I shall send this letter by the coach, as it is rather free spoken, and Sandwich may be prying.
Mr. Chute has found the subject of my tragedy, which I thought happened in Tillotson’s time, in the Queen of Navarre’s Tales; and what is very remarkable, I had laid my plot at Narbonne and about the beginning of the Reformation, and it really did happen in Languedoc and in the time of Francis the First. Is not this singular?(1035)
I hope your canary hen was really with egg by the blue-bird, and that he will not plead that they are none of his and sue for a divorce. Adieu!
(1032) Now first printed. In the preceding January Mr. Conway had resigned his situation of secretary of state for the northern department.-E.
(1033) Mr. Rigby.
(1034) Foote’s successful comedy of The Devil upon Two Sticks was first acted at the Haymarket on the 31st of May.-E.
(1035) See vol. i. p. 57.
Sir, You read English with so much more facility than I can write French, that I hope you will excuse my making use of my own tongue to thank you for the honour of your letter. If I employed your language, my ignorance in it might betray me into expressions that would not do justice to the sentiments I feel at being so distinguished.
It is true, Sir, I have ventured to contest the history of Richard the Third, as it has been delivered down to us; and I shall obey your commands, and send it to you, though with fear and trembling; for though I have given it to the world, as it is called, yet, as you have justly observed, that world is comprised within a very small circle of readers—and Undoubtedly I could not expect that you would do me the Honour of being one of the number. Nor do I fear you, Sir, only as the first genius in Europe, who has illustrated every science; I have a more intimate dependence on you than you Suspect. Without knowing it, you have been my master, and perhaps the sole merit that may be found in my writings is owing to my having studied yours; so far, Sir, am I from living in that state of barbarism and ignorance with which you tax me when you say que vous m’`etes peut-`etre inconnu. I was not a stranger to your reputation very many years ago, but remember to have then thought you honoured our house by dining with my mother—though I was at school, and had not the happiness of seeing you: and yet my father was in a situation that might have dazzled eyes older than mine. The plain name of that father, and the pride of having had so excellent a father, to whose virtues truth at last does justice , is all I have to boast. I am a very private man, distinguished by neither dignities nor titles, which I have never done any thing to deserve—but as I am certain that titles alone would not have procured me the honour of your notice, I am content without them.(1036)