the country"
25 "Jan." 1724-5.
I have a packet of letters, which I intended to send by Molly, who has
been stopped three days by the bad weather; but now I will send them
by the post to-morrow to Kells, and enclosed to Mr. Tickell there is
one to you, and one to James Stopford.
I can do no work this terrible weather; which has put us all seventy
times out of patience. I have been deaf nine days, and am now pretty
well recovered again.
Pray desire Mr. Stanton and Worral to continue giving themselves some
trouble with Mr. Pratt; but let it succeed or not, I hope I shall be
Mrs. Johnson swears it will rain till Michaelmas. She is so pleased
with her pick-axe, that she wears it fastened to her girdle on her
left side, in balance with her watch. The lake is strangely overflown,
and we are desperate about turf, being forced to buy it three miles
off: and Mrs. Johnson (God help her!) gives you many a curse. Your
mason is come, but cannot yet work upon your garden. Neither can I
agree with him about the great wall. For the rest, "vide" the letter
you will have on Monday, if Mr. Tickell uses you well.
The news of this country is, that the maid you sent down, John
Farelly's sister, is married; but the portion and settlement are yet a
secret. The cows here never give milk on midsummer eve.
You would wonder what carking and caring there is among us for small
beer and lean mutton, and starved lamb, and stopping gaps, and driving
cattle from the corn. In that we are all-to-be-Dingleyed.
The ladies' room smokes; the rain drops from the skies into the
kitchen; our servants eat and drink like the devil, and pray for rain,
which entertains them at cards and sleep; which are much lighter than
spades, sledges, and crows. Their maxim is,
Eat like a Turk,
Sleep like a dormouse;
Be last at work,
At victuals foremost.
Which is all at present; hoping you and your good family are well, as
we are all at this present writing &c.
Robin has just carried out a load of bread and cold meat for
breakfast; this is their way; but now a cloud hangs over them, for
fear it should hold up, and the clouds blow off.
I write on till Molly comes in for the letter. O, what a draggletail
will she be before she gets to Dublin! I wish she may not happen to
fall upon her back by the way.
I affirm against Aristotle, that cold and rain congregate homogenes,
for they gather together you and your crew, at whist, punch, and
claret. Happy weather for Mrs. Maul, Betty, and Stopford, and all true
lovers of cards and laziness.
THE BLESSINGS OF A COUNTRY LIFE.
Far from our debtors,
No Dublin letters,
Not seen by our betters.
THE PLAGUES OF A COUNTRY LIFE.
A companion with news,
A great want of shoes;
Eat lean meat, or choose;
A church without pews.
Our horses astray,
No straw, oats, or hay;
December in May,
Our boys run away,
All servants at play.
Molly sends for the letter.
TO ALEXANDER POPE
"Mostly about Gulliver"
Dublin, 17 "Nov." 1726.
I am just come from answering a letter of Mrs. Howard's, writ in such
mystical terms, that I should never have found out the meaning, if a
book had not been sent me called "Gulliver's Travels", of which you
say so much in yours. I read the book over, and in the second volume
observed several passages which appear to be patched and altered, and
the style of a different sort, unless I am mistaken. Dr. Arbuthnot
likes the projectors least; others, you tell me, the flying island;
some think it wrong to be so hard upon whole bodies or corporations,
yet the general opinion is, that reflections on particular persons are
most to be blamed; so that in these cases, I think the best method is
to let censure and opinion take their course. A bishop here said, that
book was full of improbable lies, and for his part, he hardly believed
a word of it; and so much for Gulliver.
Going to England is a very good thing, if it were not attended with
an ugly circumstance of returning to Ireland. It is a shame you do not
persuade your ministers to keep me on that side, if it were but by a
court expedient of keeping me in prison for a plotter; but at the same
time I must tell you, that such journeys very much shorten my life,
for a month here is very much longer than six at Twickenham.
How comes friend Gay to be so tedious? Another man can publish fifty
thousand lies sooner than he can publish fifty fables.... Let me add,
that if I were Gulliver's friend, I would desire all my acquaintance
to give out that his copy was basely mangled and abused, and added to,
and blotted out by the printer; for so to me it seems in the second
TO JOHN GAY
"Enquiries into Mr. Gay's pursuits"
Dublin, 4 "May", 1732.
I am now as lame as when you writ your letter, and almost as lame as
your letter itself, for want of that limb from my lady duchess, which
you promised, and without which I wonder how it could limp hither. I
am not in a condition to make a true step even on Amesbury Downs, and
I declare that a corporeal false step is worse than a political one:
nay, worse than a thousand political ones, for which I appeal to
courts and ministers, who hobble on and prosper without the sense of
feeling. To talk of riding and walking is insulting me, for I can
as soon fly as do either. It is your pride or laziness, more than
chair-hire, that makes the town expensive. No honour is lost by
walking in the dark; and in the day you may beckon a blackguard
boy under a gate, near your visiting place, (experto crede,) save
elevenpence, and get half-a-crown's worth of health. The worst of my
present misfortune is, that I eat and drink, and can digest neither
for want of exercise; and, to increase my misery, the knaves are
sure to find me at home, and make huge void spaces in my cellars. I
congratulate with you for losing your great acquaintance; in such a
case, philosophy teaches that we must submit, and be content with good
ones. I like Lord Cornbury's refusing his pension, but I demur at his
being elected for Oxford; which, I conceive, is wholly changed; and
entirely devoted to new principles; so it appeared to me the two last
times I was there. I find by the whole cast of your letter, that you
are as giddy and as volatile as ever: just the reverse of Mr. Pope,
who has always loved a domestic life from his youth. I was going to
wish you had some little place that you could call your own, but, I
profess I do not know you well enough to contrive any one system
of life that would please you. You pretend to preach up riding and
walking to the duchess, yet from my knowledge of you after twenty
years, you always joined a violent desire of perpetually shifting
places and company, with a rooted laziness, and an utter impatience of
fatigue. A coach and six horses is the utmost exercise you can bear;
and this only when you can fill it with such company as is best suited
to your taste, and how glad would you be if it could waft you in the
air to avoid jolting; while I, who am so much later in life, can,
or at least could, ride five hundred miles on a trotting horse. You
mortally hate writing, only because it is the thing you chiefly ought
to do; as well to keep up the vogue you have in the world, as to make
you easy in your fortune. You are merciful to everything but money,
your best friend, whom you treat with inhumanity. Be assured I will
hire people to watch all your motions, and to return me a faithful
account. Tell me, have you cured your absence of mind? can you attend
to trifles? can you at Amesbury write domestic libels to divert the
family and neighbouring squires for five miles round? or venture so
far on horseback, without apprehending a stumble at every step? can
you set the footmen a-laughing as they wait at dinner? and do the
duchess's women admire your wit? in what esteem are you with the vicar
of the parish? can you play with him at backgammon? have the farmers
found out that you cannot distinguish rye from barley, or an oak from
a crab-tree? You are sensible that I know the full extent of your
country skill is in fishing for roaches or gudgeons at the highest.
I love to do you good offices with your friends, and therefore desire
you will show this letter to the duchess, to improve her grace's good
opinion of your qualifications, and convince her how useful you are
likely to be in the family. Her grace shall have the honour of my
correspondence again when she goes to Amesbury. Hear a piece of Irish
news; I buried the famous General Meredyth's father last night in my
cathedral, he was ninety-six years old; so that Mrs. Pope may live
seven years longer. You saw Mr. Pope in health, pray is he generally
more healthy than when I was among you? I would know how your own
health is, and how much wine you drink in a day? My stint in company
is a pint at noon, and half as much at night; but I often dine at home
like a hermit, and then I drink little or none at all. Yet I differ
from you, for I would have society, if I could get what I like, people
of middle understanding, and middle rank.
TO ALEXANDER POPE
"Translation of Homer"
26 "Oct." 1713.
I was extremely glad to receive a letter from you, but more so upon
reading the contents of it. The work you mention will, I dare say,
very sufficiently recommend itself when your name appears with the
proposals: and if you think I can any way contribute to the forwarding
of them, you cannot lay a greater obligation upon me, than by
employing me in such an office. As I have an ambition of having it
known that you are my friend, I shall be very proud of showing it by
this or any other instance. I question not but your translation will
enrich our tongue, and do honour to our country; for I conclude of
it already from those performances with which you have obliged the
public. I would only have you consider how it may most turn to your
advantage. Excuse my impertinence in this particular, which proceeds
from my zeal for your ease and happiness. The work would cost you a
great deal of time, and, unless you undertake it, will, I am afraid,
never be executed by any other; at least I know none of this age that
is equal to it besides yourself.
I am at present wholly immersed in country business, and begin to take
a delight in it. I wish I might hope to see you here some time, and
will not despair of it, when you engage in a work that will require
solitude and retirement.
TO MR. SECRETARY CRAGGS
I cannot wish that any of my writings should last longer than the
memory of our friendship, and therefore I thus publicly bequeath them
to you, in return for the many valuable instances of your affection.
That they may come to you with as little disadvantage as possible,
I have left the care of them to one, whom, by the experience of some
years, I know well-qualified to answer my intentions. He has already
the honour and happiness of being under your protection; and as he
will very much stand in need of it, I cannot wish him better than
that he may continue to deserve the favour and countenance of such a
I have no time to lay out in forming such compliments as would but ill
suit that familiarity between us which was once my greatest pleasure,
and will be my greatest honour hereafter. Instead of them, accept of
my hearty wishes that the great reputation you have acquired so early,
may increase more and more, and that you may long serve your country
with those excellent talents and unblemished integrity, which have so
powerfully recommended you to the most gracious and amiable monarch
that ever filled a throne. May the frankness and generosity of your
spirit continue to soften and subdue your enemies, and gain you many
friends, if possible, as sincere as yourself. When you have found
such, they cannot wish you more true happiness than I, who am with the
greatest zeal, dear sir,
Your most entirely affectionate friend
and faithful obedient servant.
SIR RICHARD STEELE
TO MARY SCURLOCK
"An explicit declaration"
11 "Aug." 1707.
Madam,--I writ you on Saturday, by Mrs. Warren, and give you this
trouble to urge the same request I made then; which was, that I may be
admitted to wait upon you. I should be very far from desiring this if
it were a transgression of the most severe rules to allow it. I know
you are very much above the little arts which are frequent in your
sex, of giving unnecessary torment to their admirers; I therefore hope
you will do so much justice to the generous passion I have for you, as
to let me have an opportunity of acquainting you upon what motives
I pretend to your good opinion. I shall not trouble you with my
sentiments till I know how they will be received; and as I know no
reason why the difference of sex should make our language to each
other differ from the ordinary rules of right reason, I shall affect
plainness and sincerity in my discourse to you, as much as other
lovers do perplexity and rapture. Instead of saying 'I shall die for
you', I profess I should be glad to lead my life with you. You are
as beautiful, as witty, as prudent, and as good-humoured as any woman
breathing; but, I must confess to you, I regard all these excellences
as you will please to direct them for my happiness or misery. With me,
madam, the only lasting motive to love, is the hope of its becoming
mutual. I beg of you to let Mrs. Warren send me word when I may attend
you. I promise you, I will talk of nothing but indifferent things;
though, at the same time, I know not how I shall approach you in the
tender moment of first seeing you after this declaration which has
been made by, madam,
Your most obedient and most faithful
TO THE SAME
"A pleasing transport"
Smith Street, Westminster, 1707.
Madam,--I lay down last night with your image in my thoughts, and
have awakened this morning in the same contemplation. The pleasing
transport with which I am delighted has a sweetness in it attended
with a train of ten thousand soft desires, anxieties, and cares.
The day arises on my hopes with new brightness; youth, beauty, and
innocence are the charming objects that steal me from myself, and give
me joys above the reach of ambition, pride, or glory. Believe me, fair
one, to throw myself at your feet is giving myself the highest bliss
I know on earth. Oh, hasten, ye minutes! bring on the happy morning
wherein to be ever hers will make me look down on thrones! Dear Molly,
I am tenderly, passionately, faithfully thine.
TO THE SAME
"A lover betrays himself"
St. James's Coffee House, 1 "Sept." 1707
Madam,--It is the hardest thing in the world to be in love, and yet to
attend to business. As for me, all who speak to me find me out, and I
must lock myself up, or other people will do it for me.
A gentleman asked me this morning, 'What news from Lisbon?' and I
answered, 'She's exquisitely handsome.' Another desired to know when I
had been last at Hampton Court. I replied, 'It will be on Tuesday come
se'nnight.' Pr'ythee allow me at least to kiss your hand before that
day, that my mind may be in some composure. O love!
A thousand torments dwell about thee!
Yet who would live to live without thee?
Methinks I could write a volume to you; but all the language on earth
would fail in saying how much, and with what disinterested passion, I
am ever yours.
TO HIS WIFE
"He proposes an outing"
Lord Sunderland's Office, 19 May, 1708.
Dear Prue,--I desire you to get the coach and yourself ready as soon
as you can conveniently, and call for me here, from whence we will go
and spend some time together in the fresh air in free conference. Let
my best periwig be put in the coach-box, and my new shoes, for it is
a great comfort to be well dressed in agreeable company. You are vital
life to your obliged, affectionate husband, and humble servant.
TO THE SAME
"His greatest affliction"
12 "Aug." 1708.
Madam,--I have your letter, wherein you let me know that the little
dispute we have had is far from being a trouble to you; nevertheless
I assure you, any disturbance between us is the greatest affliction to
me imaginable. You talk of the judgement of the world; I shall never
govern my actions by it, but by the rules of morality and right
reason. I love you better than the light of my eyes or the life-blood
in my heart; but you are also to understand that neither my sight
shall be so far enchanted, nor my affection so much master of me,
as to make me forget our common interest. To attend my business as
I ought, and improve my fortune, it is necessary that my time and
my will should be under no direction but my own.... I write all this
rather to explain my own thoughts to you, than to answer your letter
distinctly. I enclose it to you, that upon second thoughts, you may
see the disrespectful manner in which you treat
Your affectionate, faithful husband.
TO THE SAME
"Four characteristic notes"
From the Press, one in the morning, 30 "Sept." 1710.
Dear Prue,--I am very sleepy and tired, but could not think of closing
my eyes till I had told you I am, dearest creature,
Your most affectionate and faithful husband.
Bloomsbury Square, 24 "Dec." 1713.
Dear Prue,--I dine with Lord Halifax and shall be at home half hour
after six. For thee I die, for thee I languish.
16 "Feb." 1716-17.
Dear Prue,--Sober or not, I am ever yours.
Thursday, 3 in the afternoon, 2 "May", 1717.
I had a very painful night last night; but, after a little chocolate
an hour or two ago, and a chicken for dinner, am much more at ease.
TO THE SAME
"The natural slave of beauty".
20 "June", 1717.
Dear Prue,--I have yours of the 14th, and am infinitely obliged to you
for the length of it. I do not know another whom I could commend for
that circumstance; but where we entirely love, the continuance of
anything they do to please us is a pleasure. As for your relations,
once for all, pray take it for granted, that my regard and conduct
towards all and singular of them shall be as you direct.
I hope, by the grace of God, to continue what you wish me, every
way, an honest man. My wife and my children are the objects that have
wholly taken up my heart; and as I am not invited or encouraged in
anything which regards the public, I am easy under that neglect or
envy of my past actions, and cheerfully contract that diffusive spirit
within the interests of my own family. You are the head of us; and I
stoop to a female reign as being naturally made the slave of beauty.
But to prepare for our manner of living when we are again together,
give me leave to say, while I am here at leisure, and come to lie at
Chelsea, what I think may contribute to our better way of living.
I very much approve Mrs. Evans and her husband; and if you take my
advice, I would have them a being in our house, and Mrs. Clark the
care and inspection of the nursery. I would have you entirely
at leisure to pass your time with me in diversions, in books, in
entertainments, and no manner of business intrude upon us but at
stated times. For, though you are made to be the delight of my eyes,
and food of all my senses and faculties, yet a turn of care
and housewifery, and I know not what prepossession against
conversation-pleasures, robs me of the witty and the handsome woman
to a degree not to be expressed. I will work my brains and fingers to
procure us plenty of all things, and demand nothing of you but to take
delight in agreeable dresses, cheerful discourses, and gay sights,
attended by me. This may be done by putting the kitchen and the
nursery in the hands I propose; and I shall have nothing to do but to
pass as much time at home as I possibly can, in the best company in
the world. We cannot tell here what to think of the trial of my Lord
Oxford; if the ministry are in earnest in that, and I should see it
will be extended to a length of time, I will leave them to themselves,
and wait upon you. Miss Moll grows a mighty beauty, and she shall be
very prettily dressed, as likewise shall Betty and Eugene: and if
I throw away a little money in adorning my brats, I hope you will
forgive me: they are, I thank God, all very well; and the charming
form of their mother has tempered the likeness they bear to their
rough sire, who is, with the greatest fondness,
Your most obliged and obedient husband.
TO JONATHAN SWIFT
17 "Nov." 1726.
About ten days ago a book was published here of the travels of one
Gulliver, which has been the conversation of the whole town ever
since: the whole impression sold in a week: and nothing is more
diverting than to hear the different opinions people give of it,
though all agree in liking it extremely. It is generally said that you
are the author; but I am told the bookseller declares, he knows
not from what hand it came. From the highest to the lowest it is
universally read, from the cabinet-council to the nursery. The
politicians to a man agree, that it is free from particular
reflections, but that the satire on general societies of men is
too severe. Not but we now and then meet with people of greater
perspicuity, who are in search for particular applications in every
leaf; and it is highly probable we shall have keys published to
give light into Gulliver's design. Lord ---- is the person who least
approves it, blaming it as a design of evil consequence to depreciate
human nature, at which it cannot be wondered that he takes most
offence, being himself the most accomplished of his species, and so
losing more than any other of that praise which is due both to the
dignity and virtue of a man. Your friend, my Lord Harcourt, commends
it very much, though he thinks in some places the matter too far
carried. The Duchess Dowager of Marlborough is in raptures at it; she
says she can dream of nothing else since she read it: she declares
that she has now found out that her whole life has been lost in
caressing the worst part of mankind, and treating the best as her
foes: and that if she knew Gulliver, though he had been the worst
enemy she ever had, she should give up her present acquaintance for
his friendship. You may see by this, that you are not much injured
by being supposed the author of this piece. If you are, you have
disobliged us, and two or three of your best friends, in not giving
us the least hint of it while you were with us; and in particular Dr.
Arbuthnot, who says it is ten thousand pities he had not known it, he
could have added such abundance of things upon every subject. Among
lady critics, some have found out that Mr. Gulliver had a particular
malice to maids of honour. Those of them who frequent the church, say
his design is impious, and that it is depreciating the works of the
Notwithstanding, I am told the princess has read it with great
pleasure. As to other critics, they think the flying island is the
least entertaining; and so great an opinion the town have of the
impossibility of Gulliver's writing at all below himself, it is agreed
that part was not writ by the same hand, though this has its defenders
too. It has passed lords and commons, "nemine contradicente"; and the
whole town, men, women, and children, are quite full of it.
Perhaps I may all this time be talking to you of a book you have never
seen, and which has not yet reached Ireland; if it has not, I believe
what we have said will be sufficient to recommend it to your reading,
and that you will order me to send it to you.
But it will be much better to come over yourself, and read it here,
where you will have the pleasure of variety of commentators, to
explain the difficult passages to you.
We all rejoice that you have fixed the precise time of your coming to
be "cum hirundine prima"; which we modern naturalists pronounce,
ought to be reckoned, contrary to Pliny, in this northern latitude of
fifty-two degrees, from the end of February, Styl. Greg., at furthest.
But to us, your friends, the coming of such a black swallow as you
will make a summer in the worst of seasons. We are no less glad at
your mention of Twickenham and Dawley; and in town you know, you have
a lodging at court.
The princess is clothed in Irish silk; pray give our service to the
weavers. We are strangely surprised to hear that the bells in Ireland
ring without your money. I hope you do not write the thing that is
not. We are afraid that B---- hath been guilty of that crime, that you
(like a houyhnhnm) have treated him as a yahoo, and discarded him your
service. I fear you do not understand these modish terms, which every
creature now understands but yourself.
You tell us your wine is bad, and that the clergy do not frequent your
house, which we look upon to be tautology. The best advice we can give
you is, to make them a present of your wine, and come away to better.
You fancy we envy you, but you are mistaken; we envy those you are
with, for we cannot envy the man we love. Adieu.
TO WILLIAM WYCHERLEY
"Dryden and his critics"
Binfield in Windsor Forest, 26 "Dec". 1704.
It was certainly a great satisfaction to me to see and converse with
a man, whom in his writings I had so long known with pleasure; but
it was a high addition to it, to hear you, at our very first meeting,
doing justice to your dead friend Mr. Dryden. I was not so happy as to
know him: "Virgilium tantum vidi". Had I been born early enough I
must have known and loved him: for I have been assured, not only
by yourself, but by Mr. Congreve and Sir William Trumbul, that his
personal qualities were as amiable as his poetical, notwithstanding
the many libellous misrepresentations of them, against which the
former of these gentlemen has told me he will one day vindicate him. I
suppose those injuries were begun by the violence of party, but it
is no doubt they were continued by envy at his success and fame. And
those scribblers who attacked him in his latter times, were only like
gnats in a summer's evening, which are never very troublesome but in
the finest and most glorious season; for his fire, like the sun's,
shined clearest towards its setting.
