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publish them) thought of an aviso al leilore to prefix to them yet, importing, that if the words church, king, religion, ministry, &c. be found often repeated in this book, they are not to be taken literally, but poetically, and as may be most strictly reconcileable to the faith then established;—that he knew the author well when he was a young man; and can testify upon the honour of his function, that he said his prayers regularly and devoutly, had a profound reverence for the clergy, and firmly believed every thing that was the fashion in those day9?
When you have done impeaching my lord Lovat, I hope to hear de vos nouvelles, and moreover, whether you have got colonel Conivay yet? Whether sir C. Williams is to go to Berlin? What sort of a prince Mitridate may be?—and whatever other tidings you choose to refresh an anchoret with. Frallanto I send you a scene in a tragedy:* if it don't make you cry, it will make you laugh; and so it moves some passion, that I take to be enough. Adieu, dear sir! I am, &c. LXXXI.
* The first scene in Mr. Gray's unfinished tragedy of Agrinpim, published in Mr. Mason's edition of his works.—B.
TO MR. WALPOLE.
Cambridge, October 8,1751.
I Send you this* (as you desire) merely to make up half-a-dozen; though it will hardly answer your end in furnishing out either a head or tail-piece. But your own fablet may much better supply the place. You have altered it to its advantage; but there is still something a little embarrassed here and there in the expression. I rejoice to find you apply (pardon the use of so odious a word) to the history of your own times. Speak, and spare not. Be as impartial as you can; and after all, the world will not believe you are so, though you should make as many protestations as bishop Burnet. They will feel in their own breast, and find it very possible to hate fourscore persons, yea, ninety and nine: so you must rest satisfied with the testimony of your own conscience. Somebody has laughed at Mr. Dodsley, or at me, when they talked of the bat: I have nothing more, either nocturnal or diurnal, to deck his miscellany with. We have a man here that write* a good hand; but he has little failings that hinder my recommending him to you.* He is lousy, and he is mad: he sets out this week for Bedlam; but if you insist upon it, I don't doubt he will pay his respects to you. I have seen two of Dr. Middleton's unpublished works. One is about 44 pages in 4to. against Dr. Waterland, who wrote a very orthodox book on the importance of the doctrine of the Trinity, and insisted, that Christians ought to have no communion with such as differ from them in fundamentals. Middleton enters no farther into the doctrine itself than to show that a mere speculative point can never be called a fundamental; and that the earlier fathers, on whose concurrent tradition Waterland would build, are so far, when they speak of the three persons, from agreeing with the present notion of our church, that they declare for the inferiority of the son, and seem to have no clear and distinct idea of the Holy Ghost at all. The rest is employed in exposing the folly and cruelty of stiffness and zealotism in religion, and in showing that the primitive ages of the church, in which tradition had its rise, were (even by confession of the best scholars and most orthodox writers) the ecra of nonsense and absurdity. It is finished, and very well v\rote; but has been mostly incorporated into his other works, particularly the Inquiry: and for this reason I suppose he has writ upon it. This wholly laid aside. The second is in Latin, on miracles; to show, that of the two methods of defending Christianity, one from its intrinsic evidence, the holiness and purity of its doctrines, the other from its external, the miracles said to be wrought to confirm il; the first has been little attended to by reason of its difficulty; the second much insisted upon, because it appeared an easier task; but that it can in reality prove nothing at all. "Nobilis ilia quidem defensio (the-first) quam si obtinere potuissent, rem simul omnem expediisse, causamque penitus vicisse viderentur. At causae hujus defendendae labor cum tanta argumentandi cavillandique molestiaconjunctns ad alteram, quam dixi,defensionis viam, ut commodiorem
* The hymn to adversity.—B. + The entail.—B.
longe et faciliorem, plerosque adegit ego
vero istiusinodi defensione religiunem nostram non modo non confirmari, sed dubiam potius suspectamque reddi existimo." He then proceeds to consider miracles in general, and afterwards those of the Pagans, compared with those of Christ. 1 only tell you the plan, for I have not read it out (though it is short); but you will not doubt to what conclusion it tends. There is another thing, I know not what, I am to see. As to the treatise on prayer; they say it is burnt indeed. Adieu!
TO MR. WALPOLE.
Your pen was too rapid to mind the common form of a direction, and so, by omitting the words near Windsor, your letter has been diverting itself at another Stoke near Aylesbury, and came not to my hands till to-day. The true original chairs were all sold, when the Huntingdons broke; there are nothing now but Halsey-chairs, not adapted to the squareness of a Gothic dowager's rump. And by the way, I do not see how the uneasiness and uncomfortableness of a coronation chair can be any objection with you: every chair that is easy is modern, and unknown to our ancestors. As I remember,