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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.
ELFRIDA (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 the 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. Tuesday, Cambridge. It 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 are as they should be, I should have expected every thing from such an explanation; for it is a tenet with me (a simple one, you'll perhaps say), that if ever a two people, who love one another, come to breaking, it is for want of a timely eclaircissement, a full and precise one, without witnesses or mediators, and without reserving any one disagreeable circumstance for the mind to brood upon in silence. I am not totally of your mind as to Mr. Lyttelton's Elegy, though I love kids and fawns as little as you do. If it were all like the fourth stanza, I should be excessively pleased. Nature, and sorrow, and tenderness, are the true genius of such things; and something of these I find in several parts of it (not in the orange tree): poetical ornaments are foreign to the purpose, for they only shew a man is not sorry;-and devotion worse; for it teaches him, that he ought not to be sorry, which is all the pleasure of the thing. I beg leave to turn your weathercock the contrary way. Your Epistle” I have not seen a great while, and Doctor M. is not in the way to give me a sight of it; but I remember enough to be sure all the world will be pleased with it, even with all its faults upon its head, if you don't care to mend them. I would try to do it myself (however hazardous), rather than it should remain unpublished. As to my Eton Ode, Mr. Dodsley is padrone. The second] you had I suppose you do not think worth giving him : otherwise, to me it seems not worse than the former. He might have Selimaș too unless she be of too little importance for his patriot-collection; or perhaps the connevions you had with her may interfere. Che so io 2 Adieu ! N am yours ever.
* Of the Elegy in the Churchyard. 1 The verse to which he alludes is this:
“Ev’n from the tomb the voice of nature cries;
The last line of which he had at first written thus:
* From Florence to Thomas Asheton. * To publish in his Collection of Poems. : The Ode to Spring. § The Ode on Mr. Walpole's cat, drowned in the tub of gold fish.
- Cambridge, Dec. Monday.
This comes du fond de ma cellule to salute Mr. H. W. not so much him that visits and votes, and goes to White's and to court; as the H. W. in his rural capacity, snug in his tub on Windsor-hill, and brooding over folios of his own creation: him that can slip away, like a pregnant beauty (but a little oftener), into the country, be brought to-bed perhaps of twins, and whisk to town again the week after with a face as if nothing had happened. Among all the little folks, my godsons and daughters, I cannot choose but inquire more particularly after the health of one; I mean (without a figure) the Memoires:* do they grow ! Do they unite, and hold up their heads, and dress themselves 7 Do they begin to think of making their appearance in the world, that is to say, fifty years hence, to make posterity stare, and all good people cross themselves 7 Has Asheton (who will be then Lord Bishop of Killaloe, and is to publish them) thought of an aviso al lettore to prefix to them yet, importing, that if the words church, king, religion, ministry, &c. be found often repeated in this book, they are not to be taken literally, but poetically, and as may be most strictly reconcilable to the faith then established;—that he knew the author well when he was a young man; and can testify, upon the honour of his function, that he said his prayers regularly and devoutly, had a profound reverence for the clergy, and firmly believed every thing that was the fashion in those days?
When you have done impeaching my Lord Lovat, I hope to hear de vos nouvelles, and moreover, whether you have got Colonel Conway yet? Whether Sir. C. Williams is to go to Berlin? What sort of a prince Mitridate may be?—and whatever other tidings you choose to refresh an anchoret with. Frattanto I send you a scene in a tragedy:* if it don't make you cry, it will make you laugh ; and so it moves some passion, that I take to be enough. Adieu, dear Sir! I am Sincerely yours.
* Memoirs of his own time, which Mr. Walpole was then writing.
LETTER VIII. Cambridge, October 8, 1751. I send you thist (as you desire) merely to make up half-a-dozen; though it will hardly answer your end in furnishing out either a head or tail-piece. But your own fable] may much better supply the place. You have altered it to its advantage; but there is still something a little embarrassed here and there in the expression. I rejoice to find you apply (pardon the use of so odious a word) to the history of your own times. Speak, and spare not. Be as impartial as you can ; and, after all, the world will not believe you are so, though you should make as many protestations as Bishop Burnet. They will feel in their own breast, and find it very possible to hate fourscore persons, yea, ninety and nine: so you must rest satisfied with the testimony of your own conscience. Somebody has laughed at Mr. Dodsley, or at me, when they talked of the bat: I have nothing more, either nocturnal or diurnal, to deck his miscellany with. We have a man here that writes a good hand; but he has little failings that hinder my recommending him to you.' He is lousy, and he is mad: he sets out this week for Bedlam; but if you insist upon it, I don't doubt he will pay his respects to you. I have seen two * The first scene in Mr. Gray's unfinished tragedy of Agrippina. See p. 113.
t The Hymn to Adversity. # The Entail. $ As an amanuensis.