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Selected English Letters (XV - XIX Centuries) by Various

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Dublin, 17 _Nov._ 1726.

I am just come from answering a letter of Mrs. Howard's, writ in such
mystical terms, that I should never have found out the meaning, if a
book had not been sent me called _Gulliver's Travels_, of which you
say so much in yours. I read the book over, and in the second volume
observed several passages which appear to be patched and altered, and
the style of a different sort, unless I am mistaken. Dr. Arbuthnot
likes the projectors least; others, you tell me, the flying island;
some think it wrong to be so hard upon whole bodies or corporations,
yet the general opinion is, that reflections on particular persons are
most to be blamed; so that in these cases, I think the best method is
to let censure and opinion take their course. A bishop here said, that
book was full of improbable lies, and for his part, he hardly believed
a word of it; and so much for Gulliver.

Going to England is a very good thing, if it were not attended with
an ugly circumstance of returning to Ireland. It is a shame you do not
persuade your ministers to keep me on that side, if it were but by a
court expedient of keeping me in prison for a plotter; but at the same
time I must tell you, that such journeys very much shorten my life,
for a month here is very much longer than six at Twickenham.

How comes friend Gay to be so tedious? Another man can publish fifty
thousand lies sooner than he can publish fifty fables.... Let me add,
that if I were Gulliver's friend, I would desire all my acquaintance
to give out that his copy was basely mangled and abused, and added to,
and blotted out by the printer; for so to me it seems in the second
volume particularly.



_Enquiries into Mr. Gay's pursuits_

Dublin, 4 _May_, 1732.

I am now as lame as when you writ your letter, and almost as lame as
your letter itself, for want of that limb from my lady duchess, which
you promised, and without which I wonder how it could limp hither. I
am not in a condition to make a true step even on Amesbury Downs, and
I declare that a corporeal false step is worse than a political one:
nay, worse than a thousand political ones, for which I appeal to
courts and ministers, who hobble on and prosper without the sense of
feeling. To talk of riding and walking is insulting me, for I can
as soon fly as do either. It is your pride or laziness, more than
chair-hire, that makes the town expensive. No honour is lost by
walking in the dark; and in the day you may beckon a blackguard
boy under a gate, near your visiting place, (experto crede,) save
elevenpence, and get half-a-crown's worth of health. The worst of my
present misfortune is, that I eat and drink, and can digest neither
for want of exercise; and, to increase my misery, the knaves are
sure to find me at home, and make huge void spaces in my cellars. I
congratulate with you for losing your great acquaintance; in such a
case, philosophy teaches that we must submit, and be content with good
ones. I like Lord Cornbury's refusing his pension, but I demur at his
being elected for Oxford; which, I conceive, is wholly changed; and
entirely devoted to new principles; so it appeared to me the two last
times I was there. I find by the whole cast of your letter, that you
are as giddy and as volatile as ever: just the reverse of Mr. Pope,
who has always loved a domestic life from his youth. I was going to
wish you had some little place that you could call your own, but, I
profess I do not know you well enough to contrive any one system
of life that would please you. You pretend to preach up riding and
walking to the duchess, yet from my knowledge of you after twenty
years, you always joined a violent desire of perpetually shifting
places and company, with a rooted laziness, and an utter impatience of
fatigue. A coach and six horses is the utmost exercise you can bear;
and this only when you can fill it with such company as is best suited
to your taste, and how glad would you be if it could waft you in the
air to avoid jolting; while I, who am so much later in life, can,
or at least could, ride five hundred miles on a trotting horse. You
mortally hate writing, only because it is the thing you chiefly ought
to do; as well to keep up the vogue you have in the world, as to make
you easy in your fortune. You are merciful to everything but money,
your best friend, whom you treat with inhumanity. Be assured I will
hire people to watch all your motions, and to return me a faithful
account. Tell me, have you cured your absence of mind? can you attend
to trifles? can you at Amesbury write domestic libels to divert the
family and neighbouring squires for five miles round? or venture so
far on horseback, without apprehending a stumble at every step? can
you set the footmen a-laughing as they wait at dinner? and do the
duchess's women admire your wit? in what esteem are you with the vicar
of the parish? can you play with him at backgammon? have the farmers
found out that you cannot distinguish rye from barley, or an oak from
a crab-tree? You are sensible that I know the full extent of your
country skill is in fishing for roaches or gudgeons at the highest.

I love to do you good offices with your friends, and therefore desire
you will show this letter to the duchess, to improve her grace's good
opinion of your qualifications, and convince her how useful you are
likely to be in the family. Her grace shall have the honour of my
correspondence again when she goes to Amesbury. Hear a piece of Irish
news; I buried the famous General Meredyth's father last night in my
cathedral, he was ninety-six years old; so that Mrs. Pope may live
seven years longer. You saw Mr. Pope in health, pray is he generally
more healthy than when I was among you? I would know how your own
health is, and how much wine you drink in a day? My stint in company
is a pint at noon, and half as much at night; but I often dine at home
like a hermit, and then I drink little or none at all. Yet I differ
from you, for I would have society, if I could get what I like, people
of middle understanding, and middle rank.





_Translation of Homer_

26 _Oct._ 1713.

I was extremely glad to receive a letter from you, but more so upon
reading the contents of it. The work you mention will, I dare say,
very sufficiently recommend itself when your name appears with the
proposals: and if you think I can any way contribute to the forwarding
of them, you cannot lay a greater obligation upon me, than by
employing me in such an office. As I have an ambition of having it
known that you are my friend, I shall be very proud of showing it by
this or any other instance. I question not but your translation will
enrich our tongue, and do honour to our country; for I conclude of
it already from those performances with which you have obliged the
public. I would only have you consider how it may most turn to your
advantage. Excuse my impertinence in this particular, which proceeds
from my zeal for your ease and happiness. The work would cost you a
great deal of time, and, unless you undertake it, will, I am afraid,
never be executed by any other; at least I know none of this age that
is equal to it besides yourself.

I am at present wholly immersed in country business, and begin to take
a delight in it. I wish I might hope to see you here some time, and
will not despair of it, when you engage in a work that will require
solitude and retirement.


_A bequest_

_June_ 1719.


I cannot wish that any of my writings should last longer than the
memory of our friendship, and therefore I thus publicly bequeath them
to you, in return for the many valuable instances of your affection.

That they may come to you with as little disadvantage as possible,
I have left the care of them to one, whom, by the experience of some
years, I know well-qualified to answer my intentions. He has already
the honour and happiness of being under your protection; and as he
will very much stand in need of it, I cannot wish him better than
that he may continue to deserve the favour and countenance of such a

I have no time to lay out in forming such compliments as would but ill
suit that familiarity between us which was once my greatest pleasure,
and will be my greatest honour hereafter. Instead of them, accept of
my hearty wishes that the great reputation you have acquired so early,
may increase more and more, and that you may long serve your country
with those excellent talents and unblemished integrity, which have so
powerfully recommended you to the most gracious and amiable monarch
that ever filled a throne. May the frankness and generosity of your
spirit continue to soften and subdue your enemies, and gain you many
friends, if possible, as sincere as yourself. When you have found
such, they cannot wish you more true happiness than I, who am with the
greatest zeal, dear sir,

Your most entirely affectionate friend
and faithful obedient servant.




_An explicit declaration_

11 _Aug._ 1707.

Madam,--I writ you on Saturday, by Mrs. Warren, and give you this
trouble to urge the same request I made then; which was, that I may be
admitted to wait upon you. I should be very far from desiring this if
it were a transgression of the most severe rules to allow it. I know
you are very much above the little arts which are frequent in your
sex, of giving unnecessary torment to their admirers; I therefore hope
you will do so much justice to the generous passion I have for you, as
to let me have an opportunity of acquainting you upon what motives
I pretend to your good opinion. I shall not trouble you with my
sentiments till I know how they will be received; and as I know no
reason why the difference of sex should make our language to each
other differ from the ordinary rules of right reason, I shall affect
plainness and sincerity in my discourse to you, as much as other
lovers do perplexity and rapture. Instead of saying 'I shall die for
you', I profess I should be glad to lead my life with you. You are
as beautiful, as witty, as prudent, and as good-humoured as any woman
breathing; but, I must confess to you, I regard all these excellences
as you will please to direct them for my happiness or misery. With me,
madam, the only lasting motive to love, is the hope of its becoming
mutual. I beg of you to let Mrs. Warren send me word when I may attend
you. I promise you, I will talk of nothing but indifferent things;
though, at the same time, I know not how I shall approach you in the
tender moment of first seeing you after this declaration which has
been made by, madam,

Your most obedient and most faithful
humble servant.


_A pleasing transport_

Smith Street, Westminster, 1707.

Madam,--I lay down last night with your image in my thoughts, and
have awakened this morning in the same contemplation. The pleasing
transport with which I am delighted has a sweetness in it attended
with a train of ten thousand soft desires, anxieties, and cares.
The day arises on my hopes with new brightness; youth, beauty, and
innocence are the charming objects that steal me from myself, and give
me joys above the reach of ambition, pride, or glory. Believe me, fair
one, to throw myself at your feet is giving myself the highest bliss
I know on earth. Oh, hasten, ye minutes! bring on the happy morning
wherein to be ever hers will make me look down on thrones! Dear Molly,
I am tenderly, passionately, faithfully thine.


_A lover betrays himself_

St. James's Coffee House, 1 _Sept._ 1707

Madam,--It is the hardest thing in the world to be in love, and yet to
attend to business. As for me, all who speak to me find me out, and I
must lock myself up, or other people will do it for me.

A gentleman asked me this morning, 'What news from Lisbon?' and I
answered, 'She's exquisitely handsome.' Another desired to know when I
had been last at Hampton Court. I replied, 'It will be on Tuesday come
se'nnight.' Pr'ythee allow me at least to kiss your hand before that
day, that my mind may be in some composure. O love!

A thousand torments dwell about thee!
Yet who would live to live without thee?

Methinks I could write a volume to you; but all the language on earth
would fail in saying how much, and with what disinterested passion, I
am ever yours.


_He proposes an outing_

Lord Sunderland's Office, 19 May, 1708.

Eleven o'clock.

Dear Prue,--I desire you to get the coach and yourself ready as soon
as you can conveniently, and call for me here, from whence we will go
and spend some time together in the fresh air in free conference. Let
my best periwig be put in the coach-box, and my new shoes, for it is
a great comfort to be well dressed in agreeable company. You are vital
life to your obliged, affectionate husband, and humble servant.


