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seamen and mariners, instead of being im- cannot complain, for he keeps his own aupressed by a sense of his generosity, butch- thorly secrets without participating them ering him with a persevering cruelty that with me. I do not think myself in the least will disgrace them forever; for he was a injured by his reserve, neither should I, if he defenceless, unresisting enemy, who meant were to publish a whole library without fa nothing more than to gratify his love for the voring me with any previous notice of his deceased. To slay him in such circum-intentions. In these cases it is no violation stances was to murder him, and with every of the laws of friendship not to commuaggravation of the crime that can be ima-nicate, though there must be a friendship gined. where the communication is made. But I am again at Johnson's, in the shape of a many reasons may concur in disposing a poem in blank verse, consisting of six books writer to keep his work secret, and none of and called "The Task." I began it about them injurious to his friends. The influence this time twelvemonth, and writing some- of one I have felt myself, for which none of times an hour in a day, sometimes half a one, them would blame me-I mean the desire and sometimes two hours, have lately fin- of surprising agreeably. And, if I have deished it. I mentioned it not sooner, because nied myself this pleasure in your instance, it almost to the last I was doubtful whether I was only to give myself a greater, by eradishould ever bring it to a conclusion, working cating from your mind any little weeds of often in such distress of mind as, while it suspicion that might still remain in it, that spurred me to the work, at the same time any man living is nearer to me than yourthreatened to disqualify me for it. My book-self. Had not this consideration forced up seller, I suppose, will be as tardy as before. the lid of my strong-box like a lever, it I do not expect to be born into the world would have kept its contents with an invistill the month of March, when I and the cro-ible closeness to the last: and the first news euses shall peep together. You may assure that either you or any of my friends would yourself that I shall take my first opportu- have heard of "The Task," they would have nity to wait on you. I mean likewise to received from the public papers. But you gratify myself by obtruding my muse upon know now that neither as a poet nor a man Mr. Bacon. do I give to any man a precedence in my Adieu, my dear friend! We are well, and estimation at your expense. love you. W. C.


I am proceeding with my new work (which at present I feel myself much inclined to call by the name of Tirocinium) as fast as the muse permits. It has reached the length of seven hundred lines, and will probably receive an addition of two or three hundred more. When you see Mr. - perhaps you will not find it difficult to procure from him half-adozen franks, addressed to yourself, and dated the fifteenth of December, in which case they will all go to the post, filled with my lucubra tions, on the evening of that day. I do not name an earlier, because I hate to be hurried; and Johnson cannot want it sooner than, thus managed, it will reach him.

Olney, Nov. 1, 1784.

My dear Friend,-Were I to delay my answer, I must yet write without a frank at last, and may as well therefore write without one now, especially feeling as I do a desire to thank you for your friendly offices so well performed. I am glad, for your sake as well as for my own, that you succeeded in the first instance, and that the first trouble proved the last. I am willing too to consider Johnson's readiness to accept a second volume of mine as an argument that at least he was no loser by the former. I collect from it some reasonable hope that the volume in question may not wrong him either. My imagination tells me (for I know you interest yourself in the success of my productions) that your heart fluttered when you approached Johnson's door, and that it felt itself discharged of a burden when you came out again. You did well to mention it at the Ts; they will now know that you do not pretend to a share in my confidence, whatever be the value of it, greater than you actually possess. I wrote to Mr. Newton by the last post to tell him that I was gone to the press again. He will be surprised

I am not sorry that " John Gilpin," though hitherto he has been nobody's child, is likely to be owned at last. Here and there I can give him a touch that I think will mend him; the language in some places not being quite so quaint and old-fashioned as it should be; and in one of the stanzas there is a false rhyme. When I have thus. given the finishing stroke to his figure, I mean to grace him with two mottoes, a Greek and a Latin one, which, when the world shall see that I have only a little one of three words to the vol ume itself, and none to the books of which it consists, they will perhaps understand as a stricture upon that pompous display of lit erature, with which some authors take occa sion to crowd their titles. Knox in particuand perhaps not pleased. But I think helar, who is a sensible man too, has not I

think fewer than half-a-dozen to his "Es- confidence, the moment I had read your letsays."


