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TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON.
qualified to write on such subjects as his title parlor for the sake of his melody, but a goose seems to announce. Some years have passed upon a common or in a farmyard is no bad since I heard from him, and considering his performer: and as to insects, if the black great age it is probable that I shall hear from beetle, and beetles indeed of all hues, will him no more; but I shall always respect him. keep out of my way, I have no objection to He is truly a philosopher, according to my any of the rest ; on the contrary, in whatever judgment of the character, every tittle of his key they sing, from the gnat’s fine treble to knowledge in natural subjects being con- the bass of the humble bee, I admire them nected in his mind with the firm belief of an all. Seriously, however, it strikes me as a Omnipotent agent.
very observable instance of providential kind. Yours, &c., W. C. ness to man, that such an exact accord has
been contrived between his ear and the sounds with which, at least in a rural situation, it is almost every moment visited. All
the world is sensible of the uncomfortable
Olney, Sept. 18, 1784. effect that certain sounds have upon the My dear Friend,-Following your good nerves, and consequently upon the spirits. example, I lay before me a sheet of my And if a sinful world had been filled with largest paper. It was this moment fair and such as would have curdled the blood, and unblemished, but I have begun to blot it, and have made the sense of hearing a perpetual having begun, am not likely to cease till I inconvenience, I do not know that we should have spoiled it. I have sent you many a bave had a right to complain. But now the sheet that, in my judgment of it, has been fields, the woods, the gardens, have each very unworthy of your acceptance, but my their concert, and the ear of man is forever conscience was in some measure satisfied by regaled by creatures who seem only to please reflecting that, if it were good for nothing, at themselves. Even the ears that are deaf to the same time it cost you nothing, except the the Gospel are continually entertained, though trouble of reading it. But the case is altered without knowing it, by sounds for which now.* You must pay a solid price for frothy they are solely indebted to its Author. There matter, and though I do not absolutely pick is somewhere in infinite space a world that your pocket, yet you lose your money, and, does not roll within the precincts of mercy, as the saying is, are never the wiser. and as it is reasonable, and even scriptural,
My greenhouse is never so pleasant as to suppose that there is music in beaven, in when we are just upon the point of being those dismal regions perhaps the reverse of turned out of it. The gentleness of the au- it is found; tones so dismal, as to make woe tumnal suns, and the calmness of this latter itself more insupportable, and to acuminate season, make it a much more agreeable re-even despair. But my paper admonishes me treat than we ever find it in the summer; in good time to draw the reins, and to check when, the winds being generally brisk, we the descent of my fancy into deeps with cannot cool it by admitting a sufficient quan- which she is but too familiar. tity of air, without being at the same time Our best love attends you both. incommoded by it. But now I sit with all
Yours, W. C. the windows and the door wide open, and am regaled with the scent of every flower, in a garden as full of flowers as I have known
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN. how to make it. We keep no bees, but if I
Olney, Oct. 2, 1784. lived in a hive, I should hardly hear more of
My dear William, -A poet can but ill spare their music. All the bees in the neighbor- time for prose. The truth is, I am in haste hood resort to a bed of mignonette, opposite to finish my transcript, that you may receive to the window, and pay me for the honey it time enough to give it a leisurely reading they get out of it by a hum, which, though before you go to town ; which, whether I rather monotonous, is as agreeable to my ear shall be able to accomplish, is at present unas the whistling of my linnets. All the certain. I have the whole punetuation to sounds that nature utters are delightful, at settle, which in blank verse is of the last imleast in this country. I should not perhaps portance, and of a species peculiar to that find the roaring of lions in Africa or of bears composition; for I know no use of points, in Russia very pleasing, but I know no beast unless to direct the voice, the management in England whose voice I do not account of which, in the reading of blank verse, being musical, save and except always the braying more difficult than in the reading of any of an ass. The notes of all our birds and fowls please me without one exception. I notices to regulate the intiexions, cadences,
other poetry, requires perpetual hints and should not indeed think of keeping a goose and pauses. "This however is an affair that, in a cage, that I might hang him up in the in spite of grammarians, must be left pretty * He alludes to the new mode of franking.
much ad libitum scriptoris. For, I suppose,
TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON.