_His greatest affliction_

12 _Aug._ 1708.

Madam,--I have your letter, wherein you let me know that the little
dispute we have had is far from being a trouble to you; nevertheless
I assure you, any disturbance between us is the greatest affliction to
me imaginable. You talk of the judgement of the world; I shall never
govern my actions by it, but by the rules of morality and right
reason. I love you better than the light of my eyes or the life-blood
in my heart; but you are also to understand that neither my sight
shall be so far enchanted, nor my affection so much master of me,
as to make me forget our common interest. To attend my business as
I ought, and improve my fortune, it is necessary that my time and
my will should be under no direction but my own.... I write all this
rather to explain my own thoughts to you, than to answer your letter
distinctly. I enclose it to you, that upon second thoughts, you may
see the disrespectful manner in which you treat

Your affectionate, faithful husband.


_Four characteristic notes_


From the Press, one in the morning, 30 _Sept._ 1710.

Dear Prue,--I am very sleepy and tired, but could not think of closing
my eyes till I had told you I am, dearest creature,

Your most affectionate and faithful husband.


Bloomsbury Square, 24 _Dec._ 1713.

Dear Prue,--I dine with Lord Halifax and shall be at home half hour
after six. For thee I die, for thee I languish.


16 _Feb._ 1716-17.

Dear Prue,--Sober or not, I am ever yours.


Thursday, 3 in the afternoon, 2 _May_, 1717.

I had a very painful night last night; but, after a little chocolate
an hour or two ago, and a chicken for dinner, am much more at ease.


_The natural slave of beauty_.

20 _June_, 1717.

Dear Prue,--I have yours of the 14th, and am infinitely obliged to you
for the length of it. I do not know another whom I could commend for
that circumstance; but where we entirely love, the continuance of
anything they do to please us is a pleasure. As for your relations,
once for all, pray take it for granted, that my regard and conduct
towards all and singular of them shall be as you direct.

I hope, by the grace of God, to continue what you wish me, every
way, an honest man. My wife and my children are the objects that have
wholly taken up my heart; and as I am not invited or encouraged in
anything which regards the public, I am easy under that neglect or
envy of my past actions, and cheerfully contract that diffusive spirit
within the interests of my own family. You are the head of us; and I
stoop to a female reign as being naturally made the slave of beauty.
But to prepare for our manner of living when we are again together,
give me leave to say, while I am here at leisure, and come to lie at
Chelsea, what I think may contribute to our better way of living.
I very much approve Mrs. Evans and her husband; and if you take my
advice, I would have them a being in our house, and Mrs. Clark the
care and inspection of the nursery. I would have you entirely
at leisure to pass your time with me in diversions, in books, in
entertainments, and no manner of business intrude upon us but at
stated times. For, though you are made to be the delight of my eyes,
and food of all my senses and faculties, yet a turn of care
and housewifery, and I know not what prepossession against
conversation-pleasures, robs me of the witty and the handsome woman
to a degree not to be expressed. I will work my brains and fingers to
procure us plenty of all things, and demand nothing of you but to take
delight in agreeable dresses, cheerful discourses, and gay sights,
attended by me. This may be done by putting the kitchen and the
nursery in the hands I propose; and I shall have nothing to do but to
pass as much time at home as I possibly can, in the best company in
the world. We cannot tell here what to think of the trial of my Lord
Oxford; if the ministry are in earnest in that, and I should see it
will be extended to a length of time, I will leave them to themselves,
and wait upon you. Miss Moll grows a mighty beauty, and she shall be
very prettily dressed, as likewise shall Betty and Eugene: and if
I throw away a little money in adorning my brats, I hope you will
forgive me: they are, I thank God, all very well; and the charming
form of their mother has tempered the likeness they bear to their
rough sire, who is, with the greatest fondness,

Your most obliged and obedient husband.




_Concerning Gulliver_

17 _Nov._ 1726.

About ten days ago a book was published here of the travels of one
Gulliver, which has been the conversation of the whole town ever
since: the whole impression sold in a week: and nothing is more
diverting than to hear the different opinions people give of it,
though all agree in liking it extremely. It is generally said that you
are the author; but I am told the bookseller declares, he knows
not from what hand it came. From the highest to the lowest it is
universally read, from the cabinet-council to the nursery. The
politicians to a man agree, that it is free from particular
reflections, but that the satire on general societies of men is
too severe. Not but we now and then meet with people of greater
perspicuity, who are in search for particular applications in every
leaf; and it is highly probable we shall have keys published to
give light into Gulliver's design. Lord ---- is the person who least
approves it, blaming it as a design of evil consequence to depreciate
human nature, at which it cannot be wondered that he takes most
offence, being himself the most accomplished of his species, and so
losing more than any other of that praise which is due both to the
dignity and virtue of a man. Your friend, my Lord Harcourt, commends
it very much, though he thinks in some places the matter too far
carried. The Duchess Dowager of Marlborough is in raptures at it; she
says she can dream of nothing else since she read it: she declares
that she has now found out that her whole life has been lost in
caressing the worst part of mankind, and treating the best as her
foes: and that if she knew Gulliver, though he had been the worst
enemy she ever had, she should give up her present acquaintance for
his friendship. You may see by this, that you are not much injured
by being supposed the author of this piece. If you are, you have
disobliged us, and two or three of your best friends, in not giving
us the least hint of it while you were with us; and in particular Dr.
Arbuthnot, who says it is ten thousand pities he had not known it, he
could have added such abundance of things upon every subject. Among
lady critics, some have found out that Mr. Gulliver had a particular
malice to maids of honour. Those of them who frequent the church, say
his design is impious, and that it is depreciating the works of the

Notwithstanding, I am told the princess has read it with great
pleasure. As to other critics, they think the flying island is the
least entertaining; and so great an opinion the town have of the
impossibility of Gulliver's writing at all below himself, it is agreed
that part was not writ by the same hand, though this has its defenders
too. It has passed lords and commons, _nemine contradicente_; and the
whole town, men, women, and children, are quite full of it.

Perhaps I may all this time be talking to you of a book you have never
seen, and which has not yet reached Ireland; if it has not, I believe
what we have said will be sufficient to recommend it to your reading,
and that you will order me to send it to you.

But it will be much better to come over yourself, and read it here,
where you will have the pleasure of variety of commentators, to
explain the difficult passages to you.

We all rejoice that you have fixed the precise time of your coming to
be _cum hirundine prima_; which we modern naturalists pronounce,
ought to be reckoned, contrary to Pliny, in this northern latitude of
fifty-two degrees, from the end of February, Styl. Greg., at furthest.
But to us, your friends, the coming of such a black swallow as you
will make a summer in the worst of seasons. We are no less glad at
your mention of Twickenham and Dawley; and in town you know, you have
a lodging at court.

The princess is clothed in Irish silk; pray give our service to the
weavers. We are strangely surprised to hear that the bells in Ireland
ring without your money. I hope you do not write the thing that is
not. We are afraid that B---- hath been guilty of that crime, that you
(like a houyhnhnm) have treated him as a yahoo, and discarded him your
service. I fear you do not understand these modish terms, which every
creature now understands but yourself.

You tell us your wine is bad, and that the clergy do not frequent your
house, which we look upon to be tautology. The best advice we can give
you is, to make them a present of your wine, and come away to better.

You fancy we envy you, but you are mistaken; we envy those you are
with, for we cannot envy the man we love. Adieu.




_Dryden and his critics_

Binfield in Windsor Forest, 26 _Dec_. 1704.

It was certainly a great satisfaction to me to see and converse with
a man, whom in his writings I had so long known with pleasure; but
it was a high addition to it, to hear you, at our very first meeting,
doing justice to your dead friend Mr. Dryden. I was not so happy as to
know him: _Virgilium tantum vidi_. Had I been born early enough I
must have known and loved him: for I have been assured, not only
by yourself, but by Mr. Congreve and Sir William Trumbul, that his
personal qualities were as amiable as his poetical, notwithstanding
the many libellous misrepresentations of them, against which the
former of these gentlemen has told me he will one day vindicate him. I
suppose those injuries were begun by the violence of party, but it
is no doubt they were continued by envy at his success and fame. And
those scribblers who attacked him in his latter times, were only like
gnats in a summer's evening, which are never very troublesome but in
the finest and most glorious season; for his fire, like the sun's,
shined clearest towards its setting.

You must not therefore imagine, that when you told me my own
performances were above those critics, I was so vain as to believe it;
and yet I may not be so humble as to think myself quite below their
notice. For critics, as they are birds of prey, have ever a natural
inclination to carrion: and though such poor writers as I are but
beggars, no beggar is so poor but he can keep a cur, and no author
is so beggarly but he can keep a critic. I am far from thinking the
attacks of such people any honour or dishonour even to me, much less
to Mr. Dryden. I agree with you that whatever lesser wits have arisen
since his death are but like stars appearing when the sun is set, that
twinkle only in his absence, and with the rays they have borrowed
from him. Our wit (as you call it) is but reflection or imitation,
therefore scarce to be called ours. True wit, I believe, may be
defined a justness of thought, and a facility of expression....
However, this is far from a complete definition; pray help me to a
better, as I doubt not you can.


_A few thoughts from a rambling head_

14 _Dec_. 1713.

I have been lying in wait for my own imagination, this week and more,
and watching what thoughts came up in the whirl of the fancy, that
were worth communicating to you in a letter. But I am at length
convinced that my rambling head can produce nothing of that sort; so
I must e'en be content with telling you the old story, that I love
you heartily. I have often found by experience, that nature and
truth, though never so low or vulgar, are yet pleasing when openly and
artlessly represented: it would be diverting to me to read the very
letters of an infant, could it write its innocent inconsistencies and
tautologies just as it thought them. This makes me hope a letter from
me will not be unwelcome to you, when I am conscious I write with more
unreservedness than ever man wrote, or perhaps talked, to another. I
trust your good nature with the whole range of my follies, and really
love you so well, that I would rather you should pardon me than esteem
me; since one is an act of goodness and benevolence, the other a kind
of constrained deference.

You cannot wonder my thoughts are scarce consistent, when I tell you
how they are distracted. Every hour of my life my mind is strangely
divided; this minute perhaps I am above the stars, with a thousand
systems round about me, looking forward into a vast abyss, and
losing my whole comprehension in the boundless space of creation, in
dialogues with Whiston and the astronomers; the next moment I am below
all trifles, grovelling with T---- in the very centre of nonsense: now
I am recreated with the brisk sallies and quick turns of wit, which
Mr. Steele, in his liveliest and freest humours, darts about him; and
now levelling my application to the insignificant observations and
quirks of grammar of C---- and D----.

