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they do it, I am not convinced that any great mischief would ensue, You say, “ somebody must have influence,” but I see no necessity for it. Let integrity of intention, and a due share of ability be supposed, and the influence will be in the right place, it will all centre in the zeal and good of the nation. That will influence their debates and decisions, and nothing else ought to do it. You will say perhaps, that wise men, and honest men, as they are supposed, they are yet liable to be split into almost as many differences of opinion as there are individuals ; but I rather think not. It is observed of Prince Eugene, and the Duke of Marlborough, that each always approved, and seconded, the plans and views of the other; and the reason given for it, is, that they were men of equal ability. The same cause, that could make two unanimous, would make twenty so, and would at least secure a majority among as many hundreds.
As to the reformation of the church, I want none, unless by a better provision for the inferior clergy; and if that could be brought about by emaciating a little some of our too corpulent dignitaries, I should be well contented.
The Dissenters, I think, Catholics and others, have all a right to the privileges of all other Englishmen, because to deprive them, is persecution, and persecution on any account, but especially on a religious one, is an abomination. But after all, valeat respublica, I love my country, I love my king, and I wish peace and prosperity to Old England.
To WILLIAM HAYLEY, Esqr.
Weston, Dec. 26, 1792.
That I may not be silent, till my silence alarms you, I snatch a moment to tell you, that although toujours triste I am not worse than usual, but my opportunities of writing are paucified, as perhaps Dr. Johnson would have dared to say, and the few that I have are shortened by company.
Give my love to dear Tom, and thank him for
his very apposite extract, which I should be happy indeed to turn to any account. How often do I wish in the course of every day, that I could be employed once more in poetry, and how often of course that this Miltonic trap had never caught me! The year ninety-two shall stand chronicled in my remembrance as the most melancholy that I have ever known, except the few weeks that I spent at Eartham; and such it has been principally, because being engaged to Milton, I felt myself no longer free for any other engagement. That ill-fated work, impracticable in itself, has made every thing else impracticable.
* * * I am very Pindaric, and obliged to be so by the hurry of the hour. My friends are come down to breakfast.
• To WIILIAM HAYLEY, Esqr.
Weston, Jan. 20, 1793.
MY DEAR BROTHER,
Now I know that you are safe, I treat you, as you see, with a philosophical indifference, not acknowledging your kind and immediate answer to anxious enquiries, till it suits my own convenience. I have learned however from my late solicitude, that not only you, but yours, interest me to a degree, that should any thing happen to either of you, would be very inconsistent with my peace. Sometimes I thought that you were extremely ill, and once or twice, that you were dead. As often some tragedy reached my ear concerning little Tom, “ Oh, vanæ mentes hominum !” How liable are we to a thousand impositions, and how indebted to honest old Time, who never fails to undeceive us ! Whatever you had in prospect you acted kindly by me not to make me partaker of your expectations, for I have a spirit, if not so sanguine as yours, yet that would have waited for your coming with anxious impatience, and have been dismally mortified by
the disappointment. Had you come, and come without notice too, you would not have surprized us more, than (as the matter was managed) we were surprized at the arrival of your picture. It reached us in the evening, after the shutters were closed, at a time when a chaise might actually have brought you without giving us the least previous intimation. Then it was, that Samuel, with his chearful countenance appeared at the study door, and with a voice as chearful as his looks, exclaimed, “ Mr. Hayley is come Madam !” We both started, and in the same moment cried, “Mr. Hayley come! And where is he?” The next moment corrected our mistake, and finding Mary's voice grow suddenly tremulous, I turned and saw her weeping.
I do nothing, notwithstanding all your exhortations: my idleness is proof against them all, or to speak more truly my difficulties are so. Something indeed I do. I play at push-pin with Homer every morning before breakfast, fingering and polishing, as Paris did his armour. I have lately had a Letter from Dublin on that subject, which has pleased me.