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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, áre 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 I would try to do it myself (however hazardous), rather than it should remain unpublished.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.f 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 Selimag too unless she be of too little importance for his patriot-collection; or perhaps the connexions you had with her may interfere. Che so io? Adieu !
I am yours ever.
The Ode to Spring.
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? 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 ? 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,
you have got Colonel Conway yet? Whether Sir. C. Wil
* Memoirs of his own time, which Mr. Walpole was then writing.
liams 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
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 fablef 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 be will
I have seen two
* The first scene in Mr. Gray's unfinished tragedy of Agrippina. See p. 113. + The Hymn to Adversity,
# The Entail. As an amanuensis.
of Doctor Middleton's unpublished works. One is about forty-four pages in quarto against Dr. Waterland, who wrote a very orthodox book on the Importance of the Doctrine of the Trinity, and insisted, that Christians ought to have no communion with such as differ from them in fundamentals. Middleton enters no farther into the doctrine itself than to shew, that a mere speculative point can never be called a fundamental; and that the earlier fathers, on whose concurrent tradition Waterland would build, are so far, when they speak of the three persons, from agreeing with the present notion of our church, that they declare for the inferiority of the Son, and seem to have no clear and distinct idea of the Holy Ghost at all. The rest is employed in exposing the folly and cruelty of stiffness and zealotism in religion, and in shewing that the primitive ages of the church, in which tradition had its rise, were (even by confession of the best scholars and most orthodox writers) the era of nonsense and absurdity. It is finished, and very well wrote ; but has been mostly incorporated into his other works, particularly the Inquiry : and for this reason I suppose he has writ upon it, This wholly laid aside. The second is in Latin, on Miracles; to shew that of the two methods of defending Christianity—one from its intrinsic evidence, the holiness and purity of its doctrines—the other from its external, the miracles said to be wrought to confirm it: the first has been little attended to by reason of its difficulty; the second much insisted upon, because it appeared an easier task ; but that it can in reality prove nothing at all. “Nobilis illa quidem defensio (the first) quam si obtinere potuissent, rem simul omnem expediisse, causamque penitus vicisse viderentur. At causæ hujus
At causæ hujus defendendæ labor cum tanta argumentandi cavillandique molestia conjunctus ad alteram, quam dixi, defensionis viam, ut commodiorem longe et faciliorem, plerosque adegit-ego vero
istiusmodi defensione religionem nostram non modo non confirmari, sed dubiam potius suspectamque reddi existimo.” He then proceeds to consider miracles in general, and afterward those of the pagans compared with those of Christ. I only tell you the plan, for I have not read it out (though it is short); but you will not doubt to what conclusion it tends. There is another thing, I know not what, I am to see. As to the treatise on Prayer; they say it is burnt indeed. Adieu.
LETTER IX. Your pen was too rapid to mind the common form of a direction, and so, by omitting the words near Windsor, your letter has been diverting itself at another Stoke near Aylesbury, and came not to my hands till to-day. The true original chairs were all sold, when the Huntingdon broke; there are nothing now but Halseychairs, not adapted to the squareness of a Gothic dowager's rump. And by the way, I do not see how the uneasiness and uncomfortableness of a coronation-chair can be any objection with you: every chair that is easy is modern, and unknown to our ancestors. As I remember, there were certain low chairs, that looked like ebony, at Esher, and were old and pretty. Why should not Mr. Bentley improve upon them?—I do not wonder at Dodsley. You have talked to him of six odes, for so you are pleased to call every thing I write, though it be but a receipt to make apple-dumplings. He has reason to gulp when he finds one of them only a long story. I don't know but I may send him very soon (by your hands) an ode to his own tooth, a high Pindaric upon stilts, which one must be a better scholar than he is to understand a line of, and the very best scholars will understand but a little matter here and there. It wants but seventeen lines of having an end, I don't say of 1