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so good to let me know in what point I differ from you. All that at present I can say is, that I will readily sacrifice my own opinion, unless I can give you a substantial reason for adhering to it.
To JOHN JOHNSON, Esqr.
Weston, March 23, 1790.
Your mss. arrived safe in New Norfolk-street, and I am much obliged to you for your labours. Were you now at Weston I could furnish you with employment for some weeks, and shall perhaps be equally able to do it in summer, for I have lost my best amanuensis in this place, Mr. George Throckmorton, who is gone to Bath. * You are a man to be envied, who have never read the Odyssey, which is one of the most amusing story-books in the world. There is also much of the finest poetry in the world to be found in it, notwithstanding all that Longinus has insinuated to the contrary. His comparison of the Iliad and Odyssey to
the meridian, and to the declining sun, is pretty, but I am persuaded, not just. The prettiness of it seduced him; he was otherwise too judicious a reader of Homer to have made it. I can find in the latter no symptons of impaired ability, none of the effects of age; on the contrary, it seems to me a certainty, that Homer, had he written the Odyssey in his youth, could not have written it better; and if the Iliad in his old age, that he would have writen it just as well. A critic would tell me, that instead of written, I should have said composed. Very likely—but I am not writing to one of that snarling generation.
My boy, I long to see thee again. It has happened some way or other, that Mrs. Unwin and I have conceived a great affection for thee. 'That I should, is the less to be wondered at, (because thou art a shred of my own Mother); neither is the wonder great, that she should fall into the same predicamenti for she loves every thing that I love. You will observe, that your own personal right to be beloved makes no part of the consideration. There is nothing that I touch with so much tenderness as the vanity of a young man ; because, I know how extremely susceptible he is of impressions that might hurt him in that particular part of his composition.
If you should ever prove a coxcomb, from which character you stand just now at a greater distance than any young man I know, it shall never be said that I have made you one ; no, you will gain nothing by me but the honour of being much valued by a poor poet, who can do you no good while he lives, and has nothing to leave you when he dies. If you can be contented to be dear to me on these conditions, so you shall; but other terms, more advantageous than these, or more inviting, none have I to propose.
Farewell. Puzzle not yourself about a subject when you write to either of us, every thing is subject enough from those we love.
To JOHN JOHNSON, Esqr.
Weston, April 17, 1790.
Your Letter, that now lies before me, is almost three weeks old, and therefore of full age to receive an answer, which it shall have
without delay, if the interval between the present moment and that of breakfast should prove sufficient for the purpose.
Yours to Mrs. Unwin was received yesterday, for which she will thank you in due time. I have also seen, and have now in my desk, your Letter to Lady Hesketh ; she sent it thinking that it would divert me; in which she was not mistaken. I shall tell her when I write to her next, that you long to receive a line from her. Give yourself no trouble on the subject of the politic device you saw good to recur tó, when you presented me with your manuscript; it was an innocent deception, at least it could harm nobody save yourself; an effect which it did not fail to produce; and since the punishment followed it so closely, by me at least, it may very well be forgiven. You ask, how I can tell that you are not addicted to practices of the deceptive kind? And certainly, if the little time that I have had to study you, were alone to be considered, the question would not be unreasonable; but in general a man who reaches my years, finds
" That long experience does attain
I am very much of Lavater's opinion, and persuaded that faces are as legible as books, only with these circumstances to recommend them to our perusal, that they are read in much less time, and are much less likely to deceive us. Yours gave me a favourable impression of you the moment I beheld it, and though I shall not tell you in particular what I saw in it, for reasons mentioned in my last, I will add, that I hare observed in you nothing since that has not confirmed the opinion I then formed in your favour. In fact, I cannot recollect that my skill in physiognomy has ever deceived me, and I should add more on this subject had I room. .
When you have shut up your mathematical books, you must give yourself to the study of Greek; not merely that you may be able to read Homer, and the other Greek classics with ease, but the Greek Testament, and the Greek fathers also. Thus qualified, and by the aid of your fiddle into the bargain, together with some portion of the grace of God (without which nothing can be done) to enable you to look well to your flock, when you shall get one, you will be set up for a parson. In which character, if I live to see you in it, I shall expect and hope that you