(304) It was entitled “A Letter to the Editor of the Miscellanies of Thomas Chatterton,” and will be found in the edition of Walpole’s works.-E.
I am as impatient and in as much hurry as you was, dear Sir, to clear myself from the slightest intention of censuring your politics. I know the sincerity and disinterested goodness of your heart, and when I must be convinced how little certain we are all of what is truth, it would be very presumptuous to condemn the opinions of any good man, and still less an old and unalterable friend, as I have ever found ’You, The destruction that violent arbitrary principles have drawn on this blinded country has moved my indignation. We never were a great and happy country till the Revolution. The system of these days tended to overturn, and has overturned, that establishment, and brought on the disgraces that ever attended the foolish and wicked Councils of the house of Stuart. If man is a rational being, he has a right to make use of his reason, and to enjoy his liberty. We, we alone almost had a constitution that every other nation upon earth envied or ought to envy. This is all I contend for. I will give you up whatever descriptions of men you please; that is, the leaders of parties, not the principles. These cannot change, those generally do, when power falls into the hands of them or their party, because men are corruptible, which truth is not. But the more the leaders of a party dedicated to liberty are apt to change, the more I adore the principle, because it shows that extent of power is not to be trusted even, with those that are the most sensible of the value of liberty. Man is a domineering animal; and it has not only been my principle. but my practice, too. to quit every body at the gate of the palace. I trust we shall not much differ on these outlines, but we will bid adieu to the subject. It is never an agreeable one to those who do not mean to make a trade of it.
I heartily wish you may not find the pontiff what I think the order, and what I know him, if you mean the high priest of Ely.(305) He is all I have been describing and worse; and I have too good an opinion of you, to believe that he will ever serve you.
What I said of disclaiming authorship by no means alluded to Mr. Baker’s life. It would be enough that you desire it, for me to undertake it. Indeed, I am inclined to it because he was what you and I are, a party-man from principle, not from interest: and he, who was so candid, surely is entitled to the strictest candour. You shall send me your papers whenever you please. If I can succeed to your satisfaction, I shall be content: though I assure you there was no affectation in my saying that I find my small talent decline. I shall write the life to oblige you, without any thoughts of publication, unless I am better pleased than I expect to be, and even then not in my own life. I had rather show that I am sensible of my own defects, and that I have judgment enough not to hope praise for my writings: for surely when they are not obnoxious, and one only leaves them behind one, it is a mark that one is not very vain of them.