Good God! what an incongruous animal is man! how unsettled in his best
part, his soul; and how changing and variable in his frame of body!
the constancy of the one shook by every notion, the temperament of the
other affected by every blast of wind! What is he, altogether, but a
mighty inconsistency; sickness and pain is the lot of one half of him,
doubt and fear the portion of the other! What a bustle we make about
passing our time when all our space is but a point! what aims and
ambitions are crowded into this little instant of our life, which
(as Shakespeare finely worded it) is rounded with a sleep! Our whole
extent of being is no more, in the eye of Him who gave it, than a
scarce perceptible moment of duration. Those animals whose circle of
living is limited to three or four hours, as the naturalists tell us,
are yet as long-lived, and possess as wide a field of action as man,
if we consider him with a view to all space and all eternity. Who
knows what plots, what achievements a mite may perform in his kingdom
of a grain of dust, within his life of some minutes; and of how much
less consideration than even this, is the life of man in the sight of
God, who is for ever and ever?

Who that thinks in this train, but must see the world, and its
contemptible grandeurs, lessen before him at every thought? It is
enough to make one remain stupefied in a poise of inaction, void of
all desires, of all designs, of all friendships.

But we must return (through our very condition of being) to our narrow
selves, and those things that affect ourselves: our passions, our
interests flow in upon us and unphilosophize us into mere mortals. For
my part, I never return so much into myself, as when I think of
you, whose friendship is one of the best comforts I have for the
insignificancy of myself.


_Friends to posterity_

23 _March_, 1727-8.

I send you a very odd thing, a paper printed in Boston, in New
England, wherein you will find a real person, a member of their
parliament, of the name of Jonathan Gulliver. If the fame of that
traveller has travelled thither, it has travelled very quick, to have
folks christened already by the name of the supposed author. But if
you object that no child so lately christened could be arrived at
years of maturity to be elected into parliament, I reply (to solve the
riddle) that the person is an Anabaptist, and not christened till
full age, which sets all right. However it be, the accident is very
singular that these two names should be united.

Mr. Gay's opera has been acted near forty days running, and will
certainly continue the whole season. So he has more than a fence about
his thousand pounds; he will soon be thinking of a fence about his two
thousand. Shall no one of us live as we would wish each other to live?
Shall he have no annuity, you no settlement on this side, and I
no prospect of getting to you on the other? This world is made for
Caesar,--as Cato said, for ambitious, false, or flattering people to
domineer in; nay, they would not, by their good will, leave us our
very books, thoughts, or words in quiet. I despise the world yet, I
assure you, more than either Gay or you, and the court more than all
the rest of the world. As for those scribblers for whom you apprehend
I would suppress my _Dulness_ (which, by the way, for the future you
are to call by a more pompous name, the _Dunciad_), how much that nest
of hornets are my regard will easily appear to you when you read the
_Treatise of the Bathos_.

At all adventures, yours and mine shall stand linked as friends
to posterity, both in verse and prose, and (as Tully calls it) _in
consuetudine studiorum_. Would to God our persons could but as well
and as surely be inseparable! I find my other ties dropping from me;
some worn off, some torn off, some relaxing daily: my greatest, both
by duty, gratitude, and humanity, time is shaking every moment, and
it now hangs but by a thread! I am many years the older for living so
much with one so old; much the more helpless for having been so long
helped and tendered by her; much the more considerate and tender, for
a daily commerce with one who required me justly to be both to her;
and consequently the more melancholy and thoughtful; and the less fit
for others, who want only in a companion or a friend to be amused or
entertained. My constitution too has had its share of decay as well as
my spirits, and I am as much in the decline at forty as you at sixty.
I believe we should be fit to live together could I get a little more
health, which might make me not quite insupportable. Your deafness
would agree with my dulness; you would not want me to speak when
you could not hear. But God forbid you should be as destitute of the
social comforts of life as I must when I lose my mother; or that ever
you should lose your more useful acquaintance so utterly, as to turn
your thoughts to such a broken reed as I am, who could so ill supply
your wants. I am extremely troubled at the return of your deafness;
you cannot be too particular in the accounts of your health to me;
everything you do or say in this kind obliges me, nay, delights me,
to see the justice you do me in thinking me concerned in all your
concerns; so that though the pleasantest thing you can tell me be that
you are better or easier; next to that it pleases me that you make me
the person you would complain to.

As the obtaining the love of valuable men is the happiest end I
know of this life, so the next felicity is to get rid of fools and
scoundrels; which I cannot but own to you was one part of my design in
falling upon these authors, whose incapacity is not greater than their
insincerity, and of whom I have always found (if I may quote myself),

That each bad author is as bad a friend.

This poem will rid me of these insects.

Cedite, Romani scriptores, cedite, Graii;
_Nescio quid_ maius nascitur Iliade.

I mean than _my Iliad_; and I call it _Nescio quid_, which is a degree
of modesty; but however, if it silence these fellows, it must be
something greater than any _Iliad_ in Christendom. Adieu.


_A farming friend, and the Dunciad_

Dawley, 28 _June_, 1728.

I now hold the pen for my Lord Bolingbroke, who is reading your
letter between two haycocks, but his attention is somewhat diverted by
casting his eyes on the clouds, not in admiration of what you say,
but for fear of a shower. He is pleased with your placing him in the
triumvirate between yourself and me: though he says, that he doubts he
shall fare like Lepidus, while one of us runs away with all the power,
like Augustus, and another with all the pleasures, like Anthony. It is
upon a foresight of this that he has fitted up his farm, and you will
agree that his scheme of retreat at least is not founded upon weak
appearances. Upon his return from the Bath, all peccant humours, he
finds, are purged out of him; and his great temperance and economy are
so signal, that the first is fit for my constitution, and the latter
would enable you to lay up so much money as to buy a bishopric in
England. As to the return of his health and vigour, were you here, you
might inquire of his haymakers; but as to his temperance, I can answer
that (for one whole day) we have had nothing for dinner but mutton
broth, beans, and bacon, and a barn-door fowl.

Now his lordship is run after his cart, I have a moment left to myself
to tell you, that I overheard him yesterday agree with a painter
for L200, to paint his country hall with trophies of rakes, spades,
prongs, &c., and other ornaments, merely to countenance his calling
this place a farm--now turn over a new leaf.

He bids me assure you, he should be sorry not to have more schemes of
kindness for his friends than of ambition for himself; there, though
his schemes may be weak, the motives at least are strong; and he
says farther, if you could bear as great a fall and decrease of your
revenues, as he knows by experience he can, you would not live in
Ireland an hour.

The _Dunciad_ is going to be printed in all pomp, with the
inscription, which makes me proudest. It will be attended with
_proeme, prolegomena, testimonia scriptorum, index authorum_, and
notes _variorum_. As to the latter, I desire you to read over the
text, and make a few in any way you like best; whether dry raillery,
upon the style and way of commenting of trivial critics; or humourous,
upon the authors in the poem; or historical, of persons, places,
times; or explanatory, or collecting the parallel passages of the
ancients. Adieu. I am pretty well, my mother not ill, Dr. Arbuthnot
vexed with his fever by intervals; I am afraid he declines, and we
shall lose a worthy man: I am troubled about him very much.


_An invitation to England_

23 _March_, 1736-7.

Though you were never to write to me, yet what you desired in your
last, that I would write often to you, would be a very easy task: for
every day I talk with you, and of you, in my heart; and I need only
set down what that is thinking of. The nearer I find myself verging to
that period of life which is to be labour and sorrow, the more I prop
myself upon those few supports that are left me. People in this state
are like props indeed; they cannot stand alone, but two or more of
them can stand, leaning and bearing upon one another. I wish you and I
might pass this part of life together. My only necessary care is at
an end. I am now my own master too much; my house is too large; my
gardens furnish too much wood and provision for my use. My servants
are sensible and tender of me; they have intermarried, and are become
rather low friends than servants; and to all those that I see here
with pleasure, they take a pleasure in being useful. I conclude this
is your case too in your domestic life, and I sometimes think of your
old housekeeper as my nurse, though I tremble at the sea, which only
divides us. As your fears are not so great as mine, and I firmly hope
your strength still much greater, is it utterly impossible it might
once more be some pleasure to you to see England? My sole motive in
proposing France to meet in, was the narrowness of the passage by sea
from hence, the physicians having told me the weakness of my breast,
&c., is such, as a sea-sickness might endanger my life. Though one or
two of our friends are gone since you saw your native country, there
remain a few more who will last so till death; and who I cannot but
hope have an attractive power to draw you back to a country which
cannot quite be sunk or enslaved, while such spirits remain. And let
me tell you, there are a few more of the same spirit, who would awaken
all your old ideas, and revive your hopes of her future recovery and
virtue. These look up to you with reverence, and would be animated by
the sight of him at whose soul they have taken fire in his writings,
and derived from thence as much love of their species as is consistent
with a contempt for the knaves in it.

I could never be weary, except at the eyes, of writing to you; but my
real reason (and a strong one it is) for doing it so seldom, is fear;
fear of a very great and experienced evil, that of my letters being
kept by the partiality of friends, and passing into the hands and
malice of enemies, who publish them with all their imperfections on
their head, so that I write not on the common terms of honest men.

Would to God you would come over with Lord Orrery, whose care of you
in the voyage I could so certainly depend on; and bring with you your
old housekeeper and two or three servants. I have room for all, a
heart for all, and (think what you will) a fortune for all. We could,
were we together, contrive to make our last days easy, and leave some
sort of monument, what friends two wits could be in spite of all the
fools in the world. Adieu.




_A discussion on love_

3 _Sept_. 1751.

In another place, you are offended with the word gratitude; as if your
idea of love excluded gratitude.

And further on, you are offended that I call this same passion 'a
little selfish passion'.

And you say that you have known few girls, and still fewer men, whom
you have thought 'capable of being in love'.

'By this', proceed you, 'you will see that my ideas of the word love
are different from yours, when you call it a little selfish passion.'

Now, madam, if that passion is not little and selfish that makes two
vehement souls prefer the gratification of each other, often to a
sense of duty, and always to the whole world without them, be pleased
to tell me what is? And pray be so good as to define to me what the
noble passion is, of which so few people of either sex are capable.
Give me your ideas of it.

I put not this question as a puzzler, a bamboozler, but purely for
information; and that I may make my Sir Charles susceptible of the
generous (may I say generous?) flame, and yet know what he is about,
yet be a reasonable man.