W. C.

Olney, Nov., 1784.

My dear Friend,-To condole with you on the death of a mother aged eighty-seven would be absurd-rather therefore, as is reasonable, I congratulate you on the almost singular felicity of having enjoyed the company of so amiable and so near a relation so long. Your lot and mine in this respect have been very different, as indeed in almost every other. Your mother lived to see you rise, at least to see you comfortably established in the world. Mine, dying when I was six years old, did not live to see me sink in it. You may remember with pleasure while you live a blessing vouchsafed to you so long, and I while I live must regret a comfort, of which I was deprived so early. I can truly say that not a week passes (perhaps I might with equal veracity say a day) in which I do not think of her. Such was the impression her tenderness made upon me, though the opportunity she had for showing it was so short. But the ways of God are equal-and, when I reflect on the pangs she would have suffered had she been a witness of all mine, I see more cause to rejoice than to mourn that she was hidden in the grave so soon. We have, as you say, lost a lively and sen-bers and diction are concerned, it may serve sible neighbor in Lady Austen, but we have pretty well for a sample of the whole. But, been long accustomed to a state of retirement the subjects being so various, no single paswithin one degree of solitude, and, being sage can in all respects be a specimen of the naturally lovers of still life, can relapse into book at large. our former duality without being unhappy at the change. To me indeed a third is not necessary, while I can have the companion I have had these twenty years.

My principal purpose is to allure the reader, by character, by scenery, by imagery, and such poetical embellishments, to the reading of what may profit him; subordinately to this, to combat that predilection in favor of a metropolis that beggars and exhausts the country, by evacuating it of all its principal inhabitants; and collaterally, and, as far as is consistent with this double intention, to have a stroke at vice, vanity and folly, wherever I find them. I have not spared the Universities. A letter which appeared in the "General Evening Post" of Saturday, said to have been received by a general officer, and by him sent to the press as worthy of public notice, and which has all the appearance of authenticity, would alone justify the severest censures of those bodies, if any such justification were wanted. By way of sup plement to what I have written on this subject, I have added a poem, called "Tirocinium," which is in rhyme. It treats of the scandalous relaxation of discipline that ob. tains in almost all schools universally, but es pecially in the largest, which are so negligent in the article of morals that boys are de

I am gone to the press again; a volume of mine will greet your hands some time either in the course of the winter or early in the spring. You will find it perhaps on the whole more entertaining than the former, as it treats a greater variety of subjects, and those, at least the most, of a sublunary kind. It will consist of a poem in six books, called "The Task." To which will be added another, which I finished yesterday, called I believe "Tirocinium," on the subject of edu

• cation.

You perceive that I have taken your advice, and given the pen no rest.

W. C.

ter, struck me as so many proofs of your regard; of a friendship in which distance and time make no abatement. But it is difficult to adjust opposite claims to the satisfaction of all parties. I have done my best, and must leave it to your candor to put a just interpretation upon all that has passed, and to give me credit for it as a certain truth that, whatever seeming defects in point of attention and attachment to you my conduct on this occasion may have appeared to have been chargeable with, I am in reality as clear of all real ones as you would wish to find me.

