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your sleep be as sound as your bed will be sumptuous, and your nights at least will be well provided for.
I shall send up the sixth and seventh books of the Iliad shortly, and shall address them to you. You will forward them to the General. I long to show you my workshop, and to see you sitting on the opposite side of my table. We shall be as close packed as two wax figures in an old-fashioned picture frame. I am writing in it now. It is the place in which I fabricate all my verse in summer time. I rose an hour sooner than usual this morning, that I might finish my sheet before breakfast, for I must write this day to the General.
The grass under my windows is all bespangled with dewdrops, and the birds are singing in the apple trees, among the blossoms. Never poet had a more commodious oratory in which to invoke his Muse.
TRANSLATION OF HOMER-THE NONSENSE CLUB.
TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.
OLNEY, June 9, 1786.
My dear friend, The little time that I can devote to any other purpose than that of poetry is, as you may suppose, stolen. Homer is urgent. Much is done, but much remains undone, and no schoolboy is more attentive to the performance of his daily task than I am. You will therefore excuse me if at present I am both unfrequent and short.
I had a letter some time since from your sister Fanny, that gave me great pleasure. Such notices from old friends are always pleasant, and of such pleasures I have received many lately. They refresh the remembrance of early days, and make me young again. The noble institution of the Nonsense Club will be forgotten, when we are gone who composed it; but I often think of your most heroic line, written at one of our meetings, and especially think of it when I am translating Homer,
"To whom replied the Devil yard-long-tailed."1
There never was any thing more truly Grecian than that triple epithet, and were it possible to introduce it into either Iliad or Odyssey, I should certainly steal it. I am now flushed with expectation of Lady Hesketh, who spends the summer with us. We hope to see her next week. We have found admirable lodgings both for her and her suite, and a Quaker in this town, still more admirable than they, who, as if he loved her as much as I do, furnishes them for her with real elegance.
1 See page 70 under "Moral Plays."
ON A PARTICULAR PROVIDENCE.1
How mysterious are the ways of Providence! Why did I receive grace and mercy? Why was I preserved, afflicted for my good, received, as I trust, into favor, and blessed with the greatest happiness I can ever know or hope for in this life, while others were overtaken by the great arrest, unawakened, unrepenting, and every way unprepared for it? His infinite wisdom, to whose infinite mercy I owe it all, can solve these questions, and none beside him. If I am convinced that no affliction can befall me without the permission of God, I am convinced, likewise, that he sees and knows that I am afflicted. Believing this, I must in the same degree believe that, if I pray to him for deliverance, he hears me; I must needs know likewise with equal assurance that, if he hears, he will also deliver me, if that will, upon the whole, be most conducive to my happiness; and if he does not deliver me, I may be well assured that he has none but the most benevolent intention in declining it. He made us, not because we could add to his happiness, which was always perfect, but that we might be happy ourselves; and will he not, in all his dispensations towards us, even in the minutest, consult that end for which he made us? To suppose the contrary, is (which we are not always aware of) affronting every one of his attributes; and at the same time the certain consequence of disbelieving his care for us is, that we renounce utterly our dependence upon him. In this view, it will appear plainly that the line of duty is not stretched too tight, when we are told that we ought to accept every thing at his hands as a blessing, and to be thankful even while we smart under the rod of iron with which he sometimes rules us. Without this persuasion, every blessing, however we may think ourselves happy in it, loses its greatest recommendation, and every affliction is intolerable. Death itself must be welcome to him who has this faith, and he who has it not, must aim at it, if he is not a madman.
1 From a letter to Lady Hesketh, dated Sept. 4, 1765.
QUESTIONS FOR EXAMINATION,
WHEN THE WORK IS USED AS A
COLLEGE OR SCHOOL TEXT-BOOK.
