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- Letters of Horace Walpole, V4 - 90/169 -


Letter 238 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Berkeley Square, Jan. 27, 1782. (page 302)

For these three weeks I have had the gout in my left elbow and hand, and can yet but just bear to lay the latter on the paper while I write with the other. However, this is no complaint, for it is the shortest fit I have had these sixteen years, and with trifling pain: therefore, as the fits decrease, it does ample honour to my bootikins regimen, and method. Next to my bootikins, I ascribe much credit to a diet-drink of dock-roots, of which Dr. Turton asked me for my receipt, as the best he had ever seen, and which I will send you if you please. It came from an old physician at Richmond, who did amazing service with it in inveterate scurvies,--the parents, or ancestors, at least, I believe, of all gouts. Your fit I hope is quite gone.

Mr. Gough has been with me. I never saw a more dry or more cold gentleman. He told me his new plan is a series of English monuments. I do like the idea, and offered to lend him drawings for it.

I have seen Mr. Steevens too, who is much more flowing. I wish you had told me it was the editor of Shakspeare, for, on his mentioning Dr. Farmer, I launched out and said, he was by much the most rational of Shakspeare's commentators, and had given the only sensible account of the authors our great poet had consulted. I really meant those -who Wrote before Dr. Farmer. Mr. Steevens seemed a little surprised, which made me discover the blunder I had made. For which I was very sorry, though I had meant nothing by it; however, do not mention it. I hope be has too much sense to take it ill, as he must have seen I had no intention of offending him; on the contrary, that my whole behaviour marked a desire of being civil to him as your friend, in which light only you had named him to me. Pray take no notice of it, though I could not help mentioning it, as it lies on my conscience to have been even undesignedly and indirectly unpolite to any body you recommend. I should not, I trust, have been so unintentionally to any body, nor with intention, unless provoked to it by great folly or dirtiness. Adieu!

Letter 239 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Berkeley Square, Feb. 14, 1782. (page 303)

I have received such treasures from you, dear Sir, through the channel of Mr. Nichols, that I neither know how to thank you, nor to find time to peruse them so fast as I am impatient to do. You must complete your kindness by letting me detain them a few days, till I have gone through them, when I will return them most carefully by the same intervention; and particularly the curious piece of enamel; for though you are, as usual, generous enough to offer it to me, I have plundered you too often already; and indeed I have room left for nothing more, nor have that miserly appetite of continuing to hoard what I cannot enjoy, nor have much time left to possess.

I have already looked into your beautiful illuminated manuscript copied from Dr: Stukeley's letter, and with Anecdotes of the Antiquaries of Bennet College; and I have found therein so many charming instances of your candour, humility, and justice, that I grieve to deprive Mr. Gough for a minute even of the possession of so valuable a tract. I will not Injure him or it, by begging you to cancel what relates to me, as it would rob you of part of your defence of Mr. Baker. If I wish to have it detained from Mr. Gough till the period affixed in the first leaf, or rather to my death, which will probably precede yours, it is for this reason only: Mr. Gough is apt, as we antiquaries are, to be impatient to tell the world all he knows, which is unluckily much more than the world is at all impatient of knowing. For what you call your flaming zeal, I do not in the least object to it. We have agreed to tolerate each other, and certainly are neither of us infallible. I think, on what we differ most is, your calling my opinions fashionable; they were when we took them up: I doubt it is yours that are most in fashion now, at least in this country. The Emperor seems to be of our party; but, if I like his notions, I do not admire his judgment, which is too precipitate to be judgment.

I smiled at Mr. Gough's idea of my declining his acquaintance as a member of that Obnoxious Society of Antiquaries. It is their folly alone that is obnoxious to me, and can they help that? I shall very cheerfully assist him.

I am glad you are undeserved about the controversial piece in the Gentleman's Magazine, which I should have assured You, as you now know, that it was not mine. I declared, in my Defence,(466) that I would publish nothing more about that question. I have not, nor intend it. Neither was it I that wrote the prologue to the Count of Narbonne, but Mr. Jephson himself. On the opposite page I will add the receipt for the diet-drink: as to my regimen, I shall not specify it. Not only you would not adopt it, but I should tremble to have you. In fact, I never do prescribe it, as I am persuaded it would kill the strongest man in England, who was not exactly of the same temperament with me, and who had not embraced it early. It consists in temperance to quantity as to eating--I do not mind the quality; I am persuaded that great abstinence with the gout is dangerous; for, if one does not take nutriment enough, there cannot be strength sufficient to fling out the gout, and then it deviates to palsies. But my great nostrum is the use of cold water, inwardly and outwardly, on all occasions, and total disregard of precaution against catching cold. A hat you know I never wear, my breast I never button, nor wear great-coats, etc. I have often had the gout in my face (as last week) and eyes, and instantly dip my head in a pail of cold water, which always cures it, and does not send it anywhere else. All this I do, because I have so for these forty years, weak as I look; but Milo would not have lived a week if he had played such pranks. My diet-drink is not all of so Quixote a disposition; any of the faculty will tell you how innocent it is, at least. In a few days, for I am a rapid reader when I like my matter, I will return all your papers and letters; and in the mean time thank you most sincerely for the use of them.