You must not therefore imagine, that when you told me my own
performances were above those critics, I was so vain as to believe it;
and yet I may not be so humble as to think myself quite below their
notice. For critics, as they are birds of prey, have ever a natural
inclination to carrion: and though such poor writers as I are but
beggars, no beggar is so poor but he can keep a cur, and no author
is so beggarly but he can keep a critic. I am far from thinking the
attacks of such people any honour or dishonour even to me, much less
to Mr. Dryden. I agree with you that whatever lesser wits have arisen
since his death are but like stars appearing when the sun is set, that
twinkle only in his absence, and with the rays they have borrowed
from him. Our wit (as you call it) is but reflection or imitation,
therefore scarce to be called ours. True wit, I believe, may be
defined a justness of thought, and a facility of expression....
However, this is far from a complete definition; pray help me to a
better, as I doubt not you can.
TO JOSEPH ADDISON
"A few thoughts from a rambling head"
14 "Dec". 1713.
I have been lying in wait for my own imagination, this week and more,
and watching what thoughts came up in the whirl of the fancy, that
were worth communicating to you in a letter. But I am at length
convinced that my rambling head can produce nothing of that sort; so
I must e'en be content with telling you the old story, that I love
you heartily. I have often found by experience, that nature and
truth, though never so low or vulgar, are yet pleasing when openly and
artlessly represented: it would be diverting to me to read the very
letters of an infant, could it write its innocent inconsistencies and
tautologies just as it thought them. This makes me hope a letter from
me will not be unwelcome to you, when I am conscious I write with more
unreservedness than ever man wrote, or perhaps talked, to another. I
trust your good nature with the whole range of my follies, and really
love you so well, that I would rather you should pardon me than esteem
me; since one is an act of goodness and benevolence, the other a kind
of constrained deference.
You cannot wonder my thoughts are scarce consistent, when I tell you
how they are distracted. Every hour of my life my mind is strangely
divided; this minute perhaps I am above the stars, with a thousand
systems round about me, looking forward into a vast abyss, and
losing my whole comprehension in the boundless space of creation, in
dialogues with Whiston and the astronomers; the next moment I am below
all trifles, grovelling with T---- in the very centre of nonsense: now
I am recreated with the brisk sallies and quick turns of wit, which
Mr. Steele, in his liveliest and freest humours, darts about him; and
now levelling my application to the insignificant observations and
quirks of grammar of C---- and D----.
Good God! what an incongruous animal is man! how unsettled in his best
part, his soul; and how changing and variable in his frame of body!
the constancy of the one shook by every notion, the temperament of the
other affected by every blast of wind! What is he, altogether, but a
mighty inconsistency; sickness and pain is the lot of one half of him,
doubt and fear the portion of the other! What a bustle we make about
passing our time when all our space is but a point! what aims and
ambitions are crowded into this little instant of our life, which
(as Shakespeare finely worded it) is rounded with a sleep! Our whole
extent of being is no more, in the eye of Him who gave it, than a
scarce perceptible moment of duration. Those animals whose circle of
living is limited to three or four hours, as the naturalists tell us,
are yet as long-lived, and possess as wide a field of action as man,
if we consider him with a view to all space and all eternity. Who
knows what plots, what achievements a mite may perform in his kingdom
of a grain of dust, within his life of some minutes; and of how much
less consideration than even this, is the life of man in the sight of
God, who is for ever and ever?
Who that thinks in this train, but must see the world, and its
contemptible grandeurs, lessen before him at every thought? It is
enough to make one remain stupefied in a poise of inaction, void of
all desires, of all designs, of all friendships.
But we must return (through our very condition of being) to our narrow
selves, and those things that affect ourselves: our passions, our
interests flow in upon us and unphilosophize us into mere mortals. For
my part, I never return so much into myself, as when I think of
you, whose friendship is one of the best comforts I have for the
insignificancy of myself.
TO JONATHAN SWIFT
"Friends to posterity"
23 "March", 1727-8.
I send you a very odd thing, a paper printed in Boston, in New
England, wherein you will find a real person, a member of their
parliament, of the name of Jonathan Gulliver. If the fame of that
traveller has travelled thither, it has travelled very quick, to have
folks christened already by the name of the supposed author. But if
you object that no child so lately christened could be arrived at
years of maturity to be elected into parliament, I reply (to solve the
riddle) that the person is an Anabaptist, and not christened till
full age, which sets all right. However it be, the accident is very
singular that these two names should be united.
Mr. Gay's opera has been acted near forty days running, and will
certainly continue the whole season. So he has more than a fence about
his thousand pounds; he will soon be thinking of a fence about his two
thousand. Shall no one of us live as we would wish each other to live?
Shall he have no annuity, you no settlement on this side, and I
no prospect of getting to you on the other? This world is made for
Caesar,--as Cato said, for ambitious, false, or flattering people to
domineer in; nay, they would not, by their good will, leave us our
very books, thoughts, or words in quiet. I despise the world yet, I
assure you, more than either Gay or you, and the court more than all
the rest of the world. As for those scribblers for whom you apprehend
I would suppress my "Dulness" (which, by the way, for the future you
are to call by a more pompous name, the "Dunciad"), how much that nest
of hornets are my regard will easily appear to you when you read the
"Treatise of the Bathos".
At all adventures, yours and mine shall stand linked as friends
to posterity, both in verse and prose, and (as Tully calls it) "in
consuetudine studiorum". Would to God our persons could but as well
and as surely be inseparable! I find my other ties dropping from me;
some worn off, some torn off, some relaxing daily: my greatest, both
by duty, gratitude, and humanity, time is shaking every moment, and
it now hangs but by a thread! I am many years the older for living so
much with one so old; much the more helpless for having been so long
helped and tendered by her; much the more considerate and tender, for
a daily commerce with one who required me justly to be both to her;
and consequently the more melancholy and thoughtful; and the less fit
for others, who want only in a companion or a friend to be amused or
entertained. My constitution too has had its share of decay as well as
my spirits, and I am as much in the decline at forty as you at sixty.
I believe we should be fit to live together could I get a little more
health, which might make me not quite insupportable. Your deafness
would agree with my dulness; you would not want me to speak when
you could not hear. But God forbid you should be as destitute of the
social comforts of life as I must when I lose my mother; or that ever
you should lose your more useful acquaintance so utterly, as to turn
your thoughts to such a broken reed as I am, who could so ill supply
your wants. I am extremely troubled at the return of your deafness;
you cannot be too particular in the accounts of your health to me;
everything you do or say in this kind obliges me, nay, delights me,
to see the justice you do me in thinking me concerned in all your
concerns; so that though the pleasantest thing you can tell me be that
you are better or easier; next to that it pleases me that you make me
the person you would complain to.
As the obtaining the love of valuable men is the happiest end I
know of this life, so the next felicity is to get rid of fools and
scoundrels; which I cannot but own to you was one part of my design in
falling upon these authors, whose incapacity is not greater than their
insincerity, and of whom I have always found (if I may quote myself),
That each bad author is as bad a friend.
This poem will rid me of these insects.
Cedite, Romani scriptores, cedite, Graii;
"Nescio quid" maius nascitur Iliade.
I mean than "my Iliad"; and I call it "Nescio quid", which is a degree
of modesty; but however, if it silence these fellows, it must be
something greater than any "Iliad" in Christendom. Adieu.
TO THE SAME
"A farming friend, and the Dunciad"
Dawley, 28 "June", 1728.
I now hold the pen for my Lord Bolingbroke, who is reading your
letter between two haycocks, but his attention is somewhat diverted by
casting his eyes on the clouds, not in admiration of what you say,
but for fear of a shower. He is pleased with your placing him in the
triumvirate between yourself and me: though he says, that he doubts he
shall fare like Lepidus, while one of us runs away with all the power,
like Augustus, and another with all the pleasures, like Anthony. It is
upon a foresight of this that he has fitted up his farm, and you will
agree that his scheme of retreat at least is not founded upon weak
appearances. Upon his return from the Bath, all peccant humours, he
finds, are purged out of him; and his great temperance and economy are
so signal, that the first is fit for my constitution, and the latter
would enable you to lay up so much money as to buy a bishopric in
England. As to the return of his health and vigour, were you here, you
might inquire of his haymakers; but as to his temperance, I can answer
that (for one whole day) we have had nothing for dinner but mutton
broth, beans, and bacon, and a barn-door fowl.
Now his lordship is run after his cart, I have a moment left to myself
to tell you, that I overheard him yesterday agree with a painter
for £200, to paint his country hall with trophies of rakes, spades,
prongs, &c., and other ornaments, merely to countenance his calling
this place a farm--now turn over a new leaf.
He bids me assure you, he should be sorry not to have more schemes of
kindness for his friends than of ambition for himself; there, though
his schemes may be weak, the motives at least are strong; and he
says farther, if you could bear as great a fall and decrease of your
revenues, as he knows by experience he can, you would not live in
Ireland an hour.
The "Dunciad" is going to be printed in all pomp, with the
inscription, which makes me proudest. It will be attended with
"proeme, prolegomena, testimonia scriptorum, index authorum", and
notes "variorum". As to the latter, I desire you to read over the
text, and make a few in any way you like best; whether dry raillery,
upon the style and way of commenting of trivial critics; or humourous,
upon the authors in the poem; or historical, of persons, places,
times; or explanatory, or collecting the parallel passages of the
ancients. Adieu. I am pretty well, my mother not ill, Dr. Arbuthnot
vexed with his fever by intervals; I am afraid he declines, and we
shall lose a worthy man: I am troubled about him very much.
TO THE SAME
"An invitation to England"
23 "March", 1736-7.
Though you were never to write to me, yet what you desired in your
last, that I would write often to you, would be a very easy task: for
every day I talk with you, and of you, in my heart; and I need only
set down what that is thinking of. The nearer I find myself verging to
that period of life which is to be labour and sorrow, the more I prop
myself upon those few supports that are left me. People in this state
are like props indeed; they cannot stand alone, but two or more of
them can stand, leaning and bearing upon one another. I wish you and I
might pass this part of life together. My only necessary care is at
an end. I am now my own master too much; my house is too large; my
gardens furnish too much wood and provision for my use. My servants
are sensible and tender of me; they have intermarried, and are become
rather low friends than servants; and to all those that I see here
with pleasure, they take a pleasure in being useful. I conclude this
is your case too in your domestic life, and I sometimes think of your
old housekeeper as my nurse, though I tremble at the sea, which only
divides us. As your fears are not so great as mine, and I firmly hope
your strength still much greater, is it utterly impossible it might
once more be some pleasure to you to see England? My sole motive in
proposing France to meet in, was the narrowness of the passage by sea
from hence, the physicians having told me the weakness of my breast,
&c., is such, as a sea-sickness might endanger my life. Though one or
two of our friends are gone since you saw your native country, there
remain a few more who will last so till death; and who I cannot but
hope have an attractive power to draw you back to a country which
cannot quite be sunk or enslaved, while such spirits remain. And let
me tell you, there are a few more of the same spirit, who would awaken
all your old ideas, and revive your hopes of her future recovery and
virtue. These look up to you with reverence, and would be animated by
the sight of him at whose soul they have taken fire in his writings,
and derived from thence as much love of their species as is consistent
with a contempt for the knaves in it.
I could never be weary, except at the eyes, of writing to you; but my
real reason (and a strong one it is) for doing it so seldom, is fear;
fear of a very great and experienced evil, that of my letters being
kept by the partiality of friends, and passing into the hands and
malice of enemies, who publish them with all their imperfections on
their head, so that I write not on the common terms of honest men.
Would to God you would come over with Lord Orrery, whose care of you
in the voyage I could so certainly depend on; and bring with you your
old housekeeper and two or three servants. I have room for all, a
heart for all, and (think what you will) a fortune for all. We could,
were we together, contrive to make our last days easy, and leave some
sort of monument, what friends two wits could be in spite of all the
fools in the world. Adieu.
TO MISS MULSO
"A discussion on love"
3 "Sept". 1751.
In another place, you are offended with the word gratitude; as if your
idea of love excluded gratitude.
And further on, you are offended that I call this same passion 'a
little selfish passion'.
And you say that you have known few girls, and still fewer men, whom
you have thought 'capable of being in love'.
'By this', proceed you, 'you will see that my ideas of the word love
are different from yours, when you call it a little selfish passion.'
Now, madam, if that passion is not little and selfish that makes two
vehement souls prefer the gratification of each other, often to a
sense of duty, and always to the whole world without them, be pleased
to tell me what is? And pray be so good as to define to me what the
noble passion is, of which so few people of either sex are capable.
Give me your ideas of it.
I put not this question as a puzzler, a bamboozler, but purely for
information; and that I may make my Sir Charles susceptible of the
generous (may I say generous?) flame, and yet know what he is about,
yet be a reasonable man.
Harriet's passion is founded in gratitude for relief given her in a
great exigence. But the man who rescued her is not, it seems, to have
such a word as gratitude in his head, in return for her love.
I repeat, that I will please you if I can; please you, Miss Mulso,
I here mean (before I meant not you particularly, my dear, but your
sex), in Sir Charles's character; and I sincerely declare, that I
would rather form his character to your liking, than to the liking of
three parts out of four of the persons I am acquainted with.
You are one of my best girls, and best judges. Of whom have I the
opinion that I have of Miss Mulso on these nice subjects?--I ask
therefore repeatedly for your definition of the passion which you
dignify by the word noble; and from which you exclude everything mean,
little, or selfish.
And you really think it marvellous that a young woman should find a
man of exalted merit to be in love with? Why, truly, I am half of your
mind; for how should people find what, in general, they do not seek?
Yet what good creatures are many girls! They will be in love for all
Why, yes, to be sure, they would be glad of a Sir Charles Grandison,
and prefer him even to a Lovelace, were he capable of being terribly
in love. And yet, I know one excellent girl who is afraid 'that ladies
in general will think him too wise'.--Dear, dear girls, help me to a
few monkey-tricks to throw into his character, in order to shield him
from contempt for his wisdom.
'It is one of my maxims,' you say, 'that people even of bad hearts
will admire and love people of good ones.' Very true!--and yet
admiration and love, in the sense before us, do not always shake
hands, except at parting, and with an intention never to meet again. I
have known women who professed to admire good men, but have chosen
to marry men--not so good, when lovers of both sorts have tendered
themselves to their acceptance. There is something very pretty in the
sound of the word wild, added to the word fellow; and good sense is
a very grateful victim to be sacrificed on the altar of love. Fervour
and extravagance in expressions will please. How shall a woman,
who, moreover, loves to be admired, know a man's heart, but from
his lips?--Let him find flattery, and she will find credulity. Sweet
souls! can they be always contradicting?
You believe it is not in human nature, however depraved, to prefer
evil to good in another, whatever people may do in themselves. Why, no
one would really think so, did not experience convince us that many,
very many young women, in the article of marriage, though not before
thought to be very depraved, are taken by this green sickness of the
soul, and prefer dirt and rubbish to wholesome diet. The result of the
matter is this, with very many young women: they will admire a good
man, but they will marry a bad one. Are not rakes pretty fellows?
But one thing let me add, to comfort you in relation to Harriet's
difficulties: I intend to make her shine by her cordial approbation,
as she goes along, of every good action of her beloved. She is
humbled by her love (suspense in love is a mortifier) to think herself
inferior to his sisters; but I intend to raise her above them, even
in her own just opinion; and when she shines out the girl worthy of
a man, not exalt, but reward her, and at the same time make him think
himself highly rewarded by the love of so frank and so right an heart.
There now!--Will that do, my Miss Mulso?
I laid indeed a heavy hand on the good Clarissa. But I had begun with
her, with a view to the future saint in her character; and could she,
but by sufferings, shine as she does?
Do you, my dear child, look upon me as your paternal friend.
LADY MARY WORTLEY MONTAGU
TO THE COUNTESS OF MAR
"The Viennese court"
Vienna, 14 "Sept". o.s. .
Though I have so lately troubled you, my dear sister, with a long
letter, yet I will keep my promise in giving you an account of my
first going to court.
In order to that ceremony, I was squeezed up in a gown, and adorned
with a gorget and the other implements thereunto belonging: a dress
very inconvenient, but which certainly shews the neck and shape
to great advantage. I cannot forbear in this place giving you some
description of the fashions here, which are more monstrous and
contrary to all common sense and reason, than 'tis possible for you
to imagine. They build certain fabrics of gauze on their heads about
a yard high, consisting of three or four stories, fortified with
numberless yards of heavy ribbon. The foundation of this structure is
a thing they call a "Bourle", which is exactly of the same shape
and kind, but about four times as big, as those rolls our prudent
milk-maids make use of to fix their pails upon. This machine they
cover with their own hair, which they mix with a great deal of false,
it being a particular beauty to have their heads too large to go into
a moderate tub. Their hair is prodigiously powdered, to conceal the
mixture, and set out with three or four rows of bodkins (wonderfully
large, that stick two or three inches from their hair), made of
diamonds, pearls, red, green, and yellow stones, that it certainly
requires as much art and experience to carry the load upright, as to
dance upon May-day with the garland. Their whalebone petticoats outdo
ours by several yards circumference, and cover some acres of ground.
You may easily suppose how much this extraordinary dress sets off and
improves the natural ugliness with which God Almighty has been pleased
to endow them all generally. Even the lovely empress herself is
obliged to comply, in some degree, with these absurd fashions, which
they would not quit for all the world. I had a private audience
(according to ceremony) of half an hour, and then all the other ladies
were permitted to come make their court. I was perfectly charmed
with the empress: I cannot, however, tell you that her features are
regular; her eyes are not large, but have a lively look, full of
sweetness; her complexion the finest I ever saw; her nose and forehead
well-made, but her mouth has ten thousand charms that touch the
soul. When she smiles, 'tis with a beauty and sweetness that force
adoration. She has a vast quantity of fine fair hair; but then her
person!--one must speak of it poetically to do it rigid justice; all
that the poets have said of the mien of Juno, the air of Venus, comes
not up to the truth. The Graces move with her; the famous statue of
Medicis was not formed with more delicate proportion; nothing can be
added to the beauty of her neck and hands. Till I saw them, I did not
believe there were any in nature so perfect, and I was almost sorry
that my rank here did not permit me to kiss them; but they are kissed
sufficiently; for every body that waits on her pays that homage at
their entrance, and when they take leave.
When the ladies were come in, she sat down to Quinze. I could not play
at a game I had never seen before, and she ordered me a seat at her
right hand, and had the goodness to talk to me very much, with that
grace so natural to her. I expected every moment when the men were to
come in to pay their court; but this drawing-room is very different
from that of England; no man enters it but the old grand-master, who
comes in to advertize the empress of the approach of the emperor.
His imperial majesty did me the honour of speaking to me in a very
obliging manner; but he never speaks to any of the other ladies; and
the whole passes with a gravity and air of ceremony that has something
very formal in it.
The empress Amelia, dowager of the late emperor Joseph, came
this evening to wait on the reigning empress, followed by the two
archduchesses her daughters, who are very agreeable young princesses.
Their imperial majesties rise and go to meet her at the door of the
room, after which she is seated in an armed chair, next the empress,
and in the same manner at supper, and there the men had the permission
of paying their Court. The archduchesses sit on chairs with backs
without arms. The table is entirely served, and all the dishes set on
by the empress's maids of honour, which are twelve young ladies of the
first quality. They have no salary, but their chambers at court, where
they live in a sort of confinement, not being suffered to go to the
assemblies or public places in town, except in compliment to the
wedding of a sister maid, whom the empress always presents with her
picture set in diamonds. The three first of them are called "Ladies
of the Key", and wear gold keys by their sides; but what I find most
pleasant, is the custom which obliges them, as long as they live,
after they have left the empress's service, to make her some present
every year on the day of her feast. Her majesty is served by no
married women but the "grande maîtresse", who is generally a widow of
the first quality, always very old, and is at the same time groom of
the stole, and mother of the maids. The dresses are not at all in the
figure they pretend to in England, being looked upon no otherwise than
as downright chambermaids.