SIR JOHN MANDEVILLE, (page 17.) Date of birth and death? In whose reign did he flourish? Date of Edward III.'s reign? When did he leave England for foreign travel? How long was he gone? Through what countries did he travel? In what languages did he write his travels? What entitles him to great consideration? What accounts did he give which were not believed at the time, but which later testimony has proved true? How does he prove the spherical form of the earth? Give his reasoning. What does he say of the Chinese? What evidence of the popularity of his work? (note, p. 19.) What books referred to? (note.)
JOHN WICLIF, (p. 21.)
his chief work? What is its nature? In
GEOFFREY CHAUCER, (p. 27.)
Decameron? Its etymology? Where was Canterbury? Why were pilgrimages made there? In what respect is Chaucer's plan superior to Boccacio's? What is the plan of the Decameron? What knowledge do the Canterbury Tales give us? What great cause did they subsequently aid? (note.) [Here the instructor may direct the scholar to commit to memory such extracts from the various authors, as he may deem best. Of those from Chaucer, I would recommend "The Parson."*] What are the four other principal works of Chaucer? Give an account of
Date of Chaucer's birth and death? Repeat Spenser and Wordsworth's lines. By what title is he distinctively known? What does Warton say of him? In whose reign did he flourish? To what family did he become connected by marriage? Where did he travel? With whom did he become acquainted? Who were the three chief scholars of Italy in the 14th century, and for Date of Wiclif's birth and death? In what distinguished? (note.) What public whose reign did he flourish? Here the office did Chaucer receive? When did he scholar must not be governed by the name die? In what respect does Chaucer resemble of the monarch at the top of the page over Cowper? What is his great work? From the author's name, for as the authors are what did he take the idea? What was the arranged according to the dates of their death, some will be found to have died the very first or second year of a new king's reign; of course, therefore, they cannot be said to have "flourished in his reign." Thus, though Wiclif died in the reign of Richard II., his great works were mostly written, and his great labors chiefly exerted in the reign of Edward III.; he, therefore, must be said to have "flourished" in the reign of that monarch.] What was he called? What does Milton say of him? Where was he educated? For what did he early distinguish himself? What title did he acquire? What was henceforth the great business of his life? Repeat the quotation from Milton relative to Wiclif. State the comparative merits of Wiclif and Luther, as reformers. Repeat the fine remark of Burnet, (note.) When did Wiclif die? What did the Council of Constance decree? What is the remark of Fuller? Repeat the lines of Wordsworth, (note.) What is said of Wiclif's writings? What was his chief work? What honor belongs to him? What did the papal clergy say of his labors? (note.) What was his character? What books referred to? (note.)
JOHN BARBOUR, (p. 25.)
Date of Barbour's birth and death? To what country did he belong? In whose reign did he flourish? What is the title of
*I cannot too strongly urge upon the young the advantage of committing to memory the choicest passages in prose and poetry in English Literature. What we learn thoroughly when young, remains by us through life. "Sir," said the great Doctor Johnson to Boswell, "in my early days I read very hard. It is a sad reflection, but a true one, that I knew almost as much at eighteen as I do now. My judgment, to be sure, was not so good; but I had all the facts, I remember very well when I was at Oxford, an old gentleman said to me, 'Young man, ply your book diligently now, and acquire a stock of knowledge: for when years come unto you, you will find that poring upon books will be but an irksome task.'"
"Troilus and Creseida." Of the "Romaunt | made? of the Rose." Of "The House of Fame." Of "The Flower and the Leaf." Who has imitated Chaucer's "House of Fame," and in what? Repeat the lines from Pope, (note.) What books referred to? (note, p. 33.)
JOHN GOWER, (p. 34.)
In whose reigns did he flourish? With whom contemporary? When die? In what does he resemble Chaucer? In what differ from him? What is his chief work? What is its subject? Give an account of the story of Florent.
JAMES I. OF SCOTLAND, (p. 38.) Who was he? When born? How, and by whom was he imprisoned? For what are we indebted to his imprisonment? What is his chief poetical work? His merits as a king? How die, and when? What is said of him as a poet?
WILLIAM CAXTON, (p. 42.)