ery author points according to his own I ading. If I can send the parcel to the
Olney, Oct. 9, 1784. vagon by one o'clock next Wednesday, you
My dear Friend,—The pains you have taken will have it on Saturday the ninth. But this to disengage our correspondence from the exis more than I expect. Perhaps I shall not pense with which it was threatened, convincbe able to despatch it till the eleventh, in ing me that my letters, trivial as they are, are which case it will not reach you till the thir- yet acceptable to you, encourage me to obteenth. I the rather think that the latter of these two periods will obtain, because, be of unconnected thoughts. I believe there is
serve my usual punctuality. You complain sides the punctuation, I have the argument not a head in the world but might utter the of each book to transcribe. Add to this that,
same complaint, and that all would do so, were in writing for the printer, I am forced to write they all as attentive to their own vagaries and my best, which makes slow work. The motto
as honest as yours. The description of your of the whole is
meditations at least suits mine; perhaps I can Fit surculus arbor.
go a step beyond you, upon the same ground,
and assert with the strictest truth that I not If you can put the author's name under it, do only do not think with connexion, but that I so, if not, it must go without one; for I know frequently do not think at all. I am much not to whom to ascribe it. It was a motto mistaken if I do not often catch myself naptaken by a certain prince of Orange, in the ping in this way; for, when I ask myself, what year 1733, but not to a poem of his own was the last idea (as the ushers at Westminwriting, or indeed to any poem at all, but, as ster ask an idle boy what was the last word,) I think, to a medal.
I am not able to answer, but, like the boy in Mr.
is a Cornish member; but for question, am obliged to stare and say nothing. what place in Cornwall I know not. All i This may be a very unphilosophical account know of him is, that I saw him once clap bis of myself, and may clash very much with the two hands upon a rail, meaning to leap over general opinion of the learned, that, the soul, it. But he did not think the attempt à safe being an active principle, and her activity conone, and therefore took them off again. He sisting in thought, she must consequently was in company with Mr. Throckmorton. always think. But pardon me, messieurs les With that gentleman we drank chocolate, philosophes, there are moments when, if I since I wrote last. The occasion of our visit think at all, I am utterly unconscious of doing was, as usual, a balloon. Your mother in- so, and the thought and the consciousness of vited her, and I him, and they promised to it seem to me at least, who am no philosoreturn the visit, but have not yet performed. pher, to be inseparable from each other. PerTout le monde se trouvoit là, as you may sup- haps, however, we may both be right; and, if pose, among the rest Mrs. W- She was you will grant me that I do not always think, driven to the door by her son, a boy of seven- I will in return concede to you the activity teen, in a phaeton, drawn by four horses from you contend for, and will qualify the differLilliput. This is an ambiguous expression, ence between us by supposing that, though and, should what I write now be legible a the soul be in herself an active principle, the thousand years hence, might puzzle coinmen- influence of her present union with a princitators. Be it known therefore to the Alduses ple that is not such makes her often dormant, and the Stevenses of ages yet to come, that suspends her operations, and affects her with I do not mean to affirm that Mrs. W- a sort of deliquium, in which she suffers a berzelt came from Lilliput that morning, or temporary loss of all her functions. I have inteed that she ever was there, but merely related to you my experience truly and withto describe the horses, as being so diininu- out disguise; you must therefore either adtive, that they might be with propriety said mit my assertion, that the soul does not neto be Lilliputian.
cessarily always act, or deny that mine is a The privilege of franking having been so human soul: a negative, that I am sure you eropped, I know not in what manner I and will not easily prove. So much for a dising bookseller are to settle the conveyance pute which I little thought of being engaged of proof sheets hither and back again. "They in to-day. must travel I imagine by coach, a large quan- Last night I had a letter from Lord Darttity of them at a time; for, like other authors, mouth. It was to apprise me of the safe arI find myself under a poetical necessity of rival of Cook's last Voyage, which he was so being frugal.
kind as to lend me, in Saint James's Square. We love you all, jointly and separately, as the reading of these volumes afforded me usual.
