« PreviousContinue »
obliged to you for the receipt to make that most excellent cake, which came hither in its native pan. There is no production of yours that will not always be most welcome at Weston.
WILLIAM COWPER, ESQ. TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ. MY DEAR FRIEND,
April 15, 1792. I THANK you for the remittance; which, to use the language of a song much in use when we were boys,
Adds fresh beauties to the spring,
What the author of the song had particularly in view when he thus sang, I know not; but probably it was not the sum of fifty pounds; which, as probably, he never had the happiness to pos
It was, most probably, some beautiful nymph-beautiful in his eyes, at least,—who has long since become an old woman.
I have heard about my wether mutton from various quarters. First, from a sensible little man (the Rev. John Buchanan), curate of a neighbouring village; then from Walter Bagot; then from Henry Cowper; and now from you. It was a blunder hardly pardonable in a man who has lived amid fields and meadows grazed by sheep, almost these thirty years. I have accordingly satirized myself in two stanzas which I composed last night, while I lay awake, tormented with pain, and well dosed with laudanum. If you find them not very brilliant, there. fore, you will know how to account for it.
Cowper had sinned with some excuse,
If, bound in rhyming tethers,
Of changing ewes for wethers ;
Or rather bold misnomer,
When he translated Homer. Having translated all the Latin and Italian Miltonics, I was proceeding merrily with a Commentary on the Paradise Lost, when I was seized, a week since, with a most tormenting disorder; which has qualified me, however, to make some very feeling observations on that passage, when I shall come to it :
III fare our ancestor impure, For this we may thank Adam! And you may thank him, too, that I am not able to fill my sheet, nor endure a writing posture any longer. I conclude abruptly, therefore; but sincerely subscribing myself, with my best compliments to Mrs. Hill, your affectionate
SIR GEORGE SAVILE TO T. B. BAYLEY, ESQ. SIR,
Liverpool, Nov. 19th, 1779. I RETURN you the sermon with thanks. It has entertained and pleased me much. I am inclined to think the political part of it more consistently treated throughout than the religious. The ques. tion of obedience to unlawful commands is soundly laid down, and subject only to that sort of difficulty which all political propositions are liable to from the possibility of being overstrained, and of putting cases which shall drive you to absurd conclusions, by getting into extremes. Thus it will be objected, “ Shall each common soldier judge of a nice point of law?” Nevertheless, the doctrine is right and sound.
But I do not so well like the application of Christian virtue to enable a nation “ to darken the Roman splendour and to conquer and bless the world.” I take conquering to bless, and cutting one half of a nation's throats, to treat the other with lenity, to be the most unchristian thing in the world. Indeed, I have always thought parcere subjectis to be a very foolish, as well as a very impertinent saucy language for man to talk to his fellow creatures. I do not know whether I should add to the force of my argument, by saying, likewise, fellow Christians, because I conceive the great point of the Christian religion was to teach us we are fellow creatures.
But, indeed, where is the good of it? Why can't one as well spare people first ? I am sure one may spare more of them, and with far less trouble. To talk of “ conquering people,” and of “ the divine principles of free government,” in the same page (nay, within four lines) makes one sick.
To know whether conquering (under the saucy pretence of blessing) is good, only ask how you would like for France, or Spain, or the Turk, if
you please, to talk so to us? They would all bless you their own way; some with circumcision, some with the inquisition. And to know whether it is Christian, so to do to others as you would not be done to, is settled, as I remember, somewhere or other; so I need not argue it.
Saving the few lines, p. 10, which the above refers to, I like the sermon well ; but that cursed habit, imbibed very early, of applauding successful generous highwaymen, leads one into terrible scrapes when one sets about to manufacture such a warp with a Christian weft. Charles the Twelfth must have been a devilish good Christian. What pity your Alexanders, &c. had not the same advantages ! I think a Roman general had not the greater triumph, unless he had slain a certain number of men. To darken their splendour, I suppose the number must have been increased for a clever Christian triumph.
And now having, I think, almost writ a sermon likewise, I thank you once more, and remain, sir, your obliged and obedient humble servant,