In whose reigns did he flourish? Why will his name ever be cherished? Repeat the verses in his praise. Give the outline of his life. What is said of the history of printing? (note.) What two cities claim the honor of the discovery? Who discovered the principle of the art? Who invented movable types? Who first founded types? State the conclusion, (note.) What was the first book ever printed in the English language, where, and when? What was the first book printed in England, and when? What is said of Caxton's character? How many works did he print? What works referred to?
WILLIAM DUNBAR, (p. 44.)
Date of birth and death? What does Ellis say of him? What are his chief poems? What is the story of the "Thistle and the Rose?" Give an account of "The Dance."
SIR THOMAS MORE, (p. 47.) Repeat Thomson's lines. In whose reign did he flourish? What is said of him? What remark was made of him when a boy? To what offices was he appointed? Why did he incur the displeasure of Henry VIII.? How did he die? What does Hume, the historian, say of his death? What is said of More's genius and character? Relate the interview between him and Erasmus. What couplet is attributed to him? What great inconsistencies did he display? What is his most celebrated work? Why so called? (note.) What is its character? What are some of the excellent principles in it? Describe the island. What of their trades, &c.? Of traelling? Of ale-houses? Of their notions of wealth? Of hunting? Of laws and lawyers? Of war? General remarks on the Utopia? What other works of More are mentioned? What of Richard III, and the princes? How often was he married? What of his first wife? What of his second? What books recommended to be read?
WILLIAM TYNDALE, (p. 53.) Who gave us the first English Version of the Bible? From what was the translation
What ConWhat did
When did Wiclif die? vocation twenty-four years after? it decree? When was the Latin Vulgate first printed? When the Hebrew ? When the Greek? What did the Monks say of them? What did one of the priests declare? Date of Tyndale's birth and death? In whose reigns did he flourish? Where was he educated? What is said of his scholarship? What did a priest once say to him? What was Tyndale's noble reply? Where did Tyndale go in 1523? For what purpose? When did he finish his translation of the Testament? What was the result? How was his retreat at Antwerp discovered? What was done to him? What efforts made to release him? With what success? How was he employed in prison? What was finally done to him? Give an account of his martyrdom and last prayer. Repeat the lines on his death. How was his prayer answered? What is said of his translation?
SIR THOMAS WYATT, (p. 55.)
Date of birth and death? With whose name is his generally associated? For what was he early distinguished? What were his accomplishments? What were some of the traits of his character? On what mission was he sent? What was the cause of his death? What qualities did he unite in his character? For what was he most distinguished? How did he ennoble learning and poetry? What of his prose writings?
EARL OF SURREY, (p. 60.)
Date of birth and death? In whose reigns did Surrey and Wyatt flourish? When did he enter upon public life? What honor was conferred on him in 1542? What did he do 1544? What effect had his popularity on Henry VIII.? Who was his chief malicious enemy? What was done to Surrey? Of what was he accused? Who was the chief witness against him? What was the charge? What was the result? When was he judicially murdered? What is said of his character? What is said of his endowments? What of his moral virtues? What of his regard for religion? Repeat the lines on "The Happy Life."
HUGH LATIMER, (p. 65.)
Date of birth and death? Where educated? By whose means converted? What is said of him during the reign of Edward VI.? In the reign of Mary? What did he refuse to do? What was the result? Give an ac count of his and Ridley's martyrdom. What did Latimer say to Ridley? What is said of his sufferings? What of Ridley's?
SIR JOHN CHEKE, (p. 68.)
Date of birth and death? What professorship did he early fill? To whom was he tutor? Milton's lines? (note.) What was the consequence of his Protestantism? What choice was offered to him? Which did he take? What followed? When did he die? What is said of the period in which he flourished? What did he introduce in Greek? How improve English? What is
said of his works? What is the title of the work of Sidney? What is said of it? What chief one extant? does Hallam say? (note.) What Warton? (note.)
JOHN HEYWOOD, (p. 70.)
