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as many of hers as she shall chuse to bring. The change will I hope prove advantageous, both to your Mother and me, in all respects. Here we have no neighbourhood, there we shall have most agreeable neighbours in the Throckmortons. Here we have a bad air in winter, impregnated with the fishy smelling fumes of the marsh miasma ; there we shall breathe in an atmosphere untainted. Here we are confined from September to March, and sometimes longer; there we shall be upon the very verge of pleasuregrounds in which we can always ramble, and shall not wade through almost impassable dirt to get at them. Both your Mother's constitution and mine have suffered materially by such close and long confinement, and it is high time, unless we intend to retreat into the grave, that we should seek out a more wholesome residence. So far is well, the rest is left to Heaven,
I have hardly left myself room for an answer to your queries, concerning my friend John, and his studies. I should recommend the civil war of Cæsar, because he wrote it, who ranks, I believe, as the best writer, as well as soldier, of his day. There are books (I know not what they are, but you do, and can easily find them) that will inform him clearly of both the civil and military management of the Ro
mans, the several officers, I mean, in both departments; and what was the peculiar province of each. The study of some such book, would, I should think, prove a good introduction to that of Livy, unless you have a Livy with notes to that effect. A want of intelligence in those points, has heretofore made the Roman history very dark and difficult to me; therefore I thus advise.
To the Revd. WALTER BAGOT.
Olney, July 4, 1786.
I rejoice, my dear friend, that you have at last received my proposals, and most cordially thank you for all your labours in my service. I have friends in the world, who knowing that I am apt to be careless when left to myself, are determined to watch over me with a jealous eye upon this occasion. The consequence will be that the work will be
better executed, but more tardy in the production. To them I owe it, that my translation, as fast as it proceeds, passes under the revisal of a most accurate discerner of all blemishes. I know not whether I told you before, or now tell you for the first time, that I am in the hands of a very extraordinary person, He is intimate with my bookseller, and voluntarily offered his service. I was at first doubtful whether to accept it or not, but finding that my friends abovesaid were not to be satisfied on any other terms, though myself a perfect stranger to the man and his qualifications, except as he was recommended by Johnson, I at length consented, and have since found great reason to rejoice that I did. I called him an extraordinary person, and such he is. For he is not only versed in Homer, and accurate in his knowledge of the Greek to a degree that entitles him to that appellation, but though a foreigner, is a perfect master of our language, and has exquisite taste in English poetry. By his assistance I have improved many pe sages, supplied many oversights, and corrected many mistakes, such as will of course escape the most diligent and attentive labourer in such a work, I ought to add, because it affords the best assurance ci his zcal and fidelity, that he does not toil for hire, nor will accept of any premium, but has entered on this business merely for his amusement. In the last instance my sheets will pass through the hands of our old school-fellow Colman, who has engaged to correct the press, and make any little alterations, that he may see expedient. With all this precaution, little as I intended it once, I am now well satisfied. Experience has convinced me, that other eyes than my own are necessary, in order that so long and arduous a task may be finished as it ought, and may neither discredit me, nor mortify and disappoint my friends. You, who, I know, interest yourself much and deeply in my success,will, I dare say, be satisfied with it too. Pope had many aids, and he who follows Pope, ought not to walk alone.
Though I announce myself by my very undertaking to be one of Homer's most enraptured admirers, I am not a blind one. Perhaps the speech of Achilles given in my specimen, is, as you hint, rather too much in the moralizing strain, to suit so young a man, and of so much fire. But whether it be, or not, in the course of the close application that I am forced to give to my author, I discover inadvertencies not a few ; some perhaps that have escaped even the commentators themselves, or perhaps in the enthu
siasm of their idolatry, they resolved that they should pass for beauties. Homer however, say what they will, was man, and in all the works of man, especially in a work of such length and variety, many things will of necessity occur, that might have been better. Pope and Addison had a Dennis, and Dennis, if I mistake not, held up as he has been to scorn and detestation, was a sensible fellow, and passed some censures upon both those writers, that had they been less just, would have hurt them less. Homer had his Zoilus, and perhaps if we knew all that Zoilus said, we should be forced to acknowledge, that sometimes at least, he had reason on his side. But it is dangerous to find any fault at all with what the world is determined to esteem faultless.
I rejoice, my dear friend, that you enjoy some composure; and cheerfulness of spirits, may God preserve and encrease to you so great a blessing !
I am affectionately and truly yours,