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TO and FROM
Sir WILLIAM TRUMBULL.*
From 1705 to 1716.
Ost. 19, 1705. I Return you the Book you were pleas'd to send me, I and with it your obliging letter, which deserves my particular acknowledgment; for next to the pleafure of enjoying the company of so good a friend, the welcomest thing to me is to hear from him. I expected to find, what I have met with, an admirable genius in those Poems, not only because they were Milton's, tor were approved by Sir Hen.Wootton, but because you had commended them; and give me leave to tell you, that I know no body fo like to equal him, even at the age he wrote most of them, as your self. Only do not afford more cause of com
* Secretary of State to King William the Third.
+ L'Allegro Il Penserofo, Lycidas, and the Masque of Comus.
plaints against you, that you suffer nothing of yours to come abroad ; which in this age, wherein wit and true sense is more scarce than money, is a piece of such cruelty as your best friends can hardly pardon. I hope you will repent and amend; I could offer many reasons to this purpose, and such as you cannot answer with any sincerity; but that I dare not enlarge, for fear of ingaging in a stile of Compliment, which has been so abused by fools and knaves, that it is become almost scandalous. I conclude therefore with an assurance which shall never vary, of my being ever, &c.
L E I T E R
Sir William Trumbull to Mr. Pope.
April 9, 1708. I Have this moment receiv'd the favour of yours I of the 8th instant; and will make you a true ex. cuse, (tho' perhaps no very good one) that I deferr'd the troubling you with a letter, when I sent back your papers, in hopes of seeing you at Binfield before this time. If I had met with any fault in your performance, I should freely now (as I have done too prefumptuously in conversation with you) tell you my opinion; which I have frequently ventur'd to give you, rather in compliance with your desires than that I could think it reasonable. For I am not yet satisfied upon what grounds I can pretend to judge of poetry, who never have been practic'd in the art. There
may possibly be some happy genius's, who may judge of some of the natural beauties of a poem, as a man may of the proportions of a building, without having read Vitruvius, or knowing any thing of the rules of architecture: but this, tho' it may fometimes be in the right, must be subject to many mistakes, and is certainly but a superficial knowledge; without entring into the art, the methods, and the particular excellencies of the whole composure, in all the parts of it.
Besides my want of skill, I have another reason why I ought to suspect my self, by reason of the great affection I have for you ; which might give too much bias to be kind to every thing that comes from you. But after all, I must say (and I do it with an oldfashion'd fincerity) that I entirely approve of your translation of those pieces of Homer, both as to the versification and the true fenfe that thines thro' the whole: Nay I am confirmed in my former application to you, and give me leave to renew it upon this occasion, that you wou'd proceed in translating that incomparable Poet, to make him speak good English, to dress his admirable characters in your proper, fig. nificant, and expresfive conceptions, and to make his works as useful and instructive to this degenerate age, as he was to our friend Horace, when he read him at Praeneste : Qui, quid fit pulcbrum, quid turpe, quid utile, quid nont, &c. I break off with that quid non ? with which I confess I am charm’d.
Upon the whole matter I intreat you to send this presently to be added to the Miscellanies, and I hope it will come time enough for that purpose.
I have nothing to say of my Nephew B.'s observations, for he sent them to me so late, that I had not time to consider them; I dare fay he endeavour'd
very faithfully (tho' he told me very haftily) to execute your commands.
All I can add is, that if your excess of modely shou'd hinder you from publishing this Eflay, I shall only be sorry that I have no more credit with you, to persuade you to oblige the publick, and very particularly, dear Sir, Your, &c.
March 6, 1713. T Think a hasty scribble shows more what fows I from the heart, than a letter after Balzac's manner in studied phrases; therefore I will tell you as fast as I can, that I have receiv'd your favour of the 26th paft, with your kind present of The Rape of the Lock. You have given me the truest satisfaction imaginable, not only in making good the juft opinion I have ever had of your reach of thought, and my Idea of your comprehensive genius; but likewise in that pleasure I take as an English Man to see the French, even Boileau himself in his Lutrin, outdone in your poem: for you descend, leviore ple&tro, to all the nicer touches, that your own observation and wit furnilh, on such a subject as requires the fineft strokes and the liveliest imagination. But I must Say no more (tho' I could a great deal) on what pleases me so much: and henceforth I hope you will never condemn me of partiality, since I only swim with the stream, and approve what all men of good taite (notwithstanding the jarring of Parties) must and do M 2
universally applaud. I now come to what is of vast moment, I mean the preservation of your health, and beg of you earnestly to get out of all Tavern-company, and fly away tanquam ex incendio. What a mi. fery it is for you to be destroy'd by the foolish kind. ness ('tis all one whether real or pretended) of those who are able to bear the poison of bad wine, and to engage you in so unequal a combat? As to Homer, by all I can learn your business is done; therefore, come away and take a little time to breathe in the country. I beg now for my own sake, but much more for yours; methinks Mr. has said to you more than once,
Heu fuge, nate dea, teque bis; ait, eripe flammis !
: March 12, 1713: T Hough any thing you write is sure to be a plea
1 sure to me, yet I must own your last letter made me uneasy; you really use a style of compliment, which I expect as little as I deserve it. I know 'tis a common opinion that a young scribler is as ill pleas'd to hear truth as a young lady. From the moment one sets up for an author, one must be treated as ceremoniously, that is as unfaithfully,