« ZurückWeiter »
stationer beside, and the asor.esa.id devil behind.
Mr. Lintot began in this manner: •* Now, damn them! what if they «* should put it in the news-paper how ■* you and I went together to Oxford? "' what would I care? If I should go ** down into Sussex, they would say I ** was gone to the speaker: but what "of that? If my son were but big *' enough to go on with the business, by *« G—d I would keep as good company «« as old Jacob."
Hereupon I enquired of his son. ** The lad (fays he) has sine parts, But «« is somewhat sickly; much as you are "— I spare for nothing in his educa"tion at Westminster. Pray don't you «« think Westminster to be the best *' school in England? Most os the late "ministry came out of it, so did many *' of this ministry; I hope the boy will "make his fortune."
Don't you design to let him pass a year at Oxford? *' To what purpose? "(said he) the universities do but make «* pedants, and I intend to breed him ** a man of business."
As Mr. Lintot was talking, I observed he sat uneasy on his saddle,' for which I expressed some solicitude: Nothing, says he, I can bear it well enough; but since we have the day before us, methinks it would be Very pleasant for you to rest a-while under the woods. When we were alighted, "See, here, what a mighty pretty "kind of Horace I have in my pocket! ^ *« what if you amused yourself in turn"ing an ode, till we mount again? "Lord ! if you pleased, what a clever "miscellany might you make at your "leisure hours!" Perhaps I may, said I, if we ride on; the motion is an aid to my fancy; a round trot Very much awakens my spirits: then jog'on and I'll think as hard as I
Silence ensued for a full hour which Mr. Lintot lugg'd the
"translate a whole ode in half this "time. ' I'll Tay that for Oldfworth "(though I lost by his Timothy's) •' he translates an ode of Horace the "quickest of any man in England. I "remember Dr. King would write "verses in a tavern three hours after he "could not speak: and there's Sir *' Richard, in thatrumbling old chariot "of his, between Fleet-ditch and Sr. "Gile's pound, shall make you half a "job."
Pray, Mr. Lintot (said I) now you talk of translators, what is your method of managing them ?" Sir, (replied he) "those are the saddest pack of rogues in '* the world; in a hungry fit, they'll "swear they understand all the langua"ges in the universe: I have known "one of them take down a Greek book "upon my counter, and cry, Ay, "this is Hebrew, I must read it from "the latter end. By G—d, I Can "never be sure in these fellows; for I "neither understand Greek, Latin, "French, nor Italian, myself. But "this is my way; I agree with them *' for ten shillings per sheet, with a pro"viso, that I- will have their doings "corrected by whom I please: so by "one or other they are led at last to "the truesenseofan author; myjudg*' ment giving the negative to all tay "translators." But how are you secure those correctors may not impose upon you?" Why, I get any civil "gentleman (especially any Scotch"man) that comes into my shop,'' to "read the original to me in English; "by this I know whether my translator "be deficient, and whether my cor"rector merits his money Or not.
"I'll tell you what happened to me
"last month: I bargained with S
"for a new version of Lucretius,-to "publish against Tonson's; agreeing to "pay the author so many shillings at "his producing so many lines. He "made a great progress in a very short "time, and I gave it to the corrector «' to compare with the Latin; but he "went directly to Creech's transla"tion, and found it the fame, word for "word, all but the first p.ige. Now, "what d'ye think I did? I arrested the •* translator for a cheat; nay, and I
•' stopped ** stopped the corrector's pay too, upon •• this proof that he had made use of '« Creech instead of the original."
