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to keep up their spirits under the disappointment.
For the reasons which I have stated, I should therefore certainly respectfully, but firmly, decline yaur father's proposal ; nor can I suppose that a man of his excellent sense and good feelings will persevere in his request, upon fully understanding the grounds of your refusal.
I shall not mention the subject, nor show your letter to any one, as I think family differences cannot be too much concealed.
You will have heard of the troubles in London. Our friend Cwrites me word that they were much more tremendous than is represented. Peace is at a distance; want and clamour increase. I fear bad days are coming. Yours always most truly,
To William Roscoe, Esq.,
Liverpool, January 25. 1797. MY DEAR FRIEND, I have perused The Nurse * with attention, and, on the whole, with much pleasure. I see nothing either in the general impression it is likely to produce, or in the effect of particular passages, that should prevent your publishing it, or, indeed, render the measure doubtful. You must not, however, expect that it will increase the reputation of the biographer of Lorenzo de' Medici. It is enough that it is not unworthy of him, and that you give it to the world, as the truth is, not as a laboured effort of your talents, but as the occasional occupation and amusement of a vacant hour, in the midst of more serious engagements.
* A translation of Tansillo's La Balia.
The versification is easy and flowing, and possesses considerable variety. Your numbers rise and fall with the sentiment they embody, which is generally, but not always, distinctly expressed. I think you have a few lines which might have been improved by a little care; but it is perhaps well to exhibit in some cases the marks of a little negligence, to heighten the general effect. The compliment to the Duchess of Devonshire, which every body will read and quote, is very fine. The four lines beginning, “ So Venus,” &c. &c., are singularly beautiful; but I wish you had been prompted by the muse to a better or smoother termination. My objection is to prompts the aim ; it is not, however, very material.
The prose in your preface and notes is, as usual, easy, luminous, and correct. I see nothing
to object to as to sentiment, and little or nothing as to style. Yet you have, I think, got one or two Latinisms. Why should Nanza concede the MSS. It might have been as well to have delivered them, or perhaps still better to have given them up, p. 10. In the same page, line 10., you use adverts to, as I suspect, for mentions; and in p. 14. adverted to is certainly employed for detailed, examined, or discussed. You . are very fond of adverting.
I have only farther to observe, that it will be wished by the ladies that you had translated the quotations in the notes as well as in the preface. I have no doubt The Nurse will make some noise.
Herewith I send you the poetical remains of poor Burns. His correspondence, which occupies 600 folio pages, will follow. It contains a few scattered verses also.
Do me the favour to read these pieces with the pen in your hand, and mark an a or any other letter under such as you think may be printed. If any observation strikes you as you go on, pray write it on a separate piece of paper. I am sorry to occupy you, but I should be still more sorry not to have your opinions.
I write with my foot in the stirrup, but will see you to-morrow. Adieu.
Thursday, 2 o'clock.
To the same, in London.
Liverpool, February 22, 23. 1797.
MY DEAR FRIEND, I received your kind and particular letter this morning; and I take, as you see, a large sheet of paper to reply to it; on which I shall from time to time make an observation or two till it be full; when I will transmit it by post. The present moments are infinitely critical, and since we cannot converse together, we may correspond.
I am glad you have been at Dr. Moore's, and that Mrs. Roscoe was with you. Mrs. Moore is a most uncommonly amiable woman, and one that Mrs. Roscoe would much like as an acquaintance. I hope Lord Orford will yet recover ; pity that you and he should meet, and death interfere to spoil the party.
I am happy to hear you are so frequently with the Marquis of Lansdown. If you do not write to me what passes in the interesting conversations you hold, (which, indeed, I neither expect
nor wish,) I hope, however, that you will not neglect to take minutes every evening. I do not mention this to you with a view to the future gratification of my curiosity, for it may be altogether improper, for aught I know, that it should be gratified; but because, at the most awful period of our national affairs, you are admitted into the familiar conversation, and, perhaps, the confidence of most extraordinary men: of men who will be soon called to the helm, or the nation will see dreadful calamities; of men who will live in history, whatever may be their fortunes, and who match in talents whatever is most splendid of our own or of former times. To record their views and their sentiments at the present moment will be most interesting to yourself, when the recollection may fade on your memory; and will be most interesting to your children, if to no others, when we shall sleep with our fathers.
That the Opposition should have no certain system does not surprise me. They are too few to have influence in either House, if the people at large are not with them; and while the nation seems stupid and silent on the very gulf of destruction, what new means can they devise to rouse it from its torpor and secure its cooperation ?
The opposition must be anxious to hear what the people wish, and how they are