I had audience next day of the empress mother, a princess of great
virtue and goodness, but who piques herself so much on a violent
devotion; she is perpetually performing extraordinary acts of penance,
without having ever done anything to deserve them. She has the same
number of maids of honour, whom she suffers to go in colours; but she
herself never quits her mourning; and sure nothing can be more dismal
than the mourning here, even for a brother. There is not the least bit
of linen to be seen; all black crape instead of it. The neck, ears,
and side of the face covered with a plaited piece of the same stuff,
and the face that peeps out in the midst of it, looks as if it were
pilloried. The widows wear, over and above, a crape forehead cloth;
and in this solemn weed go to all the public places of diversion
without scruple. The next day I was to wait on the empress Amelia, who
is now at her palace of retirement half a mile from the town. I had
there the pleasure of seeing a diversion wholly new to me, but which
is the common amusement of this court. The empress herself was seated
on a little throne at the end of a fine alley in the garden, and on
each side of her were ranged two parties of her ladies of honour with
other young ladies of quality, headed by the two young archduchesses,
all dressed in their hair full of jewels, with fine light guns in
their hands; and at proper distances were placed three oval pictures,
which were the marks to be shot at. The first was that of a CUPID,
filling a bumper of Burgundy, and this motto, '"Tis easy to be valiant
here". The second a FORTUNE, holding a garland in her hand, the motto,
"For her whom Fortune favours". The third was a SWORD, with a laurel
wreath on the point, the motto, "Here is no shame to the vanquished".
Near the empress was a gilded trophy wreathed with flowers, and made
of little crooks, on which were hung rich Turkish handkerchiefs,
tippets, ribbons, laces, etc., for the small prizes. The empress gave
the first with her own hand, which was a fine ruby ring set round
with diamonds, in a gold snuff-box. There was for the second, a little
Cupid set with brilliants; and besides these, a set of fine china for
a tea-table enchased in gold, japan trunks, fans, and many gallantries
of the same nature. All the men of quality at Vienna were spectators;
but only the ladies had permission to shoot, and the Archduchess
Amelia carried off the first prize. I was very well pleased with
having seen this entertainment, and I do not know but it might make as
good a figure as the prize-shooting in the "Eneid", if I could write
as well as Virgil. This is the favourite pleasure of the emperor, and
there is rarely a week without some feast of this kind, which makes
the young ladies skilful enough to defend a fort, and they laughed
very much to see me afraid to handle a gun.
My dear sister, you will easily pardon an abrupt conclusion. I
believe, by this time, you are ready to fear I would never conclude at
To MRS. SARAH CHISWELL
"Ingrafting for small-pox"
Adrianople, 1 "April", O.S. .
In my opinion, dear S., I ought rather to quarrel with you for not
answering my Nimeguen letter of August till December, than to excuse
my not writing again till now. I am sure there is on my side a very
good excuse for silence, having gone such tiresome land-journeys,
though I don't find the conclusion of them so bad as you seem to
imagine. I am very easy here, and not in the solitude you fancy me.
The great number of Greek, French, English, and Italians, that are
under our protection, make their court to me from morning till night;
and, I'll assure you, are many of them very fine ladies; for there is
no possibility for a Christian to live easily under this government
but by the protection of an embassador--and the richer they are, the
greater their danger.
Those dreadful stories you have heard of the plague have very little
foundation in truth. I own I have much ado to reconcile myself to the
sound of a word which has always given me such terrible ideas, though
I am convinced there is little more in it than a fever. As a proof we
passed through two or three towns most violently infected. In the
very next house where we lay (in one of them) two persons died of it.
Luckily for me, I knew nothing of the matter; and I was made believe,
that our second cook who fell ill here, had only a great cold.
However, we left our doctor to take care of him, and yesterday they
both arrived here in good health; and now I am let into the secret
that he has had the "plague". There are many that escape it; neither
is the air ever infected. I am persuaded that it would be as easy to
root it out here as out of Italy and France; but it does so little
mischief, they are not very solicitous about it, and are content to
suffer this distemper instead of our variety, which they are utterly
"A propos" of distempers: I am going to tell you a thing that I am
sure will make you wish yourself here. The small-pox, so fatal and
so general among us, is here entirely harmless by the invention of
"ingrafting", which is the term they give it. There is a set of
old women who make it their business to perform the operation every
autumn, in the month of September, when the great heat is abated.
People send to one another to know if any of their family has a mind
to have the small-pox: they make parties for this purpose, and when
they are met (commonly fifteen or sixteen together) the old woman
comes with a nut-shell full of the matter of the best sort of
small-pox, and asks what veins you please to have opened. She
immediately rips open that you offer to her with a large needle (which
gives you no more pain than a common scratch), and puts into the vein
as much venom as can lie upon the head of her needle, and after that
binds up the little wound with a hollow bit of shell; and in this
manner opens four or five veins. The Grecians have commonly the
superstition of opening one in the middle of the forehead, in each
arm, and on the breast, to mark the sign of the cross; but this has
a very ill effect, all these wounds leaving little scars, and is not
done by those that are not superstitious, who choose to have them in
the legs, or that part of the arm that is concealed. The children
or young patients play together all the rest of the day, and are in
perfect health to the eighth. Then the fever begins to seize them,
and they keep their beds two days, very seldom three. They have very
rarely above twenty or thirty in their faces, which never mark; and in
eight days' time they are as well as before their illness. Where they
are wounded, there remain running sores during the distemper, which I
don't doubt is a great relief to it. Every year thousands undergo this
operation; and the French embassador says pleasantly, that they take
the small-pox here by way of diversion, as they take the waters in
other countries. There is no example of any one that has died in it;
and you may believe I am very well satisfied of the safety of the
experiment, since I intend to try it on my dear little son.
I am patriot enough to take pains to bring this useful invention into
fashion in England; and I should not fail to write to some of our
doctors very particularly about it, if I knew any one of them that
I thought had virtue enough to destroy such a considerable branch
of their revenue for the good of mankind. But that distemper is too
beneficial to them not to expose to all their resentment the hardy
wight that should undertake to put an end to it. Perhaps, if I live
to return, I may, however, have courage to war with them. Upon this
occasion admire the heroism in the heart of your friend.
TO THE COUNTESS OF BRISTOL
"The Grand Signior a slave"
Adrianople, 1 "April", o.s. 1717.
As I never can forget the smallest of your ladyship's commands, my
first business here has been to inquire after the stuffs you ordered
me to look for, without being able to find what you would like. The
difference of the dress here and at London is so great, the same sort
of things are not proper for "caftans" and "manteaus". However, I will
not give over my search, but renew it again at Constantinople, though
I have reason to believe there is nothing finer than what is to
be found here, being the present residence of the court. The Grand
Signior's eldest daughter was married some few days before I came; and
upon that occasion the Turkish ladies display all their magnificence.
The bride was conducted to her husband's house in very great
splendour. She is widow of the late Vizier, who was killed at
Peterwaradin, though that ought rather to be called a contract than a
marriage, not having ever lived with him: however, the greatest part
of his wealth is hers. He had the permission of visiting her in the
seraglio; and, being one of the handsomest men in the empire, had very
much engaged her affections.--When she saw this second husband, who is
at least fifty, she could not forbear bursting into tears. He is a man
of merit, and the declared favourite of the Sultan (which they call
"mosáyp"); but that is not enough to make him pleasing in the eyes of
a girl of thirteen.
The government here is entirely in the hands of the army: and the
Grand Signior, with all his absolute power, as much a slave as any of
his subjects, and trembles at a janissary's frown. Here is, indeed,
a much greater appearance of subjection than among us: a minister of
state is not spoken to, but upon the knee; should a reflection on his
conduct be dropped in a coffee-house (for they have spies everywhere),
the house would be razed to the ground, and perhaps the whole company
put to the torture. No huzzaing mobs, senseless pamphlets, and tavern
disputes about politics:
A consequential ill that freedom draws;
A bad effect,--but from a noble cause.
None of our harmless calling names! but when a minister here
displeases the people, in three hours' time he is dragged even from
his master's arms. They cut off his hands, head, and feet, and throw
them before the palace gate, with all the respect in the world; while
that Sultan (to whom they all profess an unlimited adoration) sits
trembling in his apartment, and dare neither defend nor revenge his
favourite. This is the blessed condition of the most absolute monarch
upon earth, who owns no "law" but his "will". I cannot help wishing,
in the loyalty of my heart, that the parliament would send hither a
ship-load of your passive-obedient men, that they might see arbitrary
government in its clearest strongest light, where it is hard to judge
whether the prince, people, or ministers, are most miserable. I could
make many reflections on this subject; but I know, madam, your own
good sense has already furnished you with better than I am capable of.
I went yesterday with the French embassadors to see the Grand Signior
in his passage to the mosque. He was preceded by a numerous guard of
janissaries, with vast white feathers on their heads, "spahis"
and "bostangees" (these are foot and horse guards), and the royal
gardeners, which are a very considerable body of men, dressed in
different habits of fine lively colours, that, at a distance,
they appeared like a parterre of tulips. After them the aga of the
janissaries, in a robe of purple velvet, lined with silver tissue,
his horse led by two slaves richly dressed. Next him the "Kyzlár-aga"
(your ladyship knows this is the chief guardian of the seraglio
ladies) in a deep yellow cloth (which suited very well to his black
face) lined with sables, and last his Sublimity himself, in green
lined with the fur of a black Muscovite fox, which is supposed worth
a thousand pounds sterling, mounted on a fine horse, with furniture
embroidered with jewels. Six more horses richly furnished were led
after him; and two of his principal courtiers bore, one his gold, and
the other his silver coffee-pot, on a staff; another carried a silver
stool on his head for him to sit on.
It would be too tedious to tell your ladyship the various dresses
and turbans by which their rank is distinguished; but they were
all extremely rich and gay, to the number of some thousands; that,
perhaps, there cannot be seen a more beautiful procession. The Sultan
appeared to us a handsome man of about forty, with a very graceful
air, but something severe in his countenance, his eyes very full and
black. He happened to stop under the window where we stood, and (I
suppose being told who we were) looked upon us very attentively,
that we had full leisure to consider him, and the French embassadress
agreed with me as to his good mien: I see that lady very often; she is
young, and her conversation would be a great relief to me, if I could
persuade her to live without those forms and ceremonies that make
life formal and tiresome. But she is so delighted with her guards, her
four-and-twenty footmen, gentlemen ushers, etc., that she would rather
die than make me a visit without them: not to reckon a coachful of
attending damsels yclep'd maids of honour. What vexes me is, that as
long as she will visit with a troublesome equipage, I am obliged to do
the same: however, our mutual interest makes us much together.
I went with her the other day all round the town, in an open gilt
chariot, with our joint train of attendants, preceded by our guards,
who might have summoned the people to see what they had never seen,
nor ever would see again--two young Christian embassadresses never yet
having been in this country at the same time, nor I believe ever will
again. Your ladyship may easily imagine that we drew a vast crowd
of spectators, but all silent as death. If any of them had taken the
liberties of our mob upon any strange sight, our janissaries had made
no scruple of falling on them with their scimitars, without danger for
so doing, being above law.
Yet these people have some good qualities; they are very zealous and
faithful where they serve, and look upon it as their business to fight
for you upon all occasions. Of this I had a very pleasant instance in
a village on this side Philipopolis, where we were met by our domestic
guard. I happened to bespeak pigeons for my supper, upon which one of
my janissaries went immediately to the Cadi (the chief civil officer
of the town), and ordered him to send in some dozens. The poor man
answered that he had already sent about, but could get none. My
janissary, in the height of his zeal for my service, immediately
locked him up prisoner in his room, telling him he deserved death for
his impudence, in offering to excuse his not obeying my command; but,
out of respect to me, he would not punish him but by my order, and
accordingly, came very gravely to me, to ask what should be done to
him; adding, by way of compliment, that if I pleased he would bring me
his head. This may give you some idea of the unlimited power of these
fellows, who are all sworn brothers, and bound to revenge the injuries
done to one another, whether at Cairo, Aleppo, or any part of the
world; and this inviolable league makes them so powerful, that the
greatest man at court never speaks to them but in a flattering
tone; and in Asia, any man that is rich is forced to enrol himself a
janissary, to secure his estate.
But I have already said enough; and I dare swear, dear madam, that, by
this time, 'tis a very comfortable reflection to you that there is no
possibility of your receiving such a tedious letter but once in
six months; 'tis that consideration has given me the assurance to
entertain you so long, and will, I hope, plead the excuse of, dear
To THE COUNTESS OF MAR
"The Grand Vizier's lady"
Adrianople, 18 "April", O.S. .
I wrote to you, dear sister, and to all my other English
correspondents, by the last ship, and only Heaven can tell when I
shall have another opportunity of sending to you; but I cannot forbear
writing, though perhaps my letter may lie upon my hands this two
months. To confess the truth, my head is so full of my entertainment
yesterday, that 'tis absolutely necessary for my own repose to give it
some vent. Without farther preface, I will then begin my story. I was
invited to dine with the Grand Vizier's lady, and it was with a great
deal of pleasure I prepared myself for an entertainment which was
never given before to any Christian. I thought I should very little
satisfy her curiosity (which I did not doubt was a considerable
motive to the invitation) by going in a dress she was used to see, and
therefore dressed myself in the court habit of Vienna, which is much
more magnificent than ours. However, I chose to go "incognita", to
avoid any disputes about ceremony, and went in a Turkish coach, only
attended by my woman that held up my train, and the Greek lady who was
my interpretress. I was met at the court door by her black eunuch,
who helped me out of the coach with great respect, and conducted me
through several rooms, where her she-slaves, finely dressed, were
ranged on each side. In the innermost I found the lady sitting on her
sofa, in a sable vest. She advanced to meet me, and presented me half
a dozen of her friends with great civility. She seemed a very good
woman, near fifty years old. I was surprised to observe so little
magnificence in her house, the furniture being all very moderate; and
except the habits and number of her slaves, nothing about her that
appeared expensive. She guessed at my thoughts, and told me that
she was no longer of an age to spend either her time or money in
superfluities; that her whole expense was in charity, and her whole
employment praying to God. There was no affectation in this speech;
both she and her husband are entirely given up to devotion. He never
looks upon any other woman; and, what is much more extraordinary,
touches no bribes, notwithstanding the example of all his
predecessors. He is so scrupulous on this point, he would not accept
Mr. Wortley's present, till he had been assured over and over that
it was a settled perquisite of his place at the entrance of every
She entertained me with all kind of civility till dinner came in,
which was served, one dish at a time, to a vast number, all finely
dressed after their manner, which I do not think so bad as you have
perhaps heard it represented. I am a very good judge of their eating,
having lived three weeks in the house of an "effendi" at Belgrade, who
gave us very magnificent dinners, dressed by his own cooks, which the
first week pleased me extremely; but I own I then began to grow weary
of it, and desired our own cook might add a dish or two after our
manner. But I attribute this to custom. I am very much inclined to
believe an Indian, that had never tasted of either, would prefer their
cookery to ours. Their sauces are very high, all the roast very much
done. They use a great deal of rich spice. The soup is served for the
last dish; and they have at least as great variety of ragouts as we
have. I was very sorry I could not eat of as many as the good lady
would have had me, who was very earnest in serving me of everything.
The treat concluded with coffee and perfumes, which is a high mark
of respect; two slaves kneeling censed my hair, clothes, and
handkerchief. After this ceremony, she commanded her slaves to play
and dance, which they did with their guitars in their hands; and
she excused to me their want of skill, saying she took no care to
accomplish them in that art.
I returned her thanks, and soon after took my leave. I was conducted
back in the same manner I entered; and would have gone straight to my
own house; but the Greek lady with me earnestly solicited me to visit
the "Kiyàya's" lady, saying, he was the second officer in the empire,
and ought indeed to be looked upon as the first, the Grand Vizier
having only the name, while he exercised the authority. I had found so
little diversion in this harem, that I had no mind to go into another.
But her importunity prevailed with me, and I am extreme glad that I
was so complaisant.
All things here were with quite another air than at the Grand
Vizier's; and the very house confessed the difference between an old
devotee and a young beauty. It was nicely clean and magnificent. I
was met at the door by two black eunuchs, who led me through a long
gallery between two ranks of beautiful young girls, with their hair
finely plaited, almost hanging to their feet, all dressed in fine
light damasks, brocaded with silver. I was sorry that decency did not
permit me to stop to consider them nearer. But that thought was lost
upon my entrance into a large room, or rather pavilion, built round
with gilded sashes, which were most of them thrown up, and the trees
planted near them gave an agreeable shade, which hindered the sun from
being troublesome. The jessamines and honeysuckles that twisted round
their trunks, shedding a soft perfume, increased by a white marble
fountain playing sweet water in the lower part of the room, which fell
into three or four basins with a pleasing sound. The roof was painted
with all sort of flowers, falling out of gilded baskets, that seemed
tumbling down. On a sofa, raised three steps, and covered with fine
Persian carpets, sat the "Kiyàya's" lady, leaning on cushions of white
satin, embroidered; and at her feet sat two young girls, the eldest
about twelve years old, lovely as angels, dressed perfectly rich, and
almost covered with jewels. But they were hardly seen near the fair
Fatima (for that is her name), so much her beauty effaced every thing
I have seen, all that has been called lovely either in England
or Germany, and must own that I never saw any thing so gloriously
beautiful, nor can I recollect a face that would have been taken
notice of near hers. She stood up to receive me, saluting me after
their fashion, putting her hand upon her heart with a sweetness
full of majesty, that no court breeding could ever give. She ordered
cushions to be given to me, and took care to place me in the corner,
which is the place of honour. I confess, though the Greek lady had
before given me a great opinion of her beauty, I was so struck with
admiration, that I could not for some time speak to her, being wholly
taken up in gazing. That surprising harmony of features! that charming
result of the whole! that exact proportion of body! that lovely bloom
of complexion unsullied by art! the unutterable enchantment of her
smile!--But her eyes!--large and black, with all the soft languishment
of the blue! every turn of her face discovering some new charm.
After my first surprise was over, I endeavoured, by nicely examining
her face, to find out some imperfection, without any fruit of my
search, but being clearly convinced of the error of that vulgar
notion, that a face perfectly regular would not be agreeable: nature
having done for her with more success, what Apelles is said to have
essayed, by a collection of the most exact features, to form a perfect
face, and to that, a behaviour, so full of grace and sweetness, such
easy motions, with an air so majestic, yet free from stiffness or
affectation, that I am persuaded, could she be suddenly transported
upon the most polite throne of Europe, nobody would think her other
than born and bred to be a queen, though educated in a country we call
barbarous. To say all in a word, our most celebrated English beauties
would vanish near her.
She was dressed in a "caftán" of gold brocade, flowered with silver,
very well fitted to her shape, and shewing to advantage the beauty
of her bosom, only shaded by the thin guaze of her shift. Her
drawers were pale pink, green and silver, her slippers white, finely
embroidered; her lovely arms adorned with bracelets of diamonds, and
her broad girdle set round with diamonds; upon her head a rich Turkish
handkerchief of pink and silver, her own fine black hair hanging a
great length in various tresses, and on one side of her head some
bodkins of jewels. I am afraid you will accuse me of extravagance
in this description. I think I have read somewhere that women always
speak in rapture when they speak of beauty, but I cannot imagine why
they should not be allowed to do so. I rather think it virtue to be
able to admire without any mixture of desire or envy. The gravest
writers have spoken with great warmth of some celebrated pictures
and statues. The workmanship of Heaven certainly excels all our weak
imitations, and, I think, has a much better claim to our praise. For
me, I am not ashamed to own I took more pleasure in looking on the
beauteous Fatima, than the finest piece of sculpture could have given
She told me the two girls at her feet were her daughters, though she
appeared too young to be their mother. Her fair maids were ranged
below the sofa, to the number of twenty, and put me in mind of the
pictures of the ancient nymphs. I did not think all nature could have
furnished such a scene of beauty. She made them a sign to play and
dance. Four of them immediately began to play some soft airs on
instruments between a lute and a guitar, which they accompanied
with their voices, while the others danced by turns. This dance
was very different from what I had seen before. Nothing could
be more artful.... The tunes so soft!--the motions so
languishing!--accompanied with pauses and dying eyes! half-falling
back, and then recovering themselves in so artful a manner.... I
suppose you may have read that the Turks have no music but what is
shocking to the ears; but this account is from those who never heard
any, but what is played in the streets, and is just as reasonable as
if a foreigner should take his ideas of the English music from the
bladder and string, and marrowbone and cleavers. I can assure you that
the music is extremely pathetic; 'tis true I am inclined to prefer the
Italian, but perhaps I am partial. I am acquainted with a Greek lady
who sings better than Mrs. Robinson, and is very well skilled in both,
who gives the preference to the Turkish. 'Tis certain they have very
fine natural voices; these were very agreeable. When the dance was
over, four fair slaves came into the room with silver censers in their
hands, and perfumed the room with amber, aloes-wood, and other scents.
After this they served me coffee upon their knees in the finest japan
china, with "soucoupes" of silver, gilt. The lovely Fatima entertained
me all this while in the most polite agreeable manner, calling me
often "Guzél sultanum", or the beautiful sultana, and desiring my
friendship with the best grace in the world, lamenting that she could
not entertain me in my own language.
When I took my leave, two maids brought in a fine silver basket of
embroidered handkerchiefs; she begged I would wear the richest for her
sake, and gave the others to my woman and interpretress. I returned
through the same ceremonies as before, and could not help fancying I
had been some time in Mahomet's paradise, so much I was charmed with
what I had seen. I know not how the relation of it appears to you.
