Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

and splen

pine, diffimulation, and luxury, that a magic circle is drawn about

you,
and

you cannot escape. We are here in the country in quite another world, surrounded with blessings and pleasures, without any occasion of exercising our irascible faculties; indeed we cannot boast of good-breeding and the art of life, but yet we don't live unpleasantly in primitive fimplicity and good-humour. The faThions of the town affect us but just like a rareeshow, we have a curiosity to peep at them, and nothing more. What you call pride, prodigality, and vain-glory, we cannot find in pomp dor at this distance; it appears to us a fine glittering scene, which if we don't envy you, we think you happier than we are, in your enjoying it. Whatever you may think to persuade us of the humility of Virtue, and her appearing in rags amongst you, we can never believe : our uninform'd minds represent her so noble to us, that we necessarily annex splendor to her : and we could as soon ima gine the order of things inverted, and that there is no man in the moon, as believe the contrary. I can't forbear telling you we indeed read the spoils of Rapine as boys do the English rogue, and hug ourselves full as much over it; yet our roses are not without thorns. Pray give me the pleasure of hearing (when you are at leisure) how foon I may expect to see the next volume of Homer.

I am, &c.

LE T T E R IV.

May 1, 1720. Ou'll think me very full of myself, when after

long silence (which however, to say truth, , has rather been employed to contemplate of you,

than

Y long

1

than to forget you) I begin to talk of my own works. I find it is in the finishing a book, as in concluding a session of Parliament, one always thinks it will be very soon, and finds it very late. There are many unlook'd-for-incidents to retard the clearing any public account, and fo I see it is in mine. I have plagued myself, like great ministers, with undertaking too much for one man; and with a desire of doing more than was expected from me, have done less than I ought.

For having design'd four very laborious and uncommon fort of Indexes to Homer, I'm forc'd, for want of time, to publish two only; the design of which

you will own to be pretty, tho' far from being fully executed. I've also been obliged to leave unfinish'd in my desk the heads of two Essays, one on the Theology and Morality of Homer, and another on the Oratory of Homer and Virgil. So they must wait for future editions, or perish: and (one way or other, no great matter which) dabit Deus his quoque finem. I think of you every day, I assure you, even without such good memorials of you as your sisters, with whom I sometimes talk of you, and find it one of the most agreeable of all subjects to them. My Lord Digby must be perpetually remember'd by all who ever knew him, or knew his children. There neéds no more than an äcquaintance with your family, to make all elder sons wish they had fathers to their lives end.

I can't touch upon the subject of filial love, withdüt putting you in mind of an old woman, who has a fincere, hearty, old-fashion'd respect for you, and constantly blames her son for not having writ to you oftener to tell you lo. 1

very much with (but what fignifies my wish ing? my lady Scudamore wishes, your sisters wish) that you were with us, to compare

the beautiful con

traste

D 2

traste this season affords us, of the town and the country. No ideas you could form in the winter can make you imagine what Twickenham is (and what your friend Mr. Johnson of Twickenham is in this warmer season. Our river glitters beneath an unclouded sun, at the same time that its banks retain the verdure of showers : our gardens are offering their first nosegays ; our trees, like new acquaintance brought happily together, are stretching their arms to meet each other, and growing nearer and nearer every hour; the birds are paying their thanksgiving songs for the new habitations I have made them; my building rises high enough to attract the eye and curiosity of the passenger from the river, where, upon beholding a mixture of beauty and ruin, he enquires what house is falling, or what church is rising? So little taste have our common Tritons of Vitruvius; whatever delight the poetical gods of the river may take, in reAecting on their streams, my Tuscan Porticos, or Ionic Pilasters.

But (to descend from all this pomp of style) the best account of what I am building, is, that it will afford me a few pleasant rooms for such a friend as yourself, or a cool situation for an hour or two for Lady Scudamore, when she will do me the honour (at this public house on the road) to drink her own cyder.

The moment I am writing this, I am surprized with the account of the death of a friend of mine; which makes all I have here been talking of, a mere jest! Building, gardens, writings, pleasures, works, of whatever stuff man can raise ! none of them (God knows) capable of advantaging a creature that is mortal, or of satisfying a soul that is immortal ! Dear Sir,

I am, &c.

LETTER

LE'T TER V.

From Mr. DIGBY.

[ocr errors]

May 21, 1720. OUR letter, which I had two posts ago, was

very medicinal to me; and I heartily thank you for the relief it

gave me.

I was sick of the thoughts of my not having in all this time given you any testimony of the affection I owe you, and which I as constantly indeed feel as I think of you. This indeed was a troublesome ill to me, till, after reading your letter, I found it was a most idle weak imagination to think I could so offend you. Of all the impressions you have made upon me, I never receiv'd any with greater joy than this of your abundant good-nature, which bids me be afsured of some share of

your

affections. I had many other pleasures from your letter ; that

your mother remembers me is a very sincere joy to me; I cannot but reflect how alike you are; from the time

you

do
any

one a favour, you think yourselves obliged as those that have received one. This is indeed an old-fashioned respect, hardly to be found out of your house. I have great hopes however, to see many old-fashioned virtues revive, since you have made our age

in love with Homer ; I heartily with you, who are as good a citizen aş a poet, the joy of seeing a reformation from your works. I am in doubt whether I should congratulate your having finished Homer, while the two essays you mention are not completed; but if you expect no great trouble from finishing these, I heartily rejoice with you.

I have some faint notion of the beauties of Twickenham from what I here fee round me. The

verdure

D 3

well as you.

verdure of showers is poured upon every tree and field about us; the gardens unfold variety of colours to the eye every morning, the hedges breath is beyond all perfume, and the song of birds we hear as

But tho' I hear and see all this, yet I think they would delight me more if you was here. I found the want of these at Twickenham while I was there with you, by which I guess what an increase of charms it must now have. How kind is it in you to wish me there, and how unfortunate are my circumstances that allow me not to visit you? If I see you, I must leave my father alone, and this uneasy thought would disappoint all my proposed pleasures; the same circumstance will prevent my prospect of many happy hours with you in Lord Bathurst's wood, and I fear of seeing you ţill winter, unless Lady Scudamore comes to Sherburne, in which case I shall press you to see Dorsetshire, as you proposed. May you have a long enjoyment of your new favourite Portico.

Your, &c.

L ET TER VI.

From Mr. DIGBY.

Sherburne, July 9, 1720, HE London language and conversation is, I

find, quite changed since I left it, tho' it is not above three or four months ago. No violent change in the natural world ever aftonifhed a Philofopher so much as this does me. I hope this will calm all Party-rage, and introduce more humanity than has of late obtained in conversation. All fcandal will sure be laid afide, for there can be no such disease any more as Spleen in this new golden age.

« ZurückWeiter »