« AnteriorContinua »
but I knew not any way by which the composition of Latin verses can be much facilitated. Of the grammatical part, which comprises the knowledge of the measure of the foot, and quantity of the syllables, your grammar will teach you all that can be taught, and even of that you can hardly know any thing by rule but the measure of the foot. The quantity of syllables even of those for which rules are given is commonly learned by practice and retained by observation. For the poetical part, which comprises variety of expression, propriety of terms, dexterity in selecting commodious words, and readiness in changing their order, it will all be produced by frequent essays and resolute perseverance. The less help you have, the sooner you will be able to go forward without help.
I suppose you are now ready for another author. I would not have you dwell longer upon one book than till your fami. liarity with its style makes it easy to you. Every new book will for a time be difficult. Make it a rule to write something in Latin every day; and let me know what you are now doing, and what your scheme is to do next. Be pleased to give my compliments to Mr. Bright, Mr. Stevenson, and Miss Page. I am, dear Sir, your affectionate servant,
July 14. 1763. DEAR GEORGE, To give pain ought always to be painful, and I am sorry that I have been the occasion of any uneasiness to you, to whom I hope never to [do] any thing but for your benefit or your pleasure. Your uneasiness was without any reason on your part, as you had written with sufficient frequency to me, and I had only neglected to answer them, because, as nothing new had been proposed to your study, no new direction or incitement could be offered you. But if it had happened that you had omitted what you did not omit, and that I had for an hour, or a week, or a much longer time, thought myself put out of your mind by something to which presence gave that prevalence, which presence will sometimes give even where there is the most prudence and experience, you are not to imagine that my friendship is light enough to be blown away by the first cross blast, or that my regard or kindness hangs by so slender a hair as to be broken off by the unfelt weight of a petty offence. I love you, and hope to love you long. You have hitherto done nothing to diminish my good will, and though you had done much more than you have supposed imputed to you, my good will would not have been diminished.
I write thus largely on this suspicion, which you have suffered to enter into your mind, because in youth we are apt to be too rigorous in our expectations, and to suppose that the duties of life are to be performed with unfailing exactness and regularity; but in our progress through life we are forced to abate much of our demands, and to take friends such as we can find them, not as we would make them.
These concessions every wise man is more ready to make to others, as he knows that he shall often want them for himself; and when he remembers how often he fails in the observance, of a cultivation of his best friends, is willing to suppose that his friends may in their turn neglect him, without any intention to offend him.
When therefore it shall happen, as happen it will, that you or I have disappointed the expectation of the other, you are not to suppose that you have lost me, or that I intended to lose you; nothing will remain but to repair the fault, and to go on as if it never had been committed. I am, Sir, your affectionate servant,
TO MISS REYNOLDS.
Oxford, Oct. 27. [1763.] : Your letter has scarcely come time enough to make an answer possible. I wish we could talk over the affair. I cannot
I must finish my book. I do not know Mr. Col
lier. (1) I have not money beforehand sufficient. How long have you known Collier, that you should put yourself into his hands? I once told you that ladies were timorous and yet not cautious.
If I might tell my thoughts to one with whom they never had any weight, I should think it best to go through France. The expense is not great; I do not much like obligation, nor think the grossness of a ship very suitable to a lady. Do not go till I see you. I will see you as soon as I can. dearest, most sincerely yours,
I am, my
LETTER 487. TO FRANCIS FOWKE, ESQ. (2)
July 11. 1776. Sır, – I received some weeks ago a collection of papers, which contain the trial of my dear friend, Joseph Fowke, of whom I cannot easily be induced to think otherwise than well, and who seems to have been injured by the prosecution and the sentence. His first desire is, that I should prepare his narrative for the press ; his second, that if I cannot gratify him by
(1) Captain Collier, since Sir George, proposed at that time to sail to the Mediterranean with his lady.--Miss REYNOLDS.-And it would seem offered Miss Reynolds a passage; and Miss Reynolds appears to have wished that Johnson might be of the party. Sir Joshua had gone to the Mediterranean in a similar way with Captain Keppel. — C.
