Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

reasonably deemed such in a climate sometimes hardly less severe than that. Nature indeed is content with little, and luxury seems, in some respect, rather relative than of any fixed construction. Accordingly it may become in time a luxury for an Englishman to wear breeches, because it is possible to exist without them, and because persons of a moderate income may find them too expensive. I hope however to be hid in the dust before that day shall come; for, having worn them so many years, if they be indeed a luxury, they are such a one as I could very

ill

spare; yet spare them I must, if I cannot afford to wear them.

We are tolerably well in health, and as to spirits, much as usual—seldom better, sometimes worse. Yours, my dear friend, affectionately,

W. C.

TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON. *

Olney, July 9, 1785. My dear friend – You wrong your own judgment when you represent it as not to be trusted; and mine, if you suppose that I have that opinion of it. Had you disapproved, I should have been hurt and mortified. No man's disapprobation would have hurt me more. Your favourable sentiments of my book must consequently give me pleasure in the same proportion. By the post, last Sunday, I had a letter from Lord Dartmouth, in which he thanked

Private Correspondence.

me for my volume, of which he had read only a part. Of that part however he expresses himself in terms with which my authorship has abundant cause to be satisfied; and adds that the specimen has made him impatient for the whole. I have likewise received a letter from a judicious friend of mine in London, and a man of fine taste, unknown to you, who speaks of it in the same language. Fortified by these cordials, I feel myself qualified to face the world without much anxiety, and delivered in a great measure from those fears which I suppose

all men feel upon the like occasion. My first volume I sent, as you may remember, to the Lord Chancellor, accompanied by a friendly but respectful epistle. His Lordship however thought it not worth his while to return me any answer, or to take the least notice of my present. I sent it also to Colman, with whom I once was intimate. He likewise proved too great a man to recollect me; and, though he has published since, did not account it necessary to return the compliment. I have allowed myself to be a little pleased with an opportunity to show them that I resent their treatment of me, and have sent this book to neither of them. They indeed are the former friends to whom I particularly allude in my epistle to Mr. Hill; and it is possible that they may take to themselves a censure that they so well deserve. If not, it matters not; for I shall never have any communication with them hereafter.

If Mr. Bates has found it difficult to furnish you with a motto to your volumes, I have no reason to

a

imagine that I shall do it easily. I shall not leave my books unransacked; but there is something so new and peculiar in the occasion that suggested your subject, that I question whether in all the classics can be found a sentence suited to it. Our sins and follies, in this country, assume a shape that heathen writers had never any opportunity to notice. They deified the dead indeed, but not in the Temple of Jupiter.* The new-made god had an altar of his own; and they conducted the ceremony without sacrilege or confusion. It is possible however, and I think barely so, that somewhat may occur susceptible of accommodation to your purpose; and if it should, I shall be happy to serve you with it.

I told you, I believe, that the spinney has been cut down ; and, though it may seem sufficient to have mentioned such an occurrence once, I cannot help recurring to the melancholy theme. Last night, at near nine o'clock, we entered it for the first time this summer.

We had not walked many yards in it, before we perceived that this pleasant

Cowper alludes, in this passage, to the Commemoration of Handel, in Westminster Abbey, and its resemblance to an act of canonization. His censure is doubly recorded; in poetry, as well as in prose.

“ Ten thousand sit Patiently present at a sacred song, Commemoration mad; content to hear (0 wonderful effect of Music's power!) Messiah's eulogy for Handel's sake. But less, methinks, than sacrilege might serve, &c.

The Task, Book vi.

*

[ocr errors]

retreat is destined never to be a pleasant retreat again. In one more year, the whole will be a thicket. That which was once the serpentine walk is now in a state of transformation, and is already become as woody as the rest. Poplars and elms without number are springing in the turf. They are now as high as the knee. Before the summer is ended they will be twice as high; and the growth of another season will make them trees. It will then be impossible for any but a sportsman and his dog to penetrate it. The desolation of the whole scene is such that it sunk our spirits. The ponds are dry. The circular one, in front of the hermitage, is filled with flags and rushes; so that if it contains any water, not a drop is visible. The weeping willow at the side of it, the only ornamental plant that has escaped the axe, is dead. The ivy and the moss, with which the hermitage was lined, are torn away; and the very mats that covered the benches have been stripped off, rent in tatters, and trodden under foot. So farewell, spinney; I have promised myself that I will never enter it again. We have both prayed in it: you for me, and I for you. But it is desecrated from this time forth, and the voice of prayer will be heard in it no

The fate of it in this respect, however deplorable, is not peculiar. The spot where Jacob anointed his pillar, and, which is more apposite, the spot once honoured with the presence of Him who dwelt in the bush, have long since suffered similar disgrace, and are become common ground.

There is great severity in the application of the

more.

text you mention-I am their music. But it is not the worse for that. We both approve it highly. The other in Ezekiel does not seem quite so pat. The prophet complains that his word was to the people like a pleasant song, heard with delight, but soon forgotten. At the commemoration, I suppose that the word is nothing, but the music all in all. The Bible however will abundantly supply you with applicable passages. All passages indeed, that animadvert the profanation of God's house and worship, seem to present themselves upon the occasion.

Accept our love and best wishes; and believe me, my dear friend, with warm and true affection,

Yours,

W. C.

upon

TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.

Olney, July 27, 1785. My dear William-You and your party left me in a frame of mind that indisposed me much to company. I comforted myself with the hope that I should spend a silent day, in which I should find abundant leisure to indulge sensations, which, though of the melancholy kind, I yet wished to nourish. But that hope proved vain. In less than an hour after your departure, Mr. made his appearance at the green-house door. We were obliged to ask him to dinner, and he dined with us. He is an agreeable, sensible, well-bred young man, but ith all his recommendations I felt that on that

« ForrigeFortsæt »