Pray tell me next how you deal with •the critics. "Sir (said he) nothing "more easy. I can silence the most for"midableof them: the rich ones with *' a sheet a-piece of the blotted manu"script, which costs me nothing; "they'll go about with it to their ac"quaintance, and fay they had it from "the author, who submitted to their "correction: this has given some of •' them such an air, that in time they "come to be consulted with, and dedi"cated' to, as the top critics of the •* town.—As for the poor critics, I'll *' give you one instance of my manage"ment, by which you may guess at the "rest. A lean man, that looked like "a very good scholar, came to me "t'other day ; he turned over your Ho*' mer, (hock his head, shrugged up his "shoulders, and piflied at every line of "it: One would wonder s,says he) "at the strange presumption of some "men; Hcmer is no such easy task, *' that every stripling, every versifier— "'He was going on, when my wife "called to dinner: Sir, said I, will "you please to eat a piece of beef with "me? Mr. Lintot (said he) I am "sorry you should be at the expence of "this great book; I am really con"cerned on your account—Sir, I am "much obliged to you : if you can dine "uppn a piece of beef, together with a ** slice of pudding—Mr, Lintot, I do "not fay but Mr. Pope, if he would "condescend to advise with men of "learning—Sir, the pudding is upon "the table,if you please to go in—My "critic complies, he comes to a taste of •' your poetry, and tells me, in the "fame breath, that your book is com•* mendable, and the pudding excel« lent.
«' Now, Sir, (concluded Mr. Lintot) "in return to the frankness I have "shewn, pray tell me, Is it the opinion "of your friends at court that my Lord "Lansdown will be brought to the "bar or not?" I told him, J heard he would not; and I hoped it, my lord being one I had particular obligations to. '« That may be (replied Mr,
"Lintot) ; but, by G—3,if he is Hot, "I shall lose the printing ot a very good "trial."
These, my lord, are a few traits by which you may discern the genius of Mr. Lintot; which I have chosen for the subject of a letter. I dropt him as soon as I got to Oxford, and paid a visit to my lord Carleton at Middleton.
The conversations I enjoy here are not to be prejudiced by my pen, and the pleasures from them only to be equalled when I meet your lordship. I hope ia a few days to cast myself from your horse, at your feet. Post,
§ 43. Description of a Country Seat.
To the Duke of Buckingham, In answer to a Letter in which he in. closed the description of Buckingham house, written by him to the D. of Si.
Pliny was one of those few authors who had a warm house over his head, nav, two houses; as appears by two of his epistles. I believe, if any of his contemporary authors durst have informed the public where they lodged, we should have found the, garrets of Rome as well inhabited as those of Fleet-street; but *tis dangerous to let creditors into such a secret; therefore we may presume that then, as well as now-a-days, nobody knew where they lived but their booksellers.
It seems, that when Virgil came to Rome, he had no lodging at all; he first introduced himself to Augustus by an epigram, beginning Node pluit tota—zn. observation which probably he had not made, unless he had lain all night in the street.
Where Juvenal lived, we cannot affirm; but in one of, his satires he complains of the excessive price of lodgings; neither do I believe he would have talked so feelingly of Codrus's bed, if there had been room for a bed. fellow in it.
I believe, with all the ostentation of Pliny, he would have been glad to have changed both his houses for your grace's one; which is a country-house in the summer, and a town-house in the winter, and must be owned to be the properest ^habitation for a wise man,
who who sees all the world change every season without ever changing himself.
I have been reading the description of Pliny's house, with an eye to yours; but finding they will bear no comparison, will try if it can be matched by the large country-seat I inhabit at present, and see what figure it may make by the help of a florid description.
Yon must expect nothing regular in my description, any more than in the bouse; the whole vast edifice is so disjointed, and the several parts of it so detached one from the other, and yet & joining again, one cannot tell how, that, in one of my poetical fits, I imagined it had been a village in Amphion's time; where the cottages, having taken a country dance together, had been all out, and stood stone-still with amazement ever since.
Yon must excuse me, if I say nothing of the front; indeed I don't know which it is. A stranger would be grievously disappointed, who endeavoured to get into the house the right way. One would reasonably expect, after the entry through the porch, to be let into the hall: alas, nothing less! you find yourself in the house of office. from the parlour you think to step into the drawing-room; but, upon opening the iron-nailed door, you are convinced, by a flight of birds about your ears, and a cloud of dust in your eyes, that it is the pigeon-house. If you come into the chapel, you find its altars, like those of the ancients, continually smoaking; but it is with the steams of the adjoining kitchen.