Harriet's passion is founded in gratitude for relief given her in a
great exigence. But the man who rescued her is not, it seems, to have
such a word as gratitude in his head, in return for her love.

I repeat, that I will please you if I can; please you, Miss Mulso,
I here mean (before I meant not you particularly, my dear, but your
sex), in Sir Charles's character; and I sincerely declare, that I
would rather form his character to your liking, than to the liking of
three parts out of four of the persons I am acquainted with.

You are one of my best girls, and best judges. Of whom have I the
opinion that I have of Miss Mulso on these nice subjects?--I ask
therefore repeatedly for your definition of the passion which you
dignify by the word noble; and from which you exclude everything mean,
little, or selfish.

And you really think it marvellous that a young woman should find a
man of exalted merit to be in love with? Why, truly, I am half of your
mind; for how should people find what, in general, they do not seek?
Yet what good creatures are many girls! They will be in love for all

Why, yes, to be sure, they would be glad of a Sir Charles Grandison,
and prefer him even to a Lovelace, were he capable of being terribly
in love. And yet, I know one excellent girl who is afraid 'that ladies
in general will think him too wise'.--Dear, dear girls, help me to a
few monkey-tricks to throw into his character, in order to shield him
from contempt for his wisdom.

'It is one of my maxims,' you say, 'that people even of bad hearts
will admire and love people of good ones.' Very true!--and yet
admiration and love, in the sense before us, do not always shake
hands, except at parting, and with an intention never to meet again. I
have known women who professed to admire good men, but have chosen
to marry men--not so good, when lovers of both sorts have tendered
themselves to their acceptance. There is something very pretty in the
sound of the word wild, added to the word fellow; and good sense is
a very grateful victim to be sacrificed on the altar of love. Fervour
and extravagance in expressions will please. How shall a woman,
who, moreover, loves to be admired, know a man's heart, but from
his lips?--Let him find flattery, and she will find credulity. Sweet
souls! can they be always contradicting?

You believe it is not in human nature, however depraved, to prefer
evil to good in another, whatever people may do in themselves. Why, no
one would really think so, did not experience convince us that many,
very many young women, in the article of marriage, though not before
thought to be very depraved, are taken by this green sickness of the
soul, and prefer dirt and rubbish to wholesome diet. The result of the
matter is this, with very many young women: they will admire a good
man, but they will marry a bad one. Are not rakes pretty fellows?

But one thing let me add, to comfort you in relation to Harriet's
difficulties: I intend to make her shine by her cordial approbation,
as she goes along, of every good action of her beloved. She is
humbled by her love (suspense in love is a mortifier) to think herself
inferior to his sisters; but I intend to raise her above them, even
in her own just opinion; and when she shines out the girl worthy of
a man, not exalt, but reward her, and at the same time make him think
himself highly rewarded by the love of so frank and so right an heart.

There now!--Will that do, my Miss Mulso?

I laid indeed a heavy hand on the good Clarissa. But I had begun with
her, with a view to the future saint in her character; and could she,
but by sufferings, shine as she does?

Do you, my dear child, look upon me as your paternal friend.




_The Viennese court_

Vienna, 14 _Sept_. o.s. [1716].

Though I have so lately troubled you, my dear sister, with a long
letter, yet I will keep my promise in giving you an account of my
first going to court.

In order to that ceremony, I was squeezed up in a gown, and adorned
with a gorget and the other implements thereunto belonging: a dress
very inconvenient, but which certainly shews the neck and shape
to great advantage. I cannot forbear in this place giving you some
description of the fashions here, which are more monstrous and
contrary to all common sense and reason, than 'tis possible for you
to imagine. They build certain fabrics of gauze on their heads about
a yard high, consisting of three or four stories, fortified with
numberless yards of heavy ribbon. The foundation of this structure is
a thing they call a _Bourle_, which is exactly of the same shape
and kind, but about four times as big, as those rolls our prudent
milk-maids make use of to fix their pails upon. This machine they
cover with their own hair, which they mix with a great deal of false,
it being a particular beauty to have their heads too large to go into
a moderate tub. Their hair is prodigiously powdered, to conceal the
mixture, and set out with three or four rows of bodkins (wonderfully
large, that stick two or three inches from their hair), made of
diamonds, pearls, red, green, and yellow stones, that it certainly
requires as much art and experience to carry the load upright, as to
dance upon May-day with the garland. Their whalebone petticoats outdo
ours by several yards circumference, and cover some acres of ground.

You may easily suppose how much this extraordinary dress sets off and
improves the natural ugliness with which God Almighty has been pleased
to endow them all generally. Even the lovely empress herself is
obliged to comply, in some degree, with these absurd fashions, which
they would not quit for all the world. I had a private audience
(according to ceremony) of half an hour, and then all the other ladies
were permitted to come make their court. I was perfectly charmed
with the empress: I cannot, however, tell you that her features are
regular; her eyes are not large, but have a lively look, full of
sweetness; her complexion the finest I ever saw; her nose and forehead
well-made, but her mouth has ten thousand charms that touch the
soul. When she smiles, 'tis with a beauty and sweetness that force
adoration. She has a vast quantity of fine fair hair; but then her
person!--one must speak of it poetically to do it rigid justice; all
that the poets have said of the mien of Juno, the air of Venus, comes
not up to the truth. The Graces move with her; the famous statue of
Medicis was not formed with more delicate proportion; nothing can be
added to the beauty of her neck and hands. Till I saw them, I did not
believe there were any in nature so perfect, and I was almost sorry
that my rank here did not permit me to kiss them; but they are kissed
sufficiently; for every body that waits on her pays that homage at
their entrance, and when they take leave.

When the ladies were come in, she sat down to Quinze. I could not play
at a game I had never seen before, and she ordered me a seat at her
right hand, and had the goodness to talk to me very much, with that
grace so natural to her. I expected every moment when the men were to
come in to pay their court; but this drawing-room is very different
from that of England; no man enters it but the old grand-master, who
comes in to advertize the empress of the approach of the emperor.
His imperial majesty did me the honour of speaking to me in a very
obliging manner; but he never speaks to any of the other ladies; and
the whole passes with a gravity and air of ceremony that has something
very formal in it.

The empress Amelia, dowager of the late emperor Joseph, came
this evening to wait on the reigning empress, followed by the two
archduchesses her daughters, who are very agreeable young princesses.
Their imperial majesties rise and go to meet her at the door of the
room, after which she is seated in an armed chair, next the empress,
and in the same manner at supper, and there the men had the permission
of paying their Court. The archduchesses sit on chairs with backs
without arms. The table is entirely served, and all the dishes set on
by the empress's maids of honour, which are twelve young ladies of the
first quality. They have no salary, but their chambers at court, where
they live in a sort of confinement, not being suffered to go to the
assemblies or public places in town, except in compliment to the
wedding of a sister maid, whom the empress always presents with her
picture set in diamonds. The three first of them are called _Ladies
of the Key_, and wear gold keys by their sides; but what I find most
pleasant, is the custom which obliges them, as long as they live,
after they have left the empress's service, to make her some present
every year on the day of her feast. Her majesty is served by no
married women but the _grande maitresse_, who is generally a widow of
the first quality, always very old, and is at the same time groom of
the stole, and mother of the maids. The dresses are not at all in the
figure they pretend to in England, being looked upon no otherwise than
as downright chambermaids.

I had audience next day of the empress mother, a princess of great
virtue and goodness, but who piques herself so much on a violent
devotion; she is perpetually performing extraordinary acts of penance,
without having ever done anything to deserve them. She has the same
number of maids of honour, whom she suffers to go in colours; but she
herself never quits her mourning; and sure nothing can be more dismal
than the mourning here, even for a brother. There is not the least bit
of linen to be seen; all black crape instead of it. The neck, ears,
and side of the face covered with a plaited piece of the same stuff,
and the face that peeps out in the midst of it, looks as if it were
pilloried. The widows wear, over and above, a crape forehead cloth;
and in this solemn weed go to all the public places of diversion
without scruple. The next day I was to wait on the empress Amelia, who
is now at her palace of retirement half a mile from the town. I had
there the pleasure of seeing a diversion wholly new to me, but which
is the common amusement of this court. The empress herself was seated
on a little throne at the end of a fine alley in the garden, and on
each side of her were ranged two parties of her ladies of honour with
other young ladies of quality, headed by the two young archduchesses,
all dressed in their hair full of jewels, with fine light guns in
their hands; and at proper distances were placed three oval pictures,
which were the marks to be shot at. The first was that of a CUPID,
filling a bumper of Burgundy, and this motto, '_Tis easy to be valiant
here_. The second a FORTUNE, holding a garland in her hand, the motto,
_For her whom Fortune favours_. The third was a SWORD, with a laurel
wreath on the point, the motto, _Here is no shame to the vanquished_.
Near the empress was a gilded trophy wreathed with flowers, and made
of little crooks, on which were hung rich Turkish handkerchiefs,
tippets, ribbons, laces, etc., for the small prizes. The empress gave
the first with her own hand, which was a fine ruby ring set round
with diamonds, in a gold snuff-box. There was for the second, a little
Cupid set with brilliants; and besides these, a set of fine china for
a tea-table enchased in gold, japan trunks, fans, and many gallantries
of the same nature. All the men of quality at Vienna were spectators;
but only the ladies had permission to shoot, and the Archduchess
Amelia carried off the first prize. I was very well pleased with
having seen this entertainment, and I do not know but it might make as
good a figure as the prize-shooting in the _Eneid_, if I could write
as well as Virgil. This is the favourite pleasure of the emperor, and
there is rarely a week without some feast of this kind, which makes
the young ladies skilful enough to defend a fort, and they laughed
very much to see me afraid to handle a gun.

My dear sister, you will easily pardon an abrupt conclusion. I
believe, by this time, you are ready to fear I would never conclude at


_Ingrafting for small-pox_

Adrianople, 1 _April_, O.S. [1717].

In my opinion, dear S., I ought rather to quarrel with you for not
answering my Nimeguen letter of August till December, than to excuse
my not writing again till now. I am sure there is on my side a very
good excuse for silence, having gone such tiresome land-journeys,
though I don't find the conclusion of them so bad as you seem to
imagine. I am very easy here, and not in the solitude you fancy me.
The great number of Greek, French, English, and Italians, that are
under our protection, make their court to me from morning till night;
and, I'll assure you, are many of them very fine ladies; for there is
no possibility for a Christian to live easily under this government
but by the protection of an embassador--and the richer they are, the
greater their danger.

