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To Mr. Prior.
Deanery, New-year's day, 1717-8. I MAKE you a better present than any man in England receives this day: two poems* composed by a friend of mine, with that extraordinary genius and spirit which attend him equally in whatever he says, does, or writes. I do not ask your approbation of them. Deny it, if you can, or if you dare. The whole world will be against you; and should therefore be so unfortunate in your judgment, you will
, I dare say, be so wise and modest to conceal it. For though it be a very good character, and what belongs to the first pen in the world, to write like nobody; yet, to judge like nobody, has never yet been esteemed a perfection.
have read them, let me see you at my house; or else you are in danger, lame as I am, of seeing me at yours. And the difference in that case is, that, whenever you have me there, in my present condition, you cannot easily get rid of me; whereas if you come hither, you may leave me as soon as you please, and I have no way to help myself, being confined to my chair just as I was when you saw ine last. If this advantage will not tempt you rather to make than receive the visit, nothing else will.
Whether I see you or not, let me at least see something under your hand, that may tell me how you do, and whether your deafness continues. And if you will flatter me agreeably, let something be said, at the end of your letter, which may make me for two minutes believe that you are half as much mine, as I am, Your faithful humble servant,
To Mr. Wanleyt.
April 5, 1718. I TORMENT you before my appointed time, finding this sheet at home; and as soon as you have looked it over, it may be carried immediately to the printer. I will trouble
* “ Solomon,” and “ Alma.”
+ This letter and another which is printed in the" Additions to Pope," are expressly referred to by the excellent Editor of “ Reliques of ancient English Poetry," vol. II. p. 27. The poem they allude to is “The Nut-Browne Maid," the ground-work of Prior's “ Henry and Emma.” In fixing the age of this poem, Dr. Percy judiciously observes, “Mr. Prior was probably guided by the learned Wanley, whose judgment in matters of this nature was most consummate.”
you to-morrow morning for the sheet which you have. It is compliment in the most refined French Dictionaries. But I submit it to you, as I ought with great reason to do every thing concerning literature.
XXV. Letters to and from Mr. Garrick. Soon after Mr. Garrick had purchased a moiety of Drury-lane Theatre, he discovered the company wanted a considerable recruit of low actors: in the choice of those he generally paid an attention to person and look, more than to genius, for as they seldom had any thing to say, the eye was principally consulted. There was at that time about the Theatre a very whimsical fellow, whose name was Stone; he had much humour, but never could be prevailed upon to tread the stage. Mr. Garrick, however, found him something to do, and he was employed in recruiting about the town for the drama; whenever he brought a person who was permitted to make an essay, whether successful or otherwise, he had a certain sum given him for his trouble; and for three or four years, this man (who had acquired the appellation of the Theatrical Crimp,) made in this kind of service a tolerable subsistence. A variety of letters passed between Mr. Garrick and Stone during the course of their negociations. Four of them we have been lately favoured with by a gentleman, who informs us, that the following were written in the year 1748.
Thursday noon. “ Mr. Lacy turned me out of the lobby yesterday, and behaved very ill to me-I only ax'd for my two guineas for the last Bishop*, and he swore I should not have a farthing.
* The person here called the bishop was procured by Stone, and had often rehearsed the part of the Bishop of Winchester in the play of Henry the Eighth with such singular eclat, that Mr. Garrick frequcutly addressed him at the rehearsal as Cousin of Winchester. The fellow, however, never played the part, although the night of his coming out was announced in the public papers. The reader will soon guess the reason, from the two following letters that passed between Mr. Garrick and Stone, on the very evening he was to inake his appearance,
“ Sir, The Bishop of Winchester is getting drunk at the Bear and gwears, damn his eyes if he will play to night. I am your's, W. Srone.
Answer. “ Srone, The Bishop may go to the Devil I do not know a greater rascal except yourself. D. G.”
I cannot live upon air-I have a few Cupids you may have
Friday morn. “ You are the best fellow in the world—bring the Cupids to the Theatre to-morrow. If they are under six, and well made, you shall have a guinea a-piece for them. Mr. Lacy will
pay you bimself for the Bishop-he is very penitent for what he has done. If you can get me two good murderers, I will pay you handsomely, particularly the spouting fellow who keeps the apple-stand on Tower-hill
, the cut in his face is just the thing. Pick me up an Alderman or two, for Richard, if you can, and I have no objection to treat with you for a comely Mayor. The Barber will not do for Brutus, although I think he will succeed in Mat. 1780, Dec.
