I had not time this morning to answer your letter by Mr. Essex, but I gave him the card you desired. You know, I hope, how happy I am to obey any orders of yours.
In the paper I showed you in answer to Masters, you saw I was apprised of Rastel’s Chronicle: but pray do not mention my knowing of it; because I draw so much from it, that I lie in wait, hoping that Milles, or Masters, or some of their fools, will produce it against me; and then I shall have another word to say to them, which they do not expect, since they think Rastel makes for them.
Mr. Gough(93) wants to be introduced to me! Indeed! I would see him, as he has been midwife to Masters; but he is so dull, that he would only be troublesome—and besides you know I shun authors, and would never have been One myself, if it obliged me to keep such bad company. They are always in earnest, and think their profession serious, and dwell upon trifles, and reverence learning. I laugh at all those things, and write only to laugh at them, and divert myself. None of us are authors of any consequence; and it is the most ridiculous in all vanities to be vain of being mediocre. A page in a great author humbles me to the dust; and the conversation of those that are not superior to myself, reminds me of what will be thought of myself. I blush to flatter them, or to be flattered by them, and should dread letters being published some time or other, in which they should relate our interviews, and we should appear like those puny conceited Witlings in Shenstone’s and Hughes’ Correspondence,(94) who give themselves airs from being in possession of the soil of Parnassus for the time being; as peers are proud, because they enjoy the estates of great men who went before them. Mr. Gough is very welcome to see Strawberry Hill; or I would help him to any scraps in my possession, that would assist his publications; though he is one of those industrious who are only reburying the dead-but I cannot be acquainted with him. It is contrary to my system, and my humour; and, besides, I know nothing of barrows, and Danish entrenchments, and Saxon barbarisms, and Phoenician characters—in short, I know nothing of those ages that knew nothing—then how should I be of use to modern literati? All the Scotch metaphysicians have sent me their works. I did not read one of them, because I do not understand what is not understood by those that write about it; and I did not get acquainted with one of the writers. I should like to be intimate with Mr. Anstey,(95) even though he wrote Lord Buckhorse, or with the author of the Heroic Epistle.(96) I have no thirst to know the rest of my contemporaries, from the absurd bombast of Dr. Johnson down to the silly Dr. Goldsmith; though the latter changeling has had bright gleams of parts, and the former had sense, ’till he charged it for words, and sold it for a pension. Don’t think me scornful. Recollect that I have seen Pope, and lived with Gray. Adieu! Yours ever.