I have received your volume safely, dear Sir, and hasten to thank you before I have read a page, that you may be in no pain about its arrival. I will return it with the greatest care as soon as I have finished it, and at the same time will send Mr. Essex the bills, as I beg you will let him know. I have no less reason for writing immediately, to thank you for the great confidence you place in me. You talk of nonsense; alas! what are all our opinions else? if we search for truth before we fix our principles, what do we find but doubt? And which of us begins the search a tabula rasa? Nay, where can we hunt but in volumes of error or purposed delusion? Have not we, too, a bias in our Minds—our passions? They will turn the scale in favour of the doctrines most agreeable to them. Yet let us be a little vain: you and I differ radically in our principles, and yet in forty years they have never cast a gloom over our friendship. We could give the world a reason that it would not like. We have both been sincere, have both been consistent, and neither adopted our principles nor have varied them for our interest.
Your labour, as far as I am acquainted with it, astonishes me: it shows what can be achieved by a man that does not lose a moment; and, which is still better, how happy the man is who can always employ himself I do not believe that the proud prelate, who would not make you a little happier, is half so much to be envied. Thank you for the print of Soame Jenyns: it is a proof of Sir Joshua’s art, who could give a strong resemblance of so uncouth a countenance without leaving it disagreeable.
The Duke of Gloucester is miraculously revived. For two whole days I doubted whether he was not dead. I hope fatalists and omenmongers will be confuted; and thus, as his grandfather broke the charm of the second of the name being an unfortunate prince, the Duke will baffle that, which has made the title of Gloucester unpropitious. Adieu!
I have got a delightful plaything, if I had time for play. It is a new sort of camera-obscura(282) for drawing the portraits of persons, or prospects, or insides of rooms, and does not depend on the sun or any thing. The misfortune is, that there is a vast deal of machinery and putting together, and I am the worst person living for managing it. You know I am impenetrably dull in every thing that requires a grain of common sense. The inventor is to come to me on Friday, and try if he can make me remember my right hand from my left. I could as soon have invented my machine as manage it; yet it has cost me ten guineas, and may cost me as much more as I please for improving it. u will conclude