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Alas! my dear I know this full well,-I feel it at this instant. If the world knew you as I know you, these remonstrances were idle. But you are daily exposed to the attacks of general slander, from those who neither know nor love you; and to the secret shafts of malice, from those who may find their interest in your overthrow. Reflecting on this, I often lament, with the deepest regret, that unaccountable waywardness of self-indulgence, by which you are bringing your foibles so frequently into view, to excite the wonder of the wise, the ridicule or enmity of the foolish ; to deprive your virtues of their natural effect, and to cast a shade on the lustre of your abilities.
Once more let me crave your pardon. I have frequently determined in my own mind since you left us not to take any notice of this subject, and this was my intention when I began to write; but I found the matter too difficult, and presuming on your wonted kindness and indulgence, I have given form to those sentiments that struggled for utterance.
I am happy to find by your letter that you
have found some agreeable literary engagements. Idleness is the root of all evil, and more parti.cularly destructive of ingenuous and cultivated minds, who cannot be engaged with trifles, or satisfied with the laborious nothingness of dissipation and folly.
If you become a good Grecian, you will have reason to value yourself on an accomplishment rather singular. You will, in this instance, leave me far behind in your literary progress. I have begun to apply to it within these few years several different times : but I find I cannot now treasure up words without ideas in my memor , and I have given up the task in despair.
I am ever your affectionate friend,
To the same.
Liverpool, 1784. MY DEAR I received the enclosed in course of post, which I now return, with three sheets of my own on the same subject, for your
consideration. When I first read over your manuscript, I was highly pleased with it; but, upon a little reflection, I found I was wrong. It is written with spirit, force, and precision; but it is not for the public — it is too warm. To write to the public the mind must be cool, because the public is
A man may be sarcastic and ironical, but he must not be angry, at least he must avoid angry expressions : fool, knave, and scoundrel, any porter can use, and can retort the more just the application, the more light they will fall; and where least deserved, the most severely will they be 'felt. Therefore, a man of sense and honour is always, at the long run, a loser at this shuttlecock play.
A bystander is perfectly unmoved by the ravings of anger; and the human mind, where it is unconcerned, has a natural propensity to take part against those who are under the influence of passion.
does not know this, but
Observe the satires of Junius-keen, caustic, and severe, but perfectly cool. Had you had reason for bitter resentment, these should have been your model. But really, on serious and impartial consideration, I think you have no business at present to be very much irritated. You feel, I am sure, none of that boiling indignation which the conclusion of your
remarks expresses, and wherefore should you feel it? I would have you appear before the public with freedom and with dignity, and with such calm and moderate
resentment as the feelings of every reader would justify.
Before your manuscript arrived I had thrown together some thoughts on the subject, which on calm consideration had the same fault as yours ; they were too severe. From the two I have made out a third, shorter than either, but whether more proper, you will judge. I have embodied in it such parts of both as I thought best. I preferred a letter to to an address to the public, which you will, I believe, approve. It is better to have two persons in the drama than three.
Let me entreat you, my dear friend, in the course of this business never to writė or act in a passion. Nothing under heaven is so degrading as to return insult with insult, and to confound right and wrong in such a manner as to have no decided line of action.
JAMES CURRIE. No. 79.
Extract from a Letter to Miss Cropper,
dated May 23, 1788.
I am anxious about beyond what you will easily conceive. He has got the unhappy faculty of exposing his foibles to all the world, while his good qualities are only known to his friends, in whom, at the same time that they excite esteem and affection, they likewise produce anxiety and distress. Many a man with a tenth part of his good qualities has received the universal approbation of the public, by conforming in his exterior to the world's law. Prudence is a most potent quality. With it, the dullest head and the coldest heart may meet with general favour and good report; without it, the most generous temper, and the most brilliant abilities, will excite the envy of the weak, the malice of the wicked, and the united admiration and compassion of the good and wise. But I will not indulge in such reflections. My friend will yet do well — and why should I make you a sharer in anxieties which are not your own ? Yet Heaven, which in mercy has mingled such