Another favour I beg of you is to criticise it as largely and severely As you please: you have A right so to do, as it is built with your own materials, nay, you have a right to scold if I have, nay, since I have, employed them so differently from your intention. All my excuse is, that you communicated them to one who did not deceive you, and you was pretty sure would make nearly the use of them that he has made. Was not you? did you not suspect a little that I could not write even a Life of Mr. Baker without talking Whiggism!—Well, if I have ill-treated the cause, I am sure I have exalted the martyr. I have thrown new light on his virtue from his notes on the Gazettes, and you will admire him more, though you may love me less, for my chymistry. I should be truly sorry if I did lose a scruple of your friendship. You have ever been as candid to me, as Mr. Baker was to his antagonists, and our friendship is another proof that men of the most opposite principles can agree in every thing else, and not quarrel about them.
As my manuscript contains above twenty pages of my writing on larger paper than this, you cannot receive it speedily—however, I have Performed my promise, and I hope you will not be totally discontent, though I am not satisfied with myself. I have executed it by snatches and by long interruptions; and not having been eager about it, I find I wanted that ardour to inspire me; another proof of what I told you, that my small talent is waning, and wants provocatives. It shall be a warning to me. Adieu!
You will see by my secretary’s hand, that I am not able to write myself; indeed, I am in bed with the gout in six places, like Daniel in the den; but, as the lions are slumbering round me, and leave me a moment of respite, I employ it to give you one. You have misunderstood me, dear Sir: I have not said a word that will lower Mr. Baker’s character; on the contrary, I think he will come out brighter from my ordeal. In truth, as I have drawn out his life from your papers, it is a kind of Political epic, in which his conscience is the hero that always triumphs over his interest upon the most opposite occasions. Shall you dislike your saint in this light! I had transcribed about half when I fell ill last week. If the gout does not seize my right hand, I shall Probably have recovery full leisure to finish it during my recovery, but shall certainly not be able to send it to you by Mr. Lort.
Your promise fully satisfies me. My life can never extend to twenty years.(328) Anyone that saw me this moment would not take me for a Methusalem. I have not strength to dictate more now, except to add, that if Mr. Nicholls has seen my narrative about Chatterton, it can only be my letter to Mr. Barrett, of which you have a copy; the larger one has not yet been out of my own house. Yours most sincerely.