Saturday, May 3, 2008

nothing can be more

Edward Young in Welwyn to John Williams in Nice, France.

23rd of February, 1739.

othing can be more kind than the continuance of your friendship; nothing more unjust than your suspicion of my backwardness to embrace it. I esteem you for yourself, and the good company you keep. Homer was a very honest gentleman, who talked of many gods, and believed but one. Horace says, Quanta tibi negaveris, a diis plura feres. Fenelon was half an angel; and Newton looked so far and clearly into Nature, that he found himself under the necessity to clap a God at the head of it, in order to render any thing accountable. As to Voltaire, he is content with the contemplation of his own parts, without looking for any other immortality than they shall give him.

Thus, sir, my sermon ends. But why this sermon? To show myself qualified for the deanery or mitre you so kindly wish me. But these things are long in coming. If in your travels you should pick up a little vacant principality, it would do as well; I am as qualified for it, and as likely to succeed in it. Monaco would be a pretty sinecure; for, as I take it, the most Christian king is so good as to do all the duty. I have brought you to the borders of Italy; I heartily wish you pleasure in the land of Kantys. But before that I hope to be censured by you in another letter, which would give me great satisfaction.

You inquire after writers. Here is a libel published, called Manners, for which the author is fled, and the minister has been reprimanded: there are two or three things well enough said in it to balance a deal of gross abuse. The last publication I have read was about suicide, in which the author endeavours to persuade an Englishman not to hang himself when the wind is N.E. Mustapha, a new tragedy, is treading the stage with some applause. Nothing shoots in abundance this spring but divinity; a forward plant like the snow-drop, but of little flavour. I desire you to re-enter me into your little list of friends.
[Edward Young]

-from The Life and Letters of Edward Young by Henry C. Shelley (London: Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, 1914)

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