Those dreadful stories you have heard of the plague have very little
foundation in truth. I own I have much ado to reconcile myself to the
sound of a word which has always given me such terrible ideas, though
I am convinced there is little more in it than a fever. As a proof we
passed through two or three towns most violently infected. In the
very next house where we lay (in one of them) two persons died of it.
Luckily for me, I knew nothing of the matter; and I was made believe,
that our second cook who fell ill here, had only a great cold.
However, we left our doctor to take care of him, and yesterday they
both arrived here in good health; and now I am let into the secret
that he has had the _plague_. There are many that escape it; neither
is the air ever infected. I am persuaded that it would be as easy to
root it out here as out of Italy and France; but it does so little
mischief, they are not very solicitous about it, and are content to
suffer this distemper instead of our variety, which they are utterly
unacquainted with.

_A propos_ of distempers: I am going to tell you a thing that I am
sure will make you wish yourself here. The small-pox, so fatal and
so general among us, is here entirely harmless by the invention of
_ingrafting_, which is the term they give it. There is a set of
old women who make it their business to perform the operation every
autumn, in the month of September, when the great heat is abated.
People send to one another to know if any of their family has a mind
to have the small-pox: they make parties for this purpose, and when
they are met (commonly fifteen or sixteen together) the old woman
comes with a nut-shell full of the matter of the best sort of
small-pox, and asks what veins you please to have opened. She
immediately rips open that you offer to her with a large needle (which
gives you no more pain than a common scratch), and puts into the vein
as much venom as can lie upon the head of her needle, and after that
binds up the little wound with a hollow bit of shell; and in this
manner opens four or five veins. The Grecians have commonly the
superstition of opening one in the middle of the forehead, in each
arm, and on the breast, to mark the sign of the cross; but this has
a very ill effect, all these wounds leaving little scars, and is not
done by those that are not superstitious, who choose to have them in
the legs, or that part of the arm that is concealed. The children
or young patients play together all the rest of the day, and are in
perfect health to the eighth. Then the fever begins to seize them,
and they keep their beds two days, very seldom three. They have very
rarely above twenty or thirty in their faces, which never mark; and in
eight days' time they are as well as before their illness. Where they
are wounded, there remain running sores during the distemper, which I
don't doubt is a great relief to it. Every year thousands undergo this
operation; and the French embassador says pleasantly, that they take
the small-pox here by way of diversion, as they take the waters in
other countries. There is no example of any one that has died in it;
and you may believe I am very well satisfied of the safety of the
experiment, since I intend to try it on my dear little son.

I am patriot enough to take pains to bring this useful invention into
fashion in England; and I should not fail to write to some of our
doctors very particularly about it, if I knew any one of them that
I thought had virtue enough to destroy such a considerable branch
of their revenue for the good of mankind. But that distemper is too
beneficial to them not to expose to all their resentment the hardy
wight that should undertake to put an end to it. Perhaps, if I live
to return, I may, however, have courage to war with them. Upon this
occasion admire the heroism in the heart of your friend.


_The Grand Signior a slave_

Adrianople, 1 _April_, o.s. 1717.

As I never can forget the smallest of your ladyship's commands, my
first business here has been to inquire after the stuffs you ordered
me to look for, without being able to find what you would like. The
difference of the dress here and at London is so great, the same sort
of things are not proper for _caftans_ and _manteaus_. However, I will
not give over my search, but renew it again at Constantinople, though
I have reason to believe there is nothing finer than what is to
be found here, being the present residence of the court. The Grand
Signior's eldest daughter was married some few days before I came; and
upon that occasion the Turkish ladies display all their magnificence.
The bride was conducted to her husband's house in very great
splendour. She is widow of the late Vizier, who was killed at
Peterwaradin, though that ought rather to be called a contract than a
marriage, not having ever lived with him: however, the greatest part
of his wealth is hers. He had the permission of visiting her in the
seraglio; and, being one of the handsomest men in the empire, had very
much engaged her affections.--When she saw this second husband, who is
at least fifty, she could not forbear bursting into tears. He is a man
of merit, and the declared favourite of the Sultan (which they call
_mosayp_); but that is not enough to make him pleasing in the eyes of
a girl of thirteen.

The government here is entirely in the hands of the army: and the
Grand Signior, with all his absolute power, as much a slave as any of
his subjects, and trembles at a janissary's frown. Here is, indeed,
a much greater appearance of subjection than among us: a minister of
state is not spoken to, but upon the knee; should a reflection on his
conduct be dropped in a coffee-house (for they have spies everywhere),
the house would be razed to the ground, and perhaps the whole company
put to the torture. No huzzaing mobs, senseless pamphlets, and tavern
disputes about politics:

A consequential ill that freedom draws;
A bad effect,--but from a noble cause.

None of our harmless calling names! but when a minister here
displeases the people, in three hours' time he is dragged even from
his master's arms. They cut off his hands, head, and feet, and throw
them before the palace gate, with all the respect in the world; while
that Sultan (to whom they all profess an unlimited adoration) sits
trembling in his apartment, and dare neither defend nor revenge his
favourite. This is the blessed condition of the most absolute monarch
upon earth, who owns no _law_ but his _will_. I cannot help wishing,
in the loyalty of my heart, that the parliament would send hither a
ship-load of your passive-obedient men, that they might see arbitrary
government in its clearest strongest light, where it is hard to judge
whether the prince, people, or ministers, are most miserable. I could
make many reflections on this subject; but I know, madam, your own
good sense has already furnished you with better than I am capable of.

I went yesterday with the French embassadors to see the Grand Signior
in his passage to the mosque. He was preceded by a numerous guard of
janissaries, with vast white feathers on their heads, _spahis_
and _bostangees_ (these are foot and horse guards), and the royal
gardeners, which are a very considerable body of men, dressed in
different habits of fine lively colours, that, at a distance,
they appeared like a parterre of tulips. After them the aga of the
janissaries, in a robe of purple velvet, lined with silver tissue,
his horse led by two slaves richly dressed. Next him the _Kyzlar-aga_
(your ladyship knows this is the chief guardian of the seraglio
ladies) in a deep yellow cloth (which suited very well to his black
face) lined with sables, and last his Sublimity himself, in green
lined with the fur of a black Muscovite fox, which is supposed worth
a thousand pounds sterling, mounted on a fine horse, with furniture
embroidered with jewels. Six more horses richly furnished were led
after him; and two of his principal courtiers bore, one his gold, and
the other his silver coffee-pot, on a staff; another carried a silver
stool on his head for him to sit on.

It would be too tedious to tell your ladyship the various dresses
and turbans by which their rank is distinguished; but they were
all extremely rich and gay, to the number of some thousands; that,
perhaps, there cannot be seen a more beautiful procession. The Sultan
appeared to us a handsome man of about forty, with a very graceful
air, but something severe in his countenance, his eyes very full and
black. He happened to stop under the window where we stood, and (I
suppose being told who we were) looked upon us very attentively,
that we had full leisure to consider him, and the French embassadress
agreed with me as to his good mien: I see that lady very often; she is
young, and her conversation would be a great relief to me, if I could
persuade her to live without those forms and ceremonies that make
life formal and tiresome. But she is so delighted with her guards, her
four-and-twenty footmen, gentlemen ushers, etc., that she would rather
die than make me a visit without them: not to reckon a coachful of
attending damsels yclep'd maids of honour. What vexes me is, that as
long as she will visit with a troublesome equipage, I am obliged to do
the same: however, our mutual interest makes us much together.

I went with her the other day all round the town, in an open gilt
chariot, with our joint train of attendants, preceded by our guards,
who might have summoned the people to see what they had never seen,
nor ever would see again--two young Christian embassadresses never yet
having been in this country at the same time, nor I believe ever will
again. Your ladyship may easily imagine that we drew a vast crowd
of spectators, but all silent as death. If any of them had taken the
liberties of our mob upon any strange sight, our janissaries had made
no scruple of falling on them with their scimitars, without danger for
so doing, being above law.

Yet these people have some good qualities; they are very zealous and
faithful where they serve, and look upon it as their business to fight
for you upon all occasions. Of this I had a very pleasant instance in
a village on this side Philipopolis, where we were met by our domestic
guard. I happened to bespeak pigeons for my supper, upon which one of
my janissaries went immediately to the Cadi (the chief civil officer
of the town), and ordered him to send in some dozens. The poor man
answered that he had already sent about, but could get none. My
janissary, in the height of his zeal for my service, immediately
locked him up prisoner in his room, telling him he deserved death for
his impudence, in offering to excuse his not obeying my command; but,
out of respect to me, he would not punish him but by my order, and
accordingly, came very gravely to me, to ask what should be done to
him; adding, by way of compliment, that if I pleased he would bring me
his head. This may give you some idea of the unlimited power of these
fellows, who are all sworn brothers, and bound to revenge the injuries
done to one another, whether at Cairo, Aleppo, or any part of the
world; and this inviolable league makes them so powerful, that the
greatest man at court never speaks to them but in a flattering
tone; and in Asia, any man that is rich is forced to enrol himself a
janissary, to secure his estate.

But I have already said enough; and I dare swear, dear madam, that, by
this time, 'tis a very comfortable reflection to you that there is no
possibility of your receiving such a tedious letter but once in
six months; 'tis that consideration has given me the assurance to
entertain you so long, and will, I hope, plead the excuse of, dear
madam, &c.


_The Grand Vizier's lady_

Adrianople, 18 _April_, O.S. [1717].