I wish it may give you part of my pleasure; for I would have my dear
sister share in all the diversions of, &c.
To THE COUNTESS OF BUTE
"Her grand-daughter's education"
28 "Jan". N.S. .
You have given me a great deal of satisfaction by your account of
your eldest daughter. I am particularly pleased to hear she is a good
arithmetician; it is the best proof of understanding: the knowledge of
numbers is one of the chief distinctions between us and the brutes.
If there is anything in blood, you may reasonably expect your children
should be endowed with an uncommon share of good sense. Mr. Wortley's
family and mine have both produced some of the greatest men that have
been born in England: I mean Admiral Sandwich, and my grandfather,
who was distinguished by the name of Wise William. I have heard Lord
Bute's father mentioned as an extraordinary genius, though he had not
many opportunities of showing it; and his uncle, the present Duke of
Argyll, has one of the best heads I ever knew. I will therefore
speak to you as supposing Lady Mary not only capable, but desirous
of learning: in that case by all means let her be indulged in it. You
will tell me I did not make it a part of your education: your prospect
was very different from hers. As you had no defect either in mind
or person to hinder, and much in your circumstances to attract the
highest offers, it seemed your business to learn how to live in the
world, as it is hers to know how to be easy out of it. It is the
common error of builders and parents to follow some plan they think
beautiful (and perhaps is so), without considering that nothing is
beautiful that is displaced. Hence we see so many edifices raised that
the raisers can never inhabit, being too large for their fortunes.
Vistas are laid open over barren heaths, and apartments contrived
for a coolness very agreeable in Italy, but killing in the north of
Britain: thus every woman endeavours to breed her daughter a fine
lady, qualifying her for a station in which she will never appear, and
at the same time incapacitating her for that retirement to which she
is destined. Learning, if she has a real taste for it, will not only
make her contented, but happy in it. No entertainment is so cheap as
reading, nor any pleasure so lasting. She will not want new fashions,
nor regret the loss of expensive diversions, or variety of company,
if she can be amused with an author in her closet. To render this
amusement extensive, she should be permitted to learn the languages.
I have heard it lamented that boys lose so many years in mere learning
of words: this is no objection to a girl, whose time is not so
precious: she cannot advance herself in any profession, and has
therefore more hours to spare; and as you say her memory is good, she
will be very agreeably employed this way. There are two cautions to
be given on this subject: first, not to think herself learned when
she can read Latin, or even Greek. Languages are more properly to be
called vehicles of learning than learning itself, as may be observed
in many schoolmasters, who, though perhaps critics in grammar, are the
most ignorant fellows upon earth. True knowledge consists in knowing
things, not words. I would wish her no further a linguist than to
enable her to read books in their originals, that are often corrupted,
and always injured, by translations. Two hours' application every
morning will bring this about much sooner than you can imagine, and
she will have leisure enough besides to run over the English poetry,
which is a more important part of a woman's education than it is
generally supposed. Many a young damsel has been ruined by a fine copy
of verses, which she would have laughed at if she had known it had
been stolen from Mr. Waller. I remember, when I was a girl, I saved
one of my companions from destruction, who communicated to me an
epistle she was quite charmed with. As she had a natural good taste,
she observed the lines were not so smooth as Prior's or Pope's, but
had more thought and spirit than any of theirs. She was wonderfully
delighted with such a demonstration of her lover's sense and passion,
and not a little pleased with her own charms, that had force enough
to inspire such elegancies. In the midst of this triumph I showed
her that they were taken from Randolph's poems, and the unfortunate
transcriber was dismissed with the scorn he deserved. To say truth,
the poor plagiary was very unlucky to fall into my hands; that
author being no longer in fashion, would have escaped any one of less
universal reading than myself. You should encourage your daughter to
talk over with you what she reads; and, as you are very capable of
distinguishing, take care she does not mistake pert folly for wit
and humour, or rhyme for poetry, which are the common errors of young
people, and have a train of ill consequences. The second caution to
be given her (and which is most absolutely necessary) is to conceal
whatever learning she attains, with as much solicitude as she would
hide crookedness or lameness; the parade of it can only serve to draw
on her the envy, and consequently the most inveterate hatred, of all
he and she fools, which will certainly be at least three parts in four
of all her acquaintance. The use of knowledge in our sex, besides the
amusement of solitude, is to moderate the passions, and learn to be
contented with a small expense, which are the certain effects of a
studious life; and it may be preferable even to that fame which men
have engrossed to themselves, and will not suffer us to share.
You will tell me I have not observed this rule myself; but you
are mistaken: it is only inevitable accident that has given me any
reputation that way. I have always carefully avoided it, and ever
thought it a misfortune. The explanation of this paragraph would
occasion a long digression, which I will not trouble you with, it
being my present design only to say what I think useful for the
instruction of my granddaughter, which I have much at heart. If she
has the same inclination (I should say passion) for learning that I
was born with, history, geography, and philosophy will furnish her
with materials to pass away cheerfully a longer life than is allotted
to mortals. I believe there are few heads capable of making Sir I.
Newton's calculations, but the result of them is not difficult to be
understood by a moderate capacity. Do not fear this should make her
affect the character of Lady----, or Lady----, or Mrs.----: those
women are ridiculous, not because they have learning, but because they
have it not. One thinks herself a complete historian, after reading
Echard's Roman History; another a profound philosopher, having got
by heart some of Pope's unintelligible essays; and a third an able
divine, on the strength of Whitefield's sermons: thus you hear them
screaming politics and controversy.
It is a saying of Thucydides, ignorance is bold, and knowledge
reserved. Indeed, it is impossible to be far advanced in it without
being more humbled by a conviction of human ignorance than elated by
learning. At the same time I recommend books, I neither exclude work
nor drawing. I think it as scandalous for a woman not to know how to
use a needle, as for a man not to know how to use a sword. I was once
extremely fond of my pencil, and it was a great mortification to
me when my father turned off my master, having made a considerable
progress for a short time I learnt. My over-eagerness in the pursuit
of it had brought a weakness on my eyes, that made it necessary to
leave it off; and all the advantage I got was the improvement of my
hand. I see, by hers, that practice will make her a ready writer:
she may attain it by serving you for a secretary, when your health or
affairs make it troublesome to you to write yourself; and custom will
make it an agreeable amusement to her. She cannot have too many for
that station of life which will probably be her fate. The ultimate end
of your education was to make you a good wife (and I have the comfort
to hear that you are one): hers ought to be, to make her happy in
a virgin state. I will not say it is happier; but it is undoubtedly
safer than any marriage. In a lottery, where there are (at the lowest
computation) ten thousand blanks to a prize, it is the most prudent
choice not to venture. I have always been so thoroughly persuaded of
this truth, that, notwithstanding the flattering views I had for you
(as I never intended you a sacrifice to my vanity), I thought I owed
you the justice to lay before you all the hazards attending matrimony:
you may recollect I did so in the strongest manner. Perhaps you may
have more success in the instructing your daughter: she has so much
company at home, she will not need seeking it abroad, and will more
readily take the notions you think fit to give her. As you were alone
in my family, it would have been thought a great cruelty to suffer
you no companions of your own age, especially having so many near
relations, and I do not wonder their opinions influenced yours. I was
not sorry to see you not determined on a single life, knowing it was
not your father's intention, and contented myself with endeavouring to
make your home so easy that you might not be in haste to leave it.
I am afraid you will think this a very long and insignificant letter.
I hope the kindness of the design will excuse it, being willing to
give you every proof in my power that I am,
Your most affectionate mother.
TO THE SAME
"Fielding and other authors"
Lovere, 22 "Sept". .
MY DEAR CHILD,
I received, two days ago, the box of books you were so kind to
send; but I can scarce say whether my pleasure or disappointment was
greatest. I was much pleased to see before me a fund of amusement, but
heartily vexed to find your letter consisting only of three lines
and a half. Why will you not employ Lady Mary as secretary, if it is
troublesome to you to write? I have told you over and over, you may at
the same time oblige your mother and improve your daughter, both
which I should think very agreeable to yourself. You can never want
something to say. The history of your nursery, if you had no other
subject to write on, would be very acceptable to me. I am such a
stranger to everything in England, I should be glad to hear more
particulars relating to the families I am acquainted with: if
Miss Liddel marries the Lord Euston I knew, or his nephew, who has
succeeded him; if Lord Berkeley has left children; and several trifles
of that sort, that would be a satisfaction to my curiosity. I am
sorry for H. Fielding's death, not only as I shall read no more of his
writings, but I believe he lost more than others, as no man enjoyed
life more than he did, though few had less reason to do so, the
highest of his preferment being raking in the lowest sinks of vice and
misery. I should think it a nobler and less nauseous employment to
be one of the staff officers that conduct the nocturnal weddings.
His happy constitution (even when he had, with great pains, half
demolished it) made him forget everything when he was before a venison
pasty, or over a flask of champagne; and I am persuaded he has known
more happy moments than any prince upon earth. His natural spirits
gave him rapture with his cook-maid, and cheerfulness when he was
starving in a garret. There was a great similitude between his
character and that of Sir Richard Steele. He had the advantage both
in learning, and, in my opinion, genius: they both agreed in wanting
money in spite of all their friends, and would have wanted it, if
their hereditary lands had been as extensive as their imagination;
yet each one of them so formed for happiness, it is a pity he was not
immortal.... This Richardson is a strange fellow. I heartily
despise him, and eagerly read him, nay, sob over his works in a most
scandalous manner. The first two tomes of "Clarissa" touched me, as
being very resembling to my maiden days; and I find in the pictures of
Sir Thomas Grandison and his lady, what I have heard of my mother, and
seen of my father....
PHILIP DORMER STANHOPE, EARL
TO HIS SON
Dublin Castle, 29 "Nov". 1745.
I have received your last Saturday's performance, with which I am very
well satisfied. I know or have heard of no Mr. St. Maurice here; and
young Pain, whom I have made an ensign, was here upon the spot, as
were every one of those I have named in these new levies.
Now that the Christmas breaking-up draws near, I have ordered Mr.
Desnoyers to go to you, during that time, to teach you to dance. I
desire that you will particularly attend to the graceful motion of
your arms; which with the manner of putting on your hat, and giving
your hand, is all that a gentleman need attend to. Dancing is
in itself a very trifling, silly thing; but it is one of those
established follies to which people of sense are sometimes obliged
to conform; and then they should be able to do it well. And though I
would not have you a dancer, yet when you do dance, I would have you
dance well; as I would have you do everything you do, well. There is
no one thing so trifling, but which (if it is to be done at all) ought
to be done well; and I have often told you that I wish you even
played at pitch, and cricket, better than any boy at Westminster. For
instance, dress is a very foolish thing; and yet it is a very foolish
thing for a man not to be well dressed, according to his rank and
way of life; and it is so far from being a disparagement to any man's
understanding, that it is rather a proof of it, to be as well dressed
as those whom he lives with: the difference in this case between a man
of sense and a fop is, that the fop values himself upon his dress; and
the man of sense laughs at it, at the same time that he knows he must
not neglect it. There are a thousand foolish customs of this kind,
which not being criminal, must be complied with, and even cheerfully,
by men of sense. Diogenes the cynic was a wise man for despising them;
but a fool for showing it. Be wiser than other people if you can; but
do not tell them so.
It is a very fortunate thing for Sir Charles Hotham, to have fallen
into the hands of one of your age, experience, and knowledge of the
world: I am persuaded you will take infinite care of him. Goodnight.
TO THE SAME
"A good enunciation"
London, 21 "June", O.S. 1748.
Your very bad enunciation runs so much in my head, and gives me such
real concern, that it will be the object of this, and I believe of
many more letters. I congratulate both you and myself that I was
informed of it (as I hope) in time to prevent it; and shall ever think
myself, as hereafter you will, I am sure, think yourself, infinitely
obliged to Sir Charles Williams, for informing me of it. Good God!
if this ungraceful and disagreeable manner of speaking had, either
by your negligence or mine, become habitual to you, as in a couple of
years more it would have been, what a figure would you have made in
company, or in a public assembly! Who would have liked you in the one,
or have attended to you in the other? Read what Cicero and Quintilian
say of enunciation, and see what a stress they lay on the gracefulness
of it; nay, Cicero goes farther, and even maintains that a good figure
is necessary for an orator, and particularly that he must not be
"vastus"; that is, overgrown and clumsy. He shows by it that he
knew mankind well, and knew the powers of an agreeable figure and a
graceful manner. Men, as well as women, are much oftener led by their
hearts, than by their understandings. The way to the heart is through
the senses; please their eyes and their ears, and the work is half
done. I have frequently known a man's fortune decided for ever by his
first address. If it is pleasing, people are hurried involuntarily
into persuasion that he has a merit, which possibly he has not; as, on
the other hand, if it is ungraceful, they are immediately prejudiced
against him, and unwilling to allow him the merit which it may be
he has. Nor is this sentiment so unjust and unreasonable as at first
sight it may seem; for if a man has parts, he must know of what
infinite consequence it is to him to have a graceful manner of
speaking, and a genteel and pleasing address: he will cultivate and
improve them to the utmost. Your figure is a good one; you have no
natural defects in the organs of speech; your address may be engaging,
and your manner of speaking graceful, if you will; so that, if they
are not so, neither I nor the world can ascribe it to anything but
your want of parts. What is the constant and just observation as to
all the actors upon the stage? Is it not, that those who have the best
sense always speak the best, though they may not happen to have the
best voices? They will speak plainly, distinctly, and with the proper
emphasis, be their voices ever so bad. Had Roscius spoken quick,
thick, and ungracefully, I will answer for it, that Cicero would not
have thought him worth the oration which he made in his favour. Words
were given us to communicate our ideas by, and there must be something
inconceivably absurd in uttering them in such a manner, as that either
people cannot understand them, or will not desire to understand them.
I tell you truly and sincerely, that I shall judge of your parts by
your speaking gracefully or ungracefully. If you have parts, you will
never be at rest till you have brought yourself to a habit of speaking
most gracefully: for I aver, that it is in your power. You will desire
Mr. Harte, that you may read aloud to him every day, and that he will
interrupt and correct you every time that you read too fast, do not
observe the proper stops, or lay a wrong emphasis. You will take care
to open your teeth when you speak; to articulate very distinctly; and
to beg of Mr. Harte, Mr. Eliot, or whomever you speak to, to remind
and stop you, if ever you fall into the rapid and unintelligible
mutter. You will even read aloud to yourself, and tune your utterance
to your own ear, and read at first much slower than you need to do,
in order to correct yourself of that shameful trick of speaking faster
than you ought. In short, if you think right, you will make it your
business, your study, and your pleasure to speak well. Therefore, what
I have said in this and in my last, is more than sufficient, if you
have sense; and ten times more would not be sufficient if you have
not: so here I rest it.
TO THE SAME
London, 10 "Jan." O.S. 1749.
I have received your letter of the 31st December, N.S. Your thanks for
my present, as you call it, exceed the value of the present; but the
use which you assure me that you will make of it, is the thanks which
I desire to receive. Due attention to the inside of books, and due
contempt for the outside, is the proper relation between a man of
sense and his books.
Now that you are going a little more into the world, I will take this
occasion to explain my intentions as to your future expenses, that
you may know what you have to expect from me, and make your plan
accordingly. I shall neither deny nor grudge you any money that may
be necessary for either your improvement or pleasures; I mean the
pleasures of a rational being. Under the head of improvement I mean
the best books, and the best masters, cost what they will; I also
mean all the expense of lodgings, coach, dress, servants, &c.,
which, according to the several places where you may be, shall be
respectively necessary to enable you to keep the best company. Under
the head of rational pleasures I comprehend, first, proper charities
to real and compassionate objects of it; secondly, proper presents to
those to whom you are obliged, or whom you desire to oblige; thirdly,
a conformity of expense to that of the company which you keep; as in
public spectacles, your share of little entertainments, a few pistoles
at games of mere commerce, and other incidental calls of good company.
The only two articles which I will never supply are, the profusion of
low riot, and the idle lavishness of negligence and laziness. A fool
squanders away, without credit or advantage to himself, more than a
man of sense spends with both. The latter employs his money as he does
his time, and never spends a shilling of the one, nor a minute of the
other, but in something that is either useful or rationally pleasing
to himself or others. The former buys whatever he does not want, and
does not pay for what he does want. He cannot withstand the charms
of a toy-shop; snuff-boxes, watches, heads of canes, etc., are
his destruction. His servants and tradesmen conspire with his own
indolence to cheat him, and in a very little time he is astonished, in
the midst of all the ridiculous superfluities, to find himself in want
of all the real comforts and necessaries of life. Without care and
method the largest fortune will not, and with them almost the smallest
will, supply all necessary expenses. As far as you can possibly, pay
ready money for everything you buy, and avoid bills. Pay that money
too yourself, and not through the hands of any servant, who always
either stipulates poundage, or requires a present for his good word,
as they call it. Where you must have bills, (as for meat and drink,
clothes, etc.) pay them regularly every month, and with your own hand.
Never, from a mistaken economy, buy a thing you do not want, because
it is cheap; or from a silly pride, because it is dear. Keep an
account in a book, of all that you receive, and of all that you pay;
for no man, who knows what he receives and what he pays, ever runs
out. I do not mean that you should keep an account of the shillings
and half-crowns which you may spend in chair-hire, operas, etc. They
are unworthy of the time, and of the ink that they would consume;
leave such "minutiae" to dull, penny-wise fellows; but remember in
economy, as well as in every other part of life, to have the proper
attention to proper objects, and the proper contempt for little ones.
A strong mind sees things in their true proportion; a weak one views
them through a magnifying medium, which, like the microscope, makes an
elephant of a flea; magnifies all little objects, but cannot receive
great ones. I have known many a man pass for a miser, by saving a
penny, and wrangling for two-pence, who was undoing himself at the
same time, by living above his income, and not attending to essential
articles, which were above his "portée". The sure characteristic of a
sound and strong mind is, to find in everything those certain bounds,
"quos ultra citrave nequit consistere rectum". These boundaries are
marked out by a very fine line, which only good sense and attention
can discover; it is much too fine for vulgar eyes. In manners, this
line is good-breeding; beyond it, is troublesome ceremony; short of
it, is unbecoming negligence and inattention. In morals, it divides
ostentatious puritanism from criminal relaxation; in religion,
superstition from impiety; and, in short, every virtue from its
kindred vice or weakness. I think you have sense enough to discover
the line; keep it always in your eye, and learn to walk upon it; rest
upon Mr. Harte, and he will poise you, till you are able to go alone.
By the way, there are fewer people who walk well upon that line, than
upon the slack-rope; and, therefore, a good performer shines so much
Remember to take the best dancing-master at Berlin, more to teach you
to sit, stand, and walk gracefully, than to dance finely. The graces,
the graces; remember the graces! Adieu.
TO THE SAME
"A father's example"
London, 7 "Feb". o.s. 1749.
You are now come to an age capable of reflection; and I hope you will
do, what however few people at your age do, exert it, for your own
sake, in the search of truth and sound knowledge. I will confess (for
I am not unwilling to discover my secrets to you) that it is not many
years since I have presumed to reflect for myself. Till sixteen or
seventeen I had no reflection, and for many years after that I made no
use of what I had. I adopted the notions of the books I read, or the
company I kept, without examining whether they were just or not; and I
rather chose to run the risk of easy error, than to take the time and
trouble of investigating truth. Thus, partly from laziness, partly
from dissipation, and partly from the "mauvaise honte" of rejecting
fashionable notions, I was (as I since found) hurried away by
prejudices, instead of being guided by reason; and quietly cherished
error, instead of seeking for truth. But since I have taken the
trouble of reasoning for myself, and have had the courage to own that
I do so, you cannot imagine how much my notions of things are altered,
and in how different a light I now see them, from that in which I
formerly viewed them through the deceitful medium of prejudice or
authority. Nay, I may possibly still retain many errors, which, from
long habit, have perhaps grown into real opinions; for it is very
difficult to distinguish habits, early acquired and long entertained,
from the result of our reason and reflection.
My first prejudice (for I do not mention the prejudices of boys and
women, such as hobgoblins, ghosts, dreams, spilling salt, &c.) was my
classical enthusiasm, which I received from the books I read, and the
masters who explained them to me. I was convinced there had been no
common sense nor common honesty in the world for these last fifteen
hundred years; but that they were totally extinguished with the
ancient Greek and Roman governments. Homer and Virgil could have no
faults, because they were ancient; Milton and Tasso could have no
merit, because they were modern. And I could almost have said, with
regard to the ancients, what Cicero, very absurdly and unbecomingly
for a philosopher, says with regard to Plato, "Cum quo errare malim
quam cum aliis recte sentire". Whereas now, without any extraordinary
effort of genius, I have discovered that nature was the same three
thousand years ago as it is at present; that men were but men then as
well as now; that modes and customs vary often, but that human nature
is always the same. And I can no more suppose, that men were better,
braver, or wiser, fifteen hundred or three thousand years ago, than I
can suppose that the animals or vegetables were better then than
they are now. I dare assert too, in defiance of the favourers of the
ancients, that Homer's hero Achilles was both a brute and a scoundrel,
and consequently an improper character for the hero of an epic poem;
he had so little regard for his country, that he would not act in
defence of it, because he had quarrelled with Agamemnon about a--; and
then afterwards, animated by private resentment only, he went about
killing people basely, I will call it, because he knew himself
invulnerable; and yet, invulnerable as he was, he wore the strongest
armour in the world; which I humbly apprehend to be a blunder; for a
horseshoe clapped to his vulnerable heel would have been sufficient.
