Page images

what I have got, be verse or not; by the tune and the time, it ought to be rhyme; but if it be, did you ever see, of late or of yore, such a ditty before? The thought did occur, to me and to her, as madam and I, did walk and not fly, over the hills and dales, with spreading sails, before it was dark to Weston Park.

The news at Oney is little or noney; but such as it is, I send it, viz.: Poor Mr. Peace cannot yet cease, addling his head with what you said, and has left parish-church quite in the lurch, having almost swore to go there no more.

Page and his wife, that made such a strife, we met them twain in Dog-lane; we gave them the wall, and that was all. For Mr. Scott, we have seen him not, except as he pass'd, in a wonderful haste, to see a friend in Silver End. Mrs. Jones proposes, ere July closes, that she and her sister, and her Jones mister, and we that are here, our course shall steer, to dine in the Spinney ;1 but for a guinea, if the weather should hold, so hot and so cold, we had better by far, stay where we are. For the grass there grows, while nobody mows, (which is very wrong,) so rank and long, that so to speak, 'tis at least a week, if it happens to min, ere it dries again."

I have writ Charity, not for popularity, but as well as I could, in hopes to do good ; and if the Reviewer should say " To be sure, the gentleman's Muse, wears methodist shoes; you may know by her pace, and talk about grace, that she and her bard have little regard, for the taste and fashions, and ruling passions, and hoidening play, of the modem day; and though she assume a borrowed plume, and here and there wear a tittering air, 'tis only her plan, to catch if she can, the giddy and gay, as they go that way, by a production on a new construction. She has baited her trap in hopes to snap all that may come, with a sugar-plum."

His opinion in this, will not be amiss; 'tis what I intend,

my principal end; and if I succeed, and folks should read, till a few are brought to a serious thought, I shall think I am paid, for all I have said and all I have done, though I have run, many a time, after a rhyme, as far as from hence, to the end of my sense, and by hook or crook, write another book, if I live and am here, another year. I have heard before, of a room with a floor, laid upon springs, and such-like things, with so much art, in every part, that when you went in, you was forced to begin a minuet pace, with an air and a grace, swimming about, now in and now out, with a deal of state, in a figure of eight, without pipe or string, or any such thing; and now I have writ, in a rhyming fit, what will make you dance, and as you advance, will keep you still, though against your will, dancing away, alert and gay, till you come to an end of what I have penn'd; which that you may do, ere madam and you are quite worn out with jigging about, I take my leave, and here you receive a bow profound, down to the ground, from your humble me, W. C.

P. S. When I concluded, doubtless you did think me right, as well you might, in saying what I said of Scott; and then it was true, but now it is due to him to note, that since I wrote, himself and he has visited me.


Oiset, May 29, 1786.

To Ladt Hesketh.

Thou dear, comfortable cousin, whose letters, among all that I receive, have this property peculiarly their own, that I expect them without trembling, and never find any thing in them that does not give me pleasure; for which therefore I would take nothing in exchange that the world could give me, save and except that for which I must exchange them soon, (and happy shall I be to do so,) your own company. That, indeed, is delayed a little too long; to my impatience at least it seems so, who find the spring, backward as it is, too forward, because many of its beauties will have faded before you will have an opportunity to see them. We took our customary walk yesterday in the wilderness at Weston, and saw, with regret, the laburnums, syringas, and guelder-roses, some of them blown, and others just upon the point of blowing, and could not help observing—All these will be gone before Lady Hesketh comes! Still however there will be roses, and jasmine, and honeysuckle, and shady walks, and cool alcoves, and you will partake them with us. But I want you to have a share of every thing that is delightful here, and cannot bear that the advance of the season should steal away a single pleasure before you can come to enjoy it.

Every day I think of you, and almost all the day long; I will venture to say, that even you were never so expected in your life. I called last week at the Quaker's to see the furniture of your bed, the fame of which had reached me. It is, I assure you, superb, of printed cotton, and the subject classical. Every morning you will open your eyes on Phaeton kneeling to Apollo, and imploring bis father to grant him the conduct of his chariot for a day. May your sleep be as sound as your bed will be sumptuous, and your nights at least will be well provided for.

I shall send up the sixth and seventh books of the Iliad shortly, and shall address them to you. You will forward them to the General. I long to show you my workshop, and to see you sitting on the opposite side of my table. We shall be as close packed as two wax figures in an old-fashioned picture frame. I am writing in it now. It is the place in which I fabricate all my verse in summer time. I rose an hour sooner than usual this morning, that I might finish my sheet before breakfast, for I must write this day to the General.

The grass under my windows is all bespangled with dewdrops, and the birds are singing in the apple trees, among the blossoms. Never poet had a more commodious oratory in which to invoke his Muse.


To Joseph Hill, Esq,

My dear friend, Olket, June 9, 1786.

The little time that I can devote to any other purpose than that of poetry is, as you may suppose, stolen. Homer is urgent. Much is done, but much remains undone, and no schoolboy is more attentive to the performance of his daily task than I am. You will therefore excuse me if at present I am both unfrequent and short.

I had a letter some time since from your sister Fanny, that gave me great pleasure. Such notices from old friends are always pleasant, and of such pleasures I have received many lately. They refresh the remembrance of early days, and make me young again. The noble institution of the Nonsense Club will be forgotten, when we are gone who composed it; but I often think of your most heroic line, written at one of our meetings, and especially think of it when I am translating Homer,—

"To whom replied the Devil yard-long-talled." 1

There never was any thing more truly Grecian than that triple epithet, and were it possible to introduce it into either Iliad or Odyssey, I should certainly steal it. I am now flushed with expectation of Lady Hesketh, who spends the summer with us. We hope to see her next week. We have found admirable lodgings both for her and her suite, and a Quaker in this town, still more admirable than they, who, as if he loved her as much as-1 do, furnishes them for her with real elegance.

l See page 70 under "Moral Playi."