I send you enclosed, in the first place, a copy of the advertisement to the reader, which accounts for my title, not otherwise easily accounted for; secondly, what is called an argument, or a summary of the contents of each book, more circumstantial and diffuse by far than that which I have sent to the press, It will give you a pretty accurate acquaintance with my matter, though the tenons and mortices, by which the several passages are connected, and let into each other, cannot be explained in a syllabus: and lastly, an extract, as you desired. The subject of it I am sure will please you; and, as I have admitted into my description no images but what are scriptural, and have aimed as exactly as I could at the plain and simple sublimity of the scripture language, I have hopes the manner of it may please you too. As far as the num

TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON. Olney, Nov. 27, 1784. My dear Friend,-All the interest that you take in my new publication, and all the pleas that you urge in behalf of your right to my

bauched in general the moment they are ca- for the conveyance of "Tirocinium," dated pable of being so. It recommends the office on a day therein mentioned and the earliest of tutor to the father where there is no real which at that time I could venture to appoint. impediment, the expedient of a domestic tu- It has happened, however, that the poem is tor where there is, and the disposal of boys finished a month sooner than I expected, and into the hands of a respectable country cler- two thirds of it are at this time fairly trangyman, who limits his attention to two, in all scribed; an accident to which the riders of a cases where they cannot be conveniently Parnassian steed are liable, who never know, educated at home. Mr. Unwin happily af- before they mount him, at what rate he will fording me an instance in point, the poem is choose to travel. If he be indisposed to deinscribed to him. You will now I hope com-spatch, it is impossible to accelerate his pace; mand your hunger to be patient, and be satis- if otherwise, equally impossible to stop him. fied with the luncheon, that I send, till dinner Therefore my errand to you at this time is comes. That piecemeal perusal of the work to cancel the former assignation, and to insheet by sheet, would be so disadvantageous form you that by whatever means you please, to the work itself, and therefore so uncom- and as soon as you please, the piece in quesfortable to me, that (I dare say) you will waive tion will be ready to attend you; for, withyour desire of it. A poem thus disjointed out exerting any extraordinary diligence, cannot possibly be fit for anybody's inspec- I shall have completed the transcript in a tion but the author's. week.

Tully's rule-Nulla dies sine lined-will make a volume in less time than one would suppose. I adhered to it so rigidly that, though more than once I found three lines as many as I had time to compass, still I wrote; and, finding occasionally, and as it might happen a more fluent vein, the abundance of one day made me amends for the barrenness of another. But I do not mean to write blank verse again. Not having the music of rhyme, it requires so close an attention to the pause and the cadence, and such a peculiar mode of expression, as render it, to me at least, the most difficult species of poetry that I have ever meddled with.


I am obliged to you and to Mr. Bacon for your kind remembrance of me when you No artist can excel, as he does, without the finest feelings; and every man that has the finest feelings is and must be amiable. Adieu, my dear friend!

Affectionately yours, W. C.

TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN. Olney, 1784. My dear William,-The slice which (you observe) has been taken from the top of the sheet, it lost before I began to write; but, being a part of the paper which is seldom used, I thought it would be pity to discard, or to degrade to meaner purposes, the fair and ample remnant, on account of so immaterial a defect. I therefore have destined it to be the vehicle of a letter, which you will accept as entire, though a lawyer perhaps would, without much difficulty, prove it to be but a fragment. The best recompense I can make you for writing without a frank, is to propose it to you to take your revenge by returning an answer under the same predicament; and the best reason I can give for doing it is the occasion following. In my last I recommended it to you to procure franks

The critics will never know that four lines of it were composed while I had a dose of ipecacuanha on my stomach; in short, that I was delivered of the emetic and the verses at the same moment. Knew they this, they would at least allow me to be a poet of singular industry, and confess that I lose no time. I have heard of poets who have found cathartics of sovereign use, when they had occasion to be particularly brilliant. Dryden always used them, and, in commemoration of it, Bayes, in "The Rehearsal," is made to inform the audience, that in a poetical emergency he always had recourse to stewed prunes. But I am the only poet who has dared to reverse the prescription, and whose enterprise, having succeeded to admiration, warrants him to recommend an emetic to all future bards, as the most infallible means of producing a fluent and easy versification. My love to all your family.


