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The other is my own translation of a passage in the Odyssey, the original of which I have seen used as a motto to an engraved head of Homer many a time.
The present edition of the lines stands thus,
Him partially the muse,
Tell me by the way (if you ever had any speculations on the subject) what is it you suppose Homer to have meant in particular, when he ascribed his blindness to the muse, for that he speaks of himself under the name of Demodocus in the eighth book, I believe, is by all admitted. How could the old bard study himself blind, when books where either so few, or none at all? And did he write his poems? If neither were the cause, as seems reasonable to imagine, how could he incur his blindness by such means as could be justly imputable to the muse? Would mere thinking blind him? I want to know:
“ Call up some spirit from the vasty deep !"
I said to my Sam* “ Sam, build me a shed " in the garden, with any thing that you can find, and “ make it rude and rough like one of those at Eartham.” “ Yes, Sir,” says Sam, and straitway laying his own noddle, and the carpenter's noddle together, has built me a thing fit for Stow Gardens. Is not this vexatious ?- I threaten to inscribe it thus.
Beware of building? I intended
Rough logs and thatch, and thus it ended.
But my Mary says, I shall break Sam's heart, and the carpenter's too, and will not consent to it. Poor Mary sleeps but ill. How have you lived who cannot bear a sun-beam.
My dearest Hayley,
• A very affectionate, worthy domestic, wlio attended his master into Sussex,
To Lady HESKETH.
. Weston, Aug. 11, 1793. MY DEAREST COUSIN,
I am glad that my poor and hasty attempts to express some little civility to Miss Fanshaw, and the amiable Count, have your and her approbation. The lines addressed to her were not what I would have made them, but lack of time, a lack which always presses me, would not suffer me to improve them. Many thanks for her letter, which, were my merits less the subject of it, I should without scruple say is an excellent one. She writes with the force and accuracy of a person skilled in more languages than are spoken in the present day, as I doubt not that she is. I perfectly approve the theme she recommends to me, but am at present so totally absorbed in Homer, that all I do beside is ill done, being hurried over; and I would not execute ill a subject of her recommending.
I shall watch the walnuts with more attention than they who eat them, which I do in some hope, though you do not expressly say so, that when their threshing-time arrives, we shall see you here. I am
now going to paper my new study, and in a short time it will be fit to inhabit..
Lady Spencer has sent me a present from Rome, by the hands of Sir John Throckmorton, engravings of Odyssey subjects, after figures by Flaxman, a statuary at present resident there, of high repute, and much a friend of Hayley's.
Thou livest, my dear, I acknowledge, in a very fine country, but they have spoiled it by building London it. Adieu.
To WILLIAM HAYLEY, Esqr
Weston, Aug. 15, 1793.
Instead of a pound or two, spending a mint
Besides, my dearest Brother, they have not only built for me, what I did not want, but have ruined a notable tetrastic by doing so. I had written one which I designed for a hermitage, and it will by no means suit the fine and pompous affair which they have made instead of one. So that as a poet I am every way afflicted; made poorer than I need have been, and robbed of my verses : what case can be more deplorable ?
You must not suppose me ignorant of what Flaxman has done, or that I have not seen it, or that I am not actually in possession of it, at least of the engravings which you mention. In fact, I have had them more than a fortnight. Lady dowager Spencer, to whom I inscribed my Odyssey, and who was at Rome when Sir John Throckmorton was there, charged him with them as a present to me, and arriving here lately he executed his commission. Romney I doubt not is right in his judgment of them ; he is an artist himself, and cannot easily be mistaken; and I take his opinion as an oracle, the rather because it coincides exactly with my own. The figures are highly classical, antique, and elegant; especially that of Penelope, who whether she wakes or sleeps must necessarily charm all beholders.
Your scheme of embellishing my Odyssey with these plates is a kind one, and the fruit of your ve