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TO MR. NICHOLLS.
Pembroke-Kali, Jan. 2o,1771.
I Rejoice you have met with Froissard, he i« the Herodotus of a barbarous age; had he but had the luck of writing in as good a language, he might have been immortal! His locomotive disposition, (for then there was no other way of learning things) his simple curiosity, his religious credulity, were much like those of the old Grecian.* When you have tant chevaucht, as to get to the end of him, there is Monstrelet waits to take you •up, and will set you down at Philip de Comines; but previous to all these, you should have read Villehardouin and Joinville. I do not think myself bound to defend the character of even the best of kings:t pray slash them all and spare not
ihree months before his death ; and I insert it to show how constant
It would be strange too if I should blame your Greek studies, or find fault with you for reading Isocrates; I did so myself twenty years ago, and in an edition at least as bad as yours. The Panegyric, the de Pace, Areopagitic, and Advice to Philip, are by far the noblest remains we have of" this writer, and equal to most things extant in the Greek tongue; but it depends on your judgment to distinguish between his real and occasional opinion of things, as he directly contradicts in one place what he has advanced in another: for example, in the Panathenaic, and the de Pace, &.c. on the naval power of Athens; the latter of the two is undoubtedly his own undisguised sentiment.
* See more of his opinion of this author, Letter C VII. 11 suppose his correspondent had made some strictures oil tfic character of Henry IV. *f France.
I would by all means wish you to comply with your friend's request, and write the letter he desires. I trust to the cause and to the warmth of your own kindness forN inspiration. Write eloquently, that is from your heart, in such expressions as that will furnish".* Men sometimes catch that feeling from a stranger which should have originally sprung from their own heart.
TO DR. WHARTON.
My last summer's tour was through Worces- / tershire, Gloucestershire, Monmouthshire, Herefordshire, and Shropshire, five of the most beautiful counties in the kingdom. The
* This short sentence contains a complete definition of natural eloquence : when it becomes an art it requires one more prolix, and our author seems to have begun to sketch it on a detached paper. ** Its province (says he) is to reign over minds of slow perception and little imagination, to set things in lights they never saw them in; to engage their attention by details and eircumstances gradually unfolded, to adom and heighten them with images and colours unknown to them, and to raise and engage their rude passions to the point to which the speaker wishes to bring them." * * *
very principal light and capital feature of' my journey was the river Wye, which I descended in a boat for near forty miles from Ross to Chepstow. Its banks are a succession of nameless beauties; one out of many you may see not ill described by Mr. Whately, in his . observations on gardening, under the name of the New-Weir; he has also touched upon two others, Tinterne Abbey and Persfield, both of them famous scenes, and both on the Wye. Monmouth, a town I never heard mentioned, lies on the same river, in a vale that is the delight of my eyes, and the very seat of pleasure. The vale of Abergavenny, Ragland, and Chepstow castles; Ludlow, Malvern-hills, Hamptoncourt, near Lemster; the Leasowes, Hagley, the three cities and their cathedrals; and lastly Oxford (where I passed two days on my return with great satisfaction) were the rest of my acquisitions, and no bad harvest in my opinion; but I made no journal myself, else you should have had it: 1 have indeed a short one written by the companion of my travels,* that serves to recall and fix the fleeting images of these things.
I have had a cough upon me these three months, which is incurable. The approaching summer I have sometimes had thoughts of spending on the continent; but I have now dropped that intention, and believe my expeditions will terminate in Old Park: but I make no promise, and can answer for nothing; my own employment so sticks in my stomach, and troubles my conscience: and yet travel I must, or cease to exist. Till this year I hardly knew what (mechanical) low spirits were, but now I even tremble at an east wind.
* Mr. NichoUs,
The gout, which he always belicved hereditary in his constitution, (for both h:s parents dicd of that distemper) had now for several years attacked him in a weakly and unfixed manner ; and the great tem;>erance which he observed, particularly in regard to his drinking, served, perhaps, to prevent any severe paroxysm, but by no means eradicated the constitutional malady. In the latter end of May, 1771, just about the time he wrote the last letter, he removed to London, where he became feverish, and his dejection of spirits increased: the weather being then very sultry, our common fricnd. Dr. Gisborne, advised him, for an opener and freer air, to remove from his lodgings in Jermyn- street to Kensington, where he frequently attended him, and where Mr. Gray so far g»t the better of his disorder, as to he able to return to Cambridge ; meaning from thence to set out very soon for Old Park, in hopes that travelling, from which he usually received so much benefit, would complete his cure: but on the 24th of July, while at dinner in the college hall, he felt a sudden nausea, which obliged him to rise from table and retire to his chamber. This continued to increase, and nothing staying on his stomach, he sent for his friend Dr. Glyn,