How mysterious are the ways of Providence! Why did I receive gmce and mercy? Why was I preserved, afflicted for my good, received, as I trust, into favor, and blessed with the greatest happiness I can ever know or hope for in this life, while others were overtaken by the great arrest, unawakened, unrepenting, and every way unprepared for it? His infinite wisdom, to whose infinite mercy I owe it all, can solve these questions, and none beside him. If I am convinced that no affliction can befall me without the permission of God, I am convinced, likewise, that he sees and knows that I am afflicted. Believing this, I must in the same degree believe that, if I pray to him for deliverance, he hears me; I must needs know likewise with equal assurance that, if he hears, he will also deliver me, if that will, upon the whole, be most conducive to my happiness; and if he does not deliver me, I may be well assured that he has none but the most benevolent intention in declining it. He made us, not because we could add to his happiness, which was always perfect, but that we might be happy ourselves; and will he not, in all his dispensations towards us, even in the minutest, consult that end for which he made us? To suppose the contrary, is (which we are not always aware of) affronting every one of his attributes; and at the same time the certain consequence of disbelieving his care for us is, that we renounce utterly our dependence upon him. In this view, it will appear plainly that the line of duty is not stretched too tight, when we are told that we ought to accept every thing at his hands as a blessing, and to be thankful even while we smart under the rod of iron with which he sometimes rules us. Without this persuasion, every blessing, however we may think ourselves happy in it, loses its greatest recommendation, and every affliction is intolerable. Death itself must be welcome to him who has this faith, and he who has it not, must aim at it, if ho is not a madman.

I From a letter to Lady Heikefh




SIR JOHN MANDEYILLE, (page 17.) Bate of birth and death? Id whose reign did he flourish? Date or Edward Hl.'a reign? When did he leave England for foreign travel f Uow long was ne gone? Through what countries did he travel I In what languages did he write his travels? What entitles him to great consideration? What accounts did he give which were not believed at the time, but which later testimony has proved true? How does he prove the spherical form of the earth? Give his reasoning. What does he say of the Chinese? What evidence of the popularity of his work? (note, p. 10.) .What books referred to? (note.)

JOHN WICLIF, (p. 21.) Date of Wiclifs birth and death? In whose reign did he flourish? MO3" Here the scholar must not be governed by the name of the monarch at the top of the page over the author's name, for as the authors are arranged according to the dates of their death, some will be found to have died the very first or second year of a new kind's reign; of course, therefore, they cannot be said to have "flourished in his reign." Thus, though Wlelif died in the reign of Richard II., his great works were mostly written, and his great labors chiefly exerted in the reign of Edward III.; he, therefore, must bo said to have "flourished" in the reign of that monarch.] What was ho called? What does Milton say of him? Where was he educated? For what did he early distinguish himself? What title did he acquire? What was henceforth the great business of his life? Repeat the quotation from Milton relative to Wiclif. State tho comparative merits of Wiclif and Luther, as reformers. Repeat the fine remark of Burnet, (note.) When did Wiclif die? What did the Council of Constance decree? What is the re"mark of Fuller? Repeat the lines of Wordsworth, (note.) "What is said of WicliTs writings? What was bis chief work? What houor belongs to him? What did the papal clergy say of his labors? (note.) What was his character? What books referred to? (note.)

JOHN BARBOUR, (p. 25.) Date of Barbour's birth and death? To what country did he belong? In whose reign did he flourish? What Ib the title of

his chief work? What is its nature? la what character, therefore, is Barbour to be considered? What dws ho say, himself, of his work? Repeat the paraphrase of his Apostrophe to Freedom, (note.) [The last two lines of the original are much superior, and should be imbedded in the memory.]

GEOFFREY CHAUCER, (p. 27.) Date of Chaucer's birth and death? Repeat Spenser and Wordsworth's lines. By what title is he distinctively known? What does Warton say of him? In whoso reign did he flourish? To what family did he become connected by marriage? Where did ho travel? With whom did ho become acquainted? Who were the three chief scholars of Italy in tho 14th century, and for what distinguished? (note.) What public office did Chaucer receive? When did he die? In what respect does Chaucer resemble Cowper? What is his great work? From what did he take the idea? What was the Decameron? Its etymology? Where was Canterbury? Why wero pilgrimages made there? In what respect is Chaucer's plan superior to Boecacio's? What is the plan of the Decameron? M'hat knowledge do the Canterbury Tales give us? What great caufMJ did thwy subsequently aid? (note.) [Here tho instructor may direct the scholar to commit to memory such extracts from the various authors, as he may deem 1 ■ ■ I. Of those from Chaucer, I would recommend "The Parson."*] What are the four other principal works of Chaucer? Give an account of

*I cannot too strongly urge upon the young the advantage of committing to memory the choicest passages in pro»e and poetry In EpgIUh Literature. What we learn thoroughly when young, remains by us through life. "Sir,"* said the great Doctor Johnson to BoeweU, "in my early day* I read very hard. It In a aad reflection, but a true one, thai I knew almo»t a* much at eighteen as I do now. My judgment, to be sure, was not so good; but I had all the facts. I remcmher very well when I wa* at Oxford, an old gentleman bald to mc, 'Young man, ply your book diligently now, and acquire a itock of knowledge: for when years come unto you, you will find that poring upon book* will be but an Irksome task.'"


« PreviousContinue »