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FORMING AN OPINION.
more kind and friendly man; secondly, one, from good manners, knowledge, fun, taste, and observation, more agreeable; thirdly, a man of more strict political integrity, and of better character in private life. If I were to choose any Englishman in foreign parts whom I should wish to blunder upon, it should be Rogers.
SIR WALTER SCOTT.
(To Lady Holland, Foston, 1818.) I am sorry we cannot agree about Walter Scott. My test of a book written to amuse, is amusement; but I am rather rash, and ought not to say I am amused, before I have inquired whether Sharp or Mackintosh is so. Whishaw's plan is the best: he gives no opinion for the first week, but confines himself to chuckling and elevating his chin; in the meantime, he drives diligently about the first critical stations, breakfasts in Mark Lane, hears from Hertford College, and by Saturday night is as bold as a lion, and as decisive as a court of justice.
A DINNER-PARTY AT HOLLAND HOUSE.
(To the Countess Grey.) We had a large party at dinner here yesterday: Dr. Wollaston, the great philosopher, who did not say one word; William Lamb; Sir Henry Bunbury; Palmella, the Portuguese ambassador; Lord Aberdeen, the Exquisite; Sir William Grant, a rake and disorderly man of the town, recently Master of the Rolls; Whishaw, a man of fashion; Frere; Hallam, of the "Middle Ages;" and myself. In spite of such heterogeneous materials, we had a pleasant party.†
John Whishaw, the political and social friend of Mack ́ntosh, and the Romillys. Writing to Earl Grey, at the period of the Reform Bill, Smith says, "Cultivate Whishaw; he is one of the most sensible men in England." And previously, to John Allen, in 1826: "We have seen a good deal of old Whishaw this summer; he is as pleasant as he is wise and honest. He has character enough to make him well received if he were dull, and wit enough to make him popular if he were a rogue."
↑ This ironical passage has given rise to a curious correspondence between the representatives of the family of one of the persons mentioned and Mrs. Austin, the editor of the Letters. A nephew of Sir William Grant, William Charles Grant, complains to the lady of the slander to the memory of his rel
TRAVELLERS IN AMERICA.
(To the Earl Grey, Foston, Nov. 30, 1818.) Dear Lord Grey: I will send Lady Grey the news from London when I get there. I am sure she is too wise a woman not to be fond of gossiping; I am fond of it, and have some talents for it.
I recommend you to read Hall, Palmer, Fearon, and Bradbury's Travels in America, particularly Fearon. Those four books may, with ease, be read through between breakfast and dinner. There is nothing so curious and interesting as the rapidity with which the Americans are spreading themselves over that immense continent.
It is quite contrary to all probability that America should remain in an integral state. They aim at extending from sea to sea, and have already made settlements on the Pacific. There can be no community of interest between people placed under such very different circumstances: the maritime Americans, and those who communicate with Europe by the Mississippi are at this moment, as far as interest can divide men, two separate people. There does not appear to be in America at this moment one man of any considerable talents. They are a very sensible people; and seem to have conducted their affairs, upon the whole, very well. Birkbeck's second book is not so good as his first. He deceives himself-says he wishes to deceive himself—and is not candid. man chooses to say, "I will live up to my neck in mud, fight bears, swim rivers, and combat backwoodsmen, that I may ulti
ative (one of the most unexceptionable men in England in private and public life), asks for its suppression, and a public denial commensurate with the injury, adding that he supposes Sydney Smith "to have been imposed upon by some malicious person." Mrs. Austin gravely promises to omit the offending words from any future edition. The London Athenæum (April 26, 1856), which publishes the correspondence, as "The Sequel to a Jest," compares the original passage with Pope's ironical sketch (Epilogue to the Satires), when he has invoked the spirit of the detractor Arnall to “aid me while I lie":
"Cobham's a coward, Polwarth is a slave,
TO HIS SON AT SCHOOL.
mately gain an independence for myself and children," this is plain and intelligible; but, by Birkbeck's account, it is much like settling at Putney or Kew; only the people are more liberal and enlightened. Their economy and their cheap government will do some good in this country by way of example. Their allowance to Monroe is £5,000 per annum; and he finds his own victuals, fire, and candles!
Ever yours, dear Lord Grey, most sincerely,
TO HIS SON DOUGLAS.
(To Douglas Smith, Esq., King's Scholar at Westminster College, Foston Rectory, 1819.) My dear Douglas: Concerning this Mr.
I would not have you put any trust in him, for he is not trustworthy; but so live with him as if one day or other he were to be your enemy. With such a character as his, this is a necessary precaution.
