Sir, I beg your acceptance of a little work just printed here; and I offer it as a token of my gratitude, not as pretending to pay you for your last present. A translation, however excellent, from a very inferior Horace,(553) would be a most inadequate return; but there is so much merit in the enclosed version, the language is so pure, and the imitations of our poets so extraordinary, so Much more faithful and harmonious than I thought the French tongue could achieve, that I flatter myself you will excuse my troubling You with an old performance of my own, when newly dressed by a master hand. As, too, there are not a great many copies printed, and those only for presents, I have a particular pleasure in making you one of the earliest compliments.
(552) Now first printed.
(553) The Due de Nivernois’ translation of Walpole’s Essay on Gardening.-E.
Your lordship is too condescending when you incline to keep up a correspondence with one who can expect to maintain it but a short time, and whose intervals of health are resigned to idleness, not dedicated, as they have sometimes been, to literary pursuits: for what could I pursue with any prospect of accomplishment? or what avails it to store a memory that must lose faster than it acquires? Your lordship’s zeal for illuminating your country and countrymen is laudable; and you are young enough to make a progress; but a man who touches the verge of his sixty-eighth year, ought to know that he is unfit to contribute to the amusement of more active minds. This consideration, my lord, makes me much decline correspondence; having nothing new to communicate, I perceive that I fill my letters with apologies for having nothing to say.
If you can tap the secret stores of the Vatican, your lordship will probably much enrich the treasury of letters. Rome may have preserved many valuable documents, as for ages intelligence from all parts of Europe centred there; but I conclude that they have hoarded little that might at any period lay open the share they had in the most important transactions. History, indeed, is fortunate when even incidentally and collaterally it light’s on authentic information.
Perhaps, my lord, there is another repository, and nearer, which it would be worth while to endeavour to penetrate: I mean the Scottish College at Paris. I have heard formerly, that numbers Of papers, of various sorts, were transported at the Reformation to Spain and Portugal: but, if preserved there, they probably are not accessible yet. If they were, how puny, how diminutive, would all such discoveries, and others which we might call of far greater magnitude, be to those of Herschel, who puts up millions of covies of worlds at a beat! My conception is not ample enough to take in even a sketch of his glimpses; and,