I have received your letter, dear Sir, your manuscript, and Gray’s letters to me. Twenty things crowd upon my pen, and jostle, and press to be laid. As I came here to-day for a little air, and to read you undisturbed, they shall all have a place in due time. But having so safe a conveyance for my thoughts, I must begin with the uppermost of them, the Heroic Epistle. I have read it so very often, that I have got it by heart; and now I am master of all its beauties, I confess I like it infinitely better than I did, though I liked it infinitely before. There is more wit, ten times more delicacy of irony, as much poetry, and greater facility than and as in the Dunciad. But what Signifies what I think? All the world thinks the same. No soul has, I have heard, guessed within an hundred miles. I catched at Anstey’s name, and have, contributed to spread that notion. It has since been called Temple Luttrell’s, and, to my infinite honour, mine; Lord ----- - swears he should think so, if I did not praise it so excessively. But now, my dear Sir, that you have tapped this mine of talent, and it runs so richly and easily, for Heaven’s sake, and for England’s sake, do not let it rest! You have a vein of irony, and satire, etc.
I am extremely pleased with the easy unaffected simplicity of your manuscript (Memoirs of Gray), and have found scarcely any thing I could wish added, much less retrenched, unless the paragraph on Lord Bute,(91) which I don’t think quite clearly expressed; and yet perhaps too clearly, while you wish to remain unknown as the author of the Heroic Epistle,(92) since it might lead to suspicion. For as Gray asked for the place, and accepted it afterwards from the Duke of Grafton, it might be thought that he, or his friend for him, was angry with the author of the disappointment. I can add nothing to your account of Gray’s going abroad with me. It was my own thought and offer, and cheerfully accepted. Thank you for inserting my alteration. As I am the survivor, any Softening would be unjust to the dead. I am sorry I had a fault towards him. It does not wound me to own it; and it must be believed when I allow it, that not he, but I myself, was in the wrong.
(91) This paragraph was suppressed-E.
(92) In March, 1798, Mr. Matthias suggested, in the Pursuits of Literature, that Walpole’s papers would possibly lead to the discovery of the author of the far-famed Heroic Epistle to Sir William Chambers. By Thomas Warton, the poet-laureate, it was supposed to have been “written by Walpole, and buckrum’d by Mason;” and Mr. Croker, in a note to his edition of Boswell’s Johnson, says of it, “there can be no doubt that it was the joint production of Mason and Walpole; Mason supplying the poetry and Walpole the points;” while the Quarterly Review,