LETTER LXXVIII. Mr. T. L— to W. SHENSTONE, Esq.
Northfield,Oct. 18, 1761.
THAT the Polite must ever please equally in the Matter and Manner is what I am not now to learn, having had convincing Proof of it, ever since I have had the pleasing Ho∣nour of being known to Mr. SHENSTONE. To comprehend in a Nut-Shell a Volume of Ideas, is the happy Talent of a superior Genius, which those of the more minute, at a Distance, admire, but cannot attain; at least, in our dull Pro∣fession, the Difficulties attending such an At∣tempt are almost insuperable. It can't have escaped so penetrating an Observation as Mr. SHENSTONE's, that bad Men examine every Law with no other Intention than to reap the Benefits, and at the same Time to evade the equal Contributions intended to be levied from all those, who, as they enjoy the Benefits, ought in Reason to contribute their just Pro∣portions of the Expences incurred by those, Page 318 to whom they are indebted for those Advan∣tages. Against such artful and mischievous Examiners, it is the Duty of those of our dull Profession to be upon our Guard, and to protect, by all the Vigilance we are able, the honest and well-meaning from the Artifices and Designs of the dishonest and ungenerous. Few Words, alas! however significcant, are not able to effect such a Security; and though Dullness has been the unfortunate Cause of in∣troducing a Multiplicity of useless Tautology in many legal Transactions, yet the necessary Cau∣tions, requisite to protect the undesigning from the Dangers of Fraud, from those who are the Pests of Society, have unhappily made some Repetitions necessary in many Cases, where a liberal Interpretation, and Elegance of Expres∣sion would point them out as unnecessary, and place them in a ridiculous, and, indeed, con∣temptible Light, in the Judgment of a liberal and generous Observer, unacquainted with the hackneyed Ways of bad and designing Men. But, alas! Such Men there are—such must be guarded against; and to aid me in such an Herculean Labour, to unite Force, and intro∣duce, at the same Time, Dignity of Expression Page 319 and Elegance, instead of dull Form, I took the Liberty of requesting the Aid of a Pen-Shenstonian! I return my very sincere Thanks for the kind Assistance you have been so good as to give me; and, as far as the Cautions I am obliged to observe, in order to guard against the Inconveniences I have before hinted at, will permit me, shall profit by them; and as I foresee many Difficulties that may be likely to arise before the Benefits we wish for from the intended Act may be brought to Perfection, I shall take the Liberty you so obligingly per∣mit me, of desiring the Assistance and Honour of your Advice, where I have Occasion for it.
If I was much susceptible of Vanity, I should have ample Food for it in indulging the Belief you flatter me with, that a Corre∣spondence from — could give you any Pleasure or Entertainment: but I am not yet so vain—Plain Facts, and plain Truth and Since∣rity, are all that I can aim at in a Corre∣spondence; nor can I think, that simple Nar∣ratives, unaided with any Embellishments of Genius, or Liveliness of Fancy, can give Plea∣sure to a Mind so stored with brilliant Ideas Page 320 as Mr. SHENSTONE's; yet permit me to as∣sure you, if you honour me with any Com∣mands, I shall take a very sincere Pleasure in obeying them.
You have much damped the pleasing Ex∣pectations I had formed of seeing you in — but I yet can't help indulging an Hope, that we yet may, by some happy Event that may deserve your Attention there, be gratified with that Pleasure the ensuing Winter. But wherever you are, permit me very sincerely to wish you every Felicity, and to join in a par∣ticular Assurance, with the general Assurances which I am desired to add from all this Fa∣mily, that they are, as I am,
your faithful and obedient Servant, T. L—.