(376) See vol. i. p. 434, letter 177.-E.
(377) Dr. Thomas Blackwell, principal of the Marischal College in Aberdeen. Besides the above work, he wrote “An Enquiry into the Life and Writings of Homer,” and “Letters concerning Mythology.” He died in 1757.
(378) In September, 1766, he destroyed himself in a fit of insanity. See vol. ii. p. 232, letter 119, note 234.-E.
Unapt as you are to inquire after news, dear Sir, you wish to have Admiral Rodney’s victory confirmed.(379) I can now assure you, that he has had a considerable advantage, and took at least four Spanish men-of-war, and an admiral, who they say is since dead of his wounds. We must be glad of these deplorable successes—but I heartily wish we had no longer occasion to hope for the destruction of any of our species but, alas! it looks as if devastation would still open new fields of blood! The prospect darkens even at home—but, however you and I may differ in our political principles, it would be happy. if every body would pursue others with as little rancour. How seldom does it happen in political contests, that any side can count any thing but its wounds! your habitudes seclude you from meddling in our divisions; so do my age and my illnesses me. Sixty-two is not a season for bustling among young partisans. Indeed, if the times grow perfectly serious, I shall not wish to reach sixty-three. Even a superannuated spectator is then a miserable being; for though insensibility is one of the softenings of old age, neither one’s feelings nor enjoyments can be accompanied with tranquillity. We veterans must hide ourselves in inglorious security, and lament what we cannot prevent; nor shall be listened to, till misfortunes have brought the actors to their senses; and then it will be too late, or they will calm themselves faster than they could preach—but I hope the experience of the last century will have some operation and check our animosities. Surely, too, we shall recollect the ruin a civil war would bring on, when accompanied by such collaterals as French and Spanish wars. Providence alone can steer us amidst all these rocks. I shall watch the interposition of its aegis with anxiety and humility. It saved us this last summer, and nothing else I am sure did; but often the mutual follies of enemies are the instruments Of Heaven. If it pleases not to inspire wisdom, I shall be content if it extricates us by the reciprocal blunders and oversights of all parties—of which, at least, we ought never to despair. It is almost my systematic belief, that as cunning and penetration are seldom exerted for good ends, it is the absurdity of mankind that often acts as a succedaneum, and carries on and maintains the equilibrium that Heaven designed should subsist. Adieu, dear Sir! Shall we live to lay down our heads in peace? Yours ever.