I wrote to you, dear sister, and to all my other English
correspondents, by the last ship, and only Heaven can tell when I
shall have another opportunity of sending to you; but I cannot forbear
writing, though perhaps my letter may lie upon my hands this two
months. To confess the truth, my head is so full of my entertainment
yesterday, that 'tis absolutely necessary for my own repose to give it
some vent. Without farther preface, I will then begin my story. I was
invited to dine with the Grand Vizier's lady, and it was with a great
deal of pleasure I prepared myself for an entertainment which was
never given before to any Christian. I thought I should very little
satisfy her curiosity (which I did not doubt was a considerable
motive to the invitation) by going in a dress she was used to see, and
therefore dressed myself in the court habit of Vienna, which is much
more magnificent than ours. However, I chose to go _incognita_, to
avoid any disputes about ceremony, and went in a Turkish coach, only
attended by my woman that held up my train, and the Greek lady who was
my interpretress. I was met at the court door by her black eunuch,
who helped me out of the coach with great respect, and conducted me
through several rooms, where her she-slaves, finely dressed, were
ranged on each side. In the innermost I found the lady sitting on her
sofa, in a sable vest. She advanced to meet me, and presented me half
a dozen of her friends with great civility. She seemed a very good
woman, near fifty years old. I was surprised to observe so little
magnificence in her house, the furniture being all very moderate; and
except the habits and number of her slaves, nothing about her that
appeared expensive. She guessed at my thoughts, and told me that
she was no longer of an age to spend either her time or money in
superfluities; that her whole expense was in charity, and her whole
employment praying to God. There was no affectation in this speech;
both she and her husband are entirely given up to devotion. He never
looks upon any other woman; and, what is much more extraordinary,
touches no bribes, notwithstanding the example of all his
predecessors. He is so scrupulous on this point, he would not accept
Mr. Wortley's present, till he had been assured over and over that
it was a settled perquisite of his place at the entrance of every

She entertained me with all kind of civility till dinner came in,
which was served, one dish at a time, to a vast number, all finely
dressed after their manner, which I do not think so bad as you have
perhaps heard it represented. I am a very good judge of their eating,
having lived three weeks in the house of an _effendi_ at Belgrade, who
gave us very magnificent dinners, dressed by his own cooks, which the
first week pleased me extremely; but I own I then began to grow weary
of it, and desired our own cook might add a dish or two after our
manner. But I attribute this to custom. I am very much inclined to
believe an Indian, that had never tasted of either, would prefer their
cookery to ours. Their sauces are very high, all the roast very much
done. They use a great deal of rich spice. The soup is served for the
last dish; and they have at least as great variety of ragouts as we
have. I was very sorry I could not eat of as many as the good lady
would have had me, who was very earnest in serving me of everything.
The treat concluded with coffee and perfumes, which is a high mark
of respect; two slaves kneeling censed my hair, clothes, and
handkerchief. After this ceremony, she commanded her slaves to play
and dance, which they did with their guitars in their hands; and
she excused to me their want of skill, saying she took no care to
accomplish them in that art.

I returned her thanks, and soon after took my leave. I was conducted
back in the same manner I entered; and would have gone straight to my
own house; but the Greek lady with me earnestly solicited me to visit
the _Kiyaya's_ lady, saying, he was the second officer in the empire,
and ought indeed to be looked upon as the first, the Grand Vizier
having only the name, while he exercised the authority. I had found so
little diversion in this harem, that I had no mind to go into another.
But her importunity prevailed with me, and I am extreme glad that I
was so complaisant.

All things here were with quite another air than at the Grand
Vizier's; and the very house confessed the difference between an old
devotee and a young beauty. It was nicely clean and magnificent. I
was met at the door by two black eunuchs, who led me through a long
gallery between two ranks of beautiful young girls, with their hair
finely plaited, almost hanging to their feet, all dressed in fine
light damasks, brocaded with silver. I was sorry that decency did not
permit me to stop to consider them nearer. But that thought was lost
upon my entrance into a large room, or rather pavilion, built round
with gilded sashes, which were most of them thrown up, and the trees
planted near them gave an agreeable shade, which hindered the sun from
being troublesome. The jessamines and honeysuckles that twisted round
their trunks, shedding a soft perfume, increased by a white marble
fountain playing sweet water in the lower part of the room, which fell
into three or four basins with a pleasing sound. The roof was painted
with all sort of flowers, falling out of gilded baskets, that seemed
tumbling down. On a sofa, raised three steps, and covered with fine
Persian carpets, sat the _Kiyaya's_ lady, leaning on cushions of white
satin, embroidered; and at her feet sat two young girls, the eldest
about twelve years old, lovely as angels, dressed perfectly rich, and
almost covered with jewels. But they were hardly seen near the fair
Fatima (for that is her name), so much her beauty effaced every thing
I have seen, all that has been called lovely either in England
or Germany, and must own that I never saw any thing so gloriously
beautiful, nor can I recollect a face that would have been taken
notice of near hers. She stood up to receive me, saluting me after
their fashion, putting her hand upon her heart with a sweetness
full of majesty, that no court breeding could ever give. She ordered
cushions to be given to me, and took care to place me in the corner,
which is the place of honour. I confess, though the Greek lady had
before given me a great opinion of her beauty, I was so struck with
admiration, that I could not for some time speak to her, being wholly
taken up in gazing. That surprising harmony of features! that charming
result of the whole! that exact proportion of body! that lovely bloom
of complexion unsullied by art! the unutterable enchantment of her
smile!--But her eyes!--large and black, with all the soft languishment
of the blue! every turn of her face discovering some new charm.

After my first surprise was over, I endeavoured, by nicely examining
her face, to find out some imperfection, without any fruit of my
search, but being clearly convinced of the error of that vulgar
notion, that a face perfectly regular would not be agreeable: nature
having done for her with more success, what Apelles is said to have
essayed, by a collection of the most exact features, to form a perfect
face, and to that, a behaviour, so full of grace and sweetness, such
easy motions, with an air so majestic, yet free from stiffness or
affectation, that I am persuaded, could she be suddenly transported
upon the most polite throne of Europe, nobody would think her other
than born and bred to be a queen, though educated in a country we call
barbarous. To say all in a word, our most celebrated English beauties
would vanish near her.

She was dressed in a _caftan_ of gold brocade, flowered with silver,
very well fitted to her shape, and shewing to advantage the beauty
of her bosom, only shaded by the thin guaze of her shift. Her
drawers were pale pink, green and silver, her slippers white, finely
embroidered; her lovely arms adorned with bracelets of diamonds, and
her broad girdle set round with diamonds; upon her head a rich Turkish
handkerchief of pink and silver, her own fine black hair hanging a
great length in various tresses, and on one side of her head some
bodkins of jewels. I am afraid you will accuse me of extravagance
in this description. I think I have read somewhere that women always
speak in rapture when they speak of beauty, but I cannot imagine why
they should not be allowed to do so. I rather think it virtue to be
able to admire without any mixture of desire or envy. The gravest
writers have spoken with great warmth of some celebrated pictures
and statues. The workmanship of Heaven certainly excels all our weak
imitations, and, I think, has a much better claim to our praise. For
me, I am not ashamed to own I took more pleasure in looking on the
beauteous Fatima, than the finest piece of sculpture could have given

She told me the two girls at her feet were her daughters, though she
appeared too young to be their mother. Her fair maids were ranged
below the sofa, to the number of twenty, and put me in mind of the
pictures of the ancient nymphs. I did not think all nature could have
furnished such a scene of beauty. She made them a sign to play and
dance. Four of them immediately began to play some soft airs on
instruments between a lute and a guitar, which they accompanied
with their voices, while the others danced by turns. This dance
was very different from what I had seen before. Nothing could
be more artful.... The tunes so soft!--the motions so
languishing!--accompanied with pauses and dying eyes! half-falling
back, and then recovering themselves in so artful a manner.... I
suppose you may have read that the Turks have no music but what is
shocking to the ears; but this account is from those who never heard
any, but what is played in the streets, and is just as reasonable as
if a foreigner should take his ideas of the English music from the
bladder and string, and marrowbone and cleavers. I can assure you that
the music is extremely pathetic; 'tis true I am inclined to prefer the
Italian, but perhaps I am partial. I am acquainted with a Greek lady
who sings better than Mrs. Robinson, and is very well skilled in both,
who gives the preference to the Turkish. 'Tis certain they have very
fine natural voices; these were very agreeable. When the dance was
over, four fair slaves came into the room with silver censers in their
hands, and perfumed the room with amber, aloes-wood, and other scents.
After this they served me coffee upon their knees in the finest japan
china, with _soucoupes_ of silver, gilt. The lovely Fatima entertained
me all this while in the most polite agreeable manner, calling me
often _Guzel sultanum_, or the beautiful sultana, and desiring my
friendship with the best grace in the world, lamenting that she could
not entertain me in my own language.

When I took my leave, two maids brought in a fine silver basket of
embroidered handkerchiefs; she begged I would wear the richest for her
sake, and gave the others to my woman and interpretress. I returned
through the same ceremonies as before, and could not help fancying I
had been some time in Mahomet's paradise, so much I was charmed with
what I had seen. I know not how the relation of it appears to you.
I wish it may give you part of my pleasure; for I would have my dear
sister share in all the diversions of, &c.


_Her grand-daughter's education_

28 _Jan_. N.S. [1753].

