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TO MR. WALPOLE.
Cambridge, March 3, 1751.
Elfrida (for that is the fair one's name) and her author are now in town together. He has promised me, that he will send a part of it to you some morning while he is there; and (if you shall think it worth while to descend to particulars) 1 should be glad you would tell me very freely your opinion about it; for he shall know nothing of the matter, that is not fit for the ears of a tender parent—though, by the way, he has ingenuity and merit enough (whatever his drama may have) to bear hearing his faults very patiently. 1 must only beg you not to show it, much less let it be copied; for it will be published, though not as yet.
I do not expect any more editions,* as I have appeared in more magazines than one. The chief errata were sacred bower for secret; hidden for kindred (in spite of dukes and classics); and frowning as in scorn foi smiling. I humbly propose, for the benefit of Mr. Dodsley and his matrons, that take awake for a verb, that they should read asleep, and all will be right.* Gil Bias is the Lying Valet in five acts. The fine lady has half-a-dozen good lines dispersed in it. Pompey is the hasty production of a Mr. Coventry (cousin to him jou knew), a young clergyman: 1 found it out by three characters, which once made part of a comedy that he showed me of his own writing. Has that miracle of tenderness and sensibility (as she calls it) lady Vane given you any amusement? Peregrine, whom she uses as a vehicle, is very poor indeed, with a few exceptions. In the last volume is a character of Mr. Lyttelton, under the name of Gosling Scrag, and a parody of part of his monody, under the notion of a pastoral on the death of his grandmother.
* or the Elegy in the church-yard.—B.
* The Terse to which he alludes is this:
u Ev'n from the tomb the voice of nature cries; Ev*n in our ashes live their wonted fires."
The last line of which he had at first written thus:
"Awake and faithful to her wanted fires."—B.
TO MR. WALPOLE.
Not. Tueiday, Cambridge.
It is a misfortune to me to be at a distance from both of you at present. A letter can give one so little idea of such matters! * * * * I always believed well of his heart and temper, and would gladly do so still. If they are as they should be, I should have expected every thing from such an explanation; for it is a tenet with me (a simple one, you'll perhaps say), that if ever two people, who love one another, come to breaking, it is for want of a timely eclaircissement, a full and precise one, without witnesses or mediators, and without reserving any one disagreeable circumstance for the mind to brood upon in silence.
I am not totally of your mind as to Mr. Lyttelton's elegy, though I love kids and fawns as little as you do. If it were all like the fourth stanza, I should be excessively pleased. Nature and sorrow, and tenderness, are the true genius of such things; and something of these I find in several parts of it (not in the orange-tree): poetical ornaments are foreign to the purpose, for they only show a man is not sorry;—and devotion worse; for it teaches him, that he ought not to be sorry, which is all the pleasure of the thing. 1 beg leave to turn your weathercock the contrary way. Your epistle* I have not seen a great while, and doctor M. is not in the way to give me a sight of it: but I remember enough to be sure all the world will be pleased with it, even with all its faults upon its head, if you don't care to mend them. I would try to do it myself (however hazardous), rather than it should remain unpublished. As to my Eton ode, Mr. Dodsley is padrone.] The secondj you had, I suppose you do not think worth giving him: otherwise, to me it seems not worse than the former. He might have Selima§ too, unless she be of too little importance for his patriot collection; or perhaps the connexions you had with her may interfere. Che so io? Adieu!
* From Florence to Thomas Asheton.—B.
i The ode on Mr. Walpole's cat drowned in the tub of gold-fish.
TO MR. WALPOLE.
Cambridge, Dec. Monday.
This comes du fond de ma cellule to salute Mr. H. W. not so much him that visits and votes, and goes to White's and to court; as the H. W. in his rural capacity, snug in his tub on Windsor-hill, and brooding over folios of his own creatiop: him that can slip away, like a pregnant beauty (but a little oftener,) into the country, be brought to bed perhaps of twins, and whisk to town again the week after with a face as if nothing had happened. Among all the little folks, my godsons and daughters, I cannot choose but inquire more particularly after the health of one; I mean (without a figure) the Memoirs:* Do they grow? Do they unite, and hold up their heads, and dress themselves? Do they begin to think of making their appearance in the world, that is to say, fifiy years hence, to make posterity stare, and all good people cross themselves? Has Asheton (who will be then lord bishop of Killaloe, and is to
* Memoirs of his own time, which Mr. Walpole was then writing.— B.