W. C. much amusement, and I hope some instruc
tion. No observation however forced itself I have not seen, nor shall see, the Dissent upon me with more violence than one, that er's answer to Mr. Newton, unless you can I could not help making on the death of Capfurnish me with it.
tain Cook. God is a jealous God, and at
Owhyhee the poor man was content to be I see them in print. I have not after all worshipped. From that moment, the remark- found time or industry enough to give the able interposition of Providence in his favor last hand to the points. I believe however was converted into an opposition that thwart- they are not very erroneous, though, in so ed all his purposes. He left the scene of his long a work, and in work that requires deification, but was driven back to it by a nicety in this particular, some inaccuracies most violent storm, in which he suffered more will escape. Where you find any, you will than in any that had preceded it. When he oblige me by correcting them. departed, he left his worshippers still infatu- In some passages, especially in the second ated with an idea of his godship, consequently book, you will observe me very satirical. well disposed to serve him. At his return, Writing on such subjects I could not be he found them sullen, distrustful, and myste- otherwise. I can write nothing without aimrious. A trifling theft was committed, which, ing at least at usefulness. It were beneath by a blunder of his own in pursuing the thief my years to do it, and still more dishonoraafter the property had been restored, was ble to my religion. I know that a reformamagnified to an affair of the last importance. tion of such abuses as I have censured is not One of their favorite chiefs was killed too by to be expected from the efforts of a poet; a blunder. Nothing in short but blunder and but to contemplate the world, its follies, its mistake attended him, till he fell breathless vices, its indifference to duty, and its strenuinto the water, and then all was smooth again. ous attachment to what is evil, and not to The world indeed will not take notice or see reprehend, were to approve it. From this that the dispensation bore evident marks of charge at least I shall be clear, for I have divine displeasure; but a mind, I think, in neither tacitly nor expressly flattered either any degree spiritual cannot overlook them. its characters or its customs. I have paid We know from truth itself that the death of one and only one compliment, which was so Herod was for a similar offence. But Herod justly due that I did not know how to withwas in no sense a believer in God, nor had hold it, especially having so fair an occasion enjoyed half the opportunities with which (I forget myself, there is another in the first our poor countryman had been favored. It book to Mr. Throckmorton,) but the complimay be urged perhaps that he was in jest, ment I mean is to Mr. It is however that he meant nothing but his own amuse- 50 managed, that nobody but himself can ment, and that of his companions. I doubt make the application, and you to whom I it. He knows little of the heart, who does disclose the secret; a delicacy on my part, not know that even in a sensible man it is which so much delicacy on his obliged me to flattered by every species of exaltation. But the observance of! be it so, that he was in sport-it was not What there is of a religious cast in the humane, to say no worse of it, to sport with volume, I have thrown towards the end of it, the ignorance of his friends, to mock their for two reasons—first, that I might not resimplicity, to humor and acquiesce in their volt the reader at his entrance—and, secondly, blind credulity. Besides, though a stock or that my best impressions might be made last, stone may be worshipped blameless, a bap- Were I to write as many volumes as Lopez tized man may not. He knows what he de Vega, or Voltaire, not one of them would does, and, by suffering such honors to be be without this tincture. If the world like paid him, incurs the guilt of sacrilege.* it not, so much the worse for them. I make
We are glad that you are so happy in your all the concessions I can, that I may please church, in your society, and in all your con- them, but I will not please them at the exnexions. I have not left myself room to say pense of my conscience. anything of the love we feel for you.
My descriptions are all from nature; not Yours, my dear friend, W. C. one of them second-handed. My delineations
of the heart are from my own experience; Several of the succeeding letters advert to not one of them borrowed from books, or in the poem of “ The Task," and cannot fail to the least degree conjectura). In my numinspire interest.
bers, which I varied as much as I could, (for blank verse without variety of numbers is no
better than bladder and string,) I have imi
Olney, Oct. 10, 1784. tated nobody, though sometimes perhaps My dear William,—I send you four quires there may be an apparent resemblance : be. of verse, which, having sent, I shall dismiss cause, at the same time that I would not from my thoughts, and think no more of till imitate, I have not affectedly differed.
* We zubjoin the following note of Hayley on this sub- Cook in the affair alluded to. From the little personal ject: “ Having enjoyed in the year 1772 the pleasure of acquaintance which I had myself with this humnune and conversing with this illustrious seaman, on board his own truly Christian Davigator, and from the whole tenor of ship, the Resolution, I cannot pass the present letter his life, I cannot believe it possible for him to have acted, without observing, that I am persuaded my friend Cow. under any circumstances, with such hinpious arrogance per utterly misapprehended the behavior of Caplain l as might appear offensive in the eyes of the Almighiy."
