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you distinguished who poor West was, before his charming ode, and called it anything rather than a Pindaric. The town is an owl, if it don't like Lady Mary,t and I am surprised at it: we here are owls enough to think her eclogues very bad; but that I did not wonder at. Our present taste is Sir T. Fitz-Osborne's Letters. I send you a bit of a thing for two reasons: first, because it is one of your favourites, Mr. M. Green; and next, because I would do justice. The thought on which my second odest turns is manifestly stole from hence:—not that I knew it at the time, but, having seen this many years before, to be sure it imprinted itself on my memory, and, forgetting the author, I took it for my own. The subject was the Queen's Hermitage.
Though yet no palace grace the shore
If thou, the god with winged feet,
In council talk of this retreat;
t A lazy, lewd, immortal, thing;
* Monody on the Death of Queen Caroline. 1 Lady Mary W. Montagu's Poems. # The Ode to Spring. $ Speaking to the Thames. | The four busts.
Needless it is in terms unskill'd
- Till death; and then are never mist.
Stoke, July 11, 1757. I will not give you the trouble of sending your chaise
for me. I intend to be with you on Wednesday in the evening. If the press stands still all this time for me, to be sure it is dead in child-bed. I do not love notes, though you see I had resolved to put two or three.* They are signs of weakness and obscurity. If a thing cannot be understood without them, it had better be not understood at all. If you will be vulgar and pronounce it Lunnun, instead of London,” I can't help it. Caradoc I have private reasons against; and besides it is in reality Caradoc, and will not stand in the verse. I rejoice you can fill all your vuides: the Maintenon could not, and that was her great misfortune. Seriously though, I congratulate you on your happiness and seem to understand it. The receipt is obvious: it is only, Have something to do; but how few can apply it!— Adieu ! I am ever yours.
* To the Bard,
I AM so charmed with the two specimens of Erse poetry, that I cannot help giving you the trouble to inquire a little farther about them, and should wish to see a few lines of the original, that I may form some slight idea of the language, the measures, and the rhythm. Is there any thing known of the author or authors, and of what antiquity are they supposed to be? Is there any more to be had of equal beauty, or at all approaching to it? I have been often told that the poem called Hardicnute (which I always admired, and still admire) was the work of somebody that lived a few years ago.f This I do not at all believe, though it has evidently been retouched in places by some modern hand : but, however, I am authorized by this report to ask, whether the two poems in question are certainly antique and genuine. I make this inquiry in quality of an antiquary, and am * “Ye tow’rs of Julius! London's lasting shame.”—Bard, verse 87. * It has been supposed the work of a lady of the name of Wardlaw, who died in Scotland not many years ago, but upon no better evidence, that I could ever learn, than that a copy of the poem, with some erasures, was found among her papers after her death-No proof surely of its original composition, as few but
persons of business, which women seldom are, take the precaution of docketing, or writing “Copy” upon every thing they may transcribe.
not otherwise concerned about it: for if I were sure that any one now living in Scotland had written them to divert himself, and laugh at the credulity of the world, I would undertake a journey into the Highlands only for the pleasure of seeing him.
I HAve been very ill this week with a great cold and a fever, and though now in a way to be well, am like to be confined some days longer: whatever you will send me that is new, or old, and long, will be received as a charity. Rousseau's people do not interest me; there is but one character and one style in them all, I do not know their faces asunder. I have no esteem for their persons or conduct, am not touched with their passions; and, as to their story, I do not believe a word of it— not because it is improbable, but because it is absurd. If I had any little propensity, it was to Julie ; but now she has gone and (so hand over head) married that Monsieur de Wolmar, I take her for a vraie Suissesse, and do not doubt but she had taken a cup too much like her lover.” All this does not imply that I will not read it out, when you can spare the rest of it. .
LETTER XIV. Sunday, February 28, 1762. I RETURN you my best thanks for the copy of your book,f which you sent me, and have not at all lessened my opinion of it since I read it in print, though the press * Were we not in possession of Mr. Gray's opinion of the Nouvelle Heloise, (see Letter xli. p. 235.) how would such a criticism, from such a critic, astonish all those more happily constituted readers, who, capable of appreciating varied excellence, have perhaps read with equal delight the exquisite odes of the one au
thor, and the extraordinary and (with all its faults) inimitable romance of the other t'The Anecdotes of Painting.
has in general a bad effect on the complexion of one's works. The engravings look, as you say, better than I had expected, yet not altogether so well as I could wish. I rejoice in the good dispositions of our court, and in the propriety of their application to you : the work is a thing so much to be wished; has so near a connexion with the turn of your studies and of your curiosity; and might find such ample materials among your hoards and in your head; that it will be a sin if you let it drop and come to nothing, or worse than nothing, for want of your assistance.” The historical part should be in the manner of Henault, a mere abridgment,f a series of
* See a note from Lord Bute, in the Letters to and from Ministers, inviting Mr. Walpole to turn his thoughts to a work of this kind; and Mr. Walpole's answer, offering to point out and collect materials, and take any trouble in aiding, supervising, and directing the whole plan.
t This method Mr. Walpole had already adopted before he received his friend's letter; for a large memorandum-book of his is extant, with this title-page:
EN G L AND,
The heads of the subjects he meant to treat are there arranged alphabetically: and several pages of blank paper left between each, intended to have been filled up with matter relative to the objects in question, as it occurred to him—We have only to regret, that though a number of curious scattered notes remain among Lord Orford's papers, evidently intended for this work, its farther arrangement was never pursued; as in the hands of an eminent antiquary, diligent, accurate, and fively, as Mr. Walpole, it must have proved a most entertaining as well as a curious work.