The weather is so very March, that I cannot enjoy my new holidays at Strawberry yet; I sit reading and writing close to the fire.
Sterne has published two little volumes, called Sentimental Travels. They are very pleasing, though too much dilated, and infinitely preferable to his tiresome Tristram Shandy, of which I never could get through three volumes. In these there is a great good-nature and strokes of delicacy. Gray has added to his poems three ancient Odes from Norway and Wales. The subjects of the two first are grand and picturesque, and there is his genuine vein in them; but they are not interesting, and do not, like his other poems, touch any passion. Our human feelings, which he masters at will in his former pieces, are here not affected.(1020) Who can care through what horrors a Runic savage arrived at all the joys and glories they could conceive, the supreme felicity of boozing ale out of the skull of an enemy in Odin’s hall? Oh! yes, just now perhaps these odes would be toasted at many a contested election. Adieu! Yours ever.
(1017) Walpole had retired from Parliament at the general election in the beginning of this year.-E.
(1018) “The shrill cicalas, people of the pine,
Making their summer lives one ceaseless song,
Were the sole echoes, save my steed’s and mine,
And vesper-bells that rose the boughs along.”
Don Juan, c. iii. st. 106.-E.
(1019) Walpole’s work is thus characterized by Sir Walter Scott:- -"The Historical Doubts are an acute and curious example how minute antiquarian research may shake our faith in the facts most pointedly averred by general history. It is remarkable also to observe how, in defending a system, which was probably at first adopted as a mere literary exercise, Mr. Walpole’s doubts acquired, in his own eyes, the respectability of certainties, in which he could not brook controversy.” Prose Works; vol. iii. p. 304.-E.
(1020) “They strike, rather than please; the images are magnified by affectation; the language is laboured into harshness. The mind of the writer seems to work with unnatural violence. Double, double, toil and trouble! There is too little appearance of ease and nature.” Johnson.-E.
Mr. Chute tells me that you have taken a new house in Squireland, and have given yourself up for two years more to port and parsons. I am very angry, and resign you to the works of the devil or the church, I don’t care which. You will get the gout, turn Methodist, and expect to ride to heaven upon your own great foe. I was happy with your telling me how well you love me, and though I don’t love loving, I could have poured out all the fullness of my heart to such an old and true friend; but what am I the better for it, if I am to see you but two or three days in the year? I thought you would