I do not agree less with you, Sir, in your high opinion of King William. I think, and a far better judge, Sir Robert, thought that Prince one of the wisest men that ever lived. Your bon-mot of his was quite new to me. There are two or three passages in the Diary of the second Earl of Clarendon that always struck me as instances of wisdom and humour at once, particularly his Majesty’s reply to the lords who advised him (I think at Salisbury,) to send away King James; and his few words, after long patience, to that foolish lord himself, who harangued him on the observance of his declaration. Such traits, and several of Queen Anne (not equally deep) in the same journal, paint those princes as characteristically as Lord Clarendon’s able father would have drawn them. There are two letters in the “Nugae Antiquae,” that exhibit as faithful pictures of Queen Elizabeth and James the First, by delineating them in their private life and unguarded hours.
You are much in the right, Sir, in laughing at those wise personages, who not only dug up the corpse of Edward the First, but restored Christian burial to his crown and robes. Methinks, had they deposited those regalia in the treasury of the church, they would have committed no sacrilege. I confess I have not quite so heinous an idea of sacrilege as Dr. Johnson. Of all kinds of robbery, that appears to me the lightest species which injures nobody. Dr. Johnson is so pious, that in his journey to your country, he flatters himself that all his readers will join him in enjoying the destruction of two Dutch crews, who were swallowed up by the ocean after they had robbed a church.(408) I doubt that uncharitable anathema is more in the spirit of the Old Testament than of the New.
(406) Now first published.
(407) See ant`e, p. 201, letter 147.-E.
(408) The following are Johnson’s words:—“The two churches of Elgin were stripped, and the lead was shipped to be sold in Holland: I hope every reader will rejoice that this cargo of sacrilege was lost at sea."-E.
After I had written my note to you last night, I called on * * * * who gave me the dismal account of Jamaica,(409) that you will see in the Gazette, and of the damage done to our shipping. Admiral Rowley is safe; but they are in apprehensions for Walsingham. He told me too what is not in the Gazette; that of the expedition against the Spanish settlements, not a single man survives! The papers to-day, I see, speak of great danger to Gibraltar.