(466) Hannah More, in a letter to Mrs. Boscawen, says, "Many thanks for Mr. Walpole's sensible, temperate, and humane pamphlet. I am not quite a convert yet to his side in the Chatertonian controversy, though this elegant writer and all the antiquaries and critics are against me: I like much the candid regret he every where discovers at not having fostered this unfortunate lad, whose profligate manners, however, I too much fear, would not have done credit to any patronage. Mrs. Garrick read it, and was more interested than I have ever seen her."-E.

Letter 240 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. February 15, 1782. (page 304)

I was SO impatient to peruse all the literary stores you sent me, my dear Sir, that I stayed at home on purpose to give up a whole evening to them. I have gone through all; your own manuscript, which I envy Mr. Gough, his specimen, and the four letters to you from the latter and Mr. Steevens. I am glad they were both satisfied with my reception. In truth, you know I am neither formal nor austere, nor have any grave aversion to our antiquities, though I do now and then divert myself with their solemnity about arrant trifles; yet perhaps we owe much to their thinking those trifles of importance, or the Lord knows how they would have patience to investigate them so indefatigably. Mr. Steevens seemed pleasant, but I doubt I shall never be demure enough to conciliate Mr. Gough. Then I have a wicked quality in an antiquary, nay, one that annihilates the essence: that is, I cannot bring myself to a habit of minute accuracy about very indifferent points. I do not doubt but there is a swarm of diminutive inaccuracies in my Anecdotes--well! if there is, I bequeath free leave of correction to the microscopic intellects of my continuators. I took dates and facts from the sedulous and faithful Vertue,(467) and piqued myself on little but on giving an idea of the spirit of the times with regard to the arts at the different periods.

The specimen you present me of Mr. Gough's detail of our monuments is very differently treated, proves vast industry, and shows most circumstantial fidelity. It extends, too, much farther than I expected; for it seems to embrace the whole mass of our monuments, nay, of some that are vanished. It is not what I thought, an intention of representing our modes of dress, from figures on monuments, but rather a history of our tombs. It is fortunate, though he may not think so, that so many of the more ancient are destroyed, since for three or four centuries they were clumsy, rude, and ugly. I know I am but a fragment of an antiquary, for I abhor all Saxon doings, and whatever did not exhibit some taste, grace, or elegance, and some ability in the artists. Nay, if I may say so to you, I do not care a straw for archbishops, bishops, mitred abbots, and cross-legged knights. When you have one of a sort, you have seen all. However, to so superficial a student in antiquity as I am, Mr. Gough's work is not unentertaining. It has frequently anecdotes and circumstances of kings, queens, and historic personages, that interest me though I care not a straw about a series of bishops who had only Christian names, or were removed from one old church to a newer. Still I shall assist Mr. Gough with whatever he wants in my possession. I believe he is a very worthy man, and I should be a churl not to oblige any man who is so innocently employed. I have felt the selfish, the proud avarice of those who hoard literary curiosities for themselves alone, as other misers do money.

I observed in your account of the Count-Bishop Hervey, that you call one of his dedicators Martin Sherlock, Esquire.(468) That Mr. Sherlock is an Irish clergyman; I am acquainted with him. He is a very amiable good-natured man, and wants judgment, not parts. He is a little damaged by aiming at Sterne's capricious pertness which the original wore out; and which, having been admired and cried up to the skies by foreign writers of reviews, was, on the contrary, too severely treated by our own. That injustice shocked Mr. Sherlock, who has a good heart and much simplicity, and sent him in dudgeon last year to Ireland, determined to write no more; yet I am persuaded he will, so strong Is his propensity to being an author; and if he does, correction may make him more attentive to what he says and writes. He has no gall; on the contrary, too much benevolence in his indiscriminate praise; but he has made many ingenious criticisms. He is a just, a due enthusiast to Shakspeare: but, alas! he scarce likes Richardson less.


Letters of Horace Walpole, V4 - 90/169

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