In the time you can give to English reading you sider what it is most needful to have, what it is most shameful to want-shirts and stockings, before frills and collars. Such is the history of your own country, to be studied in Hume, then in Rapin's History of England, with Tindal's Continuation. Hume takes you to the end of James the Second, Rapin and Tindal will carry you to the end of Anne. Then, Coxe's "Life of Sir Robert Walpole," and the "Duke of Marlborough ;" and these read with attention to dates and geography. Then, the history of the other three or four enlightened nations in Europe. For the English poets, I will let you off at present with Milton, Dryden, Pope, and Shakespeare; and remember, always, in books, keep the best company. Don't read a line of Ovid till you have mastered Virgil; nor a line of Thomson till you have exhausted Pope; nor of Massinger, till you are familiar with Shakespeare.
I am glad you liked your box and its contents. Think of us as we think of you; and send us the most acceptable of all presents -the information that you are improving in all particulars.
The greatest of all human mysteries are the Westmiuster holidays. If you can get a peep behind the curtain, pray let us know immediately the day of your coming home.
We have had about three or four ounces of rain here, that is all. I heard of your being wet through in London, and envied you very much. The whole of this parish is pulverized from long and excessive drought. Our whole property depends upon the tranquillity of the winds: if it blow before it rains, we shall all be up in the air in the shape of dust, and shall be transparished we know not where.
God bless you, my dear boy! I hope we shall soon meet at Lydiard. Your affectionate father,
(To Lady Mary Bennett, Dec. 1821.) In the first place I went to Lord Grey's, and stayed with them three or four days; from thence I went to Edinburgh, where I had not been for ten years. I found a noble passage into the town, and new since my time; two beautiful English chapels, two of the handsomest library-rooms in Great Britain, and a wonderful increase of shoes and stockings, streets and houses. When I lived there, very few maids had shoes and stockings, but plodded about the house with feet as big as a family Bible, and legs as large as portmanteaus. I stayed with Jeffrey. My time was spent with the Whig leaders of the Scotch bar, a set of very honest, clever men, each possessing thirty-two different sorts of wine. My old friends were glad to see me; some had turned Methodists-some had lost their teeth-some had grown very rich-some very fat-some were dying—and, alas! alas! many were dead; but the world is a coarse enough place, so I talked away, comforted some, praised others, kissed some old ladies, and passed a very riotous week.
AN ARGILLACEOUS IMMORTALITY.
(To John Murray, Foston, 1821.) How little you understand young Wedgewood! If he appears to love waltzing, it is only to catch fresh figures for cream-jugs. Depend upon it, he will have Jeffrey and you upon some of his vessels, and you will enjoy an argillaceous immortality.
(To the Countess Grey, Foston, York, Feb. 19, 1823.) For God's sake, do not drag me into another war! I am worn down, and worn out, with crusading and defending Europe, and protecting mankind; I must think a little of myself. I am sorry for the Spaniards-I am sorry for the Greeks-I deplore the fate of the Jews; the people of the Sandwich Islands are groaning under the most detestable tyranny; Bagdad is oppressed-I do not like the present state of the Delta-Thibet is not comfortable. Am I to fight for all these people? The world is bursting with sin and sorrow. Am I to be champion of the Decalogue, and to be eternally raising fleets and armies to make all men good and happy? We have just done saving Europe, and I am afraid the consequence will be, that we shall cut each other's throats. No war, dear Lady Grey!-no eloquence; but apathy, selfishness, common sense, arithmetic! I beseech you, secure Lord Grey's sword and pistols, as the housekeeper did Don Quixote's armour. If there is another war, life will not be worth having. I will go to war with the King of Denmark if he is impertinent to you, or does any injury to Howick; but for no other cause.
"May the vengeance of Heaven" overtake all the Legitimates of Verona! but, in the present state of rent and taxes, they must be left to the vengeance of Heaven! I allow fighting in such a cause to be a luxury; but the business of a prudent, sensible man, is to guard against luxury.
(To Lady Holland, 1823.) Nothing can be more disgusting than an Oratorio. How absurd, to see five hundred people fiddling like madmen about the Israelites in the Red Sea! Lord Morpeth pretends to say he was pleased, but I see a great change in him since the music-meeting. Pray tell Luttrell he did wrong not to come to the music. It tired me to death; it would have pleased him. He is a melodious person, and much given to sacred music. In his fits of absence I have heard him hum the Hundredth Psalm! (Old Version.)