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No. 24.

To Lieut. Graham Moore, R. N.

Liverpool, June 11. 1787. MY DEAR GRAHAM, I received your father's obliging present of Burns' Poems safe, and am ashamed to have so long delayed expressing my sense of his very kind attention. Such a present from such a man is doubly valuable. I did intend to have addressed a few lines to Dr. Moore himself on the occasion; but on second thoughts I have trusted my acknowledgments to his son.*

Now that we are on the subject of poetry, I wish to mention to you that there is a poem lately published, which has been sent me from London, entitled “ The Wrongs of Africa,” + that is well worth your perusal. Some say it is Cowper's; others, I hear, ascribe it to Hayley; but, be that as it

may, it has very considerable poetical beauties, and breathes throughout a noble indignation and an ardent humanity.

* The passage
here omitted respects

the
poems

of Burns, and will be found in the Memoir, vol. i. p. 241.

† Written by Mr. Roscoe; the preface by Dr. Currie.

The following description, the beauties of which a sailor will best appreciate, introduces an affecting story :

Safe on the sheltering coast of wide Benin,
The stately vessel rode; and now the sun,
Deep in the western flood had quench’d his fires ;
And the wan moon in Heaven's opposing scale,
Hung her pale lamp, that o'er the breezy main
Scatter'd its broken radiance. All was still
When dim, beneath the sober beam of night,
Was seen the light canoe, that tow'rds the ship
Its hasty course directed, &c.

*

I am glad to find that you are become so intimate with Julius Cæsar, the most accomplished and the most able man of antiquity. Furious republicans have railed and even raved against him ; but I cannot unite in their declamations. The greatness of his soul, and the splendour of his actions, dazzle my sight; and if his head be bald (to use a figure of Burke's), the laurels of victory and of genius form a wreath which covers the nakedness from the view.

In one respect Cæsar had advanced 2000 years before his contemporaries.

He knew, and he only, how noble it is to forgive. When I reflect that a spirit so magnanimous, joined to talents so sublime, was placed at the head of the universe, and think on what he would have attempted, and what he might have accomplished, I see the virtuous but deluded Brutus and his murderous associates draw their concealed weapons against him, with horror and affright; and, as he falls, I feel the dagger of the bloody Casca cold at my heart.

The style of Cæsar is remarkable for elegance, purity, and conciseness. His peculiarity is the frequent use of the participle past, and of the ablative absolute. You will in time extend your attention to Virgil and to Horace. It was a remark of my father's, the justice of which I have seen abundant occasion to admit, that he who would make a figure in conversation, ought especially to be well acquainted with three books, — Horace, Shakspeare, and the Bible.

I write in a rambling way, and therefore you must expect me to be abrupt and unconnected. There is to be an application to parliament next session in favour of the friendless Africans. Wilberforce is to bring the subject forward; and his plan, I hear, is to propose that the traffic in human flesh shall first be restricted, and, in the course of a limited number of years, entirely abolished. There are many members who have engaged to support a measure of this kind, and

there are many reasons to believe that it will be carried in the end.

I have troubled you with a much longer letter than I had any thoughts of. I am drinking my tea alone in my study. Sometimes I sip half a cup, and sometimes I scribble half a dozen sentences as the thoughts occur. You will take every thing in good part.

I am always, my dear Graham,
Yours most truly,

JAMES CURRIE.

No. 25.

Liverpool, August 12. 1787. MY DEAR GRAHAM, If I had consulted my own inclinations, I should have answered your last letter long ago; but I have been much engaged in different ways.

Over and above this, the weather has been at times uncommonly sultry, and I have experienced its effects in a certain lassitude and languor, extending over my sensations and enfeebling my exertions. Sudden heat produces this effect on most men, though a continuance of the same temperature is not attended with the same influence; and therefore, the direct operation of the heat or cold of the atmosphere on the human intellect, which Montesquieu has asserted, is a mere hypothesis.

It is hardly possible that we should have war, unless the spirit of absolute madness directs the councils of nations. That this is not the case either in Britain or France is unquestionable, and my opinion is that the republicans of Holland will be compelled by foreign negotiation to admit the full re-establishment of the Stadtholder's authority.

Nevertheless, your remarks in respect to the uncertainty of prophecy are “excellent good.”

History has been corrupted by systems formed in the manner you mention. When the womb of time has given up its contents, men of ingenuity are disposed to look on the successive events that are disclosed, as producing each other, without considering that there are many links of the chain that are hid from the view.. The Abbé Mably, a Frenchman of some reputation, says that a history should, in the connection of its parts, resemble an epic poem;

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