W. C.

TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN. Olney, Nov. 29, 1784. My dear Friend,-I am happy that you are pleased, and accept it as an earnest that I shall not at least disgust the public. For, though I know your partiality to me, I know at the same time with what laudable tenderness you feel for your own reputation, and that, for the sake of that most delicate part of your property, though you would not criticise me with an unfriendly and undue severity, you would however beware of being satisfied too hastily, and with no warrantable cause of being so. I called you the tutor of your two sons, in contemplation of the certainty of that event: it is a fact in suspense, not in fiction.

My principal errand to you now is to give you information on the following subject:The moment Mr. Newton knew (and I took


care that he should learn it first from me) that I had cominunicated to you what I had concealed from him, and that you were my authorship's go-between with Johnson on this occasion, he sent me a most friendly letter indeed, but one in every line of which I could hear the soft murmurs of something like mortification, that could not be entirely suppressed. It contained nothing however that you yourself would have blamed, or that I had not every reason to consider as evidence of his regard to me. He concluded the subject with desiring to know something of my plan, to be favored with an extract, by way of specimen, or (which he should like better still) with wishing me to order Johnson to send him a proof as fast as they were printed off. Determining not to accede to this last request for many reasons (but especially because I would no more show my poem piecemeal than I would my house if I had one; the merits of the structure in either case being equally liable to suffer by such a partial view of it), I have endeavored to compromise the difference between us, and to satisfy him without disgracing myself. The proof-sheets I have absolutely, though civilly refused. But I have sent him a copy of the arguments of each book, more dilated and circumstantial than those inserted in the work; and to these I have added an extract, as he desired; selecting, as most suited to his taste, the view of the restoration of all things-which you recollect to have seen near the end of the last book. necessary to tell you this, lest, if I hold it call upon him, he should startle you by disyou should covering a degree of information upon the subject which you could not otherwise know how to reconcile or to account for.

You have executed your commissions à merveille. We not only approve but admire. No apology was wanting for the balance struck at the bottom, which we accounted rather a beauty than a deformity. Pardon a poor poet, who cannot speak even of pounds, shillings, and pence, but in his own way.

I have read Lunardi with pleasure. He is a lively, sensible young fellow, and I suppose a very favorable sample of the Italians. When I look at his picture, I can fancy that I can see in him that good sense and courage that no doubt were legible in the face of a young Roman two thousand years ago. Your affectionate

W. C.

TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.* Olney, Dec. 4, 1784. My dear Friend,-You have my hearty thanks for a very good barrel of oysters; which necessary acknowledgment once made, I might perhaps show more kindness by cut* Private correspondence.

ting short an epistle than by continuing one, in which you are not likely to find your account, either in the way of information or amusement. The season of the year indeed is not very friendly to such communications. A damp atmosphere and a sunless sky will have their effect upon the spirits; and when the spirits are checked, farewell to all hope of being good company, either by letter or otherwise. I envy those happy voyagers, unsullied with a cloud, and date their epistles who with so much ease ascend to regions from an extra-mundane situation. No wonder if they outshine us, who poke about in the dark below, in the vivacity of their sallies, as much as they soar above us in their excursions. Not but that I should be very sorry to go to the clouds for wit: on the contrary, I am satisfied that I discover more by continuing where I am. Every man to his busi ness. pects, and to make pithy observations upon Their vocation is to see fine prosthe world below; such as these, for instance: that the earth, beheld from a height that one trembles to think of, has the appearance of a circular plain; that England is a very rich and cultivated country, in which every man's property is ascertained by the hedges that intersect the lands; and that London and Westminster, seen from the neighborhood of the moon, make but an insignificant figure. I admit the utility of these remarks; but, in the meantime, I say chacun à son goût; and mine is rather to creep than fly, and to carry with me, if possible, an unbroken neck to the grave.