The great hall within is high and spacious, flanked on one side with a yery long table, a true image of ancient hospitality: the walls are all over ornamented with monstrous horns of animals, about twenty broken pikes, ten or a dozen blunderbusses, and a rusty match-lock musquet t>r two, which we were informed had served in the civil wars. Here is one vast arched window, beautifully darkened with divers 'scutcheons of painted glass; one seining pane in particular bears date 1286, which alone preserves the memory of a knight, whose iron armour h long since perished with ru;t, and
whose alabaster nose is mouldered front his monument. The face of dame Eleanor, in another piece, owes more to that single pane than to all the glasses she ever consulted in her life. After this, who can fay that glass is frail, when it is not half so frail as human beauty, or glory! and yet I can't but sigh to think that the most authentic record of so ancient a family should lie at the mercy of every infant who flings a stone. In former days there have dined in this hall gartered knights, and courtly dames, attended by ushers, sewers, and seneschals; and yet it was but last night, that an owl flew hither, and mistook it for a barn. - This hall lets you (up and down) over a very high threshold into the great parlour. Its contents are a brokenbelly'd virginal, a couple of crippled velvet chairs, with two or three' mrldew'd pictures of mouldy ancestors, who look as dismally as if they came fresh from hell, with all their brimstone about them : these are carefully set at the farther corner; for the windows being every where broken, make it so convenient a place to dry poppies and mustard.seed, that the room is appropriated to that use.
Next this parlour, as I said before, lies the pigeon-house; by the side of which runs an entry, which lets you on one hand and t'other into a bed-chamber, a buttery, and a small hole called the chaplain's study: then follow a brewhouse, a little green and gilt parlour, and the great stairs, under which is the dairy: a little farther, on the right, the servants hall; and by the side of it, up six steps, the old lady's closet for her private devotions; which has a lattice into the hall, intended (as we imagine) that at the fame time as she pray'd she might have an eye on the men and maids. There are upen the ground-floor, in all, twenty.six apartments; among which I must not forget a chamber which has in it a large antiquity of timber, that seems to have been either a bedstead, or a cyderpress.
The kitchen is built in form of a rotunda, being one vast vault to the top of the house; where gi\e aperture serves to let out the smoke, arid let in the light. By the blackness of the walls, the circular fires, vast cauldrons, yawning mouths of ovens and furnaces, you would think it either the forge of Vulcan, the cave of Polypheme, or the temple of Moloch. The horror of this place has made G.ch an impression on the country people, that they believe the witches keep their Sabbath here, arid that once a year the devil treats them with infernal venison, a roasted tiger stuffed with ten-penny nails.
Above stairs we have a number of rooms; you never pass out of one into another, but by the ascent or descent of two or three stairs. Our best room is very long and low, of the exact proportion of a bandbox. In most of these rooms there are hangings of the finest work in the world, that is to fay, those which Arachne spins from her own bowels. Were it not for this only furniture, the whole would be a miserable scene of naked walls, flaw'd ceilings, broken windows, and rusty locks. The robs is so decayed, that after a favour, able shower we nvy ewpect a crop of mushrooms between the chinks of our floors. All the doors are as little and low as those to the cabins of packetboats. These rooms have, for many years, had no other inhabitants than certain rats, whose very age renders them worthy of this feat, for the very rats of this venerable house are grey: since these have not yet quitted it, we hope at least that this ancient mansion may not fail during the small remnant these poor animals have to live, who are now too infirm to remove to another. There is yet a small subsistence left them in the few remaining books of the library.
We had never seen half what I had described, but fora starch'd grey-headed steward, who is as much an antiquity as any in this place, and looks like an old family picture walked out of its frame. He entertained us as we passed from room to room with several relations of the family; but his observations were particularly curious when we came to the cellar: he informed us where stood the triple rows of butts of sack, aad where were rapged the bot
ties of tent, for toasts in a morning; he pointed to the stands that supported the iron-hoop'd hogsheads of strong beer; then stepping to a corner, he lugged out the tattered fragments of an unframed picture: " This (fays he, with "tears) was poor Sir Thomas! once "master of all this drink. He had ** two sons, poor young masters! who "never arrived to the age of his beer; "they both fell ill in this very room, ** and never went out on their owa "legs." He could not pass by a heap of broken bottles without taking up a piece to (hew us the arms of the family'upon it. He then led us up the tower by dark winding stone steps, which landed us into several little rooms one above another. One of these was nailed up, and our guide whispered to us as a secret the occasion of it: it seems the course of this noble blood was a little interrupted about two centuries ago, by a freak of the lady Frances, wha was here taken in the fact with a neighbouring prior, ever since which the room has been nailed up, and branded with the nameof theAduitery-Chamber. The ghost of lady Frances is supposed to walk there, and some prying maids of the family report that they have seen a lady in a fardingale through the keyhole: but this matter is husht up, and the servants are forbid to talk of it.
