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I shall rejoice to see you in England, and talk over these and many other matters with you at leisure. Do not despair of your health, because you have not found all the effects you had promised yourself from a finer climate. I have known people who have experienced the same thing, and yet, at their return, have lost all their complaints as by miracle.
P.S. I have answered Count Algarotti's letter, and his to Mr. Mason I conveyed to him; but whether he has received his books, I have not yet heard.
Mr. How, on receiving the foregoing letter, communicated the objection which it contained to the Count; who, admitting the justness of it, altered the passage, as appears from the following extract of the answer which he sent to that Gentleman.
“ Mi spiace solamente che quella critica concernente “i Giardini Inglesi non la abbia fatta á me medesimo;
quasi egli dovesse credermi piu amico della mia opi“ nione che della verita. Ecco, come ho cangiato
qual luogo. Dopo le parole nel tesser la favola di un poema. “Simili ai Giardini della Cina sono quelli che
“piantano gl' Inglesi dietro al medesimo modelio della
Natura.” Quanto ella ha di vago, é di vario, boschetti, collinette, acque vive, praterie con dei tem'pietti, degli obelischi, ed anche di belle rovine che
spuntano quá e la, si trova quivi reunito dal gusto “ dei Kent, e dei Chambers *, che hanno di tanto sor“' passato il le Nautre, tenuto giá il maestro dell'Archi“tettura, diro cosi, dé Giardini. Dalle Ville d'Inghil“ terra é sbandita la simmetria Francese, i più bei siti “pajono naturali, il culto é misto col negletto, é il dis“ordine che vi regna é l'effetto dell'arte la meglio or“ dinata.”
It is seldom that an author of a reputation so established (as Mr. How truly remarked, when he sent this extract to Mr. Gray) so easily, readily, and explicitly gives up his own opinion to that of another, or even to conviction itself; nor perhaps would Count Algarotti have done so, had he not been thoroughly apprized to whose correction he submitted.
* As he had written on the subject, this mistake was natural enon zh in Count Algarotti.
MR. GRAY TO MR. HOW,
Pembroke-lIall, Jan. 19, 1768. I Was willing to go through the eight volumes of Count Algarotti's works, which you lately presented to the library of this College, before I returned you an answer: this must be my excuse to you
silence. First I condole with you, that so neat an edition should swarın in almost every page with
errors of the press, not only in notes and citations from Greek, English, and French authors, but in the Italian text itself, greatly to the disreputation of the Leghorn publishers. This is the only reason, I think, that could make an edition in England necessary; but, I doubt, you would not find the matter much mended here; our presses, as they improve in beauty, declining daily in accuracy; besides, you would find the expense very considerable, and the sale in no proportion to it, as,
in reality, it is but few people in England that read currently and with pleasure the Italian tongue, and the fine old editions of their capital writers are sold at London for a lower price than they bear in Italy. An English translation I can by no means advise; the just
ness of thought and good sense might remain, but the graces of elocution (which make a great part of Algarotti’s merit) would be entirely lost, and that merely from the very different genius and complexion of the two languages.
Doubtless there can be no impropriety in your making the same present to the University that you have done to your own College. You need not at all to fear for the reputation of your friend; he has inerit enough to recommend him in any country. A tincture of various sorts of knowledge, an acquaintance with all the beautiful arts, an easy command, a precision, warmth, and richness of expression, and a judgment that is rarely mistaken on any subject to which he applies it. I had read the Congresso di Citéra before, and was excessively pleased with it, in spite of prejudice; for I am naturally no friend to allegory, nor to poetical prose. The Giudicio d' Amore is an addition rather inferior to it. What gives me the least pleasure of any of his writings is the Newtonianism; it is so direct an imitation of Fontenelle, a writer not easy to imitate, and least of all in the Italian tongue, whose character and graces are of a higher style, and never adapt themselves easily to the elegant badinage and legereté of conversation that sit so well on the French. The essays
and letters (many of them entirely new to me) on the Arts, are curious and entertaining: Those on other subjects, (even where the thoughts are not new, but borrowed from his various reading and conversation) often better put, and better expressed than in the originals. I rejoice when I see Machiavel defended or illustrated, who to me appears one of the wisest men that any nation in any age has produced. Most of the other discourses, military or political, are well worth reading, though that on Kouli-Khan was a mere jeu d'esprit, a sort of historical exercise. The letters from Russia I had read before with pleasure, particularly the narrative of Munick's and Lascy's campaigns. The detached thoughts are often new and just; but there should have been a revisal of them, as they are frequently to be found in his letters repeated in the very same words. Some too of the familiar letters might have been spared. The verses are not equal to the prose, but they are above mediocrity.