I remain, as ever,
Your affectionate

W. C.

Olney, Dec. 13, 1784.


may reasonably hope that I shall not incur My dear Friend,-Having imitated no man, betters. Milton's manner was peculiar. So the disadvantage of a comparison with my either of them would in my judgment deis Thomson's. He that should write like serve the name of a copyist, but not a poet. A judicious and sensible reader therefore, like yourself, will not say that my manner is not good, because it does not resemble theirs, but will rather consider what it is in itself. Blank verse is susceptible of a much greater diversification of manner than verse in rhyme: and, why the modern writers of it have ail thought proper to cast their numbers alike, I know not. Certainly it was not necessity however that I have avoided that sameness that compelled them to it. I flatter myself with others, which would entitle me nothing but a share in one common oblivion with them all. It is possible that, as a reviewer of my former volume found cause to


say, that he knew not to what class of writers to refer me, the reviewer of this, whoever he shall be, may see occasion to remark the same singularity. At any rate, though as little apt to be sanguine as most men, and more prone to fear and despond than to overrate my own productions, I am persuaded that I shall not forfeit anything by this volume that I gained by the last. As to the title, I take it to be the best that is to be had. It is not possible that a book including such a variety of subjects, and in which no particular one is predominant, should find a title adapted to them all. In such a case it seemed almost necessary to accommodate the name to the incident that gave birth to the poem; nor does it appear to me that, because I performed more than my task, therefore "The Task" is not a suitable title. house would still be a house, though the builder of it should make it ten times as big as he at first intended. I might indeed, following the example of the Sunday newsmonger, call it the Olio. But I should do myself wrong: for, though it have much variety, it has I trust no confusion.


For the same reason none of the inferior titles apply themselves to the contents at large of that book to which they belong. They are, every one of them, taken either from the leading (I should say the introductory) passage of that particular book, or from that which makes the most conspicuous figure in it. Had I set off with a design to write upon a gridiron, and had I actually written near two hundred lines upon that utensil, as I have upon the Sofa, the gridiron should have been my title. But the Sofa being, as I may say, the starting-post, from which I addressed myself to the long race that I soon conceived a design to run, it acquired a just pre-eminence in my account, and was very worthily advanced to the titular honor it enjoys, its right being at least so far a good one, that no word in the language could pretend a better.

The Time-piece appears to me (though by some accident the import of that title has escaped you) to have a degree of propriety beyond the most of them. The book to which it belongs is intended to strike the hour that gives notice of the approaching judgment; and, dealing pretty largely in the signs of the times, seems to be denominated, as it is with a sufficient degree of accommodation to the subject.

As to the word worm, it is the very appellation which Milton himself, in a certain passige of the Paradise Lost, gives to the serpent. Not having the book at hand, I cannot now refer to it, but I am sure of the fact. I am mistaken, too, if Shakspeare's Cleopatra do not call the asp by which she thought fit to destroy herself by the same name: but,

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Olney, Dec. 18, 1784. My dear Friend,-I condole with you that you had the trouble to ascend St. Paul's in vain, but at the same time congratulate you that you escaped an ague. I should be very well pleased to have a fair prospect of a balloon under sail, with a philosopher or two on board, but at the same time should be very sorry to expose myself, for any length of time, to the rigor of the upper regions at this season for the sake of it. The travellers themselves, I suppose, are secured from all injuries of the weather by that fervency of spirit and agitation of mind which must needs accompany them in their flight; advantages which the more composed and phlegmatic spectator is not equally possessed of.

The inscription of the poem is more your own affair than any other person's. You have therefore an undoubted right to fashion it to your mind, nor have I the least objection to the slight alteration that you have made in it. I inserted what you have erased for a reason that was perhaps rather chimerical than solid. I feared however that the reviewers, or some of my sagacious readers not more merciful than they, might suspect that there was a secret design in the wind, and that author and friend had consulted in what manner author might introduce friend to public notice as a clergyman every way qualified to entertain a pupil or two, if peradventure any gentleman of fortune were in want of a tutor for his children: I therefore added the words "And of his two sons only," by way of insinuating that you are perfectly satisfied with your present charge, and that you do not wish for more; thus meaning to obviate an illiberal construction which we are both of us incapa

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