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bours on the Iliad, and have left nothing behind me, I believe, which I shall wish to alter on any future occasion. In about a fortnight or three weeks I shall begin to do the same for the Odyssey, and hope to be able to perform it while the Iliad is in printing. Then Milton will demand all my attention, and when I shall find opportunity either to revise your
MSS. or to write a poem of my own, * which I have in contemplation, I can hardly say. Certainly not till both these tasks are accomplished.
I remain, dear Sir,
thanks for your kind present,
TO MRS. CHARLOTTE SMITH.
Weston, July 25, 1795. My dear Madam-Many reasons concurred to make me impatient for the arrival of your most acceptable present,t and among them was the fear lest you should perhaps suspect me of tardiness in acknowledging so great a favour; a fear, that, as often as it prevailed, distressed me exceedingly. At length I have received it, and
little bookseller assures me, that he sent it the very day he got it; by some mistake, however, the wagon brought it instead of the coach, which occasioned a delay that I could ill afford.
* The Four Ages.
+ The poem of the Emigrants, which was dedicated 10 Cowper.
It came this morning, about an hour ago; consequently I have not had time to peruse the poem, though you may be sure I have found enough for the perusal of the dedication. I have, in fact, given it three readings, and in each have found increasing pleasure.
I am a whimsical creature; when I write for the public, I write of course with a desire to please, in other words to acquire fame, and I labour accordingly: but when I find that I have succeeded, feel myself alarmed, and ready to shrink from the acquisition.
This I have felt more than once, and when I saw my name at the head of your Dedication, I felt it again; but the consummate delicacy of your praise soon convinced me that I might spare my blushes, and that the demand was less upon my modesty than my gratitude. Of that be assured, dear Madam. and of the truest esteem and respect of your most obliged and affectionate
P. S.—I should have been much grieved to have let slip this opportunity of thanking you for your charming sonnets, and my two most agreeable old friends Monimia and Orlando.”
* Mrs. Charlotte Smith is well known as an authoress, and particularly for her beautiful sonnets. She was formerly a great eulogist of the French Revolution, but the horrors which distinguished that political aera led to a change in her sentiments, which she publicly avowed in her “Banished Man.” There is a great plaintiveness of feeling in all formerly resident at Oxford, where she excited much interest by her talents and misfortunes.
TO THE REW. M.R. GREATHEED.
Weston, July 27, 1793.
I was not without some expectation of a line from you, my dear Sir, though you did not promise me one at your departure, and am happy not to have been disappointed; still happier to learn that you and Mrs. Greatheed are well, and so delightfully situated. Your kind offer to us of sharing with you the house which you at present inhabit, added to the short, but lively, description of the scenery that surrounds it, wants nothing to win our acceptance, should it please God to give Mrs. Unwin a little more strength, and should I ever be master of my time so as to be able to gratify myself with what would please me most. But many have claims upon us, and some who cannot absolutely be said to have any would yet complain and think themselves slighted, should we prefer rocks and caves to them. In short, we are called so many ways, that these numerous demands are likely to operate as a remora, and to keep us fixed at home. Here we can occasionally have the pleasure of yours and Mrs. Greatheed's company, and to have it here must I believe content us. Hayley in his last letter gives me reason to expect the pleasure of seeing him and his dear boy Tom, in the autumn. He will use all his eloquence to draw us to her writings, arising from the unfortunate incidents of her chequered life. We remember this lady, with her family,
Eartham again. My cousin Johnny, of Norfolk, holds me under promise to make my first trip thither, and the very same promise I have hastily made to visit Sir John and Lady Throckmorton, at Bucklands. How to reconcile such clashing prcmises, and give satisfaction to all, would puzzle me, had I nothing else to do; and therefore, as I say, the result will probably be, that we shall find ourselves obliged to go nowhere, since we cannot every where.
Wishing you both safe at home again, and to see you as soon as may be here,
TO WILLIAM HAYLEY, ESQ.
Weston, July 27, 1793. I have been vexed with myself, my dearest brother, and with every thing about me, not excepting even Homer himself, that I have been obliged so long to delay an answer to your last kind letter. If I listen any, longer to calls another way, I shall hardly be able to tell you how happy we are in the hope of seeing you in the autumn, before the autumn will have arrived. Thrice welcome will you and your dear boy be to us, and the longer you will afford us your company, the more welcome. I have
set up the head of Homer on a famous fine pedestal, and a very majestic appearance he makes. I am now puzzled about a motto, and wish you to decide for me between two, one of which I have composed myself, a Greek one as follows:
Εικονα τις ταυτην και κλυτον ανερος ουνoμ' ολωλεν.
Ουνομα δ' ουτος ανηρ αφθιτον αιν εχει. . The other is my own translation of a passage in the Odyssey, the original of which I have seen used as a motto to an engraved head of Homer many a time. The present edition of the lines stands thus,
Him partially the muse, And dearly loved, yet gave him good and ill : She quenched his sight, but gave him strains divine. Tell me, by the way, (if you ever had any speculations on the subject,) what is it you suppose Homer to have meant in particular, when he ascribed his blindness to the muse, for that he speaks of himself under the name of Demodocus in the eighth book, I believe is by all admitted. How could the old bard study himself blind, when books were either so few or none at all ? And did he write his poems? If neither were the cause, as seems reasonable to imagine, how could he incur his blindness by such means as could be justly imputable to the muse? Would mere thinking blind him ? I want to know :
“ Call up some spirit from the vasty deep!" I said to my Sam* “ Sam, build me a shed
* Samuel Roberts, his faithful servant.