Dear child,

You have given me a great deal of satisfaction by your account of
your eldest daughter. I am particularly pleased to hear she is a good
arithmetician; it is the best proof of understanding: the knowledge of
numbers is one of the chief distinctions between us and the brutes.
If there is anything in blood, you may reasonably expect your children
should be endowed with an uncommon share of good sense. Mr. Wortley's
family and mine have both produced some of the greatest men that have
been born in England: I mean Admiral Sandwich, and my grandfather,
who was distinguished by the name of Wise William. I have heard Lord
Bute's father mentioned as an extraordinary genius, though he had not
many opportunities of showing it; and his uncle, the present Duke of
Argyll, has one of the best heads I ever knew. I will therefore
speak to you as supposing Lady Mary not only capable, but desirous
of learning: in that case by all means let her be indulged in it. You
will tell me I did not make it a part of your education: your prospect
was very different from hers. As you had no defect either in mind
or person to hinder, and much in your circumstances to attract the
highest offers, it seemed your business to learn how to live in the
world, as it is hers to know how to be easy out of it. It is the
common error of builders and parents to follow some plan they think
beautiful (and perhaps is so), without considering that nothing is
beautiful that is displaced. Hence we see so many edifices raised that
the raisers can never inhabit, being too large for their fortunes.
Vistas are laid open over barren heaths, and apartments contrived
for a coolness very agreeable in Italy, but killing in the north of
Britain: thus every woman endeavours to breed her daughter a fine
lady, qualifying her for a station in which she will never appear, and
at the same time incapacitating her for that retirement to which she
is destined. Learning, if she has a real taste for it, will not only
make her contented, but happy in it. No entertainment is so cheap as
reading, nor any pleasure so lasting. She will not want new fashions,
nor regret the loss of expensive diversions, or variety of company,
if she can be amused with an author in her closet. To render this
amusement extensive, she should be permitted to learn the languages.
I have heard it lamented that boys lose so many years in mere learning
of words: this is no objection to a girl, whose time is not so
precious: she cannot advance herself in any profession, and has
therefore more hours to spare; and as you say her memory is good, she
will be very agreeably employed this way. There are two cautions to
be given on this subject: first, not to think herself learned when
she can read Latin, or even Greek. Languages are more properly to be
called vehicles of learning than learning itself, as may be observed
in many schoolmasters, who, though perhaps critics in grammar, are the
most ignorant fellows upon earth. True knowledge consists in knowing
things, not words. I would wish her no further a linguist than to
enable her to read books in their originals, that are often corrupted,
and always injured, by translations. Two hours' application every
morning will bring this about much sooner than you can imagine, and
she will have leisure enough besides to run over the English poetry,
which is a more important part of a woman's education than it is
generally supposed. Many a young damsel has been ruined by a fine copy
of verses, which she would have laughed at if she had known it had
been stolen from Mr. Waller. I remember, when I was a girl, I saved
one of my companions from destruction, who communicated to me an
epistle she was quite charmed with. As she had a natural good taste,
she observed the lines were not so smooth as Prior's or Pope's, but
had more thought and spirit than any of theirs. She was wonderfully
delighted with such a demonstration of her lover's sense and passion,
and not a little pleased with her own charms, that had force enough
to inspire such elegancies. In the midst of this triumph I showed
her that they were taken from Randolph's poems, and the unfortunate
transcriber was dismissed with the scorn he deserved. To say truth,
the poor plagiary was very unlucky to fall into my hands; that
author being no longer in fashion, would have escaped any one of less
universal reading than myself. You should encourage your daughter to
talk over with you what she reads; and, as you are very capable of
distinguishing, take care she does not mistake pert folly for wit
and humour, or rhyme for poetry, which are the common errors of young
people, and have a train of ill consequences. The second caution to
be given her (and which is most absolutely necessary) is to conceal
whatever learning she attains, with as much solicitude as she would
hide crookedness or lameness; the parade of it can only serve to draw
on her the envy, and consequently the most inveterate hatred, of all
he and she fools, which will certainly be at least three parts in four
of all her acquaintance. The use of knowledge in our sex, besides the
amusement of solitude, is to moderate the passions, and learn to be
contented with a small expense, which are the certain effects of a
studious life; and it may be preferable even to that fame which men
have engrossed to themselves, and will not suffer us to share.
You will tell me I have not observed this rule myself; but you
are mistaken: it is only inevitable accident that has given me any
reputation that way. I have always carefully avoided it, and ever
thought it a misfortune. The explanation of this paragraph would
occasion a long digression, which I will not trouble you with, it
being my present design only to say what I think useful for the
instruction of my granddaughter, which I have much at heart. If she
has the same inclination (I should say passion) for learning that I
was born with, history, geography, and philosophy will furnish her
with materials to pass away cheerfully a longer life than is allotted
to mortals. I believe there are few heads capable of making Sir I.
Newton's calculations, but the result of them is not difficult to be
understood by a moderate capacity. Do not fear this should make her
affect the character of Lady----, or Lady----, or Mrs.----: those
women are ridiculous, not because they have learning, but because they
have it not. One thinks herself a complete historian, after reading
Echard's Roman History; another a profound philosopher, having got
by heart some of Pope's unintelligible essays; and a third an able
divine, on the strength of Whitefield's sermons: thus you hear them
screaming politics and controversy.

It is a saying of Thucydides, ignorance is bold, and knowledge
reserved. Indeed, it is impossible to be far advanced in it without
being more humbled by a conviction of human ignorance than elated by
learning. At the same time I recommend books, I neither exclude work
nor drawing. I think it as scandalous for a woman not to know how to
use a needle, as for a man not to know how to use a sword. I was once
extremely fond of my pencil, and it was a great mortification to
me when my father turned off my master, having made a considerable
progress for a short time I learnt. My over-eagerness in the pursuit
of it had brought a weakness on my eyes, that made it necessary to
leave it off; and all the advantage I got was the improvement of my
hand. I see, by hers, that practice will make her a ready writer:
she may attain it by serving you for a secretary, when your health or
affairs make it troublesome to you to write yourself; and custom will
make it an agreeable amusement to her. She cannot have too many for
that station of life which will probably be her fate. The ultimate end
of your education was to make you a good wife (and I have the comfort
to hear that you are one): hers ought to be, to make her happy in
a virgin state. I will not say it is happier; but it is undoubtedly
safer than any marriage. In a lottery, where there are (at the lowest
computation) ten thousand blanks to a prize, it is the most prudent
choice not to venture. I have always been so thoroughly persuaded of
this truth, that, notwithstanding the flattering views I had for you
(as I never intended you a sacrifice to my vanity), I thought I owed
you the justice to lay before you all the hazards attending matrimony:
you may recollect I did so in the strongest manner. Perhaps you may
have more success in the instructing your daughter: she has so much
company at home, she will not need seeking it abroad, and will more
readily take the notions you think fit to give her. As you were alone
in my family, it would have been thought a great cruelty to suffer
you no companions of your own age, especially having so many near
relations, and I do not wonder their opinions influenced yours. I was
not sorry to see you not determined on a single life, knowing it was
not your father's intention, and contented myself with endeavouring to
make your home so easy that you might not be in haste to leave it.

I am afraid you will think this a very long and insignificant letter.
I hope the kindness of the design will excuse it, being willing to
give you every proof in my power that I am,

Your most affectionate mother.


_Fielding and other authors_

Lovere, 22 _Sept_. [1755].


I received, two days ago, the box of books you were so kind to
send; but I can scarce say whether my pleasure or disappointment was
greatest. I was much pleased to see before me a fund of amusement, but
heartily vexed to find your letter consisting only of three lines
and a half. Why will you not employ Lady Mary as secretary, if it is
troublesome to you to write? I have told you over and over, you may at
the same time oblige your mother and improve your daughter, both
which I should think very agreeable to yourself. You can never want
something to say. The history of your nursery, if you had no other
subject to write on, would be very acceptable to me. I am such a
stranger to everything in England, I should be glad to hear more
particulars relating to the families I am acquainted with: if
Miss Liddel marries the Lord Euston I knew, or his nephew, who has
succeeded him; if Lord Berkeley has left children; and several trifles
of that sort, that would be a satisfaction to my curiosity. I am
sorry for H. Fielding's death, not only as I shall read no more of his
writings, but I believe he lost more than others, as no man enjoyed
life more than he did, though few had less reason to do so, the
highest of his preferment being raking in the lowest sinks of vice and
misery. I should think it a nobler and less nauseous employment to
be one of the staff officers that conduct the nocturnal weddings.
His happy constitution (even when he had, with great pains, half
demolished it) made him forget everything when he was before a venison
pasty, or over a flask of champagne; and I am persuaded he has known
more happy moments than any prince upon earth. His natural spirits
gave him rapture with his cook-maid, and cheerfulness when he was
starving in a garret. There was a great similitude between his
character and that of Sir Richard Steele. He had the advantage both
in learning, and, in my opinion, genius: they both agreed in wanting
money in spite of all their friends, and would have wanted it, if
their hereditary lands had been as extensive as their imagination;
yet each one of them so formed for happiness, it is a pity he was not
immortal.... This Richardson is a strange fellow. I heartily
despise him, and eagerly read him, nay, sob over his works in a most
scandalous manner. The first two tomes of _Clarissa_ touched me, as
being very resembling to my maiden days; and I find in the pictures of
Sir Thomas Grandison and his lady, what I have heard of my mother, and
seen of my father....





Dublin Castle, 29 _Nov_. 1745.


I have received your last Saturday's performance, with which I am very
well satisfied. I know or have heard of no Mr. St. Maurice here; and
young Pain, whom I have made an ensign, was here upon the spot, as
were every one of those I have named in these new levies.

Now that the Christmas breaking-up draws near, I have ordered Mr.
Desnoyers to go to you, during that time, to teach you to dance. I
desire that you will particularly attend to the graceful motion of
your arms; which with the manner of putting on your hat, and giving
your hand, is all that a gentleman need attend to. Dancing is
in itself a very trifling, silly thing; but it is one of those
established follies to which people of sense are sometimes obliged
to conform; and then they should be able to do it well. And though I
would not have you a dancer, yet when you do dance, I would have you
dance well; as I would have you do everything you do, well. There is
no one thing so trifling, but which (if it is to be done at all) ought
to be done well; and I have often told you that I wish you even
played at pitch, and cricket, better than any boy at Westminster. For
instance, dress is a very foolish thing; and yet it is a very foolish
thing for a man not to be well dressed, according to his rank and
way of life; and it is so far from being a disparagement to any man's
understanding, that it is rather a proof of it, to be as well dressed
as those whom he lives with: the difference in this case between a man
of sense and a fop is, that the fop values himself upon his dress; and
the man of sense laughs at it, at the same time that he knows he must
not neglect it. There are a thousand foolish customs of this kind,
which not being criminal, must be complied with, and even cheerfully,
by men of sense. Diogenes the cynic was a wise man for despising them;
but a fool for showing it. Be wiser than other people if you can; but
do not tell them so.

It is a very fortunate thing for Sir Charles Hotham, to have fallen
into the hands of one of your age, experience, and knowledge of the
world: I am persuaded you will take infinite care of him. Goodnight.


_A good enunciation_

London, 21 _June_, O.S. 1748.