On the other hand, with submission to the favourers of the moderns,
I assert with Mr. Dryden, that the Devil is in truth the hero of
Milton's poem: his plan, which he lays, pursues, and at last executes,
being the subject of the poem. From all which considerations I
impartially conclude that the ancients had their excellencies and
their defects, their virtues and their vices, just like the moderns:
pedantry and affectation of learning clearly decide in favour of
the former; vanity and ignorance, as peremptorily, in favour of the
latter. Religious prejudices kept pace with my classical ones; and
there was a time when I thought it impossible for the honestest man in
the world to be saved, out of the pale of the Church of England: not
considering that matters of opinion do not depend upon the will;
and that it is as natural, and as allowable, that another man should
differ in opinion from me, as that I should differ from him; and that,
if we are both sincere, we are both blameless, and should consequently
have mutual indulgences for each other.
The next prejudices I adopted were those of the "beau monde", in
which, as I was determined to shine, I took what are commonly called
the genteel vices to be necessary. I had heard them reckoned so, and
without further inquiry, I believed it; or at least should have been
ashamed to have denied it, for fear of exposing myself to the ridicule
of those whom I considered as the models of fine gentlemen. But now I
am neither ashamed nor afraid to assert, that those genteel vices, as
they are falsely called, are only so many blemishes in the character
of even a man of the world, and what is called a fine gentleman, and
degrade him in the opinion of those very people, to whom he hopes to
recommend himself by them. Nay, this prejudice often extends so far,
that I have known people pretend to vices they had not, instead of
carefully concealing those they had.
Use and assert your own reason; reflect, examine, and analyze
everything, in order to form a sound and mature judgement; let no
[Greek: outos epha] impose upon your understanding, mislead your
actions, or dictate your conversation. Be early what, if you are not,
you will when too late wish you had been. Consult your reason betimes:
I do not say, that it will always prove an unerring guide; for human
reason is not infallible; but it will prove the least erring guide
that you can follow. Books and conversation may assist it; but adopt
neither, blindly and implicitly: try both by that best rule which God
has given to direct us, reason. Of all the troubles, do not decline,
as many people do, that of thinking.
TO THE SAME
London, 9 "Dec". o.s. 1749.
It is now above forty years since I have never spoken nor written
one single word, without giving myself at least one moment's time to
consider, whether it was a good one or a bad one, and whether I could
not find out a better in its place. An unharmonious and rugged period,
at this time, shocks my ears; and I, like all the rest of the world,
will willingly exchange and give up some degree of rough sense, for
a good degree of pleasing sound. I will freely and truly own to you,
without either vanity or false modesty, that whatever reputation I
have acquired as a speaker, is more owing to my constant attention to
my diction than to my matter, which was necessarily just the same as
other people's. When you come into parliament, your reputation as a
speaker will depend much more upon your words, and your periods than
upon the subject. The same matter occurs equally to everybody of
common sense, upon the same question: the dressing it well, is what
excites the attention and admiration of the audience.
It is in parliament that I have set my heart upon your making a
figure; it is there that I want to have you justly proud of yourself,
and to make me justly proud of you. This means that you must be a good
speaker there; I use the word "must", because I know you may if you
will. The vulgar, who are always mistaken, look upon a speaker and a
comet with the same astonishment and admiration, taking them both for
preternatural phenomena. This error discourages many young men from
attempting that character; and good speakers are willing to have their
talent considered as something very extraordinary, if not a peculiar
gift of God to his elect. But, let you and I analyze and simplify this
good speaker; let us strip him of those adventitious plumes with which
his own pride and the ignorance of others have decked him; and we
shall find the true definition of him to be no more than this: a
man of good common sense, who reasons justly, and expresses himself
elegantly, on that subject upon which he speaks. There is, surely, no
witchcraft in this. A man of sense, without a superior and astonishing
degree of parts, will not talk nonsense upon any subject; nor will he,
if he has the least taste or application, talk inelegantly. What then
does all this mighty art and mystery of speaking in parliament amount
to? Why, no more than this, that the man who speaks in the House
of Commons, speaks in that house, and to four hundred people, that
opinion upon a given subject which he would make no difficulty of
speaking in any house in England, round the fire, or at table, to
any fourteen people whatsoever; better judges, perhaps, and severer
critics of what he says, than any fourteen gentlemen of the House of
I have spoken frequently in parliament, and not always without some
applause; and therefore I can assure you, from my experience, that
there is very little in it. The elegancy of the style and the turn of
the periods make the chief impression upon the hearers. Give them but
one or two round and harmonious periods in a speech, which they will
retain and repeat, and they will go home as well satisfied as people
do from an opera, humming all the way one or two favourite tunes that
have struck their ears, and were easily caught. Most people have ears,
but few have judgement; tickle those ears, and, depend upon it, you
will catch their judgements, such as they are.
Cicero, conscious that he was at the top of his profession (for in
his time eloquence was a profession), in order to set himself off,
defines, in his treatise "de Oratore", an orator to be such a man as
never was, or never will be; and, by this fallacious argument, says
that he must know every art and science whatsoever, or how shall he
speak upon them? But with submission to so great an authority, my
definition of an orator is extremely different from, and I believe
much truer than, his. I call that man an orator who reasons justly,
and expresses himself elegantly, upon whatever subjects he treats.
Problems in geometry, equations in algebra, processes in chemistry,
and experiments in anatomy, are never, that I have heard of, the
objects of eloquence; and therefore I humbly conceive that a man may
be a very fine speaker, and yet know nothing of geometry, algebra,
chemistry, or anatomy. The subjects of all parliamentary debates are
subjects of common sense singly.
Thus I write whatever occurs to me, that I think may contribute either
to form or inform you. May my labour not be in vain! and it will not,
if you will but have half the concern for yourself that I have for
TO THE SAME
"The new Earl of Chatham"
Blackheath, 1 "Aug." 1766.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
The curtain was at last drawn up, the day before yesterday, and
discovered the new actors together with some of the old ones. I do not
name them to you, because to-morrow's Gazette will do it full as well
as I could. Mr. Pitt, who had "carte blanche" given him, named every
one of them: but what would you think he named himself for? Lord Privy
Seal; and (what will astonish you, as it does every mortal here) Earl
of Chatham. The joke here is, that he has had "a fall upstairs", and
has done himself so much hurt, that he will never be able to stand
upon his legs again. Everybody is puzzled how to account for this
step; though it would not be the first time that great abilities have
been duped by low cunning. But be it what it will, he is now certainly
only Earl of Chatham; and no longer Mr. Pitt, in any respect whatever.
Such an event, I believe, was never read nor heard of. To withdraw,
in the fullness of his power, and in the utmost gratification of his
ambition, from the House of Commons, (which procured him his power,
and which could alone ensure it to him) and to go into that hospital
of incurables, the House of Lords, is a measure so unaccountable, that
nothing but proof positive could have made me believe it: but true it
is. Hans Stanley is to go ambassador to Russia; and my nephew, Ellis,
to Spain, decorated with the red ribband. Lord Shelburne is your
secretary of state, which I suppose he has notified to you this post
by a circular letter. Charles Townshend has now the sole management of
the House of Commons; but how long he will be content to be only Lord
Chatham's viceregent there, is a question which I will not pretend
to decide. There is one very bad sign for Lord Chatham in his new
dignity; which is, that all his enemies, without exception, rejoice at
it; and all his friends are stupefied and dumb-founded. If I mistake
not much, he will in the course of a year enjoy perfect "otium cum
dignitate". Enough of politics.
Is the fair, or at least the fat Miss C---- with you still? It must
be confessed that she knows the art of courts, to be so received at
Dresden and so connived at in Leicester-fields.
There never was so wet a summer as this has been, in the memory of
man; we have not had one single day, since March, without some rain;
but most days a great deal. I hope that does not affect your health,
as great cold does; for with all these inundations it has not been
cold. God bless you!
To BENNET LANGTON
"Postponement of a visit"
6 "May", 1755.
It has been long observed, that men do not suspect faults which
they do not commit; your own elegance of manners, and punctuality of
complaisance, did not suffer you to impute to me that negligence
of which I was guilty, and [for] which I have not since atoned.
I received both your letters, and received them with pleasure
proportioned to the esteem which so short an acquaintance strongly
impressed, and which I hope to confirm by nearer knowledge, though I
am afraid that gratification will be for a time withheld.
I have, indeed, published my book, of which I beg to know your
father's judgment, and yours; and I have now stayed long enough to
watch its progress in the world. It has, you see, no patrons, and
I think has yet had no opponents, except the critics of the
coffee-house, whose outcries are soon dispersed into the air, and are
thought on no more. From this, therefore, I am at liberty, and think
of taking the opportunity of this interval to make an excursion, and
why not then into Lincolnshire? or, to mention a stronger attraction,
why not to dear Mr. Langton? I will give the true reason, which I know
you will approve:--I have a mother more than eighty years old, who has
counted the days to the publication of my book, in hopes of seeing me;
and to her, if I can disengage myself here, I resolve to go.
As I know, dear sir, that to delay my visit for a reason like this
will not deprive me of your esteem, I beg it may not lessen your
kindness. I have very seldom received an offer of friendship which I
so earnestly desire to cultivate and mature. I shall rejoice to hear
from you, till I can see you, and will see you as soon as I can; for
when the duty that calls me to Lichfield is discharged, my inclination
will carry me to Langton. I shall delight to hear the ocean roar, or
see the stars twinkle, in the company of men to whom Nature does not
spread her volumes or utter her voice in vain.
Do not, dear sir, make the slowness of this letter a precedent
for delay, or imagine that I approved the incivility that I have
committed; for I have known you enough to love you, and sincerely to
wish a further knowledge; and I assure you once more, that to live in
a house that contains such a father and such a son, will be accounted
a very uncommon degree of pleasure by, dear sir, your most obliged and
most humble servant.
TO MISS PORTER
"A mother's death"
23 "Jan." 1759.
You will conceive my sorrow for the loss of my mother, of the best
mother. If she were to live again, surely I should behave better to
her. But she is happy, and what is past is nothing to her; and for me,
since I cannot repair my faults to her, I hope repentance will
efface them. I return you and all those that have been good to her
my sincerest thanks, and pray God to repay you all with infinite
advantage. Write to me and comfort me, dear child. I shall be glad
likewise, if Kitty will write to me. I shall send a bill of twenty
pounds in a few days, which I thought to have brought to my mother;
but God suffered it not. I have not power or composure to say much
more. God bless you, and bless us all.
To JOSEPH BARETTI
"A letter of counsel"
21 "Dec." 1762.
You are not to suppose, with all your conviction of my idleness, that
I have passed all this time without writing to my Baretti. I gave
a letter to Mr. Beauclerk, who, in my opinion, and in his own, was
hastening to Naples for the recovery of his health; but he has stopped
at Paris, and I know not when he will proceed. Langton is with him.
I will not trouble you with speculations about peace and war. The good
or ill success of battles and embassies extends itself to a very small
part of domestic life: we all have good and evil, which we feel more
sensibly than our petty part of public miscarriage or prosperity. I am
sorry for your disappointment, with which you seem more touched than
I should expect a man of your resolution and experience to have been,
did I not know that general truths are seldom applied to particular
occasions; so that the fallacy of our self-love extends itself as wide
as our interest and affections. Every man believes that mistresses are
unfaithful, and patrons capricious; but he excepts his own mistress
and his own patron. We have all learned that greatness is negligent
and contemptuous, and that in courts, life is often languished away in
ungratified expectation; but he that approaches greatness, or glitters
in a court, imagines that destiny has at last exempted him from the
Do not let such evils overwhelm you as thousands have suffered and
thousands have surmounted; but turn your thoughts with vigour to
some other plan of life, and keep always in your mind that, with due
submission to Providence, a man of genius has been seldom ruined but
by himself. Your patron's weakness or insensibility will finally do
you little hurt, if he is not assisted by your own passions. Of your
love I know not the propriety, nor can estimate the power; but in
love, as in every other passion, of which hope is the essence, we
ought always to remember the uncertainty of events. There is indeed
nothing that so much seduces reason from her vigilance, as the thought
of passing life with an amiable woman; and if all would happen that
a lover fancies, I know not what other terrestrial happiness would
deserve pursuit. But love and marriage are different states. Those who
are to suffer the evils together, and to suffer often for the sakes of
one another, soon lose that tenderness of look and that benevolence
of mind which arose from the participation of unmingled pleasure and
successive amusement. A woman we are sure will not be always fair,
we are not sure she will always be virtuous; and man cannot retain
through life that respect and assiduity by which he pleases for a day
or for a month. I do not however pretend to have discovered that life
has anything more to be desired than a prudent and virtuous marriage;
therefore know not what counsel to give you.
If you can quit your imagination of love and greatness, and leave your
hopes of preferment and bridal raptures to try once more the fortune
of literature and industry, the way through France is now open. We
flatter ourselves that we shall cultivate with great diligence the
arts of peace; and every man will be welcome among us who can teach
us anything we do not know. For your part, you will find all your old
friends willing to receive you....
To MRS. THRALE
"Travel in Scotland"
Skye, 21 "Sept." 1773.
I am so vexed at the necessity of sending yesterday so short a letter,
that I purpose to get a long letter beforehand by writing something
every day, which I may the more easily do, as a cold makes me now too
deaf to take the usual pleasure in conversation. Lady Macleod is very
good to me, and the place at which we now are, is equal in strength of
situation, in the wildness of the adjacent country, and in the plenty
and elegance of the domestic entertainment, to a castle in Gothic
romances. The sea with a little island is before us; cascades play
within view. Close to the house is the formidable skeleton of an old
castle probably Danish, and the whole mass of building stands upon
a protuberance of rock, inaccessible till of late but by a pair of
stairs on the sea side, and secure in ancient times against any enemy
that was likely to invade the kingdom of Skye.
Macleod has offered me an island; if it were not too far off I should
hardly refuse it: my island would be pleasanter than Brighthelmstone,
if you and my master could come to it; but I cannot think it pleasant
to live quite alone.
Oblitusque meorum, obliviscendus et illis.
That I should be elated by the dominion of an island to forgetfulness
of my friends at Streatham I cannot believe, and I hope never to
deserve that they should be willing to forget me.
It has happened that I have been often recognised in my journey
where I did not expect it. At Aberdeen I found one of my acquaintance
professor of physic; turning aside to dine with a country gentleman, I
was owned at table by one who had seen me at a philosophical lecture;
at Macdonald's I was claimed by a naturalist, who wanders about the
islands to pick up curiosities; and I had once in London attracted the
notice of Lady Macleod. I will now go on with my account.
The Highland girl made tea, and looked and talked not inelegantly; her
father was by no means an ignorant or a weak man; there were books in
the cottage, among which were some volumes of Prideaux's "Connection":
this man's conversation we were glad of while we stayed. He had been
"out", as they call it, in forty-five, and still retained his old
opinions. He was going to America, because his rent was raised beyond
what he thought himself able to pay.
At night our beds were made, but we had some difficulty in persuading
ourselves to lie down in them, though we had put on our own sheets;
at last we ventured, and I slept very soundly in the vale of Glen
Morrison, amidst the rocks and mountains. Next morning our landlord
liked us so well, that he walked some miles with us for our company,
through a country so wild and barren that the proprietor does not,
with all his pressure upon his tenants, raise more than four hundred
pounds a year for near one hundred square miles or sixty thousand
acres. He let us know that he had forty head of black cattle, an
hundred goats, and an hundred sheep, upon a farm that he remembered
let at five pounds a year, but for which he now paid twenty. He told
us some stories of their march into England. At last he left us,
and we went forward, winding among mountains, sometimes green and
sometimes naked, commonly so steep as not easily to be climbed by
the greatest vigour and activity: our way was often crossed by little
rivulets, and we were entertained with small streams trickling from
the rocks, which after heavy rains must be tremendous torrents.
About noon we came to a small glen, so they call a valley, which
compared with other places appeared rich and fertile; here our guides
desired us to stop, that the horses might graze, for the journey
was very laborious, and no more grass would be found. We made no
difficulty of compliance, and I sat down to take notes on a green
bank, with a small stream running at my feet, in the midst of savage
solitude, with mountains before me, and on either hand covered with
heath. I looked around me, and wondered that I was not more affected,
but the mind is not at all times equally ready to be put in motion;
if my mistress and master and Queeny had been there we should have
produced some reflections among us, either poetical or philosophical,
for though "solitude be the nurse of woe", conversation is often the
parent of remarks and discoveries.
In about an hour we remounted, and pursued our journey. The lake by
which we had travelled for some time ended in a river, which we passed
by a bridge, and came to another glen, with a collection of huts,
called Auknashealds; the huts were generally built of clods of earth,
held together by the intertexture of vegetable fibres, of which earth
there are great levels in Scotland which they call mosses. Moss in
Scotland is bog in Ireland, and moss-trooper is bog-trotter: there
was, however, one hut built of loose stones, piled up with great
thickness into a strong though not solid wall. From this house we
obtained some great pails of milk, and having brought bread with us,
were very liberally regaled. The inhabitants, a very coarse tribe,
ignorant of any language but Erse, gathered so fast about us, that if
we had not had Highlanders with us, they might have caused more alarm
than pleasure; they are called the Clan of Macrae.
We had been told that nothing gratified the Highlanders so much as
snuff and tobacco, and had accordingly stored ourselves with both at
Fort Augustus. Boswell opened his treasure, and gave them each a piece
of tobacco roll. We had more bread than we could eat for the present,
and were more liberal than provident. Boswell cut it in slices, and
gave them an opportunity of tasting wheaten bread for the first time.
I then got some halfpence for a shilling, and made up the deficiencies
of Boswell's distribution, who had given some money among the
children. We then directed that the mistress of the stone house should
be asked what we must pay her: she, who perhaps had never before
sold anything but cattle, knew not, I believe, well what to ask, and
referred herself to us: we obliged her to make some demand, and one of
the Highlanders settled the account with her at a shilling. One of the
men advised her, with the cunning that clowns never can be without, to
ask more; but she said that a shilling was enough. We gave her half
a crown, and she offered part of it again. The Macraes were so well
pleased with our behaviour, that they declared it the best day they
had seen since the time of the old Laird of Macleod, who, I suppose,
like us, stopped in their valley, as he was travelling to Skye....
I cannot forbear to interrupt my narrative. Boswell, with some of his
troublesome kindness, has informed this family and reminded me that
the 18th of September is my birthday. The return of my birthday, if I
remember it, fills me with thoughts which it seems to be the general
care of humanity to escape. I can now look back upon three score
and four years, in which little has been done, and little has been
enjoyed; a life diversified by misery, spent part in the sluggishness
of penury, and part under the violence of pain, in gloomy discontent
or importunate distress. But perhaps I am better than I should have
been if I had been less afflicted. With this I will try to be content.
In proportion as there is less pleasure in retrospective
considerations, the mind is more disposed to wander forward into
futurity; but at sixty-four what promises, however liberal, of
imaginary good can futurity venture to make? Yet something will be
always promised and some promises will always be credited. I am hoping
and I am praying that I may live better in the time to come, whether
long or short, than I have yet lived, and in the solace of that
hope endeavour to repose. Dear Queeny's day is next, I hope she at
sixty-four will have less to regret....
You will now expect that I should give you some account of the Isle of
Skye, of which, though I have been twelve days upon it, I have little
to say. It is an island perhaps fifty miles long, so much indented by
inlets of the sea that there is no part of it removed from the water
more than six miles. No part that I have seen is plain; you are always
climbing or descending, and every step is upon rock or mire. A walk
upon ploughed ground in England is a dance upon carpets compared to
the toilsome drudgery of wandering in Skye. There is neither town nor
village in the island, nor have I seen any house but Macleod's, that
is not much below your habitation at Brighthelmstone. In the mountains
there are stags and roebucks, but no hares, and few rabbits; nor have
I seen anything that interested me as a zoologist, except an otter,
bigger than I thought an otter could have been.
You perhaps are imagining that I am withdrawn from the gay and
the busy world into regions of peace and pastoral felicity, and am
enjoying the relics of the golden age; that I am surveying nature's
magnificence from a mountain, or remarking her minuter beauties on the
flowery bank of a winding rivulet; that I am invigorating myself in
the sunshine, or delighting my imagination with being hidden from
the invasion of human evils and human passions in the darkness of a
thicket; that I am busy in gathering shells and pebbles on the shore,
or contemplative on a rock, from which I look upon the water, and
consider how many waves are rolling between me and Streatham.
