BLTC Press Titles


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Some Experiences of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross


The Haunted Bookshop

Christopher Morely


Theory of Colours

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Novalis Including Hymns to the Night

Novalis, George MacDonald, Thomas Carlyle


Extracts from the diary of a lover of literature

by Thomas Green

Excerpt:

Read the 5 th Book, of Caesar's Commentaries. He names the port from which he sailed on his second expedition to England—Itius—: probably, as affording the shortest passage, Ambleteuse; which, though now choaked up, might then have furnished shelter to his galleys. Nothing can be determined from the distance, which he loosely guesses at " 30 millia passuum", but that it was somewhere between Gravelines and Boulogne. From Calais to Dover Pier-Head is 23 miles; from Boulogne to Folkstone 2Q; and, midway between these ports, the two coasts approach within less than 20 miles of each other.—As Caesar was carried by the tide in the night, till he found, in the morning, Britain left, sub sinistra, he must have drifted beyond the South Foreland.—Where did Cassar ford the Thames in pursuit of Cassivellaunus? Stukely, I think, but on slender documents, fixes the place to Chertsey-Bridge.—I am glad he found our predecessors so impatient of submission; and could well wish to mortify his insatiable ambition, by exhibiting to him Rome and London in their present condition.

Finished the 2d Book of Macchiavel's History of Florence. The account of the adoption and expulsion of the Duke of Calabria, is admirably given; and most seasonably enlivens the dull variety of his narrative.

OCT. the 5th.

Pursued Boswell's Life of Johnson. Johnson's coarse censure of Lord Chesterfield, "that he taught the morals of a whore, and the manners of a dancing master", is as unjust as it is harsh. Indeed I have always thought the noble author of Letters to his Son, hardly dealt with by the Public; though to public opinion I have the highest deference. How stands the case? Having bred up his son to a youth of learning and virtue, and consigned him to a tutor well adapted to cultivate these qualities, he naturally wishes to render him an accomplished gentleman; and, for this purpose, undertakes, in person, a task for which none surely was so well qualified as himself.—I follow the order he assigns (L. 168), and that which his Letters testify he pursued. Well! but he insists eternally on such frivolous points—the graces—the graces!—Because they were wanting, and the only thing [1796-J

wanting. Other qualities were attained, or presumed to be attained: to correct those slovenly, shy, reserved, and uncouth habits in the son, which as he advanced in life grew more conspicuous, and threatened to thwart all the parent's fondest prospects in his child, was felt, and justly felt, by the father, to have become an imperious and urgent duty ; and he accordingly labours at it with parental assiduity —an assiduity, which none but a father would have bestowed upon the subject. Had his Lordship published these Letters as a regular System of Education, the common objection to their contents would have had unanswerable force: viewing them however in their true light, as written privately and confidentially by a parent to his child—inculcating, as he naturally would, with the greatest earnestness, not what was the most important, but most requisite—it must surely be confessed, there never was a popular exception more unfounded. But he—I admit it: he touches upon certain topics, which, a sentiment of delicacy suggests, between a a father and son had better been forborne: yet those who might hesitate to give the advice, if they are conversant with the world, and advert to circumstances, will not be disposed to think the advice itself injudicious.

In the 26th Letter there is a very remarkable prediction, which, as we have lived to see it fully accomplished, is worth curtailing and transcribing. "The affairs of "France grow more and more serious every day. The King is irresolute, despised, "and hated; the ministers, disunited and incapable; the people, poor and discon"tented; the army, though always the supporters and tools of absolute power, are "always the destroyers of it too ; the nation reasons freely on matters of religion and "government;—in short, all the symptoms which I have ever met with in history, "previous to great changes and revolutions in government, now exist, and daily "increase, in France.'' This was written Dec. 25th, 1753; and, considering the clearness with which the causes are unfolded, and the consequence foretold, I am surprised that it has not been noticed.

Regarding Lord Chesterfield's Letters as not intended for the public eye, they are probably the most pregnant and finished compositions that ever were written.


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