(2) See antè, Vol. VI. p. 136. and 140. Mr. J. Fowke, who died about 1794, was born about the year 1715, and entered into the service of the East India Company at the age of seventeen. He remained at Fort St. George till 1748, and when he returned to England was offered the govern. ment either of Bengal or Madras. This offer was by no means so advantageous as it would be at present; Mr. Fowke therefore declined it, and remained in England until 1771. At this period he returned to India, where some differences of opinion unfortunately occurred between him and the Provisional Government, which ended in his being tried in June, 1775, in the Supreme Court of Bengal, under two indictments. In the first of these trials the verdict was, not guilty. In the second, in which Mr. Fowke was implicated with Nundocomar and Rada Churn, the verdict was, “ Joseph Fowke and Nundocomar, guilty; Rada Churn, not guilty. In the year 1788, Mr. Fowke finally quitted Bengal, with a recommendation from Lord Cornwallis to the Court of Directors, as a person entitled to receive the pension which was promised to their servants returning from Bengal out of employment. This recommendation was, however, rejected. After a lapse of some time, the claim was brought forward by Mr. Burke in the House of Commons, and a resolution was made in his favour. See also p. 119. of the present volume,
publication, I would transmit the papers to you.
To a compliance with his first request I have this objection ; that I live in a reciprocation of civilities with Mr. Hastings, and therefore cannot properly diffuse a narrative, intended to bring upon him the censure of the public. Of two adversaries, it would be rash to condemn either upon the evidence of the other; and a common friend must keep himself suspended, at least till he has heard both.
I am therefore ready to transmit to you the papers, which have been seen only by myself; and beg to be informed how they may be conveyed to you. I see no legal objection to the publication; and of prudential reasons, Mr. Fowke and you will be allowed to be fitter judges. If you would have me send them, let me have proper directions: if a messenger is to call for them, give me notice by the post, that they may be ready for delivery. To my dear Mr. Fowke any good would give me pleasure; I hope for some opportunity of performing the duties of friendship to him, without violating them with regard to another. I am, Sir, &c.
London, April 9. 1781. DEAREST MADAM, That you are gradually reco
ecovering your tranquillity is the effect to be humbly expected from trust in God. Do not represent life as darker than it is. Your loss has been very great, but you retain more than almost any other can hope to possess. You are high in the opinion of mankind; you have children from whom much pleasure may be expected ; and that you will find many friends you have no reason to doubt. Of my friendship, be it more or less, I hope you think yourself certain, without much art or care. It will not be easy for me to repay the benefits that I have received'; but I hope to be always ready at your call. Our sorrow has different effects: you are withdrawn into solitude, and I am driven into company. I am afraid of thinking what I have lost. I never had such a friend before. Let me have your prayers and those of my dear Queeney. The prudence and resolution of your design to return so soon to your business and your duty deserves great praise: I shall communicate it on Wednesday to the other executors.
DEAREST MADAM, — You will not suppose that much has happened since last night, nor is this indeed a time for talking much of loss and gain. The business of Christians is now for a few days in their own bosoms. God grant us to do it properly! I hope you gain ground on your affliction : I hope to overcome mine. You and Miss must comfort one another. May you long live happily together! I have nobody whom I expect to share my uneasiness; nor, if I could communicate it, would it be less. I give it little vent, and amuse it as I can. Let us pray for one another; and when we meet, we may try what fidelity and tenderness will do for us. There is no wisdom in useless and hopeless sorrow; but there is something in it so like virtue, that he who is wholly without it cannot be loved, nor will, by me at least, be thought worthy of esteem.
LETTER 490. TO THE SAME.
Oxford, Oct. 17. 1781. On Monday evening arrived at the Angel inn at Oxford Mr. Johnson and Mr. Barber, without any sinister accident. I am here; but why am I here? on my way to Lichfield, where I believe Mrs. Aston will be glad to see me. We have known each other long, and, by consequence, are both old; and she is paralytic; and if I do not see her
may see her no more in this world. To make a visit on such considerations is to go on a melancholy errand. But such is the course of life. This place is very empty, but there are more here whom I know than I could have expected. Young Burke (1) has just
(1). Richard, the son of Edmund Burke, at this period at Oxford. He died in 1794, æt. 36. His afflicted father has immortalised him in many