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World, (these for my own sake I wish to have by the first carrier) Knox's History of the Reformation; Rae's History of the Rebellion in 1715; any good History of the Rebellion in 1745; A Display of the Secession Act and Testimony, by Mr. GIB; Harvey's Meditations, Bcveridge's Thoughts; and another copy of Watson's Body of Divinity.
I wrote to Mr. A. Masterton three or four months ago, to pay some money he owed me into your hands, and lately I wrote to you to the same purpose, but I have heard from neither one nor other of you.
In addition to the books I commissioned in my last, I want very much, An Index to the Excise Lares, or an Abridgement of all the Statutes now in force, relative to the Excise, by Jellinger Symons; I want three copies of this book; If it is now to be had, cheap or dear, get it for me. An honest country neighbour of mine wants too, A Family Bible, the larger the better, but second-handed, for he does not chuse to give above ten shillings for the book. I want likewise for myself, as you can pick them up, second-handed or cheap, copies of Otway's Dramatic Works, Ben Johnson's, Dryden's, Congreve's, Wycherley's, Vanbrugh's, Cibber's, or any Dramatic Works of the more modern, Macklin, Garrick, Foote, Colman, or Sheridan. A good copy too of Moliere, in French, I much
want. Any other good dramatic authors in that language I want also; but comic authors chiefly, though I should wish to have Racine, Corneille, and Voltaire too. I am in no hurry for all, or any of these, but if you accidentally meet with them very cheap, get them for me.
And now, to quit the dry walk of business, how do you do, my dear friend? and how is Mrs. Hill? I trust if now and then not so elegantly handsome, at least as amiable, and sings as divinely as ever. My good-wife too has a charming "wood-note wild;" now could we four
I am out of all patience with this vile world, for one thing. Mankind are by nature benevolent creatures; except in a few scoundrelly instances, I do not think that avarice of the good things we chance to have, is born with us; but we are placed here amid so much nakedness, and hunger, and poverty, and want, that we are under a cursed necessity of studying selfishness, in order that we may EXIST! Still there are, in every age, a few souls, that all the wants and woes of life cannot debase to selfishness, or even to the necessary alloy of caution and prudence. If ever I am in danger of vanity, it is when I contemplate myself on this side of my disposition and character. God knows I am no saint; I have a whole host of follies and sins to answer
for; but if I could, and I believe I do it as far ac I can, I would wipe away all tears from all eyes. Adieu!
To MRS. DUNLOP.
Ellisland, 10th. April, 1790.
I HAVE just now, my ever honoured friend, enjoyed a very high luxury, in reading a paper of the Lounger. You know my national prejudices. I had often read and admired the Spectator, Adventurer, Rambler, and World; but still with a certain regret, that they were so thoroughly and entirely English. Alas! have I often said to myself, what are all the boasted advantages which my country reaps from the union, that can counterbalance the annihilation of her Independence, and even her very name! I often repeat that couplet of my favourite poet, Goldsmith
-States of native liberty possest,
"Tho' very poor, may yet be very blest."
Nothing can reconcile me to the common terms, " English embassador, English court," &c. And I am out of all patience to see that equivocal character, Hastings, impeached by "the Commons of England." Tell me, my
friend, is this weak prejudice? I believe in my conscience, such ideas as, "my country; her in
dependence; her honour; the illustrious names “that mark the history of my native land;” &c. -I believe these, among your men of the world; men who in fact guide for the most part and govern our world, are looked on as so many modifications of wrongheadedness. They know the use of bawling out such terms, to rouse or lead THE RABBLE; but for their own private use, with almost all the able statesmen that ever existed, or now exist, when they talk of right and wrong, they only mean proper and impro per; and their measure of conduct is, not what they OUGHT, but what they DARE. For the truth of this I shall not ransack the history of nations, but appeal to one of the ablest judges of men, and himself one of the ablest men that ever lived-the celebrated Earl of Chesterfield. In fact, a man who could thoroughly control his vices whenever they interfered with his interest, and who could completely put on the appearance of every virtue as often as it suited his purposes, is, on the Stanhopian plan, the perfect man; a man to lead nations. But are great abilities, compleat without a flaw, and polished without a blemish, the standard of human excellence? This is certainly the staunch opinion of men of the world; but I call on honour, vir tue, and worth, to give the stygian doctrine a
loud negative! However, this must be allowed, that, if you abstract from man the idea of an existence beyond the grave, then, the true measure of human conduct is, proper and improper: Virtue and vice, as dispositions of the heart, are, in that case, of scarcely the same import and value to the world at large, as harmony and discord in the modifications of sound; and a deli cate sense of honour, like a nice ear for music, though it may sometimes give the possessor an ecstacy unknown to the coarser organs of the herd, yet, considering the harsh gratings, and inharmonic jars, in this ill-tuned state of being, it is cdds but the individual would be as happy, and certainly would be as much respected by the true judges of Society as it would then stand, without either a good ear or a good heart.
You must know I have just met with the Mirror and Lounger for the first time, and I am quite in raptures with them; I should be glad to have your opinion of some of the papers. The one I have just read, Lounger, No 61, has cost me more honest tears than any thing I have read of a long time. M'Kenzie has been called the Addison of the Scots, and in my opinion, Addison would not be hurt at the comparison. If he has not Addison's exquisite humour, he as certainly out-does him in the tender and pathetic. His Man of Feeling (but I am not counsel learned in the laws of criticism) I estimate