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DR. HERRING TO WILLIAM DUNCOMBE, ESQ. DEAR SIR, Blechingly, near Ryegate, Sept. 23, 1731. This is the first half hour that I could properly call my own, for some weeks, and I am glad to employ it in conversing with you.
I thank you most heartily for your very kind congratulation, upon my promotion to this good living * ; I am, I own, pleased with it, and hope I may say, I am sure I ought to say, contented. I bless Providence for so ample a provision for me, and leave it entirely to his goodness as to the future enjoyment of it: but though I am contented myself, you, I find, with the solicitude of a friend, will be extending your care for me still farther, and prophesying I know not what promotions. If you have a divinity in you, and things shoald bappen so, hope I have the grace to consider every such accession, as only an opportunity of doing good, and, if I am in that temper, I am sure you would stand in the foremost rank of those I should be happy to oblige; and, if I am not, I give you liberty to condemn ine, as much as I shall one day abhor myself. I do not love many words, and therefore shall only assure you, that I am proud of the compliment you pay to my sincerity, in unbosoming yourself as you do to me, and that you may assure yourself, at all times, of every kind assistance from ine that a true friend can give.
* Dr. Herring had been presented to it by sir William Clayton, bart, as he was a few months after to the deanery of Ro. sbester by the king, where he was installed Feb, 5, 1731-2.
It is a pleasure to me to hear that your little boy improves so much, and I congratulate you upon the indications he gives of a good and compassionate temper. It is a soil, I know, that you will cultivate with most particular pleasure. I shall be very glad to introduce Junius Brutus * into the company of lady Jekyllt; I am sure she is a friend to the true spirit of Roman liberty. I am, dear
DR. HERRING TO WILLIAM DUNCOMBE, ESQ.
Blechingly, Jan. 19, 1734. You do too much honour to my judgment in consulting me upon the affair you do; but your doing it gives me more pleasure than ever; it sooths that vanity which is in some sort natural to us all, and gives me the satisfaction of perusing what you write, and of hearing news of the lettered world. I think your dedication $ to eart Cowper very genteel, and in no degree guilty of the common fault of those pieces, flattery. I shall be pleased to see this tragedy of Lillo's; his George Barn
* A tragedy by Mr. Duncombe.
Elmerick, or Justice Triumphant, founded on a true story in Vertot's History of the Knights of Malta,
well has something very touching in it. I think I do not quite like this interweaving Scripture phrases. This may sound odd from a clergyman, but I say it from the motive of that character. It is to expose those venerable books too much to the hazard of ridicule; it is, perhaps, something like divesting the magistrate of his robes of honour, and turning him to a mad and prejudiced populace in the nakedness of a common man. The books of Scripture are, no doubt, most excellent themselves : but their veneration (as the world is) must, like magistracy, be in some measure supported by outward circumstance and ceremony. Truth is very amiable naked, but subjected the more to be injured by those who have no taste of her beauty,
You will much oblige me in sending me the public judgment about books that come out, now, and then, that I may know the better how to give orders to my bookseller. I am, dear sir, your, &c.
FROM THE SAME TO THE SAME.
Rochester, Nov. 9, 1735. I say not a word of the honesty of such proceeding, but there would be a sort of scurvy policy in it if I should write to you with the air of knowing nothing of your most obliging letter of the 16th of August last, but endeavour at the credit of beginning a correspondence (always most entertaining to me) de novo; but truth would perhaps pop out
to shame me before I was aware, and therefore I shall go the old way to work, own the receipt of your letter, and ask pardon for my unmannerly silence. I received it at this place, and carried it with me into Surry, determining to answer it from thence. I was very little at home, and all that little most laboriously idle, so I brought it back again to Rochester, and it now lies before me. You will pardon me, if I burn it as soon as I have answered it, to get out of the way of such an ungrateful remembrancer, for I am pretty sure I shall have no reproaches from you.
I see no reason for such a prodigions outcry upon the “ Plain Account*,” &c. I really think it a good hook, and as to the sacrament in particular, as orthodox as archbishop Tillotson: bis prayers are very long, but in my poor opinion some of the best compositions of the sort that ever I read; and if I could bring my mind to that steady frame of thinking, with regard to the Deity, that is prescribed by him, believe I should be so far as happy as my nature is, perhaps, capable of being. There is something comfortable in addressing the Deity, as the father, not the tyrant, of the creation.
I would fain think as well of Mr. Pope's probity as I do of his ingenuity; but his compliments to Bolingbroke, upon topics of behaviour, in which he is notoriously infamous, shock me so, that it quite disconcerts my good opinion of him. I have bought his works, however, in the pompous edi. tion, and read them with peculiar pleasure. The brightness of his wit, his elegant turns, bis raised sentiments in many places, and the musical cadence of his poetry, charm me prodigiously.
* « Of the Sacrament," by bishop Hoadly.
I think I must wish you joy of the approaching peace*. It seems much for his majesty's, and the English honour. I hope it will have a good issue. If any thing new of moment appears, you will communicate it in your usual obliging manner. I am, dear sir, your, &c.
DR. HERRING TO WILLIAM DUNCOMBE, ESQ.
Blechingly, Feb. 25, 1735. I received your letter, and was indeed extremely affected with the bad news of your loss. It is most certainly a prodigious one to you, and has carried off a great share of your happiness. I do not wonder to hear it got the better of your philosophy. Nature is too strong for reason and speculation, and the finest sayings of the finest moralists are flat and unaffecting upon these trying occasions. The only thing that can give the mind any'solid satisfaction, is a certain complacency and repose in the good providence of God, under a sin., cere conviction that he orders every thing for the best.
I am glad you have got the better of your own iudisposition; the loss of both parents would have
• Between the Emperor, France, Spain, and Sardinia, by ibs mediation of Great Britain.