The use of travelling is to regulate imagination by reality, and
instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are. Here
are mountains which I should once have climbed, but to climb steps
is now very laborious, and to descend them dangerous; and I am now
content with knowing, that by scrambling up a rock, I shall only see
other rocks, and a wider circuit of barren desolation. Of streams, we
have here a sufficient number, but they murmur not upon pebbles, but
upon rocks. Of flowers, if Chloris herself were here, I could present
her only with the bloom of heath. Of lawns and thickets, he must read
that would know them, for here is little sun and no shade. On the sea
I look from my window, but am not much tempted to the shore; for since
I came to this island, almost every breath of air has been a storm,
and what is worse, a storm with all its severity, but without its
magnificence, for the sea is here so broken into channels that there
is not a sufficient volume of water either for lofty surges or a loud
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE EARL OF CHESTERFIELD
7 "Feb". 1775.
I have been lately informed, by the proprietor of "The World", that
two papers, in which my "Dictionary" is recommended to the public, are
by your lordship. To be so distinguished is an honour, which, being
very little accustomed to favours from the great, I know not well how
to receive, or in what terms to acknowledge.
When, upon some slight encouragement, I first visited your lordship, I
was overpowered, like the rest of mankind, by the enchantment of your
address, and could not forbear to wish that I might boast myself "le
vainqueur du vainqueur de la terre";--that I might obtain that regard
for which I saw the world contending; but I found my attendance so
little encouraged, that neither pride nor modesty would suffer me to
continue it. When I had once addressed your lordship in public, I
had exhausted all the art of pleasing which a retired and uncourtly
scholar can possess. I had done all I could; and no man is well
pleased to have his all neglected, be it ever so little.
Seven years, my lord, have now passed, since I waited in your outward
rooms, or was repulsed from your door; during which time I have been
pushing on my work through difficulties, of which it is useless to
complain, and have brought it at last to the verge of publication,
without one act of assistance, one word of encouragement, or one smile
of favour. Such treatment I did not expect, for I never had a patron
The shepherd in "Virgil" grew at last acquainted with Love, and found
him a native of the rocks.
Is not a patron, my lord, one who looks with unconcern on a man
struggling for life in the water, and when he has reached ground,
encumbers him with help? The notice which you have been pleased to
take of my labours, had it been early had been kind; but it has
been delayed till I am indifferent, and cannot enjoy it; till I am
solitary, and cannot impart it; till I am known, and do not want it. I
hope it is no very cynical asperity, not to confess obligations,
where no benefit has been received, or to be unwilling that the public
should consider me as owing that to a patron, which Providence has
enabled me to do for myself.
Having carried on my work thus far with so little obligation to any
favourer of learning, I shall not be disappointed though I shall
conclude it, if less be possible, with less; for I have been long
wakened from that dream of hope in which I once boasted myself with so
Your Lordship's most humble,
most obedient servant.
To JAMES BOSWELL
"A silent friend"
13 "July", 1779.
What can possibly have happened that keeps us two such strangers to
each other? I expected to have heard from you when you came home; I
expected afterwards. I went into the country and returned, and yet
there is no letter from Mr. Boswell. No ill, I hope, has happened; and
if ill should happen, why should it be concealed from him who loves
you? Is it a fit of humour, that has disposed you to try who can hold
out longest without writing? If it be, you have the victory. But I am
afraid of something bad; set me free from my suspicions.
My thoughts are at present employed in guessing the reason of your
silence; you must not expect that I should tell you anything, if I had
anything to tell. Write, pray write to me, and let me know what is or
what has been the cause of this long interruption.
To MRS. THRALE
"A great man's fortitude"
19 "June", 1783.
ON Monday the 16th, I sat for my picture and walked a considerable way
with little inconvenience. In the afternoon and evening I felt myself
light and easy, and began to plan schemes of life. Thus I went to bed,
and in a short time waked and sat up, as has been long my custom,
when I felt a confusion and indistinctness in my head, which lasted,
I suppose, about half a minute. I was alarmed, and prayed God, that
however he might afflict my body, he would spare my understanding.
This prayer, that I might try the integrity of my faculties, I made in
Latin verse. The lines were not very good, but I knew them not to be
very good: I made them easily, and concluded myself to be unimpaired
in my faculties.
Soon after I perceived that I had suffered a paralytic stroke,
and that my speech was taken from me. I had no pain, and so little
dejection in this dreadful state, that I wondered at my own apathy,
and considered that perhaps death itself, when it should come, would
excite less horror than seems now to attend it.
In order to rouse the vocal organs, I took two drams. Wine has been
celebrated for the production of eloquence. I put myself into violent
motion, and I think repeated it; but all was vain. I then went to bed,
and strange as it may seem, I slept. When I saw light, it was time to
contrive what I should do. Though God stopped my speech, he left me
my hands; I enjoyed a mercy which was not granted to my dear friend
Lawrence, who now perhaps overlooks me as I am writing, and rejoices
that I have what he wanted. My first note was necessarily to my
servant, who came in talking, and could not immediately comprehend why
he should read what I put into his hands. I then wrote a card to Mr.
Allen, that I might have a discreet friend at hand, to act as occasion
should require. In penning this note I had some difficulty; my hand,
I knew not how nor why, made wrong letters. I then wrote to Dr. Taylor
to come to me, and bring Dr. Heberden: and I sent to Dr. Brocklesby,
who is my neighbour. My physicians are very friendly, and give me
great hopes; but you may imagine my situation. I have so far recovered
my vocal powers, as to repeat the Lord's Prayer with no very imperfect
articulation. My memory, I hope, yet remains as it was! but such an
attack produces solicitude for the safety of every faculty.
To Miss LUMLEY
"The disconsolate lover"
You bid me tell you, my dear L., how I bore your departure for S----,
and whether the valley, where D'Estella stands, retains still its
looks, or if I think the roses or jessamines smell as sweet as when
you left it. Alas! everything has now lost its relish and look! The
hour you left D'Estella I took to my bed. I was worn out with fevers
of all kinds, but most by that fever of the heart with which thou
knowest well I have been wasting these two years--and shall continue
wasting till you quit S----. The good Miss S----, from the forebodings
of the best of hearts, thinking I was ill, insisted upon my going to
her. What can be the cause, my dear L., that I never have been able to
see the face of this mutual friend, but I feel myself rent to pieces?
She made me stay an hour with her, and in that short space I burst
into tears a dozen different times, and in such affectionate gusts of
passion, that she was constrained to leave the room, and sympathize
in her dressing-room. I have been weeping for you both, said she, in
a tone of the sweetest pity--for poor L.'s heart, I have long known
it--her anguish is as sharp as yours--her heart as tender--her
constancy as great--her virtues as heroic--Heaven brought you not
together to be tormented. I could only answer her with a kind look,
and a heavy sigh, and returned home to your lodgings (which I have
hired till your return) to resign myself to misery. Fanny had prepared
me a supper--she is all attention to me--but I sat over it with tears;
a bitter sauce, my L., but I could eat it with no other; for the
moment she began to spread my little table, my heart fainted within
me. One solitary plate, one knife, one fork, one glass! I gave a
thousand pensive, penetrating looks at the chair thou hadst so often
graced, in those quiet and sentimental repasts, then laid down my
knife and fork, and took out my handkerchief, and clapped it across
my face, and wept like a child. I could do so this very moment, my L.;
for, as I take up my pen, my poor pulse quickens, my pale face glows,
and tears are trickling down upon the paper, as I trace the word
L----. O thou! blessed in thyself, and in thy virtues, blessed to all
that know thee--to me most so, because more do I know of thee than all
thy sex. This is the philtre, my L., by which thou hast charmed me,
and by which thou wilt hold me thine, while virtue and faith hold this
world together. This, my friend, is the plain and simple magic, by
which I told Miss ---- I have won a place in that heart of thine, on
which I depend so satisfied, that time, or distance, or change of
everything which might alarm the hearts of little men, create no
uneasy suspense in mine. Wast thou to stay in S---- these seven
years, thy friend, though he would grieve, scorns to doubt, or to be
doubted--'tis the only exception where security is not the parent of
I told you poor Fanny was all attention to me since your
departure--contrives every day bringing in the name of L. She told
me last night (upon giving me some hartshorn), she had observed my
illness began the very day of your departure for S----; that I had
never held up my head, had seldom, or scarce ever, smiled, had fled
from all society; that she verily believed I was broken-hearted, for
she had never entered the room, or passed by the door, but she heard
me sigh heavily; that I neither eat, or slept, or took pleasure in
anything as before. Judge then, my L., can the valley look so well,
or the roses and jessamines smell so sweet as heretofore? Ah me! but
adieu--the vesper bell calls me from thee to my GOD.
To DAVID GARRICK
"Le chevalier Shandy"
Paris, 19 "March", 1762.
This will be put into your hands by Dr. Shippen, a physician, who has
been here some time with Miss Poyntz, and is at this moment setting
out for your metropolis; so I snatch the opportunity of writing to you
and my kind friend Mrs. Garrick. I see nothing like her here, and yet
I have been introduced to one half of their best Goddesses, and in a
month more shall be admitted to the shrines of the other half; but I
neither worship or fall (much) on my knees before them; but, on the
contrary, have converted many unto Shandeism; for be it known, I
Shandy it away fifty times more than I was ever wont, talk more
nonsense than ever you heard me talk in your days--and to all sorts
of people. "Qui le diable est cet homme-là"--said Choiseul t'other
day--"ce chevalier Shandy"? You'll think me as vain as a devil, was I
to tell you the rest of the dialogue; whether the bearer knows it or
no, I know not. 'Twill serve up after supper, in Southampton-street,
amongst other small dishes, after the fatigues of Richard III. O God!
they have nothing here, which gives the nerves so smart a blow, as
those great characters in the hands of Garrick! but I forgot I
am writing to the man himself. The devil take (as he will) these
transports of enthusiasm! Apropos, the whole city of Paris is
"bewitched" with the comic opera, and if it was not for the affair
of the Jesuits, which takes up one half of our talk, the comic opera
would have it all. It is a tragical nuisance in all companies as it
is, and was it not for some sudden starts and dashes of Shandeism,
which now and then either break the thread, or entangle it so, that
the devil himself would be puzzled in winding it off, I should die a
martyr--this by the way I never will.
I send you over some of these comic operas by the bearer, with the
"Sallon", a satire. The French comedy, I seldom visit it--they act
scarce in anything but tragedies--and the Clairon is great, and Mile.
Dumesnil, in some places, still greater than her; yet I cannot bear
preaching--I fancy I got a surfeit of it in my younger days. There
is a tragedy to be damned to-night--peace be with it, and the gentle
brain which made it! I have ten thousand things to tell you I cannot
write, I do a thousand things which cut no figure, "but in the
doing"--and as in London, I have the honour of having done and said a
thousand things I never did or dreamed of--and yet I dream abundantly.
If the devil stood behind me in the shape of a courier, I could not
write faster than I do, having five letters more to dispatch by the
same gentleman; he is going into another section of the globe, and
when he has seen you, will depart in peace.
The Duke of Orleans has suffered my portrait to be added to the number
of some odd men in his collection; and a gentleman who lives with him
has taken it most expressively, at full length: I purpose to obtain an
etching of it, and to send it you. Your prayer for me of "rosy health"
is heard. If I stay here for three or four months, I shall return more
than reinstated. My love to Mrs. Garrick.
To MR. FOLEY AT PARIS
"An adventure on the road"
Toulouse, 14 "Aug". 1762.
MY DEAR FOLEY,
After many turnings ("alias" digressions), to say nothing of downright
overthrows, stops, and delays, we have arrived in three weeks at
Toulouse, and are now settled in our houses with servants, &c., about
us, and look as composed as if we had been here seven years. In
our journey we suffered so much from the heats, it gives me pain to
remember it; I never saw a cloud from Paris to Nismes half as broad as
a twenty-four sols piece. Good God! we were toasted, roasted, grilled,
stewed and carbonaded on one side or other all the way; and being all
done enough ("assez cuits") in the day, we were eat up at night by
bugs, and other unswept-out vermin, the legal inhabitants (if length
of possession gives right) of every inn we lay at. Can you conceive
a worse accident than that in such a journey, in the hottest day and
hour of it, four miles from either tree or shrub which could cast a
shade of the size of one of Eve's fig leaves, that we should break a
hind wheel into ten thousand pieces, and be obliged in consequence
to sit five hours on a gravelly road, without one drop of water, or
possibility of getting any? To mend the matter, my two postillions
were two dough-hearted fools, and fell a-crying. Nothing was to be
done! By heaven, quoth I, pulling off my coat and waistcoat, something
shall be done, for I'll thrash you both within an inch of your lives,
and then make you take each of you a horse, and ride like two devils
to the next post for a cart to carry my baggage, and a wheel to
carry ourselves. Our luggage weighed ten quintals. It was the fair
of Baucaire, all the world was going, or returning; we were asked by
every soul who passed by us, if we were going to the fair of Baucaire.
No wonder, quoth I, we have goods enough! "vous avez raison, mes
To RICHARD WEST
"Scenery at Tivoli"
Tivoli, 20 "May", 1740.
This day being in the palace of his Highness the Duke of Modena, he
laid his most serene commands upon me to write to Mr. West, and said
he thought it for his glory, that I should draw up an inventory of all
his most serene possessions for the said West's perusal. Imprimis,
a house, being in circumference a quarter of a mile, two feet and an
inch; the said house containing the following particulars, to wit,
a great room. Item, another great room; item, a bigger room; item,
another room; item, a vast room; item, a sixth of the same; a seventh
ditto; an eighth as before; a ninth as above said; a tenth (see No.
1); item, ten more such, besides twenty besides, which, not to be too
particular, we shall pass over. The said rooms contain nine chairs,
two tables, five stools and a cricket. From whence we shall proceed
to the garden, containing two millions of superfine laurel hedges,
a clump of cypress trees, and half the river Teverone.--Finis. Dame
Nature desired me to put in a list of her little goods and chattels,
and, as they were small, to be very minute about them. She has built
here three or four little mountains, and laid them out in an irregular
semi-circle; from certain others behind, at a greater distance, she
has drawn a canal, into which she has put a little river of hers,
called Anio; she has cut a huge cleft between the two innermost of her
four hills, and there she has left it to its own disposal; which she
has no sooner done, but, like a heedless chit, it tumbles headlong
down a declivity fifty feet perpendicular, breaks itself all to
shatters, and is converted into a shower of rain, where the sun forms
many a bow, red, green, blue, and yellow. To get out of our metaphors
without any further trouble, it is the most noble sight in the world.
The weight of that quantity of waters, and the force they fall with,
have worn the rocks they throw themselves among into a thousand
irregular craggs, and to a vast depth. In this channel it goes boiling
along with a mighty noise till it comes to another steep, where you
see it a second time come roaring down (but first you must walk
two miles farther) a greater height than before, but not with that
quantity of waters; for by this time it has divided itself, being
crossed and opposed by the rocks, into four several streams, each of
which, in emulation of the great one, will tumble down too; and it
does tumble down, but not from an equally elevated place; so that you
have at one view all these cascades intermixed with groves of olive
and little woods, the mountains rising behind them, and on the top of
one (that which forms the extremity of one of the half-circle's horns)
is seated the town itself. At the very extremity of that extremity, on
the brink of the precipice, stands the Sybil's temple, the remains
of a little rotunda, surrounded with its portico, above half of whose
beautiful Corinthian pillars are still standing and entire; all this
on one hand. On the other, the open Campagna of Rome, here and there
a little castle on a hillock, and the city itself at the very brink of
the horizon, indistinctly seen (being eighteen miles off) except the
dome of St. Peter's; which, if you look out of your window, wherever
you are, I suppose, you can see. I did not tell you that a little
below the first fall, on the side of the rock, and hanging over that
torrent, are little ruins which they show you for Horace's house, a
curious situation to observe the
Praeceps Anio et Tiburni lucus, et uda
Mobilibus pomaria rivis.
Maecenas did not care for such a noise, it seems, and built him a
house (which they also carry one to see) so situated that it sees
nothing at all of the matter, and for anything he knew there might be
no such river in the world. Horace had another house on the other side
of the Teverone, opposite to Maecenas's; and they told us there was
a bridge of communication, by which "andava il detto Signor per
trastullarsi coll' istesso Orazio". In coming hither we crossed the
Aquae Albulae, a vile little brook that stinks like a fury, and they
say it has stunk so these thousand years. I forgot the Piscina of
Quintilius Varus, where he used to keep certain little fishes. This
is very entire, and there is a piece of the aqueduct that supplied it
too; in the garden below is old Rome, built in little, just as it was,
they say. There are seven temples in it, and no houses at all; they
say there were none.
TO THE SAME
"A poet's melancholy"
London, 27 "May", 1742.
Mine, you are to know is a white Melancholy, or rather Leucocholy
for the most part; which, though it seldom laughs or dances, nor ever
amounts to what one called Joy or Pleasure, yet is a good easy sort
of a state, and "ça ne laisse que de s'amuser." The only fault is its
insipidity; which is apt now and then to give a sort of Ennui, which
makes one form certain little wishes that signify nothing. But there
is another sort, black indeed, which I have now and then felt, that
has somewhat in it like Tertullian's rule of faith, "Credo quia
impossibile est"; for it believes, nay, is sure of everything that is
unlikely, so it be but frightful; and on the other hand excludes and
shuts its eyes to the most possible hopes, and everything that is
pleasurable; from this the Lord deliver us! for none but he and
sunshiny weather can do it. In hopes of enjoying this kind of weather
I am going into the country for a few weeks, but shall be never the
nearer any society; so, if you have any charity, you will continue to
write. My life is like Harry the Fourth's supper of Hens, 'Poulets à
la broche, Poulets en Ragoût, Poulets en Hâchis, Poulets en Fricassées
'. Reading here, Reading there; nothing but books with different
sauces. Do not let me lose my desert then; for though that be Reading
too, yet it has a very different flavour. The May seems to be come
since your invitation; and I propose to bask in her beams and dress me
in her roses.
Et caput in verna semper habere rosa.
I shall see Mr. ---- and his Wife, nay, and his Child, too, for he has
got a Boy. Is it not odd to consider one's Cotemporaries in the grave
light of Husband and Father? There is my lords Sandwich and Halifax,
they are Statesmen: Do not you remember them dirty boys playing at
cricket? As for me, I am never a bit the older, nor the bigger, nor
the wiser than I was then: no, not for having been beyond sea. Pray,
how are you?...
To HORACE WALPOLE
"The fate of Selima"
Cambridge, 1 "March", 1747.
As one ought to be particularly careful to avoid blunders in a
compliment of condolence, it would be a sensible satisfaction to
me (before I testify my sorrow, and the sincere part I take in your
misfortune) to know for certain, who it is that I lament. I knew Zara
and Selima (Selima, was it? or Fatima?) or rather I knew both of them
together; for I cannot justly say which was which. Then as to your
handsome Cat, the name you distinguished her by, I am no less at a
loss, as well knowing one's handsome cat is always the cat one likes
best; or if one be alive and the other dead, it is usually the latter
that is the handsomest. Besides, if the point were never so clear, I
hope you do not think me so ill-bred or so imprudent as to forfeit all
my interest in the survivor; Oh no! I would rather seem to mistake,
and to be sure it must be the tabby one that had met with this sad
accident. Till this affair is a little better determined, you will
excuse me if I do not begin to cry:
Tempus inane peto, requiem, spatiumque doloris.
Which interval is the more convenient, as it gives time to rejoice
with you on your new honours. This is only a beginning; I reckon next
week we shall hear you are a free-Mason, or a Gormorgon at least.
Heigh ho! I feel (as you to be sure have done long since) that I have
very little to say, at least in prose. Somebody will be the better for
it; I do not mean you, but your Cat, feuë Mademoiselle Selime, whom I
am about to immortalize for one week or fortnight, as follows.
... There's a poem for you, it is rather too long for an Epitaph.
TO THE SAME
"Publication of the Elegy"
Cambridge, 11 "Feb". 1751.
As you have brought me into a little sort of distress, you must assist
me, I believe, to get out of it as well as I can. Yesterday I had
the misfortune of receiving a letter from certain gentlemen (as their
bookseller expresses it), who have taken the "Magazine of Magazines"
into their hands. They tell me that an "ingenious" poem, called
"Reflections in a Country Churchyard", has been communicated to them,
which they are printing forthwith; that they are informed that the
"excellent" author of it is I by name, and that they beg not only his
"indulgence", but the "honour" of his correspondence, &c. As I am not
at all disposed to be either so indulgent, or so correspondent, as
they desire, I have but one bad way left to escape the honour they
would inflict upon me; and, therefore, am obliged to desire you would
make Dodsley print it immediately (which may be done in less than a
week's time) from your copy, but without my name, in what form is
most convenient for him, but on his best paper and character; he must
correct the press himself, and print it without any interval between
the stanzas, because the sense is in some places continued
beyond them; and the title must be,--"Elegy, written in a Country
Churchyard". If he would add a line or two to say it came into
his hands by accident, I should like it better. If you behold the
"Magazine of Magazines" in the light that I do, you will not refuse to
give yourself this trouble on my account, which you have taken of your
own accord before now. If Dodsley do not do this immediately, he may
as well let it alone.
