As the sixth line goes rather too near the core, do not give a copy of it: however, I should be sorry if it displeased; though I do not believe it will, but be taken with good-humour as it was meant.(540)
(540) It was taken in perfect good-humour; and Lady Lyttelton returned the following answer, which Mr. Walpole owned was better than his address:—
“Remember’d, though old by a wit and a
I shall fancy, ere long, I’m a Ninon L’Enclos:
I must feel impatient such kindness to meet,
And shall hasten my flight into Portugal-street.”
Ripley Cottage, 28th Nov.
Had I not heard part of your conversation with Mrs. Carter the other night, Madam, I should certainly not have discovered the authoress of the very ingenious anticipation of our future jargon.(541) How should I? I am not fortunate Enough to know all your talents; nay, I question whether you yourself suspect all you possess. Your Bas Bleu is in a style very, different from any of your other productions that I have seen; and this letter, which shows your intuition Into the degeneracy of our language, has a vein of humour and satire that could not be calculated from your Bas Bleu, in which good nature and good-humour had made a great deal of learning wear all the ease of familiarity. I did wish you to write another Percy, but I beg now that you will first produce a specimen of all the various manners in which you can shine; for, since you are as modest as if your issue were illegitimate, I don’t know but, like some females really in fault, you would stifle some of your pretty infants, rather than be detected and blush.
In the mean time, I beseech you not only to print your Specimen of the Language that is to be in fashion, but have it entered at Stationers’ hall; or depend upon it, if ever a copy falls into the hands of a fine gentleman yet unborn, who shall be able both to read and write, he will adopt your letter for his own, and the Galimatias will give the ton to the court, as Euphues did near two hundred years ago; and then you will have corrupted our language instead of defending it: and surely it is not your interest, Madam, to have pure English grow obsolete.
If you do not promise to grant my request, I will show your letter every where to those that are worthy of seeing it; that is, indeed, in very few places; for you shall have the honour of it. It is one of those compositions that prove themselves standards, by begetting imitations; and if the genuine parent is unknown, it will be ascribed to every body that is supposed (in his own set) to have more wit than the rest of the world. I should be diverted, I own, to hear it faintly disavowed by some who would wish to pass for its authors; but still there is more pleasure in doing justice to merit, than in drawing