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that way, is long since forgotten, and I do not know that I have made a figure in any thing since. I am sure however, that she did not design me for a horseman, and that if all men, were of my mind, there would be an end of all jockeyship for ever. I am rather straitened for time, and not very rich in materials, therefore, with our joint love to you all, conclude myself,
. My dear friend, if the old adage be true, that “ he gives twice, who gives speedily,” it is equally true, that he who not only uses expedition in giving, but gives more than was asked, gives thrice at least. Such is the style in which Mr.
confers a favour. He has not only sent me franks to Johnson, but, under another cover, has added six to you. These last, for aught that appears by your Letter, he threw in of his own mere bounty. I beg that my share of thanks may not be wanting on this occasion, and that, when you write to him next, you will assure him of the sense I have of the obligation, which is the more flattering, as it includes a proof of his predilection in favour of the poems, his franks are destined to enclose May they not forfeit his good opinion hereafter, nor yours, to whom í hold myself indebted in the first place, and who have equally given me credit for their deservings! Your Mother says, that, although there are passages in them containing opinions, which will not be universally subscribed to, the world will at least allow what my great modesty will not permit me to subjoin. I have the highest opinion of her judgment, and know, by having experienced the soundness of them, that her observations are always worthy of attention, and regard. Yet, strange as it may seem, I do not feel the vanity of an author, when she commends mebut I feel something better, a spur to my diligence, and a cordial to my spirits, both together animating me to deserve, at least not to fall short of her expectations. For I verily believe, if my dullness should earn me the character of a dunce, the censure would affect her more than me, not, that I am insensible of the value of a good name, either as a man or an author. Without an ambition to attain it, it is absolutely unattainable under either of those descriptions. But my life, having been in many respects a series of mortifications and disappointments, I am become less apprehensive, and impressible perhaps in some points, than I should otherwise have been; and, though I should be exquisitely sorry to disgrace my friends, could endure my own share of the affliction with a reasonable measure of tranquility.
These seasonable showers have poured floods upon all the neighbouring parishes, but have passed us by. My garden languishes, and, what is worse, the fields too languish, and the upland-grass is burnt. These discriminations are not fortuitous. But if they are providential, what do they import? I can only answer, as a friend of mine once answered a mathematical question in the schools" Prorsùs nescio." Perhaps it is, that men, who will not believe what they cannot understand, may learn the folly of their conduct, while their very senses are made to witness against them; and themselves in the course of Providence, become the subjects of a thousand dispensations, they cannot explain. But the end is never answered. The lesson is incụlcated indeed frequently
enough, but nobody learns it. Well. Instruction, vouchsafed in vain, is (I suppose) a debt to be accounted for hereafter. You must understand this to be a soliloquy. I wrote my thoughts without recollecting that I was writing a Letter, and to you.
To the Revd. WILLIAM UNWIN.
June 24, 1781.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
The Letter you withheld so long, lest it should give me pain, gave me pleasure. Horace says, the poets are a waspish race; and from my own experience of the temper of two or three, with whom I was formerly connected, I can readily subscribe to the character he gives them. But for my own part, I have never yet felt that excessive irritability, which some writers discover, when a friend, in the words of Pope,
" Just hints a fault, or hesitates dislike."
Least of all would I give way to such an unseasonable ebullition, merely because a civil question is proposed to me, with such gentleness, and by a man, whose concern for my credit and character, I verily believe to be sincere. I reply therefore, not peevishly, but with a sense of the kindness of your intentions, that I hope you may make yourself very easy on a subject, that I can perceive has occasi tude. When I wrote the poem called Truth, it was indispensibly necessary that I should set forth that doctrine, which I know to be true, and that I should pass what I understood to be a just censure upon opi-. nions, and persuasions, that differ from, or stand in direct opposition to it; because, though some errors may be innocent, and even religious errors are not always pernicious, yet in a case, where the faith and hope of a Christian are concerned, they must necessarily be destructive; and because neglecting this, I should have betrayed my subject; either supressing, what in my judgment, is of the last importance, or giving countenance, by a timid silence, to the very evils it was my design to combat. That you may understand me better, I will subjoin-m-that I wrote that poem on purpose to inculcate the eleemosynary character of the Gospel, as a dispensation