It is a pleasure to have any body one esteems agree with one’s own sentiments, as you do strongly with mine about Mr. Hurd.(34) It is impossible not to own that he has sense and great knowledge—but sure he is a most disagreeable writer! He loads his thoughts with so many words, and those couched in so hard a style, and so void of all veracity, that I have no patience to read him. In one point. in the dialogues you mention, he is perfectly ridiculous. He takes infinite pains to make the world believe, upon his word, that they are the genuine productions of the speakers, and yet does not give himself the least trouble to counterfeit the style of any one of them. What was so easy as to imitate Burnet? In his other work, the notes on Horace, he is still more absurd. He cries up Warburton’s preposterous notes on Shakspeare, which would have died of their own folly, though Mr. Edwards had not put them to death with the keenest wit in the world.(35) But what signifies any sense, when it takes Warburton for a pattern, who, with much greater parts, has not been able to save himself from, or rather has affectedly involved himself in numberless absurdities?—who proved Moses’s legation by the sixth book of Virgil;—a miracle (Julian’s Earthquake), by proving it was none;—and who explained a recent poet (Pope) by metaphysical notes, ten times more obscure than the text! As if writing were come to perfection, Warburton and Hurd are going back again; and since commentators, obscurity, paradoxes, and visions have been so long exploded, ay, and pedantry too, they seem to think that they shall have merit by reviving what was happily forgotten -, and yet these men have their followers, by that balance which compensates to one for what he misses from another. When an author writes clearly, he is imitated; and when obscurely, he is admired. Adieu!
(34) Who died Bishop of Worcester in 1808. He was the author of many works, most of which are now little read, although they had a great vogue in their day. There is a great deal of justice in Mr. Walpole’s criticism of him and his patron.-C.
(35) In the “Canons of Criticism.”—E.
The next time you see Marshal Botta, and are to act King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, you must abate about an hundredth thousandth part of the dignity of your crown. You are no more monarch of all Ireland, than King O’Neil, or King Macdermoch is. Louis xv. is sovereign of France, Navarre, and Carrickfergus. You will be mistaken if you think the peace is made, and that we cede this Hibernian town, in order to recover Minorca, or to keep Quebec and Louisbourg. To be sure, it is natural you should think so: how should so victorious and heroic nation cease to enjoy any of its possessions, but to save Christian blood? Oh! I know, you will suppose there has been another insurrection,