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and mere poetry, instead of nature and the language of real passion. Do you remember Approchez-vous, Neron?*_Who would not rather have thought of that half line than all Mr. Rowe's flowers of eloquence ? However, you will find the remainder here at the end in an outrageous long speech; it was begun above four years ago (it is a misfortune you know my age, else I might have added), when I was very young. Poor West put a stop to that tragic torrent he saw breaking in upon him :-have a care, I warn you not to set open the flood-gate again, lest it drown you and me and the bishop and all.
I am very sorry to hear you treat philosophy and her followers like a parcel of monks and hermits, and think myself obliged to vindicate a profession I honour, bien que je n'en tienne pas boutique (as Mad. Sevigné says). The first man that ever bore the name, if you remember, used to say, that life was like the Olympic games (the greatest public assembly of his age and country), where some came to shew their strength and agility of body, as the champions; others, as the musicians, orators, poets, and historians, to shew their excellence in those arts; the traders to get money; and the better sort to enjoy the spectacle, and judge of all these. They did not then run away from society for fear of its temptations; they passed their days in the midst of it: conversation was their business: they cultivated the arts of persuasion, on purpose to shew men it was their interest, as well as their duty, not to be foolish, and false, and unjust; and that too in many instances with success; which is not very strange: for they shewed by their life that their lessons were not impracticable; and that pleasures were no temptations, but to such as wanted a clear perception of the pains annexed to them.t
* Agrippina, in Racine's tragedy of Britannicus. + Never perhaps was a more admirable picture drawn of true philosophy and its real and important services; services not confined to the speculative opinions of
But I have done preaching à la Grecque. Mr. Ratcliffe* made a shift to behave very rationally without their instructions, at a season which they took a great deal of pains to fortify themselves and others against: one would not desire to lose one's head with a better grace. I am particularly satisfied with the humanity of that last embrace to all the people about him. Sure it must be somewhat embarrassing to die before so much good company!
You need not fear but posterity will be ever glad to know the absurdity of their ancestors : the foolish will be glad to know they were as foolish as they, and the wise will be glad to find themselves wiser. You will please all the world then; and if you recount miracles you will be believed so much the sooner. We are pleased when we wonder; and we believe because we are pleased. Folly and wisdom, and wonder and pleasure, join with me in desiring you would continue to entertain them: refuse us if you can. Adieu, dear Sir!
Stoke, June 12, 1750.
As I live in a place, where even the ordinary tattle of the town arrives not till it is stale, and which produces no events of its own, you will not desire any excuse from me for writing so seldom, especially as of all people living I know you are the least a friend to letters spun out of one's own brains, with all the toil and constraint that accompanies sentimental productions. I have been here at Stoke a few days (where I shall con- . tinue good part of the summer); and having put an end
the studious, but adapted to the common purposes of life, and promoting the general happiness of mankind; not upon the chimerical basis of a system, but on the immutable foundations of truth and virtue.
* Brother to the Earl of Derwentwater. He was executed at Tyburn; December, 1746, for baving been concerned in the rebellion of Scotland.
you for your advertisement, which saves my honour, and in a manner bien flatteuse pour moi, who should be put to it even to make myself a compliment in good English.
You will take me for a mere poet, and a fetcher and carrier of singsong, if I tell you that I intend to send you the beginning of a drama;* not mine, thank God, as you'll believe, when you hear it is finished, but wrote by a person whom I have a very good opinion of. It is (unfortunately) in the manner of the ancient drama, with choruses, which I am, to my shame, the occasion of; for, as great part of it was at first written in that form, I would not suffer him to change it to a play fit for the stage, as he intended, because the lyric parts are the best of it, and they must have been lost. The story is Saxon, and the language has a tang of Shakspeare, that suits an old-fashioned fable very well. In short, I don't do it merely to amuse you, but for the sake of the author, who wants a judge, and so I would lend him mine: yet not without your leave, lest you should have us up to dirty our stockings at the bar of your house, for wasting the time and politics of the nation. Adieu, Sir,
I am ever yours.
Cambridge, March 3, 1751. ELFRIDÀ (for that is the fair one's name) and her anthor are now in town together. He has promised me, that he will send a part of it to you some morning while he is there; and (if you should think it worth while to descend to particulars) I should be glad you would tell me very freely your opinion about it; for he shall know nothing of the matter, that is not fit for the ears of a tender parent—though, by the way, he has ingenuity
* This was ths Elfrida of Mr. Mason.
and merit enough (whatever his drama may have) to bear hearing his faults very patiently. I must only beg you not to shew it, much less let it be copied; for it will be published, though not as yet.
I do not expect any more editions,* as I have appeared in more magazines than one. The chief errata were sacred bower for secret ; hidden for kindred (in spite of dukes and classics); and frowning as in scorn for smiling. I humbly propose, for the benefit of Mr. Dodsley and his matrons, that take awake for a verb, that they should read asleep, and all will be right.t Gil Blas is the Lying Valet in five acts. The fine lady has half-a-dozen good lines dispersed in it. Pompey is the hasty production of a Mr. Coventry (cousin to him you knew), a young clergyman: I found it out by three characters, which once made part of a comedy that he shewed me of his own writing. ' Has that miracle of tenderness and sensibility (as she calls it) Lady Vane given you any amusement? Peregrine, whom she uses as a vehicle, is very poor indeed with a few exceptions. In the last volume is a character of Mr. Lyttelton, under the name of Gosling Scrag, and a parody of part of his monody, under the notion of a pastoral on the death of his grandmother.
I am ever yours.
Nov. Tues day, Cambridge. Ir is a misfortune to me to be at a distance from both of you at present. A letter can give one so little idea of such matters! **** I always believed well of his heart and temper, and would gladly do so still. If they
* Of the Elegy in the Churchyard. † The verse to which he alludes is this :
Ev'n from the tomb the voice of nature cries;
Evin in our asbes live their wonted fires."
“Awake and faithful to her wonted fires."