I mull needs have tired you by this long description : but what engaged me in it, was a generous principle to preserve the memory of that, which itself must soon fall into dust, hay, perhaps part of it, before this letter reaches your hand?.
Indeed we owe this old house the fame kind of gratitude that we do to an old friend, who harbours us in his declining condition, nay even in his last extremities. How fit is this retreat for uninterrupted study, where no one that passes by can dream there is an inhabitant, and even those who would dine with us dare not stay under our roof! Any one that sees it, will own I could not have chosen a more likely place to converse with the dead in. I had been mad indeed is I had left your grace for any one but Homer. But when Iretarn to the living, I shall have the sen se
to to endeavour to converse with the best of them, and shall therefore, as soon as possible, tell you in person how much I am, &c. Pope.
§ 44. Apology for his religious Tenets.
My Lord, I am truly obliged by your kind condolence on my father's death, and the desire you express that I should improve this incident to my advantage. I know your lordship's friendship to me is so extensive, that you include in that wilh both my spiritual and my temporal advantage; and it is what I owe to that friendship, to open my mind unreservedly to you on this head. It is true I have lost a parent, for whom no gains I could make would be any equivalent. But that was not my only tie ; I thank God another still remains (and long 'may it remain) of the fame tender nature; Genitrix est mihi—&n& excuse me if I say with Euryalus,
Nrqucam lachrymaS perferte parentij.
A rigid divine may call it a carnal tie, but sure it is a virtuous one: at least I am more certain that it is a duty of nature to preserve a good parent's life and happiness, than 1 am of any speculative point whatever.
Ignaram hnjus quodcunque pericli
For she, my lord, would think this separation more grievous than any other; and I, for my part, know as little as poor Euryalus did, of the success of such an adventure (for an adventure it is> and no small one, in spite of the most positive divinity). Whether the change would be to my spiritual adVantage, God only knows; this I know, that I mean as well in the religion I Bow profess, as I can possibly ever do in another. Can a man who thinks so, justify a change, even if he thought both equally good? To such an one, the part of joining with any one body of Christians might perhaps be easy, but I think it would not be so, to renounce the other,
Your lordship has formerly advised me to read the best controversies between the churches. Shall I tell you a
secret? I did so at fourteen years old, (for I loved reading, and my father had no other books); there was a collection of all that had been written on both sides in the reign of king James the second : I warmed my head with them; and the consequence was, that I found myself a papist and a protestant by turns.'according to the lalt book I read. I am afraid most seekers are in the fame case, and when they stop, they are not so properly converted, as outwitted. You fee how little glory you would gain by my conversion. And, after all, Iverily believe your lord/hip and 1 are both of the fame religion, if we were thoroughly understood by one another; and that all honest and reasonable Christians would be so, if they did but talk enough together every day; and had nothings do together, but to serve God, and live in peace with their neighbour.
As to the temporal side of the question, I can have no dispute with you j it is certain, all the beneficial circumstances of life, and all the shining ones, lie on the part you would invite, me to. But if I could bring myself to fancy, what I think you do but fancy, that I have any talents for active life, I want health for it; and besides it is a real truth, I have less inclination (if possible) than ability. Contemplative life is not only my scene, but it is my habit too. I begun my life, where most people end theirs, with a disrelish of all that the world calls ambition: I don't know why 'tis called so, for to me it always seemed to be rather stooping than climbing. I'll tell you my politic and religious sentiments in a few words. In my politics, I think no further than how to preserve the peace of my life, in any government under which I live; nor in my religion, than to preserve the peace of my conscience, in any church with which I communicate. I hope all churches and all governments are so far of God, as they are rightly understood, and rightly administered: and where they are, or may be wrong, I leave it to God alone to mend or reform them; which, whenever he does, it must be by greater instruments than I am. I am not a papist, for I renounce the temporal invasions of the papal