TO THE SAME
[Burnham,] "Sept". 1737.
I was hindered in my last, and so could not give you all the trouble
I would have done. The description of a road, which your coach wheels
have so often honoured, it would be needless to give you; suffice
it that I arrived safe at my uncle's, who is a great hunter in
imagination; his dogs take up every chair in the house, so I am forced
to stand at this present writing; and though the gout forbids him
galloping after them in the field, yet he continues to regale his ears
and nose with their comfortable noise and stink. He holds me mighty
cheap, I perceive, for walking when I should ride, and reading when
I should hunt. My comfort amidst all this is, that I have at the
distance of half a mile, through a green lane, a forest (the vulgar
call it a common) all my own, at least as good as so, for I spy no
human thing in it but myself. It is a little chaos of mountains and
precipices; mountains, it is true, that do not ascend much above the
clouds, nor are the declivities quite so amazing as Dover Cliff; but
just such hills as people who love their necks as well as I do may
venture to climb, and crags that give the eye as much pleasure as if
they were more dangerous. Both vale and hill are covered with most
venerable beeches, and other very reverend vegetables, that, like most
other ancient people, are always dreaming out their old stories to the
"And as they bow their hoary tops relate,
In murm'ring sounds, the dark decrees of fate;
While visions, as poetic eyes avow,
Cling to each leaf, and swarm on every bough."
At the foot of one of these squats ME I ("ilpenseroso"), and there
grow to the trunk for a whole morning. The timorous hare and sportive
squirrel gambol round me like Adam in Paradise, before he had an Eve;
but I think he did not use to read Virgil, as I commonly do there.
In this situation I often converse with my Horace, aloud too, that is
talk to you, but I do not remember that I ever heard you answer me.
I beg pardon for taking all the conversation to myself, but it is
entirely your own fault....
To THE REV. WILLIAM MASON
19 "Dec". 1757.
Though I very well know the bland emollient saponaceous qualities both
of sack and silver, yet if any great man would say to me, 'I make you
Rat-catcher to his Majesty, with a salary of £300 a-year and two butts
of the best Malaga; and though it has been usual to catch a mouse or
two, for form's sake, in public once a year, yet to you, sir, we shall
not stand on these things,' I cannot say I should jump at it; nay, if
they would drop the very name of the office, and call me Sinecure
to the King's Majesty, I should feel a little awkward, and think
everybody I saw smelt a rat about me; but I do not pretend to blame
any one else that has not the same sensations; for my part, I would
rather be serjeant trumpeter or pinmaker to the palace. Nevertheless
I interest myself a little in the history of it, and rather wish
somebody may accept it who will retrieve the credit of the thing, if
it be retrieveable, or ever had any credit. Rowe was, I think, the
last man of character that had it. As to Settle, whom you mention,
he belonged to my lord mayor, not to the King. Eusden was a person
of great hopes in his youth, though at last he turned out a drunken
person. Dryden was as disgraceful to the office from his character,
as the poorest scribbler could have been from his verses. The office
itself has always humbled the professor hitherto (even in an age when
kings were somebody), if he were a poor writer by making him more
conspicuous, and if he were a good one by setting him at war with the
little fry of his own profession, for there are poets little enough to
envy even a poet laureate.
To DR. WHARTON
"A holiday in Kent"
Pembroke College, 26 "Aug". 1766.
Whatever my pen may do, I am sure my thoughts expatiate nowhere
oftener, or with more pleasure, than to Old Park. I hope you have made
my peace with Miss Deborah. It is certain, whether her name were in
my letter or not, she was as present to my memory as the rest of the
little family; and I desire you would present her with two kisses
in my name, and one a piece to all the others; for I shall take the
liberty to kiss them all (great and small) as you are to be my proxy.
In spite of the rain, which I think continued with very short
intervals till the beginning of this month, and quite effaced the
summer from the year, I made a shift to pass May and June, not
disagreeably, in Kent. I was surprised at the beauty of the road
to Canterbury, which (I know not why) had not struck me in the same
manner before. The whole country is a rich and well cultivated garden;
orchards, cherry grounds, hop grounds, intermixed with corn and
frequent villages, gentle risings covered with wood, and everywhere
the Thames and Medway breaking in upon the landscape, with all their
navigation. It was indeed owing to the bad weather that the whole
scene was dressed in that tender emerald green, which one usually sees
only for a fortnight in the opening of Spring; and this continued till
I left the country. My residence was eight miles east of Canterbury,
in a little quiet valley on the skirts of Barham Down; in these parts
the whole soil is chalk, and whenever it holds up, in half an hour
it is dry enough to walk out. I took the opportunity of three or four
days fine weather to go into the Isle of Thanet, saw Margate (which
is Bartholomew Fair by the seaside), Ramsgate, and other places there;
and so came by Sandwich, Deal, Dover, Folkestone, and Hythe, back
again. The coast is not like Hartlepool, there are no rocks, but
only chalky cliffs, of no great height, till you come to Dover. There
indeed they are noble and picturesque, and the opposite coasts of
France begin to bound your view, which was left before to range
unlimited by anything but the horizon; yet it is by no means a
"shipless" sea, but everywhere peopled with white sails and vessels of
all sizes in motion; and take notice (except in the Isle, which is all
corn fields, and has very little enclosure), there are in all places
hedgerows and tall trees, even within a few yards of the beach,
particularly Hythe stands on an eminence covered with wood. I shall
confess we had fires of a night (aye and a day too) several times even
in June: but don't go too far and take advantage of this, for it was
the most untoward year that ever I remember.
Your friend Rousseau (I doubt) grows tired of Mr. Davenport and
Derbyshire; he has picked a quarrel with David Hume, and writes
him letters of fourteen pages folio, upbraiding him with all his
"noirceurs"; take one only as a specimen. He says, that at Calais
they chanced to sleep in the same room together, and that he overheard
David talking in his sleep, and saying, '"Ah! je le tiens, ce
Jean-Jacques là".' In short (I fear), for want of persecution and
admiration (for these are his real complaints), he will go back to the
What shall I say to you about the ministry? I am as angry as a
common council man of London about my Lord Chatham; but a little more
patient, and will hold my tongue till the end of the year. In the
meantime I do mutter in secret, and to you, that to quit the House of
Commons, his natural strength, to sap his own popularity and grandeur
(which no one but himself could have done) by assuming a foolish
title; and to hope that he could win by it, and attach to him a court
that hate him, and will dismiss him as soon as ever they dare, was the
weakest thing that ever was done by so great a man. Had it not been
for this, I should have rejoiced at the breach between him and Lord
Temple, and at the union between him and the Duke of Grafton and
Mr. Conway: but patience! we shall see! Stonehewer perhaps is in the
country (for he hoped for a month's leave of absence), and if you see
him you will learn more than I can tell you.
To RICHARD WEST
"Floods in the Arno"
From Florence, "Nov". 1740.
Child, I am going to let you see your shocking proceedings with us. On
my conscience, I believe 'tis three months since you wrote to either
Gray or me. If you had been ill, Ashton would have said so; and if
you had been dead, the gazettes would have said it. If you had been
angry,--but that's impossible; how can one quarrel with folks three
thousand miles off? We are neither divines nor commentators, and
consequently have not hated you on paper. 'Tis to show that my charity
for you cannot be interrupted at this distance that I write to you,
though I have nothing to say, for 'tis a bad time for small news; and
when emperors and czarinas are dying all up and down Europe, one can't
pretend to tell you of anything that happens within our sphere. Not
but that we have our accidents too. If you have had a great wind in
England, we have had a great water at Florence. We have been trying
to set out every day, and pop upon you ... It is fortunate that
we stayed, for I don't know what had become of us! Yesterday, with
violent rains, there came flouncing down from the mountains such a
flood that it floated the whole city. The jewellers on the Old Bridge
removed their commodities, and in two hours after the bridge was
cracked. The torrent broke down the quays and drowned several
coach-horses, which are kept here in stables under ground. We were
moated into our house all day, which is near the Arno, and had the
miserable spectacles of the ruins that were washed along with the
hurricane. There was a cart with two oxen not quite dead, and four men
in it drowned: but what was ridiculous, there came tiding along a
fat hay-cock, with a hen and her eggs, and a cat. The torrent is
considerably abated; but we expect terrible news from the country,
especially from Pisa, which stands so much lower, and nearer the
sea. There is a stone here, which, when the water overflows, Pisa is
entirely flooded. The water rose two ells yesterday above that stone.
For this last month we have passed our time but dully, all diversions
silenced on the Emperor's death, and everybody out of town. I have
seen nothing but cards and dull pairs of cicisbeos. I have literally
seen so much of love and pharaoh since being here, that I believe I
shall never love either again so long as I live. Then I am got into
a horrid lazy way of a morning. I don't believe I should know seven
o'clock in the morning again if I was to see it. But I am returning to
England, and shall grow very solemn and wise! Are you wise? Dear West,
have pity on one who has done nothing of gravity for these two years,
and do laugh sometimes. We do nothing else, and have contracted such
formidable ideas of the good people of England that we are already
nourishing great black eyebrows and great black beards, and teasing
our countenances into wrinkles.
[Footnote 1: MS. torn here.]
To RICHARD BENTLEY
"Pictures and Garrick"
Strawberry Hill, 15 "Aug". 1755.
MY DEAR SIR,
Though I wrote to you so lately, and have certainly nothing new to
tell you, I can't help scribbling a line to you to-night, as I am
going to Mr. Rigby's for a week or ten days, and must thank you first
for the three pictures. One of them charms me, the Mount Orgueil,
which is absolutely fine; the sea, and shadow upon it, are masterly.
The other two I don't, at least won't, take for finished. If you
please, Elizabeth Castle shall be Mr. Müntz's performance: indeed I
see nothing of you in it. I do reconnoitre you in the Hercules and
Nessus; but in both, your colours are dirty, carelessly dirty: in
your distant hills you are improved, and not hard. The figures are too
large--I don't mean in the Elizabeth Castle, for there they are neat;
but the centaur, though he dies as well as Garrick can, is outrageous.
Hercules and Deianira are by no means so: he is sentimental, and she
most improperly sorrowful. However, I am pleased enough to beg you
would continue. As soon as Mr. Müntz returns from the Vine, you shall
have a good supply of colours. In the meantime why give up the good
old trade of drawing? Have you no Indian ink, no soot-water, no snuff,
no coat of onion, no juice of anything? If you love me, draw: you
would if you knew the real pleasure you can give me. I have been
studying all your drawings; and next to architecture and trees, I
determine that you succeed in nothing better than animals. Now (as
the newspapers say) the late ingenious Mr. Seymour is dead, I would
recommend horses and greyhounds to you. I should think you capable of
a landscape or two with delicious bits of architecture. I have known
you execute the light of a torch or lanthorn so well, that if it
was called Schalken, a housekeeper at Hampton Court or Windsor, or
a Catherine at Strawberry Hill, would show it, and say it cost ten
thousand pounds. Nay, if I could believe that you would ever execute
any more designs I proposed to you, I would give you a hint for a
picture that struck me t'other day in Péréfixe's "Life of Henry IV".
He says, the king was often seen lying upon a common straw-bed among
the soldiers, with a piece of brown bread in one hand, and a bit
of charcoal in t'other, to draw an encampment, or town that he was
besieging. If this is not character and a picture, I don't know what
I dined to-day at Garrick's: there were the Duke of Grafton, Lord and
Lady Rochford, Lady Holderness, the crooked Mostyn, and Dabreu the
Spanish minister; two regents, of which one is lord chamberlain, the
other groom of the stole; and the wife of a secretary of state. This
is being "sur un assez bon ton" for a player! Don't you want to ask me
how I like him? Do want, and I will tell you.--I like her exceedingly;
her behaviour is all sense, and all sweetness too. I don't know how,
he does not improve so fast upon me: there is a great deal of parts,
and vivacity, and variety, but there is a great deal too of mimicry
and burlesque. I am very ungrateful, for he flatters me abundantly;
but unluckily I know it. I was accustomed to it enough when my father
was first minister: on his fall I lost it all at once: and since that,
I have lived with Mr. Chute, who is all vehemence; with Mr. Fox, who
is all disputation; with Sir Charles Williams, who has no time from
flattering himself; with Gray, who does not hate to find fault with
me; with Mr. Conway, who is all sincerity; and with you and Mr. Rigby,
who have always laughed at me in a good-natured way. I don't know how,
but I think I like all this as well--I beg his pardon, Mr. Raftor does
flatter me; but I should be a cormorant for praise, if I could swallow
it whole as he gives it me.
Sir William Yonge, who has been extinct so long, is at last dead; and
the war, which began with such a flirt of vivacity, is I think gone to
sleep. General Braddock has not yet sent over to claim the surname of
Americanus. But why should I take pains to show you in how many ways I
know nothing?--Why; I can tell it you in one word--why, Mr. Cambridge
knows nothing!--I wish you good-night!
To GEORGE, LORD LYTTELTON
Strawberry Hill, 25 "Aug". 1757.
It is a satisfaction one can't often receive, to show a thing of
great merit to a man of great taste. Your Lordship's approbation is
conclusive, and it stamps a disgrace on the age, who have not given
themselves the trouble to see any beauties in these "Odes" of Mr.
Gray. They have cast their eyes over them, found them obscure, and
looked no further, yet perhaps no compositions ever had more sublime
beauties than are in each. I agree with your Lordship in preferring
the last upon the whole; the three first stanzas and half, down to
"agonizing King", are in my opinion equal to anything in any language
I understand. Yet the three last of the first Ode please me very near
as much. The description of Shakespeare is worthy Shakespeare: the
account of Milton's blindness, though perhaps not strictly defensible,
is very majestic. The character of Dryden's poetry is as animated as
what it paints. I can even like the epithet "Orient"; as the last is
the empire of fancy and poesy, I would allow its livery to be erected
into a colour. I think "blue-eyed Pleasures" is allowable: when Homer
gave eyes of what hue he pleased to his Queen-Goddesses, sure Mr. Gray
may tinge those of their handmaids.
In answer to your Lordship's objection to "many-twinkling", in that
beautiful epode, I will quote authority to which you will yield. As
Greek as the expression is, it struck Mrs. Garrick, and she says, on
that whole picture, that Mr. Gray is the only poet who ever understood
These faults I think I can defend, and can excuse others; even the
great obscurity of the latter, for I do not see it in the first; the
subject of it has been taken for music,--it is the Power and Progress
of Harmonious Poetry. I think his objection to prefixing a title to it
was wrong--that Mr. Cooke published an ode with such a title. If the
Louis the Great, whom Voltaire has discovered in Hungary, had not
disappeared from history himself, would not Louis Quatorze have
annihilated him? I was aware that the second would have darknesses,
and prevailed for the insertion of what notes there are, and would
have had more. Mr. Gray said, whatever wanted explanation did not
deserve it, but that sentence was never so far from being an axiom as
in the present case. Not to mention how he had shackled himself with
strophe, antistrophe, and epode (yet acquitting himself nobly),
the nature of prophecy forbade him naming his kings. To me they are
apparent enough--yet I am far from thinking either piece perfect,
though with what faults they have, I hold them in the first rank of
genius and poetry. The second strophe of the first Ode is inexcusable,
nor do I wonder your Lordship blames it; even when one does understand
it, perhaps the last line is too turgid. I am not fond of the
antistrophe that follows. In the second Ode he made some corrections
for the worse. "Brave Urion" was originally "stern": brave is insipid
and commonplace. In the third antistrophe, "leave me unblessed,
unpitied", stood at first, "leave your despairing Caradoc". But the
capital faults in my opinion are these--what punishment was it to
Edward I to hear that his grandson would conquer France? or is so
common an event as Edward III being deserted on his death-bed, worthy
of being made part of a curse that was to avenge a nation? I can't
cast my eye here, without crying out on those beautiful lines that
follow, "Fair smiles the morn"? Though the images are extremely
complicated, what painting in the whirlwind, likened to a lion lying
in ambush for his evening prey, "in grim repose". Thirst and hunger
mocking Richard II appear to me too ludicrously like the devils in
"The Tempest", that whisk away the banquet from the shipwrecked Dukes.
From thence to the conclusion of Queen Elizabeth's portrait, which he
has faithfully copied from Speed, in the passage where she humbled the
Polish Ambassador, I admire. I can even allow that image of Rapture
hovering like an ancient grotesque, though it strictly has little
meaning: but there I take my leave--the last stanza has no beauties
for me. I even think its obscurity fortunate, for the allusions to
Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, are not only weak, but the two last
returning again, after appearing so gloriously in the first Ode, and
with so much fainter colours, enervate the whole conclusion.
Your Lordship sees that I am no enthusiast to Mr. Gray: his great
lustre has not dazzled me, as his obscurity seems to have blinded his
contemporaries. Indeed, I do not think that they ever admired him,
except in his Churchyard, though the Eton Ode was far its superior,
and is certainly not obscure. The Eton Ode is perfect: those of more
masterly execution have defects, yet not to admire them is total want
of taste. I have an aversion to tame poetry; at best, perhaps the art
is the sublimest of the "difficiles nugae"; to measure or rhyme prose
is trifling without being difficult.
To GEORGE MONTAGU
"At Lady Suffolk's"
Arlington Street, 11 "Jan". 1764.
It is an age, I own, since I wrote to you; but except politics,
what was there to send you? and for politics, the present are too
contemptible to be recorded by anybody but journalists, gazetteers,
and such historians! The ordinary of Newgate, or Mr.----, who write
for their monthly half-crown, and who are indifferent whether Lord
Bute, Lord Melcombe, or Maclean is their hero, may swear they
find diamonds on dunghills; but you will excuse "me", if I let our
correspondence lie dormant rather than deal in such trash. I am forced
to send Lord Hertford and Sir Horace Mann such garbage, because
they are out of England, and the sea softens and makes palatable any
potion, as it does claret; but unless I can divert "you", I had rather
wait till we can laugh together; the best employment for friends,
who do not mean to pick one another's pockets, nor make a property of
either's frankness. Instead of politics, therefore, I shall amuse you
to-day with a fairy tale.
I was desired to be at my Lady Suffolk's on New Year's morn, where I
found Lady Temple and others. On the toilet Miss Hotham spied a small
round box. She seized it with all the eagerness and curiosity of
eleven years. In it was wrapped up a heart-diamond ring, and a paper
in which, in a hand as small as Buckinger's, who used to write the
Lord's Prayer in the compass of a silver penny, were the following
Sent by a sylph, unheard, unseen,
A new-year's gift from Mab our queen:
But tell it not, for if you do,
You will be pinch'd all black and blue.
Consider well, what a disgrace,
To show abroad your mottled face:
Then seal your lips, put on the ring,
And sometimes think of Ob. the King.
You will easily guess that Lady Temple was the poetess, and that we
were delighted with the genteelness of the thought and execution. The
child, you may imagine, was less transported with the poetry than the
present. Her attention, however, was hurried backwards and forwards
from the ring to a new coat, that she had been trying on when sent for
down; impatient to revisit her coat, and to show the ring to her maid,
she whisked upstairs; when she came down again, she found a letter
sealed, and lying on the floor--new exclamations! Lady Suffolk bade
her open it: here it is:
Your tongue, too nimble for your sense,
Is guilty of a high offence;
Hath introduced unkind debate,
And topsy-turvy turn'd our state.
In gallantry I sent the ring,
The token of a love-sick king:
Under fair Mab's auspicious name
From me the trifling present came.
You blabb'd the news in Suffolk's ear;
The tattling zephyrs brought it here,
As Mab was indolently laid
Under a poppy's spreading shade.
The jealous queen started in rage;
She kick'd her crown, and beat her page:
'Bring me my magic wand ', she cries;
'Under that primrose, there it lies;
I'll change the silly, saucy chit,
Into a flea, a louse, a nit,
A worm, a grasshopper, a rat,
An owl, a monkey, hedgehog, bat.
But hold, why not by fairy art
Transform the wretch, into--?
Ixion once a cloud embraced,
By Jove and jealousy well placed;
What sport to see proud Oberon stare
And flirt it with a--!'
Then thrice she stamped the trembling ground,
And thrice she waved her wand around;
When I, endow'd with greater skill,
And less inclined to do you ill,
Mutter'd some words, withheld her arm,
And kindly stopp'd the unfinish'd charm.
But though not changed to owl or bat,
Or something more indelicate;
Yet, as your tongue has run too fast,
Your boasted beauty must not last.
No more shall frolic Cupid lie
In ambuscade in either eye,
From thence to aim his keenest dart
To captivate each youthful heart:
No more shall envious misses pine
At charms now flown, that once were thine:
No more, since you so ill behave,
Shall injured Oberon be your slave.
