« EdellinenJatka »
May 28, 1712.
It is not only the disposition I always have of conversing with you, that makes me so speedily answer your obliging letter, but the apprehension lest your charitable intent of writing to my Lady A. on Mrs. W—'s affair should be frustrated, by the short stay she makes there. She went thither on the 25th with that mixture of expectation and anxiety, with which people usually go into unknown or half-discovered countries, utterly ignorant of the disposition of the inhabitants, and the treatment they are to meet with. The unfortunate of all people are the most unfit to be left alone; yet, we see, the world generally takes care they shall be so; whereas, if we took a considerate prospect of the world, the business and study of the happy and easy should be to divert and humour, as well as comfort and pity, the distressed. I cannot therefore excuse some near Allies of mine for their conduct of late towards this lady, which has given me a great deal of anger as well as sorrow: all I shall say to you of them at present is, that they have not been my Relations these two months. The consent of opinions in our minds, is certainly a nearer tie than can be contracted by all the blood in our bodies; and am proud of finding I have something congenial with you. Will you permit me to confess to you, that all the favours and kind offices you have shewn towards me, have not so strongly cemented me yours, as the discovery of that generous and manly compassion you manifested in the case of this unhappy lady? I am afraid to insinuate to you how much I esteem you: Flatterers have taken up the style which was once peculiar to friends, and an honest man has now no way left to express himself besides the common one of knaves: so that true friends now-a-days differ in their address from flatterers, much as right mastiffs do from spaniels, and shew themselves by a dumb surly sort of fidelity, rather than by a complaisant and open kindness. Will you never leave
commending my poetry? In fair truth, Sir, I like it but too well myself already: expose me no more, I beg you, to the great danger of Vanity, (the rock of all men, but most of young men,) and be kindly content for the future, when you would please me thoroughly, to say only you like what I write.
December 5, 1712.
You have at length complied with the request I have often made you, for you have shewn me, I must confess, several of my faults in the sight of those letters. Upon a review of them, I find many things that would give me shame, if I were not more desirous to be thought honest than prudent; so many
things freely thrown out, such lengths of unreserved friendship, thoughts just warm from the brain, without any polishing or dress, the very dishabille of the understanding. You have proved yourself more tender of another's embryos than the fondest mothers are of their own, for you have preserved every thing that I miscarried of. Since I know this, I shall in one respect be more afraid of writing to you than ever, at this careless rate, because I see my evil works may again rise in judgment against me; yet in another respect I shall be less afraid, since this has given me such a proof of the extreme indulgence you afford to my slightest thoughts. The revisal of these letters has been a kind of examination of conscience to me; so fairly and faithfully have I set down in them from time to time the true and undisguised state of my mind. But, I find, that these, which were intended as sketches of my friendship give as imperfect images of it, as the little landscapes we commonly see in black and white do of a beautiful country; they can represent but a very small part of it, and that deprived of the life and lustre of nature. I perceived that the more I endeavoured to render manifest the real affection and value I ever had for you, I did but injure it by representing less and less of it: as glasses which are designed to make an object very clear, generally contract it. Yet, as when people have a full idea of a thing first upon their own knowledge, the least traces of it serve to refresh the remembrance, and are not displeasing on that score; so I hope, the foreknowledge you had of my esteem
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for you, is the reason that you do not dislike my letters.
They will not be of any great service, (I find,) in the design I mentioned to you: I believe I had better steal from a richer man, and plunder your letters (which I have kept as carefully as I would Letters Patents, since they intitle me to what I more value than titles of honour). You have some cause to apprehend this usage from me, if what some say be true, that I am a great borrower; however I have hitherto had the luck that none of my creditors have challenged me for it: and those who say it are such whose writings no man ever borrowed from, so have the least reason to complain; and whose works are, granted on all hands to be too much their own. Another has been pleased to declare, that my verses are corrected by other men: I verily believe theirs were never corrected by any man; but indeed if mine have not, 'twas not my fault: I have endeavoured my utmost that they should. But these things are only whispered, and I will not encroach upon Bays's province and pen-whispers, so hasten to conclude,
FROM MY LORD LANSDOWN.
October 21, 1713.
I Am pleased beyond measure with your design of translating Homer. The trials which you have already made and published on some parts of that author, have shewn that you are equal to so great a task: and you may therefore depend upon the utmost services I can do you in promoting this work, or any thing that may be for your service.
I hope Mr. Stafford, for whom you was pleased to concern yourself, has had the good effects of the Queen's Grace to him. I had notice the night before I began my journey, that her Majesty had not only directed his pardon, but ordered a Writ for reversing his Outlawry.
TO GENERAL ANTHONY HAMILTON1,
Upon his having translated into French Verse the Essay Ok Criticism.
October 10, 1713.
If I could as well express, or (if you will allow me to say it) translate the sentiments of my heart as
1 Author of the Memoirs of the Count de Gramont, Contas, and other pieces of note in French. P.
They have been lately printed most beautifully at Strawberry