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you have done those of my head, in your excellent version of my Essay; I should not only appear the best writer in the world, but, what I much more desire to be thought, the most your servant of any man living. 'Tis an advantage very rarely known, to receive at once, a great honour and a great improvement. This, Sir, you have afforded me, having, at the same time, made others take my sense, and taught me to understand my own; if I may call that my own which is indeed more properly yours. Your verses are no more a translation of mine, than Virgil's are of Homer's; but are, like his, the justest imitation and the noblest Commentary.
In putting me into a French dress, you have not » only adorned my outside, but mended my shape; and if I am now a good figure, I must consider you have naturalized me into a country which is famous for making every man a fine gentleman. It is by your means, that (contrary to most young travellers) I am come back much better than I went out.
I cannot but wish we had a bill of commerce for
Hill, in quarto, with cuts of each remarkable person mentioned in them, under the auspices, and by the direction of, a nobleman, whose taste and literature are equalled only by the elegance of his manners and the goodness of his heart. The Memoirs of Gramont, if no other proofs were extant, would be indisputable and irrefragable testimonies of the extreme profligacy and dissoluteness of manners in the Court of Charles the Second; manners learnt and imitated from the Court of Louis the Fourteenth; whence also he adopted and brought hither those principles of arbitrary power that England would not bear, and of which we have lived to see the very lamentable effects in France itself. For it must, after all, be confessed, that, in that unhappy country, it was DESPOTISM which has ultimately produced ANARCHY, and POPERY which has produced Atheism.
translation established the next parliament: we could not fail of being gainers by that, nor of making ourselves amends for any thing we have lost by the war. Nay, though we should insist upon the demolishing of Boileau's works, the French, as long as they have writers of your form, might have as good an equivalent.
Upon the whole, I am really as proud, as our ministers ought to be, of the terms I have gained from abroad; and I design, like them, to publish speedily to the world the benefits accruing from them; for I cannot resist the temptation of printing your admirable translation here”; to which if you will be so obliging to give me leave to prefix your name, it will be the only addition you can make to the honour already done me. I am
* This was never done, for the two printed French versions are neither of this hand. The one was done by Monsieur Roboton, private secretary to King George the First, printed in quarto‘at Amsterdam, and at London, 1717. The other by the Abbe Resnel, in octavo, with a large preface and notes, at Paris, 1730. P.
TO AND FROM
MR. STEELE, MR. ADDISON, MR. CONGREVE,
From the Year 1712 to 1715.
FROM MR, STEELE.
June 1, 1712. I AM at a solitude, an house between Hampstead and London, wherein Sir Charles Sedley died. This circumstance set me a thinking and ruminating upon the employments in which men of wit exercise themselves. It was said of Sir Charles, who breathed his last in this room,
Sedley has that prevailing gentle art,
• Pope said of Steele, that though he led a careless and vicious life, yet he had, nevertheless, a love and reverence of virtue. It is said George I. sent five hundred guineas to Steele for the dedication of the Conscious Lovers. Dennis wrote against this comedy, and called Steele a two-penny author, alluding to the price of his Tatler.
This was a happy talent to a man of the town, but I dare say, without presuming to make uncharitable conjectures on the author's present condition, he would rather have had it said of him that he had prayed,
Oh thou my voice inspire,
I have turned to every verse and chapter, and think you have preserved the sublime heavenly spirit throughout the whole, especially at—-Hark, a glad voice-and-The lamb with wolves shall grazeThere is but one line* which I think is below the original ;
He wipes the tears for ever from our eyes.
You have expressed it with a good and pious, but not so exalted and poetical a spirit as the prophet, The Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces. If you agree with me in this, alter it by way of paraphrase or otherwise, that when it comes into a volume it may be amended. Your poem is already better than the Pollio. I am
* In consequence of this objection this line was altered thus ;
From every eye he wipes off every tear. I own I cannot forbear thinking that this repetition of the word every is a quaint and pretty modernism, unsuited to the subject.