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Poking into the old Greek commentators blinds me. But it is no matter. I am the more like Homer.
To the Reyd. WALTER BAGOT.
Weston, May 4, 1793. MY DEAR FRIEND,
While your sorrow for our common loss was fresh in your mind, I would not write, lest a letter on so distressing a subject should be too painful both to you and me; and now that I seem to have reached a proper time for doing it, the multiplicity of my literary business will hardly afford me leisure. Both you and I have this comfort when deprived of those we love-at our time of life we have every reason to believe that the deprivation cannot be long. Our sun is setting too, and when the hour of rest arrives we shall rejoin your brother, and many
whom we have tenderly loved, our forerunners into a better country.
I will say no more on a theme which it will be better perhaps to treat with brevity; and because the introduction of any other might seem a transition too violent, I will only add that Mrs. Unwin and I are about as well as we at any time have been within the last year. Truly yours.
To SAMUEL ROSE, Esqr.
May 5, 1793. MY DEAR FRIEND,
My delay to answer your last kind Letter, to which likewise you desired a speedy reply, must have seemed rather difficult to explain on any other supposition than that of illness; but illness has not been the cause, although to say the truth, I cannot boast of having been lately very well. Yet has not this been the cause of my silence, but your own advice, very proper and earnestly given to me, to proceed in the revisal of Homer. To this it is owing, that instead of giving an hour or two before breakfast to my correspondents, I allot that time entirely to my studies. I have nearly given the last touches to the poetry, and am now busied far more laboriously in writing notes at the request of my honest bookseller, transmitted to me in the first instance by you, and afterward repeated by himself. I am, therefore, deep in the old Scholia, and have advanced to the latter part of Iliad nine, explaining, as I go, such passages as may be difficult to unlearned readers, and such only; for notes of that kind are the notes that Johnson desired. I find it a more laborious task, than the translation was, and shall be heartily glad when it is over; In the mean time all the Letters I receive remain unanswered, or if they receive an answer, it is always a short one. Such this must be. Johnny is here, having flown over London.
Homer, I believe, will make a much more respectable appearance than before. Johnson now thinks it will be right to make a separate impression of the amendments.
W. C. Vol. 3.
I breakfast every morning on seven or eight pages of the Greek commentators. For so much I am obliged to read in order to select perhaps three or four short notes for the readers of my translation.
Homer is indeed a tie upon me, that must not on any account be broken, till all his demands are satisfied; though I have fancied while the revisal of the Odyssey was at a distance, that it would ask less labour in the finishing, it is not unlikely, that, when I take it actually in-hand, I may find myself mistaken. Of this at least I am sure, that uneven verse abounds much more in it than it once did in the Iliad, yet to the latter the critics objected on that account, though to the former never; perhaps because they had not read it. Hereafter they shall not quarrel with me on that score. The Iliad is now all smooth turnpike, and I will take equal care, that there shall be no jolts in the Odyssey.
To Lady HESKETH.
The Lodge, May 7, 1793.
MY DEAREST COZ.
You have thought me long silent, and so have many others. In fact I have not for many months written punctually to any but yourself, and Hayley. My time, the little I have, is so engrossed by Homer, that I have at this moment a bundle of unanswered letters by me, and letters likely to be so. Thou knowest, I dare say, what it is to have a head weary with thinking. Mine is so fatigued by breakfast time, three days out of four, I am utterly incapable of sitting down to my desk again for any purpose whatever.
I am glad I have convinced thee at last that thou art a Töry. Your friend's definition of Whig and Tory may be just for aught I know, as far as the latter are concerned; but respecting the former, I think him mistaken. There is no true Whig who wishes all power in the hands of his own party. The division of it, which the lawyers call tripartite, is ex