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Tom is delighted past measure with his wooden nag, and gallops at a rate that would kill any horse that had a life to lose.
To JOHN JOHNSON, Esqr.
Weston, April 6, 1790.
MY DEAR JOHNNY,
A thousand thanks for your splendid assemblage of Cambridge luminaries ! If you are not contented with your collection, it can only be because you are unreasonable ; for I, who may be supposed more covetous on this occasion than any body, am highly satisfied, and even delighted with it. If indeed you should find it practicable to add still to the number, I have not the least objection. But this charge I give you,
Αλλο δε τοι ερεω, συ δ' ενι Φρεσι βαλλες συσι
Stay not an hour beyond the time you have mentioned, even though you should be able to add a thousand names by doing so ! For I cannot afford to purchase them at that cost. I long to see you, and so do we both, and will not suffer you to postpone your visit for any such consideration. No, my dear boy! In the affair of subscriptions we are already illustrious enough, shall be so at least, when you shall have enlisted a college or two more; which, perhaps, you may be able to do in the course of the ensuing week. I feel myself much obliged to your university, and much disposed to admire the liberality of spirit they have shewn on this occasion. Certainly I had not deserved much favour of their hands, all things considered. But the cause of literature seems to have some weight with them, and to have superseded the resentment they might be supposed to entertain on the score of certain censures, that you wot of. It is not so at Oxford.
I forget if I told you that Mr. Throckmorton had applied through the medium of to the university of Oxford. He did so, but without success. Their answer was, “ that they subscribe to nothing."
Pope's subscriptions did not amount, I think, to six hundred; and mine will not fall very short of five. Noble doings, at a time of day when Homer has no news to tell us, and when all other comforts of life having arisen in price, poetry has of course fallen. I call it a “ comfort of life:” it is so to others, but to myself, it is become even a necessary.
These holiday times are very unfavourable to the printer's progress. He and all his demons are making themselves merry, and me sad, for I mourn at every hinderance.
To the Revd. WALTER BAGOT.
Weston, May 2, 1791.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
Monday being a day in which Homer has now no demands upon me, I shall give part of the present Monday to you. But it this moment occurs to me that the proposition with which I begin will be obscure to you, unless followed by an explanation. You are to understand, therefore, that Monday being no post-day, I have consequently no proof-sheets to correct, the correction of which is nearly all that I have to do with Homer at present, I say nearly all, because I am likewise occasionally employed in reading over the whole of what is already printed, that I may make a table of errata to each of the poems. How much is already printed ? say you -I answer the whole Iliad, and almost seventeen books of the Odyssey
About a fortnight since, perhaps three weeks, I had a visit from your Nephew Mr. Bagot and his tutor Mr. Hurlock, who came hither under conduct of your Niece Miss Barbara. So were the friends of
Ulysses conducted to the palace of Antiphates the Loestrigonian by that monarch's daughter. But mine is no palace, neither am I a giant, neither did I devour any one of the party—on the contrary, I gave them chocolate and permitted them to depart in peace. I was much pleased both with the young man and his tutor. In the countenace of the former I saw much Bagotism, and not less in his manners. I will leave you to guess what I mean by that expression. Physiognomy is a study of which I have almost as high an opinion as Lavater himself, the professor of it, and for this good reason, because it never yet deceived me. But perhaps I shall speak more truly if I say, that I am somewhat of an adept in the art, although I have never studied it; for, whether I will or not, I judge of every human creature by the countenance, and, as I say, have never yet seen reason to repent of my judgment. Sometimes I feel myself powerfully attracted as I was by your Nephew, and sometimes with equal vehemence repulsed, which attraction and repulsion have always been justified in the sequel.
I have lately read, and with more attention than I ever gave to them before, Milton's Latin