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.
If the work cannot boast a regular plan, most pieces that have appeared in modern (in which respect however I do not think it days, may serve to exonerate me from the altogether indefensible,) it may yet boast imputation: but in this article I am entirely that the reflections are naturally suggested under your judgment, and mean to be set always by the preceding passage, and that, down by it. All these together will make except the fifth book, which is rather of a an octavo like the last. I should have told political aspect, the whole has one tendency; you, that the piece which now employs me to discountenance the modern enthusiasm is in rhyme. I do not intend to write any after a London life, and to recommend rural more blank. It is more difficult than rhyme, ease and leisure, as friendly to the cause of and not so amusing in the composition. If, piety and virtue.
when you make the offer of my book to If it pleases you I shall be happy, and col- Johnson, he should stroke his chin, and look lect from your pleasure in it an omen of its up to the ceiling, and cry, “ Humph!” antigeneral acceptance.
cipate him, I beseech you, at once, by saying, Yours, my dear friend, W, C. " that you know I should be sorry that he
should undertake for me to his own disadvantage, or that my volume should be in any degree pressed upon him. I make him the
offer merely because I think he would have Olney, Oct. 20, 1784.
reason to complain of me if I did not.” But, My dear William,—Your letter has relieved that punetilio once satisfied, it is a matter of me from some anxiety, and given me a good indifference to me what publisher sends me deal of positive pleasure. I have faith in forth. If Longman should have difficulties, your judgment, and an implicit confidence in which is the more probable, as I understand the sincerity of your approbation. The writ- from you that he does not in these cases see ing of so long a poem is a serious business; with his own eyes, but will consult a brother and the author must know little of his own poet, take no pains to conquer them. The heart who does not in some degree suspect idea of being hawked about, and especially himself of partiality to his own production; of your being the hawker, is insupportable. and who is he that would not be mortified Nichols, I have heard, is the most learned by the discovery that he had written five printer of the present day. He may be a thousand lines in vain? The poem, how man of taste as well as learning; and I supever, which you have in hand, will not of
would not want a gentleman itself make a volume so large as the last, or usher to introduce you. He prints " The as a bookseller would wish. I say this, be- Gentleman's Magazine,” and may serve us, cause when I had sent Johnson five thousand if the others should decline; if not, give Verses, he applied for a thousand more. Two yourself no farther trouble about the matter. years since I began a piece which grew to the I may possibly envy authors who can afford length of two hundred, and there stopped.* to publish at their own expense, and in that I have lately resumed it, and (I believe) shall case should write no more. But the mortifi. finish it. But the subject is fruitful, and will cation should not break my heart. not be comprised in a smaller compass than
I proceed to your corrections, for which I seven or eight hundred verses. It turns on most unaffectedly thank you, adverting to the question whether an education at school them in their order. or at home be preferable, and I shall give the Page 140.—Truth generally without the preference to the latter. I mean that it shall article the, would not be sutliciently defined. pursue the track of the former. That is to There are many sorts of truth, philosophical, as, that it shall visit Stock in its way to mathematical, moral, &c., and a reader not publication. My design also is to inscribe much accustomed to hear of religious or it to you. But you must see it first; and, scriptural truth, might possibly and indeed if, after seeing it, you should have any ob- easily doubt what truth was particularly injection, though it should be no bigger than tended. I acknowledge that grace, in my use the title of an i, I will deny myself that of the word, does not often occur in poetry. pleasure, and tind no fault with your refusal. So neither does the subject which I handle. I have not been without thoughts of adding Every subject has its own terms, and religJohn Gilpin at the tail of all. He has made ious ones take theirs with most propriety a good deal of noise in the world, and per- from the scripture. Thence I take the word hups it may not be amiss to show that though grace. The sarcastic use of it in the mouths I write generally with a serious intention, I of infidels I admit, but not their authority to know how to be occasionally merry. The proscribe it, especially as God's favor in the Critical Reviewers charged me with an at- abstract has no other word in all our lanterapt at humor. Jolin, having been more guage by which it can be expressed. celebrated upon the score of humor than
Page 150.- Impress the minul faintly or not • Tirocinium. See Poems.
