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To WILLIAM HAYLEY, Esqr.
Weston, Aug. 27, 1793.
I thank you, my dear brother, for consulting the Gibbonian oracle on the question concerning Homer's muse, and his blindness. I proposed it likewise to my little neighbour Buchanan, who gave me precisely the same answer. I felt an insatiable thirst to learn something new concerning him, and despairing of information from others, was willing to hope, that I had stumbled on matter unno-ticed by the commentators, and might perhaps acquire a little intelligence from himself. But the great and the little oracle together have extinguished that hope, and I despair now of making any curious discoveries about him.
Since Flaxman (which I did not know till your letter told me so) has been at work for the Iliad, as well as the Odyssey, it seems a great pity, that the engravings should not be bound up with some lomer or other; and, as I said before, I should have been too proud to have bound them up in mine.
But there is an objection, at least such it seems to me, that threatens to disqualify them for such a use, namely, the shape and size of them, which are such, that no book of the usual form could possibly receive them, save in a folded state, which, I apprehend, would be to murder them.
The monument of Lord Mansfield, for which you say he is engaged, will (I dare say) prove a noble effort of genius. Statuaries, as I have heard an eminent one say, do not much trouble themselves about a likeness : else I would give much to be able to communicate to Flaxman the perfect idea that I have of the subject, such as he was forty years ago. He was at that time wonderfully handsome, and would expound the most mysterious intricacies of the law, or recapitulate both matter and evidence of a cause, as long as from hence to Eartham, with an intelligent smile on his features, that bespoke plainly the perfect ease with which he did it. The most abstruse studies (I believe) never cost him any labour.
You say nothing lately of your intended journey our way: yet the year is waining, and the shorter days give you a hint to lose no time unnecessarily. Lately we had the whole family at the Hall, and now
we have nobody. The Throckmortons are gone into Berkshire, and the Courtenays into Yorkshire, They are so pleasant a family, that I heartily wish you to see them; and at the same time wish to see you before they return, which will not be sooner than October. How shall I reconcile these wishes seemingly opposite? Why, by wishing that you may come soon and stay long. I know no other way of doing it.
My poor Mary is much as usual. I have set up Homer's head, and inscribed the pedestal'; my own Greek at the top, with your translation under it, and
It makes altogether a very smart and learned appearance.
To Lady HESKETH.
August 29, 1793.
Your question, at what time your coming to us will be most agreeable, is a knotty one, and such as, had I the wisdom of Solomon, I should be puzzled to answer, I will therefore leave it still a question, and refer the time of your journey Weston-ward entirely to your own election: adding this one limitation however, that I do not wish to see you exactly at present, on account of the unfinished state of my study, the wainscot of which still smells of paint, and which is not yet papered, But to return: as I have insinuated, thy pleasant company is the thing which I always wish and as much at one time as at another. I believe, if I examine myself minutely, since I despair of ever having it in the height of summer, which for your sake I should desire most, the depth of the winter is the season which would be most eligible to me. For then it is, that in general I have most need of a cordial, and particularly in the month of January. I am sorry however, that I departed so far from my first purpose, and am answering a question, which I declared myself unable to answer. Chuse thy own time, secure of this, that whatever time that be, it will always to us be a welcome one.
I thank you for your pleasant extract of Miss Fanshaw's letter.
Her pen drops eloquence as sweet
And now, my dear, adieu! I have done more than I expected, and begin to feel myself exhausted with so much scribbling at the end of four hours close application to study.
To the Revd. Mr. JOHNSON,
Weston, April 11, 1793.
MY DEAREST JOHNNY,
To do a kind thing, and in a kind manner, is a double kindness, and no man is