XXVI. Montague Bacon, Esq*. to the Rev. Mr. Williamst.
Monday morning As it is your post in the University to honour me with a few words to-morrow, I beg, and most heartily intreat you, that they may be as few as you conveniently can. I am descended, on one side, from the Lord Keeper Bacon, who had so considerable a hand in the first establishment of the church of England; and on the other side from the Earl of Sandwich, who, next to Monk, had, I believe, the chief hand in the Restoration, for King Charles, on his first landing, gave him an earldom, a garter, and 4000l. a year in land, besides places to the value of about 10,000l. a year more. Now, as the restoration of the royal family was likewise the restoring of the church, I beg you would chiefly insist on the
* A younger son of Nicholas Bacon, Esq. of Shrubland, in Suffolk, admitted a fellow-commoner of Trinity-college, Cambridge, in 1704-5. Three of his letters to George Jeffreys, Esq. of the same college, are in the Letters of emi. nent Persous, vol. II. by which it appears that he had much critical acumen. He died in 1740, aged 51.
+ Fellow of St John's-college, and public orator; afterwards D. D. and Rector of Barrow, in Suffolk.
services of my family to the church as our greatest honour; and, if you must say one word more of me, let it be, I intreat you, barely this, that I have always been a lover of learning and learned men.
I am, Sir, with great esteem,
your most humble servant, 1781, Jan.
XXVII. Mr. Harris, of Salisbury, to Fielding's Parson Adams.
Aug. 10. THIS letter having accidentally fallen into my hands, I send it to you, with such elucidations as I could procure. The gentleman to whom it is addressed I take to have been the original Parson Adams of Fielding's Joseph Andrews, and to have died in August 1757. The writer is certainly the late celebrated Mr. Harris, of Salisbury, whose decease you noticed in your Magazine for December last.
ONE OF YOUR CONSTANT READERS.
DEAR SIR, HAVE you a corner left in your mind for the men of peace? or is it wholly occupied by battles and marshals?
still remember there is such a place as England, a passable island, near as big as some of those in your Rhine; or is it totally forgot? and have we nothing to do but shake our heads, and cry,“ poor friend Young, Hunc circumtonuit gaudens Bellona cruentis?"
Wherever you are, whether mindful of us or forgetful, of this be assured, that we have not forgot you*. We have drank your health, inquired after you, and though we could not exactly learn what share you had in the late victoryt, it was some comfort to us, to hear at least, that you were not expendedf in the purchase of it. This was not, indeed, the first report: fame, with that false nether trumpet of
* Mr. Young went to Germany in 1743, about the time his majesty vent abroad that year. to At Dettingen.
Alluding to a message from the officer commanding an attack at Care thagena to the commander in chief.
her's, bad at first blown abroad that you were slain. --Alas! cries one, what Bentley and Young both departed !—to be sure, cries another, he is gone to Priscian's bosom.--I will warrant says a third, grim Aristarchus smiled to see him.-Doubtless, sir, replied another; but what a merry Greek that day was his old friend Aristophanes! As inerry, said I, as we are sad. These, sir, you will readily grant, were no more than natural reflections, upon a supposition that the cruel sisters had cut your fatal worsted*. But how great, think you, was our joy when we found that you were still alive; that you had not only escaped the dangers of the battle, but had even entered and returned again from the French campt with as much safety as old Priam visited the camp of his cruel adversaries the Grecians? We soon became convinced that you Viri Mercuriales might go where you would, and Hermes would never forsake you. May he prove as propitious to the young heroes of your army, who it is likely may want his aid as much as you, though upon occasions as different and heterogeneous as possible. But now perhaps you may expect I should tell you some news, and inform you of your friends, Dr. Colliers, Messrs. Fielding$, Upton||, Sydenhams, and my brother**. I have seen them all lately, and they are all well. Dr. Taylor I have heard of, who is well likewise. He has lately published a piece called “ Marmor Sandvicense,” a dissertation on an antique inscription, brought by Lord Sandwich from Athens. The doctor has excellently explained it, and given many curious remarks on the orthography, method of accompting, as well as narks and numerals of the Greeks, with a variety of other matter respecting the customs of those times. The whole is now rendered plain and easy; but had it not been for the doctor, it would certainly have proved (as Mr. Bays says) “ a crust for the critics." Another friend of yourstt bas printed off his
* This seems to me a designed play on the words cruel and worsted.
+ See Mr. Murphy's Essay, prefixed to the first volume of Fielding's Works. This instance of Mr. Y.'s absence is said to have been communicated to that author by an officer of the regiment Mr. Y. was chaplain to. Lut Mr. Y. about that time was chaplain general to the hospitals abroad, and not 10 any regiment till some years after.
Dr. Arthur Collier of the Commons.
Floyer Sydenbam, Esq. the transiator of Platu's Dialogues. ** John Harris, Esq. of Salisbury."
# If this means Mr. Harris himself, what Dialogries are meant? Is it vol. I. of Hermes, which was not published till the year 1715?