Download as TXT
Download as XML
<Q A 1766 TC EC EMONTAGU>
<X ELIZABETH MONTAGU>
[}ELIZABETH MONTAGU TO ELIZABETH CARTER. 1766 OCT 8. DENTON HALL. MO 3185}]
Denton Oct ye 8=th=
It is impossible for my dear friend, in her quiet apartment, to figure to herself, all the impertinent intrusions of business & bustle [\here/] . The morning meant for study & improvement, & the exercise of the intellectual faculties, before beef and pudding [\UNCLEAR\] their powers, is sometimes usurped by visitors; oftener much, by vulgar cares, & by night I am so weary, I am obliged to seek recreation in a book. My little excursion into Yorkshire last week was very pleasant, but crouded & jumbled so much business into this week, that I have lived in a perfect hurry. I wrote to our friend the Sylph the very day after I received her letter, & shall write to her again in a post or two. Alas a Coal owner is but an uncertain correspondent. I do not know what to make of M=r= Johnsons concessions to the M=r= Rev=d= Commentator at some times, & his sneering at him at others. I can understand it only thus, that
the said M=r= Johnson had formerly rashly & inconsiderately said, (\dans le gros\) & at a rough reckoning, that ye right rev=d= was a scholar, & a critick, & a man of parts; yet whenever he examines him by articles, he finds that in truth, his Lordship is as absurd & as nonsensical as possible, & he is in sad dilemma between what he has said formerly, & what he w=d= say now. Thus does it happen to those, who profess to admire any one who wants common sense; the egregious blunders; the glaring errors, the miserable sophistric of such a man, does betray to shame, whoever rashly told the world, they had been captivated by some shewy talent. I cannot imagine what these wise men [\mean/] by denying y=e= 3=d= part of Henry ye 6=th= to be Shakespears. I agree with M=r= Johnson as to ye french scene in ye courtship, but it seems to me, he has very superficially treated of ye play of H: y=e= 5=th=. It made me laugh heartily to read a parcel of litterati, some of them desiring ye reading might be (^a curs'd^) others (^a scurs'd^), others (^a crude^), others a (^crush'd^) neccesity, a mighty
pretty amusement truly writing such notes. Is this the infant sporting or dotage of criticism? I think y=e= latter, there is an imbecility [\in it/] that argues parts worn out. There is another pretty note enough, [\BLOT\] whether y=e= bees sh=d= head up ye honey, or knead up the honey. Criticks make no honey, when angry they are wasps, & when softer they are drones. I do not think ye (^curs'd^) necessity a very noble phrase, it is brother to cursed hard, & cursed foolish, & a certain rabble of phrases. but the 'scurs'd necessity which no human organ can utter, & ye crush'd necessity which no human brain can conceive, or the crude necessity that is not form'd for want of ripeness of concoction seems to me far fetch'd nonsense. Shakespear deserved some praise for contriving to make his Henry so naturally arise from Prince Hal. The hint thrown out of his having studied mankind, & their various occupations & duties in the promiscuous company he had kept, is artfull. His speech to y=e= Conspirators divine
The long political discussions of his right to y=e= realm of France is undramatic, & therefore [\improper\] [\ANNOTATED per\] on the stage. His reflections at his return from his midnight walk round the camp admirable. the conversation of the Soldiers natural. By the by, I think Shakespear has therin excelld our darling Tacitus, who imagines Germanicus on ye like occasion to hear nothing but his own praises. For in this, I consider Tacitus as a rhetorican, who is not more veracious by trade than a Poet. However each heightend the catastrophe, for ye preceding gloom shews to greater advantage y=e= glory of Henrys victory, and Germanicus's prosperity makes his death more sad & lamentable. However, in hast I have thrown these things into an odd hotch potch. I shall not write any thing on ye play of H: y=e= 5=th=. Considered as a Drama or as showing y=e= poetical talents, it is not so well worth attention as many other plays.
but I think it w=d= afford more critical observations than our Commentators have bestowd upon it. (\Adieu\) my dear friend. I rejoyce that you walk & gently.
I am every y=rs= most truly EM