at all.--I prefer this line, because of the in
TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON.
terrupted run of it, having always observed sorry, however, that I have met with himn; that a little unevenness of this sort, in a long though, when I have allowed him the praise work, has a good effect, used, as I mean, of being a sensible man, and in his way a sparingly, and with discretion.
good one, I have allowed him all that I can Page 127.—This should have been noted afford. Neither his style pleases me, which first, but was overlooked. Be pleased to al is sometimes insufferably dry and hard, and ter for me thus, with the difference of only sometimes ornamented even to an Harveian one word, from the alteration proposed by tawdriness; nor his manner, which is never you
lively without being the worse for it; so We too are friends to royalty. We love
unhappy is he in his attempts at character The king who loves the law, respects his bounds, and narration. But, writing chiefly on the And reigns content within them.
manners, vices, and follies of the modern
day, to me he is at least so far useful, as You observed probably, in your second that he gives me information upon points reading, that I allow the life of an animal to which I neither can nor would be informed be fairly taken away, when it interferes either upon except by hearsay. Of such informawith the interest or convenience of man. tion, however, I have need, being a writer Consequently snails and all reptiles that upon those subjects myself, and a satirical spoil our crops, either of fruit or grain, may writer too. It is fit, therefore, in order that be destroyed, if we can catch them. It gives I may find fault in the right place, that I me real pleasure that Mrs. Unwin so readily should know where fault may properly be understood me. Blank verse, by the un- found.
W.C. usual arrangement of the words, and by the frequent infusion of one line into another, not less than by the style, which requires a kind of tragical magnificence, cannot be
Olney, Oct. 30, 1721. chargeable with much obscurity, must rather be singularly perspicuous, to be so easily the justice of your remarks, on the subject
My dear friend, I accede most readily to comprehended. It is my labor, and my prin- of the truly Roman heroism of the Sandwich cipal one, to be as clear as possible. You islanders. Proofs of such prowess, I bedo not mistake me, when you suppose that I have great respect for the virtue that flies have attained to a high degree of civilization.
lieve, are seldom exhibited by a people who temptation. It is that sort of prowess, which Refinement and profligacy are too nearly al. the whole train of scripture calls upon us to lied to admit of anything so noble; and ! manifest, when assailed by sensual evil. Interior mischiets must be grappled with. There question whether any instances of faithful
friendship, like that which so much affected is no flight from them. But solicitations to sin, that address themselves to our bodily you in the behavior of the poor savage, were senses, are, I believe, seldom conquered in produced even by the Romans themselves in
the latter days of the empire. They had any other way. Î can easily see that you may have very not to wonder at. But Greece, which was
been a nation, whose virtues it is impossible reasonable objections to my dedicatory pro- to them what France is to us, a Pandora's posal. You are a clergyman, and I have box of mischief, reduced them to her own banged your order. You are a child of alma standard, and they naturally soon sunk still mater, and I have banged her too. Lay lower. Religion in this case seems pretty yourself, therefore, under no constraints that much out of the question. To the produce I do not lay you under, but consider your-tion of such heroism undebauched nature self as perfectly free. With our best love to you all, I bid you heroes, she knew no more of the true God
herself is equal. When Italy was a land of heartily farewell. I am tired of this endless than her cicisbeos and her fiddlers know scribblement. Adieu !
now; and indeed it seems a matter of indif. Yours, W. C.
ference whether a man be born under a truth, which does not influence bim, or un.
der the actual influence of a lie ; or, if there TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON.*
difference between the cases, it seems Olney, Oct. 22, 1784. to be rather in favor of the latter; for a My dear friend, I am now reading a false persuasion, such as the Mahometan, for book which you have never read, and will instance, may animate the courage, and fur. probably never read-Knox’s Essays. Per- nish motives for the contempt of death, haps I should premise that I am driven to while despisers of the true religion are pun. such reading by the want of books that ished for their folly, by being abandoned would please me better, neither having any, to the last degrees of depravity. Accordnor the means of procuring any. I am not ingly, we see a Sandwich islander sacrificing * Private correspondence.
himself to his dead friend, and our Christian