What is said of the age of Queen Elizabeth? (note.) To what does the name of John Heywood introduce us? How many divisions in the history of the Drama, and what are they? When were the Miracle Plays in vogue? Why called so? What were some of their subjects? By whom acted? What is said of them? What was the next division? What were "Moral Plays?" What is said of them? What scriptural character in them? What is said of the "Interludes ?" Why did the "Moral Plays" die away? What successful writer of them? Date of his birth and death? What of his genius? What did he expose? What is the name of one of his best Interludes? What is it, and who were the characters? How does the piece open? What does the Pardoner say? What the Palmer? How does the Pardoner reply? What says the Poticary? What the Pedler? What does the Pedler propose to end the dispute? Who begins? Who gains the victory? Repeat the lines. What exclamations follow?
JOHN STILL, (p. 73.)
Who was John Still? What is the first comedy in our language? What is said of it? What the characters? Its plot? Give an account of it.
ROGER ASCHAM, (p. 74.)
In whose reign did he flourish? Where educated? What does Johnson say? (note.) To whom was he preceptor? What office did he fill? When did he die? What are his two principal works? What is the Toxophilus? Etymology? What is its design? Who are the speakers? What influence had his work upon the language? What motive for writing it suggested? (note.) What was his other work? What does Johnson say of it? What does Ascham say of the influence of foreign travel? What criticisms on his works? (note, p. 75.)
SIR PHILIP SIDNEY, (p. 80.) What is said of his character? In whose reign did he flourish? When did he enter Oxford? When begin his travels? What happened to him at Paris? On what embassy sent? Whom did he marry? To what high post abroad was he elected? Who was opposed to his accepting of it, and why? What public service was he next engaged in? Relate the particulars of his death. What effect did it produce in England? On what does his literary reputation rest? How may he be regarded as a prose writer? What does Cowper say of him? (note,) and what does he say of " poesy What is the Arcadia? Where is the scene of it laid? Who are the heroes of the romance? What is their fortune? What is the other great
CHRISTOPHER MARLOW, (p. 87.)
What commonly called? With whom was he contemporary? Date of birth and death? For what was he most known in his life? For what now? Repeat it. What is a madrigal? (note.)
ROBERT SOUTHWELL, (p. 88.)
Date of birth and death? Where educated? Where did he go, and to what order did he attach himself? Whence did he go, and in what capacity? What treatment did he meet with? For what was he tried? What was the result? Was he probably guilty? What is said of the whole transaction? Did he do any thing more than he had a right to do? What is said of putting down opinions by force? Repeat Bryant's lines. What is said of Southwell's poetry? What is said of his prose? [Commit "Times go by turns," and "Scorn not the Least."]
EDMUND SPENSER, (p. 93.)
Date of birth and death? In whose reign did he flourish? Repeat Thomson's lines. What is said of his parentage? What does Gibbon say? How did he enter Cambridge? What is a "sizer," and why so called? What work did he first publish? What is it? In what capacity did he go to Ireland? What grant did he receive? Where did he go to reside? Who visited him there? What did he style him? What was he persuaded to do? What does Campbell say of Raleigh's visit to Spenser? What is Spenser's great work? Of how many books does it consist? How many is it said he intended to write? Did he probably finish his design? What happened to him in Ireland? Where did he die, and when? What is said of the influence of his works? What of his minor poems? What have prevented the "Faerie Queene" from being generally read? What is said of the allegory? What does Spenser say is the "end of all the books"? Who is the hero? Who is intended by the "Faerie Queene"? What does Prince Arthur represent? The knight and virtue of the first book? Of the second? Of the third? Of the fourth? Of the fifth? Of the sixth? [Commit-at pleasure.] What does Sir James Mackintosh say of Spenser? What does Hazlitt? What Campbell? What is his chief prose work? Books and criticisms to be read?
RICHARD HOOKER, (p. 104.)
Date of birth and death? What is said of him? Where educated? What profession did he select? Where did he preach? What of his marriage? Did he love a city life? What did he request? Where did he die? What is his great work called? What its design? To what does it owe its origin ? What is said of its learning? Of its style?