Your very bad enunciation runs so much in my head, and gives me such
real concern, that it will be the object of this, and I believe of
many more letters. I congratulate both you and myself that I was
informed of it (as I hope) in time to prevent it; and shall ever think
myself, as hereafter you will, I am sure, think yourself, infinitely
obliged to Sir Charles Williams, for informing me of it. Good God!
if this ungraceful and disagreeable manner of speaking had, either
by your negligence or mine, become habitual to you, as in a couple of
years more it would have been, what a figure would you have made in
company, or in a public assembly! Who would have liked you in the one,
or have attended to you in the other? Read what Cicero and Quintilian
say of enunciation, and see what a stress they lay on the gracefulness
of it; nay, Cicero goes farther, and even maintains that a good figure
is necessary for an orator, and particularly that he must not be
_vastus_; that is, overgrown and clumsy. He shows by it that he
knew mankind well, and knew the powers of an agreeable figure and a
graceful manner. Men, as well as women, are much oftener led by their
hearts, than by their understandings. The way to the heart is through
the senses; please their eyes and their ears, and the work is half
done. I have frequently known a man's fortune decided for ever by his
first address. If it is pleasing, people are hurried involuntarily
into persuasion that he has a merit, which possibly he has not; as, on
the other hand, if it is ungraceful, they are immediately prejudiced
against him, and unwilling to allow him the merit which it may be
he has. Nor is this sentiment so unjust and unreasonable as at first
sight it may seem; for if a man has parts, he must know of what
infinite consequence it is to him to have a graceful manner of
speaking, and a genteel and pleasing address: he will cultivate and
improve them to the utmost. Your figure is a good one; you have no
natural defects in the organs of speech; your address may be engaging,
and your manner of speaking graceful, if you will; so that, if they
are not so, neither I nor the world can ascribe it to anything but
your want of parts. What is the constant and just observation as to
all the actors upon the stage? Is it not, that those who have the best
sense always speak the best, though they may not happen to have the
best voices? They will speak plainly, distinctly, and with the proper
emphasis, be their voices ever so bad. Had Roscius spoken quick,
thick, and ungracefully, I will answer for it, that Cicero would not
have thought him worth the oration which he made in his favour. Words
were given us to communicate our ideas by, and there must be something
inconceivably absurd in uttering them in such a manner, as that either
people cannot understand them, or will not desire to understand them.
I tell you truly and sincerely, that I shall judge of your parts by
your speaking gracefully or ungracefully. If you have parts, you will
never be at rest till you have brought yourself to a habit of speaking
most gracefully: for I aver, that it is in your power. You will desire
Mr. Harte, that you may read aloud to him every day, and that he will
interrupt and correct you every time that you read too fast, do not
observe the proper stops, or lay a wrong emphasis. You will take care
to open your teeth when you speak; to articulate very distinctly; and
to beg of Mr. Harte, Mr. Eliot, or whomever you speak to, to remind
and stop you, if ever you fall into the rapid and unintelligible
mutter. You will even read aloud to yourself, and tune your utterance
to your own ear, and read at first much slower than you need to do,
in order to correct yourself of that shameful trick of speaking faster
than you ought. In short, if you think right, you will make it your
business, your study, and your pleasure to speak well. Therefore, what
I have said in this and in my last, is more than sufficient, if you
have sense; and ten times more would not be sufficient if you have
not: so here I rest it.


_Keeping accounts_

London, 10 _Jan._ O.S. 1749.


I have received your letter of the 31st December, N.S. Your thanks for
my present, as you call it, exceed the value of the present; but the
use which you assure me that you will make of it, is the thanks which
I desire to receive. Due attention to the inside of books, and due
contempt for the outside, is the proper relation between a man of
sense and his books.

Now that you are going a little more into the world, I will take this
occasion to explain my intentions as to your future expenses, that
you may know what you have to expect from me, and make your plan
accordingly. I shall neither deny nor grudge you any money that may
be necessary for either your improvement or pleasures; I mean the
pleasures of a rational being. Under the head of improvement I mean
the best books, and the best masters, cost what they will; I also
mean all the expense of lodgings, coach, dress, servants, &c.,
which, according to the several places where you may be, shall be
respectively necessary to enable you to keep the best company. Under
the head of rational pleasures I comprehend, first, proper charities
to real and compassionate objects of it; secondly, proper presents to
those to whom you are obliged, or whom you desire to oblige; thirdly,
a conformity of expense to that of the company which you keep; as in
public spectacles, your share of little entertainments, a few pistoles
at games of mere commerce, and other incidental calls of good company.
The only two articles which I will never supply are, the profusion of
low riot, and the idle lavishness of negligence and laziness. A fool
squanders away, without credit or advantage to himself, more than a
man of sense spends with both. The latter employs his money as he does
his time, and never spends a shilling of the one, nor a minute of the
other, but in something that is either useful or rationally pleasing
to himself or others. The former buys whatever he does not want, and
does not pay for what he does want. He cannot withstand the charms
of a toy-shop; snuff-boxes, watches, heads of canes, etc., are
his destruction. His servants and tradesmen conspire with his own
indolence to cheat him, and in a very little time he is astonished, in
the midst of all the ridiculous superfluities, to find himself in want
of all the real comforts and necessaries of life. Without care and
method the largest fortune will not, and with them almost the smallest
will, supply all necessary expenses. As far as you can possibly, pay
ready money for everything you buy, and avoid bills. Pay that money
too yourself, and not through the hands of any servant, who always
either stipulates poundage, or requires a present for his good word,
as they call it. Where you must have bills, (as for meat and drink,
clothes, etc.) pay them regularly every month, and with your own hand.
Never, from a mistaken economy, buy a thing you do not want, because
it is cheap; or from a silly pride, because it is dear. Keep an
account in a book, of all that you receive, and of all that you pay;
for no man, who knows what he receives and what he pays, ever runs
out. I do not mean that you should keep an account of the shillings
and half-crowns which you may spend in chair-hire, operas, etc. They
are unworthy of the time, and of the ink that they would consume;
leave such _minutiae_ to dull, penny-wise fellows; but remember in
economy, as well as in every other part of life, to have the proper
attention to proper objects, and the proper contempt for little ones.
A strong mind sees things in their true proportion; a weak one views
them through a magnifying medium, which, like the microscope, makes an
elephant of a flea; magnifies all little objects, but cannot receive
great ones. I have known many a man pass for a miser, by saving a
penny, and wrangling for two-pence, who was undoing himself at the
same time, by living above his income, and not attending to essential
articles, which were above his _portee_. The sure characteristic of a
sound and strong mind is, to find in everything those certain bounds,
_quos ultra citrave nequit consistere rectum_. These boundaries are
marked out by a very fine line, which only good sense and attention
can discover; it is much too fine for vulgar eyes. In manners, this
line is good-breeding; beyond it, is troublesome ceremony; short of
it, is unbecoming negligence and inattention. In morals, it divides
ostentatious puritanism from criminal relaxation; in religion,
superstition from impiety; and, in short, every virtue from its
kindred vice or weakness. I think you have sense enough to discover
the line; keep it always in your eye, and learn to walk upon it; rest
upon Mr. Harte, and he will poise you, till you are able to go alone.
By the way, there are fewer people who walk well upon that line, than
upon the slack-rope; and, therefore, a good performer shines so much
the more....

Remember to take the best dancing-master at Berlin, more to teach you
to sit, stand, and walk gracefully, than to dance finely. The graces,
the graces; remember the graces! Adieu.


_A father's example_

London, 7 _Feb_. o.s. 1749.


You are now come to an age capable of reflection; and I hope you will
do, what however few people at your age do, exert it, for your own
sake, in the search of truth and sound knowledge. I will confess (for
I am not unwilling to discover my secrets to you) that it is not many
years since I have presumed to reflect for myself. Till sixteen or
seventeen I had no reflection, and for many years after that I made no
use of what I had. I adopted the notions of the books I read, or the
company I kept, without examining whether they were just or not; and I
rather chose to run the risk of easy error, than to take the time and
trouble of investigating truth. Thus, partly from laziness, partly
from dissipation, and partly from the _mauvaise honte_ of rejecting
fashionable notions, I was (as I since found) hurried away by
prejudices, instead of being guided by reason; and quietly cherished
error, instead of seeking for truth. But since I have taken the
trouble of reasoning for myself, and have had the courage to own that
I do so, you cannot imagine how much my notions of things are altered,
and in how different a light I now see them, from that in which I
formerly viewed them through the deceitful medium of prejudice or
authority. Nay, I may possibly still retain many errors, which, from
long habit, have perhaps grown into real opinions; for it is very
difficult to distinguish habits, early acquired and long entertained,
from the result of our reason and reflection.

My first prejudice (for I do not mention the prejudices of boys and
women, such as hobgoblins, ghosts, dreams, spilling salt, &c.) was my
classical enthusiasm, which I received from the books I read, and the
masters who explained them to me. I was convinced there had been no
common sense nor common honesty in the world for these last fifteen
hundred years; but that they were totally extinguished with the
ancient Greek and Roman governments. Homer and Virgil could have no
faults, because they were ancient; Milton and Tasso could have no
merit, because they were modern. And I could almost have said, with
regard to the ancients, what Cicero, very absurdly and unbecomingly
for a philosopher, says with regard to Plato, _Cum quo errare malim
quam cum aliis recte sentire_. Whereas now, without any extraordinary
effort of genius, I have discovered that nature was the same three
thousand years ago as it is at present; that men were but men then as
well as now; that modes and customs vary often, but that human nature
is always the same. And I can no more suppose, that men were better,
braver, or wiser, fifteen hundred or three thousand years ago, than I
can suppose that the animals or vegetables were better then than
they are now. I dare assert too, in defiance of the favourers of the
ancients, that Homer's hero Achilles was both a brute and a scoundrel,
and consequently an improper character for the hero of an epic poem;
he had so little regard for his country, that he would not act in
defence of it, because he had quarrelled with Agamemnon about a--; and
then afterwards, animated by private resentment only, he went about
killing people basely, I will call it, because he knew himself
invulnerable; and yet, invulnerable as he was, he wore the strongest
armour in the world; which I humbly apprehend to be a blunder; for a
horseshoe clapped to his vulnerable heel would have been sufficient.
On the other hand, with submission to the favourers of the moderns,
I assert with Mr. Dryden, that the Devil is in truth the hero of
Milton's poem: his plan, which he lays, pursues, and at last executes,
being the subject of the poem. From all which considerations I
impartially conclude that the ancients had their excellencies and
their defects, their virtues and their vices, just like the moderns:
pedantry and affectation of learning clearly decide in favour of
the former; vanity and ignorance, as peremptorily, in favour of the
latter. Religious prejudices kept pace with my classical ones; and
there was a time when I thought it impossible for the honestest man in
the world to be saved, out of the pale of the Church of England: not
considering that matters of opinion do not depend upon the will;
and that it is as natural, and as allowable, that another man should
differ in opinion from me, as that I should differ from him; and that,
if we are both sincere, we are both blameless, and should consequently
have mutual indulgences for each other.

The next prejudices I adopted were those of the _beau monde_, in
which, as I was determined to shine, I took what are commonly called
the genteel vices to be necessary. I had heard them reckoned so, and
without further inquiry, I believed it; or at least should have been
ashamed to have denied it, for fear of exposing myself to the ridicule
of those whom I considered as the models of fine gentlemen. But now I
am neither ashamed nor afraid to assert, that those genteel vices, as
they are falsely called, are only so many blemishes in the character
of even a man of the world, and what is called a fine gentleman, and
degrade him in the opinion of those very people, to whom he hopes to
recommend himself by them. Nay, this prejudice often extends so far,
that I have known people pretend to vices they had not, instead of
carefully concealing those they had.

Use and assert your own reason; reflect, examine, and analyze
everything, in order to form a sound and mature judgement; let no
[Greek: outos epha] impose upon your understanding, mislead your

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