Did I tell you that the Archbishop tried to hinder the “Minor” from being played at Drury Lane? for once the Duke of Devonshire was firm, and would only let him correct some passages, and even of those the Duke has restored some. One that the prelate effaced was, “You snub-nosed son of a bitch.” Foote says, he will take out a license to preach Tam. Cant, against Tom. Cant.(117)
The first volume of Voltaire’s Peter the Great is arrived. I weep over it. It is as languid as the campaign; he is grown old. He boasts of the materials communicated to him by the Czarina’s order—but alas! he need not be proud of them. They only serve to show how much worse he writes history with materials than without. Besides, it is evident how much that authority has cramped his genius. I had heard before, that when he sent the work to Petersburgh for imperial approbation, it was returned with orders to increase the panegyric. I wish he had acted like a very inferior author. Knyphausen once hinted to me, that I might have some authentic papers, if I was disposed to write the life of his master; but I did not care for what would lay me under such restrictions. It is not fair to use weapons against the persons that lend them; and I do not admire his master enough to commend any thing in him, but his military actions. Adieu!
(117) The following anecdote is related in the Biographia Dramatica:—“Our English Aristophanes sent a copy of the Minor to the Archbishop of Canterbury, requesting that, if his grace should see any thing objectionable in it, he would exercise the free use of his pen, either in the way of erasure or correction. The Archbishop returned it untouched; observing to a confidential friend, that he was sure the wit had only laid a trap for him, and that if he had put his pen to the manuscript, by way of correction or objection, Foote would have had the assurance to have advertised the play as ’corrected and prepared for the press by his grace the Archbishop of Canterbury.’"-E.
You are extremely kind, Sir, in remembering my little commission I troubled you with. As I am in great want of some more painted glass to finish a window in my round tower, I should be glad, though it may not be a Pope, to have the piece you mentioned, if it can be purchased reasonably.