There is one word which I could wish had not been there, though it is
prettily excused afterwards. The next day my Lady Suffolk desired I
would write her a patent for appointing Lady Temple poet laureate to
the fairies. I was excessively out of order with a pain in my stomach,
which I had had for ten days, and was fitter to write verses like
a poet laureate, than for making one; however, I was going home to
dinner alone, and at six I sent her some lines, which you ought to
have seen how sick I was, to excuse; but first, I must tell you my
tale methodically. The next morning by nine o'clock Miss Hotham (she
must forgive me twenty years hence for saying she was eleven, for I
recollect she is but ten) arrived at Lady Temple's, her face and neck
all spotted with saffron, and limping. 'Oh, madam!' said she, 'I am
undone for ever if you do not assist me!' 'Lord, child,' cried my Lady
Temple, 'what is the matter?' thinking she had hurt herself, or lost
the ring, and that she was stolen out before her aunt was up. 'Oh,
madam,' said the girl, 'nobody but you can assist me!' My Lady Temple
protests the child acted her part so well as to deceive her. 'What can
I do for you?' 'Dear madam, take this load from my back; nobody but
you can.' Lady Temple turned her round, and upon her back was tied a
child's waggon. In it were three tiny purses of blue velvet; in one of
them a silver cup, in another a crown of laurel, and in the third
four new silver pennies, with the patent, signed at top, 'Oberon
Imperator'; and two sheets of warrants strung together with blue silk
according to form; and at top an office seal of wax and a chaplet of
cut paper on it. The warrants were these:
From the Royal Mews:
A waggon with the draught horses, delivered by
command without fee.
From the Lord Chamberlain's Office:
A warrant with the royal sign manual, delivered
by command without fee, being first entered
in the office books.
From the Lord Steward's Office:
A butt of sack, delivered without fee or gratuity,
with an order for returning the cask for the
use of the office, by command.
From the Great Wardrobe:
Three velvet bags, delivered without fee, by
From the Treasurer of the Household's Office:
A year's salary paid free from land-tax, poundage,
or any other deduction whatever, by command.
From the Jewel Office:
A silver butt, a silver cup, a wreath of bays, by
command without fee.
Then came the Patent:
By these presents be it known,
To all who bend before our throne,
Fays and fairies, elves and sprites,
Beauteous dames and gallant knights,
That we, Oberon the grand,
Emperor of fairy-land,
King of moonshine, prince of dreams,
Lord of Aganippe's streams,
Baron of the dimpled isles
That lie in pretty maidens' smiles,
Arch-treasurer of all the graces
Dispersed through fifty lovely faces,
Sovereign of the slipper's order,
With all the rites thereon that border,
Defender of the sylphic faith,
Declare--and thus your monarch saith:
Whereas there is a noble dame,
Whom mortals Countess Temple name,
To whom ourself did erst impart
The choicest secrets of our art,
Taught her to tune the harmonious line
To our own melody divine,
Taught her the graceful negligence,
Which, scorning art and veiling sense,
Achieves that conquest o'er the heart
Sense seldom gains, and never art;
This lady, 'tis our royal will,
Our laureate's vacant seat should fill:
A chaplet of immortal bays
Shall crown her brow and guard her lays;
Of nectar sack an acorn cup
Be at her board each year filled up;
And as each quarter feast comes round
A silver penny shall be found
Within the compass of her shoe--
And so we bid you all adieu!
Given at our palace of Cowslip Castle, the shortest night of the year.
How shall I tell you the greatest curiosity of the story? The whole
plan and execution of the second act was laid and adjusted by my
Lady Suffolk herself and Will. Chetwynd, Master of the Mint, Lord
Bolingbroke's Oroonoho-Chetwynd; he fourscore, she past seventy-six;
and what is more, much worse than I was, for, added to her deafness,
she has been confined these three weeks with the gout in her eyes, and
was actually then in misery, and had been without sleep. What
spirits, and cleverness, and imagination, at that age, and under those
afflicting circumstances! You reconnoitre her old court knowledge, how
charmingly she has applied it! Do you wonder I pass so many hours and
evenings with her? Alas! I had like to have lost her this morning!
They had poulticed her feet to draw the gout downwards, and began to
succeed yesterday, but to-day it flew up into her head, and she was
almost in convulsions with the agony, and screamed dreadfully; proof
enough how ill she was, for her patience and good breeding make her
for ever sink and conceal what she feels. This evening the gout has
been driven back to her foot, and I trust she is out of danger. Her
loss would be irreparable to me at Twickenham, where she is by far the
most rational and agreeable company I have....
To LADY HERVEY
"A quiet life"
Strawberry Hill, 11 "June", 1765.
I am almost as much ashamed, Madam, to plead the true cause of my
faults towards your ladyship, as to have been guilty of any neglect.
It is scandalous, at my age, to have been carried backwards and
forwards to balls and suppers and parties by very young people, as
I was all last week. My resolutions of growing old and staid are
admirable: I wake with a sober plan, and intend to pass the day with
my friends--then comes the Duke of Richmond, and hurries me down to
Whitehall to dinner--then the Duchess of Grafton sends for me to too
in Upper Grosvenor Street--before I can get thither, I am begged
to step to Kensington, to give Mrs. Anne Pitt my opinion about
a bow-window--after the loo, I am to march back to Whitehall to
supper--and after that, am to walk with Miss Pelham on the terrace
till two in the morning, because it is moonlight and her chair is not
come. All this does not help my morning laziness; and by the time I
have breakfasted, fed my birds and my squirrels, and dressed, there is
an auction ready. In short, Madam, this was my life last week, and
is I think every week, with the addition of forty episodes.--Yet,
ridiculous as it is, I send it to your ladyship, because I had
rather you should laugh at me than be angry. I cannot offend you in
intention, but I fear my sins of omission are equal to a good many
Christian's. Pray forgive me. I really will begin to be between forty
and fifty by the time I am fourscore: and I truly believe I shall
bring my resolutions within compass; for I have not chalked out any
particular business that will take me above forty years more; so that,
if I do not get acquainted with the grandchildren of all the present
age, I shall lead a quiet sober life yet before I die....
To THE REV. WILLIAM COLE
Paris, 12 "Aug". 1771.
I am excessively shocked at reading in the papers that Mr. Gray is
dead! I wish to God you may be able to tell me it is not true! Yet
in this painful uncertainty I must rest some days! None of my
acquaintance are in London. I do not know to whom to apply but to you.
Alas! I fear in vain! Too many circumstances speak it true! the detail
is exact;--a second paper arrived by the same post, and does not
contradict it--and what is worse, I saw him but four or five
days before I came hither; he had been to Kensington for the air,
complained of gout flying about him, of sensations of it in his
stomach, and indeed, thought him changed, and that he looked
ill--still I had not the least idea of his being in danger.--I started
up from my chair, when I read the paragraph--a cannon-ball could
not have surprised me more! The shock but ceased, to give way to my
concern; and my hopes are too ill founded to mitigate it. If nobody
has the charity to write to me, my anxiety must continue till the end
of the month, for I shall set out on my return on the 26th; and unless
you receive this time enough for your answer to leave London on the
20th, in the evening, I cannot meet it, till I find it in Arlington
Street, whither I beg you to direct it.
If the event is but too true, pray add to this melancholy service,
that of telling me any circumstances you know of his death. Our long,
very long friendship, and his genius, must endear to me everything
that relates to him. What writings has he left? Who are his executors?
I should earnestly wish, if he has destined anything to the public,
to print it at my press--it would do me honour, and would give me an
opportunity of expressing what I feel for him. Methinks, as we grow
old, our only business here is to adorn the graves of our friends, or
to dig our own.
To THE REV. WILLIAM MASON
"The quarrel with Gray"
2 "March", 1773.
What shall I say? How shall I thank you for the kind manner in which
you submit your papers to my correction? But if you are friendly, I
must be just. I am so far from being dissatisfied, that I must beg to
shorten your pen, and in that respect only would I wish, with regard
to myself, to alter your text. I am conscious that in the beginning of
the differences between Gray and me, the fault was mine. I was
young, too fond of my own diversions; nay, I do not doubt, too much
intoxicated by indulgence, vanity, and the insolence of my situation,
as a prime minister's son, not to have been inattentive to the
feelings of one, I blush to say it, that I knew was obliged to me;
of one, whom presumption and folly made me deem not very superior
in parts, though I have since felt my infinite inferiority to him.
I treated him insolently. He loved me, and I did not think he did. I
reproached him with the difference between us, when he acted from the
conviction of knowing that he was my superior. I often disregarded
his wish of seeing places, which I would not quit my own amusements to
visit, though I offered to send him thither without me. Forgive me,
if I say that his temper was not conciliating, at the same time that I
will confess to you that he acted a most friendly part, had I had the
sense to take advantage of it. He freely told me my faults. I declared
I did not wish to hear them, nor would correct them. You will not
wonder, that with the dignity of his spirit, and the obstinate
carelessness of mine, the breach must have widened till we became
After this confession, I fear you will think I fall short in the
words I wish to have substituted for some of yours. If you think them
inadequate to the state of the case, as I own they are, preserve this
letter, and let some future Sir John Dalrymple produce it to load my
memory; but I own I do not desire that any ambiguity should aid his
invention to forge an account for me. If you have no objection, I
would propose your narrative should run thus ... and contain no more,
till a proper time shall come for publishing the truth, as I have
stated it to you. While I am living, it is not pleasant to see my
private disagreements discussed in magazines and newspapers.
To THE COUNTESS OF UPPER OSSORY
Strawberry Hill, 27 "March", 1773.
What play makes you laugh very much, and yet is a very wretched
comedy? Dr. Goldsmith's "She Stoops to Conquer". Stoops indeed!--so
she does, that is the Muse; she is draggled up to the knees, and has
trudged, I believe, from Southwark fair. The whole view of the
piece is low humour, and no humour is in it. All the merit is in the
situations, which are comic; the heroine has no more modesty than Lady
Bridget, and the author's wit is as much "manqué" as the lady's; but
some of the characters are well acted, and Woodward speaks a poor
prologue, written by Garrick, admirably.
You perceive, Madam, that I have boldly sallied to a play; but the
heat of the house and of this sultry March half killed me, yet I limp
about as if I was young and pleased. From the play I travelled
to Upper Grosvenor Street, to Lady Edgecumbe's, supped at Lady
Hertford's. That Maccaroni rake, Lady Powis, who is just come to her
estate and spending it, calling in with news of a fire in the Strand
at past one in the morning, Lady Hertford, Lady Powis, Mrs. Howe, and
I, set out to see it, and were within an inch of seeing the Adelphi
buildings burnt to the ground. I was to have gone to the Oratorio
next night for Miss Linley's sake, but, being engaged to the French
ambassador's ball afterwards, I thought I was not quite Hercules
enough for so many labours, and declined the former.
The house was all arbours and bowers, but rather more approaching to
Calcutta, where so many English were stewed to death; for as the Queen
would not dis-Maid of Honour herself of Miss Vernon till after the
Oratorio, the ball-room was not opened till she arrived, and we were
penned together in the little hall till we could not breathe. The
quadrilles were very pretty: Mrs. Darner, Lady Sefton, Lady Melbourne,
and the Princess Czartoriski in blue satin, with blond and "collets
montés à la reine Elizabeth"; Lord Robert Spencer, Mr. Fitzpatrick,
Lord Carlisle, and I forget whom, in like dresses with red sashes,
"derouge", black hats with diamond loops and a few feathers before,
began; then the Henri Quatres and Quatresses, who were Lady Craven,
Miss Minching, the two Misses Vernons, Mr. Storer, Mr. Hanger, the Duc
de Lauzun, and George Damer, all in white, the men with black hats and
white feathers napping behind, danced another quadrille, and then both
quadrilles joined; after which Mrs. Hobart, all in gauze and spangles,
like a spangle-pudding, a Miss I forget, Lord Edward Bentinck, and
a Mr. Corbet, danced a "pas-de-quatre", in which Mrs. Hobart indeed
The fine Mrs. Matthews in white, trimmed down all the neck and
petticoat with scarlet cock's feathers, appeared like a new macaw
brought from Otaheite; but of all the pretty creatures next to the
Carrara (who was not there) was Mrs. Bunbury; so that with her I was
in love till one o'clock, and then came home to bed. The Duchess of
Queensberry had a round gown of rose-colour, with a man's cape, which,
with the stomacher and sleeves, was all trimmed with mother-of-pearl
earrings. This Pindaric gown was a sudden thought to surprise the
Duke, with whom she had dined in another dress. Did you ever see so
good a joke?...
Lord Chesterfield was dead before my last letter that foretold his
death set out. Alas! I shall have no more of his lively sayings,
Madam, to send you. Oh yes! I have his last: being told of the quarrel
in Spitalfields, and even that Mrs. F[itzroy] struck Miss P[oole], he
said, I always thought Mrs. F. a "striking" beauty.'
Thus, having given away all his wit to the last farthing, he has left
nothing but some poor witticisms in his will, tying up his heir by
forfeitures and jokes from going to Newmarket.
I wrote this letter at Strawberry, and find nothing new in town to add
but a cold north-east that has brought back all our fires and furs.
Pray tell me a little of your Ladyship's futurity, and whether you
will deign to pass through London.
TO THE REV. WILLIAM COLE
"Antiquaries and authors"
Arlington Street, 27 "April", 1773.
... Mr. Gough wants to be introduced to me! Indeed! I would see
him;... but he is so dull that he would only be troublesome--and
besides, you know I shun authors, and would never have been one
myself, if it obliged me to keep such bad company. They are always
in earnest, and think their profession serious, and will dwell upon
trifles, and reverence learning. I laugh at all these things, and
write only to laugh at them, and divert myself. None of us are authors
of any consequence; and it is the most ridiculous of all vanities to
be vain of being "mediocre". A page in a great author humbles me
to the dust; and the conversation of those that are not superior
to myself, reminds me of what will be thought of myself. I blush to
flatter them, or to be flattered by them, and should dread letters
being published some time or other, in which they would relate our
interviews, and we should appear like those puny conceited witlings
in Shenstone's and Hughes's "Correspondence", who give themselves airs
from being in possession of the soil of Parnassus for the time being;
as peers are proud, because they enjoy the estates of great men who
went before them. Mr. Gough is very welcome to see Strawberry Hill; or
I would help him to any scraps in my possession, that would assist
his publications; though he is one of those industrious who are
only re-burying the dead--but I cannot be acquainted with him. It is
contrary to my system and my humour; and besides, I know nothing
of barrows, and Danish intrenchments, and Saxon barbarisms, and
Phoenician characters--in short, I know nothing of those ages that
knew nothing--how then should I be of use to modern litterati? All the
Scotch metaphysicians have sent me their works. I did not read one of
them, because I do not understand what is not understood by those that
write about it; and I did not get acquainted with one of the writers.
I should like to be acquainted with Mr. Anstey, even though he wrote
Lord Buckhorse, or with the author of the "Heroic Epistle"--I have no
thirst to know the rest of my contemporaries, from the absurd bombast
of Dr. Johnson down to the silly Dr. Goldsmith; though the latter
changeling has had bright gleams of parts, and though the former had
sense, till he changed it for words, and sold it for a pension. Don't
think me scornful. Recollect that I have seen Pope, and lived with
TO THE MISS BERRYS
"Their first meeting"
Tuesday night, 8 o'clock, 17 "Sept." 1793.
My beloved spouses,
Whom I love better than Solomon loved his one spouse--or his one
thousand. I lament that the summer is over; not because of its
iniquity, but because you two made it so delightful to me, that six
weeks of gout could not sour it. Pray take care of yourselves--not
for your own sakes, but for mine; for, as I have just had my quota of
gout, I may, possibly, expect to see another summer; and, as you allow
that I do know my own, and when I wish for anything and have it, am
entirely satisfied, you may depend upon it that I shall be as happy
with a third summer, if I reach it, as I have been with the two last.
Consider, that I have been threescore years and ten looking for a
society that I perfectly like; and at last there dropped out of the
clouds into Lady Herries's room two young gentlewomen, who I so little
thought were sent thither on purpose for me, that when I was told they
were the charming Miss Berrys, I would not even go to the side of the
chamber where they sat. But, as Fortune never throws anything at one's
head without hitting one, I soon found out that the charming Berrys
were precisely "ce qu'il me fallait"; and that though young enough to
be my great-grand-daughters, lovely enough to turn the heads of all
our youths, and sensible enough, if said youths have any brains, to
set all their heads to rights again. Yes, sweet damsels, I have found
that you can bear to pass half your time with an antediluvian, without
discovering any "ennui" or disgust; though his greatest merit towards
you is, that he is not one of those old fools who fancy they are in
love in their dotage. I have no such vagary; though I am not
sorry that some folks think I am so absurd, since it frets their
TO HIS MOTHER
My dear mother,
If you will sit down and calmly listen to what I say, you shall be
fully resolved in every one of those many questions you have asked me.
I went to Cork and converted my horse, which you prize so much higher
than Fiddleback, into cash, took my passage in a ship bound for
America, and, at the same time, paid the captain for my freight and
all the other expenses of my voyage. But it so happened that the wind
did not answer for three weeks; and you know, mother, that I could not
command the elements. My misfortune was, that, when the wind served, I
happened to be with a party in the country, and my friend the captain
never inquired after me, but set sail with as much indifference as if
I had been on board. The remainder of my time I employed in the city
and its environs, viewing everything curious; and you know no one can
starve while he has money in his pocket.
Reduced, however, to my last two guineas, I began to think of my
dear mother and friends whom I had left behind me, and so bought
that generous beast Fiddleback, and made adieu to Cork with only five
shillings in my pocket. This, to be sure, was but a scanty allowance
for man and horse towards a journey of above a hundred miles; but I
did not despair, for I knew I must find friends on the road.
I recollected particularly an old and faithful acquaintance I made at
college, who had often and earnestly pressed me to spend a summer
with him, and he lived but eight miles from Cork. This circumstance
of vicinity he would expatiate on to me with peculiar emphasis. 'We
shall,' says he, 'enjoy the delights of both city and country, and you
shall command my stable and my purse.'
However, upon the way, I met a poor woman all in tears, who told me
her husband had been arrested for a debt he was not able to pay, and
that his eight children must now starve, bereaved as they were of his
industry, which had been their only support. I thought myself at home,
being not far from my good friend's house, and therefore parted with
a moiety of all my store; and pray, mother, ought I not to have given
her the other half-crown, for what she got would be of little use to
her? However, I soon arrived at the mansion of my affectionate friend,
guarded by the vigilance of a huge mastiff, who flew at me, and
would have torn me to pieces but for the assistance of a woman, whose
countenance was not less grim than that of the dog; yet she with great
humanity relieved me from the jaws of this Cerberus, and was prevailed
on to carry up my name to her master.
Without suffering me to wait long, my old friend, who was then
recovering from a severe fit of sickness, came down in his nightcap,
nightgown, and slippers, and embraced me with the most cordial
welcome, showed me in, and after giving me a history of his
indisposition, assured me that he considered himself peculiarly
fortunate in having under his roof the man he most loved on earth, and
whose stay with him must, above all things, contribute to his perfect
recovery. I now repented sorely I had not given the poor woman the
other half-crown, as I thought all my bills of humanity would be
punctually answered by this worthy man. I revealed to him my whole
soul; I opened to him all my distresses; and freely owned that I
had but one half-crown in my pocket; but that now, like a ship after
weathering out the storm, I considered myself secure in a safe and
hospitable harbour. He made no answer, but walked about the room,
rubbing his hands as one in deep study. This I imputed to the
sympathetic feelings of a tender heart, which increased my esteem for
him, and as that increased, I gave the most favourable interpretation
to his silence. I construed it into delicacy of sentiment, as if he
dreaded to wound my pride by expressing his commiseration in words,
leaving his generous conduct to speak for itself.
It now approached six o'clock in the evening; and as I had eaten no
breakfast, and as my spirits were raised, my appetite for dinner grew
uncommonly keen. At length the old woman came into the room with two
plates, one spoon, and a dirty cloth which she laid upon the table.
This appearance, without increasing my spirits, did not diminish my
appetite. My protectress soon returned with a small bowl of sago, a
small porringer of sour milk, a loaf of stale brown bread, and
the heel of an old cheese all over crawling with mites. My friend
apologized that his illness obliged him to live on slops, and that
better fare was not in the house; observing, at the same time, that
a milk diet was certainly the most healthful; and at eight o'clock he
again recommended a regular life, declaring that for his part he would
lie down with the lamb and rise with the lark. My hunger was at this
time so exceedingly sharp that I wished for another slice of the loaf,
but was obliged to go to bed without even that refreshment.
This lenten entertainment I had received made me resolve to depart as
soon as possible; accordingly, next morning, when I spoke of going,
he did not oppose my resolution; he rather commended my design, adding
some very sage counsel upon the occasion. 'To be sure,' said he, 'the
longer you stay away from your mother, the more you will grieve her
and your other friends; and possibly they are already afflicted at
hearing of this foolish expedition you have ma
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